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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_30671707.jpgWhen a couple chooses to get a divorce, they will need to address multiple types of issues as they legally dissolve their marriage. Property division is one area that can is often disputed since both spouses may want to keep certain items, and they will both be looking to make sure they will have the necessary financial resources to live on their own. Disagreements in this area can become even more contentious if either spouse believes that the other has depleted the marital estate by wasting money or destroying property. This is known as “dissipation of assets,” and in these cases, spouses will need to be sure to understand how Illinois law addresses this issue.

Understanding Asset Dissipation

Dissipation of assets can take a number of forms, but it generally involves the use of marital property for a person’s sole benefit rather than any purposes related to their marriage. For example, a person may be accused of dissipating assets if they had an affair and took money out of a joint bank account to buy gifts for their lover. Dissipation may also involve the destruction of property as an attempt to harm the other spouse, such as by burning their clothes or defacing a painting that had sentimental value. It may also involve any other actions that reduce the value of the marital estate, such as spending marital funds on gambling or illegal drugs.

Proving that dissipation of assets occurred is not always easy, and certain limitations apply to these actions. Courts in Illinois have determined that a person’s actions will only be considered to be dissipation if they took place after the couple’s marriage began to experience an irretrievable breakdown. Illinois law also states that a spouse may only make a claim of dissipation within three years after they discovered or should have known about the other spouse’s actions, and claims may only address dissipation that occurred within five years before a spouse filed a petition for divorce. For example, if one spouse purchased an expensive motorcycle for themselves three years ago, but the couple did not begin experiencing relationship problems until two years ago, this purchase would not be considered dissipation.

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dupage county family law attorneyIn family law cases involving children, parents will often disagree about the best ways to handle child custody. While some divorcing parents may be able to resolve their differences and reach agreements on these issues, this is not always possible. In cases involving contentious disputes between parents or other situations where outside help may be needed to make custody-related decisions, a guardian ad litem may be appointed. By understanding the duties of a guardian ad litem and how they may influence a child custody case, parents can determine the best ways to protect their rights and address their children’s best interests.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

When parents cannot reach agreements about how they will share in the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, they may leave the final decisions on these matters up to the judge who oversees their case. However, a judge may be concerned that they do not have enough information to determine what would be in the children’s best interests. To gain a better insight into the case, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (also known as a GAL). Either parent may also ask that a GAL be appointed if they believe that it would be necessary.

A guardian ad litem is an attorney who will be tasked with representing the best interests of the children in a divorce or family law case. While parents will usually divide the costs of the GAL’s services, the GAL will not represent either party. Instead, they will be focused on determining how the outstanding issues in the case can be resolved in a way that will best provide for children’s needs while ensuring that they can maintain close relationships with both parents.

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dupage county spousal support lawyerWhen a couple decides to end their marriage and get a divorce, this can sometimes put one spouse in a difficult position as they determine how they will be able to support themselves on their own. In these situations, a spouse may ask to receive spousal support from their former partner. These payments, which are referred to as spousal maintenance in Illinois law, may be available in situations where one spouse earns a higher income or where a stay-at-home parent or a person who has extraordinary needs requires financial support to be able to meet their ongoing needs. By understanding the types of spousal maintenance that may be available, spouses can make sure this issue will be addressed correctly during the divorce process.

Three Types of Spousal Maintenance

In a case where a divorcing spouse is requesting spousal maintenance, a couple may agree that this type of support will be paid, or both parties may present their case to a judge, who will decide whether spousal support will be appropriate. The judge will look at each party’s financial situation to determine whether one spouse needs support and whether the other spouse will have the means to make ongoing payments. They may also consider other factors, such as whether the person who is asking for support made sacrifices to their career during their marriage or helped their spouse pursue career opportunities and increase their level of income.

