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Common Misconceptions About Divorce & Family Law 

Goldstein Law Office May 1, 2023

Matters involving domestic relationships and marital dissolution often involve sensitive emotions and must be handled carefully. However, there are numerous collective popular views surrounding divorce and family law, which might not really be true. Hence, when seeking a divorce or needing assistance with a family law matter, getting clear guidance from a knowledgeable family law attorney is vital to avoid costly errors and to make informed decisions. 

At Goldstein Law Office, I have the resources to provide reliable advocacy and personalized guidance to clients in divorce and family law matters. I will listen to your case, inform you about the divorce process, help resolve your family law issue, and clarify the misconceptions. My firm proudly serves clients across Lake County & Cook County, Illinois, and surrounding areas, including Antioch, Lake Forest, and Highland Park. 

Common Misconceptions About Divorce in Illinois 

However, there are lots of false assumptions out there surrounding the divorce process and other family law issues in Illinois. For this reason, family law attorneys must fully enlighten clients about the whole marital dissolution process, their available options, and what to expect during and after divorce. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about divorce and family law in Illinois and a brief explanation of why they're false: 

Misconception #1: You have to get divorced in the state you got married in. 

The belief that you have to get divorced in the state you got married in is false. You can get your divorce in any state, provided that you meet the residency requirement. In order to get a divorce in Illinois, either you or your estranged spouse must live in the state for at least three months (90 days) before filing your divorce petition. 

Misconception #2: It's possible for one of the spouses to deny the divorce. 

This is not true. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. According to state laws, to get a divorce in Illinois, the spouse filing for divorce only has to state "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the relationship breakdown. Essentially, the divorce will still be granted even if the other party disagrees. Hence, you may be able to get a divorce in Illinois even if your spouse doesn't consent. 

Misconception #3: If the other parent doesn't pay child support, I can withhold visitation. 

This is another common misconception. However, it is important to understand that the child support arrangement is different from the visitation schedule. Under Illinois law, custodial parents are prohibited from intentionally withholding court-ordered visitation when the other parent fails to pay child support. Rather, you may bring a contempt action against the non-compliant party for the court to enforce the child support order and punish the defaulting parent. 

Misconception #4: Alimony is a part of any divorce. 

This is not always true. Spousal support isn't awarded in every divorce case. Rather, alimony will only be awarded when there is a need and the ability and resources to pay. According to Illinois divorce law, the court will only issue an order for alimony if one spouse needs financial assistance and the other party has the resources and ability to pay the support amount. 

Misconception #5: Our assets will all be split 50/50. 

This is a common misconception. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Under state laws, marital assets – all assets and property accumulated during the marriage – will be divided fairly and equitably between both parties, but not equally. Here are the factors that the court will consider to achieve equitable property distribution in a divorce: 

  • the duration of the marriage 

  • the age, health condition, and education levels of each party 

  • the income earned by each spouse during the marriage 

  • the responsibility of either party 

  • each party's potential income-earning capacity 

  • each party's contributions to the marriage and marital estate 

  • the dissipation by each party against the marital estate 

  • the separate or pre-marital assets available to each party 

  • any existing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements 

  • the tax consequences of each asset 

Misconception #6: If adultery was involved, the other spouse gets everything. 

As mentioned earlier, Illinois only allows no-fault divorces. The party seeking a divorce may be unable to state that the other party's unfaithfulness caused the divorce. However, when distributing marital assets, the Illinois court will consider whether the adulterous spouse intentionally wasted the couple's finances and assets on funding trips, vacations, buying jewelry, and expensive gifts for their mistress or secret lover – to achieve equitable division. 

Misconception #7: The mother is always awarded primary custody of the children. 

In the past, trends in child custody awards showed that the mother usually gets primary custody of the children. However, this idea is now obsolete. According to a study by Custody X Change, fathers in Illinois are likely to receive about 23.1% of child custody time. 

Essentially, the Illinois court awards custody based on the best interests and welfare of the child. The following factors will be considered to determine child custody: 

  • the reasonable wishes or preferences of the child 

  • the parent's mental and physical health 

  • the ability of the parent to make decisions about the child 

  • the child's needs and parents' wishes 

  • the ability of either parent to work together with the other party 

  • the role of each parent in making vital family decisions that affect the child 

  • any existing agreement between the parents regarding child custody 

  • the distance between the parent's residences 

  • any history of domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, or physical abuse 

  • other factors deemed necessary by the court 

Using the factors above, physical or legal custody may be awarded to either the mother or father of the child, regardless of gender. 

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Making family changes or getting a divorce in Illinois usually involves a lot of complicated procedures. However, with lots of false information out there, knowing what to expect and being able to differentiate between facts and fiction can make it easy to navigate the legal processes. Therefore, consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial for dependable guidance and to help you make intelligent decisions. 

At Goldstein Law Office, I'm poised and ready to advise and direct individuals and families through the challenges of divorce and family law. Contact me at Goldstein Law Office today to arrange a simple consultation with a trusted family law attorney. My firm proudly serves clients across Lake County & Cook County, Illinois, and surrounding areas, including Antioch, Lake Forest, Highland Park, Deerfield, North Chicago, and Waukegan. 

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