Family Law/Divorce

When most people think of family law, they think of divorce. Divorce is a big part of family law, not just because it is a complex process in itself, but because many other types of family cases, like enforcing child support orders and modifying spousal maintenance amounts, follow divorces.

The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC is focused on divorce and other family law case types. This focus allows us to give every client a hands-on, detail-oriented approach linked with fair, favorable outcomes.

Understanding the Divorce Process

A few key facts about Illinois divorces are

  • To file for divorce in Illinois, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for 90 days or longer;
  • Divorces are handled by the circuit court of each county. In Chicago, this is the Cook County Circuit Court; and
  • In Illinois, divorcing couples’ marital assets are divided according to the doctrine of equitable distribution.

What to Expect from your Divorce

Your divorce will not necessarily be a contentious courtroom battle. If you and your spouse are able to work cooperatively together, you could be candidates for an uncontested divorce or divorcing through mediation. Talk to your lawyer about completing an uncontested divorce, which is a divorce where both partners agree on the key points of their settlement and simply submit a divorce plan to the court, rather than having the court develop a divorce plan for them after a contentious trial.

Expect to compromise with your former partner. Expect to prioritize your own divorce goals and decide which are most important for you to achieve and which you are willing to let go in exchange for reaching certain other goals.

You should also expect to be treated fairly by the court. If you and your spouse opt for a courtroom divorce, the court will apply the rules outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to determine your property division, spousal maintenance, and parenting plan agreements. Expect these rules to be applied according to the law and to be treated fairly regardless of your gender or whether you are ending a heterosexual or LGBTQ marriage.

Other Family Law Issues We Handle

Although divorce is one of our primary practice areas, it is not our only one. Often, divorces intersect with other types of family law issues, like creating a parenting plan or establishing a child support order. Other family law case types we handle, which can be in conjunction with a divorce or independent of one, include:

  • Domestic violence issues;
  • Property division;
  • Spousal maintenance orders;
  • Parenting plans; and
  • Civil appeals.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Lawyer Today

To start working on your divorce or other family law case, schedule your legal consultation with a family lawyer who will listen carefully to everything you have to say and provide you with compassionate, detail-oriented legal advice and representation. Contact The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC today to get started with our firm.

Child Custody

When a couple has one or more minor children, their divorce is more complex than a divorce between a couple with no children or a couple whose children are grown. This is because when there are minor children in the picture, child custody is part of their divorce. Child custody, a term that has been replaced by “parental responsibilities” in Illinois, refers to all aspects of raising children, such as the responsibility of providing a home for them and the right to make critical decisions on their behalf.

A parenting plan is a comprehensive document that outlines every ruling on a couple’s child custody plan. When parents can work together cooperatively, whether they are married or unmarried, they may create their own parenting plan – but this plan is subject to court approval to ensure that it is in the children’s best interests. When parents cannot work together to create an appropriate plan, the court will determine what is best for their children.

Components of a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is divided into two components: parenting time and parental responsibilities. Parenting time is the time the child spends in each household. Parents may share it, or one parent may have sole physical custody of the child. In the latter type of case, the child’s other parent often has visitation or parenting time with the child, which may be supervised if the court deems it to be necessary.

Parental responsibilities refer to the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf, such as where the child will attend school, the relationships the child will have with extended family members, and the child’s religious upbringing. Like with parenting time, the court typically grants parents shared parental responsibilities unless there is a reason why it would not be in the child’s best interest for his or her parents to both have this level of input on his or her upbringing.

How the Court Develops Parenting Plans

To develop a parenting plan, the court considers a variety of factors about the couple’s lifestyle and their children’s needs. It may use input from a guardian ad litem or a child custody evaluator to make its determinations. The factors the court considers include, but are not limited to:

  • The children’s emotional, medical, academic, and physical needs;
  • How the parents have been involved in the children’s day-to-day lives thus far;
  • Any evidence of domestic violence in either parent’s household;
  • The children’s relationships with both parents;
  • The parents’ ages and health; and
  • The stability of each parent’s household.

Parents can help the court develop a parenting plan by providing documents that illustrate their lifestyles and children’s needs, like copies of the children’s academic or medical records.

