Nichole Waltz received her training from the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois in 2012 and has been an active Fellow with the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois since the completion of her training. Nichole has participated in many Collaborative Divorce teams with successful outcomes. Please contact Divorce Solutions to schedule a free consultation to discuss any questions you may have about the Collaborative Divorce process or any other family law questions.

Child support is money that is paid from one parent to the other for the support of the children. Funds received for child support do not have to be spent exclusively for the child and may be utilized to pay rent, buy groceries, pay household bills, etc. The parent receiving child support is not required to provide justification for or specific receipts for the spending of child support funds. You do not have to have been married to your child’s other parent in order to receive child support.

Both parents have an obligation to financially support their child or children and Illinois is an “income shares” state. This means that both parent’s incomes are considered when determining the amount of child support each parent may owe. Under the current child support law, we first determine the combined net income of the parents. Net income for child support purposes is not necessarily the same as your net income for federal or state tax purposes. Second, we determine the number of children of the parents and the total child support amount required. Next we calculate the overnight parenting time each parent has and, lastly, we finalize the child support amount each parent owes as support. The final number is a pro-rata division of the total support obligation after taking into consideration the number of overnights each parent has.

Maintenance is formerly known as alimony or spousal support and many people use the terms “maintenance”, “alimony,” and “spousal support” interchangeably but, in Illinois the official term for alimony and spousal support is “maintenance”. Maintenance is a payment from one spouse to the other for the financial support of the receiving spouse. In Illinois there are a number of considerations that the Court utilizes to determine whether maintenance is appropriate in each case. Once the Court decides that maintenance is appropriate, then a calculation will be performed to determine the amount of maintenance. A separate calculation is done to determine the duration of maintenance.

Maybe. Whether or not a spouse is entitled to maintenance depends on a number of factors which are set forth in the Illinois law that governs maintenance. Although Illinois law has factors that the Court utilizes, when determining whether maintenance is appropriate, the Court can also consider additional factors that are not set forth in the law. Every person’s situation is different and must be evaluated separately. The amount of time a person may receive maintenance depends on the length of the marriage.

Once the Court decides that maintenance is appropriate, Illinois law provides a formula which we utilize when determining whether a spouse should receive maintenance and if so, how much. A separate formula is utilized to determine the duration or for how long a spouse will receive maintenance. The amount of maintenance is calculated by determining the gross (pre-tax) amount of income each spouse earns on a yearly basis. The maintenance statute recognizes that not every individual is a W2 employee and that some people may be seasonal workers, may own their own businesses, may earn commission or a bonus, and/or may not be working at full capacity. Because of these special circumstances, there are a few different ways that the Court may utilize to calculate and determine a spouse’s gross income.

Marital property is any and all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled. When determining what is marital property we look at when the property was acquired and ask whether the acquisition was before or after the wedding date. Property acquired before the wedding date is non-marital property. Property acquired after the wedding date, with a few exceptions, is marital property. Some examples of things that are marital property include:

  • Your paycheck earned after the wedding date and during the marriage;
  • Contributions to a pension/401k/403b/TRS and/or any other retirement savings plan made after the wedding date and during the marriage;
  • Bank account contributions made after the wedding date; and
  • Real estate and personal property acquired after the wedding date.

With the above examples, and with all marital property, it does not matter whose name the property is titled under. Specifically, it does not matter that your name is on your bank account and that only your paycheck goes into that bank account. If you earned the paycheck during the marriage, the paycheck is marital property. The same is also true of property in just your spouse’s name.

The above examples are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be considered or utilized as legal advice. Every situation is different and requires an individual assessment by the qualified family law attorneys of Divorce Solutions.

Non-marital property is property that was acquired by you, prior to the wedding date and maintained as separate property by you. Non-marital property also includes any inheritance that you may have received during the marriage, as long as you maintain the inheritance as separate from marital property. In order to have maintained non-marital property as separate property, you cannot have “co-mingled” your non-marital property with marital property.

For example, you have a savings account that you established prior to your wedding date. If you put any money in that account from your paycheck earned after your wedding date, you will have co-mingled your marital property (post wedding paycheck) with your non-marital property (pre wedding savings account) and could cause what was previously non-marital property to be considered marital property.

With an inheritance, you must maintain any inheritance as separate from marital property in order to maintain it as separate. If you utilize your inheritance to pay a marital bill (ie the mortgage), in the absence of a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, this will likely be considered a gift by you to the marriage for which you are not entitled to a reimbursement.

The above examples are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be considered or utilized as legal advice. Every situation is different and requires an individual assessment by the qualified family law attorneys of Divorce Solutions.

There is a common misconception that a spouse is entitled to half, or 50%, of the marital property. There is no law in Illinois that states that a spouse will receive half (50%) of the marital property. Illinois divides property equitably and equitably does not mean equally under the law. Sometimes equitable is 50%-50% each but, sometimes under certain circumstances, equitable can mean that one spouse receives 70% and the other 30% of the marital assets.

The above examples are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be considered or utilized as legal advice.  Every situation is different and requires an individual assessment by the qualified family law attorneys of Divorce Solutions.

A Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) is sometimes referred to as a property settlement. An MSA is an agreement made between divorcing spouses, which sets forth how the parties have agreed to divide their marital property. In a divorce, spouses can agree as to how they want to divide up their bank accounts, the house, retirement accounts, investments, any debt, and any other marital property. Generally speaking and as long as the agreement is reasonable, Courts will usually accept agreements reached between the spouses. An agreement can be reached between spouses at any time during a divorce proceeding.

An Allocation Judgment is the document that is used to set forth and specifically assign parenting time and parenting responsibilities.

An allocation of parenting time is very simply a schedule of which parent the children will be with on any given day at any given time. The parenting schedule includes pick-up and drop-off responsibilities and will also set forth a holiday parenting schedule, which states which parent will have parenting time with the children on each holiday.

An allocation of parenting responsibilities sets forth which parent will have decision making authority for issues affecting the children. In Illinois, there are four major parenting decision making areas which the law presumes the parents will work together on. Those areas are issues of healthcare, religion, education, and extracurricular activities. This means that, under Illinois law, for the issues of healthcare, religion, education, and extracurricular activities, the law defaults to joint decision making by the parents. The starting place for decision making for these four children’s issues is that the parents will consult each other and will work together to make a decision that is in the best interests of their children. It is possible to overcome the presumption of joint decision making, but it is very difficult.

No, you will not get custody. In the State of Illinois, there is no longer such a thing as custody. The law governing custody of children was overhauled in recent years and the term “custody” was removed from the statute and the term “visitation” has fallen out of use. Illinois courts no longer award “joint custody,” “primary custody,” “residential custody,” or “sole custody” to either parent. Neither parent is awarded any type of custody of the children. Illinois courts also no longer award “visitation” to one parent. With the new law, instead of awarding custody and visitation, we now allocate parenting time to each parent. The allocation of parenting time to each parent is simply a schedule for which parent the children are with at any given time and day.

A Joint Parenting Agreement is a child custody and parenting agreement that was commonly entered into by parents prior to January 1, 2016. A Joint Parenting Agreement, referred to as a JPA, would set forth joint v. sole legal custody, the primary custodial parent and the visitation schedule of the non-primary custodial parent. As of January 1, 2016, “Joint Parenting Agreements” are no longer accepted by Illinois courts as appropriate for dealing with children’s parenting issues. Beginning January 1, 2016, Illinois law requires an Allocation Judgment for dealing with parenting issues. What was formerly visitation and child custody, is now simply parenting time. An Allocation Judgment awards each parent “parenting time” as well as “parenting responsibilities.”

Although the law changed to no longer utilize Joint Parenting Agreements, this does not mean that a Joint Parenting Agreement entered into prior to January 1, 2016 is no longer valid. Joint Parenting Agreements entered before January 1, 2018 are still valid and enforceable.

Mediation is a process that divorcing spouses often utilize to assist them in remaining amicable while negotiating the division of marital property or in addressing children’s issues like parenting time (formerly custody and visitation) and parenting decision making.  Mediators are often, but not always attorneys however, anyone offering mediation services should have received specialized mediation training by a reputable organization.

Parentage cases are situations when the parties have children together but have never been married. In a Parentage case, the court will deal with children’s issues only. Children’s issues relevant to a Parentage matter are child support, and the division of parenting time and parenting responsibilities.

A Parentage Court will not deal with issues of property division. Property division issues include maintenance, also referred to as spousal support, division of personal property and/or real estate, and the division of financial accounts. Individuals who have never been married do not have the right to receive maintenance nor are property rights established in the Parentage law. Parties may have property rights under other areas of Illinois law, however the Parentage statute does not convey property rights on co-parents.

Establishment of a parent-child relationship is done when parents have children together and are not, or never have been, married to each other. These situations are called Parentage cases and are covered under the Illinois Parentage statute. A parent-child relationship can be established at any time prior to a child’s 18th birthday and must be established before a legal obligation for child support can be set by the Court or any formal and enforceable parenting time will be ordered by the Court. A person can voluntarily acknowledge that they are the child’s parent. This is often done at the hospital at the time of birth and is commonly referred to as a “VAP”, or Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage.

A parent-child relationship can be determined with or without a VAP and/or with or without a parent’s name on the birth certificate.

The cost of a divorce varies wildly from case to case. In the state of Illinois, the average cost of a divorce is approximately $13,000-$14,000. When working with Divorce Solutions, we do everything we can to keep your legal fees down.

At Divorce Solutions a retainer is always required. A retainer is an advance payment of funds which Divorce Solutions, LLC utilizes to pay your legal fees and expenses on a monthly basis. You will be billed at the hourly rates of the Partner, attorneys and paralegal working on your file. The billing increments are 6 minute increments. The bills are generated every month and the billing cycle is from the 1st day of the month through the last day of the month.

The initial retainer is not a minimum and your divorce or other family law case may cost more than the initial retainer but, at Divorce Solutions, we do not keep funds we have not earned and will return any and all unused portion of your initial retainer funds or any replenishment retainer funds that you have on account with us. If your divorce or other family law matter costs less than the initial retainer, we will return the funds to you. However, if your divorce, or other family law matter costs more than the initial retainer, we will ask for a replenishment retainer commensurate with the activity in your case.

The length of time a divorce takes to finalize depends upon the parties and the litigated issues. In my experience, when parties litigate regarding children’s issues, including parenting time, or decision making, this type of dispute takes longer to resolve than a divorce in which the parties can reach an agreement on parenting time and parenting responsibilities.