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DuPage County family law attorneysIn an Illinois divorce, spousal support may be ordered when one party has a financial need or limited means of providing for oneself. However, these spousal maintenance payments usually are ordered for a fixed duration, after which the receiving party will be expected to support him or herself without the assistance of the former spouse.

Under normal circumstances, it may be possible for the receiving spouse to attain financial independence before support payments end, but the economic stresses and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made this much more difficult for many people, especially now that they have lasted for nearly a year. If your spousal maintenance order is set to terminate soon and you are concerned about your ability to support yourself, you may be able to petition for a modification that extends the duration of payments.

How Does Illinois Determine the Duration of Maintenance Payments?

Usually, if the court decides that spousal maintenance is necessary, it will order payments for a duration based on a calculation involving the length of the marriage. After a marriage of less than five years, maintenance will likely be ordered for less than one year, and usually only in the case of a marriage of 20 years or more will the court order spousal support for the full length of the marriage or an indefinite time period. However, the court will sometimes vary from these calculations if there is good reason. If you are in the process of a divorce and you are struggling financially, your attorney may be able to help you make the case for larger payments or a longer duration.

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DuPage County family law attorneysA prenuptial agreement can help both you and your spouse enter your marriage with peace of mind regarding your finances, and if your marriage later ends in divorce, a prenup can make the process much easier by laying out the terms for property division and spousal maintenance. However, in order for the agreement to take effect and be upheld by the court at the time of your divorce, it must be legally valid. There are a few things that you can do when creating your prenup to make sure that this is the case.

Establishing a Legally Valid Prenup in Illinois

As you prepare to draft your prenuptial agreement, consider these suggestions to ensure the agreement is enforceable:

  • Make sure the agreement is written and signed. A valid prenup must exist as a written document. Verbal prenups are not legally binding, nor are written prenups that have not been willingly signed by both partners.
  • Be open and honest with your partner. Concealing or lying about your assets and debts when creating a prenup results in an agreement in which your partner does not have the information necessary to make a decision. If evidence comes to light that you were dishonest with your partner about your property and financial situation, your prenuptial agreement will likely be considered invalid.
  • Aim for an agreement that is fair. Each individual or couple has different priorities when creating a prenup, and what is acceptable to you and your partner may be different from what is acceptable to another couple. However, it is important to ensure that the terms of your agreement would not cause undue hardship to either party in the event of a divorce. If the court determines that an agreement is not equitable, it may decide to award spousal support in a way that differs from what the agreement stipulates.
  • Avoid addressing child-related issues. Illinois law states that a prenuptial agreement cannot negatively impact a child’s right to support, so it is important to ensure that any of your minor children will have access to child support no matter the terms of your agreement. A prenuptial agreement also cannot address parenting time or parental responsibilities, so those matters will need to be addressed separately during the divorce process.
  • Consider updating your agreement over time. An agreement created before your marriage may lose relevance over time as your financial situation changes. If you or your spouse believes that the original agreement is no longer fair or suitable, you have the option to amend it to better reflect your current needs as long as both of you agree to the changes.

Contact a DuPage County Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer

Another way to ensure that your prenup is legally valid is to create it with the assistance of a qualified Wheaton family law attorney. At the Davi Law Group, we will work with you and your partner to help you reach an enforceable agreement that meets your unique needs. Contact us today for a free consultation at 630-504-0176.

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Wheaton spousal support modification attorneyAlimony and other terms for the same concept, including spousal support and spousal maintenance, may commonly come to mind when you think about divorce, but the reality is that these payments are becoming less and less common. In Illinois, spousal support is usually only ordered when there is a significant imbalance between the two party’s incomes and assets and one of the parties needs it to remain financially stable and maintain their accustomed standard of living.

Even then, maintenance generally does not last forever but is instead ordered for a specific duration based on the length of the marriage, with the idea often being that the receiving spouse will use that time to attempt to become financially independent. Additionally, as the paying spouse, you may be able to petition for the modification or early termination of spousal support payments under certain circumstances.

