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Parental Custody and School Decisions

Although many people still talk about custody in the wake of divorce, Illinois no longer uses the term. The Court usually decides who gets parental responsibilities when married parents divorce; if the parents were never married, this is decided when the Court needs to decide on parentage and parenting issues or when one parent seeks child support or parenting time with the child.

There are two types of parental responsibilities:

  • Significant Decision-Making Responsibility
  • Parenting Time

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Posted in Child Custody, Family Law, Parentage | Leave a comment

First Steps Toward Divorce

You’ve moved past the point of considering a divorce and think it may be time to take action, but what should you do now? While television has sensationalized divorce and made contested, messy divorces a part of popular culture, the divorce lawyers at Conniff Law Offices believe in collaborative divorce and mediation, with litigation as a last resort. You have now already taken your first steps toward starting a new life: researching divorce attorneys and how to file for divorce. Read on to learn what to do next.

In a collaborative divorce or a mediated divorce, your first step in the divorce process is to reach out to an attorney trained in the Collaborative Law Process or an attorney with mediation training.

How to File for Divorce

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that, while you certainly have your reasons for wanting to dissolve a marriage or civil union, they are not required and have no impact on factors like spousal maintenance or child support or property division. In order to file for divorce in Illinois, either the person seeking the divorce or his or her spouse must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days, then:

  • The petitioner has the right to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage;
  • The petition must be filed in a county where at least one of the spouses lives;
  • The petition must be served on the other spouse by an individual appointed by a judge to deliver the Petition by hand.

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will include basic information about the relationship: the date and location of the marriage, current living arrangements, and any children of the marriage.

While filing for divorce can take a certain level of courage and determination, it is probably the simplest part of the process. The divorce proceedings themselves are when difficulties may arise, depending on. It is wise to consult a divorce attorney in even the most amicable divorces so you can discuss your options on how to approach divorce proceedings.

How to Approach Divorce Proceedings

Divorce proceedings in Chicago typically use one of four conflict resolution processes:

Even in an amicable or uncontested divorce, one or more of these processes will be used to determine the specifics of the divorce, from dissolution of assets to parental responsibilities for children. Every divorce follows the same path: petition for dissolution, conflict resolution, and enacted judgment for dissolution of marriage.

As you walk the first steps toward divorce, know that you do not need to decide on a collaborative divorce or divorce litigation right now. A divorce lawyer can help you decide the ideal method(s) of conflict resolution for your divorce and offer guidance along the way.

Consult a Divorce Lawyer at Conniff Law Offices

Even if you are still weighing the possibility of divorce, it will be very helpful to consult with a divorce attorney in Chicago who can advise you of your options. Contact Conniff Law to learn more about our divorce services and the steps to take when dissolving a marriage.

Posted in Articles, Civil Union Divorce, Collaborative Divorce, Divorce Litigation, Uncontested Divorce | Leave a comment

Divorce FAQ

The emotional strain of a divorce can be even more painful when you’re unsure how to go about getting one. You may be asking yourself, “Should I get a divorce,” or “Where do I start?”

Conniff Law Offices is a reliable source for information on divorce in Illinois, as we’ve helped numerous clients navigate divorce proceedings and the emotional and difficult decisions involved. To shed light on this subject, we’ve put together the divorce FAQ below. Read on for more information on how to get a divorce and what it entails.

Divorce in Illinois

Divorce in Illinois is referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” To file a dissolution of marriage, you and your spouse must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days.

In 2016, revisions to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) made Illinois a no-fault state, meaning the courts don’t require or recognize a reason for separation in dissolution of marriage or civil union cases. The only cause recognized by the IMDMA is irreconcilable differences, which means that despite attempting to move past their issues, the couple can’t come to a resolution and divorce is best for them and their family.

How to File for Divorce

You can gather the appropriate forms from the Cook County Circuit Court website. At a minimum, you will need a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you live in the greater Chicago area, you must file:

  • Domestic Relations Cover Sheet
  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • Summons
  • Affidavit of Service
  • Certificate of Dissolution

If you have minors, you must also file:

  • Joint Parenting Agreement
  • Visitation Form
  • Uniform Order of Support (in child support cases).

Once the paperwork has been gathered and filled out, you must file the documents with the clerk of court. You may also serve your spouse with forms via a private process server, sheriff’s service, or publication. Some counties require both sides to file a Financial Disclosure Statement with the court.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

The current filing fee in Cook County is $368, but each divorce is unique and other costs can increase the cost of a divorce significantly. When child custody, child support, alimony or spousal maintenance, and property division are included, the cost of divorce can climb into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars — couples with higher incomes and more assets will often have much higher costs for their divorce.

The excessive cost that come with a litigated divorce is one of the many reasons Conniff Law Offices is staffed with experts in collaborative law — collaborative divorces work to avoid litigation and minimize costs.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

Once the county court receives the petition for dissolution of marriage, you’ll receive a case number, a presiding judge, and a summons. Your spouse will also need the summons, which, as stated above, can be served in a few ways. It can take up to three weeks for your spouse to receive the summons from the sheriff’s office or by special process server, and your spouse can take up to 30 days to respond. After a response is received, a court appearance before the judge can be scheduled to dissolve the marriage.

If you and your spouse need to make decisions about child support, child custody, property division, and more, those court appearances will be scheduled for a later date. How long they take depends on you and your spouse and whether or not you’re able to reach agreements on each aspect of the divorce. It’s worth noting that, in Illinois, custody cases must be resolved within 18 months of the date on which they were filed.

