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DuPage County Divorce LawyerSavvy investors often buy one or more real estate properties. They rent the properties to tenants and receive rental income. While rental properties are a great way to earn passive income, addressing real estate property during a divorce is often complex. Many landlords are unsure of how rental properties will be dealt with during their divorce. If you or your spouse own one or more rental homes, speak to a divorce lawyer for help.

Real Estate Property Ownership Rights

There are two main types of assets in an Illinois divorce. Marital assets are those assets acquired during the marriage. Separate assets are assets that a person owned before getting married, property acquired through inheritance, and property acquired through gift. If an asset is considered marital property, both spouses have a right to a share of the asset’s value. If an asset is non-marital, it belongs solely to the spouse who originally obtained the asset.

Unfortunately, classifying property as marital or non-marital is not always as straightforward as it may seem. For example, a rental property that a spouse owned prior to getting married may become marital property if both spouses contribute to property taxes and maintenance costs.  

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerEnding a marriage means addressing several complicated issues, including marital property division and child-related concerns. Divorcing spouses in Illinois may use an alternative resolution method called mediation to discuss divorce issues and reach a resolution. Many people find that mediation allows them to avoid litigation and reach an out-of-court agreement that both spouses are happy with. However, mediation will only be successful if both spouses are committed to resolving disputes and willing to put in the effort needed to do so.

Determine What You Are and Are Not Willing to Compromise On

Divorce mediation almost always requires spouses to compromise on various issues. Before you start mediation, take some time to consider your priorities. What matters the most to you with regard to financial and child-related issues? What are you willing to give up? For example, you may be completely unwilling to consider a custody agreement that gives your spouse sole custody, but you are open to shared custody options. Maybe you are willing to move out of the shared marital residence, but you cannot bear to part with certain sentimental items or family heirlooms.

Be Realistic About Your Needs and Capabilities

Before you insist on certain divorce terms, make sure you have the logistical and financial capabilities to follow through with those terms. For example, many people fight to keep the house during divorce, but later realize that the house is way too much responsibility for one person to manage on their own.

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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyDivorcing spouses without children can walk away from the relationship after their divorce is complete. Even if they are subject to spousal support orders or other court orders, they are not forced to interact with each other the way divorcing spouses with children are forced to interact.

In a high-conflict divorce case involving children, parents are often unable to work together to raise children through a cooperative co-parenting relationship. Parallel parenting may offer an opportunity for high-conflict parents to reduce interaction and mitigate conflict while prioritizing their child’s best interests.

Restricting Communication to Reduce Conflict

Research shows that conflict between parents has a profound effect on children’s development and wellbeing. Being exposed to parental arguments increases a child’s risk of developing depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues. Studies have found that high-conflict homes can even lead to reduced cognitive performance. Parallel parenting seeks to reduce the conflict between divorcing or divorced parents by reducing the amount of interaction between the parents.

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DuPage County Parental Visitation LawyerIn Illinois, physical custody of a child is called “parenting time.” When a parent has concerns about a child’s safety with the other parent, he or she may ask the court to impose certain parenting time restrictions. For example, a parent may request that the other parent’s parenting time be supervised by a third party. This is sometimes called “supervised visitation.”

If your child’s other parent or another party is seeking to restrict your parenting time, contact a child custody lawyer for legal advice and support specific to your situation.

When Can the Court Limit a Parent’s Parenting Time?

Illinois law presumes that both parents are capable of providing a safe, loving environment for their children. The court only restricts parenting time if the court finds that unrestricted parenting time would “seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”

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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyIn any divorce case, there are important financial issues to be determined. The spouses' assets and debts will need to be identified, classified, valued, and divided. Spouses may also be subject to child support and spousal support obligations.

If you are getting divorced, you may have questions about how your money and property will be dealt with. Specifically, you may wonder whether assets you received through inheritance are subject to division. Typically, inheritance is not divided between spouses in an Illinois divorce. However, as with many financial concerns during divorce, the answer is not always this straightforward.  

