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We have answers.

If you are encountering a divorce, custody or family law challenge, you likely have questions.

We are here with the answers

Simple. We are great at what we do and all we do are divorce, custody and family law cases. Our team of five attorneys and eight paralegals on staff in our two Central Illinois office locations only handle divorce, custody and family law cases. Attorney G. Edward Murphy has been rated one of the top family law attorneys in Illinois, a distinction given to only the top 6% of attorneys in Illinois.

This ratio of paralegal to attorney working solely in the family law arena is unheard of in Central Illinois. That allows Partners G. Edward Murphy, Jeffrey M. Dunn, Candice M. Thomason, and the other two Associate Attorneys to have a paralegal on each case to work side by side with you on your case. This frees up the attorneys’ time to handle the important daily trial work, settlement negotiations, and quality one on one time needed to meet with each client, and allows the paralegals substantial and frequent contact with the client to complete all of the necessary paperwork required to be filed and necessary to win your case. This also saves you, as the client, substantial amounts in fees because the paralegal time and Associate Attorney time is billed at substantially less than that of the Partners’ time on your case. It is both time efficient and cost efficient for you and our office. Together with the rest of the attorneys and staff, you will find no better law firm in Central Illinois to handle your divorce, custody or family law case.

The Mission of Murphy & Dunn, P.C. is to provide top quality and unsurpassed legal services in the areas of divorce, custody and family law to individual clients in an environment where the client and their children’s needs and legal interests are considered first and foremost, while at the same time adhering to the highest ethical and moral principles in bringing the case to a favorable conclusion.

At Murphy & Dunn, P.C., you would initially meet with an attorney to review all of the facts and circumstances of your case. The basics of divorce law, custody or other family law issues and the divorce process would be reviewed with you, and a decision would be made as to the retainer for attorney fees and costs to be charged to you on the case. There is no charge for this initial 30-minute consultation at our firm. Once a decision is made to accept your case, a retainer fee would be quoted to you for both attorney fees and costs. The initial retainer fee and costs would generally be due and owing when you hire the office. Everything in our office is completed in writing. Both you and our office would review a legal services contract setting forth exactly what you are hiring us for, the amount of the fees and the costs, and the hourly charges for all staff. All of your questions would be answered in full prior to your hiring the office and paying the fees and costs. Once the contract is signed and the fees and costs paid, we would be in a representative capacity for you and begin the necessary paperwork to begin your case. Each month, you would receive an itemized bill as to the work performed and the amount of time spent on your case, itemized down to 1/10th of an hour. If you are eligible to utilize the services of the Nicholas J. Murphy Pro Bono Clinic, legal services would be provided either free of charge or at a reduced rate.

Once you have hired our office, if a case has not yet been filed, we would begin the process of drafting the necessary paperwork, called pleadings, to file with the Court. The initial pleading is called a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” and is filed with the Court to begin the divorce process. Once filed, a summons is issued by the Court informing your spouse of the proceedings and setting forth time limits for him or her to respond. These documents are then served by hand by a private process server on your spouse at a time and place you designate to us. If you have children, certain requirements are made on parents to attend a “Children’s First” class. This class helps parents through the divorce process and helps keep the children out of the divorce. Additionally, each party would be required to file a Financial Affidavit setting forth all of your income, assets, and debts for the Court. All of this paperwork would be provided to you by our office and prepared with both you and our office staff involved in the process.

There is no time limit to obtaining the divorce and resolving the issues in your case. If you have children, it is required in many counties that you attend a “Children’s First” class before the court will grant the dissolution. However, the time it takes to get divorced depends totally on the issues involved, and the willingness of the parties to cooperate with each other and their attorneys in resolving the case. Obviously, if there are children involved and the parties are litigating over where the children are going to live, it will take longer than if custody is not an issue. If the parties choose to fight over every single issue, it will take longer and cost more than if the parties attempt a reasonable and rational settlement approach. The bottom line is there are no real “winners” in a divorce case. Our job as your attorney is to help you get through the divorce process, obtain a favorable result for you, and keep your children out of the process as much as possible. It is our belief that two rational parents, with the help of quality attorneys representing them, will always make a better decision on how to resolve custody of their children and on all other issues, than one judge will. The basis for that statement is simple: You know your children and your life better than one judge could ever know it. Therefore, if you are acting rationally, you will make a better decision as to what is best for you and your children than will a judge who only hears a small portion of your life through testimony controlled by the attorneys who present the case. With the right attorneys, you can get through this process in one piece.

