As an Illinois divorce lawyer, sometimes help people get a prenuptial agreement. And unlike various garbage websites like LegalZoom and others, I actually consult with my client to create custom documents. Prenuptial agreements are very useful for some people. However, I noticed there are some common questions about prenuptial agreements in Illinois. So I wrote this FAQ about Illinois prenuptial agreements. [click to continue…]
If you are looking for a free divorce consultation, beware. You probably won’t get what you’re looking for – and if you do, you’re probably not looking for the right stuff.
As an Illinois divorce lawyer who handles uncontested and contested divorces, I get many calls from people asking for divorce consultations – and man people want a free consultation. That’s understandable. But some things that are understandable are still a bad idea.
Let me explain the myth of the free divorce consultation. [click to continue…]
As an Illinois divorce lawyer, it’s important to take note of major changed in the law. Beginning January 1, 2016, there term “custody” will not a legal term so far as the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”) is concerned. In other words, there will be no more “joint legal custody” or “sole legal custody.” Instead, parents will be allocated various rights in regards to children.
The movement away from the use of “custody” as a legal term is just one change of many in the new law. That’s why I wrote this article – to help people understand Illinois’ new divorce law as it relates to kids. [click to continue…]
Are you divorced and have a problem with your QDRO or other retirement division issue? If so, read this article about problems that can happen after a divorce is finalized – the so called “post decree” time period.
After I recently won a hearing regarding division of a pension, I realized many people get divorced with plans to divide a retirement account – then something goes wrong. As a QDRO litigation lawyer in Illinois, I’ve done my best here to address those issues.
If you got divorced in Illinois, then you have a “judgment for dissolution’ which lays out the terms of your divorce. But people sometimes violate the judgment. And that happens a lot with splitting retirement accounts. That’s why there is sometimes litigation about retirement after a divorce.
[click to continue…]
If the other parent has run off with your kid, then you need to take action immediately. I have handled a number of these delicate child custody situations, and I treat them like a sting operation. If your child is taken by the other parent, there are some things you need to know.
When dealing with any Illinois child custody matter, emotions can run high. However, it’s necessary to play the long game, and to think strategically. Please check out the below article if your child has been take and you find yourself in an Illinois child custody emergency. [click to continue…]
Lately I’ve noticed many divorce mediators who seem to be masquerading as lawyers in Illinois. Sure, they don’t literally claim to be lawyers. And they claim they are not giving legal advice. But there is as very thin line that separates illegally practicing law without a license and what many mediators are doing.
Are you looking for an divorce mediator? Great – you found one! I’m even part of a website devoted to divorce mediation in Illinois [link]. And I’m a lawyer. But you don’t have me to mediate your divorce. But please, if you want to mediator your divorce, choose a mediator who is also a divorce lawyer in Illinois.
I wrote this article to help people understand what’s going on with non-lawyer mediators. [click to continue…]
When a divorce in Illinois is litigated, each side has the right to certain information. The process of acquiring that information is called “discovery.” Another way to put it is that discovery is the evidence-gathering process. In a litigated divorce in Illinois, each party has the right to engage in discovery. However, the process can be time consuming, and frustrating. I wrote the FAQ on divorce discovery to help people understand the process.
There can be a lot of evidence-gathering in a litigated divorce. This article discusses the three primary discovery tools that almost everyone will have get done. They are as follows:
- Financial disclosure affidavits: An affidavit that lists income, expenses, and assets
- Proof of income: Tax returns and pay stubs
- Interrogatories: Written questions pertaining mostly to finances
- Requests to produce: Requests for documents pertaining mostly to finances
Below I discuss the discovery tools generally, and specifically. The general principals discussed apply to all three types of discovery. [click to continue…]
If you want to get divorced in Illinois, then you might be searching the internet for tips on getting divorced. Your divorce might involve child custody, division of assets, and spousal maintenance (alimony). And of course, you want a good lawyer. There are lots of articles out there about finding the best divorce lawyer.
But has anyone come right out and said you should hire a lawyer because the color of that lawyer’s skin? Probably not. Until now.
Read on to find out why I think there are some great benefits to hiring a black lawyer. [click to continue…]
If you are getting a divorce in Illinois, you don’t want a lawyer who is scared of trial. The concept seems funny, doesn’t it? But in Chicago, and other parts of Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties, many lawyers are scared of trial. Within the most recent two weeks, I’ve had several prospective clients want to hire me only a week before a trial – even thought they had other lawyers that have handled their cases for many months. That really go me thinking about how some Illinois divorce lawyers are scared of trial.
I wrote this article about the problems with Illinois divorce lawyers that are scared of a trial.
Why would a lawyer be scared of a trial?
As a divorce lawyer in Chicago and elsewhere in the counties of Cook, Lake, and DuPage, I’ve notice that many divorce lawyers are scared of conducting a trial. Here are some of the reasons they might be scared:
- Getting paid: Trials can become expensive. So lawyers sometimes want to avoid trials because they are worried they won’t get paid for one.
- Client expectations: Many times divorce lawyers in Illinois give false high expectations to clients to get their business, even though it’s fairly clear those expectations won’t be met. Or, a client might wrongly have expectations that cannot be met. So if either of those are the case, I lawyer might pressure a client to settle and avoid a trial.
- Unprepared lawyer: Sometimes, lawyers are as prepared as they should be. No one’s perfect, right? But some lawyers got to court unprepared to make arguments. If your lawyer is like that, then you might wonder what the persuasive arguments are in your case. You shouldn’t have to wonder that. You’re lawyer should have told you.
- Just bad at conducting trials: Some lawyers are not good at putting on a trial. Divorce trials can be very intense matters. In an Illinois divorce, there can be contested issues of property division, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, and child support.
How can I determine if a lawyer is scared of a trial?
I’ve noticed some common traits in lawyers that seem scared of having a trial. Here are some of them.