Marital Versus Non-Marital Property

In Illinois, property in a divorce falls into one of two categories: marital property and non-marital property. Marital property belongs to both spouses while non-marital property only belongs to one spouse. Typically, any asset or debt that a spouse earns during the marriage is classified as marital property. However, inheritance is an exception to this rule.

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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyBeing a stepparent can be challenging. However, it can also be deeply rewarding. Many times, a stepmom or stepdad becomes an essential figure in a child's life, acting as if he or she was the child's biological parent. However, stepparents do not have the same rights as biological parents. For example, if a stepparent divorces the child's biological parent, the stepparent has to no right to parenting time with the child. For this reason and many others, some stepparents choose to legally adopt their stepchildren.

Stepparent Adoption When the other Parent Consents

The law says that children can only have two legal parents or guardians. If you want to adopt your stepchild and both of the child's biological parents are still living, one of the parents will need to relinquish his or her parental rights. In some cases, biological parents see that stepparent adoption is in their child's best interests. They fully cooperate with the adoption and willingly relinquish their own parental rights so that the stepparent can become the child's legal parent. If a biological parent agrees to the adoption, the stepparent adoption process is relatively straightforward. However, some parents refuse to give up their parental rights to allow the adoption to occur, even if this is in the child's best interests.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

If a child's biological parent will not give up his or her parental rights and consent to the adoption, there is still another legal avenue available. Illinois courts have the right to sever a parent's parental rights against their will in certain cases. However, the court will need ample evidence that the parent is "unfit" before terminating parental rights. A parent may be judged as unfit due to:

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerIf you are engaged to be married, congratulations! Marriage can be a wonderful way to formalize a committed relationship. However, marriage is not without financial risk. One way married individuals can mitigate the financial risks associated with marriage and protect their financial future is by creating a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more popular, especially among millennials. In a study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, over 60 percent of the lawyers surveyed noticed an increased number of engaged couples seeking prenups. The increase is not surprising given the significant benefits associated with prenuptial agreements for both spouses in a marriage.

Top Benefits of Utilizing a Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements, or prenups, are often misunderstood. These legal tools are not only useful for extremely wealthy couples. They provide benefits for married individuals of all ages, lifestyles, and income levels. Prenuptial agreements can provide benefits including:

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyDivorced parents and parents who never married are often subject to child support orders. Child support is a method for splitting the cost of raising a child between parents who are no longer together and ensures that the child will receive financial support from both parents. In 2016, Illinois changed the way child support is calculated. The amount that a parent pays is now based on both parents' net incomes, not just the paying parent's net income. Lawmakers changed the child support calculation method in order to ensure that child support obligations are fair and reasonable, given both parents' financial circumstances.

Before the court can calculate child support, parents must disclose all forms of income to the court. Unfortunately, some parents fail to disclose the income they earned "under the table." How can parents get a fair child support order if a parent receives cash income and fails to disclose it?

Failure to Disclose All Forms of Income is Illegal

Illinois parents involved in a divorce or child support case are required to disclose details about their financial resources, assets, and debts. However, some parents falsify financial information with the hope of reducing their child support obligation or increasing the child support they receive from the other parent. Failing to disclose all forms of income is unethical and unlawful. The court expects honesty, and parents who lie about their income can face contempt of court charges.

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyChildcare, medical expenses, afterschool tutoring, clothes, and groceries are just some of the many child-related expenses parents must manage. When a child is disabled, there are often additional expenses including specialized medical care and educational serves. If your child has an intellectual disability such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, fragile X syndrome, or down syndrome, you may be able to extend the length of time that you receive child support from your child’s other parent.

Understanding the Cost of Intellectual Disabilities  

Parents of children with disabilities often face a unique set of challenges both personally and financially. Raising neurotypical children is already expensive, but children with disabilities often require special medical care, therapy, educational services, and caregiving. The organization Autism Speaks estimates that the average lifetime cost of these services for a person with an intellectual disability is $1.4 to $2.4 million. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and other programs may help mitigate costs, however, government assistance is often not enough to cover all of these expenses.

