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Wheaton parenting time attorneysThanks to studies and real-life families, shared parenting plans are on the rise. In fact, several states have introduced bills that would make a 50-50 parenting time split the starting point in all divorces - but is this trend appropriate for every family? Consider the following pros and cons of a shared parenting plan, and learn how our seasoned divorce lawyers can help you in deciding whether one may be right for your family. 

What is a Shared Parenting Plan?

Shared parenting plans typically involve a near-equal split of the child’s time. Some families switch off weekly, with one parent having the child for a week and then the other. In other shared parenting plans, the child may switch homes throughout the week, perhaps with one parent taking the beginning of the week (i.e. Sunday through Wednesday) and the other taking the remaining days. The latter plan will typically involve a switch-off, where the child may spend four days with one parent one week, and then three with that same parent on the following week.

The Potential Pros of a Shared Parenting Plan 

At their core, shared parenting plans are designed to ensure the child has ample time with each parent. Studies have shown that this can be highly beneficial for the child’s overall growth and development - and not just during the divorce, but in the years to follow. Families with shared parenting plans also tend to have better communication, overall, because the plan itself requires a great deal of cooperation. Of course, not all parents can communicate in such a way after their divorce, and that can lead to complications down the road. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersBills and other financial obligations do not end just because you are filing for a divorce. In fact, money management is usually more difficult while trying to navigate the divorce process because there are more bills and less money to go around.

Thankfully, there are measures that one can take to improve their financial situation, even while pursuing a divorce. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our seasoned divorce lawyers can assist. 

Track Your Finances and Develop a New Budget

The first step to improving your financial situation is to understand your finances. Start by tracking how and where you spend your money, then determine if any of your expenses can be eliminated or temporarily suspended. Doing this can give you more in the way of liquid assets. It also allows you to develop a new budget so that you can start saving for your new future. 

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DuPage County domestic violence lawyersDomestic violence, which impacts approximately one in three women (and one in four men) is a near silent epidemic. Terrified to leave or speak out, victims often live behind the facade of a happy home, despite being in constant danger. Sadly, the longer they stay in the relationship, the more they risk serious injury or death at the hands of their abuser. Thankfully, there are legal steps that victims can use to protect themselves when they find the strength and courage to leave.

How a Restraining Order Can Protect You and Your Child

Restraining orders are designed to provide legal protections to victims of domestic violence. More specifically, they:

  • Prohibit your abuser from intimidating, harassing, stalking, exploiting, or negatively impacting your personal liberty;
  • Mandate that your abuser stay away from you and anyone else listed on the order of protection;
  • Prohibit your abuser from removing your child from the state, or hiding them away from you within the state;
  • Order your abuser to stay away from your school, place of employment, and other specific places you may frequently visit;
  • Prohibit your abuser from destroying or getting rid of your belongings;
  • Prohibit your abuser from possessing a firearm;
  • Require that your abuser reimburse you for shelter and counseling services (when applicable);
  • Exclude your abuser from the home in which you are living (even when owned or leased by the abuser);
  • Mandate that your abuser return all personal belongings to you;
  • Prohibit your abuser from causing any harm to your child (mentally, physically, or sexually); and
  • Prohibit your abuser from removing a shared child from your physical care. 

Emergency Orders of Protection

While most victims need long-term protection from their abuser, such orders take time to put into place. Emergency orders help to fill the gap by providing immediate protection to the victim. Based solely on the testimony of the victim, these orders can be obtained at any time - even on holidays or at night, when the courts are closed. However, they only offer you protection for 14 to 21 days. Therefore, it is critical that victims begin the process for obtaining a long-term order of protection (known as plenary orders of protection) while the emergency order is still in place. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhile many parents are able to complete their divorce with little to no fanfare, there are situations in which the best interest of the child comes into question. In these difficult and often heartbreaking cases, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) may be assigned. Learn more about what an assignment of this court liaison may mean for your Illinois child custody case, and discover what our seasoned Wheaton divorce attorneys can do to help with the situation. 