Grounds for Updating a Spousal Support Order

In order to reduce or eliminate your spousal support payment obligation, you will usually need to demonstrate to the court that one of the following has occurred:

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Wheaton parental relocation attorneysIf you and your former spouse share children who are still under the age of 18, moving to a new location after the divorce can be a complicated issue. While a parent may have legitimate personal reasons for the move, it is also often necessary from a legal perspective to consider whether the move is in the children’s best interests, as well as how it may affect the children’s relationship with their other parent. If you believe that your ex’s relocation will be detrimental to your family, you may have options to contest it in court.

What is Considered a Parental Relocation in Illinois?

One thing to note is that a move to a new location within a short distance is not considered a relocation under Illinois law. While parenting plans will usually stipulate that a parent who moves will need to notify the other parent of the change in address, these moves are less likely to lead to legal complications, and there are fewer options to contest them.

However, some moves do qualify as a relocation, and they require approval through a defined legal process. All of the following meet the legal definition of a relocation in Illinois:

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County family law attorneysIn Illinois, divorcing couples have a few options when it comes to how they reach a resolution on issues including property division, parenting time and responsibilities, and child and spousal support. Perhaps the first option that comes to mind is a court trial in which each party is represented by an attorney, but this is not actually the most common method for resolving a divorce. In fact, the large majority of couples are able to settle their divorce out of court. In many cases, it is a good idea to consider whether an uncontested divorce would work for you before exploring other alternatives.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

In an uncontested divorce, the two spouses agree not only on the decision to get a divorce, but also on all important matters that must be resolved for the divorce to be finalized. However, it is rare for a couple to reach this agreement without going through significant discussions and negotiations to figure out the details. Both parties can also choose to hire an attorney to advise them and help them protect their interests, but the right attorney can do so without escalating conflict in a way that may lead to litigation. After creating a written agreement, the couple can submit it to the court for approval so that the marriage is legally dissolved and the agreement becomes legally binding.

Is an Uncontested Divorce a Good Decision?

An uncontested divorce can be a good decision for many reasons. For one, it can help you and your spouse keep conflict to a minimum and avoid the public spectacle of a trial. You also have far greater control over the outcome in an uncontested divorce, as you and your spouse are able to agree on your own decisions rather than leaving them in the court’s hands. In many cases, an uncontested divorce can be resolved more quickly and with fewer expenses than a divorce trial.

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Wheaton adoption lawyersAdopting a child is one of the most generous things that a person can do, as it often provides a child in need with a stable home and a loving family. However, the adoption process is not always easy, especially if one or both of the biological parents still have parental rights. This is often the case in a step-parent adoption or related adoption when the potential adopter or adopters are seeking to give the child a better life than the current legal parents are able or willing to provide. In these cases, it is necessary to terminate the current parents’ rights, either voluntarily or by court order, for the adoption to be able to proceed.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights in Illinois

Terminating parental rights is typically much easier if the biological parents are willing to consent to the adoption. This may be the case if a parent is uninterested in being part of the child’s life, or if he or she recognizes that the adoption would be in the child’s best interest. A person who cedes parental rights loses standing to pursue parenting time or decision-making authority regarding the child, and also is no longer obligated to provide financial support for the child. There may sometimes be a challenge in locating an absent parent to obtain consent, but if this is the case, there may be other options for terminating parental rights.

Proving That a Parent is Unfit

If a parent does not willingly consent to the adoption, the potential adopters will likely need to petition the court for the termination of the biological parent’s rights and demonstrate that the parent is unfit. There are a number of reasons that a parent can be declared unfit according to Illinois law, including:

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DuPage County divorce attorneysDivorce is difficult at any age, but couples divorcing after the age of 50 often face unique complications due to the way their lives have become intertwined over the course of a long marriage. Despite these complications, so-called “gray divorces” are becoming increasingly common. If you decide to get a divorce in middle-age or your later years, you should be prepared to address some of the common issues that these divorces often raise.

