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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyersIn the do-it-yourself culture of today, it comes as no surprise that one can easily research divorce online. If one so desires, they may also fill out and print state-specific forms and file them with the court, pro se (without an attorney). Sadly, many parties who pursue such options end up learning a hard and expensive lesson: divorce should not be a “DIY project.”

The Dangers of a DIY Divorce

DIY divorces come in all shapes and sizes. Some offer to complete the paperwork for you, while others simply offer advice to help you fill out the forms yourself. Either way, you are taking a major risk. Few of these options are state-specific, and that can make a significant difference in the division of your marital estate – especially in Illinois, where assets are distributed equitably, rather than equally. Of special concern are large assets, such as the family home, and retirement accounts, which can be exceptionally difficult to divide without assistance.

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, unallocated child supportChild support and spousal maintenance are two of many considerations in an Illinois divorce, and the financial obligations included in a final decree will vary based upon the unique circumstances of the parties involved. When a divorcing couple can agree to certain support issues, there are tax benefits that the couple can take advantage of by structuring payments in a certain way. An arrangement termed “unallocated” child support is attractive to both parties. Speak with an Illinois divorce attorney with experience in tax matters to see if it is an option for you.

Default Rules on Spousal and Child Support

Spousal support, commonly termed alimony, is paid by the spouse in a higher income bracket to the individual with a lower income; the intent behind spousal support is to ensure that person enjoys a similar lifestyle after the divorce as compared to when the couple shared a household. Under federal law, the payor spouse can deduct alimony payments when filing individual income tax returns. However, child support falls under a different set of tax laws and is not deductible from the payor parent’s income taxes.

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyers, divorce mythsIt may seem like there are “experts” all around you when you share that you are considering divorce. Friends, family, neighbors, and others without a legal background will tell you all about their own experiences. However, it is important to take their advice with a grain of salt: You should only trust a qualified Illinois divorce attorney with these types of proceedings to ensure protection of your legal rights. Look out for some of the most common myths about divorce and steer clear of taking any action based on misinformation.

You Must Win the Race to the Courthouse

There is no advantage if you are the first to file for divorce; both spouses to a marriage have equal rights and obligations under Illinois law. The first spouse to file is not called a “plaintiff” in divorce cases and there are no negative connotations due to the other not being called a “defendant.” The person who initiates the divorce is termed the petitioner and the other is the respondent.

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DuPage County divorce lawyers, Illinois divorce attorneyIf you are planning to file for divorce in Illinois and have already set up an appointment with a lawyer, you have made a wise decision. Having an experienced attorney on your side ensures protection of your legal rights throughout the divorce process. You can take another step in the right direction by being prepared for the meeting because you will gain the most out of the consultation when you know what to expect. While every case is different, here is a checklist of some of the items you may discuss with an Illinois divorce attorney during your initial appointment.

Issues Related to Children 

If you have minor children, you should discuss your current situation and potential plans for raising them post-divorce. Of critical importance to a court is the parental responsibilities and decision-making, living arrangements, and financial support. However, there are other factors to consider, such as tax implications and planning for college. Many of these issues will be addressed in a parenting plan that you must file in court within 120 days of filing your case. Therefore, make sure your lawyer is aware of all issues related to children.

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 DuPage County divorce attorneys, divorce and substance abuseDivorce is one of the most turbulent times anyone may experience. It can drain a person both emotionally and financially. As unpleasant as divorce can be, there are many factors that further complicate the decision to initiate a divorce. These factors include fear about splitting assets, child custody disputes, and determining alimony payments. Factoring in a spouse with a substance abuse problem can make the decision to divorce more difficult than usual.

Factors to Consider

When considering whether or not to divorce a spouse with a substance abuse problem, many emotions may begin to surge. Many spouses feel guilty and feel that they are abandoning their partner. However, there are several factors you will want to consider when making a decision about your marriage and how to deal with your spouse’s addiction. These factors include:

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, pet placement after divorceDeciding to divorce is difficult decision. Once a couple makes the decision to separate there are many stressful decisions to make as the divorce process moves along. Pets and companion animals can make the process easier for many people. It should not be surprising that deciding who gets to keep a pet is a common issue in divorce disputes.

The Law Views Family Pets as Property

Pets play a key role in the lives of many people and many of those people will also go through a divorce. This means that courts will decide who gets ownership of the pet when the couple divorces. The law views pets as property. Of course, pets mean a lot more to their owners than just property. However, in a courtroom, pets are treated similar to a record collection or heirloom jewelry. A court may never need to decide who gets ownership of the pet if both spouses agree who will keep it.

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DuPage County family law attorney, filing for divorce in IllinoisPetitioning the court for a divorce can be one of the most complicated and stressful times of your life. In Illinois, the court still requires that a person filing for divorce give a specific reason for why the marriage is ending, also known as giving grounds for the divorce. As such, Illinois is considered a “fault” state for divorce, but the law does also allow a “no fault” reason to end a marriage.

Fault Grounds for Divorce 

Illinois statute 750 ILCS 5/401 states the reasons why a person may file for divorce in this state. In addition to giving grounds, the petitioning spouse must also meet the residency requirements of the law, which for Illinois requires the spouse to live in the state for at least 90 days prior to the filing. A spouse must prove that one of the following has occurred “without cause or provocation” before the court will allow a divorce: 

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attorneys fees in divorceWhile it is vital to hire an attorney to help guide you through a dissolution of marriage, the idea of paying that attorney’s fees can be daunting. At the beginning of a divorce, it is very common for one spouse to not have a significant paying job outside of the home. Even in marriages where this is not the case, it may be that one spouse primarily controlled the household finances. For someone who was never the primary wage earner or never had much to do with the marital finances, the thought of paying his or her own attorney’s fees may be especially scary. Fortunately, there are laws in Illinois that allow trial courts to order one party to contribute to the other’s attorney’s fees under certain circumstances.

The Law

As a general rule, each party to the dissolution is responsible for paying his or her own attorneys fees. However, trial courts are allowed to order one party to pay, or at least contribute to, the other’s attorney’s fees at the end of the divorce in certain situations. In determining whether or not they should award the payment of attorney’s fees by the non-client spouse, courts are told that they should consider the following:

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alcohol abuseNo-fault divorces have become increasingly common in Illinois. Still, the traditional grounds for divorce are still available for use. One of the grounds still used in Illinois is one party having a drug addiction or drinking addiction for at least two years. Whether that particular ground is used to file for the dissolution or not, alcohol often plays a major role in divorces in the United States.

The Statistics

Studies show that marriages are more likely to end when one spouse has a serious problem with alcohol. One particular study conducted by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions noted that where one spouse in a marriage (and only one spouse) drank heavily (until intoxicated or having six or more drinks), the marriage was likely to end in divorce 50 percent of the time.

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Posted on in Divorce

pet custodyEveryone knows custody can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. What may shock people is those custody disputes don’t always only involve children – human children, that is. Increasingly, couples are feuding over pet custody during their divorce proceedings.

According to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 27 percent of those attorneys who responded said they noticed an increase in the number of clients fighting for custody of a pet during the last five years. Of those disputes, they also noted an overwhelming 88 percent of those animals caught in the middle of the custody fight were dogs.

Illinois Laws Used When Pets are an Issue

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dating during divorce processThere are a multitude of articles and blog posts expressing opinions about the consequences of people dating during the divorce process. The problem is that most of those posts contain conflicting information, and include some facts and a lot of fiction. This post aims to explain a bit about what issues dating during divorce may actually pose.

What You Really Need to Know

  • One very real danger of dating during the divorce process involves the concept of dissipation. Dissipation occurs when one spouse uses marital property for something solely for his or her own benefit and unrelated to the marriage, at a point where the marriage is breaking down. Money spent on new relationships commonly falls within the definition of dissipation. Birthday or anniversary presents for your new boyfriend/girlfriend, inviting them to join you on vacation, or even taking them to a nice event in downtown Chicago, can all become the basis of a dissipation claim your soon to be ex’s attorney may bring against you.

