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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce can be painful and confusing for any child, but most of them do eventually adjust. In contrast, children with special needs sometimes struggle to comprehend the reason why their family is fracturing. Worse yet, all the changes in their lives may cause them to regress or suffer from mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. Thankfully, parents can help ease the transition for their special needs children by carefully protecting their interests. 

Start with Communication 

When divorcing with a special needs child, communication is critical - and not just with your child. You also need to communicate with your spouse in a healthy, non-combative way. It is also important for you to effectively communicate with your attorney so that they can help you in drafting a parenting plan to suit your child’s specific needs. 

Implement Change Slowly (and Change as Little as Possible) 

Change can be difficult for children with special needs, and depending on the situation, it can lead to regression and other issues. Slow and gradual change can reduce the risk. It may also be possible to eliminate some changes. For example, parents might want to consider bird nesting - or, at the very least, keeping the child in the same home - until they have adjusted to the first set of major changes in their lives. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyersBeing served with divorce papers can come as a shock, even when things are bad and you are expecting it. You may also find yourself at a loss on how to handle the situation at hand. Learn how to answer your divorce petition in the following sections, and discover what our seasoned divorce lawyers can do to help you with the next steps of the divorce process. 

Your Response Must Be Submitted Within the Allotted Timeframe 

Divorce petitions must be answered within the allotted timeframe to avoid default; since a default means that your spouse gets what they are asking for in the divorce, you will want to avoid this at all costs. As soon as you receive your petition, seek seasoned legal help. 

You Need to Dispute Any Points That You Do Not Agree With

Few divorcing spouses agree on every point; the same will likely be true for you and your spouse. Matters of dispute must be addressed in your response to the petition. Otherwise, your spouse gets what they are asking for in the divorce. Disputing points that you do not agree with allow you to protect your rights and your interests in the divorce, but since divorce papers are often filled with legal jargon, it is possible for you to miss critical issues. Seek legal help and reduce the risk of this happening in your Illinois divorce. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysDivorce can be a financially devastating process, especially if you are not adequately prepared. Thankfully, there are ways to protect your financial interests, even in the messiest divorce. Learn more by checking out these five financial tips for surviving your Illinois divorce. 

1. Start Saving and Financially Preparing Before You File

One of the biggest mistakes that parties can make in their divorce is failing to financially prepare for it. Most consider the cost of the proceedings, and many recognize that they will have to divide their assets. However, few recognize just how long it can take to financially recover from their divorce. Some may even be obligated to pay child support or spousal support; not preparing for this ahead of time can have serious, long-lasting consequences for the payor. 

2. Eliminate as Much Debt as Possible 

Assets are not the only thing that gets divided in divorce; parties must also divide their debt. Those with limited incomes or who assume the bulk of the debt may find it difficult to maintain their lifestyle. Furthermore, if your spouse fails to cover a joint debt, you may be held responsible for the balance - perhaps to the tune of wage garnishments. Avoid such issues entirely by eliminating as much debt as possible before you file. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersFor the past three decades, divorce rates have been on the decline for nearly every group of Americans. However, senior citizens, or those over the age of 65, are now twice as likely to divorce today than they were 30 years ago. The reasons for this phenomenon are varied, but the potential consequences can be dire. Thankfully, you can still protect yourself in a later-life divorce (dubbed the grey divorce). Learn more in the following sections. 

Later Life Divorce Can Increase Your Risk of Financial Issues in Retirement

When couples save for their retirement, they are planning on having one set of bills and living expenses. Divorce requires the parties to divide whatever assets they may have; this includes any retirement accounts and the family home. With less money to go around and two separate sets of expenses, both parties may be at an increased risk for financial issues as they head into their retirement, and with little to no working years left, they may be unable to recover.

Adult Children May Not Respond the Way You Expect

Senior citizens may assume that adult children are mature enough to handle their divorce, but they do not always respond as one might expect. Even as adults, they may experience grief over the separation of their parents. Some may even question whether their own marriage can stand the test of time. Grandchildren may also be negatively impacted - perhaps even confused by the entire situation. You may also find it difficult to separate yourself from your spouse during major holidays and family events.  

