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DuPage County family law attorneys, child's best interests, Illinois lawIn 2016, a number of changes were implemented to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act—changes that cover divorce and child custody issues. One of the sections that was overhauled deals with the allocation of parental responsibilities as they relate to decision-making.

In general, the law provides that the court will determine these obligations according to the child’s best interests and it enumerates a total of 15 factors that a judge should consider when making a decision. Because the law deletes a few sections from the prior one, and incorporates new criteria, it is worth taking a look at the seven new provisions for allocating parental responsibilities in Illinois.

Cooperation

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DuPage County family law attorneys, spousal maintenanceThere are several matters that a court will determine during the divorce process in Illinois, and spousal maintenance is among the top issues that a judge will decide. The term spousal maintenance refers to the financial support that one ex-spouse pays to the other, commonly known as “alimony.”

The first consideration that a court will review is whether spousal maintenance is appropriate under the circumstances; Illinois law lists a number of different factors to weigh, including income, earning capacity, property, and duration of the marriage.

One point that is often hotly contested is when one spouse’s role is focused primarily on domestic duties during the marriage. Two factors under the Illinois divorce statute speak to exactly this type of situation.

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What Can We Include in an Illinois Prenuptial Agreement?If you are thinking about getting married and you and your spouse are considering signing a prenuptial agreement, you may be curious as to what you can and cannot include under Illinois law. Theoretically, you can put anything you want in there, but Illinois will only recognize the parts that they allow and, depending on the circumstances, going too far afield may call the entire document into question. If you are thinking about a prenuptial agreement you should talk to a skilled prenuptial agreement attorney to make sure that the agreement will be upheld and also that your rights are protected.

Illinois Law

Prenuptial agreements in Illinois are governed under the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Courts often prefer prenuptial agreements because it makes property division much easier.

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Illinois Supreme Court Rules On Unmarried Property DivisionThe Chicago Tribune reported on a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision regarding property division after cohabitating couples break up. This case was about a lesbian couple who had been together for over 25 years but had recently broken up. The two were never married. The court ruled that the couple was not entitled to the same property division protections that a married couple would have access to.

This Case

This case was brought by Ellen Brewer who was with her partner Dr. Jane Blumenthal for 26 years. They lived together and raised a child together. The couple split up in 2008 before gay marriage was legal in Illinois. The controversy centered around the dividing up of assets after the split. Ms. Brewer says that she gave Dr. Blumenthal the money to buy into the practice she is part owner of and therefore should get a portion of the assets when the business is sold. The court held that because the couple was not married, Ms. Brewer does not get the benefit of a marital type property claim.

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Illinois Juvenile Justice Advocates Want Less Shackles Used During CourtThe Chicago Tribune recently reported on a hearing that took place in front of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee. The committee heard testimony from juvenile justice advocates who were pushing for reform of the rules around juveniles being forced to wear arm and leg shackles during court in some counties.

Current Policy

At this time, there is no statewide policy in Illinois about whether and when shackles should be used on defendants in juvenile court actions. However, there are very specific guidelines for when shackles are used for adult criminal defendants in court. Right now, each country makes their own rules about when it is appropriate for juveniles to be shackled in court. In DuPage County, whose juvenile defendants are heard in Kane County, the judge has the discretion to require shackles to be used or not.

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DuPage County family lawyers, invalid and Prohibited MarriagesMarriage laws vary by state, but all states prohibit some kinds of marriages. Some people start the divorce process only to find out that their marriage is actually invalid. Conversely, a couple may want to marry but later find out that they cannot. It is important to understand the laws in Illinois and what marriages are prohibited.

Invalidity and Prohibition

In Illinois, marriages that are not permitted are termed invalid. In order for a marriage to be declared invalid, Illinois law allows certain people to file a petition for a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage. Depending on the circumstances, certain aspects of the marriage may still apply.

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, dividing personal propertyThe Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires couples to value and divide property before a court will grant a divorce. Oftentimes, a divorcing couple is able to sit down and figure out who gets what, and divide property. Sometimes this just not possible because of a dispute, refusal to compromise, or complex issues regarding the ownership or value of property. These tedious and emotionally charged disputes can leave a divorcing couple feeling frustrated and exhausted.

Fortunately, there are several different ways you and your spouse can help expedite the process of valuing and dividing your personal property, including:

  • Having all personal property inventoried and valued at the beginning of the divorce. This is very helpful if one spouse is moving and plans to take items with them, as this helps decrease claims about missing items;
  • Drafting, finalizing and agreeing on a list of who takes what items. Doing this early on will help you both save time and avoid conflict;
  • Using a mediator to help you and your spouse agree on dividing personal property;
  • Using a random but fair system for dividing property (eg flip a coin); and/or
  • Hiring an appraiser to value the property, which can help to ensure that both spouses receive an equal share.