Once you and your spouse have reached decisions, a prove-up hearing will be scheduled by the judge to finalize the agreements.

What Percentage of Marriages End in Divorce?

If you’re in the process of a divorce or are considering one, you are not alone. It is estimated that 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. These divorce rates also tend to increase for people who have already been married.

Turn to Conniff Law Offices for Expert Representation

At Conniff Law Offices, our values dictate how we handle every case — that is, with compassion, discretion, and expertise. Our experienced team of family law attorneys can help you through divorce proceedings, including pain points like child custody and spousal support. For further advice or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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What is a No-Fault Divorce in Illinois?

Illinois has allowed no-fault divorces as part of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) for some time, but revisions to the IMDMA in 2016 turned Illinois into a pure no-fault state. This means that alleged causes for the separation are not required or recognized in the dissolution of a marriage or civil union. Currently, the IMDMA only requires irreconcilable differences as cause for divorce, meaning that the couple has been ultimately unable to work through their issues and that divorce is the best possible scenario for the family.

A no-fault divorce ensures the couple assumes shared responsibility for their decision, in the hopes of reaching an amicable separation. Conversely, at-fault divorces held one person responsible for the end of the marriage.

What Does No-Fault Divorce Mean for My Case?

While there used to be a mandatory separation period before any divorce proceedings could begin, if you and your spouse can both agree from the start that you have irreconcilable differences, your case can proceed without the typical waiting period.

Without an agreement between both parties, the couple must live apart for at least six months before finalizing their divorce. Even if one party fails to accept irreconcilable differences as the official reason, the separation period will act as the deciding factor, and parties can get divorced.

Although Illinois requires no justification beyond irreconcilable differences, a no-fault divorce does not mean a no-consequence divorce. Ending a marriage or civil union will likely affect your taxes, impact your business, and require conversations about child custody — this is in addition to any premarital/prenuptial agreements.

When Should I Seek a Divorce?

Although Illinois courts do not recognize specific reasons other than of irreconcilable differences for a divorce, there are still many underlying reasons why a marriage may come to an end. While you may have entered your union or marriage with certain understandings, people change over time, and sometimes their values and needs fall out of sync; a lack of intimacy, trust, or emotional or financial support can lead to deep rooted problems.

Counseling and mediation can be helpful ways to work through difficult circumstances, but if a dedicated effort toward resolution does not seem feasible, it may be time to consider a divorce for the sake of your and your family’s well-being.

Conniff Law Offices offer knowledgeable, experienced support and guidance during difficult times, and can help you navigate the ins and outs of divorce proceedings. If you are looking for a Chicago divorce lawyer you can trust, contact our understanding team of attorneys today.

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What is Child Support & What Does it Cover?

Child support is financial support paid by one parent to the other parent to support one or more children. This support can be either voluntary or court-ordered. Although divorcing parents will need to discuss child support during divorce proceedings, marriage isn’t a requirement for child support services — the right to child support belongs to children.

What Does Child Support Cover?

One misconception surrounding child support is that it only over covers the basic essentials, i.e. food, shelter, and clothing. In actuality, it covers much more. Additional expenses covered by child support can include:

  • Medical care
  • Education and college funds
  • Childcare, such as daycare, babysitters, and nannies
  • Transportation and travel
  • Entertainment, such as books, computers, and the Internet
  • Extracurricular activities, such as sports, summer camps, and after-school programs

How Much is Child Support?

In 2017, Illinois child support laws were updated to an “income shares” model similar to those in other states. Under the new law:

  • Child support obligations are determined by calculating the net income of each parent.
  • Those net incomes are combined to create a “Total Family Income.”
  • The Total Family Income is compared against estimates of an average intact family with similar income and number of children.
  • From these estimates, a basic child support obligation is determined. If a parent is in the physical care of a child for at least 146 nights a year, this obligation may be multiplied by 1.5.
  • Each parent’s support obligation is multiplied by the percentage of parenting time allocated to a parent. The parent who owes more child support pays the difference between the two amounts.
  • A parent’s obligation to pay the additional child support is prorated in proportion to their percentage share of the Total Family Income.

Can Child Support Be Modified?

Because the child support obligation is tied to both the incomes and parenting time of each parent, changes in these factors can affect child support obligations. Added expenses – such as childcare or sports costs — can also be factored into the amount of child support paid.

Is Child Support Tax Deductible?

Child support in and of itself isn’t tax deductible, because it’s taken from a parent’s taxable income. Because it has already been taxed, child support is not taxable income to the payee.

What Are the Penalties for Not Paying Child Support?

Payors who are behind on child support payments may face financial penalties, have their tax refunds intercepted, face restrictions on their business licenses, or lose their driver’s licenses or passports.

If a parent refuses to pay child support, the other parent may ask for a hearing before a judge, which could result in a range of additional penalties, including liens on property, withheld wages, and jail time (though the latter is rare; jailing a parent would obviously impact their ability to pay child support).

Receive Expert Family Legal Advice from Conniff Law Offices

Whether your current child support order is beyond your financial means, or you’re not receiving on-time, in-full child support payments, Conniff Law Offices can offer the expert legal advice and guidance you need. We can also assist unmarried parents with collecting child support, as well as establishing paternity. If you need the services of a Chicago family law lawyer, contact our team of attorneys today.

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