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DuPage County child advocacy lawyersWhile a Guardian Ad Litem may not be necessary in every divorce case, they are sometimes needed to ensure that the best interests of children are preserved during proceedings. Should you request one, and how do you deal with it if your spouse or the courts have brought on into your Illinois divorce case? The following information explains, and it provides information on how a seasoned divorce lawyer can assist with the process.

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

Guardian Ad Litems are court-appointed unbiased third parties that look out for children in legal proceedings, such as divorce. They do not take sides. Instead, they interview all involved parties along with other individuals in the child’s life (i.e. teachers, grandparents, etc.). They then make a recommendation to the court, based on the evidence they have found. Mostly, they are looking for signs of abuse or neglect that could potentially endanger the child, and they make recommendations to protect the child from such issues.

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhile even happily married parents can disagree over the best interests of their child, those who are going through a divorce are far more likely to argue excessively over the matter. Sometimes this is because there truly is a risk to the child’s well-being, but other times, it can be related to a vindictive or alienating spouse. Learn more about what happens in these situations, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help you mitigate against such issues. 

Parents Disagree Over Child’s Football Career

In an unprecedented Pennsylvania divorce case, two parents are fighting over whether their son should be allowed to continue his football career. At age 17, he has already suffered three previous concussions. His mother has not questioned their son’s doctors, who say there is no reason why he cannot continue playing. His father says he is concerned that continuing to play could cause severe permanent damage. He is filing suit against the mother as a way to advocate for his son, but he fears that his concerns will be dismissed. 

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Illinois family law attorneysMost parents know that their child needs to be protected during a divorce, but there are a few that will use their child as a weapon. Unfortunately, such actions can cause long-term damage. The following information can help you learn how to mitigate against the possible effects of parental alienation, and it describes how an attorney can assist with your divorce case.

Signs and Symptoms of Parental Alienation

In the early stages of parental alienation, parents may not notice any signs and symptoms. However, there may be details about the divorce that start to emerge. For example, your child might ask why you stopped loving the other parent, or why it is that you refused to forgive them for a mistake they made. As time passes, additional signs and symptoms may start to surface, including:

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Illinois family law attorneysIt seems like, at every turn, parents are told that divorce will harm their children, perhaps irreversibly so. Yet, each year, some 1.5 million children go through the separation process. Are they all doomed, their fate forever sealed by the choices their parents have made? Will their immune systems take a hit? Can they ever recover, or will they be forever scarred by this one traumatic event? Rest assured: though divorce can have a negative effect on children, most do ultimately recover – and sometimes the outcome is far better than if their parents had stayed together.

Examining the Potentially Negative Effects of Divorce

Children, like adults, can experience negative emotions during divorce. A few examples include sadness, self-blame, anger, and confusion. Stress is also common among children of divorce, and it can lead to all sorts of negative effects, such as bedwetting, clinginess, problems in school, withdrawal from family or friends, and it may even lead to more illnesses since the immune system can be weakened by stress. However, these effects are generally temporary. Most children overcome them and, in time, find a new version of “normal.”

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Illinois Eliminates Child Custody and VisitationIn the beginning of the year, Illinois got rid of the family law terms “custody” and “visitation.” Now the law that governs who children will live with after a divorce and who has the power to make decisions for the children, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, uses the terms “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities” instead. Though these terms have been in use since the beginning of the year, many people still may be confused about what the change means and the reasons for the change. This article discusses what the changes mean for couples struggling with child custody and visitation issues.

Definitions of the New Terms

While the terms “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities” are similar to “visitation” and “custody,” they actually divide up parenting concepts in different ways. Custody generally referred to who the children lived with and also who had the power to make decisions on behalf of the children. Visitation meant the legally protected right of the parent who the kids do not live with to spend time with the children. Now, instead of having one parent who the kids live with and who makes decisions, parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities divides the rights in a different way.

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nonmarital propertyAside from child custody issues, property division can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Illinois courts apply principles of equitable distribution when determining which party should end up with what property at the end of the divorce. The first step during the property division process is generally classifying property as marital or nonmarital. The issue of contribution, however, can complicate this process during the very first step.

What is It?

The issue of contribution in regards to property division involves the situation where one party adds value to a particular piece of property that the other spouse claims to be nonmarital.  Think of the following example:

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child supportMany custodial parents depend on the noncustodial parent’s child support payments to ensure that they have at least their most basic needs covered. Sadly, those who depend on this support often do not actually receive it – meaning both the parents and, more importantly, the children, will suffer. In a 2013 press release, the United States Census Bureau reported that only 62.3 percent of all child support owed in 2011 (the latest year for which data was available) was actually paid to the parent owed the support. Fortunately, there are legal actions that can be taken to force the other parent to start paying the child support.

