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The decision to get divorced is never easy, but once you have made that decision, the real work begins. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse must now decide how you will divide your marital property, share the responsibilities of parenting your children, and build your respective lives after the divorce. One of you must also initiate the formal divorce process by filing the petition for divorce at your county courthouse. At our firm, we are often asked about this, and many clients are curious to know does it matter which spouse files for divorce first.

What Does the Law Saw?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage, or IMDMA, is a collection of laws that essentially govern the entire process of divorce in the state of Illinois. According to the law, a divorce is, at its most basic, a legal proceeding through which the marital contract between two parties is officially dissolved. Technically, a divorce has a plaintiff and a defendant, but the application of the terms is much less important during a divorce than in other types of legal proceedings, such as criminal or personal injury cases. As a matter of fact, the IMDMA references the parties in a divorce as the plaintiff or defendant in just a single paragraph.

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It may be awkward to bring up the possibility of a prenuptial agreement with your partner, as it can be uncomfortable to think about divorce before the marriage even begins. However, a prenuptial agreement can be more than just a safeguard for your assets in the event of a divorce. It can also be an opportunity for you and your spouse to have an open discussion about your finances and help you remain aware of each other’s needs and priorities throughout your marriage.

Items to Address in a Prenuptial Agreement

Couples can choose to address a variety of issues in their discussions and prenuptial agreements, primarily related to their financial and property interests. Some important topics include:

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When you imagine ending your marriage, the term divorce likely pops into your mind. You may be thinking of how your marital property will be divided, where your children will live, and whether or not you will receive alimony payments from your former spouse. However, filing for divorce does not necessarily have to be your first step if you would like to end your marriage. Maybe you are not ready to divorce just yet or you have reason to believe that your marriage may be considered invalid. Regardless of the reasoning, you should know your options before taking legal action.

Legal Separation

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When a married couple with children divorces, child support is typically ordered to help the parents share child-rearing costs. If you are considering divorce, you may wonder which parent will be the recipient and which parent will be the payor of child support. You may also want to know how much these child support payments will be. In Illinois, child support is calculated using the income shares model. Each parents’ income and other information is used to determine a child support payment amount that is fair, reasonable, and provides for the child’s needs.

Income Shares Model for Calculating Child Support

Prior to 2017, child support payments were calculated based solely on the paying spouse’s net income. Now, both parents’ net incomes are used to determine child support. Illinois adopted the Income Shares model for child support in order to hold both parents accountable for financially supporting their child. The new calculation method largely bases child support on the difference between the parents’ income. The closer the parents’ incomes are, the less the support payments will be.

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If you are getting divorced, you may wonder whether or not you will be able to receive spousal maintenance. Also called spousal support or alimony, spousal maintenance refers to payments that a spouse makes to the other spouse after a divorce. Although women were traditionally the recipients of maintenance, spousal support laws apply the same to men as they do women. Spousal maintenance is typically ordered when there is a significant difference in the spouses’ financial circumstances or when a spouse sacrifices career or educational opportunities for the benefit of the household.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts When Determining Spousal Support

There are two ways that a spouse may be considered eligible for spousal support. The first is when the couple have already made spousal support decisions through a prenuptial agreement. Unless there is a problem that invalidates the prenuptial agreement, the court will uphold the arrangements to which the spouses agreed.

The second way a spouse can receive spousal support is by petitioning the court for spousal support. Courts consider a range of factors when deciding whether or not spousal support is appropriate. These factors include but are not limited to:

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