Frequently Asked Questions* - Family Law

Family Law

Not in the sense that a specific wrong must be proven, as was once the case. Today, every state--including Illinois--has a “no fault” divorce option, where neither party is required to show that the other is at fault for the end of the marriage. This is also known as filing due to irreconcilable differences.

In Illinois, there are several additional legal reasons, or “grounds,” for a divorce, which include extreme emotional or physical cruelty, adultery, a felony conviction or desertion for more than a year.

Generally, no. Attorneys cannot represent opposing parties in the same case. Even in a simple uncontested divorce, each party is entitled to and should have his or her own legal representation. This does not mean that the divorce will be contentious or adversarial merely because each side is represented by legal counsel.

Divorce covers a number of marital arrangements, including financial and custodial. You should bring any documents related to both marital (shared by you and your spouse) and individual (owned solely by you) assets (your marital home(s), investments, valuables), debts, and expenses. In addition to paperwork, expect to provide personal information such as your address, employer, and contact information during your first meeting with an attorney. Don’t worry if you forget to bring something to your initial meeting with an attorney; he or she will let you know what’s needed and you can always send it along later.

Sometimes circumstances change significantly after a divorce; a spouse loses his or her job or becomes disabled, a parent moves out of state, a need arises for a new custody arrangement, a spouse fails to pay child support or spousal maintenance (alimony), etc. In these cases, a former spouse can petition the court for a post judgment modification, or a change in the original terms of the divorce. In many situations it is possible to obtain an order modifying the original judgment of divorce.

Anyone who believes they are in imminent danger should call 911 immediately and report the situation to the authorities.

In non-emergency situations, it is important to determine whether an Order of Protection or a Stay Away Order is necessary. Under Illinois law, people may petition a court for an Order of Protection or a Stay Away Order against individuals who are abusing or harassing them. Orders can only be sought against people in certain legally defined relationships (including: spouses/former spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, unmarried individuals who have a child in common, or people living in a shared or common dwelling). The definition of domestic violence in Illinois covers many behaviors, including physical abuse (defined by law as sexual abuse, physical force, confinement or restraint, purposeful sleep deprivation, or behaviors which create an immediate risk of physical harm). Intimidation or harassment may also be grounds for the issuance of a protective order.

An Order of Protection may be civil or criminal in nature and is designed to stop the abusive behavior and protect victims of abuse. There are emergency Orders of Protection available to victims in immediate danger, and other types of orders that provide longer-term prohibitions to abusers and protections for victims. The details of each Order of Protection and the type requested will depend on the facts of each case; a judge can order an abuser to leave a shared home, stop the abusive behavior, and undergo counseling, among several options.

Anyone who believes they are in imminent danger should call 911 immediately and report the situation to the authorities.

After that, it is important to decide whether an Order of Protection is necessary. Under Illinois law, a victim may be entitled to a protective order against someone guilty of harassment. The definition of harassment in Illinois is unnecessary conduct that causes a victim emotional distress. There are several behaviors that constitute harassment, including repeatedly visiting work or school, repeatedly calling a victim, repeatedly following victims in public places, and a few others.

*DISCLAIMER: The questions and answers presented on this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship.