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DuPage County divorce attorneyA contentious divorce can be incredibly difficult when you have been accustomed to relying on your spouse for financial support, and this is especially true if your spouse has cut off your support in the time leading up to the divorce. Illinois divorce and family law statutes include provisions to protect financially disadvantaged spouses when it comes to the division of marital property and the allocation of spousal maintenance and child support in the final divorce decree, but a spouse with few resources of their own may find it difficult to support themselves and secure quality legal representation before the divorce is finalized. In such cases, it may be necessary to pursue temporary relief.

Temporary Relief Options During the Divorce Process

As your divorce approaches, there are a few legal options to protect your finances if you fear that your spouse might cut you off or if your spouse has already done so. These options include:

  • Petitioning for a temporary financial restraining order: A restraining order can prevent a spouse from transferring, hiding, or blocking the other spouse’s access to assets, except for the purposes of providing for their own necessary living expenses or regular business costs.
  • Petitioning for temporary spousal maintenance or child support: When a spouse has limited assets during the divorce process, a court may order the other spouse to make temporary payments to assist with living expenses for the spouse in need and the children of the marriage.
  • Petitioning for interim attorney’s fees: In some cases, the court may order a spouse with financial resources to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees to allow them to fairly participate in the litigation process.

It may be a good idea to focus on these petitions for relief early in the process while you have some resources available to hire an attorney. You will also need to prepare to support your petitions with financial affidavits demonstrating that you have a need for relief.

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Wheaton family law attorneysTalking to your partner about creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may feel uncomfortable or unnecessary. However, considering that arguments about finances are one of the strongest predictors of divorce, there is clear value in openly discussing finances with your spouse and creating a mutually beneficial, legally binding document that addresses each spouse’s financial and property interests. If you chose to forgo a prenuptial agreement before getting married, it is important to know that it is not too late to secure the same benefits through a postnuptial agreement.

Reasons to Pursue a Postnup in Illinois

For many couples, the time before their marriage may seem too early in their lives and relationship to be worried about what happens to their property in the event of a divorce, especially if neither spouse has significant assets to their name. However, much can change throughout the course of the marriage when it comes to the couple’s financial situation and their outlook on life. With these changes often comes a more clear need to work together on a postnuptial agreement.

Perhaps the most common reason to establish a postnup is a large increase in marital or non-marital assets. For example, if you have acquired a business during the marriage, or if a business that you previously owned has increased substantially in value, it is often a good idea to establish in writing the financial interest that each spouse has in the business. Alternatively, if you or your spouse has been the beneficiary of an inheritance, it may be important to definitively establish its status as non-marital property. If you choose, your postnuptial agreement can address all assets belonging to the marital estate and each spouse individually. Doing so can prevent confusion, uncertainty, and conflict if you ultimately have to divide your property in a divorce.

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhether or not a child’s parents are married, the child often benefits from having both parents involved in his or her life. Many parents are also invested in securing and maintaining a relationship with their child. Unfortunately, for unmarried fathers, such a relationship is not necessarily guaranteed. However, there is a legal process that unmarried fathers can follow to secure the basic rights of parentage, along with an allocated share of parenting time and parental responsibilities in many cases.

Establishing Legal Paternity

Before an unmarried father can ask for parenting time or parental responsibilities, he will need to be recognized as the child’s legal parent. In Illinois, there is more than one way for a man to establish legal paternity. First, along with the child’s mother, he can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) and file it with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Provided that there are no objections or competing claims from other alleged fathers, this is usually the most simple method of securing parental rights.

If a VAP is not possible, perhaps because the mother is not in agreement or there is uncertainty regarding the child’s biological father, a man can petition the court for an adjudication of paternity. As part of this process, the man can submit to genetic testing and present other evidence and testimony to support his claim of fatherhood. If the results of the test show that the man is most likely the child’s father, the court can issue a judicial order of parentage, providing the father with basic rights and an obligation to contribute to child support.

