Divorce Glossary: Terms You Should Know

divorce glossary, divorce terms, Illinois divorce attorney,A divorce can be a difficult time for all involved. In order to best yourself for the process, it is important you understand different topics that may arise. The following are divorce-related concepts that you may encounter as you proceed through your separation.

Uncontested divorce: both parties agree that a divorce should take place, and resolve issues without requiring court intervention. Generally, this method of divorce involves less conflict due to a lack of litigation.

Mediation: a legal process in which the mediator, a neutral third party, guides parties through contested issues. A judge may order both parties to engage in mediation, or the parties may voluntarily elect to go through mediation. Mediation may not be appropriate in all cases, such as cases involving child abuse allegations or domestic violence. The goal of mediation is to replace time consuming and expensive litigation with an out-of-court settlement.

Equitable distribution: a system of dividing marital property according to each spouse’s monetary and non-monetary contributions to the marriage. Illinois law mandates equitable distribution, which does not necessarily mean that each spouse receives half of the marital property. Marital property is all assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of how the property or asset is titled. A judge will consider many factors when dividing up marital property, such as the length of the marriage and the age of each party.

Alimony: spousal support payments made from one spouse to the other. These payments are typically designed to help the dependent spouse transition into independence. The length of alimony payment varies. Parties may agree to an amount in an out-of-court settlement, or a judge may determine alimony. When deciding alimony, a judge many consider many factors, such as each party’s education level and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Shared/joint custody: both parents have at least some custody. Either or both parents may have legal custody (decision making authority over important choices, such as medical care), and/or physical custody (where the child resides). Custody may be divided 50/50, or one parent may share the child’s primary residence while the other parent has regular visitation.

Sole custody: the child resides primarily with one parent, with minimal or no visitation with the other parent. Parties may agree to sole custody, or a judge may order sole custody if one parent is incarcerated, absent, incapacitated or abusive (among other factors). As with all child-related issues, custody is always determined with child’s best interests as the priority.

When considering or filing for divorce, there are many considerations to think about. Family law is a complicated legal area, and the divorce process can be complex. At the Law Office Martoccio & Martoccio, our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys can offer you practical legal advice while handling even the most complex divorce issues. Contact us now for a free initial consultation.

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