Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois

Cook County Circuit Court, Daley Center  |  Chicago,Illinois

When you retain Petti Murphy & Associates, the protection of your marriage rights, and your children's rights, will be our primary focus. What does the dissolution of a marriage in Illinois entail?

Legal Strategies For Parting Ways With Your Spouse

The most commonly used ground in Illinois for divorce is "Irreconcilable Differences." This modern day base line for divorce amounts to "no-fault" dissolution, in that neither party has to point fingers at the other and charge him or her with having been the cause of the break down in the relationship. (Though, if need be, there still are "fault" grounds for dissolution of marriage in our state, such as, chronic alcoholism, socially transmitted disease, or physical or mental cruelty.)

Where there are children involved, the party who has the children living with them ("residential custody") will usually receive child support from the other spouse, typically along a statutorily mandated formula: 20 percent of the other spouse's "net income" where there is one child, 28 percent in the case of two children, and 32 percent for three children. "Net Income" is the amount of income that remains after payroll deductions for State and Federal income tax, Social Security, union dues, and health care insurance.

If there is a dispute as to who will have residential custody of the children, it often becomes necessary to have the court appoint a Guardian ad Litem or Children's Representative. Such a Court-appointed authority will assist the Court by meeting with the parents and children to review the situation, and then report back to the Court with an opinion as to which of the parents is best qualified to be awarded custody of the children. Such an expert opinion will be based on which parent will best serve the interests of the children — who will do the best job of taking care of the children, and seeing to their physical and emotional needs.

Dissolution of marriage also involves the fair allocation of assets acquired by the parties during the marriage, as well as a fair allocation of debts acquired during the marriage. If the parties have 401(k) Plans, or other pension or profit-sharing plans, those plans are also subject to equitable division by the Court. If both parents are working, typically the Court will not award separate maintenance (alimony). However, this is also subject to an analytical evaluation by the attorneys representing the parties, so as to determine whether or not separate maintenance could be awarded under the circumstances.

Where the parties are able to agree to a division of assets and debt, visitation, and custody of children, their attorneys will prepare a written "marital settlement agreement." The parties must then appear before the Court and testify to the agreement's terms. If the Court finds the marital settlement agreement to be fair and just, the Court will grant the dissolution and enter the agreement as part of a "Judgment of Dissolution." Upon entry of the Judgment of Dissolution, the parties are officially divorced and custody is resolved for the time. Since such a Judgment is by nature a modifiable decree, there are opportunities for modification at a later date based upon changed circumstances.