Important Considerations in Your Divorce After Age 50 

While the basic elements of a divorce are essentially the same no matter the couple’s age, they often affect a couple over the age of 50 differently from how they would affect a younger couple. Some important issues that you may need to deal with in your gray divorce include:

  • Dividing marital property - If you are divorcing later in life, you and your spouse may have significant marital assets that you will need to divide equitably. Your marital home may be one of the most contentious properties, especially if you have lived there together for much of your lives. Retirement accounts are also an important issue for older couples, as dividing the assets within them can have major implications for your retirement plans.
  • Spousal support - Spousal maintenance is not guaranteed in an Illinois divorce, but it may be justified in a gray divorce if one spouse has relied on the other for financial support throughout much of the marriage. If spousal support is awarded, the duration is usually determined based on the length of the marriage, so you may be paying or receiving maintenance for 20 years or more if your marriage lasted at least that long.
  • Benefits - You may have relied on your spouse for certain benefits like health insurance and Social Security. In some cases, these spousal benefits can continue for a time after the divorce, but you may need to start considering alternatives.
  • Revisions to your estate plan - A spouse is often listed as the primary beneficiary of a life insurance policy, and may also be named in a will or as the beneficiary of a trust. After getting a divorce, you may wish to revisit your estate plan to prioritize your children as beneficiaries instead.
  • Issues with adult children - Though adult children may not directly affect the terms of your divorce agreement, they are often personally affected by their parents’ divorce, especially if they feel pressure to take sides. It is important after a gray divorce to focus on maintaining your relationship with your children and helping your family through this difficult transition.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Divorce Attorney

As you prepare for your gray divorce, you need a lawyer who understands the challenges you are likely to face. At Davi Law Group, we will help you protect your financial and personal interests so that you can adjust to your post-divorce life with as little stress as possible. For a free consultation with an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer, contact us at 630-504-0176.

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DuPage County divorce lawyersRaising children is a challenge under any circumstances, and divorce only introduces further complications. Your children will likely look to you for greater emotional support during this difficult time, and even if you and your former spouse are committed to working together, you are likely to face challenges in coordination. If you and your ex are prone to conflict, co-parenting effectively may seem next to impossible. However, it is possible to establish a productive co-parenting strategy that can reduce stress and lead to a better life for you and your family.

Suggestions for Co-Parenting Successfully

Every co-parenting relationship is different, and some are more conflict-ridden than others, but the following suggestions can help you be a better co-parent under almost any circumstances:

  • Follow your parenting plan. During the divorce process, the court will seek to ensure that your parenting plan, including the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, is created in your children’s best interests. This means that in the months and years after your divorce, following your parenting plan is not only a show of respect to the other parent, but also a way to support your children. Your children will benefit from a consistent routine, which includes a clear schedule of time with each parent as well as a clear plan for transportation between homes and other important events.
  • Find the best way to communicate. Co-parenting effectively with your former spouse means that you will need to communicate on some level. However, the best way to do so depends in large part on your relationship. You and your ex may get along very well, in which case face-to-face or phone communication may be a great option for collaboration in the raising of your children. However, if you struggle to stay out of arguments with your ex, you may instead choose to communicate in writing, which has less of an emotional component.
  • Recognize what you can and cannot control. Despite your best efforts, you will likely find that you cannot fully control your former spouse’s parenting style. If he or she does something differently from how you would have done it, try to let it go as long as it does not harm your children. Instead, focus on controlling your own actions and being the best parent you can be during the time that you have with your children.
  • Keep your kids out of the conflict. One of the worst things you can do as a parent is to pull your children into your conflict with your former spouse. Avoid talking negatively to your kids about their other parent, asking them to convey angry or passive aggressive messages, and other similar behaviors. These actions can seriously damage your children’s relationships with both parents and affect the way that they handle conflict themselves.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

If you are looking for advice and assistance with your post-divorce co-parenting, the attorneys at the Davi Law Group can help you put a strong legal foundation in place in the form of a parenting plan that protects your children’s interests. We can also help you with modifications to your parenting plan if you find that there is a need for a change. Contact a Wheaton divorce lawyer today at 630-504-0176 for a free initial consultation.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysUnlike some other states, Illinois does not require divorcing couples to divide marital property in half between them. However, it does require them to divide assets equitably to prevent either party from facing excessive hardship, and in order to do so, it is important to know how much the marital property is worth. Valuing property can be one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process, but with the help of an experienced attorney and financial professionals, you can better ensure an outcome that protects your interests.