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Wheaton spousal support modification attorneyAlimony and other terms for the same concept, including spousal support and spousal maintenance, may commonly come to mind when you think about divorce, but the reality is that these payments are becoming less and less common. In Illinois, spousal support is usually only ordered when there is a significant imbalance between the two party’s incomes and assets and one of the parties needs it to remain financially stable and maintain their accustomed standard of living.

Even then, maintenance generally does not last forever but is instead ordered for a specific duration based on the length of the marriage, with the idea often being that the receiving spouse will use that time to attempt to become financially independent. Additionally, as the paying spouse, you may be able to petition for the modification or early termination of spousal support payments under certain circumstances.

Grounds for Updating a Spousal Support Order

In order to reduce or eliminate your spousal support payment obligation, you will usually need to demonstrate to the court that one of the following has occurred:

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Wheaton parental relocation attorneysIf you and your former spouse share children who are still under the age of 18, moving to a new location after the divorce can be a complicated issue. While a parent may have legitimate personal reasons for the move, it is also often necessary from a legal perspective to consider whether the move is in the children’s best interests, as well as how it may affect the children’s relationship with their other parent. If you believe that your ex’s relocation will be detrimental to your family, you may have options to contest it in court.

What is Considered a Parental Relocation in Illinois?

One thing to note is that a move to a new location within a short distance is not considered a relocation under Illinois law. While parenting plans will usually stipulate that a parent who moves will need to notify the other parent of the change in address, these moves are less likely to lead to legal complications, and there are fewer options to contest them.

However, some moves do qualify as a relocation, and they require approval through a defined legal process. All of the following meet the legal definition of a relocation in Illinois:

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County family law attorneysIn Illinois, divorcing couples have a few options when it comes to how they reach a resolution on issues including property division, parenting time and responsibilities, and child and spousal support. Perhaps the first option that comes to mind is a court trial in which each party is represented by an attorney, but this is not actually the most common method for resolving a divorce. In fact, the large majority of couples are able to settle their divorce out of court. In many cases, it is a good idea to consider whether an uncontested divorce would work for you before exploring other alternatives.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

In an uncontested divorce, the two spouses agree not only on the decision to get a divorce, but also on all important matters that must be resolved for the divorce to be finalized. However, it is rare for a couple to reach this agreement without going through significant discussions and negotiations to figure out the details. Both parties can also choose to hire an attorney to advise them and help them protect their interests, but the right attorney can do so without escalating conflict in a way that may lead to litigation. After creating a written agreement, the couple can submit it to the court for approval so that the marriage is legally dissolved and the agreement becomes legally binding.

Is an Uncontested Divorce a Good Decision?

An uncontested divorce can be a good decision for many reasons. For one, it can help you and your spouse keep conflict to a minimum and avoid the public spectacle of a trial. You also have far greater control over the outcome in an uncontested divorce, as you and your spouse are able to agree on your own decisions rather than leaving them in the court’s hands. In many cases, an uncontested divorce can be resolved more quickly and with fewer expenses than a divorce trial.

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DuPage County family law attorneysUnless you are granted your marital home as part of the division of property, you will likely need to find a new place to live either during the divorce process or after your divorce is finalized. Moving to a new home is stressful at any point in your life, but along with all the other stress of a divorce, it can be even more overwhelming. However, you can make the transition easier by taking the time to prepare.

Considerations When Moving After Divorce 

Thinking carefully about where you will move and how you will handle the moving process can lead to greater satisfaction with your decision and less stress for you and your family in the future. Some important things to consider include:

  • How much you can afford. If you are moving during the divorce process, it may be best to explore temporary options until you have a better idea of the likely outcome. Once your divorce is finalized, you should determine where your assets, income, and expenses stand to decide how much you can afford to buy or rent, and whether you need to make a plan to save for a home that meets your needs.
  • How the move will affect your children. If you expect to have a significant share of parenting time after your divorce, you should also consider how a new home will meet your children’s needs. Think about the location in relation to their school and their other parent’s home, as well as the space they will need to feel comfortable.
  • Whether you need legal permission. A move within a short distance is usually acceptable from a legal perspective, but if you are allocated parenting time and you plan to relocate a longer distance away from your children’s current home, you will need to obtain permission from the other parent and/or the court. Under Illinois law, this distance is more than 25 miles from a home in Cook, DuPage, and some surrounding counties, more than 50 miles from a home in other Illinois counties, and more than 25 miles to a location outside of Illinois.