It may be expensive to hire an appraiser to value daily household items since the items may cost less than the cost of the appraiser’s fee. However, valuable items such as artwork and antiques should be appraised.

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, couples divorcing with teensThere is never really a good time to divorce. However, it may be especially rough for a couple that decides to divorce as their children become teenagers and young adults.

Parents will need to make important decisions regarding their teens and their divorce. If the children are closer to college age or even the planning stages, there are key issues that a couple will want to consider as well. 

Who Gets the College Savings Account?

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DuPage County paternity lawyers, paternity fraudWhen a child is born and the parents are not married, it is important for both parents to establish paternity. By establishing paternity, a child’s biological father is recognized as the legal father, with the rights and responsibility the law provides.

Under Illinois law, there are several ways to establish paternity. Unfortunately, the system may be manipulated to force a man, other than the biological father, to assume responsibility for a child.

How to Establish Paternity

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DuPage County prenuptial agreement lawyers, prenuptial agreementMany people are under the mistaken impression that prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are only for people who enter into a marriage with significant personal assets, or who stand to inherit substantial assets at a later date. While it certainly is the case that wealthy people often use prenuptial agreements to protect assets in the event of a divorce, these types of agreements can also greatly benefit people who may have more modest means. For this reason, it is very important for anyone considering getting married to discuss how a prenuptial agreement may be able to help them with an experienced lawyer.

How can prenups be beneficial? Future spouses will find that a prenuptial agreement can provide a host of different benefits.

Help avoid costly disputes in the event your marriage ends in divorce. Divorce can result in significant disputes regarding the way in which assets will be divided and whether either party will be entitled to maintenance (alimony). In the absence of an agreement, Illinois law controls the division of assets and maintenance, which may result in an arrangement that is not to your liking. In many cases, litigating these issues or even resolving them through alternative dispute resolution techniques can be extremely time-consuming and costly. By agreeing to the way these matters will be resolved via a prenup, both parties can save the expense of a dispute in the event of divorce.

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Posted on in Visitation

DuPage County child custody attorneys, grandchildren of divorceOften times divorcing couples focus on ensuring that they continue to cultivate strong relationships with their children during and after a divorce. They work with the courts and their lawyers to carefully develop parenting and timesharing plans. However, there is another important relationship that may be negatively impacted by divorce: the grandparent and grandchild relationship. 

A divorce rearranges the relationship between the divorcing couple and may also dissolve the relationship between the divorcing spouse and his or her in-laws. A divorce may leave the bad feelings between former in-laws and ex-spouses. Oftentimes, the negative feelings that may develop during a divorce are expressed, intentionally or unintentionally, when grandparents interact with their grandchild. It is important that ex-spouses maintain cordial relationships with each other and it is also important for grandparents to respect their former daughter or son-in law for the benefit of their grandchildren.

If you have a difficult relationship with your former in-law, Illinois law gives you the right to petition for visitation. However before taking this action, it may be useful to take a few steps to cultivate a healthy relationship with your grandchildren and former in-laws:

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Posted on in Paternity

DuPage County parentage attorneys, paternity acknowledgementIn Illinois, if parents are not married when their child is born, then they must establish the child’s paternity if they wish to establish certain rights between the child and the father. There are a number of ways to establish paternity for a child. The easiest method to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form.

In some cases, however, parents may sign the form, yet later on wish to revoke their signature, for a number of reasons. If you are considering signing or revoking a VAP, it is important to understand the legal ramifications that go along with these actions and prepare yourself for the process. 

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

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DuPage County child support lawyers, child support orderWhen a couple decides to divorce or separate, they have to figure out issues regarding their children. Of course, a child’s primary residency and child support payments are both critical issues. The dissolution of a marriage creates a new family dynamic for the parents and their child. These dynamics will continue to change over time. It is possible that the parent responsible for paying child support may need to request a modification to child support. As family dynamics change, parents should understand how a court will examine a request to modify a child support order.

Determining Child Support

When a divorce is finalized and a support order is appropriate, then a court will follow guidelines provided by Illinois law to determine how much child support a parent should pay. Typically, the non-custodial parent will pay support. The amount of support will be based on his or her net income, the number of children supported, and other factors the court finds relevant. 

