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“Someone told me” . . . Divorce Myths Busted

As a lawyer who handles doesn’t of uncontested divorces each year, I get a lot of calls. And I’ve written many articles about how quick and easy it can be to start an uncontested divorce in Illinois (like this one).

But people always come at me with “Someone told me . . .” followed by a bunch of nonsense. So I wanted to bust some of those Illinois divorce myths.

Someone told me: I won’t have to pay support if we share the kids 50/50

That’s not true. In fact, the child support law is changing July 1, 2017. And that new law involves a formula for determining child support which takes into account the overnights with each parent, and the parents’ relative incomes.

Let me put it to you like this: Even if parents split time with the kids 50/50, if one parent makes $200k annually, and the other makes $40k annually, the higher-earner will likely pay the other child support.

Someone told me: I don’t have to share what’s in my name

People often think that if only their name is on something they get to keep it.

For example, suppose Bob and Amanda are married. Even before thinking about divorce, they kept separate bank accounts.

Someone told me: We can both use the same lawyer

A lawyer only represents one side of a case. Period.

There are some scumbag lawyers out there who try to trick people into thinking one lawyer represents both parties. Those lawyers often pretend to be “mediators” helping both people to work something out. But legitimate mediators are clear about their work, and DO NOT represent people in court.

It is a myth that both people in a divorce can use the same lawyer. However, an uncontested divorce in Illinois often only involves one lawyer. For many cases that I handle, I draft settlement agreements that reflect what my client tells me is the agreement between the spouses. Then the other spouse has a chance to review it, before singing it. If the other spouse wants to have a lawyer review it, that’s fine.

Someone told me: My pension is mine

Do you have a pension? Congrats! That’s great. I don’t have one.

What I’ve noticed from handling many uncontested divorces in Illinois is that people are very attached to their pensions. For some reason, they will more easily agree to split a 401k then they will a pension.

“I’m keeping my pension,” they say.

But I have some news for you. Whatever part of your pension that you earned during you marriage is marital property, and therefore, the payout associated therewith will be split when you get divorced.

Here’s an example:

  1. Jan 1, 2010: You started working at your job.
  2. Jan 1, 2012: You get married.
  3. Jan 1, 2025: Your pension vests.
  4. Jan 1, 2030: You get divorced

In that example, whatever portion of your pension you earned between Jan 1, 2012 and Jan. 1, 2013 will be split when you get divorced.

By they way, pensions are complicated. To divide a pension you will need either a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order (QILDRO – government pensions in Illinois). See this article for a bit more about dividing pensions (and 401k accounts).

Someone told me: I can get divorced with out a lawyer

If you are like most people, you don’t want to pay a lawyer.

But you probably don’t want to have problems with your divorce.

Here are just some of the problems that can occur after a divorce:

  1. You can get stuck with debt you don’t want
  2. You might not get everything you want
  3. You can end up back in court fighting about something ambiguous in the settlement agreement
  4. You might give up rights, but not know it
  5. You can waste a lot of time

If you hire a lawyer for an uncontested divorce in Illinois, the chances of experiencing the above problems are greatly reduced.

Someone told me: I can get an uncontested divorce in Illinois

If someone told you that you can start an uncontested divorce in Illinois, then that is probably true! So this one is NOT a myth.

All you really need is your spouse to agree, and for one of you to have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days (unless you are in a same-sex marriage, in which case neither party is required to live in Illinois).

Uncontested divorce in Illinois can be fast and affordable – see this article about that. I am an Illinois uncontested divorce lawyer, and I can help you through the process in any of the following counties: Cook County, DuPage County, Kane county, Kendall County, Lake County, McHenry County, and Will County.