How to Enforce a Court Order

If you have a court order to receive child support, there are ways to legally enforce this order so that parent starts paying. Some of the legal actions you can take include:

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Posted on in Divorce

discovery processIf you are currently involved in a divorce or know anyone going through the same process, you have likely heard of the term “discovery.” If it is your own divorce, you may be growing to hate the discovery process. This post seeks to break down the basics of discovery, outlining what you need to know and how it can greatly benefit your case.

What Is It?

The term discovery is used across nearly every area of law, but in divorce proceedings it refers to the process by which both sides of the divorce gather information about the other side. Discovery is a key component in any litigation, but is absolutely essential in any case where assets, property division, child support or maintenance is at issue.

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estate planning divorceMost people that have written an estate plan or considered the task assume that upon divorce, any part of that plan that designated money or property to the now-ex-spouse would no longer be in effect. While that is the case with some common estate plan components, it is not always true. It is essential that anyone considering or undergoing a divorce take a look back at any estate planning documents and make some necessary changes.

Changing Beneficiaries of Estate Planning Documents

Many documents in an estate plan list certain beneficiaries designated to take on a certain power or to receive certain assets at a particular time. For example, a trust will have a designated trustee, a will will have designated beneficiaries set to receive assets, a will will name a designated executor, and powers of attorneys will name specific agents to act on behalf of the documents’ creator. In Illinois, a dissolution of marriage will automatically revoke any provisions in a will, trust, or power of attorney that pertain to an ex-spouse. A party pursuing a divorce will not need to worry about changing these particular estate plan pieces after a divorce to ensure that the ex-spouse will not benefit from any prior designations.

One piece of your estate plan that the court will specifically address is your life insurance policy. Most Illinois family law courts will consider the issue of life insurance policies during a divorce. The final divorce decree will state whether any party is required to maintain any life insurance policy for the benefit of the other spouse. If the divorce decree does not require a person to keep his or her ex-spouse on the life insurance policy, it will be very important to work with the insurance company to remove this person as the beneficiary. The designation will not be automatically terminated upon divorce, so the party with the policy must actively take steps to protect him or herself.  

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Posted on in Divorce
marriage age successThere is no shortage of marriage advice that exists today, likely in an effort to help others stay together and decrease divorce rates. This often comes down to determining what, exactly, makes a successful marriage. Of course, there is most likely not one single factor that can be attributed to lasting unions, but rather, happy marriages are likely so due to a multitude of factors. The fact that each successful marriage may have to be considered separately to determine what makes it so can make predicting the success of any given marriage difficult. Despite this challenge, researchers, relationship experts, and others continue to search for the answer to how to make a marriage work.

Practical Advice

Over the last several decades, many have attempted to analyze several factors that contribute to a marriage in order to determine whether one would be successful or not. According to a recently published article, one particularly telling factor in determining the success of a marriage is the relative age of each party. More specifically, the research found that the smaller the age difference between spouses, the more likely the marriage would last.

The study involved observing over 3,000 recently married and divorced couples whose relative ages ranged from the same age all the way to 30 years difference between ages. The findings show that out of all couples, those with the same age are least likely to divorce, and the closer a couple is in age, the greater the chance their marriage would be successful. Even couples with a one-year age difference had a three percent more likely chance of getting divorced than couples with no difference in ages. Those with five years were 18 percent more likely to get divorced, age differences of 10 years between spouses resulted in 39 percent more likely to get divorced, couples with 20 years difference between them were 95 percent more likely, and those with 30 years age difference were 17 percent more likely to end their marriages.

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Posted on in Divorce

blended families holidaysThe holidays are often a stressful time for families, regardless of whether relationships are strained. Often, the hassle of traveling, shopping, cooking, and preparing meals takes its toll on all individuals involved. However, in families who are going through a transition, either because of a new marriage, or perhaps because of a divorce, the holiday season may be one in which tensions are running particularly high. According to a recently published news article, the key to keeping emotions in check over the holidays is managing expectations with family.

Expert Advice

Experts say the key to enjoying the holidays comes down to managing expectations with family. Establishing your own family traditions should be a priority. If you plan on changing your schedule for the holidays, for example, by spending Christmas Eve or Christmas morning in your own home as opposed to that of another family member, and this is likely to conflict with other family members’ expectations, let your plans be known well in advance and remind others of them if and when necessary.

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Posted on in Family Law
same sex prenuptial agreementThe battle to legalize same-sex marriage has been ongoing for years, perhaps decades, and is just starting to be realized with laws going into effect in multiple states across the country that support marriage equality. Many advocates of gay marriage surely view these recent advancements as achievements, but even aside from the states that have not legalized gay marriage, this recent legal shift is presenting other challenges and issues to address.