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Wheaton divorce lawyersThe marital home is often one of the more valuable assets that couples must divide during a divorce. In addition, there may be other types of real estate involved (rental properties, vacation homes, commercial buildings, etc.). Learn how most types of real estate are handled and divided in divorce by reading the following sections. You will also discover how a seasoned lawyer can help to protect your interests along the way. 

Valuation of the Property 

Properties must be valued before they can be divided. There are three basic methods that parties may use: tax assessed value, market analysis, and appraisal. Know and understand the potential drawbacks and benefits of using each method and choose the one that best fits your situation. Also, since arguments and disagreements are common, consider hiring your own appraiser if you and your spouse settle on the third and final option. It is also important to remember that any real estate tied to a business may have a more complex valuation process. Discuss the matter with your attorney to learn more. 

Determine the Amount of Equity 

The equity of a property is the portion that you and your spouse “own.” It is configured by subtracting any liens or mortgages held against the property. If taking out an equity loan, this would be the amount that a lender would use. If selling the home, it is the amount that you and your spouse can expect to see once the sale is final (provided the home sells at value). This aspect of dividing real estate can make or break your settlement - especially if one party intends to retain the property once the divorce has been finalized. 

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DuPage County parenting time attorneysDivorce can be difficult for children at any time of the year, but the holidays tend to be especially trying. Thankfully, parents can usually mitigate much of the stress, simply by being loving, responsible parents. Need some tangible solutions for your family? Try these tips for keeping everyone (yes, even your ex) happy during the holiday season. 

Make Sacrifices but Avoid Being a Martyr 

Children should never have to make sacrifices for their parents. Instead, it should be the parents making sacrifices for the sake of their kids. Whether it is giving up time with them to allow time with your ex’s family or simply avoiding altercations and arguments when your spouse is being combative, putting in extra effort can go a long way toward ensuring your child feels both happy and loved during this holiday season. Just be sure to avoid the martyr syndrome; your child does not need to know the efforts you have made. Instead, simply let them reap the reward. 

Get Into the Spirit of Giving 

The holiday season is all about giving. So, whether it is allowing your ex to keep the kids on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to avoid an argument (and working it out later) or simply taking your child to choose a gift for their other parent, the more you give, the less stressful the season will be for your child. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce can be a financially and emotionally trying process, even in the best of circumstances. What is more, if you are unprepared for the process, divorce could have a lasting effect on your health, sanity, and financial stability. Take proactive steps and these practical tips that can make your Illinois divorce more bearable. 

1. Find a Way to Compartmentalize Your Divorce

While the emotional aspects of divorce cannot be overlooked or ignored, they can get in the way when dealing with matters related to your children and finances. Anger and resentment can cause you to decline fair offers, and you may even find yourself using your child as a bargaining chip, despite your best efforts. Avoid such issues through compartmentalization. Handle emotions in a healthy way, outside of negotiations. Journal, find a support system, and if necessary, attend therapy or counseling. When it comes time to negotiate, focus on what is best for you, your child, and your future, rather than how you feel. 

2. Track Your Spouse’s Earning and Expenses Before Filing for Divorce 

Spouses tend to become protective of their personal and financial information once they learn of a divorce, and if they hire an attorney, they are likely to change the passwords on their computer, phone, and financial accounts. As a result, you may be unable to gather the financial information you need for your case, which can ultimately impact the amount of your settlement. Avoid this consequence by tracking and gathering documentation on all of your spouse’s income and expenses, prior to filing for your divorce. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersCouples spend months or years dating before they decide to marry. Yet, when it comes to divorce, parties sometimes make rash decisions, opting to end their marriage before fully thinking it through. It is only when they are buried by the grief and cost that regret starts to surface. By then, it may be too late to undo the damage. Do not let this happen to you. Stop and answer these five questions before you file the paperwork for your Illinois divorce. 

1. How Would Life Improve if You Divorced? 

Divorce is not the answer to every solution. Sometimes, couples simply need to reconnect, forgive, or make wants and needs clear to one another. Money issues, which can escalate stress levels and cause couples to argue more often, may simply need to be weathered until they pass. 

