Who Gets the House in a Divorce?

Dividing assets during a divorce is always complicated, especially when property is involved. Who gets the house in a divorce? While Illinois law stipulates that marital assets should be divided equally, there are several factors to consider, particularly regarding who legally owns the house and whether or not one party wants to remain in the home.

How are Marital Assets Divided?

Marital assets are anything of value that was acquired during the course of a marriage. Examples of marital assets include:

  • Property
  • Cars
  • Jewelry
  • Large furniture
  • Financial assets and accounts
  • Small businesses

Divorce laws in Illinois indicate that assets obtained during a marriage should be divided equally, though in many cases, this is easier said than done. In order to truly split assets 50/50, they would need to be sold first, with the profit divided down the middle. This can be complicated for items of significant emotional attachment, and when it comes to who gets the house in a divorce, as your marital property is likely the largest asset shared by you and your former spouse.

If assets were obtained before the start of the marriage, the original owner will have the legal right to keep it. For example, if a woman bought a house before getting married, and then her husband moved in with her later, she as the owner would have more legal right to keep the home in her name alone.

Who Gets to Stay in the House During the Divorce?

When trying to determine who gets the house in a divorce, several factors must be considered:

  • Can the party who wishes to keep the home afford the mortgage payments, as well as all the other home-related expenses?
  • Is the intent to keep raising the children in the family home?
  • Are there other marital assets that can offset the loss of only one party obtaining the home (e.g. one party gets the house while the other gets the cars)?
  • Is either party planning to move in the near future?

The answers to these questions will help clarify a rightful plan of action for the home. As far as who gets to stay in the house during the divorce proceedings, this will again tie back to the owner of the home. If one party acquired the home before marriage, they are the rightful owner and get to remain in the house. If the home was bought during the marriage, it is considered community property with neither party having sole ownership rights. If there is an issue regarding physical or mental health abuse, a party can move to have the other party evicted, though that will require proof of imminent danger to the courts.

Get Help with Determining Who Gets the House in Your Divorce

Separating assets can be a complicated, painful experience, but the compassionate team at Conniff Law can help. We can answer your questions and guide you towards a positive resolution. Contact Conniff Law Offices to learn more about our divorce and mediation services.

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Child Custody Laws in Illinois: Moving Out of State

Life continues to change even after you’ve finalized your custody agreement, and when an opportunity for a custodial parent to move out of state arises, it can create complications. If you’re looking to relocate your children out of Illinois after a divorce, Illinois child custody laws state that you must get approval from either their noncustodial parent or the court system.

Receive Permission from the Noncustodial Parent

The first step towards moving your child out of state will be seeking approval from the noncustodial parent. Moving out of Illinois will likely make it more difficult for both parents to stick to the previously agreed upon custody arrangements, meaning that a new plan must be put in place. Because the child will be farther away from one of their two parents, a revised visitation schedule will need to be drafted, ensuring that both parents are satisfied.

Examples of revised visitation arrangements include the child spending longer holiday breaks with the noncustodial parent or making more frequent visits back to Illinois. Regardless of what’s decided, the agreement should be put into writing in case of future conflict. This could mean formally revising your divorce agreement or getting documentation notarized.

If an agreement is not reached, Illinois child custody laws state that the noncustodial parent has 21 days to contest a move out of state. This will likely result in both parties going back to court.

Receive Permission from the Illinois Courts

If the noncustodial parent agrees to the new arrangement and everything gets committed to writing, legal action can be avoided altogether. But if the two sides cannot reach a reasonable agreement, both sides will need to seek legal counsel in preparation for court.
The courts will use a set of factors to determine whether or not moving out of state will be in the best interest of the child. Questions will include:

  • How the move will affect the child’s quality of life, both positively and negatively
  • Why the custodial parent wants to move (e.g. for work, to be closer to family, etc.)
  • What kind of new visitation schedule can be reasonably obtained, and how will it affect all members of the family
  • Why the noncustodial parent is objecting to the move out of state
  • How far away is the move in question

Should the courts find in favor of the custodial parent, moving out of state will be permissible. But if the courts do not feel that moving the child away from Illinois is a reasonable ask, permission will be denied, and the custodial parent will either have to stay in state or potentially relinquish their custody status.