Work with an Experienced Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

As a parent, your parenting plan is an important part of your divorce or parentage settlement. To learn more about what to expect from the parenting plan development process and how to adjust to your life with a parenting plan in place, contact The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC today to set up your initial legal consultation with us, during which we will go over your case’s specific details and determine realistic expectations for you and your children.

Child Support

It is both of a child’s parents’ responsibility, married or unmarried, to ensure that the child is financially supported. This is true even after the child’s parents divorce or separate, which is why child support is such an important part of your divorce or parentage settlement if you are a parent.

Unlike other components of a divorce or parentage settlement, your child support order is based primarily on objective facts, rather than subjective determinations on what is in your child’s best interest. Although outstanding needs can push the court to deviate from the established child support formula, you can usually accurately estimate what your child support order will be using the formula and by discussing your case with your lawyer.

How Child Support is Calculated in Illinois

In Illinois, child support is calculated as follows:

  • First, the court determines the couple’s total net income;
  • Using its income shares chart the court determines how much the average household with that combined net income spends on its children, based on the number of children in the household;
  • The court then determines the percentage that each parent contributes to the combined amount of money the household spends on its children; and
  • With the couple’s parenting time breakdown in mind, it determines how much money each parent should be contributing to the children’s care each month, then develops a child support order using this figure.

What Does Child Support Cover?

Child support is meant to offset the costs of caring for one’s children. It can be used to cover anything directly or tangentially related to raising children, such as higher rent on a larger apartment or grocery bills. It can also be used to cover your children’s school supplies, childcare, extracurricular costs, and your children’s medical needs, however, in many cases, a parent can be ordered to pay these expenses above and beyond child support.

Modifying or Terminating a Child Support Order

In most cases, a child support order continues until the child turns 18. If your child graduates after he or she turns 18, child support may continue until he or she graduates or turns 19, whichever comes first.

When a child has a mental or physical disability that prevents him or her from being self-supporting, child support may continue into his or her adulthood. Helping an adult child with his or her college expenses is usually not part of paying child support, but both parents can be ordered to contribute to an adult child’s college expenses after child support terminates.

Sometimes, life’s circumstances make it necessary to modify a child support order before it naturally terminates. When this is the case, the parent seeking the modification must provide evidence that he or she has experienced a “substantial change in circumstances,” such as job loss, an illness or injury, or retirement.

Work with an Experienced Chicago Child Support Lawyer

When you have minor children, a child support order is an important part of your divorce or parentage settlement. Learn more about how child support is calculated, how you can modify or terminate your child support order when appropriate, and how you can enforce your child support order if your former spouse or partner is not making his or her payments during your legal consultation with an experienced family lawyer. To get started, contact The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.

Asset Division

Every divorce is unique. Some divorces are finalized fairly quickly while others take years to complete. When a couple has children, child custody and child support are important issues to determine for their divorce settlement, and in some cases, spousal maintenance is also part of the equation. However, sometimes, none of these are part of a couple’s divorce. Rather, all the couple needs to do is divide their property.

In every divorce, the couple’s marital assets and debts must be divided between them. This is as true for couples who have extensive marital estates as it is for a couple whose only asset is a savings account with a few hundred dollars in it. A couple can use a prenuptial agreement to decide ahead of time how their assets are to be divided in the event of a divorce or, if they agree on how to divide them after filing for divorce, they can create their own asset division plan and submit it to the court. When neither of these is the case, the court divides the couple’s assets for them.

Non-marital, Marital, and Commingled Assets

When an Illinois couple gets divorced, their marital assets are subject to equitable distribution. Marital assets are the assets the couple obtained and developed during their marriage. They can include the couple’s home and any other real estate they own, their joint savings accounts, their investment portfolios, and any tangible assets they own together like vehicles and collectibles.

Non-marital Property is property that stays with its individual owner after he or she divorces. This includes assets each party owned before entering the marriage, assets obtained through inheritance or as gifts, and any assets deemed separate property by a prenuptial agreement.