In contrast, there are things that cannot be fixed with time, empathy, or patience. Abuse, infidelity, contempt, and irreconcilable differences (i.e. varying views on religion or parenting techniques) are just a few examples. Determine where you fall on the spectrum by considering if life would improve if you divorced, and clarify in what ways it would improve. Making your decision in this way reduces the risk of regret as you move forward with the process. 

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Wheaton custody lawyersWhen a child's parents decide to divorce, they must determine who will have decision-making power over certain aspects of their child’s life, such as where they will go to school or church. This component of a parenting plan, now known as the allocation of parental rights (formerly known as custody) is made based on the best interests of the child. Learn more about this phrase and its meaning in the following sections, and discover how a seasoned family law attorney can help you with developing a sound and comprehensive parenting plan to fit your family’s needs.

Best Interest of a Child - The Basics 

In the simplest of terms, the best interest of a child is the standard that the courts used to make parenting plan determinations. It assesses what might be “best” for the child, based on their needs. Studies have consistently shown that children tend to fare best after a divorce when they have the continued support and connection with both parents, so several states have made a 50-50 parenting plan the default. In all other states, a variety of factors are used to determine how parental responsibilities should be allocated between the divorcing parties. 

Factors Used to Determine a Child’s Best Interests 

Because the best interest of a child is based on their specific needs and situation, numerous factors may be used to make determinations regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities, including: 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersAside from the family home, retirement accounts are typically one of the more valuable assets in a couple’s marital estate. When dealing with one in divorce, the valuation must be accurate and the division process must be exacting. Otherwise, the parties may be subject to lengthy delays, severe tax penalties, and a significant decrease in the overall value of their final settlement. Thankfully, all of these issues can be avoided, so long as the parties are educated about the process and have proper guidance from seasoned, competent financial and legal professionals. 

Not All Retirement Plans Are Divided in Divorce 

Though it is rare, it is possible for a retirement pension plan to be excluded from the marital estate. One example would be if the contributing party started the account prior to the marriage and has not made a contribution since that time. Contributing parties who wish to keep their retirement account intact may also choose to “buy out” their spouse by offering up other marital assets in lieu of a cut from the pension plan (i.e. trading the family home for the retirement plan). 

Qualified Domestic Relation Orders 

Qualified domestic relation orders, or QDROs, are used to divide “qualified” retirement plan assets between a contributing member and their ex-spouse. It is one of the few instances in which the plan can be divided without facing a tax penalty. However, a penalty may still ensue if the QDRO is not done, or if a mistake is made. For example, if you transfer funds directly to your spouse to help them out with money until they can get back on their feet, hefty tax penalties could ensue for you both. To avoid such matters, have a qualified team of legal and financial advisors on board before making any transfers or changes to your retirement plan. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersWhile any divorce can be complex, emotional, and acrimonious, few cases escalate quite as severely or quickly as those that involve the narcissist. Manipulative, charismatic, and calculating, they will do almost anything to “get even” with the spouse that wants to divorce them. Learn how to manage such a situation, and discover how our seasoned lawyers can help protect both you and your children during your Illinois divorce

1. Start an “Armageddon” Fund Now

Any divorce can become costly, especially when the divorcing parties struggle to find common ground. When it comes to the narcissist, there is no common ground; there is only retaliation and manipulation. As such, anyone divorcing a narcissist should plan for a costly and lengthy divorce. The narcissist spouse may also attempt to freeze or stop all funds. 

Start saving for armageddon now and you can avoid a lot of financial stress once you do start the divorce process. Just be certain to divulge to your attorney that you have stored money away for your own protection. Armed with that knowledge, they can add those funds to the pool of assets to be divided in the divorce without you being at risk for “stealing” assets. 

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Illinois parenting plan attorneysWhen married parents decide to divorce, they must develop a parenting plan that addresses both the allocation of parental rights (formerly known as child custody) and parenting time (formerly known as visitation). The details of that plan are used to draft a legal document that is then registered with the courts.

