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DuPage County divorce attorneysNo two families are the same, so it stands to reason that no two breakups are exactly alike. As such, the attorney that worked for your sister, friend, or colleague may not be the most suitable for your situation. Increases the chances that you will find the right divorce lawyer for your case by checking out the following five tips.

1. Consider the Type of Divorce You Want

Divorces used to take place in a courtroom. Today, there are numerous options for those who want to end their marriage. Litigated divorces follow the traditional path, which involves hiring lawyers, discovery, and a court date. Collaborative divorce options include a myriad of methods, including mediation and arbitration. These allow parties to work toward an amicable ending in their marriage, which may be more suitable for couples with children or high net worth.

2. Determine What You Want Most

For some couples, the main priority is ending the marriage amicably. Others focus on the cost. Still, there are those who want specific items, such as a particular asset or equal parenting time. Whatever your goal, there is an attorney who specializes in it.

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Wheaton domestic violence attorneysAccording to data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), as many as one in three women and one in four men will experience at least some level of domestic abuse in their lifetimes. Of those, one in three women and one in nine men will experience severe abuse. As alarming as these statistics are, victims can lead a normal, healthy, and functional life after a violent relationship. The first step is recognizing that there may be a problem. 

Early Signs of Domestic Violence 

Contrary to what some people may believe, abusive relationships rarely start out violent. In fact, most abusers are quite skilled at being charming, and while they may come on strong, their actions and behaviors seem loving and genuine. In time, things change and these early signs of domestic violence start to emerge, such as:

  • The abuser wrongfully accusing the victim of cheating or flirting;
  • The abuser losing their temper and throwing or breaking things;
  • The abuser attempting to impose stereotypical gender roles;
  • The abuser accusing the victim of changing and blaming their actions on this;
  • The abuser being unreasonably jealous of friends, co-workers, and other family members;
  • The abuser attempting to isolate the victim from their social circle;
  • The abuser telling the victim that everyone else is bad for them;
  • The abuser making excuses after losing their temper;
  • The abuser referring to their cruelty as a “joking;”
  • The abuser pressuring the victim into sexual activities;
  • The abuser attempting to control money, transportation, or internet and cell phone usage; or
  • The abuser going through the victim’s phone or personal belongings, looking for “evidence.” 

Signs the Abuse is Progressing 

Once the abuser has a foothold, the violence may escalate. Rather than simply yell or throw things, they may pinch, bite, shove, or slap the victim. Once the physical aspects start, the cycle becomes more vicious, often to the point that victims will do anything to avoid setting off their abuser. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersWhen it comes to protecting wealth, affluent families typically focus on matters pertaining to tax and estate laws. Unfortunately, there is another major (but often overlooked) threat to any large estate: the divorce.

Almost half of all U.S. marriages end this way, yet only a fraction of the affluent have an existing prenuptial agreement in place. In lieu of one, the estate is valued and then divided equitably among the divorcing parties. 

Unfortunately, the untangling of a marital estate can be a complex and difficult process. Foreign held assets pose even bigger challenges and greater consequences. Learn how to overcome them, and how a seasoned Illinois divorce lawyer can improve the outcome in your case. 

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Illinois parenting plan attorneysWhen parents divorce, they must prioritize what is best for their children. More often than not, this means that each parent should stay emotionally and physically involved in their child’s day-to-day life. How do you do that while living in separate households? In most cases, the details are outlined in a document known as a parenting plan

What is a Parenting Plan?

Parenting plans are legal court documents that are used to outline each parent’s roles and responsibilities as it pertains to meeting the needs of their child. 

What is Included in a Parenting Plan? 

Parenting plans cover more than just parenting time allotment. Designed to address all the needs of a child during the divorce, parenting plans cover a host of child-related issues, including:

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhether your wedding plans have been delayed by the virus or your big date is quickly approaching, now is the time to lay down financial plans and boundaries. One way to accomplish this is through a prenuptial agreement. Not just for the rich, this legal document can protect you in the event of a divorce, and encourage an open conversation about money management before you tie the knot. Still, there are some important mistakes to avoid when drafting your prenup. 

1. Being Afraid to Bring It Up

When it comes to romantic gestures, discussions about prenuptial agreements are likely the last thing to come to mind. You may even view such discussions as a threat to your impending marriage. Rest assured that a prenuptial agreement is unlikely to be the reason a would-be marriage ends. Instead, it is far more plausible to assume that the parties reached an impasse and realized they were financially incompatible. While such a discovery could be painful, it may also save you from years of heartache and a financially devastating divorce. 