The most logical way to begin a dissolution of marriage action in Illinois is to contact a good divorce attorney, such as the attorneys in our office, who practice solely in the family law arena. You want to make sure the attorney you choose is well versed in the law and understands the intricacies of a family law case. You want to make sure that attorney understands your needs and the needs of your children, both emotionally and financially. Most importantly, you want an attorney who can provide superior legal advice in an environment that is non-threatening, and that takes into consideration all of your families’ needs and financial requirements. Once you choose us as your attorney, the case begins by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
A divorce is the termination of the marriage relationship between a husband and wife (or between same sex married couples) under the laws of the State of Illinois. It dissolves the bonds of matrimony between a husband and wife (or between same sex married couples) and is called a “dissolution of marriage”. The rule of law governing dissolution of marriage in the State of Illinois is called the “Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.”
Spouses may file for dissolution of their marriage in any county in the State of Illinois as long as one of them resides in that county. Generally, one or both of the parties must live in the county where the case is filed.
In Illinois, both the prospective bride and groom must be 18 years of age in order to obtain a marriage license and get married. However, if either or both of them are under age 18 but at least 16 years of age, they can still obtain a marriage license if they have obtained consent from their parents, their guardian or a judge. A judge may order issue of the marriage license for a 16 or 17-year-old if the court finds that the underage party is capable of assuming the responsibilities of marriage and that the marriage will serve his or her best interests. Pregnancy alone does not establish that the best interest of the party will be served. Once the license to marry is issued by the county clerk, it is valid for marriage the next day after it is issued and expires in 60 days after it becomes effective.
Under the statute, marriage is prohibited: (1) if you are still married to or in a civil union with someone else and the prior marriage or civil union has not been dissolved; (2) between an ancestor and descendent, or between a brother and sister, whether by whole or half blood or by adoption; (3) between an uncle and niece or aunt and nephew, whether by half or whole blood; and (4) between cousins of the first degree unless both parties are age 50 or over, or unless one party is sterile.
The law in Illinois provides certain very specific grounds to have your marriage declared invalid. This declaration of invalidity of marriage was formerly termed “annulment”. To have your marriage declared invalid, you must prove one of the following: (1) that one of the parties lacked consent to the marriage at the time because of either mental incapacity, drugs or other incapacitating substances; (2) that a party was induced to enter into the marriage by force or duress, or by fraud involving the essentials of the marriage; (3) that a party lacks the physical capacity to consummate the marriage and the other party did not know of that incapacity at the time of the marriage; (4) that a party was age 16 or 17 and did not have proper consent or judicial approval; and (5) that the marriage was a prohibited marriage. Annulment is a very rare occurrence in Illinois.
A court in Illinois will grant a dissolution of marriage to the parties as long as one of the parties was a resident of the State of Illinois at the time the action was commenced and that residency has been maintained for 90 days at the time the case was filed or at the time the court makes the finding of residency. Therefore, you must be a resident for at least 90 days to obtain the divorce in Illinois. You can also be in armed forces for that same 90 days.
There is now only one ground for dissolution, that being grounds of irreconcilable differences. As a rule, grounds are now irrelevant overall and a formality to get a divorce in Illinois.
Rather than obtain a divorce, parties may seek to obtain a legal separation in Illinois. A legal separation requires the parties be living separate and apart from each other and allows for the Court to order reasonable support and maintenance for each party while they live apart. A legal separation must be filed in the county where the Petitioner or Respondent resides or where the parties last resided together as husband and wife. Further, just because one party files for a legal separation does not bar the other party from filing for a divorce. Use of the legal separation statute is very limited on what can occur in the case and, as a result, is rarely used any more in Illinois.
A Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is the actual divorce Order of the Court dissolving your marriage and resolving all of the issues attendant to a divorce case. These issues include custody of your children (allocation of parental responsibilities – decisions and parenting time/ visitation), child support, college expenses, tax exemptions, daycare expenses, medical and health care insurance and expenses, life insurance, attorney fees, maintenance and alimony, distribution of your assets such as real estate, motor vehicles, financial accounts and investments, pensions and retirement accounts, and any other assets you may own or have an interest in, division of your debts such as mortgages, car loans, credit cards and any other amounts owed, and all other issues that are part of a divorce. Once these issues have been resolved either by agreement or through a Court hearing with a judge deciding the issues, the resolution of these issues is placed in the final Order termed the “Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage”.
Property is determined by the Court to be either “marital” or “non-marital” property. Generally speaking, property that was acquired during the marriage (from the date of marriage through the date of divorce) is considered marital property, to be equitably divided between the parties. Generally, equitable division usually means an equal division, but that is not required to be so by the statute. In fact, numerous cases specifically spell out that equitable distribution does not always mean equal distribution. Non-marital property is that property that a spouse had prior to the marriage, property acquired through gift or inheritance, or property exchanged during the marriage from property that a spouse had prior to the marriage. This is a very simple overview of property definitions and there are many exceptions and issues too numerous to deal with here. You need a qualified attorney to assist in this area to get the best possible result.
Yes and No. Title to property is not the sole question for the Court to look at in determining whether property is marital or non-marital, but it is a consideration. If you buy a house during the marriage with marital funds, and the house is titled in only one spouse’s name, it will still likely be considered marital property. If you take a non-marital asset in one parties name and transfer title to both parties, you may have made a gift of that non-marital asset to the marital estate. These property questions are very complex and require close scrutiny by your attorney before a determination can be made as to whether it is marital or non-marital property.

