Divorce and Legal Separation

Illinois Divorce & Legal Separation Attorneys in Palatine

In Illinois, what most people think of as “divorce” is technically called “dissolution of marriage”. The legal requirements for entry of a judgment of dissolution are simple:

  • One spouse is an Illinois resident or is a member of the military who has been stationed in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing; and
  • Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Irreconcilable differences leading to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only ground for divorce in Illinois—the state no longer provides a process for obtaining a divorce “for cause”.  And, if the parties have lived separate and apart for at least six months immediately preceding the filing, irreconcilable differences are presumed.

However, the process may be much more complicated than those elements suggest, since the divorce court must also make determinations regarding child custody, child support, property division, responsibility for outstanding debts, and spousal maintenance.

In some cases, a couple may be able to use one of two streamlined processes: Joint Simplified Dissolution or Uncontested Divorce. One of the attorneys in our office can help you determine whether you qualify for one of these simplified processes, which can save you both time and money.

Contested Divorce

When a divorce case is contested as to either the grounds for divorce or the substantive issues such as property division and parental responsibilities, the trial is broken into two parts. First, the court determines whether grounds for the divorce exist.

Then, if the court finds that there are irreconcilable differences which have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the court may allow time for the parties to attempt to resolve the remaining issues on their own, or may proceed to trial.

Depending on the issues remaining, you may have to present evidence regarding the value of your property, the nature and source of your debts, each party’s income, each party’s living situation, issues regarding the welfare of any minor children and more.

Legal Separation

When a married couple is living apart, one spouse may be entitled to support from the other during the separation. A legal separation case is similar to a divorce case, except that the issues to be determined by the court are more limited.

Most significantly, in a legal separation case the court does not value and distribute property, unless the parties have submitted an agreement regarding property division.

If a judgment of legal separation has been entered, the parties may still opt to file for dissolution (divorce) at a later date. If a dissolution case is filed, the issue of maintenance will be reconsidered, unless the legal separation order was entered pursuant to an agreement that specified that maintenance would be permanent and could not be modified.

Dissolution or Legal Separation?

If you’ve separated from or are planning to separate from your spouse, make sure your interests are protected. One of our attorneys can explain the differences between divorce and legal separation in detail and help you assess which best suits your circumstances. We can also determine whether you qualify for one of the simplified dissolution procedures that could streamline your divorce case, and help you negotiate property division, maintenance, parenting time, child support and other issues.

If you and your spouse are unable to resolve the issues amicably, we’ll prepare and try your case, fighting for your financial security, your family relationships and your future.

If you need help with a divorce or legal separation, contact the attorneys at Callahan & Hockemeyer, P.C. for help.


Palatine Law

Palatine Law