A major relocation will also likely require special considerations in your parenting plan to account for transportation between homes and an alternative parenting time schedule. It can also make it more difficult for your children to adjust, so you should be prepared to talk to them about the move, listen to their concerns, and make every effort to maintain a close relationship despite the increased distance.

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Wheaton family law attorneysIf you have been through a divorce, it is understandable that you may want a break from the legal process after working tirelessly to reach a resolution on important decisions including your parenting agreement. However, it is important to realize that circumstances change over time, and what worked for you, your children, and your former spouse at the time of the divorce may not be as effective a few years later. If you find that your situation has changed substantially, it may be best to petition for a modification of your parenting plan.

Modifying Parenting Time in Illinois

Perhaps the most likely element of your parenting plan that may require modification is your parenting time arrangement. As circumstances and preferences change, it may be best to adjust either the distribution of time spent with each parent, the specific schedule of days, or both. You can modify parenting time at any point after your divorce as long as it is in your children’s best interests and you can demonstrate that one or more of the following is true:

  • The circumstances of you, your ex, or your children have changed. Possible examples include a change in your work schedule or your children’s school schedule, a relocation of one or both parents, or a change in your children’s preferences as they get older.
  • The requested modification is consistent with the actual care arrangement for the past six months. This means that in practice, you and your ex have begun to deviate from the original schedule with neither of you objecting.
  • The modification is minor, perhaps involving a simple schedule change or an update to holiday agreements.
  • The modification is necessary based on something that the court was not aware of at the time of the original agreement.
  • Both parents are in agreement on the modification.

Modifying Parental Decision-Making Responsibilities

On the other hand, decision-making responsibilities related to your children’s education, religion, health, and extracurricular activities can usually not be modified for the first two years after your original agreement, unless the modification is necessary to protect the children from harm or dangerous influences. After two years, decision-making responsibilities can be modified for the same reasons as parenting time.

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Wheaton child custody attorneysDuring the divorce process, one of the most important items for both parents to agree to is a parenting plan that addresses parenting time and parental responsibilities. This agreement may come about through negotiation, mediation, or other collaborative methods between you and your spouse, or it may come in the form of a court ruling issued by a judge, but in either case the terms are legally binding. In the months and years following your divorce, if you find that your ex is failing or refusing to honor the agreement, you may need to pursue the legal enforcement of your divorce order.

Common Parenting Plan Violations in Illinois

Parenting plan breaches may arise out of carelessness, hostility, a change in the relationship between you and your ex, or resentment surrounding the initial terms of the agreement. Some of the most common violations include:

  • Refusing to allow the children to spend their allocated time with the other parent
  • Frequent lateness when transporting the children to the other parent
  • Attempted interruptions of the other parent’s allocated time
  • Refusing to care for the children during one’s allocated time
  • Relocating with the child without obtaining necessary permission under Illinois law

If your ex is engaging in any of these behaviors, you should first attempt to resolve the dispute on your own, provided that doing so does not put you or your children in danger. If the behavior continues, your next step is to file a petition for enforcement with the court.

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhile some couples are able to completely end their relationship with a divorce, others must continue to interact with one another because of the children they share. This new relationship, a process that is more commonly referred to as co-parenting, continues (at least) until the child turns of age. How you navigate it - not just during the divorce, but long after - can make a massive difference in how your child adjusts to the new structure of their family. Increase your chances of success by using these five tips for successful co-parenting, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help improve the outcome in your Illinois divorce. 