Commingled assets are non-marital assets that may become marital assets, such as a home one partner owned before entering the marriage that rose in value through the other partner’s contributions. These are subject to court division. When dividing a commingled asset, the court often does its best to determine the difference between the asset’s present value and its value when its owner entered the marriage in order to divide only the “marital” portion of its value.

How the Court Divides Marital Assets

Equitable distribution means that the couple’s marital assets are not split 50/50, but according to what the court determines to be appropriate based on their individual needs after the divorce. To determine an appropriate breakdown of a couple’s marital estate, the court considers a variety of factors. These factors include

  • The length of the couple’s marriage;
  • Each partner’s age and health;
  • Each partner’s income and separate assets;
  • Each partner’s earning capacity;
  • Whether either partner is receiving spousal maintenance; and
  • If the couple has a prenuptial agreement, the terms of the prenuptial agreement.


Certain assets, namely retirement accounts like 401k accounts and pension plans, must be divided through a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). A QDRO is a special order that names an individual other than the one named on the retirement account as a person entitled to a portion of the funds, also known as an alternate payee. Usually this means the spouse who was not named on the retirement account is named as an alternate payee and receives a share of the funds contained within the account.

Contact The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC Today

When you know your marriage is over, discuss the divorce process with an experienced divorce lawyer. To get started with our firm, contact The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office. When you work with us, expect hands-on attention to detail and strong, staunch protection of your rights.

Domestic Violence

When domestic violence is present in a relationship, the relationship needs to end. Domestic violence can leave a victim physically injured, emotionally and psychologically broken and in some cases, dead. Not all domestic violence is physical. Psychological, sexual, and financial abuse can be as damaging as physical abuse.

If you face domestic violence or you fear you could be in danger of facing it, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit its website to access resources like support and information about local domestic violence shelters.

Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence comes in many forms. It is not uncommon for two or more types of domestic violence to be present in a relationship. Types of domestic violence include:

  • Physical abuse. Physical abuse includes hitting, kicking, and shoving the victim as well as harming him or her by denying him or her access to food, water, or medical care. Forcing a victim to use drugs against his or her will is also a form of physical abuse;
  • Psychological abuse. This is the use of manipulation and other psychological tactics to break down a victim’s sense of self-worth and make him or her doubt his or her own perception of the situation;
  • Emotional abuse. Like psychological abuse, emotional abuse whittles away the victim’s sense of self-worth. With emotional abuse, though, the abuser makes affection conditional, rather than attacking the victim’s sense of his or her competence;
  • Sexual abuse. Any sexual contact without the victim’s consent is sexual abuse. In addition to sexual contact with the abuser, sexual abuse can include forcing the victim to pose nude or be featured in pornographic images and videos; and
  • Financial abuse. Using access to money to control a victim is financial abuse. This can mean prohibiting the victim from working or keeping all of the household funds from him or her.

Getting an Order of Protection

When you fear for your safety, you can protect yourself from your former spouse or partner with an order of protection (OOP). This type of order is often known as a restraining order.

You can obtain an OOP from a judge. If you feel you are in immediate danger, you may be able to obtain an emergency order of protection with nothing more than your testimony about your fear and why you are afraid. For long-term protection, you can obtain an interim order of protection or a plenary order of protection. To obtain one of these orders, you must attend a hearing and obtain a court ruling. If you have children, the court will consider your partner’s history of domestic violence when determining an appropriate parenting plan for them. Your lawyer can help you use your order of protection as evidence to support your claim about your former partner’s actions.

Consult with a Chicago Domestic Violence Attorney

If you are in an abusive relationship, get out. Your safety should be your top priority. Once you have exited the relationship, contact an experienced domestic violence lawyer to discuss your rights, your legal options, and how to begin the divorce process, if you are married. I care about you, and as your lawyer, I can be your advocate as you leave a toxic relationship. Contact The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC today to set up your initial consultation with my office.


When one partner chooses to work part time or to opt out of the workforce entirely to focus on his or her household and children, that individual may seek spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, in his or her divorce.

Spousal maintenance is money one spouse pays to the other after their divorce to help the lesser earning spouse avoid financial hardship. It exists to close the gap between the spouse who supported the family financially during their marriage and the spouse who sacrificed his or her career advancement to invest in the family’s health and the earning spouse’s career.