If a judge determines that spousal maintenance should be awarded, they may choose one of the following options:

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dupage county divorce lawyerWhen married spouses choose to get a divorce, or when an unmarried couple ends their relationship, this will not only affect the couple themselves, but also their children and other extended family members. In some of these cases, grandparents may be concerned about their ability to maintain close and continuing relationships with their grandchildren. This may be an issue in situations where a person does not get along with their former spouse’s parents, and grandparents may worry that a parent will attempt to limit the amount of time they can spend with their grandchildren or otherwise harm a child’s relationship with extended family members. In some cases, grandparents may be able to secure visitation rights with grandchildren. When addressing these issues, grandparents can work with a family law attorney to determine their rights and options.

Petitioning for Grandparent Visitation Rights

Illinois law presumes that parents who are fit to care for their children are able to make decisions about whether continuing relationships with grandparents will be beneficial for their children. However, if a parent has denied a grandparent access to their grandchildren, a grandparent may petition for visitation rights. In these cases, a grandparent will need to show that a parent’s actions to deny visitation by a grandparent will result in harm to a child’s physical or emotional well-being.

If a child’s parents have begun the divorce process, have finalized their divorce, or have received a legal separation, a grandparent may petition for visitation as long as one of the parents does not object to this visitation. Grandparents may also seek visitation rights in cases where a child’s parents are unmarried and not living together, as well as situations where one of the child’s parents is deceased, has been missing for at least 90 days, is incarcerated in prison, or is deemed legally incompetent.

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dupage county legal separation lawyerThe decision to get a divorce is difficult for most married couples, but husbands and wives who practice Islam may be especially hesitant to take this step. The prophet Muhammad has said, “Of all the lawful things, divorce is the most hated by Allah." Because of this, many couples may consider other options before proceeding with an Islamic divorce, including legal separation. By understanding when a legal separation may be beneficial, a couple can make choices about the right solutions for their unique situation.

Legal Separation Before or Instead of an Islamic Divorce

Muslim couples can take multiple approaches during the divorce process. A husband may choose to end his marriage through the talaq process without the consent of his wife. In other cases, a couple may mutually agree to end their marriage through the process of khula. Regardless of the method chosen, a couple is required to complete a waiting period of at least three months (known as the iddah) before their divorce can be finalized under Islamic law.

In addition to following the proper religious laws when ending their marriage, a couple will also need to meet a variety of requirements to dissolve their legal partnership. They may choose to legally separate during the iddah waiting period, and this separation may be extended for a longer amount of time or even indefinitely. This will allow them to live separate lives, but they will remain legally married. Doing so can have several benefits, such as the ability for one spouse to maintain insurance coverage under the other spouse’s policy. If the couple wishes to finalize their split, they will be able to complete the divorce process at any point in the future.

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dupage county divorce lawyerA divorce will involve multiple types of legal issues, and at the end of the divorce process, the decisions made about these issues will be set down in their divorce decree. The final orders issued by a family court will address how the ex-spouses will handle certain issues going forward, and both spouses are required to follow the terms of these orders. However, there may be some cases where a spouse may feel that these orders no longer apply to their situation, and they may seek a post-divorce modification. It is important to understand when these modifications can be made and how a person can successfully demonstrate that their requested changes are necessary.

Demonstrating a Significant Change in Circumstances

In most cases, the terms of a divorce order can only be changed if one of the spouses or the children they share have experienced a significant change in circumstances. Some examples of these changes include:

  • Loss of income - If an ex-spouse loses their job, experiences a demotion, or will be earning a lower income for other reasons, they may be unable to continue paying financial support to their ex-spouse while also meeting their own needs. In these cases, they may request for child support or spousal maintenance payments to be reduced temporarily until they can find a new job, or they may request a permanent modification if they will be unable to return to their previous income level.

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dupage county divorce lawyerGetting a divorce is not easy. When you got married, you probably expected to stay with your spouse for the rest of your life. Ending your marriage will not only require you to give up your expectations, but you may also experience difficulties as you work to establish yourself as a newly single person. Disputes with your spouse during the divorce process can add to these difficulties, making it harder for you to separate your lives from each other and move forward. To minimize disputes and complete the divorce process more quickly and effectively, you may wish to pursue an uncontested divorce.