1. Keep Your Child Out of the Divorce 

Though children are inevitably affected by the divorce of their parents, they should not be privy to all the details of the case. It is a personal and financial matter between adults who wish to end their relationship. The child’s relationship with each parent usually continues, however, so long as it is in their best interest (which it usually is). Allowing them to overhear details could taint the child's perception of the other parent, and that could ultimately create maladjustment issues for them. Alternatively, if you lean on your child and overshare details with them, you could potentially harm your child’s relationship with not just the other parent, but yourself as well. Avoid such issues by ensuring you keep your child out of the divorce as much as possible. 

Do not argue with your spouse when your child is nearby, avoid phone conversations when your child is around, and be sure to make sure your child is not within earshot when speaking to friends and family about the divorce. If asked directly about the divorce, be honest with your child but only share as much information as necessary. 

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Illinois grandparent rights attorneysParents are not the only influential people in a child’s life; grandparents can have a lasting and loving impact as well. Sadly, there are situations in which a grandparent may be denied time or visitation with their grandchild. What rights might you have while facing such a situation, and how can you exercise them? The following information explains, and it outlines how an experienced family law attorney can help.

Grandparent’s Rights Under Illinois Law

While Illinois law does recognize the importance of a child’s extended family – especially during divorce and other family law proceedings - not every grandparent has legal rights to exercise. Thankfully, there are certain extenuating circumstances that may open an opportunity to pursue legal rights to a grandchild. These situations include:

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DuPage County family law attorneysTerminating a parent’s rights to their child is not something that occurs regularly, but it is sometimes necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. How, exactly, does one go about doing this? Can it be applied in all situations, or are there only certain scenarios in which a parent’s rights can be terminated? The following answers these questions, and it provides important details on how an experienced family law attorney can assist you with the process, should it be warranted in your case.

Terminating a Parent’s Rights for Stepparent Adoption

Perhaps the best scenario in which a parent’s rights may be terminated is when there is a prospective adopting stepparent who wants to become the child’s legal guardian. Mostly, this is done with the consent of the biological parent. However, there are scenarios in which the family must go through the courts to prove that the biological parent is unfit, unsafe, or otherwise incapable of providing the love and support that the child deserves. In either scenario, the guidance and assistance of an experienced attorney is highly recommended. Note that grandparents, siblings, and other family members may adopt a child if both parents are willing to terminate their parental rights.

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DuPage County family law attorneysDivorce, in and of itself, is a complex legal process. Abuse, particularly the abuse of a shared child, can complicate matters even further. Thankfully, there are actions that you can take protect your child during the divorce process. Learn more, including what an experienced divorce attorney can do for you, with help from the following information.

Focus on Safety First

If you and your child are in an abusive situation, find a place where you can be safe. Family, friends, and even domestic violence shelters are examples of viable emergency options. It is also advised that you develop a safety plan and that you seek assistance with a restraining order. Both can provide additional protection while you are going through the divorce process.

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Illinois divorce attorneysAlthough children of any age can struggle with divorce, toddlers may be especially vulnerable to the stress and changes within their environment. To make matters worse, to children in this developmental stage, parents are everything. They are the center of their world, the place they turn to when they feel hurt, alone, or scared. Divorce can disrupt that bond, especially when one of the parents leaves the home. Thankfully, parents can mitigate against this issue. Learn more with help from the following information, and discover how an experienced divorce lawyer can help you through the process.

Keep Conversations Simple and Child-Centered

Telling your child about the divorce is the first step in the process, and it should be approached with great care and consideration. Keep the conversation simple and straightforward, focusing mostly on the ways that the divorce will impact (or not impact) your child. Remember: toddlers are self-centric, and they are unable to grasp the complexities of divorce, so the impact that it will have on them is the information they want and need most.

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DuPage County family law-attorneysManaging life and the kids during and after divorce can be stressful, especially in the beginning. Thankfully, with a few good tips and a little time, everyone starts to find their new routine. Learn more how to improve the back-to-school transition while going through a divorce, and discover how an experienced attorney can smooth the process for everyone involved.