- Invisible partner: Many times a client hires a firm based on speaking to a “name” partner – one of the divorce lawyers with his or her name on the door. And guess what – that partner becomes invisible. Instead of truly being represented by the partner that the client had faith in (for some likely-unsupported reason), the client will instead actually be represented by an associated who’s just taking orders. In my experience, partners who show up at the last minute before a trial are rather scared of going to trial – they were probably hoping all along they could simply settle the case while making boatloads of money of the associate trudging to court doing basically meaningless tasks.
- Bumbling other hearings: Trials don’t happen at the beginning of a case. They happen at the end. Before a trial there have likely been other hearings – maybe on temporary custody, visitation, or child support. If a divorce lawyer seems to be unable to pull off one of those hearings, that same lawyer is probably scared of a trial.
- Lack of passion: If you’re lawyer seems to lack passion for your case, there is a good chance he or she is scared of a trial. This can even be the case for good lawyers. To be frank, sometimes I have clients who think they have good cases, but don’t. I tell them. But if they want to go to trial instead of settle, that’s their choice.
- No strategic explanation: Good divorce lawyers should be able to discuss strategy with you in regards to how a trial would be handle. What are the major issues, and how will they be approached? Is credibility an issue, and if show, how will the lawyer attack the credibility of the other side? If there is no discussion of this nature, than that divorce lawyer may very well be scared of trial.
How will I be harmed if my lawyer is scared of a trial?
I feel sorry for people who hired divorce lawyers in Illinois that are scared of a trial. In my opinion, clients of those lawyers are at risk of serious harm. Here’s how:
- Pressure to take bad deals: I’ve noticed that lawyers who are scared of trial often pressure client to settle when they shouldn’t. That’s opposite behavior of what many clients think a lawyer will do. Many clients initially think lawyers just want to keep dragging a case on to bill more. Maybe they will – until a certain point. Then, they beg a client to settle because they are scared of having a trial.
- High bills: If your lawyer is scared of having a trial, your case might actually end up costing more than if you had a trial. A trial (absent a later appeal), will put at end to a case. On the other hand, negotiations can drag on forever. I had several cases that were greatly sped up by my demand for a trial.
- Endless cases: Lack of a trial date can cause a case to drag on for years – often when it doesn’t need to.
- Stress: One good thing about a trial is that it should put an end to your case. The problem with endless negotiations is that they can drag on forever – and that can be more stressful than actually dealing with the consequences of a trial.
What lawyers aren’t scared of a trial?
As a divorce lawyer in Chicago and the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, and Lake, I’m not scared of going to trial. On one hand, I have many cases that settle quickly. On the other, if I think a trial will help my client, I’ll push for one.
If I cannot take your case, I can refer your case to numerous lawyers who I know are capable and willing to take cases to trial. In my opinion, if a lawyer is scared of trial your case will not end as well as it could – even if you settle.
If you want a fast and affordable uncontested divorce in Illinois, I’m an Illinois divorce lawyer who can help you out. Call me at 312-554-5433 if you want to get started now.
In many cases, you divorce can be done in about one month, for a flat fee. I do handle nasty litigated cases, but if you an manage it, an uncontested divorce in Illinois is the way to go.
I practice in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. I wrote this FAQ on uncontested divorce in Illinois to help you get the answers you need to get a quick and affordable divorce in Illinois. [click to continue…]
If your child has been taken from some other state to Illinois – without your permission – then you are likely experiencing a child custody emergency. That being the case, you will need a lawyer with expertise in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”). The UCCJEA is a “uniform law” that has been adopted by nearly every state.
The problem is that most lawyers have little to no useful familiarity with the UCCJEA – let alone familiarity with using it within the context of an emergency. But I do. Furthermore, I was the winning appellant in my own UCCJEA case that was heard before the Michigan Supreme Court. [click to continue…]
If you are involved in a divorce in Illinois, you might wonder, “What is a deposition?” Long story short, it’s an interview of a party or witness that can be used in court. But as a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I know that people actually have many more questions about depositions. That’s why I wrote this FAQ about depositions in a divorce in Illinois. [click to continue…]
As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I often have to deal with dividing retirement accounts as part of a divorce. Here’s the deal with dividing 401ks, pensions, and the like – it’s complicated. Splitting 401ks and pension plans requires a special court order, called a “qualified domestic relations order.” or QDRO. Most QDROS are prepared by specialists because of the technical knowledge required. If you need a QDRO, then you might want to hire the best QDRO lawyer in Illinois. If so, read on. [click to continue…]
As a divorce lawyer in Chicago Skokie and Evanston, people often ask me if they can keep their house after a divorce. The answer? It depends. If you want an answer to the question what happens to the house after divorce, read this article about dividing this important piece of property. It is often one of the most critical areas of a settlement or trial of a divorce in Illinois. [click to continue…]
If you need a QDRO lawyer, that means you need someone to draft a qualified domestic relations order – it’s what’s used to divide 401ks and pensions pursuant to a divorce in Illinois. You might be glad your divorce is over, but now you have to deal with the pain of figuring out what to do about your QDRO. It can be hard to get a QDRO drafted afer a divorce is complete, because many divorce lawyers do not draft QDROs themselves, so if a judgment for dissolution (the “order” that says you’re divorced).
I wrote this article about how to get your QDRO. [click to continue…]
An uncontested divorce in Illinois can be quit simple – so long as you use a lawyer. As an uncontested divorce lawyer in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties, I find that whether it’s Chicago, Skokie, Deerfield or Wheaton, people often have the misconception that an uncontested divorce means a lawyer isn’t necessary. While it’s true that an uncontested divorce in Illinois can be affordable and fast, it’s important not to forget that divorce is as legal process best handle by a lawyer. I wrote this article to explain why people who want an uncontested divorce in Illinois should use a lawyer. [click to continue…]
It’s unusual for a lawyer to talk about how to fire your lawyer. That’s why I’m writing this article.
Should you fire your lawyer? I don’t know. That’s for you to decide. To assist you in deciding I discuss reasons for firing a lawyer before discussing how to do it. [click to continue…]
Find a divorce lawyer in Illinois can be challenging. I know that many people are referred to lawyers by their friends and family, and sometimes by other lawyers.