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce with kidsGoing through the divorce process can be difficult for any number of reasons, but may be especially difficult when parents of children decide to divorce. Additional considerations not only come into play when dealing with legal aspects of the divorce case in court, like child custody and support matters, but more practical and everyday concerns may also dominate the parties’ interactions, such as the emotional well-being of the children involved. While the well-being of common children may get much attention from each of the parties to a divorce action, they may also be dealing with feelings of anger, resentment, and stress. These feelings may affect their actions more than they realize, and may impact their children more than they know. Here, WebMD discusses five common mistakes that divorced parents make that can have a negative impact on their children.

Common Mistakes

  1. Communicating through the children. Many divorcing couples try to talk to one another by sending messages through their children. This leads to undue stress for the child involved, especially if they are left to address a situation that their parents could not handle without involving them. Instead, parties should attempt to discuss issues directly with one another with focused communication that does not get emotional.

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Posted on in Divorce

absent co-parentNavigating the process of divorce is often difficult enough, particularly when children are involved. Add to that the stress of dealing with an ex-spouse who is removing themselves from a relationship and the process can become even more challenging. The involved parent is left to address these issues with the children and may not know how to do so. A website has offered the following tips on helping children through this very type of situation.

Tips on Dealing with a Disengaged Parent

Newly single parents who are trying to establish a new way of life with their children have a difficult task ahead of them, but when children are also facing rejection by their other parent, additional issues must be addressed. This situation often brings up feelings of anger and sadness, not to mention confusion on the part of both parent and child. Disengaged parents will often cancel visitation, fail to participate in activities with their children, or neglect to attempt to communicate or connect with their children. Here are some ways that a parent can help their child deal with a disengaged parent:

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce mistakesMost people are at risk of making at least a few mistakes throughout the process of divorce. Of course, having an experienced divorce attorney as legal representation goes a long way in avoiding such errors and ensuring a smooth process along the way. A Chicago Tribune article from a few years ago discusses the most common mistakes made by men in divorce cases, as witnessed by a divorce attorney. While the article is gender-specific, it is important to note that these mistakes can easily be equally attributable to men or women and should be avoided by any party in a divorce case.

Ten Mistakes

It is wise for members of both sexes involved in divorce proceedings to not only be aware of these commonly made mistakes, but to take steps to avoid them, ideally with the help if an attorney who is experienced in divorce cases.

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prenuptial agreementPrenuptial agreements are gaining popularity and are no longer seen as being exclusively for the wealthy. Many people want to ensure they are protected prior to entering into marriage and may have good reason to do so. However, not all prior prenuptial agreements are upheld in the event of divorce. Oftentimes, the spouse who signed the prenup will challenge its validity in order to have the agreement declared invalid so they will not be held by its terms. The question arises: what makes a prenup invalid in the state of Illinois?

Illinois Law

Illinois law regarding the validity of prenuptial agreements changed in 1990. As a result, agreements signed before 1990 are held to different standards for validity than those signed after January 1st of that year.

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illinois order of protectionDomestic violence is a significant problem for many individuals, and a serious crime for offenders. It is defined as the hitting, choking, kicking, threatening, harassing, or interfering with the personal liberty of another by a family or household member. Victims of domestic violence can often secure an order of protection against the abuser as long as he or she fits into the class of persons defined as family or household members.

Order of Protection

Information on the Illinois Attorney General’s website provides that an order of protection is an order from the court that restricts an abuser from engaging in harmful acts towards their victim and is only available to household or family members. An order of protection can act in the following ways, including others:

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aging parents, caregivers, Illinois divorce lawyer, reasons for divorce, baby boomersMany individuals of the baby boomer generation may suddenly find themselves continuing in or resuming their role as caregivers. Only this time, instead of providing care to their children, they are caring for their elderly parents. Many are happy to do what they can for their parents while they can, fully realizing that older generations will not be around forever. Further, many adult children feel that they owe their parents a certain bet of gratitude for all they did for their families and the world around them.

