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What issues are decided in a divorce case?

The main issues decided in a divorce are how to divide property between the parties, whether or not one party will pay maintenance (aka alimony or spousal support) to the other, and if the parties have children, child support and custody/visitation are decided as well.

Property: So how do courts divide property? Courts will distinguish between non-marital (separate) property and marital property. Separate property is not divided, but rather is kept by the party it belongs to. Marital property, on the other hand, is divided the marital property fairly. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means courts will divide property fairly, but not always equally, based on a combination of factors the court deems appropriate. Determining what is equitable can be challenging and the valuation and allocation of assets such as businesses, stocks, pensions, and retirement accounts can be tedious. If your main concern is what will happen to your house, see Who gets the House?. If you had an affair during the marriage, this may affect some aspects of your divorce, but it will not affect how the property is divided.

Maintenance: The Court will first decide if alimony will be paid by one party to the other. If the Court determines that alimony is appropriate, then it must decide the amount and duration of the spousal support.

Child Custody/Visitation:Custody/visitation may be decided through mediation if the parties are able to reach an agreement, which is enforceable by the Court. If an enforceable agreement cannot be reached, the Court will determine an appropriate custody/visitation schedule.In Illinois, parents are required to attend a 4 hour parenting education class within 60 days of the first court hearing. For more information on the parenting education class you can contact the local Circuit Clerk’s Office.

Child Support: Child Support is the money the noncustodial parent pays toward the living expenses of their children. Many people want to know how long they will have to pay child support? Support typically terminates when the child turns 18, or 19 if the child has yet to graduate from high school. However, support may continue into adulthood if the child is physically or mentally disabled, Courts sometimes require parents to make financial contributions to help the child with college expenses like tuition, room/board, and books so there is not a bright line rule that once a child turns 18, child support payments end.

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