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Wheaton divorce attorneyPerhaps you have scoured flea markets and auctions for years to build your collection of antique furniture. Maybe your coin collection has been growing since you were a young child and has only increased in value during your adulthood. Collectables such as these are not only valuable in the financial sense, but they are also valuable in the personal sense.

If you own an impressive collection of stamps, coins, trading cards, records, antiques, memorabilia, or other items of significant value, these assets can impact your divorce considerably. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you determine the best way to account for collectibles in your divorce case and ensure that your rights are protected during the division of marital property.

The First Step is Having Your Assets Professionally Valued

Determining the value of a collection is challenging for several reasons. Firstly, the value of antiques and other unique collectibles is often up for debate. The value of these items can also fluctuate as the market ebbs and flows. Furthermore, the collection as a whole is often more valuable than the items’ individual values. Before you can account for collectibles in your divorce, you will need to get the assets professionally valued by an appraiser.

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DuPage County divorce attorneyMarital infidelity is shockingly common. Studies show that up to one in five married people cheats on their spouse—and those are just the spouses who admit it. If your marriage has been impacted by infidelity, you know just how devastating it can be. Often, an extramarital affair is the main instigating cause of divorce. You may wonder what type of legal recourse you have at your disposal. Can you sue your spouse’s lover for emotional distress or alienation of affection? How will marital infidelity affect divorce?

Illinois Laws Regarding Civil Lawsuits Against Boyfriends and Girlfriends

If your spouse cheated on you, you may be looking for a way to hold the other woman or the other man accountable for the harm the affair caused. Seven U.S. states currently allow civil tort claims for “criminal conversation” or “alienation of affection.” However, Illinois is not one of them. You cannot sue your spouse’s boyfriend or girlfriend for the damage he or she caused to your marriage.

Recouping Funds Lost During an Affair

While you cannot sue your spouse’s affair partner for damages, you may have some legal recourse after an affair during a divorce case. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so the affair itself will not influence property division, spousal maintenance, or other divorce issues. However, a legal remedy may be available if your spouse spent a considerable amount of money during the affair.

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DuPage County prenuptial agreement lawyerIf you are engaged, you may be thinking about the advantages of creating a prenuptial agreement with your soon-to-be spouse. There are considerable misunderstandings and misconceptions about prenups. However, more and more people are recognizing how beneficial these marital agreements can be. If you are getting married and you are on the fence about getting a prenuptial agreement, consider the following.

Prenuptial Agreements Are Increasingly Popular Among Younger Couples

Prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more popular among younger couples in the U.S. Many people in their 20s and 30s have divorced parents. They recognize that divorce is a possibility even in the happiest relationships. Therefore, it is best to be prepared for this possibility. Many millennials also have substantial assets and debts that they want to protect in the event of divorce.

A Prenup Can Protect Your Property Rights if You Divorce

One of the main uses of a prenuptial agreement is differentiating between marital and non-marital assets. In a divorce, marital assets are divided between the spouses. Non-marital assets stay with the spouse who originally owned the asset. A prenuptial agreement allows you to dictate which assets are marital and which are non-marital. For example, if you own a small business, you may want to ensure that the business is your property alone and does not get integrated into the marital estate. A prenup allows you to do this.

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DuPage County family law lawyerIf you are a parent getting divorced, you probably spend a lot of time worrying about how the divorce will affect your kids. Divorce brings about massive changes to a child’s home, family, and daily life. Some children struggle to cope with these changes. Fortunately, Illinois law reflects the fact that divorce is hard on children, and policies have been instituted to minimize the trauma of divorce as much as possible. This is one reason that children are not typically asked to testify in court during child custody cases or other family law issues. However, your child may be asked to participate in the case in other ways.

The Court May Consider the Child’s Preferences

Illinois courts make every child-related decision with one key priority in mind: ensuring that the child is safe and well cared for. Consequently, child custody decisions are always made with the child’s best interests in mind. However, courts do often take children’s preferences into consideration during family law cases. The child’s statements will not determine the outcome of the case, but they may influence the court’s opinion.

Child Interviews in an Illinois Divorce or Child Custody Case

If the court wishes to learn more about a child’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions during a family law case, the court may use several different legal avenues to gather this information. In many child custody cases, a guardian ad litem is assigned to gather information about the facts of the case. As part of their investigation, the guardian ad litem (GAL) may visit the parents’ homes and interview the child. The GAL may ask the child about the types of activities they like to do with each parent and other questions designed to learn more about the child’s home life. The GAL may also inquire about household rules, discipline, homework, and daily routines.  This information is then organized into a report and submitted to the court.

