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Ten Things You Should Know About Illinois Divorce Law

Ten Things You Should Know About Illinois Divorce LawHere are a few things we think you should know about getting a divorce in Illinois. Some are myths that we hear a lot, others are rules to be aware of.

  1. You can’t use the same lawyer as your spouse. This is not allowed by law. Even if it was allowed and you are on good terms, it’s just not smart. You have competing interests. If your spouse has an attorney, and you decide to follow their lead and not hire your own attorney, you should know that they aren’t looking out for you. They can’t – it would be unethical.
  2. Annulments are rare. You only qualify for an annulment in a few specific circumstances, such as being forced or tricked into the marriage, or if the marriage wasn’t legal to begin with. In these cases, if you act quickly, an annulment wipes the slate clean.
  3. File for divorce locally. When a spouse files a petition for divorce, they need to do it in the county where they are living. In order to get an Illinois divorce, at least one spouse needs to have lived here for the past 90 days.
  4. Fault doesn’t matter for the most part. If your spouse had an affair that ended the marriage, that won’t be a consideration in dividing up property or getting child custody.
  5. Children don’t get a say in custody. If they are teenagers, the judge may ask for their opinion but he doesn’t have to follow it. Child custody is based on the best interests of the children, which is determined by the judge if parents can’t agree.
  6. You can negotiate and sign a settlement. Many divorces end with a marital settlement agreement, which then needs to be approved by the judge. In this document, the two spouses agree on property division, spousal support, who gets the house, etc. Make sure it also addresses retirement plans.
  7. You need a divorce to end a civil union. A civil union is just like a marriage when it comes to the Illinois marriage and divorce laws, so in order to end it, you’ll need to file for divorce.
  8. Divorce attorneys charge hourly. This means that you’ll likely have to pay a couple thousand dollars up front, called a retainer. The attorney will deduct their hourly fee from the retainer as they work on your case. If the retainer runs out, you will have to refill it.
  9. "Father’s rights" is a marketing term. Your focus should be on hiring the best divorce and custody attorney for your circumstances. Custody is based on the best interests of the child, not on whether you are the child’s father or mother.
  10. If you have a family business, talk to an attorney with that experience. If you and your spouse own a business together, or if your spouse started a business during the marriage, there are special issues to consider. Even if your spouse was the one who started the business during your marriage, it’s still considered joint property in many cases.

For answers to other questions about Illinois divorce law, give us a call and talk to one of our attorneys for free. If you need a recommendation, we can refer you to a divorce attorney who we think is a good fit for you. You can reach us at (800) 517-1614 or (312) 346-5320. If you prefer, fill out our online contact form and we’ll give you a call.