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Wheaton divorce lawyer“I want a divorce.” Those four words, small as they are, have the power to break a person’s heart or set him or her free—depending on who is saying them. When you have finally made the decision that you no longer want to be married to your spouse, it can feel like a sigh of relief. Telling your spouse about your decision, however, will likely be one of the most important, yet difficult conversations of both of your lives. The approach that you take when having this conversation could set the tone for the entire divorce and even though nobody wants to have this conversation, it is one that needs to take place. If you are thinking of separating from or divorcing your spouse, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure you mean what you say. You should not tell your spouse that you want a divorce unless you are certain that is actually what you want. If you are unsure of whether or not you are ready for a divorce, but you know that you are unhappy, you should talk to your spouse about why you are unhappy and how it can be fixed. Once you are fairly certain you would like to proceed with a separation or divorce, then it would be appropriate to bring it up.

  • Set the scene for the conversation. Talking to your spouse about your divorce will likely be one of the most complicated conversations of your life. You should do your best not to ambush your spouse with this conversation. If you can, plan a time and a place for you and your spouse to talk. Many times, talking in the privacy of your home is the most comfortable, but if you are scared for your safety, you may want to have the conversation in a public place, such as a coffee shop, or with a friend or family member nearby.

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Wheaton adoption lawyerNot everyone comes from a happy and loving family. Unfortunately, some people have children even when they know that they cannot provide the type of home environment or loving relationship a child needs. In these situations, the parents’ rights are often taken away or terminated for good, leaving the child in need. These children often have no choice other than to enter the foster care system. However, an adult sibling can petition for custody of their younger sibling if their parents’ rights have been terminated.

Adult Siblings and Related Adoptions

In Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) oversees the operations of the foster care system within the state. A family’s first interaction with DCFS is often when a complaint is made and DCFS is sent to investigate. If the child appears to be abused or neglected or the child’s home is unsanitary, unsafe, or otherwise unacceptable, the DCFS caseworker may remove the child from the physical custody of the parents.

Before the child is placed with an unknown family, the DCFS worker will attempt to locate any adult family members that are able and willing to take care of the child. This could include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and in some cases, even siblings.

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Naperville family lawyerGetting a marriage annulled is not simply another way to end a marriage. While divorce terminates a marriage, an annulment declares that a marriage was never valid in the first place. In Illinois, an annulment is technically called a “Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage.” An individual cannot get their marriage annulled simply because they regret getting married. In order to qualify for an annulment, there must be some reason that the marriage is considered invalid. Fortunately, if a marriage does not qualify for an annulment, the couple will still be able to end their marriage through divorce.

Reasons That a Marriage May Be Considered Invalid

In many cases when we hear about a married couple getting an annulment, it is a religious annulment through their church. However, a civil annulment is only issued if a marriage is invalid for some reason. The justifications for annulment include:

  • One or both of the spouses did not meet the age requirements to be married according to Illinois law. Individuals aged 16 or 17 may marry, but they must have written permission from a parent, guardian, or Illinois judge.

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Wheaton family law attorney legal separation

The term “separation” holds a certain negative connotation when explained to family or friends. If you and your spouse decide that you both need some time apart, others may jump to conclusions and assume that this is your first step toward divorce. While this may be the case for some couples, experts have shown that time away from your spouse can often help you make a better decision about how you would like to proceed. Some may simply live separately while others may file for a legal separation agreement. There are benefits and drawbacks to separation, some of which may bring you closer while others could drive you apart. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you navigate the legal process of separation.

How to Facilitate a Healthy Separation

Living apart from your spouse for a period of time does not have to end in divorce. In fact, many psychologists and marriage counselors actually encourage time apart if you are struggling to make things work. Once apart, you may recognize how much you miss and rely on your partner and decide to put in the additional time and effort to improve the relationship. In order to be productive while you are separated, here are a few things that experts suggest:

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Wheaton paternity lawyerEstablishing paternity is something that every Illinois mother should consider for her child. Legally establishing paternity for your child can guarantee rights for both your child and your child’s biological father that neither would have otherwise. In some cases, you will not have to do anything to establish your child’s paternity. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if he is married to the child’s mother when the child is born or gets married within 300 days of the child’s birth. If the mother is unmarried when the child is born, she will have to establish the child’s paternity through a different route.