Essentially, the legalization of gay marriage also involves the application of other legal concepts to the marriage that also apply to heterosexual couples. Some areas of law are not yet amended or modified to properly address the issue of gay marriage, but others are and can likely readily be applied. For example, current divorce laws may fall short in many aspects when applied to same-sex couples, but same-sex couples should not have a problem entering into a valid prenuptial agreement.

Prenups for Same Sex Couples

While the legalization of same-sex marriage has been considered a victory by many advocates for marriage equality, other aspects of family law relevant to the topic may not stir up such positive emotions. Realistically, discussing topics such as divorce and premarital agreements may not be as desirable as fighting for marriage equality, but they are realistic and practical aspects related to the topic nonetheless. According to a recent article, some advise same-sex couples to seriously consider entering into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married.

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adoption birth parentsAdoption can be extremely positive for all parties involved in the process, from the adoptive parents seeking to add a child to their family, to the child looking for a permanent home. While the situation may be most emotional for the birth parents, adoption can also ultimately be a positive thing for them, too, particularly in cases where they are not capable or equipped to care for the child. Likely recognizing the positions of the these different parties, Illinois law generally provides for the protection of all parties involved in the adoption process.

Rights of Birth Parents

Birth parents who decide to place their child up for adoption in the state of Illinois have certain rights about which they should be aware. Birth parents can go through the process with either an adoption agency or a licensed Illinois attorney who represents them in the case. Attorneys are generally used in private adoptions in the state. It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney when going through a legal process to ensure wishes are being met.

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Posted on in Domestic Violence

domestic violence dataThe issue of domestic violence continues to be a popular topic in national news. Many describe it as an epidemic, perhaps in part due to its inherent capability to reach broad bases of socioeconomic victims as well we perpetrators. Likely due in large part to the media attention this topic has received recently, data regarding domestic violence is being analyzed by experts on a frequent basis.

Data Reports

Statistically speaking, there are two very different sides to the story when it comes to matters of domestic violence. On one hand, states that incidents of domestic violence between romantic partners has dropped by about 60 percent since the mid-1990s, according to figures released by the Justice Department. However, that decrease has been essentially stalled since approximately 2004, with similar numbers holding constant for the past several years. It is estimated that approximately 1,000 “serious” violence incidents involving intimate partners were committed per day in 2013. Such incidents are defined as involving either sexual assault or aggravated physical assault.

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experienced family law attorneyFamily law issues are among the most controversial and dramatic cases seen in courtrooms today. Perhaps that is not surprising, considering these matters often involve the ending of a marriage, custody battles, and fighting over property. Family law cases, too, usually involve very emotional subject matter, which can range from anger and stress to sadness over loss. It can easily be argued that the role family law attorneys play in these cases is of the utmost importance, which is why hiring an experienced professional, who has a solid understanding of Illinois divorce laws, is crucial.

Family Law Cases are Becoming More Common

In the past few decades, it seems that family law cases in general, and specifically divorces, have become more prevalent than they were previously. People in unhappy or unfulfilling relationships are much more likely to call it quits than to try and make their marriage work. Perhaps this is because it is more acceptable for people to think of their own needs, or because more families have two incomes and both parties are therefore more financially independent. Many factors are at play in any given divorce, and a marriage may end for any number of reasons. But no matter the road a couple takes to get there, the process of getting divorced is generally not easy or straightforward.

Factors at Play

Aside from all of the emotional factors involved, there are also very real risks associated with the process of divorce that each party takes. Everything from money, to property, to the children, are up for grabs in a divorce and any number of issues could come into play that could prove disadvantageous to an unprepared party. Obtaining the proper legal representation is key in avoiding unnecessary risks and at the same time ensuring objectives are met and a fair result is reached.