Once entered, parenting plans are considered a legally binding agreement between the two parents; failure to comply could result in severe and costly consequences. As such, it is critical that divorcing couples fully understand the differences, limitations, and nuances of both parenting plan components. Learn more with help from the following sections. 

Allocation of Parental Rights 

The allocation of parental rights determines the amount of decision-making power that a parent has in their child’s life, particularly when it comes to “hot button” issues like education, medical care, and religious practices. It is important to note that a parent does not lose their right to have a say in their child’s life if they do not receive an equal or greater allocation. Instead, the other parent simply has the “final say,” and they are able to make smaller, day-to-day decisions without having to consult the other parent. 

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llinois parenting time lawyersAccording to studies on divorce, children tend to adjust best when they have the continued love and support of both parents. While many divorcing couples understand this and strive to ensure that the child has time and a connection with both parties, some struggle to find common ground. In such a scenario, the courts may be forced to decide where the child will live and go to school, but what happens between the filing of paperwork and the finalization of divorce?

Prioritizing the Best Interests of the Child 

Divorce can bring out the worst in people. Not only do they have to completely rearrange their lives, but they are also dealing with a perceived loss, which can lead to feelings of grief. If unmanaged, grief can lead to feelings of anger and resentment toward one’s spouse. Those emotions can be further amplified if one feels that their spouse is responsible for the divorce, or is trying to “take the child away.” There are other scenarios that can create strife in a divorce as well, such as a party feeling like they are losing their child, or that they are not getting enough time with them. 

Though these feelings typically subside over time, the actions taken while they occur can have a life-long impact on the child. Words said can cause the child to feel as though they are wrong for missing their other parent or wanting to spend time with them. Children may also become frightened or worried that the other parent will stop loving them or disappear. As a parent, it is your job to help your child deal with and combat these negative feelings and emotions by ensuring the child has a healthy and continued relationship with both of their parents. Work hard to prioritize their best interests and find a healthy way to deal with the feelings of loss and grief that may arise during the divorce process. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysMarried couples dream of retiring and enjoying their golden years together, but with the high rate of divorce these days, this dream is not always realized. In fact, divorce in retirement has become extremely common - so much so that it has even developed a name. Dubbed the gray divorce, retirement in your senior years can significantly impact your future. Learn how to prepare and mitigate the effects with help from the following sections. 

How Divorce Can Negatively Impact Your Retirement 

Divorce can be a costly endeavor, in and of itself, but its effect is often amplified when it occurs during or shortly before retirement. Much of this can be attributed to the division of assets and the lack of earning years left for the divorcing parties. Younger couples have time to rebuild their retirement; this may not be true for those approaching retirement or currently retired. Yet, like all other divorcing couples, their assets must be equitably distributed between the divorcing parties. 

Mitigating the Consequences of Divorce During Retirement 

Parties divorcing during or shortly before their retirement can mitigate the potential financial consequences with effective planning and preparation. The first step is to take an inventory of one’s income and expenses. Account for things like housing, utilities, food, and personal items. Then consider if any expenses can be cut, such as subscription services or luxury items. Next, determine if there may be any untapped resources. An example might be your spouse’s social security, which you may be eligible to collect, even after your divorce. 

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Illinois family law attorneysIn a divorce, the safety and well-being of children are prioritized by the courts. As such, accusations of abuse and parental alienation are treated as serious matters. Learn how abuse and alienation claims are handled by the family courts, how it may impact your parental rights, and what you can do to improve your chances of a positive outcome in your Illinois divorce

Immediate Effects of Abuse and Alienation Claims 

Once a claim of abuse or alienation is made, your rights may be immediately impacted. You could be subject to supervised visitation, meaning you cannot see or spend time with your children unless another adult or court-appointed supervisor is present. Depending on the situation, you may even be restricted from speaking with your child over the phone. 

Though claims may be unfounded, the courts require that an investigation take place before your rights can be fully returned to you. Typically, this means you will need to speak with a social worker or your child’s Guardian Ad Litem. They may also speak to your child’s friends, neighbors, teachers, and other persons of interest in your child’s life. 