Reaching a Divorce Settlement Without Litigation

A contested divorce generally involves litigation and possibly a trial during which witnesses will be called to testify, evidence will be presented, arguments will be made by each party’s attorney, and a judge will make the final decisions. This process can be very expensive and time-consuming. In most cases, spouses will prefer to resolve their issues outside of court. This will not only help them minimize conflict, but it can also allow them to reach agreements on divorce-related issues and create a settlement they can both be satisfied with.

If you plan to pursue an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will need to work together to create a divorce settlement by negotiating with each other with the help of your respective attorneys. You may also use mediation to gain a full understanding of the issues you will need to address and reach agreements on how these matters should be handled going forward. A divorce settlement will address issues such as:

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dupage county islamic divorce lawyerAny couple that chooses to end their marriage will need to address multiple types of complex legal and financial issues. However, during an Islamic divorce, these issues can become even more complicated. In addition to following the divorce laws in the United States, a couple may also need to determine how Sharia law applies in their situation. When addressing issues related to property division, a spouse can make sure their rights and interests will be protected by working with an attorney who is experienced in Islamic divorce cases.

Rights to Property in an Islamic Divorce

Traditionally, Islamic law does not recognize the concept of marital wealth. Married spouses are not required to share their income and assets, but each spouse is entitled to ownership of assets they brought into the marriage. Because of this separation of wealth, some husbands may claim that their wives are not entitled to a share of certain assets during a divorce. However, Islamic law also states that wives are entitled to an equitable divorce and compensation for their contribution to the marriage. 

A couple’s marriage contract may address how property will be divided in the case of divorce. In some cases, the mahr paid by a husband to his wife may address her needs and ensure that she will have the necessary financial resources following divorce. However, in cases where mahr is symbolic or only consists of a low amount, it may not be sufficient to address the wife’s needs fully. Islamic law also recommends that a husband provide a wife with a gift to ensure that she can address her living expenses following divorce. Depending on whether a wife worked during a couple’s marriage or provided other services, such as managing domestic duties to allow the husband to pursue a career, the wife may ask for compensation to address her contributions to the household.

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dupage county child custody lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering divorce, planning to end your marriage, or in the midst of the divorce process, one of your biggest concerns is likely to be how you and your spouse will share custody of your children. Each of you may have different expectations about how parenting issues should be handled and where your children will live, and determining how to resolve these disagreements can often be difficult. As you proceed with your divorce, you will need to be sure to understand how Illinois law applies to you and how you can create a parenting plan that will allow you to provide for your children’s best interests in the years to come.

Sharing Legal and Physical Custody of Children

Child custody involves two different areas of concern: the allocation of parental responsibilities (usually referred to as legal custody) and parenting time (often called physical custody or visitation). Parental responsibilities address the parents’ right to make important decisions when raising their children. These decisions include education, healthcare, religion, and activities that children will participate in. Parenting time includes any time that children will be cared for by either parent, including when they stay at a parent’s home or spend time with them at other locations.

Generally, family courts in Illinois presume that parents should share in the allocation of parental responsibilities. However, depending on how parents made decisions for their children while they were married, how well they are able to work together, and other relevant factors, sole or primary responsibility may be allocated to one parent in certain areas. For example, parents may equally share responsibility in the areas of religion and education, but one parent may have the right to make all decisions about children’s health and medical care.

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dupage county divorce lawyerWhen a couple chooses to get a divorce, they will need to address multiple issues related to their property and finances, as well as any other legal matters involved in the end of their marriage. Determining how to divide marital property can sometimes be complicated, especially for couples with a high net worth. However, couples at all income levels may need to determine how to address financial assets such as retirement accounts and pensions. To ensure that these assets will be considered properly and that their interests will be protected, a spouse can secure representation from a divorce lawyer who has experience addressing this issue. 