But one thing I’ve found – from hiring lawyers myself – is that some referrals aren’t worth anything at all. [click to continue…]
If you are thinking about an uncontested divorce in Illinois, you may have talked to family and friends who have been divorced. Getting support from your family and friends is important. But the problem is they can spread the Top 5 Myths about getting an uncontested divorce.
This article is about dispelling the Top 5 Myths about divorce in Illinois. [click to continue…]
Many people wonder if they can date while getting divorced. Others contact me and complain that their spouses are cheating on them.
That begs the question, does dating while getting divorce have any effect on the divorce? [click to continue…]
Many people have heard about a new “right of first refusal” provision that is taking effect on January 14, 2014. As an Illinois child custody lawyer, I find parents are often concerned about this issue. Too bad the new right of first refusal provision is a failure.
I wrote this article to provide a basic explanation of the law, and some commentary.
Long story short: the statute has no teeth and doesn’t go far enough in creating and protecting the right of first refusal in child custody and visitation situations. [click to continue…]
As a divorce lawyer, many people contact me asking for help with a “no-fault divorce.” Most of those people are actually looking for an “uncontested divorce,” also known as a “amicable divorce” or a “divorce by agreement.”
I wrote this article to help people understand the term “no-fault” and why that’s not the same as an uncontested divorce.
Grounds for divorce in Illinois [click to continue…]
As an Illinois divorce lawyer working in Chicago and the counties of Cook, DuPage, Lake, and Will, I see all types of people. My clients are from diverse backgrounds. Many people think they need a lawyer who is just like them. I don’t think that’s true. [click to continue…]
It seems like a lot of people want to know how to save money with a lawyer. If you are involved in a family dispute, or a divorce in Illinois, you probably want to know how to decrease the costs of litigation.
Whether you have one of the best divorce lawyers in Illinois, very expensive divorce lawyer, or a relatively affordable divorce lawyer, you probably want to know how to spend less money on your lawyer about getting the same result in your case.
Hiring an Illinois family law attorney is no easy task. Obviously, you want to hire an attorney that is best for you. To address that I wrote the article “Who is the best divorce attorney in Chicago?”
But there are other things you can do to make better use of your financial resources.
Use an attorney that leverages technology
While here are numerous factors that can make some one of the best attorney for you, one of it overlooks factor is the attorneys use of technology.
Let me explain to you how I use some technology. I use secure online storage to their clients can have easy access to the document. Then also enables them to easily send me documents. Further, I make extensive use of email, some attorneys do not. I use email extensively with communicating with my clients, and with opposing counsel. That saves a lot of money that would otherwise be wasted on the expense of postage and the time involved in mailing hard copy communication.
I ran across one attorney who did an excellent job leveraging technology for the benefit of her client. Chicago divorce lawyer Marie Fahnert received permission from a judge to conduct a hearing via Skype. In that case, the man was bed-ridden, and the attorney’s use of technology was key to the success of his case. While your case may not be that extreme, Attorney Fahnert’s case does illustrate the important role played by an attorney’s creative and effective use of technology.
Avoid unnecessary communication
One of the biggest wastes of time and money is creating unnecessary communication. Divorce and child custody disputes can be very stressful. But you should be careful not to use your lawyer as a therapist. First of all, lawyers do not tend to be good therapist.
You will also want to be careful not to flood an attorney with unnecessary communication about the facts of a case. In divorce and child custody cases, some facts are relevant to the proceeding, and some facts are not. Your lawyer should help you understand what facts are relevant. If you flood an attorney with too many irrelevant facts, you are likely to waste money and to distract from the more meaningful facts.
Organize your evidence
As an Illinois divorce lawyer, one of the most time-consuming aspects of my job is to organize my clients’ testimony and evidence. Here are a few tips you can use to keep your communication organized:
- Use email efficiently: Don’t send 10 emails a day, unless there is an emergency. It is much better to have one email with clearly delineated topics. Using bullet-points can help keep your emails organized.
- Label evidence effectively: I normally coach my clients how to keep their evidence organized. When clients send me their evidence in an organized fashion, that’s less time I have to spend organizing the client’s evidence. And that saves the client’s money.
Can your lawyer explain technology
The use of technology is one of the major drivers in attorney efficiency. But how can you determine how well your attorney utilizes technology? Most likely, at attorney would not just up and admit “I have no idea how to make use of technology, therefore our communication will be slow and your bill will be 10 percent higher.”
I suggest asking any attorney you’re thinking about hiring the following questions:
- Do you communicate via email?
- Can I access my case file online?
- Do you have the capability to conduct a teleconference?
- How do you prefer to communicate with attorneys on the other side?
“Is property divided 50-50 in an Illinois divorce?”
As an Illinois divorce, I get that question a lot. The answer? Yes. And no
I wrote this short FAQ on division of property in an Illinois divorce.
How is property divided in an Illinois divorce?
Property is decided “equitably” in an Illinois divorce. Equitably is a fancy word for fair – it’s probably used just to make things seem more sophisticated. Lawyers like that. I’m just going to use the word “fair.”
A fair division of property might mean that you get 60 percent of the property, and your spouse gets 40 percent, or vice versa. Or perhaps the property will be split equally(50-50).
Who decides what is fair?
Judges decide what a fair division of property is, unless the parties can agree. If spouses can settle a divorce without a trial, or get an uncontested divorce, then the sp0uses choose for themselves what they think is fair.
But what if spouses don’t agree?
Then the judge decides what is fair. If you go to trial, you may very well find out that your version of fair does not comport with the judge’s version. Who do you think will win?
What property is divided in a divorce?
Not all property the spouses own is subject to division upon divorce. Only marital property is divided. Marital property is property that is acquired during the marriage – with a few exceptions that are beyond the scope of this article.
By the way, it doesn’t usually matter much whose name is on the property, or who purchased it. For example, if both spouses have separately-titled bank accounts that were opened and funded during the marriage, they might be under the impression that they get to keep an account simply because only his or her name is on it. That would be wrong. The accounts would be marital property and could be divided upon divorce.