Start with Realistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations can be extremely toxic to the co-parenting process, and can often lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and coping problems. As such, parents are encouraged to be patient with one another (and themselves) and understanding with their child. After all, everyone is trying to adjust to a new life, and it takes some time to accomplish that.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois DCFS investigationsWhen you receive word that you are being investigated for child abuse allegations by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), it can seem like your world has been turned on its head. While there are plenty of horrific cases handled by DCFS, there are also many that are unfounded or simply a misunderstanding. If your matter falls within one of those categories, you are no doubt overwhelmed and distraught. Fortunately, you can fight the allegations and it is best to do so with an Illinois DCFS hearings lawyer by your side.

Call-in to the DCFS Hotline

Investigations into child abuse and/or neglect start with a call into the State Central Register Hotline, a call center in Springfield, IL, that is dedicated to dealing with child abuse situations. An employee for DCFS answers the call and takes information from the caller, in an attempt to determine whether the facts support the possibility of harm or risk of harm to a child. Anyone can make a call to the Hotline, including family members, friends, teachers, neighbors, and other individuals. After the DCFS staff member completes the call and necessary paperwork, he or she forwards the information to the agency county office where the child resides to officially initiate the investigation.

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interstate child custody issues, DuPage County family law attorneysWhen parents and their children have lived in different states throughout the duration of the marriage, extremely complicated issues arise regarding child custody in a divorce case. In Illinois, the key for handling disputes is jurisdiction—a court’s authority differs when handling divorce matters versus child custody battles. Jurisdiction may be proper over one aspect of the case, but not appropriate for the other. Because of the highly complex nature of the legal issues involved, it is wise to retain an Illinois divorce attorney with experience in interstate child custody issues.

Divorce Jurisdiction

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court has jurisdiction to enter an order of dissolution of marriage so long as one of the spouses was a resident of the state when filing for divorce. In addition, jurisdiction is proper if one of the spouses was stationed in Illinois as a member of the armed services. The spouse must be a resident or have military presence in the state for at least 90 days prior to initiating divorce proceedings. Once the filing spouse meets the 90 day requirement and submits the petition for divorce, the case will proceed in Illinois regardless of where the other spouse lives.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, orders of protectionIf you have a temporary order of protection issued by an Illinois court to protect your safety and that of your family, it can be terrifying to think about what the abuser may do when the designated time period expires. By its terms, a typical restraining order may last anywhere from a few weeks up to a couple of years, depending on the circumstances.

Fortunately, Illinois law does provide alternatives to letting an order of protection expire, but the process to extend or modify can be complicated. An attorney with experience in restraining orders can tell you more about the proceedings.

Types of Orders of Protection Under Illinois Law

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DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois guardianship casesA legal battle stretching from Illinois to Indonesia found its way into a Cook County courtroom in March 2017, as a judge ruled against granting guardianship and custody to a baby’s grandmother. According to an ABC 7 Chicago News report, the infant’s parents are serving a prison sentence in a Bali murder case, having been convicted just before the child’s birth. The girl had been allowed to stay in jail with her mother until her second birthday, and her mother entrusted an Australian woman with her care on that date.

The basis of the judge’s ruling was that the child’s parents must give written consent before a decision on the grandmother’s guardianship petition would be proper. There are complicated issues involved in any Illinois guardianship case, as an experienced attorney can explain.

Illinois Probate Act

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DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois divorce casesThe already-contentious divorce between Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Sandi Jackson is becoming even uglier as attorneys for the spouses spar over jurisdiction issues. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the dispute centers on whether Illinois courts have jurisdiction over Ms. Jackson, who lives in Washington, D.C. with the couple’s two children. Mr. Jackson’s lawyers allege that there is a valid legal basis for the divorce case to remain in Illinois due to Ms. Jackson’s connection to the South Side residence the couple shared: She contributed to household expenses since purchasing the home in 1994 and uses the space when she is in town. A decision on the motion filed by Mr. Jackson’s attorneys may not come for some time, yet the case raises important questions about jurisdiction in Illinois divorce cases.

Two Types of Jurisdiction for Divorce Cases in Illinois

In general, jurisdiction determines where you file for divorce, because you must initiate your case where you reside—not where you were married. There are two types of jurisdiction you must satisfy to proceed with your divorce in Illinois.

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