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

Either parent can request that a Guardian Ad Litem be assigned to their case. Alternatively, a judge may assign one, if they feel that the aid of one is warranted. Considered a liaison for the court, they serve as an advocate for the child. They may visit them at school, or at home. They may also meet privately with each of the parents, the school, and persons of interest to the child or family (i.e. stepparents, grandparents, etc.). Requests for a list of witnesses may also be made. 

The goal here is to understand the child’s current situation, and then reach a decision regarding what may be best for their future. Considerations can include where the child will live, and the amount of time they might spend with each parent. It is important to note that the Guardian Ad Litem is not the child’s attorney, so while they may allow the child to voice their preferences and desires, they are not obligated to follow the child’s wishes when making their determination.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersIn the past, pets were treated as property in a divorce. Of course, a pet cannot be divided, so instead, the courts examined financial factors to determine who received the family’s furry friend at the end of the proceedings. Thankfully, the laws have now changed, ensuring that the owners’ emotional attachment and time invested are considered when determining who should get the family pet in a divorce. 

That has not been the only change to the law regarding pets. Families can also set up a “custody plan,” so long as both owners are fully and completely invested in the animal’s happiness, care, and well-being. Learn more about how “pet custody” works in today’s Illinois divorce in the following sections, and discover what our seasoned divorce lawyers can do to help protect the interests of you and your pet in contentious or potentially dangerous situations. 

How Illinois Determines “Pet Custody” in Divorce

While pets and children are very different, Illinois family law courts now recognize that animals do have feelings and needs - and that their well-being is worth protecting. So, when determining who takes the family pet in divorce, various factors are considered, including:

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Wheaton family law lawyersFamily law is a broad area of the law with many subsections. However, some issues are more common and complex than others. Learn more about the most common and currently emerging family law courts, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton attorneys can help you manage them and mitigate against any complications that you may be facing in your Illinois family law case. 

Divorce and Legal Separation 

Statistics indicate that the divorce rate has been dropping over the last several years, but it continues to be one of the more common family law matters, both in Illinois and nationwide. Legal separations, though less common than divorce and perhaps even some other family law issues, are also frequently seen issues in family courts.

Child-Related Matters

Child matters are also extremely common in family courts. They include:

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Wheaton adoption lawyersAdoption can be one of the most rewarding paths to parenting - but there are some challenges involved. In particular, international adoptions (also known as intercountry adoptions) can be difficult and costly to complete. These issues, paired with increasingly strict regulations and even bans on international adoptions have caused a significant decline in the rate of successful intercountry adoptions in the United States. 

Thankfully, prospective parents can ease the process by ensuring they are informed about their steps and numerous obstacles. Aid from a seasoned adoption lawyer can also make the process more seamless. If you are considering international adoption, the following information can help you prepare for the upcoming challenges and discover how to mitigate against some of them.

Newborn Adoptions Are a Rare Occurrence

While there are prospective parents who prefer older children, most are hoping to adopt an infant. Unfortunately, babies can be extremely difficult to come by. Many international countries have laws that restrict the age at which a child may be adopted. The complexity of the process, which can take a great deal of time to navigate, may also hinder a party’s ability to adopt a child during infancy. So, if your heart is absolutely set on a newborn, you may want to consider other adoption options that may be more suitable for you (i.e. private domestic adoption). 

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Illinois parenting time attorneysChildren, although seen as resilient, can suffer greatly during a divorce. Thankfully, attentive and loving parents can ease the transition to improve their child’s outcome. Learn more about how to help your child cope during your impending Illinois divorce, and discover how a seasoned attorney can ease the process so that you have more time to focus on your child’s needs.

Place Your Child’s Interests at the Forefront 

Loving parents are generally pretty attentive to the needs and well-being of their children, but during a divorce, life can feel pretty out of sorts. Add in a dose of guilt, depression, or even just the stress that a divorce may cause, and it is easy to see why parents sometimes lose sight of what might be best for their kids. Parents may also become preoccupied with “winning” the divorce - and not necessarily because they want to get even with their spouse. Some simply struggle with the idea of splitting the time they have with their children. 