Types of Spousal Maintenance

In previous generations, it was quite common for the court to award a spousal maintenance recipient permanent maintenance. Today, most spousal maintenance orders are for specific periods of time. Generally, the duration of a spousal maintenance order is determined according to the length of the couple’s marriage. Permanent maintenance, or for an “indefinite term,” as it is now known as of January 1, 2018, may be awarded when the recipient demonstrates that he or she is incapable of entering the workforce, which can be the case when he or she has a disability or is too close to retirement age to realistically start working.

In some cases, the court orders what is known as rehabilitative maintenance, a short-term order that provides the recipient with the support he or she needs to cover living expenses while completing a vocational or college program in preparation to enter the workforce.

An individual may receive temporary maintenance while his or her divorce is pending. This maintenance order terminates when the couple’s divorce is finalized and may be replaced with an official maintenance order.

How is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in Illinois?

Previously, spousal maintenance was determined by considering a set of factors about the couple’s lifestyle and needs, much like it is in many other states. As the result of recent changes to the law, Illinois courts now use a statutory formula to determine a couple’s spousal maintenance order. The formula used in most divorces is as follows:

Twenty-five percent of the lesser earning spouse’s net income is subtracted from thirty-three and one-third percent of the higher earning spouse’s net income. This figure is divided by 12 to determine the amount of maintenance the recipient will receive monthly. However, this final number cannot exceed forty percent of the combined net income of both parties. Furthermore, to determine how long he or she will receive the support, the court applies a multiplier based on the length of the couple’s marriage.

Modifying or Terminating a Spousal Maintenance Order

There are a few circumstances that terminate a spousal maintenance order. They are:

  • The recipient’s remarriage;
  • The recipient’s cohabitation with a new partner; and
  • The recipient’s death.

When the paying spouse faces financial hardship and cannot continue to make payments, he or she may seek a modification to the spousal maintenance order. To have the modification approved, he or she must demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that make the current payment amount inappropriate. These changes could affect either party. For example, the paying spouse may seek a modification because he or she retired or because the recipient inherited a large sum of money.

Work with an Experienced Chicago Maintenance Attorney

To learn more about spousal maintenance, divorce, and related topics, schedule a legal consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer. Do not wait to get started – contact The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC today to set up your initial consultation with our firm.

Civil Appeals

Sometimes, your case does not turn out as originally expected. If this happens, you may still have options. Once your family law case is finalized by the trial court, you may be able to ask a higher court called an appellate court to overturn the trial court’s decision. The process whereby a party asks an appellate court to review a trial court’s decision and overturn it is called an appeal.

Not all decisions made by a trial court are appealable. In fact, only final decisions and orders are appealable. Although it is possible for a court to make a decision that is final and appealable while your case is still pending, most orders and decisions will not be final and appealable until the end of your case. Just because an order is final and appealable does not mean it is wise to appeal the order. In order to appeal a final order, you must have a basis to do so, such as the trial court’s decision was based on a legal inaccuracy or other error. You only have a certain amount of time after the final order has been entered to begin the appeal. As a result, it is important to consult with an experienced appellate lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether it is appropriate or advisable to appeal your case.

Gina L. Colaluca has extensive experience as an appellate lawyer. Throughout her career she has both appealed several erroneous decisions and defended against attacks on valid, final orders. In fact, Gina recently argued an attorney fee issue on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court. In the Illinois Supreme Court case In re Marriage of Goesel, Gina successfully argued that family law attorneys cannot be required to turn over fees that they have previously been paid and have already earned to pay the other spouse’s attorney’s fees. Prior to this case, it was possible for one spouse’s attorney to be ordered to pay the attorney’s fees of the other spouse’s attorney, even if the paying attorney had already earned, and lawfully spent, the funds paid to them for work done in the case. The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Gina’s position and determined that the law did not provide for such an unjust result.

Appeals are very technical, rules-based endeavors that require a lot of time, care, and expertise. It is important that you have an experienced appellate lawyer advocating your position, whether you are appealing a decision or defending against one. Call The Law Office of Gina L. Colaluca, LLC today to set up your initial consultation to discuss the possibility of appealing your case.