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DuPage County child custody attorneyIn an Illinois divorce, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time is detailed in a “parenting plan” or parenting agreement. Some divorcing couples are able to negotiate an out-of-court agreement, while others are subject to the child custody order handed down by the court. However, life is full of unexpected changes, and there may come a time when a parent needs to modify or update their custody order. If you need to modify your child custody order, make sure you understand how and when custody orders may be changed under Illinois law.

Changing the Allocation of Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

Change can be really hard on children. Consequently, Illinois courts generally limit child custody modifications unless they are necessary to promote the child’s best interests or a certain amount of time has passed since the custody agreement was established or last modified. If it has been less than two years since the last custody order, modifications to parental decision-making responsibilities are usually only possible for the purposes of protecting a child from endangerment. Parenting time can be modified sooner in response to a substantial change in circumstances or upon the parents’ agreement.

If one parent wants to change the custody arrangement but the other parent disagrees, the parent seeking modification will need to file a petition to modify the child custody order and demonstrate to the court that the modification is in the child’s best interests.

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Wheaton IL adoption lawyerAdopting a child is a massive undertaking emotionally, financially, and legally. There are multiple legal avenues through which you can adopt a child in Illinois. Two of the main paths to adoption are private or independent adoption and adoption through an adoption agency. If you are thinking about adoption, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each of these choices.

What is an Agency Adoption?

An adoption agency is an intermediary that facilitates adoptions. The agency helps match prospective adoptive parents with children who need a loving home. The agency also evaluates adoptive parents through interviews and home studies to ensure that the parents can provide the safe, loving home the child deserves. The facility also assists with paperwork and provides guidance throughout the adoption process.

What is an Independent Adoption?

An independent adoption does not involve an adoption agency. The birth mother and the adoptive parents work out an agreement on their own, without help from an intermediary. Private or independent adoptions are subject to certain rules and restrictions in Illinois. For example, an adopting parent must get permission from the court to pay for the birth mother’s medical expenses and other costs. You will also be required to complete a home study to proceed with a private adoption in Illinois. The birth mother has 72 hours after the child’s birth to change her mind and revoke consent to the adoption.

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Wheaton IL divorce lawyerOfficially ending a marriage through divorce is much more than simply breaking up a relationship. Numerous financial and legal issues will need to be addressed including the division of marital debts and assets. However, before a couple can reach a property division agreement, they must first take stock of their marital and non-marital property. In many divorce cases, correctly valuing these assets in preparation for division is one of the most challenging aspects of the divorce.

Determining the Value of Complex Assets

Per Illinois law, spouses are entitled to an equitable share of the marital estate. The marital estate contains property that was accumulated during the marriage with some notable exceptions such as property obtained through gift or inheritance. Whether spouses are able to reach an out-of-court settlement or the case goes to litigation, property must be properly valued before it can be divided. Some assets that are often especially difficult to value include:

Business interests – If a spouse or couple owns a business or has business interests, the value of the assets will need to be calculated in order for the asset to be properly addressed during the divorce. The spouses may want to work with a skilled accountant or business valuation specialist in addition to their divorce lawyer to determine the best way to accurately value the business. Another consideration that makes dividing a business during divorce challenging is that part of the business assets may be classified as marital and part classified as non-marital. Even if a business was acquired before the marriage, the non-owner spouse may be entitled to a portion of the business’s proceeds.

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Wheaton IL family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, if the biological parents of a child are not married (or in a legal civil union) at the time of their child’s birth, the biological father is not automatically considered to be the legal father, regardless of whether the parents live in the same home or if they plan to get married. Until paternity is established, the father will not have any parental rights or grounds to pursue custody. Fortunately, there are a few different ways for a man to become legally recognized as a child’s father.

Legal Presumption of Paternity

The legal relationship between a father and his child is known as “paternity.” When the mother of a child is married or in a civil union with a man at the time of the child’s birth, or within 300 days of the child’s birth, the law presumes that man to be the child’s father. This means that the man is recognized as having parental rights, and that he can petition for parenting time and parental responsibilities if he is no longer married to the child’s mother.