Property division misconceptions are one reason I answer “yes” when someone asked me “Do I need a lawyer for a divorce in Illinois?”
For a bit more about dividing property, you might want to checkout my articles “Dividing property in divorce: Overview,” and “Uncontested Divorce & Marital Settlement Agreements: The Home.”
Divorce mediation can be a way to speed up you divorce and avoid animosity. As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I write about many contentious topics on this site, including child custody, child support, and dividing marital assets.
But I want to make sure that people know about divorce mediation and some of what I see as the main benefits.
Mediation = Vegas?
What happens there, stays there.
What happens in mediation stays in mediation. In other words, mediation is confidential – for the most part.
Allow me to compare mediation to litigation in regards to privacy. [click to continue…]
A couple weeks ago I represented a client who was defending against an emergency order of protection procured by his ex-wife. She accused him of myriad types of harassment, from posting threats on Facebook, to making threats of bodily harm on the phone. She also accused him of raping her.
I showed the judge she was a liar. [click to continue…]
As an Illinois family law attorney practicing in Chicago, Naperville, Skokie and elsewhere, I know many people getting divorced have questions about how much alimony will be paid for how long. They often contact me with considerable anxiety about the issue.
First, you should know that in Illinois, what used to be called “alimony” is now called “spousal maintenance.” So that’s how I’ll refer to it in this article.
Here is the real truth: it’s up to the judge. All judges are different, and the facts of your case are different than the facts of other case.
Length and amount maintenance
The length and amount of maintenance is determined by the degree of existence of the following factors:
- The age of both parties
- The health of both parties
- The property owned by each party, including what was awarded in divorce
- The income and future earning ability of each party
- The needs of each party and the standard of living of the marriage
- The time required for the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting
- The extent to which the party to receive maintainance contributed to the career/education/licensure o the other party
Termination of maintenance
If maintenance is awarded, these days its almost always temporary. For one year, two years, or something else. The days of lifetime maintenance are pretty much over.
But however long maintenance is for – whether that be through judgment or settlement – it can be terminated early.
Section 510(a-5) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”) outlines various factors that can be used by the court in deciding to terminate maintenance:
- Any change in the employment status of either party and whether the change has been made in good faith;
- The efforts, if any, made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reasonableness of the efforts where they are appropriate;
- Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party;
- The tax consequences of the maintenance payments upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;
- The duration of the maintenance payments previously paid (and remaining to be paid) relative to the length of the marriage;
- The property, including retirement benefits, awarded to each party under the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage and the present status of property;
- The increase or decrease of each party’s income since the prior judgment or order from which a review, modification, or termination is being sought;
- The property acquired and currently owned by each party after the entry of the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage; and
- Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.
Hiring a spousal maintenance lawyer
If you are concerned about the payment of spousal maintenance (formerly known as “alimony”), there is probably enough at stake to warrant hiring an Illinois family law attorney.
If you are concerned about a change in maintenance – such as terminating, increasing, or decreasing it – that is accomplished by filing a motion in court. If you contact me we can get started.
As a lawyer who represents clients in spousal maintenance issues, I can’t guarantee results, but I make arguments designed to lead the court to the desired result.
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I’ve got one word for people who don’t want to needlessly spend money on a lawyer. And that word is “sane.” I’m dedicated to helping people get an affordable divorce in Chicago, and elsewhere in Illinois.
Who can get an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce can work regardless of income level, kids, or property issues. “It’s a myth that an uncontested divorce is only for people of modest means. The other week, a neurosurgeon contacted me about the process.
Whether you are a high net worth family or not, an uncontested divorce in Illinois might be an option.
Benefits of an Uncontested divorce
An uncontested divorce is almost always immensely less expensive and faster than one where the spouses fight it out. Divorce is about moving on with life. And often the easiest way to do that is to come to agreement and to put the past behind you. Many people can hire a lawyer for a flat-fee for an uncontested divorce.
My clients benefit from the efficiency of the process I use. I provide documents either by mail or electronically, and in an uncontested divorce, my client usually only has to appear in court once – when the divorce is granted. The divorce might take only one month.
Lawyer provides information about uncontested divorce
UncontestedDivorceInIllinois.com will not provide legal advice, but instead will help arm people with useful information and direct them to a divorce lawyer and Illinois family law attorney. Visitors will also be able to submit questions and have them answered by an Illinois family law attorney and Chicago divorce lawyer.
Questions that will be addressed include:
- What is the process of an uncontested divorce in Illinois?
- Can we both use the same lawyer in an uncontested divorce?
- How long does a divorce take?
- How do I find an uncontested divorce lawyer?
- What are the main issues we need to agree on?
- How is property and debt divided?
- What do we do about the house, and do I need an Illinois real estate lawyer?
- How much child support should be paid in Illinois?
Warning: “Online divorce” nonsense
People should be warned against using online websites to complete divorce documents without the assistance of a lawyer. Using a website to create legally binding documents can lead to what I call divorce déjà vu – problems the spouses think they solved, but instead, may rear their ugly heads years later. Instead of creating problems by trying to use a website as a lawyer, I can assist people with an affordable uncontested divorce so they can try to move on with life with less stress.
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I can tell you that many parents are flabergasted upon learning that a court can force them to pay for their children’s higher education through Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”), titled “Support for Non-minor Children and Educational Expenses.”
Getting this law changed should be a no-brainer. A good start would be helping Illinois’ unmarried veteran parents deal with a court ordering them to pay college expenses.
I am proposing a statutory amendment to assist unmarried veteran parents in paying for their children’s higher education. [click to continue…]
“He cheated on me,” my new client told me. “Isn’t there anything I can do about that?” she asked.
As a Chicago divorce attorney, I’m asked that type of question about adultery frequently. And while adultery and cheating often make headlines – for instance with General David Petraeus’ resignation from his position as the director of the CIA – people interested in divorce in Illinois should realize this one truth: cheating and adultery is almost totally irrelevant to getting divorced.