Child Support May Be Extended When a Child is Disabled

Typically, Illinois child support orders last until the child turns 18 years old, graduates high school, and becomes an adult. If the child attends college, the support may be extended through his or her undergraduate degree. Children without disabilities are expected to get a job and support themselves upon reaching adulthood. However, children with intellectual disabilities may not reach this same level of financial independence.

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Wheaton Hidden Assets Divorce LawyerThe cryptocurrency finance market has grown quickly in the last few years. What was once a niche investment that many assumed would be a waste of money has now become mainstream. As more and more people invest in cryptocurrency and NFTs, these assets are increasingly used as vehicles for hiding money in a divorce. Divorcing individuals deserve a fair share of the marital estate – including a fair share of any digital currencies. If you are getting divorced and you believe your spouse is hiding assets using crypto or NFTs, contact an experienced divorce lawyer for help.

Cryptocurrency May Be Used to Shield Assets from Division During Divorce

When spouses divorce, they can either negotiate an agreement about how to divide assets and debts or allow the court to decide for them. When the court divides assets, each spouse receives an equitable, or fair, share of property based on the spouses’ current financial circumstances, future earning capacity, and other factors.

However, some spouses try to manipulate asset division in their favor by failing to disclose all of their property. Cryptocurrency is not held in a bank like traditional currency. Its elusive nature makes it an increasingly popular vehicle for hiding assets during a divorce.  

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerThe term “narcissist” technically refers to an individual with narcissistic personality disorder. However, the term may also refer to someone with narcissistic traits who has not been officially diagnosed with any mental health conditions. No divorce is easy, but narcissists often make the process of divorce much harder than it has to be. If you suspect that your spouse is a narcissist, your divorce may be frustrating and complicated. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Signs Your Spouse is a Narcissist

Many narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They usually need a great deal of attention and admiration from others. Individuals with narcissistic tendencies may also lack empathy or sympathy towards others. Many people married to narcissists are initially charmed by their partner’s words and behavior. Your spouse may have been kind and loving when you were dating but then changed once you got married. Narcissists are often intelligent and manipulative. They may use gaslighting, intimidation, and psychological tricks to get what they want.

Protecting Yourself Financially, Emotionally, and Legally

If the traits listed above describe your spouse, it is very important that you prioritize your own safety and wellbeing during your divorce. Work with a skilled divorce lawyer who has experience in high-conflict divorce cases. If your spouse becomes violent or engages in stalking behaviors, get an order of protection immediately. Divorce can take months or even years in some cases.  You may also want to petition the court for temporary relief orders for child support or spousal support, so you have the financial support you need during this time.

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerDeciding to get divorced is often just the start of a long, complicated process. Many people embarking on a divorce feel overwhelmed and confused. There are so many factors to consider and countless questions to answer. Fortunately, you do not have to face divorce alone. A skilled divorce lawyer can explain all of your options and help you take the next steps.

What is a Contested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce occurs when spouses agree on all the terms of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and spousal support. A contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot reach an agreement on one or more issues. For example, the couple may agree on how to share parenting time and parental responsibilities but not how to divide marital property.

Can I Avoid a Contested Divorce?

Some couples are able to reach an agreement on all of the divorce issues without litigation. Alternative resolution methods like mediation may help the couple resolve their disagreements and come to a compromise. The spouses’ lawyers may also be able to negotiate on the spouses’ behalf and help them reach an agreement. Unfortunately, a contested divorce is sometimes unavoidable.

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DuPage County Parenting Time LawyerSupervised visitation is a step short of cutting off a person’s parental rights entirely. It is used when having some contact with the noncustodial parent is still in the child’s best interest, but leaving the child alone with that parent would put the child in some type of danger. In supervised visitation, the noncustodial parent still gets some parenting time, however, they will be supervised by a trusted third party at all times when their child is present. This solution is not used very frequently, but it is an option in some cases. If you believe that your child’s other parent cannot safely be left alone with your child, your lawyer may recommend asking the court to allow only supervised visitation. 