Establishing Paternity

When a man is not married to or in a civil union with the mother of his child within 300 days of the child’s birth, he will have to acknowledge or prove paternity to be considered the child’s father under the law. After paternity is established, a child may then have access to a variety of benefits, including:

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DuPage County parenting plan lawyerA divorce is never a walk in the park. However, if you and your spouse have children, it can make the ordeal even more complex. In Illinois, you are required to create a parenting plan that describes how you and the other parent will take care of your kids after your divorce is finalized. Including the right elements is critical to promoting your children’s well-being, and it can also help you maintain a positive co-parenting relationship with your former spouse.

Elements You Must Include in Your Parenting Plan

According to Illinois law, there are certain elements that should be included in your parenting plan, including:

Wheaton IL family law lawyerMany people nowadays consider their pets an important part of their family. Dogs and cats provide companionship and can reduce your anxiety and depression. If you and your spouse have recently filed for divorce, you may wonder who will get the family pet. Your furry family member likely means the world to you, and imagining your life without it may be difficult. In Illinois, pets were once considered marital property in a divorce. However, as of 2018, pets are looked at somewhat similarly to children during divorce proceedings.

Factors Judges Consider When Determining Custody of Pets

Before 2018, pets would be given to one spouse in a divorce based on what was fair and equitable. These days, however, a family court judge will assign custody based in part on the animal’s well-being. A judge may look at many different factors before coming to a decision, such as each spouse’s relationship with the pet and contributions to its care. If one spouse, for example, spends more time with the pet and has paid for the majority of the food, vet and grooming bills, the judge may grant custody to that spouse. Your testimony and evidence of expenditures and care for the pet may help to strengthen your case.

In some cases, the judge may grant joint custody if it would be in the dog or cat’s best interests to keep a relationship with both partners. For example, the judge may rule that the pet will be on the same parenting schedule that your kids are on.

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Wheaton IL divorce attorneyA divorce is a long process and may involve several complexities, including alimony. If you have been the primary breadwinner in your marriage, a judge may order you to pay your former spouse alimony if you get a divorce. Also known as spousal support or maintenance, alimony is typically paid on a monthly basis and intended to support an ex-spouse financially after a marriage has ended.

How Spousal Support Is Calculated in Illinois

In Illinois, spousal support is only part of a divorce resolution if the spouses agree to it, or if the court determines that it is warranted based on each spouse’s situation. Factors that the court will consider include each spouse’s needs, income and assets, and earning capacity now and in the future. If the court decides to order spousal support, there is a standard calculation that is typically used to determine the amount.

If a divorcing couple’s combined income is less than $500,000, a judge will use statutory guidelines to figure out how much and how long maintenance must be paid. In Illinois, spousal support is calculated by taking 33.3 percent of the paying spouse’s net income and then subtracting 25 percent of the receiving spouse’s net income. For instance, if you make $6,000 a month while your ex earns $1,000, you could be ordered to pay $1,750 per month in alimony.

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wheaton divorce lawyerIn the years after a divorce, finding a new partner and planning to remarry can be a major bright spot in your life. If your partner has children, you can also look forward to becoming a stepparent, an experience that can be both challenging and rewarding. You may be intimidated by the prospect of bonding with your partner’s kids, but there are things you can do to help these new relationships develop in a positive direction.

Getting to Know Your Future Stepchildren

If you know that your relationship is serious and could lead to marriage, it is a good idea to start getting to know your partner’s kids. It is normal for children to be skeptical or even resentful of a parent’s new love interest, but spending short periods of time with them can help them grow more comfortable with you and the role you will play in their lives. Make an effort to take genuine interest in the things that are important to your future stepchildren, and find common interests that you can bond over.

After becoming a stepparent, you should keep in mind that your stepchildren may be resistant to viewing you as a parental figure, especially if they have a strong relationship with their other parent. Try to give your stepchildren their space and respect their boundaries, and start with a foundation of mutual respect. Over time, this respect can grow into a stronger relationship.

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dupage county divorce lawyerOver the last several weeks, we have discussed the common issues that parents of minor children are likely to encounter when getting divorced, focusing on the differing effects on different age groups, including infants and toddlers, elementary-aged children, and teenagers. Adult children, meaning those at least 18 years old, can also be impacted by their parents’ divorce. While you may not need to address matters like child support and parenting time for your adult children, you should still consider how the process and outcome will affect them.