To avoid such issues in your divorce, start by first examining your situation, rather than your feelings. Consider what your child needs most. Is it stability? Perhaps they would adjust best if allowed to stay in their current neighborhood, rather than having to move and change schools. Now consider which parent may be able to best meet your child’s daily needs. Now consider how you ensure your child has their other needs met - specifically time and a connection with the parent that cannot meet their daily needs. Use all of this as a foundation for your parenting plan. 

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Illinois child support lawyersChild support is designed to ensure a child’s immediate financial needs are met, such as food and clothing for school. It can also go toward a child’s future, giving a parent the power to start up a college fund for the child. Sadly, statistics indicate that only 44 percent of all custodial parents receive the full amount of support that they are owed. 

One California woman had been just one of many who had not received child support after her divorce. Given custody of their daughter, the woman had been left to raise and financially support the child after her ex-husband skipped town and moved to Canada. From there, the man completely disappeared. Fifty years later, the courts awarded the woman a settlement of $150,000. That amount included the overdue support payments of $35,000, as well as penalty fees and interest for four decades of unpaid support. her experience proves it is never too late to pursue the overdue support you are owed. 

Pursuing Overdue Child Support in Illinois

Parents often feel as though they are alone in their pursuit of overdue child support. However, there are resources and services available to them. One of the most invaluable is the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). They have the power and ability to track down a delinquent parent. They can also impose penalties on the parent to encourage payment. Examples may include suspension of the delinquent parent’s driver’s license or professional license, imprisonment, or putting a “freeze” on the delinquent parent’s passport. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysCouples usually anticipate a division and distribution of their assets during the divorce process, but many are surprised to learn that their debts are also split during the proceedings. Unfortunately, when parties are not prepared for the allocation of their debts, it can create serious financial issues, both immediately and in the distant future. Learn how you can avoid such an issue during your Illinois divorce, and discover how our seasoned attorneys can help. 

Who Owns the Debt in an Illinois Divorce? 

In marriage, debts and assets can become intrinsically intertwined; untangling them can be difficult, to say the least. Yet, it is critical that divorcing parties have a clear understanding of their debts. Additionally, parties are encouraged to try and distinguish which debts were initiated by them or their spouse, and which were co-marital debts. 

Not sure how to decide? 

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Illinois divorce lawyersDivorce can be a costly endeavor, which is why parties are usually encouraged to plan and save for the process. Of course, if you are not the one who files, you may not have such a privilege. Instead, your spouse may catch you completely off-guard, with little to no resources at your disposal. What can you do to ensure you still have access to seasoned legal representation in such a situation? The following information explains. 

Avoid Discount and DIY Divorce Options

The internet is full of information on discount and do-it-yourself divorce options, but these methods can have a lasting and negative impact on the outcome of your case. It is also important to realize that everything from your financial well-being to the amount of time you receive with your children can be affected.

Begin Your Search for a Divorce Attorney

Since discount and DIY divorce methods are not viable options, there is only one option left to consider: hire an attorney. Just be sure to avoid the trap that many disadvantaged spouses fall into when they hire a lawyer; never hire based on cost alone. Instead, ask for referrals from friends and search for reviews online. Then, when you have narrowed your choices down, start scheduling consultations. Share the details of your case with them and listen carefully to their responses. Are they in-tune with your needs and concerns? Do they seem pre-occupied with winning the case, or are they supportive of your desires to negotiate or settle fairly? 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce is a highly complex process with several moving parts, and the cost of a mistake can be devastating. Because of this, it is highly recommended that all parties seek the guidance and assistance of a seasoned legal attorney during their divorce case. 

Having legal assistance during divorce does not eliminate the need to understand the steps of divorce, however. In fact, those who are informed about the process tend to fare better in their cases. This is partly due to their ability to make sound decisions throughout the process. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our skilled attorneys can help.

Preparation and Determining if You Qualify 

One of the most critical steps in an Illinois divorce is preparation - and determining if you even qualify. In these moments, you will find an attorney to represent you, gather financial documents, and perhaps even create a post-divorce budget to help you achieve your financial goals. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneyDivorce can impact many areas of your life. Your marital finances, time with the children, and ownership of assets are really just the beginning. Parties can have their information highjacked, or even their reputations ruined by a vindictive spouse. Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your children during the process. Start by ensuring you address these technology issues before you file or tell your spouse about your plan to divorce. 