Get Help with Child Custody Laws for Moving Out of State

If you and your former partner are having trouble reaching a custody agreement that satisfies both your needs and Illinois custody laws, we can help. We offer legal counsel and mediation services to help you find a satisfactory resolution. Contact Conniff Law Offices to learn more.

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How Many Marriages End in Divorce?

You may have heard the statistic that more than half of all marriages end in divorce, however, that is not currently the case in the United States. What percentage of marriages end in divorce? In the U.S., that number is approximately 39 percent. For those wanting to know more about the divorce rate in the U.S., you will notice that the numbers are actually trending downward. Forty years ago, if you were looking to see what percentage of marriages end in divorce, those figures would be closer to that 50 percent mark. 

While the divorce rate may be declining, the numbers still show that a large percentage of marriages do not last. How many marriages end in divorce? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics last reviewed Census data in 2018, and in the 45 states (plus Washington D.C.) that reported data, it was revealed that there were 782,038 divorces in the United States in 2018. We explore some of the most common reasons couples divorce below. 

Frequently Cited Reasons for Divorce

There have been numerous studies looking at frequently cited reasons for divorce. In many cases, there was more than one contributing factor. 

  • Lack of Commitment
  • Arguing
  • Infidelity
  • Married Too Young
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Unequal Partnership
  • Not Prepared for Marriage
  • Domestic Violence or Abuse
  • Addictions

Divorce percentages are higher or lower among certain groups as well. Couples married before the age of 25 are more likely to divorce than couples married after the age of 25. Strong religious affiliation also statistically leads to a lower divorce rate. 

Consult the Experts at Conniff Law Offices

Most couples get married with the intention of the marriage standing the test of time. However, even with the best possible intentions, life is unpredictable. If you have decided that divorce is the best course of action for you, contact the experienced attorneys at Conniff Law Offices. We understand that this can be a very difficult decision, and our team is dedicated to offering compassionate support alongside expert advice. Reach out to us about setting up a consultation at your earliest convenience. 

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Maybe It’s Time to Consider a Divorce

Marriage is seen by many as an institution that will stand the test of time. Nobody gets married with the intention to separate at some point, but years of misery and anger can make even the most optimistic newly-wed couple consider divorce down the road. Regardless of what friends and family members might say, everyone has a right to their own sense of happiness and safety.

Have you been asking yourself, “Should I get a divorce?” Although everyone’s relationship is different and unique to their situation, there are a few signs that indicate it might be time to separate.

Your Needs are Unmet

Marriage is a partnership; both spouses must work together to support one another and meet whatever needs each person has. These needs will vary between persons and couples. Some people require daily physical contact to feel that they are loved while others just need a few words of encouragement every once in a while to get them through the day.

Whether they’re physical, emotional or spiritual, you and your spouse both have certain expectations. Problems can arise when these expectations don’t align and needs aren’t met. There are a variety of stressors in life that can drastically affect a relationship in the short-term: finances, family issues, employment, etc. If you and your spouse work together, it’s possible to come back from these situations. However, in some cases, things just don’t go back to the way they were. This may have you asking the question, “Do I get a divorce or not?”

If over a period of months, or even years, you find yourself or your spouse contributing less to the partnership or ignoring the needs of the other person, it may be best to move on and find a more fulfilling relationship.

Intimacy and Infidelity

Most people require a certain level of intimacy in their marriage. Whether it’s emotional or physical, this closeness sets the relationship apart from normal friendships. As with any other need, problems can arise if this requirement isn’t met. The easiest fix would be to talk to your spouse about your feelings and express the lack of intimacy between the two of you. Of course, things aren’t always that simple.

If someone feels a lack of intimacy in their relationship, they sometimes look for it elsewhere. An extramarital affair is stereotypically portrayed as a physical, sexual relationship, but emotional cheating is equally as common. If you or your spouse are being unfaithful, it is a symptom of problems in the marriage. At the very least, you and your spouse should seek counseling, or contact a divorce attorney to explore options in the event the marital relationship ultimately breaks down. This can give you some clarity if you are wondering, “How do I know if I should get a divorce?”