How Does Divorce Affect Adult Children?

With the increasing prevalence of “gray divorce,” a term for a divorce that happens when the spouses are at least 50 years old, many adult children are faced with the prospect of a huge and unexpected change in their family life. Unlike younger children, adults will not have to cope with changes to their daily routine due to divided parenting time. However, the divorce can affect everything from communication with each parent to holiday plans to relationships with grandchildren.

Divorce can also take an emotional toll on adult children, who may be forced to reconcile with the fact that the family dynamic they have become accustomed to throughout their childhood and beyond will never be the same. Adult children can also find themselves stuck in the middle between two parents who expect them to take a side, or they may feel anger and resentment toward a parent whose behavior seems to have caused the divorce. Parents may be able to prevent some of the worst effects by resolving their divorce amicably, but even so, it is important to communicate with your adult children and possibly even encourage them to join you in family therapy.

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dupage county divorce lawyerIn recent weeks, we have looked at some of the common challenges that arise for parents of infants and toddlers and elementary-aged children during the divorce process. This week, we continue with helpful information for parents of teenagers. Parenting teenage children can be challenging even under the best circumstances, and it can be especially difficult to help them cope with your divorce. It is important to make an effort to understand their needs and to address them through your child support order and the allocation of parental responsibilities.

The Effects of Divorce on Teenagers

Teenagers are likely to cope with divorce very differently when compared to younger age groups. On the one hand, their advanced maturity level may help them better understand the reasons for your divorce, and you may be able to have more meaningful conversations with them about the process. However, you should still try to keep the parent-child relationship in mind and avoid treating your child like a friend or confidant, especially when it comes to complaining about their other parent.

On the other hand, teenagers may also turn to unhealthy or destructive coping mechanisms if the divorce process is particularly hard on them. They may be susceptible to substance abuse and other risk-taking behavior, and they could struggle to maintain healthy relationships with their friends or romantic partners. Many teens also see their academic performance suffer during the divorce process, and they could even begin to show symptoms of serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression. If you see that your child is having a difficult time, make yourself available to talk and consider seeking help from a professional therapist if necessary.

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dupage county child custody lawyerIn our last blog, we discussed some of the challenges that Illinois parents of infants and toddlers often face when getting a divorce. We know that parents of children of all ages need support during the divorce process, and we continue this week by addressing some important considerations for parents of children who are in elementary school. The unique needs of children of this age require special attention when it comes to issues like child custody and child support.

How Do Elementary-Aged Children Respond to Divorce?

By the time children reach the age of 5, they are starting to form more lasting memories and become more aware of the world around them. This awareness only increases as time goes on. Elementary-aged children may pick up on signs of the divorce, especially if there is visible conflict between their parents, but they are unlikely to fully understand what is happening and why. As a result, they may have many questions about the divorce, most of which revolve around their concerns that they are at fault. They may be worried that their behavior is making one of the parents want to leave, or even that their parents do not love them anymore. The stress of the divorce can also affect a child’s relationships with their friends and peers, as well as their performance in school and their general mood. In many cases, a child psychologist or family therapist can be beneficial to help children of this age cope.

Providing for Elementary-Aged Children in Your Divorce Resolution

Children between the ages of 5 and 10 are often more amenable to shared parenting time arrangements, and this is an important consideration when you and your spouse are working out a parenting plan. However, elementary school children also have a school routine to consider, and they are often starting to get involved in sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities.

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wheaton divorce lawyerThe birth of a child is often cause for celebration, and many parents find that their relationship grows stronger as they work together to raise their child. Unfortunately, however, some parents decide that their marriage is no longer working soon after their child is born. Getting a divorce when you have an infant or toddler can be especially hard, and it is important to think carefully about your child’s needs and best interests as you work to resolve divorce issues.

How Does Divorce Affect Infants and Toddlers?

Children under the age of three will not understand the reasons for a divorce, and research suggests that they may not even form lasting memories of the events surrounding the divorce. However, because these years are so important to a child’s development, divorce can still affect them significantly. Hurtful conflict between parents and constant interruptions to the child’s routine can cause trauma with effects that resurface as the child gets older. There may also be more immediately noticeable effects. For example, your child may become more dependent on you or the other parent or regress in their development with regard to sleep routines and potty training.