The Process of Valuing Marital Property

Before beginning the process of valuing marital assets, it is important to determine which properties are considered to belong to the marital estate, and which are considered individual, non-marital property. In general, non-marital property is that which was acquired by either spouse before the marriage, whereas marital property is that which was acquired by either spouse during the marriage, except through an inheritance, gift, or a few other exceptions. In some cases, however, non-marital property may have been combined or commingled with marital property in a way that makes it difficult to isolate during a divorce. It is usually a good idea to work with a personal accountant or another financial professional to help you distinguish marital and non-marital property.

Once you have a better idea of which properties are considered marital, it is then important to determine how much each of them is worth. Some assets, like bank accounts, retirement accounts, and stock investments, have a relatively straightforward value, but it is important to establish a date at which the value is determined for division purposes, since it may fluctuate over time. You may be able to agree upon a date with your spouse, or the court may make the decision.

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Wheaton family law attorneysIn an Illinois divorce, couples must divide all marital property equitably according to their personal situation. In order for a fair distribution to occur, it is important to ensure that neither spouse intentionally harms or selfishly uses property belonging to the marital estate in the time leading up to the divorce. If you believe that your spouse has been dissipating marital assets, it is important to work with an attorney to gather evidence and present your case to the court to make the situation right.

What is Considered Dissipation of Assets?

In order for a spouse’s spending or use of property to be considered dissipation of marital assets, Illinois law states that it must take place after the marriage has started to break down irretrievably. The behavior must also involve marital property, generally meaning assets acquired during the marriage that are considered to belong to both spouses. A spouse using his or her own non-marital assets during this time will likely not affect the divorce resolution.

The assets in question must also have been spent in a way that harms the marital estate or benefits only the spouse who does the spending. Possible examples include making an extravagant purchase or going on a solo trip, gambling excessively, destroying marital property, or spending money on an affair outside of the marriage.

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Wheaton domestic violence attorneysIn Illinois, many couples choose to get a divorce simply due to irreconcilable differences that prevent them from resolving the issues in their marriage. However, in some cases, a more serious problem is at the root of the decision to divorce. Domestic violence, including intimate partner abuse and child abuse, affects millions of American families, and many experts report that incidents of domestic abuse have increased during stay-at-home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have decided that a divorce is the best option to protect yourself and your children from an abusive spouse, you should be aware of how the abuse may affect the process.

Divorce Litigation is Likely Necessary

Though an amicable divorce can often be resolved between the two parties with minimal involvement of the court, a divorce involving domestic violence is much more likely to go to trial. Attempting to negotiate with an abusive spouse is unlikely to be successful, and it may put you at risk of additional abuse or manipulation. Instead, you should work with an attorney who can help you prepare for your case and protect your interests, including by documenting your financial assets and evidence of your spouse’s abuse.

You may also wish to initiate legal action outside of the divorce process itself. For example, an order of protection may be necessary to prevent contact or communication with your partner that could lead to further harm. Some orders of protection also protect your personal property and may allow you to retain sole access to your home temporarily. You may also wish to pursue other civil actions against your spouse for damages you have suffered as a result of the abuse.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysIf you are getting a divorce, especially in your later years, one of your biggest concerns is likely how it will affect your financial situation. Specifically, you may wonder what will happen to your retirement savings and whether you will still be able to retire as planned. In order to prepare for the impact of your divorce on your retirement, it is important to understand both Illinois property division law and the tax implications of different retirement accounts.

How Are Assets Divided in an Illinois Divorce?

Under Illinois law, all marital property is to be divided equitably between spouses as part of a divorce resolution. This does not mean that the division has to be exactly equal, but it should be fair to both parties and prevent either from facing undue hardship. In some cases, the details of the division of property are left to the court’s decision, but divorcing couples also have the opportunity to reach an agreement of their own and submit it to the court for approval. 