The easiest way to establish paternity is by having both parents sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form at the hospital when the child is born or shortly thereafter. If both parents do not agree about the child’s paternity, the case can be brought to court. In cases of contested paternity, genetic testing is often conducted to eliminate any doubts or disagreements about who the child’s biological father is.

How Does Genetic Testing Work?

If the paternity of a child is contested, the child’s parents can choose to go to court to settle the issue. If the couple does go to court for their paternity lawsuit, the judge will most likely order the mother, father, and child to all be genetically tested to determine the child’s paternity. Each person's DNA will be tested to look for matches. Every child gets half of their genes from their mother and half of their genes from their father. This means that portions of the child’s DNA will match parts of each parent's DNA. The child’s father is determined by finding matches between the child’s DNA and the father’s DNA. A man is ruled out as being the child’s father if the man’s DNA does not match the child’s.

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Wheaton adoption lawyerFor many families, adoption is the option that makes the most sense when it comes to having children. There are many reasons why a couple would choose to adopt a child, whether that be because of fertility issues or because they simply want to make an addition to their family. By far, the most common question that people have when they consider adoption is, “How much does it cost?” Most people understand that adoption can be expensive, and if you are considering this option, you are likely wondering if it is feasible for your family. The cost of adoption can vary based on a variety of circumstances, many of which are in your control.

Domestic or International?

First and foremost, are you interested in a domestic or international adoption? Domestic adoptions are usually much less expensive than international adoptions. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the average cost of an international adoption runs anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. International adoptions typically cost much more than domestic adoptions because of travel costs and immigration processing, in addition to the typical adoption costs such as court costs, mandatory adoption education, and legal fees.

Domestic adoptions, which are adoptions that involve American children, tend to be much more affordable than international adoptions. Domestic adoptions can be completed in many ways, including private adoptions directly from the child's biological parent(s), adoptions conducted through adoption agencies, and adoptions of children through the Illinois foster care system.

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Naperville divorce lawyerFor decades, the United States has focused much time and energy on public awareness campaigns about the prevalence of domestic violence and what you can do if you are experiencing domestic violence in your home. Unfortunately, domestic violence still remains an issue to this day. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there are around 12 million men and women who are victims of domestic violence each year.

When it comes to divorce or other child-related legal proceedings, situations involving accusations of domestic violence can sometimes be very volatile, and this can lead to concerns about protecting the safety of family members and providing for children's ongoing well-being. Because of this, there are a variety of complicated legal issues that may need to be addressed.

Domestic Violence and Parental Rights

During divorce cases and child custody proceedings in Illinois, the courts are of the opinion that the child’s best interests are best served if both parents play a close and continuing role in the child’s life. However, if domestic violence has occurred in the past, or if one parent believes the other parent's actions could threaten children's health and safety, the court may take steps to determine whether either parent is a threat to the child. In many cases, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to investigate the situation and offer recommendations about the decisions regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerFor many people, having a child and starting a family is a life goal. Having children can be extremely fulfilling, but they do not need to be taken care of forever. Eventually, children grow up and head off to college or move out of the home. During this time, many parents develop feelings of loss and emptiness. These feelings have been named “empty nest syndrome,” and they can lead to a great deal of stress for many parents that can affect their marriages. It is not uncommon for couples to have marital issues after their children have left the home. In some cases, the issues in the marriage could lead to a divorce.

What Is Empty Nest Syndrome?

If you have children, you have spent years, even decades, dedicating yourself to them. You took care of them while they were babies, helped them through the tough adolescent years, and guided them through heartbreak and other difficulties as teenagers. Now, they are ready to leave the home and explore the world. You are left behind, with the same home, same life, and same spouse, and you may struggle to adjust to your children being gone. The feeling of loss and emptiness that you may experience is known as empty nest syndrome.

Dealing With Empty Nest Syndrome

When your last child has left the home, you may begin to focus more on your spouse, for better or for worse. In some cases, there may have been issues present throughout the marriage that you never had time to address. Now that you have the time, the issues can seem even more intense and problematic. You and your spouse may have grown apart during the years of your marriage, focusing all of your time on your children and not enough time on each other. In this type of situation, you may feel as if you do not even know who your spouse is anymore. Feeling the effects of empty nest syndrome does not have to result in divorce, but it can often highlight issues that are already present in your marriage. If you are unable to resolve these issues, divorce may ultimately be your best option.

