BLOG

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

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.

Posted in Divorce Litigation, Family Law | Tagged | Leave a comment

Alimony in Illinois: Spousal Maintenance in 2019

In Illinois, 2019 brings changes to the system for payments of alimony, spousal maintenance, or spousal support. Here’s a summary of what to expect if you are contemplating divorce or legal separation. If you have further questions, contact us today.

Is Alimony Appropriate?

The Court will consider various factors before determining that an award of spousal maintenance is appropriate for your circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • All sources of income for each party;
  • Each party’s property (regardless of whether it was acquired before or during the marriage);
  • A party’s needs;
  • A party’s earning capacity;
  • A party’s ability to acquire necessary training or education to re-enter the workforce or gain new skills; and
  • A party’s parenting responsibilities.

Guideline Maintenance

If the combined gross annual income of the parties is less than $500,000, and the payor has no obligation to pay child support, maintenance, or both from a prior judgment, the Court can use the maintenance guidelines described below.

The Court will state whether the maintenance is fixed-term, indefinite, reviewable, or reserved (i.e. no maintenance will be paid immediately, but there may be a need for maintenance in the future).

Amount of Alimony

Beginning on January 1, 2019, the amount of maintenance will be calculated by taking 33-1/3% of the payor’s net annual income and deducting 25% of the payee’s net annual income. However, the amount awarded to the payee must be less than 40% of the combined net income of the parties.

Duration of Alimony

The maintenance term will be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage (as of the date the action was filed) by the applicable percentages below:

Duration of Marriage Percentage Maintenance Term
Less than 5 years 20% 0.8 years or less
5 years or more but less than 6 24% 1.2 years
6 years or more but less than 7 8% 1.68 years
7 years or more but less than 8 32% 2.24 years
8 years or more but less than 9 36% 2.88 years
9 years or more but less than 10 40% 3.6 years
10 years or more but less than 11 44% 4.4 years
11 years or more but less than 12 48% 5.28 years
12 years or more but less than 13 52% 6.24 years
13 years or more but less than 14 56% 7.28 years
14 years or more but less than 15 60% 8.4 years
15 years or more but less than 16 64% 9.6 years
16 years or more but less than 17 68% 10.88 years
17 years or more but less than 18 72% 12.24 years
18 years or more but less than 19 76% 13.68 years
19 years or more but less than 20 80% 15.2 years
20 or more years Length of the marriage, or for an indefinite term, in the Court’s discretion.

Alimony Calculation Example

Let’s now consider how the new guidelines will work. If a couple has been married for 14 years, and their net income is $220,000.00 (Spouse A earns $200,000.00, and Spouse B earns $20,000.00), the terms of 750 ILCS 5/504 (b-1)(1) will apply.

When we apply the guideline maintenance formula under subparagraph 504 (b-1)(1)(A) of the new statute, the result will be as follows:

Payor’s annual net income: $200,000.00
33-1/3% of payor’s net income: $66,666.66
Payee’s annual net income: $20,000.00
25% of payee’s net income: $5,000.00
Annual Maintenance: $66,666.66 – $5,000 = 61,666.66
Combined net income of parties: $200,000.00 + $20,000.00 = $220,000.00
40% of combined net income: $88,000.00
Annual Maintenance + payee’s net income $81,666.66

Maintenance and payee’s net income is less than 40% of the parties’ combined net incomes. Therefore, under the new statute, annual maintenance payments of $66,666.66 would apply.

Calculating the length of maintenance to Spouse B, we will apply the multipliers described in subparagraph 504 (b-1)(1)(B) of the statute. A marriage of 14 years or more, but less than 15 years, has a multiplier of .6. A marriage of 14 years will result in maintenance for 14 x .6 years, or 8.4 years.

Modification of Maintenance Orders Entered Before 1/1/19

If maintenance was ordered before January 1, 2019, and there is a need for a subsequent modification after January 1, 2019, the modified maintenance will continue to be calculated based on gross income for federal tax purposes, unless both parties expressly agree otherwise, and that agreement is included in the modification order.

Tax Deductions

For couples divorcing after January 1, 2019, the payor cannot deduct maintenance payments from gross income on his or her federal income taxes. Similarly, the payee will not include his or her maintenance payments in taxable income on his or her federal income tax returns.

If you have any questions about these new laws and how they may affect your divorce proceedings or any modifications of existing maintenance awards, contact our attorneys at 708-763-0999.

Sources:

Current Illinois Maintenance Statute:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000050k504.htm

Posted in Articles, Maintenance | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Highlights of The New Tax Law’s Impact on Divorcing Couples

If you have been reading about the new tax laws that are going into effect in 2018, you are not alone. How will these new tax laws affect you and your family in the event of a divorce or separation? We would like to take some time to explain as much as we can. If you have further questions, do not hesitate to give us a call, or contact us online.  Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Six Tips to Refine Your Parenting Skills

Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs a person can ever have, and good parenting can difficult for even the best of us. Even when you have the best intentions, things often go differently from what you’d hoped. In the face of these challenges, you may wonder what good parenting even is or how to be a better parent. Continue reading

Posted in Child Custody, Parentage | Leave a comment

– Jim O., Western Springs (from Yelp)

– Chris W., Chicago (from Yelp)

– Rebecca M., Chicago (from Yelp)

– Eric S., Albuquerque (from Yelp)


More Testimonials >

I am a happy client and recommend Lyn without hesitation. She is knowledgeable, pragmatic and is adept at working with other attorneys in a positive manner.

The efforts of this team were incredible and in touch with my sensitivity. After the first phone call I felt assured that I would be given the utmost attention and it was delivered!

The attorneys kept me up to date on the status of the issue and were always available to take my call. They were kind, professional and responsive.

I'm no fan of the lawyer class, but the Conniff folks definitely know their stuff. I can't imagine it getting any better than this. Two thumbs up!