With this in mind, the answers to two questions can help you determine whether your retirement assets will be divided:

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Wheaton divorce attorneysEffectively managing conflict is an important skill in many areas of your life, but it is especially important throughout the divorce process. You may find that emotions are running high between you and your spouse, and chances are that the two of you will not agree on every aspect of your divorce resolution, even if you are attempting to divorce amicably. With these things in mind, you should aim for an approach that helps you resolve conflicts, or at least keep them under control.

Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies

When you and your spouse seem to be at an impasse, here are some suggestions to handle the conflict and keep your divorce negotiations on track.

  • Remain calm and rational. It is understandable that you would feel strong emotions during the divorce process, but try to keep those emotions below the surface when negotiating with your spouse. Instead, express your perspective clearly and with a focus on the facts of the situation at hand.
  • Balance assertiveness and empathy. In order to arrive at a resolution that protects your interests, it is important to make your needs known to your spouse. However, it can be just as important to listen to your spouse’s needs, and make an effort to understand his or her perspective, so that you can move forward cooperatively.
  • Find ways to compromise. Ideally, you and your spouse would both end the divorce process with everything that you want, but this is rarely possible. A more realistic goal is to focus on achieving your top priorities, and be open to giving ground on matters that are not as important to you.
  • Seek assistance. An attorney is important to advise and represent you throughout negotiations, and you may also decide to hire a neutral mediator that can guide discussions between you and your spouse in a way that minimizes conflict.
  • Know your limits. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a cooperative approach to divorce is not possible. If you are making no headway in negotiations, you may have to make the decision to take your high-conflict divorce to trial, where your attorney can aggressively represent your interests.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

At Davi Law Group, we can advise you on an approach to your divorce that keeps conflict to a minimum, and help you determine when it is necessary to take a more aggressive approach. In any case, we will do everything in our power to help you achieve an outcome that meets your needs. Contact an experienced Wheaton divorce lawyer today at 630-504-0176 for a free initial consultation.

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Wheaton adoption attorneysMany children benefit from the love and support of relatives outside of their immediate family, and this can be especially important for children whose parents are no longer living or are unable to care for them. In these cases, a relative will often step up to formally adopt the child, solidifying a legal relationship in addition to the personal relationship. If you are considering a related adoption, a family law attorney can help you with the process.

Who Can Adopt a Related Child?

In Illinois, a person is eligible to be an adoptive parent in a related adoption if they are related to the child in one of the following ways, either by blood, marriage, or adoption:

  • Parent or step-parent
  • Grandparent, step-grandparent, or great-grandparent
  • Sibling or step-sibling
  • Aunt, uncle, great-aunt, or great-uncle
  • First or second cousin

Unlike some other types of adoption in Illinois, the adoptive parents in a related adoption do not need to have lived in Illinois for at least six months. Usually, a married person must adopt a child with his or her spouse. Adoptive parents are also usually required to be legal adults, but the court may allow a minor to adopt if there is good cause, which may be the case when a child is adopted by his or her sibling.

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DuPage County family law attorneysUnless you are granted your marital home as part of the division of property, you will likely need to find a new place to live either during the divorce process or after your divorce is finalized. Moving to a new home is stressful at any point in your life, but along with all the other stress of a divorce, it can be even more overwhelming. However, you can make the transition easier by taking the time to prepare.

Considerations When Moving After Divorce 

Thinking carefully about where you will move and how you will handle the moving process can lead to greater satisfaction with your decision and less stress for you and your family in the future. Some important things to consider include:

  • How much you can afford. If you are moving during the divorce process, it may be best to explore temporary options until you have a better idea of the likely outcome. Once your divorce is finalized, you should determine where your assets, income, and expenses stand to decide how much you can afford to buy or rent, and whether you need to make a plan to save for a home that meets your needs.
  • How the move will affect your children. If you expect to have a significant share of parenting time after your divorce, you should also consider how a new home will meet your children’s needs. Think about the location in relation to their school and their other parent’s home, as well as the space they will need to feel comfortable.
  • Whether you need legal permission. A move within a short distance is usually acceptable from a legal perspective, but if you are allocated parenting time and you plan to relocate a longer distance away from your children’s current home, you will need to obtain permission from the other parent and/or the court. Under Illinois law, this distance is more than 25 miles from a home in Cook, DuPage, and some surrounding counties, more than 50 miles from a home in other Illinois counties, and more than 25 miles to a location outside of Illinois.

