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Wheaton Parenting Time LawyerInitial Post: June 19, 2015 --------- Updated January 18, 2022

When unmarried parents have a child or married parents divorce, the parents have several important decisions to make. They must address how they plan to raise the child and fulfill parenting duties. They must also determine if and when the child will live with each parent. 

While the term “child custody” is still sometimes used informally, Illinois law no longer uses the terms joint custody and full custody to describe parenting duties. In 2022, the “allocation of parental responsibilities” describes how major decisions about the child’s life are made. “Parenting time” describes the time a child lives with or visits a parent. 

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DuPage County Parenting Time AttorneyIn most cases, In Illinois, what used to be called “visitation” is referred to as “parenting time.” Similarly, “child custody” is called the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Courts always make decisions about the allocation of parenting time and responsibilities based on what is in the child’s best interests. In most cases, children benefit from unrestricted access to both of their parents. However, issues such as addiction and domestic violence can make a parent’s home unsafe for children. Fortunately, Illinois provides several different options for restricting parenting time.

Situations in Which Restricted Parenting Time May Be Ordered

Illinois courts will only limit a parent’s rights in extreme circumstances. Some of the most common reasons for restricted parenting time include:

  • The parent has been convicted of domestic violence-related charges

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DuPage County Premarital Agreement AttorneyAs a business owner, the way you make a living differs from a typical “9 to 5” job. The business is more than just a source of income, it is a long-term investment that you have probably poured your heart and soul into. Protecting your business is crucial. This is one reason many business owners and entrepreneurs choose to sign a prenuptial agreement when they get married.

Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement for Business Owners

If you are getting married, you may be interested in learning more about the benefits of a prenuptial agreement or “prenup.” These legal tools are becoming increasingly popular for a number of reasons. Most importantly, a prenup protects business assets in the event of divorce. The divorce rate hovers around 40-50 percent, so preparing for this possibility is important for any engaged person.

In Illinois, equitable distribution laws require courts to divide marital property equitably or fair with regard to the spouses’ circumstances in a divorce. Businesses that were established during the marriage are usually non-marital property not subject to division. However, many different situations can cause a business to be considered either partially or fully marital property. For example, the non-owner spouse may be entitled to a share of the business’s value if he or she contributed time, money, or labor to the business. Through your prenuptial agreement, you can identify the business as non-marital property which is separate from the marital estate. Alternatively, you can establish each spouse’s share of the business interests and liabilities. You can also designate how any appreciation in the business’s value should be divided upon divorce. Doing this in advance can simplify divorce proceedings considerably.

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Wheaton Dissolution of Marriage AttorneyIf you have recently decided to get divorced, you may be unsure of what to expect. Most people have little to no experience in legal matters when they enter into the divorce process. Understandably, it can seem overwhelming. One way to prepare yourself for divorce is to learn the basic steps typically in the divorce process. Although divorce generally follows the same general sequence of events, special circumstances can change the divorce process considerably. For advice and information catered to your situation, contact a skilled divorce lawyer.  

How to Get a Divorce in DuPage County

No two divorces are exactly the same. However, the basic steps in the divorce process are as follows:

  • Filing for divorce - In the state of Illinois, divorce is technically called “dissolution of marriage.” The dissolution process begins with a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.” The spouse who files the petition and initiates the process is the petitioner. The other spouse is the respondent. Illinois is now a no-fault state which means that you will not need to explain the specific reasons you are seeking a divorce.  You must only assert that “irreconcilable differences” have led to the relationship’s failure.

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DuPage County Divorce Mediation LawyersDivorce mediation is an alternative resolution method available to Illinois residents getting divorced. In some situations, the court requires a couple to attend mediation. Although it is not appropriate in every circumstance, many divorcing couples have reached agreements about unresolved divorce matters through mediation. Read on to learn what to expect during the mediation process and how mediation may benefit you. 

Understanding the Mediation Process

To get divorced, couples may need to address the division of marital property, child custody, spousal maintenance, and several other issues. Reaching an agreement on these issues outside of court is usually preferable to divorce litigation. However, many divorcing spouses struggle to discuss divorce concerns in a practical, productive manner. Understandably, years of pent-up frustration and anger can interfere with the spouses’ attempts to resolve outstanding divorce issues.  This is where a mediator can help.

A mediator’s job is to act as a neutral third party during divorce negotiations and discussions. The mediator does not tell the couple what to do or how to resolve divorce concerns. Instead, he or she empowers the couple to reach their own conclusions. Mediators are trained in conflict resolution, effective communication techniques, and de-escalation tactics. They use these skills to help couples find practical solutions to unresolved divorce issues. 

