no-fault divorce, Illinois divorce attorneyDivorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences has been available to couples in Illinois for several decades. For most of that time, such a divorce was just one of the options that a couple had, as one spouse could still legally look to the end the marriage based on about a dozen other so-called “fault grounds,” including adultery, abuse, or abandonment. Beginning this year, however, the landscape of divorce in the state has changed such that fault no longer has any recognized place in an Illinois marriage dissolution.

Irreconcilable Differences Only

In the summer of 2015, Illinois lawmakers passed a measure that substantially reformed the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage act on several fronts. The changes included an evolution in the state’s approach to child custody—now called the allocation of parental responsibilities—parenting time, and moving with your child to a new city. The new law also addressed the process of dissolving a marriage, eliminating all fault-related grounds from the statute. As a result, every divorce in the state will only be granted on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences. It does not matter, as far as the court is concerned, which spouse did what to the other, at least as it applies to legally ending the marriage.

Separation Requirements

Over the last several decades, no-fault divorce has become the easiest, least stressful way for a couple to end their marital relationship. It does not require proving one spouse’s destructive or abusive behavior or assigning official blame for the breakdown of the marriage. The only problem, historically, is that the process often took too long to complete. The previous version of the law required spouses to live separate and apart for two years before a no-fault divorce could be granted. The separation could be reduced by mutual agreement, but it could never be less than six months.

Today, however, there is no required separation period for a no-fault divorce in Illinois. If both parties agree, the proceedings can continue immediately. In the event that one party does not agree to the divorce, a six-month separation will be seen as irrefutable proof that the marriage is beyond repair.

Get the Help You Need

If you have questions about the no-fault divorce process in Illinois, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows divorce attorney today. Call Cosley Law Office at 847-253-3100 for your free, confidential consultation and get the answers you need. We are ready to help you seek the happier, healthier future you deserve.



Posted in Divorce | Tagged , , , , ,

paternity, Rolling Meadows family law attorneyPaternity issues are complicated, emotional, and sometimes contentious matters- so much so that some may wonder why it is important or even necessary. Rest assured: this legal process, which is used to establish the biological father of a child, offers numerous benefits for all involved. Understand why you should take steps to legally establish paternity.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity for Mothers

When a married woman gives birth to a child, her husband is automatically presumed to be the father. He is generally the one who will be held responsible for child support, and he is the one who will likely split parenting time with the mother should the marriage end in divorce. The one exception is if a husband or an alleged father contests the validity of the child’s paternity.

In contrast, children born to unmarried mothers have “alleged” (potential) fathers. Before she can seek child support, assistance with health insurance, or other benefits for her child from the alleged father, legal steps must be taken to establish his paternity. Once she does, her child will be eligible for any paternal benefits that the father may be obligated to provide.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity for Alleged Fathers

An alleged father does not have any obligation to their child nor does he have any legal rights. This means that he cannot assert his right to participate in the life of his child. Furthermore, if the mother loses custody, decides to place the child up for adoption, or otherwise loses or relinquishes her parental rights, then the alleged father cannot step in and assert his right to assume custody.

Establishing paternity does not give an alleged father automatic rights to their child. However, it is a big step in the right direction. Legal paternity gives a father a way to pursue parenting time and decision-making power in the life of his child. If the mother’s rights are terminated, either by choice or by the courts, the legally established father is able to assert his right to raise the child.

How Paternity is Legally Established

There are three ways that an unwed couple can establish paternity. If they are both certain that the alleged father is the biological father, both parents may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). However, parents who are uncertain of the father’s biological tie to the child, they should refrain from signing a VAP form. Instead, they should pursue another method to establish paternity.

Alleged fathers are able to request genetic testing to validate their biological tie to the child. From there, a judge can enter an Order of Paternity in court, or an Administrative Paternity Order can be entered by the State of Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Alternatively, an alleged father or natural mother can contest paternity or file a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity within 60 days of signing a VAP form.

How Our Family Law Attorneys Can Help

Failing to legally establish paternity or accepting an invalid Order of Paternity can have long-term, long-standing consequences. Our Arlington Heights family law attorneys can protect your rights, and the rights of a child that is caught in the middle. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation today.



Posted in Paternity | Tagged , , , , , ,

spousal support, Arlington Heights divorce lawyerFor many years, spousal support, or alimony, was a generally accepted part of the divorce process. When a couple decided to end their marriage, one spouse—usually the wife, statistically speaking—would be a severe financial disadvantage due to roles and responsibilities she assumed regarding the family. In most cases, the wife would also be granted primary responsibility for the couple’s children, meaning that it was even more difficult for her to obtain sufficient employment to support herself and her family. As such, the other spouse—usually the husband—would often be required to make spousal support payments, helping to ease the other party’s financial burden and making the end result of the divorce more equitable.

Changing Society, Changing Expectations

Over the last four decades or so, it has become increasingly more difficult for families to rely on a single income. This shift has been accompanied by a dramatic evolution of our cultural expectations for spouses in a marriage. Today, gender is much less of a factor for most families when determining household and family responsibilities. As times have changed, so has the state’s approach to granting spousal support or maintenance, as it is known in the law.

Currently, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides guidelines for deciding if maintenance is appropriate or not, but makes no guarantees. Spousal support is not automatic under the law, unless the divorcing couple has previously executed a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement stipulating that it should be. If left up to the court to decide, maintenance will only be ordered after careful consideration of the couple’s circumstances.

Circumstantial Factors

When deciding whether or not to award maintenance, the court is required to take into account:

  • Each spouse’s income, assets, and resources, including each party’s share of the marital estate;
  • Each spouse’s needs;
  • The realistic earning potential of each spouse and any impairment to earning potential;
  • How long it will take the underprivileged spouse to gain sufficient training or employment;
  • The length of the marriage and the lifestyle established;
  • The contributions of each spouse to the other’s career;
  • The age, health, and employability of each spouse;
  • Arrangements being made for the couple’s children; and
  • Any other factors found to be relevant.

If spousal support is determined to be needed, the law provides formulas for calculating the amount that should be paid and for how long payments should continue. The court retains the discretion to deviate from the statutory formulas when justified by the specific circumstances of the case in question.

Professional Legal Advice

If you are considering a divorce and have questions about spousal support in Illinois, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows family law attorney. Call 847-253-3100 to schedule a free consultation at Cosley Law Office today.



Posted in Spousal Maintenance | Tagged , , , , , ,