How long does a divorce take?
The time frame for a divorce is very difficult to determine. You should be cautious of any attorney who claims to know the answer. The length of a divorce depends on your particular situation. There are many factors impacting the length of a divorce. Some examples are:
- the degree to which you and your spouse agree on issues;
- the cooperation between you and your spouse; or
- the court schedule in a particular county.
In circumstances where both spouses agree on every issue, typically the divorce can be completed in a few weeks. If the parties cannot agree on issues, such as custody and property distribution, typically a divorce can take a year or more. If there are issues involving concealed or hidden assets, a divorce can take as long as several years to complete.
How much will my divorce cost?
We take pride in the quality of our work and in our ability to keep our fees reasonable and competitive in the Chicago metro area. We provide experienced and aggressive attorneys of the highest quality. Our firm does not operate a “volume” practice where you are just another file. We focus on the individual needs of each and every client. As a result, we will not be your least expensive option for a divorce attorney nor will we be your most expensive. Instead, we offer our clients quality for the best value.
How much does a divorce cost if my spouse and I agree on all of the terms?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce where both spouses agree on all the terms of the divorce relating to property, child custody, child visitation, child support, alimony, or debts and do not require the court to divide property or make a determination regarding custody, visitation and support. Our job in an uncontested divorce is to implement the terms of your verbal agreement into a legally binding document and file it with the court. The cost of an uncontested divorce typically ranges from $1000 to $2,500, depending on the complexity of your agreement.
How and by whom are attorney’s fees paid?
You may not have to pay for all the attorneys’ fees. Under limited circumstances, courts permit fee shifting. “Fee shifting” is a concept whereby a court will shift the payment of legal fees from one spouse to the other when one spouse is better able to pay for the legal fees of an attorney than the other. For example, if you stayed home while your spouse pursued his/her career for the last 10 years, a court may order your spouse to pay some or all of your attorneys’ fees.
What if my spouse is hiding money, income, or assets?
If your spouse is hiding money, income or assets, we will work with you to uncover the hidden money, income or assets using all means legally available. Finding hidden money, income or assets sometimes requires sending subpoenas to employers, businesses, banks, and close friends or relatives of a spouse. When appropriate, we will work with forensic accountants, private investigators and other professionals to help trace and locate the hidden money, income or assets.
Will I lose everything to my spouse?
No, you will not lose everything to your spouse. In Illinois, courts will attempt to divide the property of both spouses equitably. To be fair, the courts will look at numerous factors such as the potential earning power of each spouse, the length of the marriage, and the assets each spouse brought into the marriage in determining the division of the property. Courts attempt to reach divorce agreements that are fair. Our attorneys are skilled at preparing and presenting the evidence in a unique manner to ensure that you obtain your fair and equitable share of any property division.
If our largest asset is a business, who will get it?
It is a very common issue, where the family’s largest or most valuable asset is a business. Where a business is a marital asset, we hire business appraisers, valuation experts, accountants and other professionals to determine the true value of a business to protect your interests. You should not rely on your spouse’s assertion of the value of a business until you have obtained a valuation from a neutral professional.
How is alimony/support/maintenance determined?
Once we learn the unique facts of your situation, we can provide you with a better assessment on the alimony issue. Alimony is also referred to as “spousal support” or “maintenance.” Alimony will be an issue if one spouse earns substantially more than the other spouse. A court will look at your unique facts to determine whether or not your spouse will be ordered to pay alimony. Some of these factors include:
- the income and property of each spouse;
- the needs of each spouse;
- the present and future earning capacity of the spouse seeking support;
- the standard of living established during the marriage; and
- the length of the marriage.
How does a court determine who will receive custody of a child?
Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/602) outlines the factors courts should consider when determining who will receive custody of a child. Illinois law requires courts to focus on “the best interest of the child” and not the best interest of the parent(s). Factors used to determine the best interest of the child include:
- the wishes of the child’s parent(s) as to the child’s custody;
- the wishes of the child as to the child’s custodian;
- the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
- the child’s adjustment to child’s home, school and community;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- the physical violence or threat by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the child or someone else;
- the occurrence of ongoing abuse, whether directed against the child or someone else; and
- the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
Other factors considered by the courts include:
- the sufficiency and stability of the parties’ homes and surroundings;
- the interaction and relationship of the child to his parent and the child’s adjustment to his home;
- the relative economic positions of the parties; or
- whether a party is current with child support obligations.
What is the difference between sole custody and joint custody?
Sole custody means that the child resides with the custodial parent, subject to the visitation rights of the other parent. The custodial parent has full decision making authority on issues related to the child such as medical care, choice of schools, and religious upbringing.
Joint custody means joint decision making authority on major issues such as medical care, choice of schools and religious upbringing. In the event the parents disagree on an issue vital to the well-being of the child, the joint custody statute requires that the parents attempt to settle the dispute through mediation before either one has a right to go back to court. Joint custody does not mean equal time with each parent. Joint custody has nothing to do with how much time the child spends with each parent. Joint custody refers only to joint decision making and the use of mediation before returning to court.
If I have joint custody, do I have to pay for child support?
In most custody cases, the child ends up living with one parent. The minimum amount of child support is set by Illinois law.
Am I entitled to child support?
In almost all cases the non-custodial parent will be required to pay child support to the other parent. Illinois uses a system of minimum child support guidelines which are expressed in terms of a percentage of the support paying parent’s net income, as follows:
- 1 child – 20% of net income
- 2 children – 28% of net income
- 3 children – 32% of net income
- 4 children – 40% of net income
The guidelines are minimum guidelines. A court will often require the non-custodial parent to contribute to the cost of medical and dental expenses not covered by insurance, extracurricular activity expenses and day care expenses. Depending on the facts of the case, a court can require a parent to contribute to the cost of parochial or private school education. In cases where payment of guideline support would result in a windfall to the custodial parent, the court can deviate downward from the guidelines and order support based upon the needs of the children. Child support is not tax-deductible to the parent paying the support.
How much visitation does the non-custodial parent get?
In almost all cases, the parent with whom the child does not reside is entitled to visitation. This is true in both sole custody and joint custody situations. The frequency and duration of visitation is governed by the best interests of the child, not by whether a parent has joint or sole custody. Typically, a visiting parent will have visitation every other weekend, one or two evenings during the week from after school through dinner and on alternate holidays. Extended visitation often takes place during the child’s winter, spring and summer breaks from school. Remember that every case is different and the goal is to end up with a visitation schedule that best serves your child’s needs.
Will I have to pay for college?
Often, child support agreements will include expenses for college or higher education.
What is the effect of my divorce on my estate plan?
The impact will vary widely depending on the type of estate plan you have. It is in your best interest to address this issue immediately following (and sometimes during) your divorce in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.
How do I follow up with these common questions?
Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions and concerns, so we may review your unique situation. We understand how complex and confusing this can be at times, so we’ll guide you through every step. Please fill out the “Contact Us” submission form and we will get back to you shortly.
If you are in need of representation regarding your family we will be with you for all of your needs including;
- analysis and planning
- negotiating premarital
- postnuptial or separation agreements
- financial discovery
- property division
- custody and visitation
- child support
- maintenance, alimony , spousal support
- complex litigation
- domestic violence and orders of protection
- post divorce disputes
- appellate practice
In addition to providing you with legal representation, should your case involve:
- complex financial matters
- retirement benefit packages
- substantial tax consequences
We will obtain consulting, legal, or psychological services from:
- tax attorneys
- business and/or asset evaluators
- pension experts; or
We will all work together in a team approach for your benefit and protection.