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerWhen a couple gets married, they have high hopes of building a life together. Few ever consider that the marriage may not work out. Unfortunately, people change, and marriages sometimes end. If your marriage has turned sour, you may want to get divorced.

Divorce is a legal process involving both spouses. Consequently, you may wonder if you can get divorced even if your spouse refuses to cooperate or sign the paperwork. The answer is, “Yes,” however, the divorce process may be challenging both personally and legally.

Spouses May Try to Block a Divorce

Some spouses cannot accept that their marriage is over. They believe that the marriage is still salvageable and that divorce is the wrong move. This can be extremely frustrating for the spouse seeking a divorce. If you have found yourself in this situation, you should know that you have options. Your spouse cannot deny you a divorce. However, he or she can drag out the process and make it more difficult than it needs to be. An experienced divorce lawyer can be a tremendous asset in a situation like this.

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyAs a parent, it can be extremely frustrating when your ability to make decisions about your children is limited. However, laws about child relocations and moving a child out of state during a divorce ultimately exist to protect children.

If you are in the middle of a divorce and you share children with your spouse, it is important to understand the laws regarding child relocations and out-of-state vacations. If you want to take your child out of the state or out of the country, you will most likely need permission from the other parent. If you wish to move with your child to a new residence, you may need permission if the move counts as a “relocation.” Illinois law considers a move a relocation if:

You move from a home in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County, Will County, or McHenry County to a new residence that is over 25 miles away or outside of Illinois.

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerDuring a divorce case, divorcing spouses have the right to negotiate divorce issues and reach an agreement. If they cannot reach an agreement, the court will step in and make a determination on the unresolved issues for the couple. These decisions are formalized in the final divorce decree.

The terms of the divorce decree are legally binding for both spouses. However, the only thing certain in life is change, and sometimes the terms of the divorce must be modified. Read on to learn about post-decree modifications in Illinois and what you should do if you need to modify the terms of your divorce.   

Modifying Property Distribution

One of the most consequential aspects of a divorce case is the division of the spouses’ assets and debts. Property must be identified as either marital or nonmarital, accurately valued, and distributed between the spouses. Typically, property division settlements and judgments are not adjustable once the final divorce decree has been issued. However, there may be exceptions to this in rare cases.  

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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyEnding a marriage is never easy. However, some spouses make the divorce process especially difficult. A spouse may refuse to sign divorce paperwork, fail to show up for mediation sessions, insist on unreasonable divorce terms, or take other antagonistic actions. Some spouses go so far as to literally hide from divorce proceedings. Spouses may leave the state or even leave the country, making it nearly impossible for the petitioner to serve them with divorce papers. If you cannot locate your spouse and you want to divorce, do not panic. You still have the right to get divorced. However, you will need to take specific steps to do so.

Illinois Divorce and Missing Spouses

Typically, when an individual files for divorce, the respondent is served with the divorce petition in person or through certified mail. However, if you do not know where your spouse is, you may be unable to do this. Fortunately, Illinois law offers an alternative. If you cannot locate your spouse, you may be able to get a divorce by publication. You will make your intentions known by publishing a notice of the divorce petition in your local newspaper. However, you can only use this option after making genuine attempts to locate your spouse. If you wish to seek a divorce by publication, you will need to submit an affidavit declaring that you made a good faith effort to find your spouse.

When attempting to locate your spouse, you may need to:

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Wheaton Divorce AttorneyDivorce can have a massive financial impact on both parties. Many divorcing spouses worry about how they will pay their bills without their spouse’s financial support. Alimony, called spousal maintenance in Illinois law, provides an opportunity for financial relief. However, spousal maintenance is only available in certain situations. If you are getting divorced and you or your spouse is interested in pursuing spousal maintenance, an experienced family law attorney can give you advice customized to your circumstances.

Spousal Maintenance Entitlement

Spousal maintenance recipients have traditionally been women, however, Illinois spousal maintenance law makes no distinction between men and women. A spouse may qualify for spousal maintenance if:

  • The spouses signed an agreement such as a prenuptial agreement that determines spousal maintenance arrangements.

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Wheaton Family Law and Divorce lawyer

The issue of child custody can be quite contentious. Understandably, parents want the best for their children. When parents, grandparents, or other guardians disagree about what is best for the children, the situation can escalate quickly. In many child custody disputes, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to the case. The GAL’s job is to advocate for the child’s best interests. If a guardian ad litem has been assigned to your case, consider the following tips.

