In this article we will answer some of the most popular questions about Illinois Family Law, including "Do I need an attorney to get a divorce in Illinois?", "How long does a divorce take in Illinois?", "How is child support determined in Illinois?", and "How can I change my child support payments in Illinois?"
While an attorney is not required for a divorce in Illinois, there are several benefits to having an attorney, even in the most seemingly-simple divorce cases. A divorce can be stressful and emotional, so distancing yourself from the process will help assure that the decisions made are objective and in the best interest of the parties. Divorces are also highly complex and impact the rest of the lives for both parties and their loved ones, so handing off much of the legal proceedings to an attorney will give peace of mind that someone who is knowledgeable in the law is assuring that the best results are achieved.
For other relevant divorce questions, see our article “Illinois Divorce FAQ”
The divorce timeline in Illinois is significantly varied depending on the complexity of the divorce. The shortest and simplest form of divorce is an uncontested divorce where both parties are agreeing to the divorce and agreeing to split their shared property evenly. These divorces can be as quick as 2 months depending on the complexity of the agreement and scheduling. On the opposite end, a contested divorce where the parties are not in full agreement typically have around a 6 month waiting period before the divorce begins, and a highly complex and argumentative divorce can add even more time to that - even a year or more - if the parties are unable to agree on terms. To assure your divorce is processed in the most timely manner possible, we recommend finding a divorce attorney.
For more detail on the timeline of divorce and what can affect in, read our article “How Long Does a Divorce Take?”
In 2017, Illinois changed their child support laws to an income shares model. This differs significantly from previous child support determination laws. Previously, Illinois child support was determined simply by percentages of the obligor's income that escalated the more children were involved. In the income shares model, the income of both parties is taken into account, and, in shared parenting situations, the amount of time the obligor spends with the child is also a factor.
For more on the new 2018 law for Child Support calculation, see our article “Illinois Child Support 2018”
The most common way to change your child support - either the payment you make or the payment you receive - is when there is a significant change in income for one or both of the parents. In order to make this change, you must present your matter to the court to determine that the change of income is significant enough to warrant a change the to agreement. Often, this happens when a career change occurs that changes the annual income of a parent. This can include positive change such as a promotion or a new job or a negative change such as being laid off or demoted. Other changes can include options for college education or child support beyond the age of 18. As child support changes are a matter that requires court appearance and changes to a legal document, we recommend consulting with an attorney ahead of the change to assure it is in your best interest and being completed properly.
For a more detailed answer to this question, see our article “Child Support Modification Explained.”