Maintenance is what used to be termed alimony. It is support paid by one spouse to the other for their support to allow the lesser earning spouse to live a similar standard of living as that held during the marriage. There are numerous factors the Court looks at in determining whether maintenance is appropriate, including the length of the parties’ marriage, the present and future earnings and income of each party, the financial needs of each party, the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and physical condition of each party, and several other factors. There is now a maintenance formula that applies to cases where the parties’ combined gross incomes are $250,000 per year or less ($500,000 per year as of January 1, 2018). The formula is basically that the higher wage earner will pay 30% of his or her gross income, less 20% of the gross income of the lesser earning spouse. There is a cap on the amount that equals 40% of the combined gross income of the parties. That means that the amount of maintenance and the gross income of the lesser earning spouse cannot exceed 40% of the total combined gross incomes of the parties. Despite the formula, this is still one area where a qualified attorney is mandatory to properly review the facts and circumstances of your case.

Mediation is the process of attempting to resolve your dissolution of marriage issues outside of court through a qualified mediator. However, mediation is not undertaken by your divorce attorney, but through a qualified third party mediator. At Murphy & Dunn, P.C., besides being divorce attorneys, Attorney G. Edward Murphy is also a certified Family Law Mediator able to undertake joint or individual mediation cases. Obviously, if we take the case for mediation, that would mean that neither G. Edward Murphy nor any other attorney with Murphy & Dunn, P.C. could act as the attorney for either spouse. Mediation would be completed by the spouses initially over a three hour time period, with both parties and the mediators working together to resolve all or a portion of the divorce case. The initial cost for mediation is $600.00 ($200.00 per hour for 3 hours of time). Each party would be responsible for paying ½ of the retainer at the first appointment. Historically, mediation has proven successful in reducing the overall costs of the divorce process, eliminating or reducing the issues in dispute, and allowed the parties a quicker resolution of the issues involved. However, both parties must be motivated to want to resolve the case in order for it to be completely effective. Further, under new Supreme Court Rules, mediation is now required for all disputed custody and visitation cases.