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Divorce FAQs

How long will my divorce process take?

You can be divorced in as little as three weeks if there are no children involved and everything has been agreed upon by the parties. If children are involved, the parents must first complete a court-mandated parenting education class regarding divorce and its effects on children. This can usually be done in six to eight weeks. However, the more issues that are disputed by the parties, the longer the process will take. There are settlement strategies that we can discuss to help settle your case. In the event that your case has to proceed to trial, it could easily be a year to a year and half before a divorce is granted.

How much will my divorce cost?

Again, this depends upon how complicated and disputed your case is. I will work hard to settle your case and only charge for work that you and I discuss and feel necessary to obtain optimal results. You can further reduce costs by organizing your documentation regarding bank accounts, credit card bills, health and life insurance, retirement assets, etc. and becoming more knowledgeable about your financial situation.

Can we both use the same attorney?

The short answer is no. It would be a conflict of interest and a violation of the Illinois Code of Professional Conduct. However, if one spouse signs a waiver acknowledging that he/she understands that I only represent the other spouse, then I can meet with both parties to amicably resolve your divorce. The unrepresented spouse will always have the opportunity to consult with his/her own attorney throughout the process.

Who will get custody of the children?

As of January 1, 2016, the state of Illinois adopted a new statute that basically eliminates the concepts of custody and visitation, in favor of more family-friendly concepts of allocation of parenting time and parenting functions. Regardless of the changes, the law presumes that both parents are fit and proper parents for the custody and control of their children. The most important factor for the court is the wishes of the parents as to the custody of the children. The standard the courts use to make a determination of custody is what is in the best interest of the children. No divorce court would ever make a determination that a parent is "unfit" and the court is precluded from considering conduct that does not affect the parents' relationship with the child. Usually, the parent who is the primary caregiver for the child is awarded custody. I advise my clients that if they feel custody will be a disputed issue, they need to begin to document everything they do for the children that would show them to be the children's primary caregiver. My experience has also shown that the ability of a parent to foster and encourage a relationship with the other parent is a strong factor the courts consider when awarding custody. A child's preference is also a factor and becomes more relevant as the child grows older. However, it is just one factor that the court considers in making a custody determination. Custody disputes are very fact specific, and therefore it is very important that you discuss all particular facts and issues of your case with an attorney such as me, who has substantial experience in custody litigation.

How often will I see my children?

As of January 1, 2016, the state of Illinois adopted a new statute that basically eliminates the concepts of custody and visitation, in favor of more family-friendly concepts of allocation of parenting time and parenting functions. However, a standard visitation schedule for a noncustodial parent is every other weekend, one day during the week, alternating holidays and vacation time during the summer. But every family is different and has unique needs. Throughout the divorce process, parents are encouraged to be flexible and only use the visitation schedule as a backup in case there is a conflict.

What is joint custody?

As of January 1, 2016, the state of Illinois adopted a new statute that basically eliminates the concept of joint custody in favor of allocation of parental responsibilities. Joint custody was always a misnomer. Joint custody is really joint decision-making about the important aspects of the child's life such as education, nonemergency health care, religious training, extracurricular activities and any other major decisions that need to be made for the child. Even under a joint parenting agreement or current law, there is usually one parent that has the majority of time with the children.

How much will I receive/pay for child support?

The amount of money that a noncustodial parent pays for child support is set by statutory guidelines based upon net income from all sources as follows:

Number of ChildrenPercent of Supporting
Party's Net Income
120%
228%
332%
440%
545%
6 or more50%

The courts can, but rarely do, deviate from these guideline amounts. In addition, the noncustodial parent also is usually required to provide health insurance and pay for half of day care and uncovered medical expenses. Depending on the financial resources available, a parent may also have to contribute to other expenses for the children, such as extracurricular activities and school fees.

If I have sole custody, can I move the children out of the state?

No. A parent cannot move minor children out of the state of Illinois on a permanent basis without a court order. If the move is opposed by the other parent, the parent seeking removal must prove that the move would be in the best interest of the minor child. You will definitely have to consult an attorney if you wish to move out of state with your children.

Will I be able to receive alimony?

In Illinois, alimony is called maintenance. Whether a spouse is entitled to maintenance is based upon numerous factors set forth in Illinois law. Some of the factors are the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the needs of the parties and the present and future earning capacity of each party. On January 1, 2015, the state of Illinois adopted maintenance guidelines for marriages where the combined income is under $250,000.00. You will need to speak in depth with a family law attorney to determine your rights and/or obligations under the maintenance guidelines.

How will our property and assets be divided?

Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Basically what this means is that the marital estate is not automatically divided 50/50. With very few exceptions, anything acquired during the marriage is marital property. Illinois law provides several factors as to the division of property. Some of factors are the duration of the marriage, relevant economic circumstances of each spouse, custodial provisions for any children and the reasonable opportunity of each spouse to acquire additional income and assets in the future. You will have to review your marital estate with a family law attorney to determine your rights in the marital estate.

Can I trust you?

Of course you can, I am a lawyer. But seriously, there is an old journalism adage: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out". The best way to check me out is to click on the Resources tab on my site. Under Legal, you will find a link to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois. In the upper left hand corner, click on "Lawyer Search" and then type in my name and click submit. Once my name appears, click on my name. It will tell you that I am authorized to practice law in the state of Illinois, that I carry malpractice insurance and that I have had no prior or pending disciplinary complaints.

Divorce FAQ

Q:

How long will my divorce process take?

A:

You can be divorced in as little as three weeks if there are no children involved and everything has been agreed upon by the parties. If children are involved, the parents must first complete a court mandated parenting education class regarding divorce and its effects on children....

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Upon graduating from the John Marshall Law School in 1994, Kevin W. Thomas began his legal career as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Bureau in Chicago assisting low income families with family law matters. He has extensive experience...
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Kevin W. Thomas
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Professional Associations and Memberships
DuPage County Bar Association Family Law Committee
Kane County Bar Association Family Law Committee
Illinois State Bar Association (Member)
Illinois Supreme Court (Licensed Attorney)