Prioritize Your Child’s Wellbeing

It goes without saying that divorce, child custody cases, and other family law cases can be quite difficult for children. Younger children may not understand what is going on and therefore reach the conclusion that they have done something wrong. Older children who understand the legal issues may feel awkward and unsure of how to respond. Keeping child-related schedules and routines as consistent as possible can help reduce the chaos brought into the child’s life during this time. It is also important to avoid sharing too much information with the children about the specifics of the case.

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Naperville Divorce lawyer

About 70 percent of U.S. women change their last name to their spouse’s last name when they get married. Some men also decide to change their last name to their spouse’s last name upon marriage. For many, this tradition is an important sign of love and commitment. When a marriage ends, however, the name may no longer reflect the current reality. Many divorcing spouses wish to change their name back to what it was before they were married but they have questions about how the process works.    

Do I Have to Change My Name When I Get Divorced?

Not everyone wishes to revert to their maiden name after a divorce. For many, their name is an important part of their identity. Your name may have significant personal value to you – even if you share it with someone you are divorcing. You may also want to keep your married name so you can have the same name as your children.

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Naperville Family Law attorneys child support lawyer

Divorce terminates a marriage. Once a couple is divorced, they are free to marry others. There is no reversing a divorce. Legal separation does not end a marriage, but it can provide important legal protections to spouses who have stopped living together.

Illinois law allows couples to separate and address many of the same issues that they would address during divorce while still remaining married. Legal separation is much less common than divorce, however, it may be preferred over divorce in some situations.   

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Naperville divorce attorneys child support lawyer

Understandably, nearly every divorce involves a certain degree of contention. Divorcing spouses may harbor guilt, resentment, frustration, anger, and grief over the end of the relationship. These intense emotions can make it even harder for spouses to cooperate during a divorce. However, some divorce cases are more contentious than others. If your ex is refusing to sign divorce papers, discuss divorce issues like property division, or allocation of parental responsibilities, you may be unsure of what to do. Read on to learn about Illinois divorce law and how to handle a non-cooperative spouse in an Illinois divorce.

Can I Get a Divorce if My Ex Will Not Participate?

If you are like many people in this situation, you may wonder if it is possible to get divorced without the other spouse’s participation. Can a spouse delay the divorce inevitably by refusing to sign the divorce paperwork? Fortunately, it is possible to get divorced even if your spouse tries to prevent the divorce.

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wheaton child support lawyerWhen parents decide to end their relationship, including through divorce, legal separation, or the breakup of an unmarried couple, they will want to make sure their children will have everything they need to grow up successfully. In addition to addressing issues related to child custody and making sure both parents can maintain close relationships with their children, parents will also need to address matters related to child support. This form of financial support ensures that both parents will regularly contribute to meeting their children’s needs. Parents will need to understand how their financial obligations toward their children are determined and what types of child-related expenses will need to be addressed.

Calculating Child Support Payments

Since 2017, the state of Illinois has used an “income-sharing” calculation for child support obligations. The state’s laws provide guidelines for how child support payments are calculated. These calculations begin by determining a “basic child support obligation” using a table that specifies the amount that a married couple at the same income level as the parents in question would usually pay on a monthly basis to provide for their children’s basic needs. This table will provide the appropriate amount of support based on a couple’s combined income and number of children.

Each parent will be required to pay a certain percentage of the basic child support obligation based on the percentage of the combined income they earn. For example, if both parents earn the same amount annually, the basic child support obligation would be divided equally between them. If children will be living with one parent the majority of the time, this parent will be presumed to use their income directly to provide for their children’s needs. The other parent will make regular child support payments to the custodial parent. In cases where children live with each parent for equal or near-equal amounts of time, Illinois law provides additional guidelines to calculate the amount of each parent’s obligation based on their percentage of parenting time.

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

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

The First Step is Having Your Assets Professionally Valued

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

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

Illinois Laws Regarding Civil Lawsuits Against Boyfriends and Girlfriends

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

Recouping Funds Lost During an Affair

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

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

Prenuptial Agreements Are Increasingly Popular Among Younger Couples

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

A Prenup Can Protect Your Property Rights if You Divorce

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

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

The Court May Consider the Child’s Preferences

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

Child Interviews in an Illinois Divorce or Child Custody Case

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

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

Changing the Allocation of Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

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

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

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