A major relocation will also likely require special considerations in your parenting plan to account for transportation between homes and an alternative parenting time schedule. It can also make it more difficult for your children to adjust, so you should be prepared to talk to them about the move, listen to their concerns, and make every effort to maintain a close relationship despite the increased distance.

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Wheaton family law attorneysIf you have been through a divorce, it is understandable that you may want a break from the legal process after working tirelessly to reach a resolution on important decisions including your parenting agreement. However, it is important to realize that circumstances change over time, and what worked for you, your children, and your former spouse at the time of the divorce may not be as effective a few years later. If you find that your situation has changed substantially, it may be best to petition for a modification of your parenting plan.

Modifying Parenting Time in Illinois

Perhaps the most likely element of your parenting plan that may require modification is your parenting time arrangement. As circumstances and preferences change, it may be best to adjust either the distribution of time spent with each parent, the specific schedule of days, or both. You can modify parenting time at any point after your divorce as long as it is in your children’s best interests and you can demonstrate that one or more of the following is true:

  • The circumstances of you, your ex, or your children have changed. Possible examples include a change in your work schedule or your children’s school schedule, a relocation of one or both parents, or a change in your children’s preferences as they get older.
  • The requested modification is consistent with the actual care arrangement for the past six months. This means that in practice, you and your ex have begun to deviate from the original schedule with neither of you objecting.
  • The modification is minor, perhaps involving a simple schedule change or an update to holiday agreements.
  • The modification is necessary based on something that the court was not aware of at the time of the original agreement.
  • Both parents are in agreement on the modification.

Modifying Parental Decision-Making Responsibilities

On the other hand, decision-making responsibilities related to your children’s education, religion, health, and extracurricular activities can usually not be modified for the first two years after your original agreement, unless the modification is necessary to protect the children from harm or dangerous influences. After two years, decision-making responsibilities can be modified for the same reasons as parenting time.

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce attorneysIf you are having problems in your marriage, chances are that the thought of divorce has crossed your mind at some point, and you may have even thought about bringing it up with your spouse. However, saying something out loud can often lead to a situation in which it is impossible to turn back, so you should think carefully about how and when you raise the subject if you choose to do so at all. When it comes to such a sensitive conversation, some times are certainly better than others.

The Wrong Time

If you have any hope for the survival of your marriage, one of the worst things you can do is to threaten divorce during a heated argument with your spouse. As much as you may be feeling it in the moment, a divorce may not be what you truly want. However, making your partner think it is a possibility can lead to feelings of insecurity. It also has the potential to exacerbate the argument or shut down future attempts at conversation that could help you resolve your issues together.

Even if you are certain that you want a divorce, an argument is not the best time to bring it up. Doing so can make the divorce seem like a punishment to your spouse, rather than a rational decision based on your feelings about the state of your marriage. It also may set the tone for all divorce discussions to devolve into conflict, which can make the process much longer and more stressful.

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Wheaton family law attorneysDivorced and unmarried parents alike will almost certainly encounter the legal matter of child support as the court determines a fair arrangement that financially provides for their children’s needs. In Illinois, the basic child support obligation is meant to provide for costs related to a child’s food, clothing, shelter, and ordinary medical expenses, but in many cases, this does not truly account for everything that a child needs to maintain his or her quality of life. For this reason, the court may consider additional expenses when determining the amount that each parent will be required to contribute.

Additional Expenses Can Be Included 

Depending on factors including the child’s needs, the standard of living he or she could expect in a two-parent household, and each parent’s financial ability to contribute, the court may order that the following expenses be included beyond the basic child support obligation:

  • Educational expenses: Reasonable expenses related to a child’s education can be included in a support order. Depending on the situation, this may include private school tuition, and it can also include college and university expenses for children over the age of 18.
  • Extracurricular activities: The court may hold both parents responsible for expenses associated with activities that enhance a child’s social, cultural, or athletic development, including sports, art classes, music lessons, camps, and more.
  • Child care: The court may include expenses for an in-home or out-of-home child care provider in cases in which child care is necessary for a parent to be able to seek or hold employment or further his or her education.
  • Special needs: A child who has special needs related to his or her physical or mental development may be entitled to support from both parents for additional expenses related to care, treatment, and education.
  • Extraordinary healthcare expenses: The court may order parents to provide for expenses related to health insurance and medical expenses beyond the ordinary, including emergency and life-saving measures as well as ongoing expenses.

