Irreconcilable Differences: The Only Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

irreconcilable differences, Wheaton family law attorneyPrior to 2016, there were several reasons that someone could cite in filing for divorce. Adultery, physical abuse, and mental cruelty, among others, were all grounds for divorce. However, after looking at divorce statistics in the state of Illinois over the course of several years, the Illinois legislature found that the vast majority of couples sought divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences. So, as part of the sweeping changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that went into effect earlier this year, irreconcilable differences are now the only permissible grounds for divorce in the state.

Irreconcilable Differences and a Faster Turnaround for Illinois Divorces

As a practical matter, the switch to irreconcilable differences as the sole grounds for divorce has little effect on how divorces are handled. Illinois has long been a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that even if a wife alleged adultery against her husband, it did not entitle her to more property or spousal support under the law. If anything, only recognizing irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce now streamlines the process.

There is also no requirement that the couple explain what exactly the irreconcilable differences between them are. Irreconcilable differences could include arguing, differences in how to raise children, or the couple simply living apart for too long. If it is unlikely or impractical for the couple to continue to attempt to resolve their dispute, then irreconcilable differences exist.

No More Mandatory Separation

Previously, a couple citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for a divorce had to live apart for two years before a court would grant a divorce. In certain cases, the couple could waive this requirement, and a divorce would be granted after living apart for six months. Under the new law, a couple must only live apart for six months before a divorce is entered on the grounds of irreconcilable differences if the couple is not in agreement about the divorce. A couple in agreement can obtain a divorce with no separation period.

If the couple has lived apart for at least six months, and the couple does not dispute that at least six months has passed, then the presumption is that irreconcilable differences exist. Neither party can introduce evidence to argue otherwise. If you and your spouse have not lived apart for six months, you can still file for divorce. As long as the other party does not contest the divorce, a court may still grant a divorce decree even though less time has passed. You can also file for divorce and then begin living separately. Once six months have passed, your spouse will have no grounds to contest that irreconcilable differences exist.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney

Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life. No one goes into a marriage expecting to get a divorce, and it can be difficult to put feelings toward the other person aside even if the marriage lasted only a short time. That’s why it’s so important to work with a divorce attorney familiar with the law and procedures of the Illinois judicial system. Contact our office today to talk with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney about your case.


Modifying Parenting Time Orders Under the Theory of Parental Alienation

alienation, DuPage County family law attorneyThere are a lot of feelings that come along with divorce. Depending your situation, you may feel relieved or even excited. You might also feel angry or resentful toward your former spouse. All of these feelings are perfectly natural when ending your relationship, and working through them is part of the process of moving on from a relationship.

However, sometimes parents let their negative feelings toward a former spouse affect how they talk about an ex to their children. Depending on the nature of the comments, these statements might amount to parental alienation.

What Is Parental Alienation in Illinois?

Under Illinois law, parental alienation occurs when one spouse does not just make the occasional derogatory statement about an ex, but goes out of his or her way to manipulate the child’s feelings toward the other parent. This may include telling the child false stories about the other parent, or attempting to convince the child that he or she is the superior parent. Other family members, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles may also be involved in incidents of parental alienation.

Signs of Parental Alienation

While the occasional negative comment about your ex is not the best thing to say in front of your child, it does not necessarily amount to parental alienation. Parental alienation usually manifests when a child suddenly begins treating one parent differently for no apparent reason, or constantly acts angrily toward one parent without any real explanation. A child may also blame one parent for causing problems in the life of the other parent, or just flat out refuse to see a parent.

Modifying Parenting Time Orders Because of Parental Alienation

Following the 2016 overhaul of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Illinois courts now refer to visitation with a child as “parenting time.” However, the former laws of child custody largely remain the same.

To modify a parenting time order, a parent must show a change in circumstances warrants a modification. Typically, a court will not consider whether a change of circumstances has occurred until at least two years after an order has been entered. However, a modification may be granted sooner if it can be shown that keeping the current order in place would damage the mental, emotional, or physical health of the child.

It can be difficult obtain evidence showing parental alienation, but if the proof is there that one parent is acting in a way to purposely harm the child’s relationship with the other parent, it may be grounds to modify a parenting time order.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Family Law Attorney

Even if you and your former spouse can no longer get along, there is no reason for either of you to take it out on your children. Long after a divorce, children need to see their parents are on good terms so that they can have a good relationship with both of them. If your spouse seems to be manipulating your child’s view of you, you may have a case for parental alienation. For more information, contact our office today to talk with a compassionate DuPage County family law attorney about your situation.


Child Support Depends on More Than Just a Parent’s Income

child support, DuPage County family lawyers Child support in Illinois is one of those concepts that is both very simple and incredibly complicated. That applies to many areas of the law actually, but it is especially true here.

First, the simple part. Under Illinois law, as determined by the court, a supporting parent must pay a percentage of his or her net income to the other parent to assist in meeting the needs of the child. The parents need not have been married for one parent to be ordered to pay child support, though a court may require evidence of the father’s paternity.

Under 750 ILCS 5/505, the payor parent must pay 20 percent of his or her net income in child support. If the payor is paying child support for two children, the amount goes up to 28 percent of net income, and so on. If six or more children are involved, the amount of net income that goes to child support is capped at 50 percent. That is about as straightforward as a law can get.

What Are “Reasonable and Necessary Expenses” in Illinois?

That same section of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act also makes mention of support for “reasonable and necessary educational, physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child.”

These are broad terms that are defined more thoroughly later in the code to include things such as health care expenses, educational costs, and extracurricular needs. What this effectively means is that 20 percent of net income going toward child support is more of a floor than a ceiling. The payor must usually pay at least that amount toward support of a child, but that does not include expenses such as health care deductibles and the cost of after-school child care.

Such considerations are among the most expensive costs associated with children, so many paying parents attempt to argue that they should not have to pay for these things. This goes against the spirit of the law, however, as the intent of the child support law is to allow the child to have the same standard of living that he or she would have had with both parents rather than just one. In rare cases where one parent is extremely wealthy, that parent might even be ordered to pay a large amount of income to the other parent to keep up the child’s standard of living. However, the state will not require the receiving parent to show how child support is being spent unless there is serious concern that the money is not going toward the needs of the child.

Let Our Office Assist You

Getting the child support that a court has ordered your ex to pay can be difficult. Some people just cannot afford to comply with the order, while others will go out of their way to hide their assets to avoid their obligations. Either way, an experienced Illinois attorney can help you collect the money to assist you in taking care of your children. Contact our office today to speak with a compassionate DuPage County family law attorney about your situation.