Divorce ReconciliationIn some instances, a party files for divorce and then decides that reconciliation may be possible and wishes to stop the divorce proceedings.  It is important to know that just because you have filed a case, does not mean that you are required to get divorced and if you and your spouse decide you wish to attempt reconciliation, you do have options.  At McSwain Nagle & Giese, P.C. we believe in making all efforts to preserve the family unit and we always encourage parties to pursue their options for reconciliation in safe and healthy marriages.

If the case is being dismissed entirely, there are procedural requirements that must be followed.  The party who files the initial Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is known as the Petitioner in the divorce case. The other party is known as the Respondent. The Respondent can file a counter-Petition in which case they are also known as the Counter-Petitioner.  This is relevant because if you are the Respondent in the case, the Petitioner must agree to the case being dismissed.  If you are the Petitioner, and the Respondent does not agree, you may still be able to withdraw your Petition and close the case, as long as no Counter-Petition or custody proceeding has been filed and you pay the filing fees of the other party. 

Oftentimes parties who are attempting reconciliation are not certain that their attempts at saving their marriage will be successful but do wish to try.  In those instances, the parties may not want to dismiss their case entirely, but rather wish to put it on hold.  Frequently, marriage counseling is being attempted during this hold period and the parties do not wish to continue the litigation process while actively trying to salvage their marriage.  Litigation is by definition adversarial and typically not conducive to reconciliation.    

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Discovery ProcessIn many divorce cases, one spouse knows very little about the family finances, assets and debts, or the other spouse’s income and employment. There are many reasons why that could be the case, but often times it is because the other spouse was responsible for handling all of the financial aspects of the parties’ lives while they were married. Even in situations where the parties believe they are familiar with the other party’s income and assets, confirming that full disclosure has been made under oath is critical for diligence purposes.  Further, the exchange of financial information of both parties is necessary in order to reach a fair resolution in the case, whether through trial or settlement. Therefore, attorneys always recommend that the parties participate in full discovery during the divorce process.

Discovery is the process by which parties in a court case can obtain information and evidence that may be relevant to the specific facts or allegations in their case. Discovery is also commonly known as the “information gathering” stage of a case.  In a divorce case, typically all income and financial assets are relevant, even if they are non-marital, and at least 3-5 years of information is requested. It can be time consuming to prepare and gather as well as for the recipient to review and parties often spend many hours sorting through PDF’s or bankers boxes of documents in order to comply.

To begin the process, parties typically issue various requests including a Notice or Request to Produce and Interrogatories. A Notice to Produce requests that the other party produce any and all documents they have, or can reasonably obtain access to, in response to the specific requests set forth in the notice. For example, a Notice to Produce in divorce cases typically contains requests for financial documents such as paystubs, tax returns, bank account statements, and/or retirement plan statements.  While a spouse may not physically possess every bank statement for the last 3 years, the documentation is in their control and therefore they are obligated to reach out to the financial institution and request the information.  Interrogatories, on the other hand, are requests that ask the other party to answer, in written format, specific questions that may be relevant to the divorce case. For example, Interrogatories typically contain a request for the other party to list information such as their employment history, income, bank accounts, and/or retirement assets. The Supreme Court Rules contains the standard Interrogatories that must be used in a divorce proceeding unless a party is permitted by the court to ask for different information. 

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DuPage County parental relocation attorneysAfter a divorce, many people want a “fresh start,” and hope to find that by moving to another location. Sometimes, their move is prompted by a better job opportunity, a new significant other or family members, or better housing and school opportunities. Regardless of the reason, parents who share parenting time with their children cannot simply up and move. Rather, Illinois law requires that parents abide by certain rules and procedures for relocation with the children. 

Under Illinois law, the term “relocation” is defined as follows:

“(1) a change of residence from the child’s current primary residence located in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will to a new residence within this State that is more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence, as measured by an internet mapping service;

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Wheaton lawyer for support obligationsSince 2019, Illinois has utilized an income shares model for calculating child support.  The income sharing model considers the combined net income of both of the parents and the number of children in calculating the amount of child support. Each parent is then required to pay a percentage of the total obligation that is proportionate to their percentage of the combined income.

Most of the time, the parent with the majority of parenting time, even if they earn more than the other parent, will receive child support payments. The amount of support, however, changes substantially in a shared parenting scenario where the minority parent has at least 146 days with the children during the year. In this situation, the amount of support substantially decreases as the number of overnights above 146 increases.

How does remarriage affect my child support payment?

Generally, when a party paying support remarries, his or her new spouse’s income will not change the amount of support due to the recipient parent. The same goes for the reverse situation: even if the recipient party remarries someone with a significant income, the obligor’s monthly child support will not decrease. The income of the obligor’s spouse is not factored into child support calculations because the new spouse has no legal obligation to financially support the obligor’s child. However, new spouse income can still be considered in the context of child support (and sometimes maintenance) modification proceedings or in rare instances the initial setting of support with unusual circumstances. Even though a new spouse doesn’t have any legal obligation for the support of his or her stepchildren, when one or both parties have since remarried or is living with someone in a committed long-term relationship, the income of the new spouse or cohabitant can be relevant.

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Wheaton attorney for divorce living arrangementsOne of the most commonly asked questions during a divorce is if you are required to live in the marital home with your spouse during the pending divorce case. The short answer is that it depends on the circumstances, and particularly whether there are minor children involved and any issues of support. Another commonly asked question is, “If I move out of the marital home, is it considered abandonment?” The answer to that question is also no as Illinois is a no-fault state that does not have grounds for divorce such as abandonment. However, there are some things to know about cohabitating with your current spouse during your divorce proceedings, how it can affect your children, and what you can do if things start to become contentious.

Some couples going through a divorce are amicable and are able to live under the same roof during divorce proceedings. Often times, couples will stay together in the marital home because they cannot afford to support two households or because they want to present as least disruption in their children’s lives as possible.  The courts generally prefer that the status quo is maintained during the pendency of the divorce, meaning that parties continue to operate their day to day living as they did prior to the filing.

However, sometimes that is not possible and couples cannot live together during a divorce case because their situation is so volatile that it negatively impacts their own or the children’s health and wellbeing. If this is the case, it’s best if the parties can agree that the arrangement is not ideal and determine a plan for parenting time for the children and how finances will be handled.  If, however, one spouse moves out of the marital home without an agreement on these issues, it can lead to litigation. In that case, the party remaining in the marital home would want to file a petition asking the court for temporary relief as it relates to support or household expenses. If the children have been removed from the home, the issue becomes even more imminent and the spouse who remains would likely file a petition asking the court to order the return of the children or at minimum to set a parenting schedule. Given that the court greatly prefers the status quo be maintained, it is not looked up favorably if one party unilaterally leaves the home with the children.

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