Below is a brief breakdown of cheating and adultery as applied to divorce in Illinois.
Grounds for a divorce and the “waiting period”
When someone files a “petition for dissolution of marriage” to start off of divorce, he or she must allege grounds for a divorce. Most people allege “irreconcilable differences,” or what people often refer to as “no-fault.” While it is true that adultery can be alleged, almost no one does that any more – not even those who have been cheated on.
In Illinois, when citing “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for divorce, parties must have been living “separate and apart” for two years before being granted a divorce, a period that can be reduced to six months of both parties agree.
However, when citing “fault-based” grounds such as adultery, there is no waiting period. So for some wanting a quick divorce, it might be tempting to allege adultery. However, proving adultery is time-consuming, and expensive, and quite likely will not speed up the finalization of a divorce.
Dividing marital property
When getting divorce, marital property is divided, while parties’ non-marital property is not divided. Someone who has been cheated on may think that because he or she has been wronged, then the other party should get less of the marital property. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. Adultery is totally irrelevant to the percentage of the marital property awarded to either party.
Spousal Support, known as “alimony”
Did your husband or wife cheat on you? If so, that hurts. But it will have zero impact on the amount of spousal support (aka alimony) that is paid, if any. Some lawyers make think that characterizing a spouse as a “cheater” will make a judge dislike the spouse, and and that the non-cheater will somehow benefit. But that is unlikely – most divorce judge are too busy to worry about something that is legally irrelevant.
The issue of dissipation is the only area in which adultery is pragmatically relevant. Dissipation occurs when, sometime after the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage has begun, one spouse uses marital funds for non-marital purpose. For example, if a husband buys his girlfriend a $200,000 condo in Las Vegas, those funds have been dissipated, and the wife should essentially be paid back. Dissipation can stem from many different activities aside from adultery, like gambling or an addiction to drugs.
Most people don’t want to spend money on a Chicago divorce lawyer. I have one word for those people – sane!
Unfortunately, when seeking a divorce in Illinois (called a “dissolution of marriage”), when spouses try to handle a divorce on their own, mistakes happen, and time is wasted. I wrote this article to address some common questions about hiring a family law attorney in Illinois.
Do I need a lawyer for a divorce in Illinois?
No, you don’t need a lawyer. Likewise, when you are a passenger on a plane, you don’t need a pilot – but things might go a bit smoother a trained professional at the helm.
True, there is a lot of free information out there about how to get a divorce. Some services help you draft material you need to file for divorce. However, an Internet-based form will not answer anyone’s questions, should they arise.
I can tell you from experience that people often have misperceptions about the law of divorce in Illinois – most of which is in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. For example, people often think because one one name is one a bank account, that bank account is absolutely the sole property of the spouse whose name is on it – but that’s not true.
The point is, if you are using a form to help you get divorced without a lawyer, you run the risk of making ill-informed decisions that could impact your life for years to come.
My husband/wife and I agree on everything, we don’t need a lawyer, do we?
Even when people agree, having a lawyer can have benefits for both. First, even if only one party has a lawyer, at least the settlement agreement will be written in a professional manner.
Further, unfortunately, sometimes people think that both spouses are in agreement – but they find out differently later. I cannot tell you home many times a client has said to me “We’re very amicable, I don’t think we’re going to need to worry about that issue,” then a couple months down the line, those same people are driving each other nuts with disagreement. A lawyer can help prevent problems.
It won’t take me too much time to get divorced in Illinois, will it?
It depends what you consider “too much time.” You will need to go to court to file papers, figure out how to draft agreements, and deal with court procedure. Then, you have to actually appear in court several times if you are trying to handle your divorce yourself. Maybe you don’t want to take off time for work? Maybe you don’t want to waste a lot of time with confusing legal forms? That’s another reasons to hire a lawyer.
After we get divorced, will we every have to come back to court?
It’s possible – especially when the divorce doe not appropriately wrap up all the loose ends. Here’s an example involving a house. During a marriage, the wife agreed to co-sign on the sister-in-law’s mortgage. The spouses drafted their own settlement agreement, which included a provision that stated the husband would indemnify the wife against any payments for his sister’s mortgage. However, since the agreement wasn’t professionally drafted, and the judge who approved it must not have read it, the wife (now ex-wife) had to hire me to clean up the mess. And frankly, at this point, it might be impossible to fix everything.
Long story short, prevent divorce deja vu – don’t try to go it alone and create the risk you will have to revisit the matter years later.
We want an uncontested divorce – can we use the same lawyer?
Some lawyers might agree to represent both parties. If you find one that will – run!
For an uncontested divorce in Illinois, many people want to have both spouses use the same lawyer. But if a lawyer does that, he or she cannot give any legal advice to either party – and that can be a problem. Instead, what I often do is represent the petition in an uncontested divorce (the petition is the person who files for divorce), and i draft all the agreements. Then, the other party (the respondent) can either choose to represent him/herself, or can hire a lawyer to simply review the documents and to appear when the divorce is finalized at the “prove up.” The advantage to this system is that the spouses to have to hire two lawyers to do duplicative and expensive work – the second lawyer’s job is potentially very light and relatively inexpensive.
We don’t have any assets, do we will need a lawyer?
Often people tell me they don’t have any assets, then it turns out they do. The following are examples of assets: checking account, savings account, CD, bonds, stocks, cars, electronics, art work, interests in businesses (even if currently in red), houses. There are few people getting divorced that truly don’t have any assets.
Also, assets are only one half of the marital financial pictures – there is also debt. Marital debt can be divided, just like an asset. Is there a car loan in both your names? That can be divided. Is there a mortgage in both your names? You’d probably want that divided.
By hiring an attorney, you can have a professional manage the process of divorce in Illinois. Otherwise, you risk not properly accounting for assets and debts. When that happens, you could have a nasty surprise years later.
We already divided our assets, so that part is done, right?