In order to determine the full amount of a parent’s child support obligations, the court will often start with the baseline calculation that Illinois uses to determine the basic support obligation, which relies significantly on the combined income of both parents. From there, it may consider the actual or estimated costs of additional expenses and issue an order that justly and equitably distributes obligations between the two parents.

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DuPage County family law attorneysDaytime television has popularized the idea of a DNA test to establish paternity to the point where you might think it is a necessary part of any legal paternity case. It is true that in Illinois, genetic testing is often used in cases involving uncertain or contested paternity, but there are other ways of establishing paternity that do not require testing at all. As either a father seeking to establish paternity or a mother who wants to ensure child support, you should be aware of when a DNA test is or is not required and what you can expect if a genetic test is part of your case.

Establishing Legal Paternity Without a DNA Test

In Illinois, there are a few situations in which legal paternity for an unmarried father can be established without the need for a DNA test. These include cases in which the father:

  • Was previously married to or in a civil union with the child’s mother within 300 days before the child’s birth. In this case, no further legal action is required to establish paternity.
  • Marries or enters into a civil union with the child’s mother after the child’s birth, if he has consented to being named as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
  • Completes and signs a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP), regardless of his current or prior relationship with the child’s mother. A VAP can be completed at the hospital upon the child’s birth or at any point after. The mother must also sign the VAP as well.

When is a DNA Test Used?

If you believe you may be the father of a child and are interested in being a part of the child’s life, you can request a DNA test to confirm your paternity. This may be important in cases where you or the mother simply have questions or when the mother is trying to contest your paternity.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysOut of all of the marital properties that must be divided in a divorce, perhaps none carries a greater emotional weight than the family home. It may be the place where you and your spouse began your life together, or where you have raised your children and made lasting memories. However, as you consider what will happen to your home during the divorce, it is best to try to set aside emotions and make a rational plan for achieving your desired outcome.

Options for the Marital Home When Dividing Assets

Because Illinois requires an equitable distribution of marital assets rather than a 50/50 split, getting a divorce does not mean that you and your spouse will have to divide the value of the house down the middle. Rather, you have a wide range of options, especially if you are willing to work together to negotiate a solution. Some of the possibilities include:

  • Following the terms of your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement: It is worth noting that if you and your spouse created a legally valid agreement, either before or during your marriage, that specifies what becomes of the marital home in a divorce, the court will usually honor it. This can save you time and stress during the divorce process.
  • Granting ownership to the spouse with greater parenting time: You and your spouse may decide it is best for your children to continue spending most of their time in the home they are used to, and this is also a factor the court may consider even if you cannot reach an agreement on your own. With this option, the spouse who keeps the home should be sure that he or she can manage any accompanying expenses, and should be aware that it may mean giving up a greater share of other properties.
  • Maintaining joint ownership temporarily: If the primary custodial parent cannot afford to keep the house alone, you may be able to reach an agreement in which you and your spouse continue to own the home together until your children are grown. Maintaining joint ownership for a time may also be a good idea if the housing market is not currently favorable to sellers.
  • Selling the home: If neither spouse has a strong attachment to the home, or if neither would be able to afford to keep it on his or her own, the best option may be to sell it and divide the proceeds after paying off any outstanding debt. This may also be the outcome if you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement and the decision is left in the court’s hands.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer Today

At Davi Law Group, we understand how important your home may be to you, and we will help you explore all possible options for it during your divorce. We can advise you through cooperative negotiations with your spouse or represent your interests in a divorce trial if necessary. Contact a compassionate Wheaton, IL family law attorney at 630-504-0176 to schedule a free consultation.

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