Parental Responsibility and Child Support Considerations

Often, the best way to support your infant or toddler throughout the divorce process is to commit to working together with your spouse to create a parenting plan that considers their best interests. Consistency is especially important for young children, so it may be best to create a parenting time schedule in which your child mostly stays with one parent while the other parent has scheduled visitation time.

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dupage county divorce lawyerOn May 20, Dion U. Davi, founding attorney of Davi Law Group, LLC, will be installed as President of the Cook County chapter of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. We are proud to recognize Dion for this honor and accomplishment, as well as for his service to the Illinois legal community throughout the last two decades.

The Justinian Society of Lawyers was founded in Chicago in 1921 as an association of attorneys of Italian heritage. It has since grown to encompass more than 250 lawyers throughout Cook and DuPage Counties, many of whom have held prominent positions in the local community as well as in the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. 

Dion has served as an officer in the Justinian Society for many years, first in the DuPage County chapter from 2006 to 2011, including as President from 2010 to 2011. Since 2016, he has served Cook County’s founding chapter in roles including Secretary, Treasurer, 3rd Vice President, 2nd Vice President, and most recently, 1st Vice President from 2020-2021.

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wheaton divorce lawyerBy the time you decide to file for divorce, you are likely ready to end your marriage as soon as possible. However, an Illinois divorce can be a long process, sometimes lasting many months or more from the filing date to the final approval of the divorce resolution. While it is difficult to avoid the waiting time altogether, several factors can make the divorce process move more quickly, allowing you to put your marriage behind you and move on with your life.

Options for a More Efficient Divorce in Illinois

The longest divorces involve contentious disputes between spouses that require court intervention and trial litigation to reach a resolution. You may be able to expedite the divorce process by committing to a more cooperative, amicable approach to resolving the issues at hand. Any of the following options can also lead to a faster divorce resolution:

  • Joint simplified dissolution - This is perhaps the most efficient method for ending a marriage in Illinois, but it is only an option for some couples. You may qualify if you and your spouse have no children and minimal income and assets. In this case, you will need to agree to a settlement regarding the division of marital assets and waive the right to spousal maintenance.

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wheaton divorce lawyerIn large part, getting a divorce is a financial transaction that requires the couple to fairly divide their marital assets and debts. This can include everything from the marital home and the associated mortgage, to bank accounts, retirement savings, vehicles, and household items. However, one of the most contentious subjects for many couples is how to handle credit card debt. If your marriage and finances are currently struggling, here are some things you should consider.

Credit Card Debt is a Common Cause of Divorce

A recent study shows that divorce is up to 30 percent more likely for married couples who argue about finances, and credit card debt is a common focus of such arguments. Unlike a mortgage, credit card debt can accumulate due to a spouse’s irresponsible spending habits, sometimes before the other spouse even realizes what is happening. This can contribute to mistrust and resentment that ultimately leads to irreconcilable differences. If you hope to have a chance of saving your marriage, working together to manage your debt may be your best option.

Most Credit Card Debt Will Need to Be Divided

If you do proceed with a divorce, you should know that in most cases, all credit card debt incurred by either spouse during the marriage will be part of the division of marital property. This includes debt from joint credit card accounts, as well as debt from individual accounts in each spouse’s name. You may be able to prepare for your divorce by paying off as much debt as possible ahead of time. For any debt remaining, you will likely either need to fairly divide it between you and your spouse, or offset it through the distribution of assets. In either case, you should try to update your accounts to prevent a situation in which both spouses are still liable to creditors.

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DuPage County family lawyerUPDATE: This post was originally published in March 2015. Since January 1, 2016, Illinois law no longer uses the terms "custody" and "visitation" to refer to arrangements between a child's legal parents. Instead, in a divorce, both parents are usually granted a share of parenting time, meaning that the child will spend significant time living with both parents. This language treats parents more equally, but one parent may still have a larger share of parenting time based on the child's best interests. Additionally, parenting time can be restricted for a parent who endangers a child's health or well-being.

The term "visitation" is still used for grandparents, siblings, and other relatives who seek to secure the legal right to spend time with a child. However, legal action of this nature is usually only warranted when the child's parents are preventing a relative from seeing the child, and there is evidence that doing so is causing the child harm. If you are seeking visitation as a grandparent or another relative, you will need to demonstrate to the court that your visitation is in the child's best interests.

For legal assistance with your parenting time or visitation case, contact the Wheaton, IL family law attorneys at Davi Law Group today by calling 630-580-6373.

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