Completing a prenup before your marriage could also protect your marriage from one the leading causes of divorce: arguments over financial matters. Unlike those who do not take the initiative to discuss money before marriage, you and your partner will have an agreement—a clear path to reach and achieve your agreed-upon financial goals. You will also have communicated through a highly complex document, which can further safeguard your marriage against a future divorce. 

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Wheaton orders of protection lawyersThe coronavirus shutdown may have been a reprieve for the overworked and disconnected. Still, for the victims of domestic violence, the entire experience may have more closely resembled an inescapable nightmare.

Trapped at home, nowhere go when arguments erupted. The potential loss of finances, elevating tensions within the home. The realization that you are no longer safe in your marriage.

If this was more along the lines of your experience during the quarantine period, it might be time for you to move forward with the divorce process. However, the next steps need to be cautionary and guided. Your safety—and perhaps even the safety of your children—are on the line.

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce attorneyIn an ideal world, divorcing parties would have all the financial aspects of their lives in order before they file. Of course, few things in life go as planned. Such is often the case when an indebted business is a part of the marital estate. Learn how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help you protect your financial interests, even if your business is currently in debt. 

Understanding the Potential Challenges

Indebted businesses pose a number of challenges in divorce. First, if your spouse denies having any knowledge of your company’s debt, they could be excused from any financial consequences. As a result, you may be ordered to pay alimony or a larger settlement amount, which could compromise your ability to pay back the company’s debt. 

Using marital assets to keep an indebted business afloat could also make it more difficult to untangle assets. Hiring a forensic accountant can help, but even still, you could face challenges when trying to determine the value of both the business and your marital estate. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersWith most of the country on lockdown, couples who are at odds in their marriage are feeling the pressure. Add in potential job losses, the possibility that parties have had to move back in together to save money, and the minimal court operations and you have the perfect formula for an all-out marital explosion. Thankfully, parties do not have to wait to proceed with the divorce process. In fact, it is recommended that you not wait and, instead, start moving forward. 

Divorce Takes Time

Divorcing parties often underestimate just how much time it takes to complete the divorce process. At a minimum, most go through at least 60 days of preparation and paperwork before seeing a judge. Complex cases and high conflict situations can take much longer to resolve. 

While no one can say for certain how long the stay-at-home orders will last, parties do not have to delay the process. Instead, start the process now and you can expedite the court process and complete your case sooner once the orders have been lifted. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersIf you are considering divorce, odds are that you have already started exploring your options. Two of the most commonly pursued paths are litigation and mediation. Gain a better understanding of the differences between these two divorce methods, and discover what our seasoned divorce attorneys can do to improve the outcome in your case. 

Mediation vs. Litigation - Same Issues, Different Process

No matter which path you choose for divorce, you will likely face and deal with the same core issues: allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, child support, alimony, and the division of assets. How these matters are resolved - the approach and process - are greatly varied, depending on the path you choose, however.

Major Differences Between Litigation and Mediation 

In litigation, parties are placed at opposite ends, like warring sides. Each presents their case and evidence. The judge then makes a ruling, which is final (unless appealed). In contrast, Mediation encourages couples to work through their issues with an eye toward compromise and mutual respect. Upon further inspection, these core differences dramatically alter the divorce process. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhile every divorce is unique and specific to the parties and their situation, there are some common threads. Likewise, there are some commonly made mistakes in divorce. Fall victim to any one of them and you could jeopardize your settlement, your time or rights to your children, and even your financial well-being. Educate yourself on what these mistakes are, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton divorce lawyers can help you avoid them.

1. Failure to Gain Access to or Provide All Financial Information

Like it or not, divorce is mostly a financial transaction. It requires you to provide any and all financial information to your attorney or the courts so that the marital estate can be accurately valued and divided. Unfortunately, if you miss something, it can have a negative impact on your case. You could short-sell yourself in the settlement, or you could be accused of trying to hide assets from your spouse. In either case, this mistake should be carefully avoided.

2. Putting Too Much Focus on the Past

Couples do not typically seek a divorce because they are happy and fulfilled. Instead, there are usually moments and issues that have brought the couple to their decision. However, it is important to remember that these matters are now in the past. Lashing out at your spouse, trying to get even, or simply squabbling over issues that no longer hold relevance do not help your situation. Instead, they can jeopardize your ability to think rationally about the things that do matter, like the well-being of your children or your financial health.

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Illinois divorce attorneysIn a divorce, marital assets are valued and equitably divided between the parties. Businesses, owned jointly or independently, may also be considered a part of the marital estate. The determination of its value is called the business valuation process. Learn more about this process, and how it could impact the outcome of your Illinois divorce. 