Division of Retirement Benefits

Spouses may own multiple types of retirement benefits, including money saved in retirement accounts or pension benefits that a person will receive after they retire. If contributions were made to a retirement account during a couple’s marriage, or if a spouse earned pension benefits while married, these assets will need to be considered when dividing marital property. 

Depending on the terms of a couple’s divorce settlement, the funds in a retirement account may be divided equally between spouses, or a certain percentage of the balance of an account in one spouse’s name may be transferred to the other spouse. However, spouses will generally want to avoid making simple withdrawals from these accounts. Doing so before they reach the applicable retirement age will result in penalties, and they will also be required to pay taxes on the amount they receive. For employer-sponsored retirement accounts such as 401Ks, a spouse can use a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to withdraw and transfer funds without being subject to penalties, and taxes will not be charged on the withdrawn funds as long as the other spouse deposits the amount into their own retirement account. For individual retirement accounts (IRAs) created separate from an employer, a spouse can use a “transfer incident to divorce,” which will function the same as a QDRO.

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illinois custody lawyerWhen parents choose to get divorced, they will need to address multiple issues related to child custody. In an uncontested divorce, parents may reach agreements on how these issues should be handled. If an agreement cannot be reached, litigation may be necessary, and a family court judge may make the final decisions on how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be allocated between the parents. Regardless of the approach taken during the divorce process, the parents’ divorce decree will include a parenting plan that details all decisions made about child custody.

Elements of a Parenting Plan

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that a parenting plan must include the following:

  • Details about how decision-making responsibilities will be allocated between the parents. Responsibility may be shared equally by parents or solely allocated to one parent, and the areas of responsibility that will be addressed include education-related decisions, health-related decisions, religious decisions, and the choice of children’s extracurricular or recreational activities.

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illinois child support lawyerWhen parents get divorced, they will need to address multiple types of financial issues, and child support is an area that will most likely be a significant concern. While parents will want to ensure that their children’s needs will be provided for, they will also need to make sure they will have the financial resources to meet their own needs. By understanding the procedures used to calculate child support payments and working with an attorney who can advocate for their rights and financial interests, parents can make sure this issue will be addressed properly.

Guidelines for Calculating Child Support

The method used to determine an appropriate amount of child support has changed in recent years to address the fact that in most families, both parents work outside the home and earn income used to support themselves and their children. Currently, the guidelines for determining child support provided in Illinois’ laws take the income earned by both parents into account.

To calculate child support, each parent’s monthly net income must first be determined by taking their gross income and subtracting any allowed deductions. Deductions often include taxes, union dues, and child support or spousal support obligations a previous marriage or relationship. The parents’ net incomes are then added together, and this amount is used to determine the proper child support obligation. A table known as a “schedule of basic child support obligations” will provide the amount of support that would be appropriate for the number of children the couple has together.

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illinois muslim divorce lawyerDuring a divorce, a spouse may request that their former partner pay them financial support. This form of support is referred to as spousal maintenance in Illinois, but it is also known as spousal support or alimony. Eligibility for spousal support can be a complex issue in any divorce case, but during an Islamic divorce, couples will need to determine how Shariah law applies in these situations.

Spousal Maintenance Under Illinois Law

In an Illinois divorce, a spouse may request that the court award spousal support, usually because they have relied on their partner during their marriage and do not have the financial resources to fully provide for their own needs. When determining whether maintenance will be appropriate, a judge will consider multiple factors, including:

  • Each spouse’s financial circumstances, including their income-earning capacity, their ongoing needs, their age and health, and their financial obligations, including the obligation to provide child support for their children or other forms of support for a spouse from a previous marriage or children from a previous relationship

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oakbrook terrace divorce lawyerCouples who choose to get divorced will need to address multiple legal and financial issues, including making decisions about the division of marital property. While addressing property ownership will be an important aspect of every divorce, it can become more complicated in high net worth divorce cases, including those where a spouse is a business owner. Family businesses can be an especially complex issue in an Islamic divorce, since the close relationships between family members and business associates may be affected by the end of a couple’s marriage. Spouses will need to be sure their rights and financial interests are protected in the decisions made. Business owners will want to determine how they can protect a family business and ensure that it can continue operating smoothly and successfully during and after their divorce.

