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divorce agreement, negotiation, Illinois divorce lawyersA marriage can legally end in just two ways, and both are incredibly difficult experiences. The first is by the death of either spouse, and, of course, the death of a loved one is always challenging. The second, as you probably realize, is divorce, or the dissolution of the marriage, according to the law in Illinois. For many, divorce is no less traumatic than a loved one’s death, and can even be made worse by months of intense fighting and brutal courtroom litigation. There is, however, an alternative to a hotly contested divorce process and, while still not necessarily easy, negotiating the terms of your divorce agreement outside of court may be the best solution for all parties involved.

What Can We Negotiate?

The laws governing divorce in Illinois are contained primarily in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The IMDMA is a comprehensive set of statutes that covers, often in great detail, the responsibilities of each divorcing party, as well as those of the court, for most matters of family law. Regarding divorce agreements, the IMDMA specifically acknowledges that a negotiated agreement promotes the "amicable settlement of disputes between parties to a marriage." It goes on to specify that such an agreement may contain terms regarding spousal maintenance, the division of property, the allocation of parental responsibilities, and child support.

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amicable divorce, divorce law, Arlington Heights divorce attorneyA few weeks ago, a post on this blog talked about "divorce selfie" trend that seemed to exemplify the amicable nature of many modern divorces. For many couples, the decision to end their marriage, while difficult, does not end their ability to work together toward a common goal. An amicable, uncontested divorce can save a couple the hassle and expense of having to sort out their differences in court and greatly streamline the entire process. Regardless of how cooperative you and your spouse can be, however, it is still important to seek the assistance of a qualified divorce attorney for a number of reasons.

Divorce Is Often Complicated

Even though you and your spouse may agree on most of the concerns inherent to the divorce, spelling out an acceptable divorce agreement can be difficult. The division of property, for example, is just one area that can be incredibly complex, with valuations needed for homes, vehicles, retirement accounts and more. While you may not have any disagreements over who is getting what, an attorney can help you develop a legally sound arrangement that clearly designates each and every allocation.

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intellectual property, Illinois law, Lombard divorce attorneysDuring a divorce most people think about how things like the cars, real estate, and retirement accounts will be divided between the spouses. But, as our society becomes increasingly information driven, another major category of property to be split is intellectual property. This can include everything from copyrights and trademarks to patents and trade secrets.

When Is Intellectual Property Considered Marital Property?

Illinois law has a broad scope of what is considered marital property. The presumption is that all property acquired during the marriage, that was not an individual gift or inheritance, is marital property. This includes typical types of personal property and real estate as well as intellectual property.

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maintenance, illinois law, Kane County divorce attorneyCertain aspects of divorce under Illinois law are relatively black-and-white. For example, virtually every divorcing spouse is entitled to an equitable share of the couple’s marital property, just like every child is assumed to have the right to financial support from both parents. Other aspects, however, can be more accurately described as falling into much more of a gray area, with ample room for court discretion and subjective considerations. Among the most prominent of these is spousal maintenance, which has long been a source of uncertainty and confusion for many divorcing couples.

Understanding the Purpose of Maintenance

It is important to realize that there no presumed right to spousal maintenance, sometimes called alimony, in the state of Illinois. Instead, it can be ordered by the court based on the examination of the circumstances of a marriage and divorce. Maintenance is intended to limit the extent to which a spouse will be financially disadvantaged by the end of her marriage. While a court may award a man spousal maintenance under the law, more than 95 percent of individuals receiving alimony are women. Decisions about support, though, are not always left to the courts.

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joint simplified divorce, Illinois law, Kane County family lawyersA number of previous posts on this blog have discussed the idea that divorce does not need to be a knock-down, drag-out battle. It is very possible for divorcing spouses to remain calm, civil, even friendly throughout the process. These types of cases lend themselves quite well to proceedings for uncontested divorce, in which neither party objects to the divorce and the details of the agreement are generally negotiated outside of the courtroom. Uncontested divorce is often much faster and less expensive than contested divorce, but the law in Illinois provides an additional option that may be easier and even more cost-effective. It is called joint simplified divorce and there are very specific conditions that apply in order for a couple to be eligible.

What is Joint Simplified Divorce?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act offers an alternative to more traditional divorce for couples without complex marital concerns. In a joint simplified divorce, both parties file the petition together, along with their signed agreements regarding property and support. The court will typically hear the case on the same day that it is filed, and if everything is in order, the judgment may be entered immediately. This represents a dramatic savings in time, energy, and expenses compared to formal divorce proceedings.

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