When is Supervised Visitation Used?

Under Illinois law, supervised visitation can be ordered when unsupervised “visitation would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.” The parent asking for supervised visitation must prove that the other parent would endanger the child in some way. It may be used if one parent is engaged in criminal activity, is abusive towards the child or other parent in any way, or has a serious mental illness or substance abuse problem. It can also be ordered if the other parent is in a romantic relationship with an individual who poses a risk of harm to the child. 

Simply having a criminal record does not suffice unless the nature of the crime suggests that the parent could be a danger to the child. Simply having a mental illness is not sufficient either unless it is severe and unmanaged. A hearing must be held and the judge will review the evidence before making a determination.

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerIn order to make sure that marital assets are divided fairly, it is important to know what each major asset is worth. Without knowing exactly what each asset is worth, there is a risk that the court will inadvertently leave one party in a much better position than the other. The process of valuing marital assets can be tricky. Some assets, like stock portfolios and investments, tend to fluctuate in value, sometimes rapidly. Other assets can be hard to arrive at an agreed-upon value to. In many cases, professional appraisals are necessary. If you are going through a divorce where valuation may be necessary, it is important that you work with an attorney who has experience with the appraisal and valuation process.

What Marital Assets May Need Valuation?

Which specific assets need to be appraised or otherwise valued really depends on what types of property you own. Spouses who were only married for a short time and have not acquired much in the way of joint property–especially if they are renting and do not own a home–may be able to bypass this process. However, those who have been married for a long time and have a good amount of assets together are much more likely to need to bring in a third-party professional. 

Marital assets that may need to be professionally valued include: 

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerNo one should be afraid to leave their marriage because they do not know how they will support themselves without their spouse. This fear of financial instability has kept quite a few people trapped in marriages that are no longer working. Spouses who have given up a career or educational opportunities in order to stay home and devote themselves to raising children or maintaining a household may have a difficult time getting back into the workforce. Alimony–now called spousal maintenance–was created to mitigate this problem. Spousal maintenance is not available for every married person who gets divorced, so it is important to consult a lawyer to find out whether you may qualify before making any moves. 

What do People Who are Considering Divorce Need to Know About Alimony?

When you are planning to leave your marriage, it is important to have a plan in place to protect your financial stability. This is of particular importance for those who did not work for pay during the marriage. Some critical information about spousal maintenance in Illinois you may need to be aware of includes: 

  • Duration - Spousal maintenance is often impermanent. If your marriage lasted less than five years, you are only eligible to receive payments for 20% of the duration of your marriage - for some, this could be as little as a few months. However, if you were married for more than 20 years, you can receive alimony for the same amount of time that you were married. 

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Wheaton Child Custody LawyerIn the vast majority of cases, judges in Illinois will award both a child’s parents some parenting time. One parent may make their home the child’s primary residence, but the other is very likely to enjoy part-time custody. The reasoning is that it is usually in a child’s best interest to receive love, guidance, and emotional support from two parents instead of one. However, there are cases where spending time with one particular parent would actually be harmful to the child. In these rare cases, Illinois courts will award parenting time and decision-making rights (parental responsibility) to one parent alone.

If you believe that your child would be mentally or physically unsafe with their other parent, it is important to work closely with an experienced attorney. It can be difficult to convince a court that sole custody is appropriate. 

In What Situation Would the Court Award Sole Custody?