No. That’s because in Illinois, when people are married, unless there is a pre-nuptual or ante-nuptial agreement, ownership is not determined by title to any
given assets. Therefore, despite the fact that you think your assets are divided, they are not divided in the eyes of the court.
For example, a wife may have a bank account that is only titled to her – the husband’s name is not on it. However, because they are married, that bank accouwith the wife’s name on it is still considered marital property and subject to division upon divorce.
If you seeking a divorce in Chicago, you may have several options in finding a divorce lawyer. You could ask a friend for a referral, walk into a lawyer’s office around the corner, or use the yellow pages (just kidding).
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I am available to help with your Illinois family law problems. But here are a few general tips for finding a lawyer.
Here are a few tips to finding a Chicago divorce lawyer.
- What happens during your consultation: If a lawyer doesn’t give you any insight, he or she might not be the one for you.
- Does the lawyer tell you what you want to hear: Don’t hire someone who just tells you what you want to hear. Often, both people in a divorce feel as though they lost. Hire someone who is realistic.
- What are you big issues? In the presidential election, winning Ohio was a major goal for both candidates. This is a good lesson for those in divorce. Don’t get lost in the minutia, keep focus on the major issues.
Hurricane Sandy is producing what some call a Frankenstorm – the collision of a hurricane and a one or two Nor-easters. Apparently the Frankenstorm is a near cataclysmic combination of various storms. As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I think there can be a sort of Divorce Frankenstorm. If you need help now, you can contact me, Chicago divorce lawyer Dave Wolkowitz. Or, see what constitutes a Divorce Frankenstorm below.
What is a Divorce Frankenstorm?
No one (normal) gets married in Illinois thinking he or she will get divorced. But it happens. Some people are able to have an amicable divorce – those people might consider an uncontested divorce in Illinois. However, one small contentious issue can lead to problems. If your divorce has at least three of the below, you may have a major battle on your hands:
- Spouse is mentally unstable: Mentally unstable spouses may blame others for their problems, and make false accusations.
- Spouse is a leach: If your spouse is a leach – happy to enjoy the so-called “marital estate” without putting forth significant effort to earn income, you are likely dealing with someone who wants something for nothing.
- Too much money: Somehow it seems to be rich people who create the most pain fighting over money – when they need that money the least. Sometimes, people just choose to go their own way and leave with what’s fair. Others seek to maximize their gains. When that happens, people get offended and did in their heels.
- Parental alienation: Some parents really can’t help themselves from alienating children from the other parent. It’s sick, but it happens.
Interested in an uncontested divorce in Illinois? If yes, you are like many people getting divorced. If you are ready to get started, and contact me, uncontested divorce lawyer David Wolkowitz. For a bit more information, here are some super brief points you should consider:
What is an uncontested divorce?
The spouses must agree on everything. Assets, debts, kids visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), and so forth. If you are not in agreement on all those things, perhaps your divorce will not be very combative, but it cannot be completed as quickly as a totally uncontested divorce can be done. For more information about one of the more complicated aspects of an uncontested divorce, see my article, “Uncontested divorce and marital settlement agreements: the Home.” It is important to understand when an uncontested divorce probably will not work – for more about that, see my article, “Uncontested divorce: When won’t it work?”
How long does an uncontested divorce take?
The principal determinant is how long the parties take to review the settlements draft by the lawyer. If that review is speedy, spouses can be divorced in less than a month.
Can we use the same lawyer?
Any lawyer who represents both parties in a divorce should retire immediately. However, many people get divorced while only one of them has a lawyer. For example, I might complete the settlement agreements according to terms agreed to by my client and the spouse. Then, the spouse can review those agreements, approve them, then the divorce can be finalized on those terms. See my article, “Uncontested divorce: Can we use the same lawyer?” for more insight into this issue.
What if my uncontested divorce becomes contested?
If an uncontested matter becomes uncontested, then you can either give up, or fight. If I am representing a client in an uncontested divorce, and it becomes contested, that client can choose to have me represent him in the contested matter.
How man times will I have to go to court?
If the matter is truly uncontested, then the parties only have to go to court once. And, if the other party notarizes the settlement agreements, then that person never needs to appear.
How can I get started?
I make the process very simple. It is as follows:
- You agree to have me represent you
- I send you spreadsheets to fill out
- We talk briefly
- I draft your agreements
- I send you agreements to approve, if necessary, I make changes
- Your spouse reviews, then approves
- I file everything in court, then the divorce is finalized about 2 weeks later when we appear at a “prove-up”
For an uncontested divorce contact me, Chicago family law attorney David Wolkowitz. I also wrong a longer article on uncontested divorce titled, “Uncontested divorce in Illinois: FAQ.”
As a Chicago divorce lawyer who has dealt with many people who want an uncontested divorce in Illinois, I’ve found that people have certain reoccurring questions. That’s why I wrote this article about frequently asked questions (FAQ) in an uncontested divorce. [click to continue…]
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I know the process of litigating a child custody dispute in Illinois can be confusing to parents. In Chicago, where there are serious child custody disputes the judge will often appoint a child representative or guardian ad litem (GAL). I wrote this article to help explain those two concepts. [click to continue…]
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I can tell you that even for those in an uncontested divorce in Illinois, what to do about the house is often a problem. One possibility may be a short-sale. [click to continue…]
A high-net worth divorce in Illinois may involve many of the same issues as other divorces, with a bit more complication. When the case calls for it, I can work with a network of professionals to provide high-net worth individuals with the expertise needed in preparing for divorce. [click to continue…]
As a Chicago and Lake County divorce lawyer, I understand that high-net worth people have concerns particular to their wealth. You may read the following FAQ or contact me to discuss your situation.
- Are assets split 50/50 in an Illinois divorce? The judge might divide assets right down the middle, but is not required to. That’s because in an Illinois dissolution of marriage (divorce), judges divide assets “equitably.” What does that mean? Essentially, a judge will divide assets according to what he or she thinks is fair, based on a variety of factors. That could mean a 50/50 split, a 60/40 split, and so forth.
