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The Chicago firm Jakubs ∙ Wigoda, LLP provides caring, professional legal support to clients facing family law issues in Cook County and the surrounding counties in Illinois. Please consult the following frequently asked questions for some basic information about divorce, child support, maintenance, and custody, and please contact our offices if you have a specific concern.


Because the circumstances of every divorce are unique, it is difficult to determine how long the dissolution of marriage process will take. In Illinois, you must live separately from your spouse for a minimum of six months before the divorce can be finalized on a no fault basis; however, beyond that requirement, the length of the process mostly depends on the number of issues that need to be resolved (such as issues relating to parenting and valuations of assets) and whether the parties agree or disagree on these issues. A contentious, complex divorce requiring litigation will take significantly longer than a divorce in which the parties work out a settlement agreement.

Illinois law does require custody proceedings to be expedited and resolved within 18 months after the petition for divorce is filed and served. If the 18 month timeframe is not met, the court must make written findings as to the reasons for the delay.


The court may order either or both parents to pay a reasonable and necessary amount of child support, without regard to marital misconduct. Illinois uses an income percentage model to calculate child support, which contains the following guidelines:

  • One child equals 20% of supporting party’s net income
  • Two children equals 28% of the supporting party’s net income
  • Three children equals 32% of the supporting party’s net income
  • Four children equals 40% of the supporting party’s net income
  • Five children equals 45% of the supporting party’s net income
  • Six or more children equals 50% of the supporting party’s net income

If the court determines that the guidelines would not be appropriate in a given case, it will consider the best interests of the child in light of evidence, including but not limited to one or more of the following factors:

  • The financial resources and needs of the child
  • The financial resources and needs of the custodial parent
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
  • The physical and emotional condition of the child, and his or her educational needs
  • The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.


The court may grant a temporary or permanent maintenance award for either spouse based on what it thinks is fair. Maintenance may be a gross payment or an amount paid for a fixed or indefinite period of time. The award does not depend on marital misconduct, and may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse after consideration of all relevant factors, including:

  • The income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance
  • The needs of each party
  • The present and future earning capacity of each party
  • Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage
  • The time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties
  • The tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties
  • Contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse
  • Any valid agreement of the parties
  • Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.


In Illinois, parents may have sole or joint legal custody depending on the child's best interests." With sole legal custody, one parent has the right to make major parenting decisions regarding such matters as healthcare, education, and religious upbringing, without consulting the other parent."Joint legal custody requires parents to make major decisions about the child together; however, small, day-to-day decisions may be made by the parent who is physically caring for the child at that time.

Physical custody refers to where and with whom the child actually lives, and may also be sole or joint, but does not necessarily follow the legal custody arrangement."For example, parents may have joint legal custody, but the child may live predominately with one parent."A parent who does not have physical custody is entitled to parenting time, or visitation, unless it is not in the best interests of the child.


If parents are unable to reach an agreement on joint custody or sole custody, the ultimate decision will be made by the judge during the divorce proceedings. The court will determine custody according to the child's best interests, and consider all relevant factors, including:

  • The wishes of the child's parent or parents
  • The wishes of the child
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest
  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child's potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person
  • The occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse, whether directed against the child or directed against another person
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
  • Whether one of the parents is a sex offender