Options for Protecting a Family Business

Ideally, business owners will want to take steps to protect their business either before they get married or during their marriage and before divorce becomes a possibility. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can protect a business by stating that one spouse will maintain full ownership of the business in the case of divorce, or these agreements can make decisions about how ownership of business interests and other assets will be handled if the couple’s marriage ends.

Those who do not have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may need to determine how to divide business interests during their divorce. If the business is a marital asset because it was founded or acquired while a couple was married, the value of the business will need to be divided along with other marital property. A business owned by one spouse before the marriage will usually not be considered marital property, but some business assets may be included in the marital estate if the business increased in value after the couple was married, or a business owner may be required to reimburse their spouse for the contributions they made to a family business.

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dupage county child custody laywerIt is common for people’s lives to change after they get divorced, and these changes may prompt a move to a new city or even another area of the country. In some cases, a person may be pursuing job opportunities or wish to relocate to live near their family members. While a person will no longer need to consult with their ex-spouse when making the decision to move, their relocation could potentially affect matters related to child custody. If the parent who is moving has primary custody of the couple’s children, this might mean that the other parent would be able to spend less time with their kids, and it may limit their ability to be involved in decisions about children’s upbringing. Because of this, one parent may object to a planned relocation by the other parent. It is important to understand how the laws in Illinois address these situations.

Parental Relocation in Illinois

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), a move by a parent who lives in DuPage County or other counties in the greater Chicago area is considered to be a relocation if their new home will be at least 25 miles away from their current home. If the couple’s children live with the parent who is planning for the majority of the time with the couple’s children, or if the parents have equal amounts of parenting time, the other parent must be provided with written notification at least 60 days prior to the date of the planned relocation. If this is not feasible, such as if a move is planned within 60 days, a parent must provide notification at the earliest practical date.

If there are no objections to the relocation, the non-moving parent can sign the notice, and the moving parent can submit this notice to the court, which will approve the relocation. If modifications to the parents’ parenting plan will be required, the court will usually approve these changes, as long as they are in the children’s best interests.

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Oakbrook Terrace Muslim divorce lawyer for marriage contractsMarriages and divorces in the United States are handled according to the laws in the state where a couple resides. However, Muslim couples also abide by Shariah, or Islamic law, and this may introduce a variety of complex issues into an Islamic divorce. In some cases, this can lead to disagreements about how the mahr provisions of a marriage contract will be interpreted in U.S. courts. 

Marriage Contracts and Mahr Provisions

When a Muslim couple agrees to a marriage contract, the mahr provisions state that the husband or a member of his family will give certain property to the wife. Typically, there are two parts to the mahr: an advanced mahr, which is given at the time of marriage, and a postponed mahr, which is given when the marriage ends either through death or divorce. In some cases, the advanced mahr is a token item such as a single coin, while the postponed mahr is a more substantial gift of money, jewelry, land, or other property.

Depending on the interpretation of Islamic law, a wife may be able to receive the postponed mahr in some divorce cases, while in others, the right to mahr may be forfeited. A husband has the right to dissolve his marriage through the talaq process, and in these circumstances, the wife will usually receive the postponed mahr. If the marriage is dissolved through a mutual agreement between the husband and wife, or khula, the wife will often forfeit the postponed mahr. If the wife seeks a divorce through the tafriq process based on grounds such as abuse or abandonment, she may forfeit her right to receive the postponed mahr.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for college expensesWhen married parents choose to split up, child support is one of the primary issues they will need to address. Those with younger children will likely be focused on making sure child support will address daily needs, such as providing children with food, shelter, and clothing. However, parents of teenagers may be looking at what will happen as their children grow up and leave home. Parents will usually want to make sure their children can receive the education they need to pursue opportunities in their chosen career. Because of this, divorcing parents will need to consider how they will contribute to their children’s college expenses.