- Will I have to pay alimony? Alimony is now referred to as “spousal support.” Spousal support is supposed to be rehabilitative; in other words, it is not supposed to last forever. Judges may use discretion when awarding spousal support, and they are supposed to award support such that the person receiving the support can maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
- How much child support will I have to pay? Child support is set by statute, but deviations are possible. One of the deviations that high-net worth individuals are often concerned with are deviations for high-earners. For example, as outlined in my article “Illinois child support: the basics,” without any deviation a payor of child support would pay 20 percent of his or her net income pursuant to statute. However, a child support payor may receive a downward deviation if the net income is more than a certain amount; Cook County judges generally allow a downward deviation when the payor’s net income is at least $200,000, and DuPage County judges generally use the $300,000 as the point at which they deviate downward for high earners. You can see my article titled “Child support in Illinois: reduced below guidelines” for an example of a case where I won a deviation for my client.
- What about my business in a divorce: Business can be marital property if they were started or acquired during the marriage. You may want to view my article titled, “Dividing property in divorce: Overview.”
- How long will my divorce take? High-net worth divorce can take longer because there are more issues to consider, and because the parties can afford to litigate those issues. The best thing to do is to consult an Illinois family law attorney to get a better idea of the issues involved in your case.
- How much will my divorce cost? It is impossible to say how much a divorce will cost. Consider that you will simply have to determine if spending money on legal fees is worth it, considering the potential (but uncertain) payoff.
Getting a lawyer for a high-net worth divorce
If you are concerned about your property, that’s understandable. And whether or not you support vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, I might be able to help. You might be interested in a consultation with me, Chicago divorce lawyer David Wolkowitz. You may contact me online or at Three-One-Two-554-5433 .
Divorcing parents in Illinois often have conflict over who will spend what time with the kids. As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I find that one way to maximize each parent’s time with the kids is to include a “right of first refusal” in a joint parenting agreement (JPA).
You may contact me, Chicago divorce lawyer David Wolkowitz online – and read below to learn a bit about the right of first refusal.
What is a right of first refusal?
It is never easy to allocate parenting time in an Illinois divorce or child custody dispute – but the right of first refusal can help make this easier. Right of first refusal in custody situations commonly means that one parent must first offer the other parent the opportunity to look after their kids before contacting a babysitter or another family member to care for the children.
Right of first refusal typically applies to both planned and last minute situations. Therefore, if a parent makes plans for night out with friends two months, or even two days, prior to the actual event, they must offer the other parent the option to care for their children before making any other arrangements. If the other parent decides not to take the kids during this time, then a third party caretaker such as a friend, babysitter or other family member may be asked to care for the children instead. Right of first refusal may also apply to situations such as doctor’s appointments, vacations, after school daycare, and many other instances.
Benefits of the right of first refusal
The right of first refusal helps parents avoid conflict because it helps maximize each parent’s time with the children. Further, when the right of first refusal is included in a JPA, parents are more likely to keep each other informed – and that can lead to better parenting. Ultimately, some of the stress inherent in divorce can be reduced.
Dealing with your custody issue
I know that visitation and parenting time can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. As an Illinois family law attorney, I think helping my clients spend as much time as possible with their children is one of my most important goals.
If you are concerned about your time with your children, that’s understandable.You might be interested in a consultation with me, Chicago divorce lawyer David Wolkowitz. You may contact me online or at Three-One-Two-554-5433 .
As a Chicago divorce lawyer who deals with division of property and high net worth divorces, I know that people have many questions about – to put it bluntly – keeping their stuff. You don’t have to be in a high-net worth divorce in Illinois to be concerned that you keep as much of your property as possible. [click to continue…]
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I find that an alcoholic husband or wife is one of the hardest situations for a person to deal with in a divorce. Often a person married to an alcoholic will feel like the situation is unfair. And it probably is. That’s why a fresh start may be the best thing.
Problems with kids and custody
An alcoholic parent is normally a bad parent. Even if the alcoholic is not abusive, it is likely that he or she is not putting a full effort towards parenting. When a parent is an alcoholic, alcohol-related problems can translate into restricted visitation or parenting time. [click to continue…]
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I tell clients that in a child custody case, most decisions will be made according to the child’s “best interests,” pursuant to Section 601 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”). Therefore, in a child custody matter, a parent’s lawyer needs to apply the law to the sometimes confusing facts of a case.
Evidence in a child custody case in Illinois
Parents in a child custody case can be overwhelmed with evidence, or potential evidence. Part of the challenge is to determine what evidence is relevant, and what is not. It’s not productive to spend time on worrying about gathering evidence that would not be meaningful to a judge. Also, as I wrote in my article “Illinois child custody: Liars common, but not invincible,” lying in child custody cases is commonplace – proper evidence can be effective in defeating lies.
Evidence in a child custody case may include:
- testimony from parents and others
- social media websites (Facebook, etc)
- text messages
- psychological reports
Parents in a child custody case are rightfully concerned about the cost of the case. To minimize costs, it is important to use a lawyer efficiently.
When I help a parent gather evidence for an Illinois child custody case, I like to help the parent understand how to organize the evidence, and how to communicate its relevance. As a Chicago child custody lawyer, I know that my clients benefit when I spend less time sorting through mounds of evidence, and more time determining how to best utilize that evidence.
Keeping the goal in mind
In a child custody case, the major topics of disagreement are legal custody and parenting time. You will want to gather evidence that is useful for the goal you are trying to achieve.
Legal custody: Legal custody requires a determination of whether parents will have joint legal custody, or if one will have sole legal custody. Whether a parent has joint or sole custody does not determine how much time the child spends with each parent.
Parenting time (visitation): One parent may have sole legal custody, but a child still might spend equal time with both parents. Or, parents might share joint legal custody, but the child may spend 80% of his or her time with one parent.
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I see people lie frequently. Very frequently. But in a hearing a few days ago, I almost completely dismantled the opposing client under cross-examination.