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Wheaton asset division lawyer business valuationDuring a divorce, one of the biggest issues you must deal with is the asset division process. Everything that you and your spouse own together must be allocated between the two of you during this process. Illinois is an equitable division state, which means marital property should be divided in a fair manner. However, fair does not always mean equal. Most assets are easy to define and allocate, but what happens when you or your spouse own a business or a private practice that you must address?

Options For Your Business

Before you make any decisions, you should get a fair valuation of your business. It is important to know exactly what your business is worth before you start figuring out how to deal with it. There are various methods you can use to determine the value of your business. Your divorce attorney should be able to recommend an appraiser who can offer advice about your valuation.

When it comes to your business and your divorce, there are three main options that you have to choose from. You can buy out your spouse’s share of the business, you can remain co-owners, or you can sell your business. Each option has its own benefits, but your best option depends on your specific situation.

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Wheaton prenuptial agreement lawyerPrenuptial agreements have historically been considered taboo. After all, who plans their divorce before they are even married? In recent years, prenups have become increasingly popular and are no longer just for celebrities. Couples from all walks of life have begun to recognize how a prenuptial agreement could be beneficial to their marriage and peace of mind. In the event that you do get divorced, a prenuptial agreement acts as the framework for the divorce agreement, making the entire legal side of the divorce process easier.

A Prenup Cannot Include the Following

If you end up getting divorced, your prenuptial agreement will save you some time, as long as your agreement is valid. However, there are certain things that you cannot include in a prenuptial agreement for it to be considered legally valid. If your prenup is found to include some of these details, the court can decide to throw out the invalid parts, or the entire agreement may be considered invalid. Here are a few things that cannot be included in Illinois prenuptial agreements:

  • Anything concerning parental rights or child support: One topic that is always off-limits with prenuptial agreements is your children. You cannot address the allocation of parental responsibilities or child support in a prenup, because you cannot predict what will be best for your child in the future. If you do get divorced, and you have children, the court will determine child support and allocate parental rights based on what is in the child's best interests at the present time.

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Wheaton postnuptial agreement lawyerEven if you love your spouse and are happy with them when you get married, you cannot predict the future. People change and evolve over time, and it is impossible to know what will change down the road. The way you feel about your spouse when you get married may not be the same as the way you feel about them 5, 10, or 15 years later. When things get tough in a marriage, one or both spouses may begin to consider divorce. The decision to divorce does not take place overnight, nor is it an easy one to make. When a couple is unhappy, yet not quite ready to call it quits, talking with a divorce lawyer and creating a postnuptial agreement may actually help save the marriage.

What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement is very similar to a prenuptial agreement, which is a legally-binding agreement that is signed before the marriage. The main difference between the two is that a postnuptial agreement is signed after a couple is already married. The two types of agreements may also address different areas — a prenuptial agreement tends to focus on issues that might come to light during the marriage, such as infidelity or financial issues, whereas a postnuptial agreement typically looks at the current life that you have built and what that will look like moving forward.

How a Postnuptial Agreement Can Save Your Marriage

Many couples reach a stage in their marriage where they are unhappy with the marriage and/or the spouse, but they are still not ready to call it quits. This time is crucial in a marriage. Failing to address your unhappiness will likely lead to divorce, but being proactive about it can actually help you save your marriage.

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Naperville family law firmThe coronavirus has been in the news for weeks now. The virus, also known as COVID-19, has spread rapidly across the world and the United States. There are currently more than 140,000 cases of Coronavirus in the United States, with over 2,400 deaths to date. The virus has been quickly spreading across the country, and currently, the primary recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are to practice social distancing. This has led many states, including Illinois, to enact stay-at-home orders, requiring residents to only leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons. This has also led many people to wonder how this order will affect their parenting time and parenting plans.

Understanding the Executive Order

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order on March 20, 2020 that requires all Illinois residents to stay in their homes and avoid social gatherings. The order still allows people to leave their homes for outdoor activities, such as walking the dog or exercising, or for other essential errands, such as going grocery shopping, getting gas, or picking up prescription medications. Travel has also been restricted to essential travel only, though roadways will still be open. Essential travel includes travel to care for the elderly, minors, or other vulnerable people, travel to return to one's residence, and travel for other essential tasks.

