Family law issues can be complex to navigate, especially when they involve emotionally tense matters like your children. From divorce to child support, our firm can help you navigate the legal process. Let us handle the legal side while you focus on taking care of yourself and your family. With nearly 30 years of experience, Attorney Jennifer Patton will do her best to negotiate a favorable arrangement for you. We will provide the one-on-one legal guidance you need to feel confident about your divorce and post-divorce future, such as relating to child custody and property division.
FILING FOR DIVORCE IN ILLINOIS
To file for divorce (dissolution of marriage) in Illinois, either spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days and lived separately from each other for at least 2 years (6 months if the couple agrees mutually in writing to separate). Note that couples without minor children may file for “Joint Simplified Divorce,” which requires both spouses to meet the residency requirement and:
- have been married less than 8 years;
- have no minor children (biological or adopted) with each other;
- own no real estate;
- have a marital estate valued at less than $50,000;
- make less than $30,000 each per year or less than $60,000 combined;
- have less than $10,000 in retirement benefits;
- have resolved all issues in your case; and
- not seeking support from the other.
Perhaps the most important step of the divorce process is negotiating the relevant divorce disputes, such as property division, child custody, and child support. Who gets the family home? Who will the child reside with? These are all disputes that our experienced attorney can help you negotiate, whether in mediation or in trial.
Negotiating Child Custody and Child Support
Parents in Illinois may be granted joint or sole physical and/or legal custody, where physical custody refers to who the child will reside with and legal custody refers to a parent’s legal decision-making authority. To determine the child custody arrangement, the court will examine what is in the child’s best interests, which includes:
- each parent's wishes;
- the child's wishes if they are of mature age;
- the child's relationship with their parent(s), sibling(s), and anyone else who may significantly affect the child's best interest;
- the child's adjustment to their home, school, and community;
- the parents' and child's physical and mental health;
- whether there has been physical violence or a threat of physical violence by either parent, whether directed against the child or another person;
- whether there has been ongoing or repeated domestic violence, whether directed against the child or another person;
- the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
- whether either parent is a sex offender; and
- the terms of either parent's military family care plan that must be completed before deployment, if applicable.
To determine child support, the court will primarily make the calculation based on an “income shares model” that considers both parents’ net incomes. Net income is calculated by adding up all income, such as wages, commissions, and investment income, and subtracting applicable deductions like income taxes and mandatory retirement contributions. The courts can deviate from the amount determined by this calculation guideline if doing so would better meet the child’s best interests.
Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
Another important category of family law is child abuse and neglect. Legally, child abuse refers to the mistreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caretaker, someone living in the home, or someone who works with or around the child. Note that the mistreatment must cause injury to the child or put the child at risk of physical injury, though the abuse can be physical, sexual, or emotional.
Child neglect occurs when a parent or responsible caretaker fails to provide adequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter, or other basic needs for their child.
Note that Illinois requires mandatory reporting of child abuse if a person has reasonable cause to believe that the child may be experiencing such abuse or neglect.
Those accused of child abuse or neglect will face Class A misdemeanor charges, and subsequent offenses will be charged as Class 4 felonies. For more information on the laws governing child abuse and neglect, visit our page on Juvenile Abuse and Neglect.
Attorney Jennifer Patton has the experience and dedication to handle your family law case. From negotiating property division or child support to guiding you through a child abuse case, she can provide you the legal counsel you need to make an informed decision for you and your family.