Change Your Passwords 

In today’s digital age, nearly everyone stores and shares information online. Couples also tend to share devices, data, passwords, and even some of their accounts. Sadly, that unfettered access in a divorce can create all sorts of issues. Spouses can gain access to data and financial information that does not apply to the divorce (i.e. an inheritance that was gifted to you after the separation) to hike up your child support or spousal support obligations. A vindictive spouse could attempt to drain your bank account and transfer everything over into their name, or they may even go so far as to delete important information or mine your social media accounts and photos for details they can use against you in custody proceedings. 

The first step to preventing such an issue is to ensure that you change all of your passwords - including the one that you use to log into your devices. Avoid using generic passwords, or anything with significance to you or your spouse (i.e. names and birthdays of children). Instead, use a strong and random password generator and store your passwords on a secure digital keychain (specifically one that your spouse cannot access). 

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Illinoia family law attorneysPeople do not typically marry with the intention of one day divorcing, but those who have already experienced a failed marriage may be even more adamant to grow old with their new partner. Sadly, the risk of divorce is significantly higher for subsequent marriages. As such, it is highly recommended that parties take proactive steps to protect their assets in a second marriage. Learn more about how a prenuptial agreement can help you do this, and discover how our seasoned family law attorneys can help. 

Know Your Wealth and Assets

Just as it is critical to know your wealth and assets in a divorce, you should know them going into a marriage. Not only does this give you a base to work from in the event of a divorce, but it also enables you to effectively and proactively protect your wealth, long before a divorce occurs. 

Never Enter a Second Marriage Without a Prenuptial Agreement

If you did not sign a prenuptial agreement before your first marriage, it is likely you know just how messy dividing assets in a divorce can be. When you add in the fact that may divorcees also have children from their previous marriage, perhaps even child support and spousal support obligations, the importance of protecting one’s assets in a second marriage becomes even more crucial. One of the most effective ways to do this is to ensure you have a sound and concise prenuptial agreement before you marry a second time. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysStudies have long shown that divorce can impact the academic performance of children, but a new research project provides even more insight into the types of families that are more likely to see such issues after a divorce. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our seasoned attorneys may be able to help improve the outcome for your children. 

Study Examines Academic Issues in Children After Parental Divorce

The study, which was published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, examined the families and socioeconomic demographics of 11,512 children and 4,931 children to determine their risk of divorce. Researchers then cross-referenced the data and compared it to the educational outcomes of the children who ultimately experienced a divorce, as well as those who did not. Children from families that had a low risk of divorce saw a greater risk of poor academic performance and an increased risk of not completing their education. 

Specifically, the children from families with a low divorce risk were 6 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and approximately 15 percent less likely to graduate from college. In contrast, children who came from families with a high risk of divorce suffered almost no academic deficit after the separation of their parents. 

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Illinois parenting time attorneysWith more parents speaking out about the benefits of 50-50 shared parenting, and more studies indicating their benefits, the popularity of such plans are increasing. Of course, like most things, there are some challenges to drafting such a parenting plan - especially if you are used to being around your child all of the time or have doubts about the other parent’s ability to handle the child. Discover how to overcome such challenges in your parenting time case, and how our seasoned family law attorneys can assist you with the process. 

Pursue an Amicable Divorce or Separation

Relationships that end in explosion might make for great fiction, but in real life, these endings have real consequences - especially when there are children involved. Studies have shown that it is not necessarily the end of the relationship that negatively influences children. Instead, they say it is the amount of conflict they experience between their parents on a daily basis. That means two very important things:

  • Staying in a toxic relationship is highly unlikely to benefit your child. Instead, it is far more likely to do them harm, and
  • An amicable split to your relationship is far less likely to have a negative impact on your child than a toxic one.

