Illinois Has a New Maintenance (Alimony) Law. What Do You Need to Know?

Starting January 1, 2015, a new law determining spousal maintenance is in effect for divorcing couples. Maintenance is also known as alimony (particularly by the IRS) or spousal support. The new law, P.A. 98-0961, affects couples whose combined gross income is less than $250,000. The new law was put into place to fix inconsistencies in the way different courts awarded maintenance across Illinois. As this is a new law with complex mathematical computations, it is strongly advised that you consult an attorney before agreeing to any divorce settlement that includes a maintenance award. Continue reading “Illinois Has a New Maintenance (Alimony) Law. What Do You Need to Know?”

Should I Mediate My Divorce?

It depends.

Why Mediate a Divorce?

When a couple files for a divorce, usually there are a lot of angry feelings. The tendency is to want to fight for every conceivable advantage. That is why you hire a lawyer, right? Well, yes and no. You hire a lawyer to fight for your rights, but also to advise you as to the best course of action to take, all the ramifications that certain actions will have and how to achieve the best possible results. Your attorney will likely inform you that mediation is the best way to go. Why? Continue reading “Should I Mediate My Divorce?”

Ex Violating Divorce Judgment or Custody Order?

“My ex is violating a court order. What should I do?” As a divorce lawyer Cook, DuPage, and Lake counties, I get that questions a lot. Unfortunately, many people are surprised when they get divorced then find their ex is not following the court order.

I wrote this article to shed some light on what a divorce lawyer can help you do when your ex is violating a court order in Illinois. I’m a divorce lawyer in Illinois, and many times I’ve taken action against against people who don’t follow court orders. Continue reading “Ex Violating Divorce Judgment or Custody Order?”

Who is the Best Divorce Attorney in Chicago?

You decide that you want to get a divorce.  Should you try to retain the best divorce attorney?  Absolutely.  You should retain the divorce attorney who is best for you!  What does that mean?  One who listens, who charges a rate that you can live with, knows the law, and understands that your divorce doesn’t exist to fund his or her next island vacation.

Here’s a few things you should know . . . . Continue reading “Who is the Best Divorce Attorney in Chicago?”

Can’t Find Spouse But Want a Divorce?

Sometimes people have been separated for many years and have never gotten divorced.  They may figure that they have no children, they own no real property,  they have no marital property, or they never plan to remarry, so what’s the big deal?

If you have been separated for many years, in the eyes of the court you might as well still be living together because your rights and responsibilities are still the same.  Anything that you have purchased is marital property, even if purchased in your own name.  Your spouse is still entitled to a portion of your pension benefits, and if you die without a will, your spouse will still be able to get a spouse’s share of the intestate estate.

The only way to separate your finances from a spouse is through a legal separation, which is a court proceeding, or a divorce. Continue reading “Can’t Find Spouse But Want a Divorce?”

Joint Simplified Divorce in Cook County

As a skilled attorney, I generally advise against people trying to do their own divorces.  While you might think it is simple, I receive many calls from people who want to undo things from their divorce.  There is a simple way to get divorced in Cook County, but you must meet all of the criteria. This is not the same as a standard uncontested divorce.

What are the Criteria for a Joint Simplified Divorce?

To be eligible for a joint simplified divorce in Cook County you must meet the following criteria (note that this also applies to civil unions):

(a) The duration of the marriage/civil union does not exceed 8 years.

(b) Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage/civil union and the parties
have been separated 6 months or more. Efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts at reconciliation
would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.

(c) No children were born of the relationship of the parties or adopted by the parties during the marriage/civil
union. Neither party is pregnant by the other party.

(d) Neither party is dependent on the other party for support or each party is willing to waive the right to

(e) Each party waives any right to spousal support.

(f) Neither party has any interest in real estate.

(g) The total fair market value of all marital/civil union property, after deducting all debts owed, is less than

(h) The total annual income of both parties is less than $35,000. Neither party has a gross annual income from all sources in excess of $20,000.

(i) Both parties have disclosed to each other all assets and their tax returns for all years of the marriage/civil union.

(j) The parties have executed a written Agreement dividing all assets in excess of $100 in value and
allocating responsibility for debts and liabilities between themselves. A copy of the Agreement, signed by
both parties, is filed with the petition.

If you do not meet these criteria and you live in Cook County, chances are you need an attorney to help you navigate through the divorce process.



If I Have Joint Custody Why Am I Paying Support?

Many people are confused about what joint custody means in Illinois.

In Illinois joint custody means:

  • that the parents must consult with each other regarding:
    • education
    • religion
    • medical decisions

Joint custody does not mean:

  • custody is split 50/50
  • neither parent pays child support

So why am I paying support?

Even if you have joint custody and are splitting time 50/50, it is still possible that you will have to pay support.  Illinois has a statutory formula that is based strictly on a percentage of net income.  However, judges have the  discretion to deviate either up or down depending on the circumstances – but you must ask the court for a deviation.  It is not automatic.

If you are spending an equal amount of time with your children and paying statutory support, and your ex-spouse has a similar income (or more) you may be able to get a downward deviation which would reduce your monthly support obligation.

If you would like to see if a downward deviation might apply to your situation, please contact me.

Dissipation and Alienation of Affections

The Donald Sterling, Rochelle Sterling, V. Stiviano love triangle has been all over the news lately.  There are recordings of Donald Sterling by V. Stiviano, the mistress, and there is a lawsuit filed by Rochelle Sterling against the mistress.

At the heart of Rochelle’s Sterling’s lawsuit against V. Stiviano are gifts given by her husband to his mistress which she contends were purchased with marital money.  While California is a community property state and the laws are not the same as Illinois, an Illinois spouse does have recourse when marital money is being used to fund an extra-marital relationship. Continue reading “Dissipation and Alienation of Affections”

Settling Summer (and Extended) Visitation Disputes

It’s that time of year that many divorced people dread — the time when arrangements must be made for summer visitation.  Your Judgment of Dissolution, Marital Settlement Agreement or Joint Parenting Agreement (or an ancillary order) will contain the terms of summer visitation.  Often times it includes a notice provision that the non-residential parent must provide dates and itinerary by a date certain.  Follow the directives of your paperwork.  This will become important if for some reason you have to move forward with litigation. Continue reading “Settling Summer (and Extended) Visitation Disputes”