No matter the state of your marriage, no one should ever live with abuse. If you believe you are a victim of physical or emotional abuse, consider contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). In such a situation your safety and the safety of any children you might have is of the utmost importance. Focus on separating yourself from your abuser and then immediately begin divorce proceedings when you are safe.

When Should I Get a Divorce? 

You may also be wondering if it is the right time to get a divorce. There really is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. A variety of factors can come into play, such as finances, insurance, and parenting. This is why it is best to seek a consultation with a divorce attorney or therapist to help you weigh your options. 

When it comes to finances, you need to determine whether an immediate separation of finances is necessary, what support obligations must be met, and what debts or expenses need to be taken care of before proceeding with a divorce. 

The needs of any children should also be taken into account. Before making a decision, it is best to take some time to determine what is in the best interest of the child or children. This could mean separating right away or waiting months, or even years. 

Divorce and Family Law Attorneys in Chicago

If you’ve decided that divorce is the best option for you or your family, contact the attorneys at Conniff Law Offices. Our Chicago family law firm strives to protect our clients and their families in uncertain times. Whether your case is uncontested, mediated, collaborative or litigated, our attorneys can provide invaluable guidance and empathetic support throughout the process.

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Annulment vs. Divorce

When comparing annulment vs. divorce, many individuals assume that an annulment is the easiest route to take and that a divorce will come with unwanted complications. Frequently, the exact opposite is true. When you work with an experienced family law attorney, a divorce can be a simpler solution with fewer situational requirements and time limits, posing fewer stresses during a difficult period in your life. To learn more, explore the differences between annulment vs. divorce with Conniff Law Offices of Chicago and Oak Park, below.

What is an Annulment? 

In Illinois, an annulment is “a declaration of invalidity of marriage.” A court order would say that the marriage is not valid and should not be recognized by the state as such. There are strict requirements that must be met when asking a court for a judgment of invalidity, which is what makes an annulment often more complicated than a divorce. Those requirements include:

  • If there is an issue of mental incapacity, intoxication, force, duress, or fraud that made the marriage invalid, the petition for a judgment of invalidity must be filed within 90 days of the petitioner becoming aware of the problem.
  • If there is an issue of physical incapacity with one of the spouses, the petition for a judgment of invalidity must be filed within one year of the petitioner learning about the incapacity.
  • If there is an issue of one spouse being under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage without a consenting parent or guardian, then the parent or guardian of the underage spouse must be the one to file for a judgment of invalidity, and it must be done before the individual reaches the age of 18.

What is a Divorce?

While an annulment is a court order that determines a marriage to be invalid, a divorce is a legal proceeding that ends a valid marriage – meaning that while you will no longer be legally bound to your ex-spouse and can remarry at any time, the marriage is still legally considered to have existed before your divorce. There are several benefits to choosing divorce over an annulment, including:

  • Fewer Requirements – As we highlighted above, annulments come with strict requirements and time limits that must be met in order to file for a judgment of invalidity. In a divorce, an individual can simply file for either a no-fault or fault-based divorce to start the process, so long as you and your spouse have lived in Illinois for 90 days.
  • Proof of Fault – Annulments require proof of fault for the marriage to be judged as invalid, while an individual could file for a no-fault divorce and not have to provide any proof of fault. 
  • Spousal Support Payments – Spousal support payments (or alimony payments), as well as the division of assets, must be determined by a court in a divorce. Additionally, any valid and enforceable pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreements must be upheld in a divorce. In an annulment, however, financial issues are essentially returned to the way they were prior to the marriage, which can be a significant setback for some individuals.

Discuss Your Options With a Divorce Attorney

When comparing annulment vs. divorce, some individuals find that divorce is a favorable method to pursue, offering fewer complexities and less stress throughout the process. If you are seeking the representation of an experienced divorce lawyer in Chicago or Oak Park, reach out to Conniff Law Offices today. Our team of attorneys consists of compassionate individuals who are dedicated to helping you through this difficult time in your life. Contact us today to learn more about the family law services we offer and schedule a consultation.

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