It is not uncommon for one parent to demand sole custody primarily to spite the other parent during a contentious divorce or split. This strategy is rarely effective - the court will want proof that spending time with the other parent would not be in the child’s interest. Courts will consider awarding sole custody only in situations like: 

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DuPage County Child Custody LawyerChild custody proceedings can be nerve-wracking for parents. You may be worried about who will be given primary custody and how much time you will be able to spend with your children. In most cases - although certainly not all - both parents will be awarded some parenting time. A child’s upbringing is critically important. Courts do not take these decisions lightly. There are a number of factors that must be considered before judges will decide on the child’s living arrangements. If you are anticipating child custody proceedings, you will want to be represented by a qualified family law attorney. 

What Factors Does the Court Consider When Making Custody Decisions?

There is a list of factors that a judge will take into consideration before deciding who children will live with and what type of visitation schedule is appropriate. None of these factors alone is the deciding factor. Rather, the factors are considered together as a whole. These factors include:

  • Wishes - Both the wishes of the parents and the wishes of the children are considered. The children’s wishes are given weight depending on the children’s age, maturity, and education. 

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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyThere are quite a few alternatives to divorce litigation available these days. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can choose options like collaborative divorce or mediation. Divorce litigation is typically a last resort option when either alternative solutions have failed or your spouse absolutely will not cooperate. Reaching an agreement rather than taking your divorce case to court offers quite a few benefits. Unfortunately, there are some cases where you have no choice but to litigate. If you are going through a divorce, an attorney can help you understand what your options are and choose the one that is right for you in your situation. 

What Are the Benefits of Settling a Divorce Out of Court?

Most modern divorces are resolved without litigation. In the majority of divorce cases, your attorney is likely to steer you towards mediation, or attempt to negotiate with your spouse. Avoiding litigation offers advantages like:

  • Cost - Divorce litigation can become extremely expensive. In most cases, both you and your spouse will ultimately save money by keeping your divorce out of court, even if it means making a few compromises. The more conflict there is and the more hearings you need, the more your divorce is likely to cost. 

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerOnce you have separated from or divorced your children’s other parent, you would probably like to be free to live your own life. This may include relocating. However, if you have parenting time (physical custody) of your children even part-time, moving may not be as simple as you would like. A number of circumstances may mean that relocating is the right move for your family. Perhaps you were offered a better-paying job elsewhere, or you need to be geographically closer to extended relatives, such as your children’s grandparents. Maybe the area you used to live in with your co-parent simply holds too many bad memories. There are plenty of valid reasons for wanting to move with your children. 

Before you start packing, you may want to speak with a child custody lawyer who can help make sure the court will be alright with your move. There may be legally required steps you need to take first. 

Rules Illinois Parents Should Be Aware of Before Moving With Children

The exact steps you need to take before moving with your children will depend on a number of factors. In some cases, you may need to come to court. In others, you may not. If you are the biological mother and do not have a court case involving your children, you can most likely relocate without taking any further steps as long as your child has resided with you for the last six consecutive months. However, be careful - if the other parent files a case, you will need to come back to handle it. You could be ordered to bring your child back to Illinois. 

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Wheaton Divorce LawyersHaving a spouse who is “bad with money” can be tricky. It can even lead to divorce. Dissipation of marital assets is more than being bad with money. It refers to one spouse–unilaterally, without the other’s agreement0–spending a large amount of marital funds recklessly on things that do not benefit the marriage. This type of money-wasting behavior often leads to debt, problems with credit scores, or difficulty paying routine expenses. It can also prompt the more financially responsible spouse to file for divorce out of frustration and a need to protect themselves. Dissipation can become a major factor during the division of assets. 

If you believe that your spouse’s reckless spending amounts to dissipation, it is important to work with a divorce attorney who may be able to help you recover some of the funds your spouse dissipated during the divorce. 

What Are Some Examples of Spending That Amount to Dissipation?

First, it is important to note that dissipation refers to the squandering of funds by one spouse without the agreement or participation of the other. If both spouses engage in this type of spending together, it will not be considered dissipation for the purposes of asset division during a divorce action. Additionally, this spending must happen at a point when the marriage is in an “irretrievable breakdown.” Generally, this means that even if no one has filed for divorce yet, it should be on the radar. 

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