Trying Divorce Cases in Cook and Will Counties for 39 Years
Divorce is one of the most life-changing legal disputes you will ever run into. The terms of a divorce agreement will largely determine your future, whether you have children with your partner or marital assets you need to divide. Nonetheless, divorce is also an exciting time of change that may be the best decision for your and your children’s wellbeing. At the Law Offices of Carr, O’Rourke & Ernst, LTD we understand the personal and legal complexities of divorce. We have been exclusively trying divorce cases in Cook County for nearly 40 years, and Attorney Roland P. Ernst handles all the firm’s divorce cases personally.
For experienced and personalized divorce representation in Cook County, contact the Law Offices of Carr, O’Rourke & Ernst, LTD today. Advocating for spouses in Orland Park, Joliet, Will County, Tinley Park, and Frankfort.
Requirements to File for Divorce
To file for divorce in Cook County, either spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing. As long as the couple meets this residency requirement, they can file for divorce in Illinois.
Illinois recognizes both no-fault divorce and fault-based divorce, so a spouse is not required to prove the other spouse’s fault, or “bad conduct,” that caused the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, both spouses’ mutual decision to end the marriage is grounds enough for divorce. Some examples of reasonable grounds that a court accepts for granting divorce include:
- irreconcilable differences caused the breakdown of the marriage, and there's no chance the spouses can reconcile;
- the spouses have been living separate and apart for 6 continuous months immediately before the entry of the divorce judgment.
There are two types of divorce processes available to spouses based on their situation:
- Uncontested – a divorce where both spouses agree on all the divorce disputes, such as how child custody will be handled, how property will be divided, and which spouse should pay alimony
- Contested – a divorce where the spouses cannot reach an agreement on the divorce disputes (e.g., how much child support should be paid, whether to get a divorce, who should pay marital debts) and must go to court to reach the final decision
Uncontested divorces are typically quicker to resolve than contested divorces because the court only needs to review the spouses’ marital settlement agreement that lays out how they have resolved their divorce disputes.
Illinois also has an expedited version of uncontested divorce called “joint simplified dissolution,” which is available to spouses who meet the following requirements:
- the marriage is “irreconcilably broken”;
- the marriage lasted 8 years or less;
- neither spouse is seeking spousal support/maintenance;
- the spouses do not have any children together and neither spouse is pregnant by the other;
- the spouses have a written agreement allocating ownership of and responsibility for any pets;
- neither spouse has an interest in real property or retirement benefits from the other;
- both spouses have disclosed to each other all assets and liabilities and their tax returns for all their years of marriage;
- the fair market value of all the marital property amounts to less than $50,000, the combined gross annualized income from all sources is less than $60,000, and neither party has a gross annualized income beyond $30,000; and
- the spouses have a written agreement dividing all their assets worth more than $100 in value and allocating responsibility for debts and liabilities between them.
Resolving Divorce Disputes
There are several marital issues a couple will need to resolve in a divorce, either through negotiation, mediation, or litigation, including:
Child custody, which is categorized into legal custody and physical custody, is determined based on what is in the child’s best interests. The child’s best interests may also be factored into the child support decision. The court will examine the following best-interest factors when approving or deciding post-divorce arrangements affecting the children:
- 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;
- each parent's wishes;
- the child's preferences if they are of mature age;
- the parents' and child's physical and mental health;
- any history of domestic violence;
- whether there has been physical abuse or a threat of abuse by either parent directed against the child or another person;
- the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
- whether either parent is a sex offender; and
- whether either parent is a member of the military and has a family care plan that must be completed ahead of deployment.
When it comes to financial matters like child and spousal support, the court will examine both parents’ income and ability to pay, as well as their reasonable need for support.
Divorce is a complex process because you need to tie up all the loose ends of ending a marriage. If you are looking to file for divorce, whether uncontested or contested, enlist the legal assistance of an experienced divorce attorney. The Law Offices of Carr, O’Rourke & Ernst, LTD can help you make sure all your affairs are in order and the divorce agreement is favorable to you. We will take a detailed look at the terms of your divorce and ensure that your spousal and parental interests are being appropriately addressed. You should feel relieved starting this new chapter of your life, and we’re here to help you feel confident about moving on.
Schedule a free initial consultation with the Law Offices of Carr, O’Rourke & Ernst, LTD to get started.
“Roland was an excellent listener and took the time to understand and empathize with what was important to me in outcomes. He not only understood the law, but could see the areas where we could negotiate with my ex and her lawyer.”