Focus on Your Child’s Needs and Best Interests

Parents are only human, and divorce and break-ups are often painful, which can cause emotions to run high. As a result, the parent may struggle to separate their own feelings about the end of the relationship from what the child truly needs - which is often a healthy, connected relationship with both of their parents. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersDuring the Great Recession, many savvy investors jumped into the housing market - and a decent percentage of them hit it big. Their success, paired with popular house-flipping television shows, caused many “average” people, who had no real investment experience, to jump into the market as well. What happens to these investors when a divorce occurs? Learn more about how real estate is divided in an Illinois divorce, and discover what our seasoned Wheaton divorce lawyers can do to assist you with the process. 

Dividing Real Estate with a Prenuptial Agreement 

Ideally, investors would have a prenuptial agreement in place before a divorce, as this is the easiest way to ensure a straightforward division of the marital assets. Granted, there are situations in which a prenuptial agreement may not be honored (i.e. a prenuptial agreement signed under duress), but these are fairly rare. Just note that investors are highly encouraged to seek legal assistance when drafting their prenuptial agreements, as this decreases the risk of legal issues in the division of the marital estate. 

Dividing Real Estate Without a Prenuptial Agreement 

If the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement in place, the entire marital estate must be valued and equitably divided. Unfortunately, in high asset situations (which most divorces involving real estate are), the asset division process can be extremely complex. As such, it is highly critical that both parties have a seasoned attorney on their side, protecting their interests.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersMoney can cause numerous issues in a relationship. In fact, it is one of the biggest reasons that couples argue and divorce. It can also be an especially contentious matter in divorce. Thankfully, there are some steps that you can take to protect your financial future in an Illinois divorce case - and it starts with knowing which financial issues may impact your case. Learn more in the following sections, including how a seasoned divorce lawyer can assist with the process. 

Know the Value of Your Marital Estate

Every couple handles their money differently. Some couples share financial knowledge and information. Others have just one party managing marital finances. In either scenario, complications can arise. The biggest risk is hidden money or debts, which is far more common than most people think. In fact, one in five parties admits that they have undisclosed money or debts in their relationship. As such, it is critical that parties obtain the assistance of a seasoned lawyer to ensure they have a clear understanding of their marital finances. 

Examine Your Marital Debts

Divorcing couples are usually aware of just how important it is to take stock of their marital assets, but they often overlook the importance of taking stock of their marital debt. Unfortunately, such an oversight can dramatically impact the outcome of one’s divorce case. In contrast, parties that take stock of their marital debt and create a plan for dealing with it often experience better financial outcomes after their divorce. An attorney does not have to be your only resource for resolving marital debt either; you can also find assistance through an accountant, financial advisor, or credit counselor. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysJust as married people do not usually enter into marriage, one day planning to divorce, business owners do not typically start their companies, expecting to one day divide it with their ex-spouse. As a result, there are many business owners who do not have a prenuptial agreement in place to protect their company. 

Unfortunately, the lack of pre-planning can put the business and its owner at risk for significant financial loss - perhaps even to the point of closure. Thankfully, with some precautionary measures and the guidance of a seasoned divorce lawyer, business owners can still protect their companies in a divorce. Learn more with help from the following. 

1. Keep Your Plans for Divorce Under Wraps

If you own a business and are planning to initiate a divorce, hold off on telling your spouse until after you have had the chance to speak with a divorce lawyer. Divulging your plans to your spouse takes away your ability to prepare and plan ahead. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysClaiming dependents on your taxes is usually a pretty straightforward process, but if your family has recently been through a divorce, things can be a little more complex. Given the significant impact that dependents can have on one’s tax status, it probably comes as no surprise that the matter can cause a great deal of strife between recently divorced parents. 

Normally, a divorce decree dictates who claims the dependents on their taxes, but disagreements and discrepancies can and do sometimes occur. There are also situations in which one parent may attempt to deprive the other of their right to claim the dependents on their taxes. Learn what can happen in these scenarios, and discover how our seasoned DuPage County divorce lawyers can help to clear up confusing matters involving your divorce. 

What Happens When Two Parents Try to Claim a Dependent?

If a divorce decree dictates who is supposed to claim the children, and both parents attempt to claim them, the matter is usually resolved by supplying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with proper documentation. However, if a decree does not exist, then the IRS has a series of tie-breaker rules that they use to determine who gets the credit. In order, these rules are:

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