What is Business Valuation?

Business valuations are used to determine the overall health and net worth of a company. Each facet of the company is objectively and independently evaluated, including the company’s assets, expenses, revenue, cash flow, debt levels, and projected future earnings. 

Business Valuation Methods

The process for determining a company’s value will vary, depending on the industry, business type, and customer base. One of four methods may be used. 

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Wheaton parenting time attorneysMatters pertaining to children tend to be some of the most sensitive issues in divorce - and rightfully so. The child’s mental and emotional state, academic performance, and future potential are all at risk. Thankfully, studies show that ample time and continued support from each parent can improve the outcome for children of divorce. 

Not sure how to determine how much time each of you should have? Afraid you may be selling yourself (or your child) short? Check out these eight factors and consider them when drafting your Illinois parenting plan for some guidance. Also, learn how a seasoned family law attorney can protect the best interests of both you and your child. 

1. Age and Temperament of the Child

While studies suggest that children of all ages can handle overnight stays away from home, infants and toddlers may struggle to adjust in the beginning. Younger, school-aged children may need a consistent and reliable schedule that minimizes stress and allows them to focus on their studies. Older children may have their own preferences regarding where they will live day-to-day, which should also be considered. However, they may not need the same regularity in their schedules as younger kids, so parents may be able to do more frequent exchanges.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce is chalked full of complex emotions. Unchecked, those feelings can send you into a downward spiral, causing you to lash out at your spouse or even your own children. Thankfully, there are some strategies that can use to help you process your feelings in a healthier way.

1. Approach the Process Slowly

While you may want to end things as quickly as possible, the divorce process should be considered a sprint, rather than a marathon. Give yourself time to prepare and gather your documents before you officially file. Talk to a lawyer about your options and consider your strategy carefully. Not only will these steps help reduce your stress levels, but it can also improve the final outcome in your case. 

2. Focus on the Concrete

Emotions can fluctuate from one moment to the next, which can make it difficult for one to stay grounded. Rather than attempt to tackle all of your feelings at once, take a step back and give yourself permission to set them aside for a while. Focus instead on the concrete aspects of your case - the legalities, dividing up property, and creating a parenting plan for your children.

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Wheaton alimony lawyersSpousal support may not be awarded as often as it once was, it is still a factor in some cases. Think you might be entitled? Check out these 14 factors the courts use to decide whether or not to award alimony to a disadvantaged party and learn more about what our divorce lawyers can do to improve the outcome in your Illinois divorce case. 

1. Income and Assets of Each Party


Each party's income and assets are one of the first and biggest factors used to determine whether spousal support should be awarded in a divorce case. The courts will consider both marital and non-marital assets, as well as each party’s financial obligations. 

2. Financial Needs of Each Party

Another important factor the courts use to determine whether alimony should be awarded is the financial needs of each party. Three key components are used in this determination: the financial needs of the recipient, whether there is a gap in the recipient’s ability to meet their needs, and whether the payor is capable of supplementing that gap. Note that these needs must be legitimate; wants and luxuries are not considered. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersAll across the country, people are staying indoors and away from others to minimize their exposure to coronavirus. Stay orders and full-on quarantines literally force couples into all-day one-on-one time. This constant, forced interaction can further inflame underlying issues for those who were already on the edge and barely holding onto the shreds of their marriage. 

Data suggests this issue is already causing a spike in divorce inquiries. Now the question becomes whether couples should move forward with their cases or wait it out to see if they can resolve matters once the quarantine is over.

Working Marital Issues Out While Under Quarantine

Marital issues can feel more pronounced when you are forced to interact with one another all day long. While couples under quarantine are unable to change their circumstances, there are some strategies that can be used to help your marriage - even in its current state. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysPrenuptial agreements are not just for the rich. Instead, there are several scenarios in which this legal document can protect the vested parties in a possible divorce. Learn more by checking out these six situations in which a prenuptial agreement may be in your best interest. 

1. When Either Party Has a Considerable Amount of Wealth

Possession of a considerable amount of wealth is one of the most common reasons that couples choose to enter into a prenuptial agreement before marriage. Entering into this legal agreement before marrying lets you clearly define the rules for how wealth will be distributed in the event of a divorce. This rule also applies if one party earns more than the other at their job. 