Good news: liars are often stupid
The problem with Illinois family law is that so much of it is “he said, she said.” There is so much “creativity” in testimony that’s it’s a wonder that judges don’t burst out in laughter.
However, the opposing party in my recent hearing seemingly has no bounds to her dishonesty. Though the case has been going on for more than six months (and my client was previously represented by a high-priced lawyer in a fancy building), the recent hearing was the first one wear the opposing client was actually made to account for her crazy accusations.
Child custody liar folded under cross examination
Under my cross examination, the other party stammered like a fool, to say the least. The problem for her was that her lies and intentional mischaracterizations have become so extravagant that she can’t possibly maintain believability.
I think one of my important tasks is to help my client focus on which of the other party’s lies are potentially substantive, and which are drivel. Then, of the lies that are substantive, I believe in helping my client assembler the evidence required to expose the other party appropriately.
People that lie in court commit perjury. It is almost impossible to get the state’s attorney to prosecute a perjury case. However, one can also be held in contempt of court for lying in court – an option I’m more than willing to explore for my clients.
It is important to understand that child custody liars don’t just lie on the stand, they lie at every opportunity, such as in a UCCJEA judicial teleconference when the are trying to effectuate what amounts to a kidnapping; see my article titled “Interestate child custody jurisdiction: UCCJEA ‘judicial teleconference’ is critical” to find out more about that.
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I come across people who are anxious to move on. For people in Illinois with a family law problem, I can usually help. But the other day, someone called me interested in a same-sex divorce. [click to continue…]
As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I find many people who want to get a divorce in Illinois are confused about handling financial matters. While people generally think they will split some property when they get divorce, financial discovery in divorce is more often a foreign concept. It can lead to some confusion.
Put simply, financial discovery is the process by which each spouse ascertains the financial assets of the other spouse, and the marriage as a whole. Basically, it’s gathering financial evidence. I wrote this FAQ on financial discovery in Illinois divorce to help people understand what will be necessary during a divorce.
Many people think that bigamy is a thing of the past. Most people can barely handle one spouse – why would anyone want more? If you need help with bigamy, contact me, Chicago divorce lawyer David Wolkowitz – I might be able to help.
Causes of Bigamy
There are a couple reasons bigamists could be married to more than one person. They include:
- It’s a con: Bigamists might just be out to scam people out of their money and stuff. Some bigamists aren’t out for financial gain, but they lie about not being married so they can get married again.
- Stupidity or confusion: Some people are stupid. Some of those stupid people get married, think they are divorced, but aren’t. Then they get married again. This is becoming more popular due to increased immigration. For example, a person is married in Poland, immigrates to the United States, then tries to divorce the spouse in Poland – but the divorce never goes through.
The Illinois law on bigamy
Section 212 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act addresses bigamy, or “Prohibited Marriage.” It prohibits ”a marriage entered into prior to the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties” is prohibited (750 ILCS 5/212 (a)). In other words, it prohibits bigamy.
The remedy to a bigamous marriage can be found in Section 301 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/301). To end a bigamous marriage, a court must enter an order declaring the marriage invalid; this was formally known as an annulment. A victim of bigamy would file a Petition for the Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage with the court, and procuring an order of invalidity would most likely be a simple matter or proving the bigamist was married at the time of the marriage the victim is not seeking to have declared invalid.
Dealing with bigamy in Illinois with a Chicago divorce lawyer
Bigamy is a serious harm to its victims. But, ending a bigamous marriage can be relatively simple because there often simply isn’t much to debate: it’s wrong, and it must end. However, if there are children involved, there may be complicated child custody matters to sort out. Further, bigamy can have an impact on who will inherit what should any of the spouses die during the bigamous marriages.
Just the other day, I was successful in obtaining a deviation from child support guidelines for my client. As a child support attorney in Chicago and Illinois, I was happy that I could help my client obtain a court order that lowered his child support payment BELOW statutory guidelines. If you need help with child support, contact me, Chicago divorce and Illinois child support lawyer David Wolkowitz – I might be able to help.
My work resulted in my client’s child support payment being lowered by almost 40 percent.
How did I accomplish that? Let me walk you through the steps.
Was current Illinois child support payment is appropriate?
Previously, I wrote an article entitled “Illinois child support: the basics“. That article explained that in Illinois, pursuant to Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”) (750 ILCS 5/505), child support is normally a certain pre-determined percentage of the payor’s net income. Where there is one child, the statute sets the percentage of one’s net income to be paid as support at 20%.
When the child support payor’s income drops, so does the child support payment (in most cases).
My client’s income dropped by about 40 percent, due to retirement and disability. So right off the bat I knew he was entitled to an approximate 40 percent decrease in his child support payment.
What’s going on with the finances?
I was almost certain my client was entitled to some reduction in child support because the decrease in his net income. However, I also suspected he might also be entitled to a deviation below the child support guidelines. In other words, though the statute suggested he pay 20% of his net income towards Illinois child support, I though he might be able to pay a lower percentage. But to determine if that might be possible, I had to analyze his finances.
I learned that while his expenses were increasing due to the cost of healthcare and medication, his income was artificially inflated in an non-sustainable manner. Further, because his savings were low, his debt was high, and earning potential severely limited, the chances of him greatly improving his financial position was very low.
What’s the strategy for a downward deviation in child support?
I planned a three-pronged approach to lower my client’s child support payments. First, I sought to demonstrate to the court that due to the mother’s income, the child would be well-supported even if the father paid less support. Second, I wanted to demonstrate that because of my client’s healthcare expense situation, it was critical that he be able to save more money – since healthcare costs could spike so easily. Lastly, I wanted to show that his income had an artificial and temporary increase that was unsustainable, thereby compounding his critical need to use his income for his own care.
When it was all said and done, my client’s monthly child support payment was reduced from $800 to $490.
People should support their children. But sometimes, a person may be in a dire position, and thereby have reason to pay less child support.
If you have questions about child support in Illinois – whether you want to increase, decrease, or simply collect what is owed, you can contact me, Chicago divorce and Illinois child support lawyer David Wolkowitz.