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DuPage county divorce attorneys, changing a name after divorceChanging your name can be the last step in completing a divorce, and it may even assist you in leaving behind the emotional difficulty of the divorce as you shed your former identity. However, after the emotional turmoil, it may be difficult to give up a name. Still, it does not have to be done immediately. You can legally change your name after a divorce when it works best for you.

Depending on your circumstances, you may want to maintain your name for professional reasons or to help your children cope better with the divorce. Whatever your reason, you can change your name at the best time for you and your family once a divorce is finalized. 

Steps for Changing Your Name

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DuPage County family law attorneys, long term supportParents who have a disabled or special needs child understand the complexity of ensuring adequate care for their child. A divorce adds to the complexity of this issue both financially and emotionally. Whenever possible, divorcing parents should seek to develop a parenting plan and come to an agreement on long-term care for their special needs child.

Generally, child support is calculated using a formula. The court uses the net income of the non-custodial parent and the number of children supported to determine the total amount of support. In most cases, child support terminates when a child is 18. However, when a child is disabled and has special needs that require long-term care, then the court may extend child support. This is particularly true if a child has a severe disability. In these extreme cases, it is possible that the court may order child support to extend for the child’s entire life. 

Court May Order Lifelong Child Support

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Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

DuPage County family law attorneys, ending spousal support

There are several forms of spousal support, or alimony, under Illinois law. Alimony can be periodic or permanent. Alimony may also take the form of a lump-sum payment or a transfer of property. Most alimony, however, is periodic. A supporting spouse will usually make regular payments to the supported spouse for a specific period of time. If the supported spouse decides to remarry or cohabitate, alimony payments will be impacted.

Remarrying and Alimony Awards

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DuPage County family law attorney, divorce property divisionWhen you and your spouse are going through a divorce, you already anticipate the division of property and assets. However, most people fail to realize that debts are also a major part of this process. Most divorcing couples focus on who gets the house, car, or big screen television; still, they must also consider who handles the mortgage, car payments, and credit card debt. These debts might have been manageable when both spouses were paying the debt down, but it might be much more difficult to pay those debts on one's own.

Fortunately, when it comes to debts, Illinois law has certain provisions that deal with marital and non-marital debts. Under Illinois law, “Neither husband or wife shall be liable for the debts or liabilities of the other incurred before marriage, and they shall not be liable for the separate debts of each other, nor shall the wages, earnings or property of either, nor the rent or income of such property, be liable for the separate debts of the other.” Therefore, neither spouse will be liable for the debts of the other spouse. Creditors will not be able to go after assets you own when they are going after your spouse.

Exceptions to the Illinois Marital and Non-Marital Debt Provision

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DuPage County family law attorney, child support ordersIn Illinois, and in several other states, child support is paid to the custodial parent. Child support is meant to cover the bare essentials, which include the cost of food, clothing and shelter. The amount of child support you are required to pay is based on your net income and the amount of children you have.

If you are a party to a child support order, one of the many questions going through your head may be, "Can this child support order ever be modified?" Depending on the circumstances of your case, it is possible to reduce the amount of child support you are paying

Modifying the Child Support Order

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DuPage County family law attorney, domestic violenceThe determination of child custody can be a very difficult topic in both separations and divorces. However, the issue becomes more complicated when domestic violence has occurred in the household. When an order of protection is entered in a case, it severely impacts the rights of one parent. 

In order to obtain an order of protection in DuPage County, as in most other counties across Illinois, a few factors must be present. First, there needs to be some domestic relationship between you and the person you are seeking the order of protection against.  Second, there must be a history of abuse. Lastly, you need to be a resident of DuPage County in order to get an order of protection against the abuser.

If your husband, boyfriend, or family member abused you or your child, you should contact an experienced domestic violence attorney who will assist you obtaining an order of protection to ensure you and your family can live safely without the threat of violence. 

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Imputed Income for Child Support

Even though parents can and do choose to end their relationship with each other, the parental bond with their children endures. Both parents are legally obligated to support their children, even if they do not choose to maintain a relationship with them. Because of this continuing obligation, child support issues are often the most intensely contested areas during a divorce or custody proceeding.

Some parents attempt to hide income, or reduce their income by taking a lower-paying job, just to reduce the amount of child support that they are required to pay. Doing so, however, can lead to trouble with the law.

Illinois law has provided a mechanism for judges, who suspect that parents are trying to avoid their duty to pay child support, to bring parents into line. This mechanism, known as imputing income, involves assigning a higher salary to a parent than they actually earn.

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