Strengthening Marriage while Providing Care

Despite the privilege of having elderly parents, caring for them can bring its own set of challenges. Specifically, as discussed in a recent article, many baby boomers may experience challenges to their marriages as they struggle to care for their aging parents. This is due, in part, to the increased stress many people feel as they take on the responsibility of caregiver.

Here are some tips to deal with the stressful situation of being an elderly parent’s primary caregiver while keeping your marriage strong at the same time:

  • Talk openly with your spouse about the feelings, emotions, and stresses you may be feeling as you care for your aging parents. Successful marriages are made of happy couples who know how to communicate well with each other. This not only reflects a trust in one another, but a reliance on one another’s good judgment and dependance on the other for truth and honest talk.
  • Make an effort to keep love alive everyday. Carve out time for romance and dating. This includes small gestures, spending more time together, and making it a point to have fun as a couple.
  • Approach financial challenges with teamwork and open communication. Once parents are added to the mix, family budgeting may be even more important. This requires common goals and family support. Spouses should work together as a team in addressing economic challenges.
  • Avoid placing blame on one another when things get rough. Blaming each other is destructive to your marriage, and usually no one is to blame for an unfortunate situation.
  • Do not indulge in self-pity. Doing so does not solve any problems. Rather, work with your spouse toward a solution. Making a family work is often difficult, and can be even more so when caring for an elderly parent.
  • Enhance your marital relationship by carving out time for privacy and being alone. This is crucial to a successful marriage. Being able to refresh and recharge by being alone will go a long way in improving the quality of your relationship and communications with your spouse.
  • Remember that the little things matter in marriage and should be practiced daily. Doing these little things, such as performing small tasks or making small gestures of love, every day for the one you love matters in a relationship, and the more they accumulate, the more of a positive effect they have. Mastering this improves your chances of making it through the difficult times.

Family Law Attorney

If you need assistance with any family law matter, do not hesitate to contact a DuPage County family lawyer to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Chicago and the greater surrounding areas.

divorce rate, Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer, family lawAccording to the Family Studies website, previous data that suggested the divorce rate has been on a steady decline since the 1980s may be wrong. A new paper denounces those statistics and instead argues that the rate of divorce has not only gone up, but has risen to record highs. Read on for more about their position and the reasons behind it.

Why the Error?

Researchers are blaming poor data collecting as the reason behind the faulty previous numbers, which painted a more optimistic picture of divorce rates in the U.S. Even if individual counties accurately collected data related to divorce statistics, states then had to compile it and turn it over the the Census Bureau to put the data together on the national level. Something was lost in the process. In addition, it is believed that in the mid-1990s the federal government ceased offering financial support for significant state collection. Some states stopped reporting entirely, ultimately muddying the pool of information related to divorce rates.

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Posted on in Divorce

children of divorce, life after divorce, children, divorce, DuPage County divorce lawyerMany parents who decide to divorce are primarily concerned with how the breakdown of the family will affect their children. The time after a divorce is finalized will certainly be a period of adjustment, but adjusting is not always as traumatic for children as some divorced parents may fear. In fact, some kids adjust surprisingly well to their parents’ divorce, particularly those whose parents provide them with love and attention and focus on their well being throughout the divorce while keeping them shielded from conflict and anxiety.

Look for Signs

A recent article suggests the following signs show that children are coping well with their parents’ divorce:

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, divorce trends, divorce rate, reasons for divorceIt is no secret that the divorce rate in the U.S. is high; almost half of all marriages will eventually end in divorce. Many couples make the mutual decision to divorce, while others try to save their marriage no matter the cost. However, if at least one person in the couple is thinking about divorce, it may indicate something is wrong with the relationship.

Six Signals Indicating Imminent Divorce

According to a recently published article, there are signals that are usually present to indicate a divorce may be imminent. Although there are likely many more, here are six of the the most common signs that a divorce may be in a couple’s future:

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