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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce attorneysThere are many reasons for a divorce. In some cases, it is because a couple grows apart and comes to the mutual decision to part ways. An amicable divorce typically means both partners agree on all or most of the marital issues. This makes the divorce process simple, fast, and less expensive than a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is not always possible, especially if one spouse does not want the divorce in the first place. If a divorce is contested, it could also mean that the spouses do not agree on issues such as child support, spousal support, and the division of property. This animosity can carry over into the divorce proceedings, so if you are contesting any issues in your divorce, it is imperative to have legal counsel to protect your rights. 

Illinois Divorce Laws

In the state of Illinois, the only legal grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences, which, defined by the law, “have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” Also, it must be determined by the court that attempts to reconcile failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would not in the best interests of the family. Any divorce, whether contested or uncontested, begins with one spouse filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and “serving” the other spouse with the papers. 

Reasons for Contesting the Divorce

The spouse who did not file can still try to contest the divorce by stating that there are no irreconcilable differences. However, under Illinois law, if the parties have lived apart in separate residences for at least six months right before one spouse files the petition, there is an “irrebuttable presumption” of irreconcilable differences between the pair. 

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Kane County family law attorneysWhen a couple decides to end their marriage through divorce, they have the option of deciding how to divide their assets and wealth on their own. However, when a couple cannot come to an agreement about property division, the courts must intervene. Illinois courts use a system called “equitable distribution” to divide a divorcing couple’s marital estate. If you are considering getting a divorce in Illinois, it is important to understand how asset division decisions are made.

Marital Property and Separate Property

According to Illinois law, only marital, or shared, property is divided in a divorce. Marital property typically includes any property or funds that either spouse accumulated during the marriage. Non-marital property, or separate property, includes assets that a spouse already owned before he or she got married. However, differentiating between separate and marital property is not always this straightforward. Certain gifts and inheritances may also be considered separate property – even if the spouse received the gift or inheritance while he or she was married. Furthermore, separate property can be transformed into marital property when it is commingled with marital property.

For example, if a husband purchases a house before he got married but then he and his wife both contributed to the mortgage, the home will likely be considered marital property during divorce. Similarly, if one spouse receives an inheritance during the marriage but then deposits those funds into a shared account, the inheritance funds transform from separate into marital property. The inheritance would then be subject to division according to equitable distribution.

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St. Charles hidden assets attorneysUnder Illinois divorce laws, marital property is subject to equitable distribution, meaning each party receives a fair share of any assets that were acquired during the marriage. However, sometimes a spouse can be dishonest, depriving the other spouse to what he or she is entitled. This can be done a number of ways, and although common in high net worth or complex divorces, it can happen in any type of divorce. Forensic accounting is defined as the use of accounting practices to investigate fraud and to analyze financial information for use in legal proceedings, such as disputes or litigation during a divorce.  

How Are Assets Hidden?

People can be creative when they want to conceal money or valuable possessions. In a lot of cases, one spouse earns the majority of the income or owns a business, so that spouse often has easier access to financial matters.

Some of the ways assets can be hidden include:

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St. Charles family law attorneyWhen a couple decides to end their marriage, they may be able to get an annulment. It is important to know an annulment is different from a divorce. A divorce is the legal dissolution of a valid marriage by a court or other governing body. An annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void within secular and religious systems. Unlike divorce, it is typically considered retroactive, meaning an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the start like it had never even happened. In Illinois, annulment is called a Declaration of Invalidity, and marriages can only be annulled if they were considered illegal from the start.

Grounds for an Annulment in Illinois

An annulment is only used to end an “invalid” marriage, or one that should never have happened in the first place. Annulments are rare in Illinois because it is somewhat difficult to prove grounds for annulment. There are certain legal guidelines for annulments, as well as possible time restrictions depending on the circumstances of the case. One of the following legal grounds must be met for an annulment to be granted:

  • Fraud or misrepresentation: One spouse did not tell the truth, such as already being married;
  • Impotency or incest: One spouse is impotent (and did not disclose this information to his or her partner prior to the marriage), or the spouses are too close in relation to marry legally; or
  • Lack of consent: One spouse did not have mental capacity for consent or was forced to get married.

Grounds for a Divorce in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a spouse can file for divorce based on “no-fault” grounds, commonly referred to as “irreconcilable differences,” which requires proof that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the couple must be separated for an amount of time. For many years, it was also possible to seek a divorce on “fault-based” grounds such as adultery, abandonment, or repeated abuse. Today, however, all Illinois divorce petitions must indicate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences.

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