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Illinois child support attorneysRaising a child takes financial resources, so when you are ordered to pay child support, is important that you fulfill your financial obligation. Unfortunately, life can get in the way. People get injured or laid off from their jobs. Health complications can make it difficult to maintain gainful employment. If any of these (or any other scenarios) apply to your situation, there may be options available to you. Learn more with help from the following information. 

Defaulting is Never an Option

Parents who fall behind on their child support payments sometimes avoid asking for help because they fear it will only increase their overall costs. Yet, if changes to their order for support are not made, the obligated parent may fall far enough behind on their payments to warrant disciplinary action from the state. Such consequences may include:

  • Jail time,
  • Cancellation of one’s driver’s license,
  • Cancellation of a professional license,
  • Wage garnishments,
  • Seizure of tax refunds,
  • Damage to one’s credit,
  • Property liens, and
  • Felony charges. 

All of these consequences can be avoided, so long as immediate action is taken when the parent can no longer meet their court-ordered obligation.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce has seen a lot of changes since its peak in the United States. Whereas courts used to almost always award custody to the mother, with fathers being afforded very few rights, the system now recognizes that children need and deserve the love and support of both parents. Developmental and behavioral studies on children have been integral to these changes, but parents themselves have helped to pave the way as well. 

Divorcing Parents Have Created a New Trend 

While some divorce cases involving children remain acrimonious, the majority of parents recognize that their child is extremely vulnerable to behavioral and emotional trauma during parental separation. Moreover, parents are becoming more knowledgable about the negative effects that a bitter divorce can have on the future and overall development of their child. As a result, many are intentional about the way they conduct themselves during the divorce process. 

Those who struggle to get along often seek out legal support. Parents have also worked to come up with ways to minimize strife and conflict in their divorce cases (i.e. communicating through text or email and minimizing conversations over the phone and in-person). They avoid saying negative things about the other parent in the presence of their child, and they foster a healthy and continued relationship between their child and their former spouse. As a result, divorcing parents are paving the way for a better future for their kids. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyersFrom an attorney’s perspective, divorce is primarily a financial transaction. Yet, for the parties separating, divorce is far more than just a division of assets; it is an emotional endeavor. Grief, an emergence of buried emotions, and even feelings of doubt and regret can surface. 

Some fall into depression at this time. Others experience intense anger. Parties leaving an abusive situation can also suffer from PTSD. In short, it is important to protect one’s mental health during a divorce. The following tips offer a few ideas on how to go about doing this. 

Allow Time for the Grieving Process

As previously mentioned, grief is exceptionally common during divorce. Rather than deny or bury it, allow grief to take its natural course. By avoiding it, you can end up doing yourself for harm than good. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysCouples nearing retirement often assume that they will stay together for the rest of their natural lives. Yet, with people living longer and healthier lives, many stop and evaluate their current situation as they move into their golden years. What some find is that they and their spouse have changed so much over the years that staying married no longer makes sense. 

How do you navigate such a massive financial and lifestyle change like a divorce without compromising your future? The following tips on navigating divorce during your retirement can help. 

Know How Divorce Will Affect Your Finances 

Divorce may be an emotional process, but it is the financial implications that tend to have the longest-lasting effect on one’s life. This statement is especially true for those heading into their retirement years. The following are just a few ways that divorce can affect your finances: 

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Illinois paternity attorneysWhen a child is born to unwed parents, the mother typically receives automatic rights at birth. The same cannot be said for unwed fathers. Instead, they must establish paternity in order to gain legal rights to the child. Learn more about this process in the following sections, including what it entails and what parental benefits you may receive. 

Establishing Paternity in Illinois 

Even when unwed parents reside together and plan to marry, fathers must acknowledge their paternal bond with the child to gain legal rights. While this added step may seem unfair and a hassle, the goal is to ensure that the obligation for financial support is assigned to the right person. 

Biological fathers who pursue this legal action can provide their child with certain financial benefits that can improve the child’s overall quality of life, including the right to receive:

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