How long will this take? How much will it cost?

A case is resolved by agreement or court order. If there is an agreement on all matters, your case could be completed in 30 days and cost less than $1,500 (inclusive of about $300 in court filing fees).  If there is a disagreement, then the court process must be followed. It will depend upon the issues, and how reasonable both parties are going to be.

It’s all about MONEY and CONTROL to him/her.

A Divorce is like the breakup of a business partnership. The law seeks equitable division of assets and debts.  Marital property is divided without regard to marital misconduct.  It is common for both to want and deserve an equitable share of the marital estate. Also, people want to be in control.

I own a business, how is my income calculated for maintenance or child support?

Maintenance an child support are calculated based on the gross income of Husband and Wife. The Illinois formula then applies a conversion to net income based upon being taxed at a single rate. For “W2” jobs, the calculation is generally straightforward. Gross income from a self employed tax return is usually an overvalued measure of true income. The deductions for a business owner from the federal government are different than those recognized by Illinois for purposes of maintenance and child support. A closer analysis is necessary to get a fair net income in a business owner circumstance.

Does it matter who files first?

It usually makes no difference.  A divorce or a parenting matter is to be filed (generally) in the county in which Husband or Wife reside. In a parentage circumstance, if mom and dad were never married, the one who files first has more latitude in choosing the county.  Be careful of relocation issues if you were never married.

Child Support. What about daycare, extracurricular fees?

Child support is not intended to meet all of the child’s needs.  Both parties are tasked with the financial obligation to support the children. Extra support can be agreed upon, however, absent an agreement, payments above standard child support  must be presented to the court.  The Illinois Child Support laws are currently a shared income approach.

My child returns from the other parent and is unruly/belligerent and it takes me hours/days to get them back to “normal”.

The child is testing boundaries and the interpretation or reconciliation of differing parenting styles. Each household has different methods to implement rules and discipline. As the child experiences these different parenting styles the child determines the boundaries of each. The child learns that there are degrees and levels of rules, implementation, and consequence.

Since the separation, the other party has become “DisneyDad” or “SuperMom”. When the children are visiting they do nothing but play video games, eat out, go to movies.

This is a common side effect of a divorce. One party realizes that either the time they had together was taken for granted, or now that the new reality of separation results in depression, anxiety,  loneliness, jealously.  It does seem reasonable for the parent with less time to use that time to play and enjoy the children and try to “win” at parenting. The wishes of the children are only one of several factors a court considers in determining a parenting time schedule.  If the children speak with a Judge and express a desire to stay with one parent because they get to play games and have no rules, a Judge will unlikely be persuaded since wishes must be grounded in the child’s own best interest.

When I am away without my child, or need a sitter, do I have to leave my child with the other parent?

Maybe. The “Right of First Refusal” is optional in custody agreements.  It is a good idea to advise the other party and give them the opportunity to have periods of physical custody if you are away for an extended period of time. However, your time is your time and the other parent’s time is their time and either of you can choose to use it how you wish.  Often your time might be the only time that relatives get to see the child.  Neither can dictate what the other parent does with their time.  The answer continues to be what is reasonable under your particular time and circumstances. Use to prove that you advised the other parent as to availability.

Can I get a girlfriend/boyfriend during this process?

Yes. Marital property is divided without regard to marital misconduct and infidelity or adultery is meaningless with respect to the division of marital assets. However, spending money on a new girlfriend could be a “dissipation of marital assets” to be repaid to the marital estate.  I recommend not getting a boyfriend or girlfriend during the time of a dissolution. The goal is to resolve matters amicably and economically. If you get a boyfriend or girlfriend during the dissolution the feelings of your ex will likely be hurt, there will be jealously and anger issues and your hopes of an amicable settlement drop significantly. One party will often not like the other party’s new boyfriend or girlfriend and question how the child is treated when in that party’s care.  If you get a boyfriend or girlfriend, you have probably just cost yourself another $3,000.00 in attorney’s fees.

I have a problem with my ex’s new girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband.

If they have not been convicted of a felony involving a minor, then it does not matter unless objective, actual danger is proven. Even after the negative feelings towards your ex have subsided, it is an odd relationship to manage since you still have to send your child to your ex’s house and they may have a new person in their life.  Necessarily, they introduce that new person to your child and that can be a difficult feeling to manage.  It seems as though a new father or mother, if not actively trying to assume your roll, is certainly significantly present during custodial times.  It is common to dislike that new person and to place blame on them for any child care problems that might be experienced.  I often hear how much the other party’s new boyfriend or girlfriend is dangerous/unstable/invasive/drug problem/terrible driver/bad influence etc.  It is rarely successful and always expensive to try to dictate what your ex does with their time with the child and to try to dictate the involvement of your ex’s new significant other.