Complying With Visitation Orders

The order also states that “travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement,” is permitted. This means that your parenting time should not be impacted by the stay-at-home order. However, there are exceptions. If you or your child’s other parent are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, it may be in the children's best interests to forego parenting time with that parent until you have been tested for the virus and have been found negative. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

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Posted on in Family Law

COVID-19 FAQ

Q: What will happen to the court dates I have scheduled?

A: Kane, DuPage, Kendall and DeKalb Counties have all suspended non-emergency court dates through April 17, 2020. In Kane County, the judges are offering teleconferencing for previously scheduled pre-trial conferences and our office is working with our opposing counsels to move forward with those scheduled matters. The Circuit Clerk's Offices will be sending new dates for previously scheduled Case Management Conferences and status hearings. If your case was set for an extended hearing or trial, it is likely that those new dates will be scheduled after the courthouses resume regular operations. Should any circumstances change, we will be in touch with all of our clients to update you.

 

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Naperville divorce lawyerThere are many reasons that a marriage can end in divorce. Some couples may find that they want different things in life or that they are not happy together anymore. Other couples may become so distant with each other that one spouse strays outside of their marriage. However, that is not the only sex-related issue that can lead to divorce. In some cases, sexual dysfunction can also be a reason for the split.

Understanding Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction can occur with either spouse, though many falsely believe that this is only experienced by males. Sometimes, sexual dysfunction can manifest in men if they have difficulty or inability to maintain an erection. Women may experience pain during intercourse, making it unbearable to have relations with their partner. Sexual dysfunction can be difficult for many couples to deal with and it can often cause other issues in the marriage. If either spouse is experiencing sexual dysfunction, it can lead to a pattern of anxiety, avoidance, or abstinence from sex, damaging the marriage in the process.

Sex serves as a way to bond with your partner, and it helps develop feelings of intimacy and comfort. When you and your partner are experiencing sexual dysfunction, it can be difficult to maintain those feelings. This can cause both partners to become frustrated, sad, or even angry. The partner experiencing the problem may feel too embarrassed to seek help and guilty for not doing so. The partner without the problem may feel guilty for asking for sex or angry for not being able to maintain an active sex life. If the abstinence continues for a long period of time, it can cause emotional detachment or apathy, which can lead to divorce.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer contempt of courtIt is true that divorce is a stressful process that is wrought with emotions. Divorcing your spouse is a serious life change that can cause distress for the whole family, but it is not just an emotional process. First and foremost, divorce is a legal process that comes with certain legal requirements. There are many times during a divorce that the court may order you to do things, and these orders are not suggestions — they are legally-binding and required by law. In some cases, refusing to cooperate with the court’s orders can result in jail time until the orders are followed. 

What Is Contempt of Court?

Being in contempt of court is something you should do your best to avoid. If you are considered to be in contempt of court, you either did something that the judge specifically told you not to do or you did not do something that the judge ordered you to do. For example, a parent may be held in contempt if they refuse to follow their court-ordered parenting time schedule or if they do not meet requirements for paying child support.

To be held in contempt of court, a judge must prove that you willfully and knowingly violated a court order. To do this, the court must prove the following:

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerWhen it comes to child custody, the court has one goal: to protect the child’s best interests. To do this, there are a variety of factors that are considered when allocating parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Some of these factors include things such as the level of cooperation between the spouses, the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community, and even the stability of each parent and their ability to facilitate a loving relationship with the other parent. Another factor that has come up in Illinois courts more recently is whether or not a parent’s legal marijuana usage can (or should) affect that parent’s child custody rights.

The Legality of Marijuana in Illinois

Prior to the beginning of 2020, marijuana use was only legal for registered medical marijuana patients. On January 1, 2020, recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois. Under the new law, adults who are over the age of 21 are permitted to purchase and consume marijuana legally. Even though many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, the drug still remains illegal under federal law.

Marijuana Usage and Parenting Time

Within the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, the act that legalized and decriminalized marijuana in Illinois, there is a section entitled “Discrimination Prohibited.” This section specifically states that parents, legal guardians, or any other person who is responsible for the welfare of a child cannot be discriminated against because of their lawful use of marijuana or cannabis products. This means a court cannot limit your parenting time or decision-making responsibilities because of marijuana usage, as long as you use it in a lawful and responsible manner.

