Marriage is the foundation of most Illinois families. So, when the marriage breaks up, there are far-ranging consequences. These include both emotional ones, such as the impact on the parent-child relationship, and financial ones, such as the identification and division of marital property and debts. To make the transition from “ours” to “yours” and “mine” as smooth as possible, Illinois lawmakers recently streamlined the divorce process.
Despite these changes, marriage dissolution is still complex and cumbersome. At the Delaney Heckman, we add some stability to an unstable situation. After listening to you and your needs and goals, we clearly lay out your legal options. Then, working together, we proceed on a course that fully protects your legal and financial rights as we move towards a successful resolution of the case. At the same time, we remain mindful of your family’s long-term familial and financial stability.
Issues in an Arlington Heights Divorce Case
As mentioned, a divorce addresses both financial and emotional issues. Sometimes, there is an overlap. For example, houses and retirement accounts are more than numbers on spreadsheets. These assets also have an emotional value which may eclipse the financial value.
While every case is different, the types of issues are relatively uniform. These questions usually fall into the following categories:
- Property/Debt Division: In Illinois, there is no presumption that assets are equally divided. Such a division, however, is a common end result. Some variables, such as the amount of nonmarital property that a party receives, can affect the outcome. Often the issue of what constitutes “non-marital property” is hotly contested. Property division often involves other complex issues such as commingled property. Our firm is qualified to successfully address such issues.
- Child Support: Illinois is an income shares state, so the income of both parents is relevant in child support situations. The number of children, the cost of health insurance, and the number of nights a party spends with the children are relevant as well.
- Allocation of Parental Responsibilities – Decision-Making: Until recently, Illinois used the word “custody” to describe the relationship between a parent and a minor child. Now the phrase is “allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities”. Our firm is experienced in advising our clients on the subject which used to be called “custody”. We are experienced trial attorneys who will try a custody case if that is what is in the children’s best interests.
- Parenting Time: A 50-50 division is not possible in all cases and usually only the end result when the parties agree to it. Sometimes the parents are too far apart geographically and/or emotionally for such an arrangement to work. Nevertheless, Illinois law presumes that children benefit from consistent and meaningful contact with both parents. So, the custody arrangement should reflect that idea.
- Spousal Support: In 2016, Illinois lawmakers changed the maintenance law. Much like child support, a mathematical formula now determines the amount and duration of payments, in most cases. This formula relies on the parties’ income and the length of the marriage. There is a threshold question the court must answer: is this a situation where maintenance – formerly called “alimony” – should be awarded. Again, our firm is qualified to identify and successfully argue this issue with the court.
- Domestic Violence: This serious subject affects “custody” and parenting time as much as substance abuse. It may even affect who lives in the marital residence during the divorce. Allegations of domestic violence are often maliciously and falsely used in bitter custody cases. Our firm is experienced in properly raising the issues where the safety of a spouse or children is at issue. We are equally ready to defend against false allegations of domestic abuse.
What to Expect in an Arlington Heights Divorce Case
Timing can be a significant factor in filing a divorce. Who files first may determine who stays in the marital home with the children during the life of the case. If the parties are living apart, the court will address the issues of parenting time – “visitation” and the allocation of decision-making responsibilities – “custody” – on an expedited basis. But the issues must be raised with the court. Our firm knows how and when to raise them.
Civil cases, including divorces, always involve discovery. During this stage, parties exchange information about their claims and defenses. Sometimes discovery is quick and agreeable. Other times, it is prolonged and contentious. Often it is necessary for a party’s financial rights to be protected.
Many Arlington Heights divorces settle in mediation. This agreed resolution expedites the process, saves money, encourages civility, and gives the parties more control over the outcome.
Count on Dedicated Lawyers
If your marriage is ending, support is available to resolve lingering legal, emotional, and financial issues. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Arlington Heights, contact the Delaney Heckman Convenient payment plans are available.