Call 312-554-5433 to get started with your Illinois divorce or family law matter. Serving clients in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

Let’s say you’ve been been injured at work, or driving a car. If that’s the case, then you might sue someone for a personal injury, or maybe you have ea worker’s compensation case. If so, you might receive a large sum of money as damages. But will you have to split that with your spouse?

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Divorce Actuary: What? Why?

What is an actuary? And why would an actuary be involved in a divorce? As you may know, divorce sometimes involves complicated financial matters, such as splitting retirement accounts (see this article about that). Actuaries can help a great deal with splitting retirement accounts. This article explains a bit about why an actuary would be involved in a divorce. [continue reading…]

If you’ve already gotten divorced and now you are in a disagreement about how retirement should be divided, you’re probably annoyed your divorce is still impacting your life. But you can’t ignore post-decree retirement division disputes. That’s why I wrote this FAQ relating to retirement division litigation.   [continue reading…]

If you are dividing a pension, 401k, or 403b, or deferred compensation plan in your divorce, then you will need a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO (pronounced “KWAH-dro”). But people have many questions about QDROS, and I hope to answer some of them in this article. [continue reading…]

If your are getting divorce with kids in Illinois, then you’re probably thinking about “child custody.” But as of 2017, that’s a term no longer used in Illinois. It’s now called “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Per the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are various factors a judge is supposed to consider when making an “allocation” decision. As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I’ve presented the factors in a FAQ format to help you better understand how a court will allocation parental responsibilities.

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Emergency Order of Protection FAQ: Defense

If you have been served an order of protection, you are probably worried, and maybe scared. You should be. If you are subject to an Illinois order of protection there can be serious consequences to your personal and professional lives. This is an FAQ on what to do if you have been served with an order or protection.

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As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I know that divorce stresses people out. Sometimes, getting more information can help reduce anxiety. I’ve written some articles about free consultations (like this one). And while I generally think free consultations are counter-productive, I’ve decided to offer a free 15-minute phone consultation for a limited time.

Want a free divorce consultation? Read on . . . [continue reading…]

It’s summertime again. And for an Illinois divorce lawyer, that means it’s time for fake vacations that lead to interestate custody battles.

What happens is that a parenting claims to be taking the kids on vacation to another state – then they don’t come back! It’s sick, but it happens more than you might expect. And that leads to an interstate child custody battle involving the Uniform Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).

If this has happened to you, there are steps you need to take NOW. If you wait, you are risking time with your kids in involvement in their lives.

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If you think you need to prepare to start a divorce in Illinois, you’re probably right. As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I know that people are often curious about preparing to start a divorce. Unless is your divorce is one by agreement, then preparing in advance can be a good idea. You might be able to gain a strategic advantage if you prepare for your divorce before your spouse knows you’ve talked to a lawyer.

If you need to talk to a lawyer know, you can call our office at 312-554-5433. Or, check out this article about how to prepare for a divorce in Illinois. We represent clients in the counties of Cook, DuPage, and Lake, among others. [continue reading…]

You’ve got to know this BEFORE filing for divorce!

There are some things you’ve got to know before filing for divorce.

As an Illinois divorce lawyer, I get calls from people who want to start a divorce, people in the middle of a divorce, and people who cannot wait for their divorce to end. They want to call me and get some answers that could solve their problems.

It’s impossible for even the best divorce lawyer to solve all of someone’s problems in a phone call.

So what I’ve done is put together some of the most important things you need to know about getting divorced in Illinois. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

A QDRO lawyer for post-divorce problems?

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.
[continue reading…]

Other Parent Run off with your Kid?

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. [continue reading…]

FAQ – Divorce Mediation with or without lawyers?

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. [continue reading…]

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:

  1. Financial disclosure affidavits: An affidavit that lists income, expenses, and assets
  2. Proof of income: Tax returns and pay stubs
  3. Interrogatories: Written questions pertaining mostly to finances
  4. 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. [continue reading…]

Divorce Tip: Hire a black lawyer

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. [continue reading…]

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:

  1. Getting paid: Trials can become expensive. So lawyers sometimes want to avoid trials because they are worried they won’t get paid for one.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Endless cases: Lack of a trial date can cause a case to drag on for years – often when it doesn’t need to.
  4. 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. [continue reading…]

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.

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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. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

Need a QDRO Lawyer in Illinois?

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. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

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. [continue reading…]

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 [continue reading…]

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. Do you communicate via email?
  2. Can I access my case file online?
  3. Do you have the capability to conduct a teleconference?
  4. 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. [continue reading…]

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:

  1. The age of both parties
  2. The health of both parties
  3. The property owned by each party, including what was awarded in divorce
  4. The income and future earning ability of each party
  5. The needs of each party and the standard of living of the marriage
  6. The time required for the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting
  7. 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:

  1. Any change in the employment status of either party and whether the change has been made in good faith;
  2. The efforts, if any, made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reasonableness of the efforts where they are appropriate;
  3. Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party;
  4. The tax consequences of the maintenance payments upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;
  5. The duration of the maintenance payments previously paid (and remaining to be paid) relative to the length of the marriage;
  6. 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;
  7. 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;
  8. 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
  9. 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.

You may also like to read my article, “Dividing property in divorce: Overview” and “Divorce in Illinois: Financial disclosure basics.”






Uncontested Divorce: One-stop Shop

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 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:

  1. What is the process of an uncontested divorce in Illinois?
  2. Can we both use the same lawyer in an uncontested divorce?
  3. How long does a divorce take?
  4. How do I find an uncontested divorce lawyer?
  5. What are the main issues we need to agree on?
  6. How is property and debt divided?
  7. What do we do about the house, and do I need an Illinois real estate lawyer?
  8. 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. [continue reading…]

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.

Do I need a Chicago divorce lawyer?

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.

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