Illinois Divorce 101
Last year, Illinois family law changed in a number of ways, and it is important to understand how these changes might impact you and your family in the event of divorce. Divorce is difficult for Muslim families in DuPage County under any circumstances, but understanding how our state’s laws function during divorce proceedings can help you to be prepared for the weeks and months ahead.
No Fault Divorce in Illinois
We mentioned above that Illinois family law has recently undergone some changes. All of those alterations are reflected in the current Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). One of the first major changes concerns grounds for divorce. Until just recently in Illinois, divorcing spouses could cite grounds for divorce such as adultery, impotence, mental anguish, and habitual drunkenness. However, those terms are different now.
Like numerous other states, spouses in Illinois who seek a divorce will simply cite irretrievable breakdown or irreconcilable differences. In other words, spouses no longer will claim that one party is at fault for the divorce, thus the shift to “no-fault” divorce in our state. To get divorced based on no-fault grounds, the parties must be separated for six months and must waive a two-year waiting period. In the event that one of the spouses will not waive the two-year waiting period, the other spouse still may seek a no-fault divorce once the two-year waiting period has completed.
In Illinois, courts divide marital property “equitably” during divorce proceedings. In other words, the court will determine how best to divide property on grounds that are equitable, or fair, to both parties. In some cases, an equitable division of property will be an equal one, but equitable does not always mean equal.
It is important to understand that only marital property will be subject to division. As such, if you owned property prior to the marriage or after the separation, the court typically will determine that this counts as “separate property” and thus will not be divided. Of course, there are always exceptions and complicating circumstances, and you should discuss your case with experienced counsel.
Another recent change in Illinois law concerns spousal maintenance. Currently, there are spousal maintenance guidelines that help to streamline the process of awarding maintenance, which is sometimes called alimony. According to the Illinois State Bar Association, the guidelines provide a formula for spouses with a combined gross incomes of less than $250,000. The maintenance award formula is 30 percent of payor’s gross income minus 20 percent of payee’s gross income. The award should not exceed 40 percent of the combined gross income of the parties.
Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities
The terms “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities” are also new for Illinois. It is a change that has to do more with language than substance, but it signals our state’s interest in developing a strong relationship between parents and their children. Now, the old term of “visitation” has been changed to “parenting time” (referring to the amount of time a parent spends with a child or physical custody). Similarly, the term “child custody” has been replaced with the term “allocation of parental responsibilities,” through which parents will make decisions about their child’s well-being, healthcare, education, and other important aspects of development.
When determining parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will continue to look to a number of factors that help it to decide what is in the best interests of the child.
Recent changes to Illinois law have not affected the way our state handles child support responsibilities. In short, Illinois uses a child support calculator to determine a supporting parent’s payment. These are statutory guidelines, and they ensure that child support obligations are streamlined and fair both to the child and to the supporting parent.
When you are considering divorce in Illinois, it is always important to discuss your case with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney who can answer your questions and advocate for your rights. Contact Farooqi & Husain Law Office today to learn more about the services and support we provide to members of the Muslim community.