2. If Either Party Owns a Business

If either you or your spouse owns a business, you may want to consider a prenup before getting married. Not only can this legal document protect your business and allow for proper allocation of its assets in the event of a divorce, but it can also define parameters on business operations and liability during the course of your marriage. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDebt is a serious issue for most Americans. According to a recent study from Northwestern Mutual, the average U.S. citizen has about $38,000 in personal debt - and that excludes their mortgage. If one were to double that for a married couple (almost $80,000 in debt), the importance of understanding how debt is divided in a divorce becomes clear. 

Equitable Distribution of Debt in Divorce

In most cases, marital debt is divided in a divorce in the same way as assets: equitably. Essentially, this means debts are allocated according to the income and expense of each party. Keep in mind that this rule usually only applies to joint, marital debts that were acquired during the union. Separate debts that parties acquired prior to the marriage, as well as sole-owned debts, may not be divided in the same manner. 

Legal Liability for Debt in Divorce

Regardless of who the debt is assigned to in the divorce, parties can still be held legally responsible for a debt if their name is on the account. Keep this in mind when a portion of marital debt is assigned to your spouse, and have a plan in place for handling a default on the account, should your spouse forget or fail to pay. Otherwise, you may rack up late fees or interest on your account, leaving you with unnecessary added expenses. 

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Illinois parenting time lawyersThe entire country is being advised to practice social distancing and quarantine procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Parents who share children but live in separate households are both concerned and unnerved about what this could mean for their families. Check out these options for divorced, legally separated, and non-wed families parenting in separate households. 

Keeping Visitation Schedules the Same 

Many of the families that have not been affected by the virus are opting to keep their visitation schedule the same for now. Their children continue to transition between homes. As long as nothing changes, and each household practices social distancing or in-home quarantine, this should not be an issue, so long as no one becomes infected. Parents who continue visitation their schedules as they are may want to also develop a plan for handling a positive COVID-19 case within the family. Some things to consider include:

  • Where the child will stay if one or both parents become infected,
  • Who will care for the child if they end up contracting COVID-19, and
  • How the family can still bond if forced to quarantine in separate households. 

Changing Visitation Schedules Under Quarantine

Families under full quarantine (mostly in high-risk areas) may want to consider changing their visitation schedule to reduce the chances of sending the virus to both homes. Incubation for COVID-19 is anywhere from seven to 11 days, so the most prudent schedule would likely be a two-week exchange. Parents can verbally make such an agreement verbally, but it is better to have a legal document in place, just to be safe. Your family law attorney can help. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysMost parents are aware that divorce could negatively impact their child; it is why so many are hesitant to call it quits on their marriage. Still, studies show that a tumultuous home environment is more damaging to a child. As such, parents are encouraged to understand how and why a divorce might cause issues for their child. It also helps to have a plan in place.

Understanding the How and Why

Although divorce can negatively affect all children, the biggest risk seems to apply to those who are “well off” prior to the split. More specifically, adolescents whose mothers have a college education were found to be most impacted by parental divorce in a recent study conducted by Sondre Aasan Nilsen of the Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) and the University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues. On average, their GPAs were 0.3 points lower than peers with intact families from the same socioeconomic class. Previous research has also indicated that well-off children are less likely to attend college after a parental divorce.

Perhaps children from lower socioeconomic classes show less impact, simply because they are already less likely to excel in school or attend college, or maybe well-off children are ill-prepared for divorce because they have not suffered as much disappointment and heartache as children from lower socioeconomic classes. Whatever the cause, it is middle-class parents (and above) who most need a plan for minimizing the risk of poor academic performance in their child.

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce is a complex, all-encompassing process that can impact your mental, emotional, and financial well-being. Thankfully, the effects and potential consequences can be mitigated. For example, parties can seek therapy to deal with the feelings of grief and loss that often accompany divorce. When attempting to diminish the potential financial consequences of divorce, there are three major considerations that one should use in their case.

The How: Litigated or Mediated Divorce

While money should not be the driving factor in the divorce path that you choose, a mediated divorce is likely to cost less than a litigated one. Part of this can be attributed to court costs, but attorney’s fees may be higher in a contentious divorce, as the lawyer must often spend more time working the case. So, if the cost of your divorce is a concern, it may be beneficial to at least consider whether a mediated divorce may be in your best interest. Talk to your lawyer for help.

The What: Marital Assets to Be Divided

Any assets acquired during the marriage will likely be counted as marital assets in your case. (Speak to your lawyer about any possible exclusions.) Divorce laws require all of these assets to be divided equitably between the parties. Unfortunately, this term can be inflammatory in a divorce case, as two opposing parties are unlikely to agree on what is “fair.”

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