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Posted on in Family Law

Cohabitation CoupleToday, it seems more couples than ever are choosing to live together, whether or not they plan to marry. In fact, a committed couple eventually deciding to move in together is not only acceptable, but may even be expected in our current culture. Despite the prevalence of this practice, there are some important considerations and preparations a couple should take before making the decision to share a home, as a recent article points out. Preparing for the Move While making the decision to live together is likely an exciting and even romantic time for most couples, there are also some serious matters that should be addressed. Couples who plan on sharing a home should be prepared to have an honest discussion about their personal affairs, including their finances. Successfully combining both households may require a bit of work, and preparing a joint budget is a good idea to aid in the process. A budget will also help a couple decide how they will pay bills and other household expenses once they are cohabiting. Taking these steps in advance of moving in together will help avoid conflict down the road and make the transition into sharing a home with a partner that much easier. Another topic couples should discuss before moving in together is their future expectations for their relationship. Both partners should have a clear idea of where the relationship is headed, whether that means marriage or not. In addition to the future state of the relationship, a couple should also discuss how they would handle other life situations should they arise, like a pregnancy. Finally, it would be a prudent choice for cohabitating couples to rent rather than purchase real estate if they are not yet married. Buying a home is a serious financial decision that can have significant consequences if a couple breaks up. There are no clear guidelines or laws in place to address such a situation in the event of a breakup, unlike divorce laws that are in place. Down the Road Even after a couple moves in together, there are still some additional considerations to take into account:

  • Couples who share a home but who are not yet married should keep their finances separate and avoid joint accounts or co-signing for loans, since a breakup would be further complicated by such money matters;
  • A couple who resides together should know the law and how their living arrangement could possibly affect their rights in any given situation;
  • Couples may want to consider living together for a predetermined amount of time in order to test the situation and ensure there are no red flags or other issues that should be addressed before taking such a major step;
  • Couples may want to consider executing a cohabitation agreement, which will designate each partner’s rights and responsibilities in the event of a split.

Family Law Attorney Whether you are interested in executing a prenuptial agreement, cohabitation agreement, or simply need advice on a family law matter, the experienced attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC are here to help you. Contact our DuPage family law attorneys today to schedule a consultation at one of our offices, located in Wheaton, Warrenville, or Chicago.

Posted on in Divorce

divorcing parents schoolSummer vacation and a break from school means different things for different families. For some parents who got divorced or made the decision to do so, it may have been a summer of adjustment and even grief. Divorced and divorcing families certainly go through a lot, from changes in finances to emotional challenges. Having navigated these circumstances all summer, and perhaps getting into some sort of comfortable routine, the task of getting kids ready to go back to school may seem more daunting than ever. However, there are some things newly divorced or divorcing parents may want to consider in preparing to send their children back to the classroom.

Strategies

A recent article outlines five strategies that may be useful to employ with children who will be returning to school this year with divorced or divorcing parents in order to make the transition easier for them and to keep them on track during the school year.

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce mythsSome divorce cases, such as those of the very wealthy or those of the celebrity variety, are much more common to be made into news stories and discussed in the media than divorces between regular folks. Interestingly enough, it is often the case that no matter who the parties to the divorce case are, some of the same issues are present in divorce cases across the board, albeit on a different scale. A recent article discussed the high profile divorce case of a super wealthy Chicago couple, busting some divorce case myths along the way. Although the article is written in the context of this specific couple’s divorce case, these myths are present in many divorces, regardless of the splitting couple’s financial status.

Myths Busted

Whether speaking about billionaires or the average middle class couple, divorce cases are often an emotional, stressful time for both parties and their families. Issues arise that may make one party think he or she has an advantage over the other, but in reality, one can never be sure how a divorce case will play out in court. In that same vein, many have preconceived notions of divorce cases and their likely outcome. Consider the following myths and the corresponding realities:

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Posted on in Divorce

divorcing childMany cases of divorce usually involve concern about any children who may be involved. Usually, this feeling is aimed at the children of the divorcing couple whose parents have decided to end their marriage. However, consider sympathy for children involved in divorce from another angle: parents’ concern for the welfare of their adult child who is divorcing. A recent medical article gives parents advice on what they can do to support their adult child whose marriage is ending.

Parents of a Divorcing Couple

With so much focus usually on the couple who is divorcing and their children, it is often easy to overlook the emotions of the parents of the divorcing couple. However, their concern, and even fear, about the situation is understandable and should be expected. They often mourn the loss of the marriage and may be anxious about the potential of their relationship with their grandchildren to be changed by relocation or custody orders. Many parents of divorcing couples struggle with these and other emotions, including confusion, disbelief, and sadness.

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money managementAlthough the popular saying is that opposites attract, many couples may find that having similar beliefs and attitudes about key issues may go a long way in improving their chances at a successful relationship - especially when it comes to marriage. Now, more than ever, shared attitudes regarding money management may be an important factor for couples who are preparing to marry or who recently tied the knot. For example, two people in a couple who both share ideas about planning for the future and saving money may find a particular benefit when it comes to the issue of money within marriage.

Finances within Marriage

According to a recent news article, arguments about money early on in marriage may be one of the top predictors as to whether the relationship will last or result in divorce. This fact was discovered in a 2012 study completed by a researcher at Kansas State University. In light of this information, many couples are making it a priority to discuss finances before entering into marriage.

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