The steady stream of legal jargon that flows during divorce can be overwhelming for couples. By familiarizing themselves with the terms commonly used in family law, divorcing couples can better understand the progress of their cases. Asking a family law attorney what those terms mean could help the divorce process run smoother.
Getting Down to the Basics
The state where the divorce takes place is called the jurisdiction. The laws regarding divorce differ from state-to-state. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. Neither spouse must prove that the other did something wrong like adultery, cruelty, or abandonment to request a divorce. Since the 2016 revision of the state’s divorce statute, the only valid reason for divorcing in Illinois is irreconcilable differences, meaning that the couple is unable to agree on matters within their marriage and do not foresee ever being able to again.
When children are involved, the term allocation of parental responsibility is now used instead of custody. Child support is still the money paid by a supporting parent to help provide for the children. The parent who receives child support is called the non-supporting parent.
The term alimony is no longer used. Instead, when one spouse has been ordered by the court to pay the other support, it is now called maintenance money.
Ways to Divorce
When both spouses agree to uncouple, fairly divide their assets, and divide the responsibilities of raising their children, it can be considered an uncontested divorce. Sometimes a little help is needed to come to an agreement/settlement on the terms of the divorce. One way is to enter into mediation with a third party who can assist both with coming to an agreement. Another is to go through the collaborative divorce process. This is where both spouses and their attorneys negotiate to come to an agreement.
Not all divorces go smoothly. In a contested divorce, both spouses and their attorneys may need to go to trial, which is a formal court proceeding. Before this happens, depositions and discovery take place to prepare evidence before going in front of a judge. Motions are filed with the court to request some type of relief, such as alimony, child support, attorney’s fees, or equitable division of marital assets.
The court sets a date for the hearing. This is where the evidence is presented and sworn testimony is heard from the divorcing spouses, witnesses, and sometimes experts involved in the case. Based on the evidence presented, the judge issues and signs his or her court order, which is then filed with the court.