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Wheaton divorce attorneyGetting divorced is a stressful situation for most couples. Even if both spouses agree to the divorce, one can end up feeling overwhelmed, especially if there are children involved. When spouses become adversaries in legal situations, it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to begin to hide certain information or partake in other activities that could damage the family or affect the outcome of the divorce. In some situations, hiring a private investigator may be beneficial to help you uncover information. Here are a few ways in which a private investigator may be beneficial for you:

You Suspect Your Spouse Is Cheating on You

In Illinois, the only type of divorce that is recognized is a no-fault divorce. This means you do not have to cite a reason for the divorce, other than stating that the two of you have irreconcilable differences. Even though you cannot use your spouse’s adultery as a means of proving fault, it can still benefit you to discover whether or not your spouse is cheating on you. If it is determined that your spouse wasted marital assets on a lover during the marriage, you may be able to prove that he or she is guilty of dissipation. A private investigator will be able to gather evidence of a partner’s infidelity, which may prove beneficial when addressing issues related to the division of marital property.

You Need Help Locating Assets

A private investigator will have the skills and technology that allow them to gather information that could be valuable to you during your divorce. For example, spouses are not always truthful when it comes to disclosing all of their assets and income. This can keep you from receiving your fair share of marital property, or it could affect the spousal support you will pay or receive following your divorce. If something is not adding up in your divorce, a private investigator can help uncover hidden financial information.

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Wheaton asset division attorneyWhen you get a divorce, one of the most difficult subjects to handle is the division of property between you and your spouse. Not only can it fuel the emotional side of divorce, but property division can become complicated when trying to determine what to do with specific assets and how to make the division as fair and equitable as possible. There are a variety of factors that come into play when determining how marital property is divided.

Dividing Real Property

Some of the most complicated issues arise when it comes time to determine how real estate property is divided. Because a home cannot be physically split in half, couples sometimes have to get creative when distributing the value of this property. Spouses typically have three choices when it comes to dealing with the home: selling it and splitting the profits, keeping it in one spouse’s name while that spouse “buys out” the other spouse's share, or continuing to jointly own the home.

Dangers of Continued Joint Ownership

It is rarely a good idea to continue to jointly own property after a divorce. It is in your best interests to ensure that only your name is on the deeds or titles to any property that you are awarded in the asset division process.

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DuPage County divorce attorney for retirement fundsDuring a divorce in the state of Illinois, property is divided on an equitable basis if it is left up to a court judge to make the decision. This means that each spouse will receive his or her fair share of the marital estate, but this does not necessarily mean that everything will be divided in half. You probably already know that things such as your checking and savings accounts, household possessions, and other tangible assets are all part of the marital estate and subject to the property division process. What you may not realize, however, is that other parts of your financial portfolio may also be subject to division, such as your retirement funds.

Retirement Funds Are Usually Marital Property

For many people, their retirement fund is one of the most valuable assets that they own. Even though retirement accounts are often funded with wages from your own job, any gain or increase in value of your retirement account that occurred during the marriage is considered to be marital property and therefore subject to division. Retirement accounts are different than normal checking or savings accounts, and the way you are allowed to access the money is more restrictive. Because of these restrictions, accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs usually get special treatment during divorce.

Using a QDRO to Divide Your Retirement Accounts

Each spouse will most likely retain ownership of a retirement account that is in their name, but funds may need to be transferred in or out of these accounts during the property division process. This is especially true in marriages in which one spouse was the primary or sole breadwinner, and the other spouse did not have their own retirement account. When transferring funds in these accounts, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) should be used. This will allow funds to be withdrawn from an account without being subject to taxes or the standard 10% penalty for withdrawal before reaching retirement age.

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Naperville postnuptial agreement lawyer50 years ago, your average American probably would have raised their eyebrows in disbelief or widened their eyes in shock if you told them that you were getting a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. For years, there was a stigma against these types of agreements as being a way to plan for a divorce instead of trying to make a marriage work. Now, most people are much more agreeable to the idea of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Both types of agreements allow you to set forth terms for separation if your marriage heads down the track of divorce. The only difference between these two types of agreements is when they are signed — a prenuptial agreement is signed before the marriage, while a postnuptial agreement is signed any time after the marriage has been officiated.

Reasons to Get a Postnuptial Agreement

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are more common than they ever have been before, even for those who are not considered upper class. There are many situations in which getting a postnuptial agreement makes sense. These can include:

  • One spouse came into the marriage with significant assets, and a prenuptial agreement was not signed.

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