Where do I start?
The first step for every client is to meet and interview their choice of counsel as this relationship is key to the process and outcome of your case. When you call us, we meet in an initial consultation to establish an understanding of your concerns as well as provide the foundation upon which we intend to proceed. Options are always available including filling for divorce and/or issuing a thoughtful settlement communication in advance of Court proceedings. We also are prepared to assist you in the difficult conversations ahead including those with your spouse and/or children. When timing is a sensitive issue we move forward with care. If retained as your counsel, we will ask you to read, approve and sign a Retainer Agreement which sets forth the terms of our relationship.
What are my financial concerns?
First and foremost, you want to have a reliable assessment of your monthly expenses, financial needs and the standard of living you and your spouse developed during the marriage so we can devise a strategy tailored to those needs. Through an understanding of your needs, the value of your property, investments and/or business entities, you will develop, with our guidance, an understanding of your financial present and future.
If children are part of your family, their present and future needs will also be critical in the preparation and planning. As every parent knows, children bring the greatest joy but also the greatest responsibility for their education and welfare. These concerns will be paramount to determining the financial role of each party and their respective contributions.
What is maintenance and how long will I receive it?
Many spouses are candidates for maintenance (formerly known as alimony), including a spouse who has been home raising children or one with a lower earning capacity than a higher earning spouse. The Court’s maintenance determination is twofold: first, the Court makes a finding that support is appropriate and then refers to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to either apply the guideline formula to determine the amount and duration of maintenance or finds that a deviation from the formula is appropriate. There are many factors for the Court to consider in its maintenance decision including the earning capacity of both spouses, the length of the marriage and the standard of living established during the marriage.
There is no longer the term “Custody” in Illinois Law. What replaced it?
Now we have a statute entitled: The Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. This statute provides for the allocation of significant decision making responsibilities between the parents through a written Allocation Judgment. The significant decisions are those made under the headings of education, religion, health and extracurricular activities. The statute provides a long list of factors the Court weighs in order to determine the best interests of the child in allocating the ability to make decisions for that child. Parenting time is also allocated according to the best interests of the child standard.
How do we reach an Allocation Judgment?
An Allocation Judgment is often reached through the cooperation of the parties and their counsel in a determination of the best interests of the children. This Agreement is developed through the effective advocacy of our client’s understanding of their child and what is in her or his best interests. In the event the parties can’t reach an agreement, the Court and the respective lawyers have the option of appointing an attorney who serves in the capacity of a child’s representative, an attorney for the child or as a guardian ad litem who will assist in the investigation of pending issues and in the negotiation of an Allocation Judgment. This appointment can be very effective in navigating conflicting positions of parents and achieving an overall resolution consistent with the best interests of the child.
How is child support calculated?
Effective July 2017, child support is calculated according to an income sharing formula. For an estimate of a potential child support obligation, visit the Illinois Healthcare and Family Services web site and use their child support calculator.
How does mediation work?
In my role as a mediator, it is my goal to facilitate an agreement between the parties by eliciting from each party their conflicting interests and helping the parties craft a solution which is fair and equitable to them. The best mediated solution comes from the parties and not the mediator. The process often occurs over a number of sessions, with clients leaving each session with relevant topics and issues to consider. Each session is designed to move the parties closer to a full and complete resolution. We will produce a Memorandum of Understanding which the parties can then take to their separate attorneys for the formal filing and entry of the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.
What is the expected timeline?
This is very difficult to estimate and depends upon the complexity of the issues along with many factors difficult to control such as each party’s willingness or ability to reach agreements as the case progresses. Depending on these factors, as well as whether litigation is necessary to obtain a resolution, it can take anywhere from several months to several years to successfully complete a divorce.