Non-Minor Support in Illinois

While child support is paid until a child graduates from high school or turns 18 (whichever happens later), divorced parents in Illinois also have the obligation to help their children pay educational expenses when attending college. When creating a divorce settlement, parents may agree on how much they will each contribute, or the court may order either or both parents to pay a certain amount based on the incomes they earn and the property they own. When determining an appropriate amount, the court may also consider the financial resources available to the child, such as college savings accounts or financial aid.

Non-minor support for educational expenses may include:

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IL divorce lawyerGoing through a divorce in Illinois will require all marital property to be accurately classified and divided according to the theory of equitable distribution. Yet certain types of property can pose complications, and it can be necessary to take additional steps to determine how particular assets should be classified and valued. Indeed, dividing valuable and unique collections in a divorce can result in complexities that may require assistance from expert appraisers in addition to in-depth investigations to determine whether the property should be classified as a separate or marital asset. Valuable and unique collections can range from art and rare book collections to antique jewelry and furniture in the couple’s home.

Our DuPage County property division attorneys want to provide you with some of the information you will need as you consider the divorce process and the division of distinctive collections or collectible assets that may be classified as marital property under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA).

How Will the Assets Be Classified?

In order for any assets to be divided in a divorce by a DuPage County court, those assets must be classified as marital (as opposed to separate, or non-marital) property. When it comes to items in a valuable collection, one or both spouses might be hesitant to divide the collection, particularly when it has more value as a whole. Accordingly, one of the spouses might attempt to argue that the objects should be classified as separate property and should not be divided in the divorce. To be classified as separate property, one of the following usually must be true of the assets:

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IL family lawyerAny parents who are going through a divorce in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, and share minor children from their marriage should also be thinking about child custody and child support under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). You might already know that, in terms of child support, Illinois follows an “income shares” model for calculating child support. With this model, the court uses a general formula to determine the total child support obligation for both parents, which is then shared based on their individual incomes and other relevant factors. Yet there are a variety of reasons that one or both parents might want the court to deviate from the existing Illinois Child Support Guidelines, and you might be wondering if the court could deviate from the guidelines in your case.

While there are only limited circumstances in which the court is likely to deviate from guidelines in determining the child support obligation as part of a divorce, our Oakbrook Terrace child support attorneys can discuss the likelihood of a deviation occurring in your particular case.

How the Income Shares Child Support Model Works

In order to understand the kinds of situations in which a court might deviate from existing child support guidelines, it is important to understand how the income shares child support model works.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorces in Oakbrook Terrace and throughout DuPage County are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Under the IMDMA, you may already know that the only way to get divorced is through a no-fault divorce path. In other words, Illinois no longer recognizes fault-based grounds for divorce. Rather, to obtain a divorce, the party who files a petition for the dissolution of marriage must plead that “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” and the court must determine that “efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.”

How can you show the court that you have met the requirement of irreconcilable differences, and how does this requirement relate to the term “conciliation” as it is used in the IMDMA? Our Oakbrook Terrace divorce attorneys have more information to help you understand no-fault divorce and the possibility of conciliation.

Irrebuttable Presumption That Irreconcilable Differences Requirement Has Been Met

According to the IMDMA, when spouses have lived separate and apart for at least six months prior to the divorce filing, “there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met.” Yet even if there is an irrebuttable presumption that this requirement has been met to allow for a no-fault divorce in Illinois, how can you show the court that efforts at reconciliation have failed and that further attempts to reconcile would not be in the best interests of your family? And can your attempts to get a divorce be thwarted if your spouse insists that she or he does not want to get divorced and that the marriage can be saved?

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