Family Law Consultation

A marriage ceremony can be performed by a judge or a member of the clergy. The ceremony can be performed according to a specific religion, Indian nation or tribe. The ceremony itself must be performed within 60 days after the license is issued, as it will expire during that time period. The license does not become effective until 24 hours after its issuance. The party who performs the ceremony is responsible for returning the license to the county clerk.

When a couple marries, they assume significant personal and legal obligations that will affect their lives even if the marriage ends prematurely through death or dissolution. There are several requirements for a legally binding marriage in Illinois.

  • First, a person must be of age or have the consent of their parents or guardian. The legal age to marry without parental consent in Illinois is 18; persons who are 16 or 17 must have the consent of both parents to marry.
  • Second, a marriage license must be obtained prior to the wedding. The county clerk issues marriage licenses. The fee for a marriage license in DeKalb County is now $30 with an additional surcharge fee of $5. Please contact the DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder at 815-895-7149 for more information.

Bigamous marriages and marriages between close relatives are prohibited.

What is a common law marriage?

Many couples perceive living together as an alternative to marrying. Illinois public policy disfavors cohabitation outside the bounds of marriage. The marriage and dissolution laws state that common law marriages are invalid in Illinois.

A person has no marital rights if one lives with another without having gone through the customary and legally required marriage ceremony. Couples who are cohabiting have no claim on the income or property of the other person.

  • In a marriage, both spouses share the obligation of supporting the children even if the two parties separate.
  • Maintenance or support obligation means the spouse MUST help pay necessary family expenses, including expenses incurred in the child-rearing.
  • Make the appropriate beneficiary changes in all insurance policies, stocks, bonds and securities.
  • Working spouses should inform their employers of their change in status in order to receive employment benefits due for married persons.
  • Persons wishing to change their names should be sure to have the appropriate documents changed, such as a driver’s license and social security card. (Students' Legal Assistance can help people with name changes.)
  • Start keeping records and keep a file containing all important financial information. Keep valuable documents in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box in a bank.

Issues that surround a divorce are very emotional for the persons involved. It is best for each spouse to get professional help to protect the interests of both parties and to insure a just resolution.

Fault-based divorce: A person wishing to obtain a divorce in Illinois may choose to prove that the other spouse has done something to breach the marriage contract. This is called fault-based divorce. Common grounds to allege are desertion, physical and mental cruelty.

No-fault divorce: No-fault divorce is another option in which both parties involved need not prove that the other person has broken the marriage contract.

In order to obtain a no-fault divorce, the parties must have lived apart for more than two years, and established that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The two-year requirement may be waived if both parties present to the court a written agreement waiving it and if the parties have been separated for six months or longer.

Divorce proceedings can be cumbersome depending on the issues involved. Please contact the office for further information.

Domestic violence is one of the most serious social problems in the world today. It is important to remember that abuse can be both mental and physical and can be committed by either party. You can be in an abusive relationship regardless of whether you are married to the person. If you have been abused or feel endangered, please obtain help.

Orders of protection can be obtained pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. Under the act, an order of protection means an emergency order, interim order or plenary order. The order prohibits one party from harassing, physically abusing, exploiting or stalking another person. Possible ramifications for an abuser, who disregards the order, could be criminal sanctions or contempt of court.

Safe Passage, Inc., provides shelter and protection for battered women and men in DeKalb. Please call 815-756-5228 for assistance. In addition to Safe Passage, Inc., a person can contact the DeKalb County State's Attorney's Office at 815-895-7164 or Students’ Legal Assistance for help in obtaining an order of protection. Please understand that an order of protection is an order issued by a judge; however, it is only a piece of paper. It is important to exercise sound judgment by avoiding the abuser both in person and via phone contact to help avoid all unnecessary risk.