Frequently Asked Questions
How will I be charged for your services?
A retainer agreement will be prepared. This is a contract between you and your attorney for legal services. A retainer will be required when you sign the agreement. The amount will vary depending upon the complexity of the case. The contract will establish the hourly rate for services performed. If the retainer is not used completely, the balance will be refunded to you.
Can I meet with you after work or on Saturdays?
We frequently meet with clients in the evening and on Saturdays.
Can I force my spouse to move out of the marital residence?
No, unless he or she has been physically abusive or if by remaining under the same roof, your physical or mental well-being is jeopardized.
My spouse and I have worked everything out. Can we use one attorney?
A dissolution of marriage is an adversary proceeding. A lawyer can represent only one party, but the other party can represent himself or herself. You and your spouse can decide who will file the case and act as the petitioner. That party can retain an attorney, who will prepare the pleadings, marital settlement agreement and judgment. The other spouse can review the documents himself or herself or consult with another attorney.
What is a marital settlement agreement?
This is the final work product if the case is settled. It is a contract between you and your spouse, which sets forth in writing your obligations and those of your spouse. It covers every aspect of your case, including property division, maintenance, custody, child support and debt allocation.
What is maintenance?
Maintenance is what used to be known as alimony. It is spousal support. Whether you will receive maintenance depends upon the facts of your case. A specific formula determines the amount and duration of maintenance.
I have heard that there are guidelines for child support. What are they?
The minimum Illinois guidelines are as follows:
|One child||20 percent|
|Two children||28 percent|
|Three children||32 percent|
|Four children||40 percent|
|Five children||45 percent|
|Six or more children||50 percent|
Bear in mind that this percentage is taken off of net income. Although the statute says minimum, the courts rarely deviate.
Can child support be a percentage so that I do not have to come back to support?
No. Child support must be established as a dollar amount, although there are situations where you can establish a percentage. An example is when the paying spouse has a base salary plus receives bonuses or commissions. You can set a dollar amount plus the appropriate percentage of his or her commission or bonus.
What can be modified after I am divorced?
Child support can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. Likewise, visitation is always modifiable. Child custody cannot be modified for two years unless there is reason to believe that the child’s environment may seriously endanger his or her physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
Maintenance may be modifiable depending upon the language of the judgment.
What is the difference between sole custody and joint custody?
Regardless of what you call your custodial arrangement, a child will generally spend more time with one parent. It is rare when a child or children spend equal time with each parent. Sole custody gives one parent the right to control major and day-to-day decisions. The noncustodial parent has visitation. In joint custody arrangements, a joint parenting agreement establishes parenting rules. The parents jointly make major decisions. Day-to-day decisions are made by the parent who has the child in his or her possession. A parenting schedule is established. Any disputes related to the agreement must be mediated before filing a petition in court.
Can a father ever win a contested custody fight?
Custody is determined based upon a child’s best interests. The court considers many factors, including the mental and physical health of the parents, any physical abuse and the interaction between the parent and child. Both genders are on equal footing. Behavior and activities before the divorce case is filed are what matter.
Can I date while the proceedings are pending?
Yes, if you use discretion. If you have no children, dating is acceptable, but do not spend marital funds on your new friend. If you have children, do not involve them with your new friend. You can arrange your social activities when your children are with your spouse.
What is the mediation/evaluation process when custody or visitation is disputed?
The first step is the appointment of a mediator. He or she is a trained professional who will attempt to facilitate an agreement between you and your spouse. He or she will not be a witness for either party. If you do not reach an agreement, an evaluator is appointed. An evaluator is a psychologist who will perform tests and have sessions with the parties and the children. He or she will prepare a report and make a recommendation.
Can I make my spouse pay my attorney fees?
Remember that attorney fees for both parties are paid from the same pool of marital resources.
Will you handle my case or will I be assigned another attorney?
Your attorney will be at every court appearance and will be available to personally answer your questions.