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DuPage County divorce coachFiling for divorce is likely the most complicated emotional and financial event that will take place in your life. Getting a divorce can touch every aspect of your life, including where you live, where your children go to school, your standard of living and even when you get to spend time with your kids. All of this change requires you to make quite a few decisions in a relatively short amount of time, which can be extremely stressful. People going through a divorce who are experiencing this kind of emotional distress often find that they benefit from the help of a divorce coach.   

What is a Divorce Coach?

Though getting a divorce is a legal and financial process, it also greatly impacts your emotional health, which often gets tangled up in the middle of the legal process. A divorce coach is an individual who typically comes from a legal or conflict resolution background and also has professional experience with mental health. Their main goal is to support, motivate, and guide you through your divorce by helping you make the best decisions possible for your future. It may sound like a divorce coach is similar to a therapist, but this is not the case. A therapist focuses on the past, while a divorce coach focuses on your future goals and how to achieve them.

Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Coach

The emotional side of divorce can be extremely overwhelming for some spouses, preventing them from thinking clearly or making rational decisions. However, to come out of your divorce with a viable divorce agreement, it is important that you are able to make rational decisions without your emotions clouding your judgment. Helping you balance your emotions and make practical, realistic decisions is one of the primary advantages of working with a divorce coach. Other benefits of hiring a divorce coach include:

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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

People get divorced for every kind of reason under the sun, from basic incompatibility to simply wanting different things in life. Many times, these reasons for a divorce stem from a basic inability of the couple to effectively communicate and cooperate with one another. Just as this spelled trouble during the marriage, this can also spell trouble during the divorce. Divorcing with children can be especially complicated as child-related issues tend to be very emotionally fueled, but they must be settled before the divorce can be finalized. Illinois courts urge parents to come to an agreement about parenting time and decision-making responsibilities on their own or with the help of a mediator. However, if that is unsuccessful or would be detrimental to the well-being of the family, the case must be brought before a judge.

Understanding Child Custody Evaluations

If you and your spouse appear before a judge without a consensus as to what your parenting plan agreement is, the judge will most likely order a custody evaluation to take place before any further decisions are made. If the court orders a custody evaluation to take place, the evaluator is then hired, which is typically a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. The evaluator’s job is to study and record the interactions between the child and each of his or her parents, siblings, and any other relevant family or household members.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

Ending a relationship with a spouse who has a tendency for conflict can feel like you are finally able to relax for the first time in a long time. If you have children, however, your time with your ex-spouse is far from over. Some couples are able to remain calm and civil after the divorce and successfully co-parent their children, while other couples struggle to keep discussions from escalating to full-blown arguments. Studies have shown that the single factor that affects children the most by causing distress is the conflict between parents. If you and your ex do not seem to see eye-to-eye on issues, a parallel parenting plan may be a more suitable solution for your family.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

In cases involving co-parents who exhibit high-conflict qualities, a traditional co-parenting agreement may not be in everyone’s best interest. Parallel parenting is an alternative form of parenting and allows high-conflict spouses to disengage from one another and have little direct contact. Often, this means the contact is only through written means, such as text or email, with no face-to-face or phone conversations. This allows there to be as little conflict as possible while still allowing both parents to be active in their child’s life.

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Naperville divorce attorneyIf you have not previously been divorced, then you understandably do not know what the divorce process actually entails. Everything that you know about the divorce process probably comes from what you have heard from your friends, family members, coworkers, and other people who have talked about their experience with divorce. While it can be helpful to have support from loved ones, you should speak to an Illinois divorce lawyer for the truth about any topics that may be of concern to you. Here are a few common myths that still exist about divore and the truths behind those myths:

You Must State a Reason For Your Divorce

Just a couple of years ago, the state of Illinois changed its divorce laws immensely. One of those changes was removing the option of choosing fault or naming a reason for the divorce. Now, the only legal reason stated for getting a divorce is irreconcilable differences which caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. 

Property is Always Divided 50/50

This is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about divorce. The most logical thing would be for each spouse to receive half of the couple’s assets and debts, but that is not how it always works out. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that property is always divided in an equitable manner in Illinois. This means that a variety of factors are looked at when dividing property and one spouse may end up walking away with more assets or debts than the other.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerFor many divorcing couples, children are a part of the picture and must be properly handled before the divorce can be finalized. Getting a divorce when you have any children at all increases the complexity and difficulty of the legal process, but doing so when your children are in their teenage years can provide for rather unique and interesting issues. If your children are still minors, you and your spouse must have a parenting plan approved and in place before you can have a judge finalize your divorce agreement. Creating a parenting plan can be straightforward in some situations, but when you are creating a parenting plan for teenagers, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Flexibility is Important

When you have a child who is a teenager, they are just beginning to blossom into young adults. Their lives are no longer revolving around you and the family. They have other things going on in their lives, such as school, friends, extracurricular activities, sports, jobs and significant others. A strict parenting plan will only cause stress for everyone and can put a strain on the relationship between you and your teen. Having a flexible parenting plan is important for successfully co-parenting a teenager.

Be Prepared For Them to Spend a Lot of Time With Friends

As your child grows, they will naturally want to spend more time with their friends and will gravitate away from the family setting. This is normal and actually helps prepare them for a few years down the line when they will be surrounded by peers and no longer living with parents. You should try not to place too much pressure on your teen for wanting to spend time with his or her friends in the midst of your divorce.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerFor many Americans, March was the last month that had any sort of normalcy to it. As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, it hit the United States especially hard, with the number of confirmed cases topping five million in recent days. The pandemic is responsible for closing thousands of non-essential businesses and forcing many others to conduct business remotely or work from home. This was true even for government operations, such as business conducted at the DuPage County courthouse. For those who are in the middle of the divorce process or are thinking about beginning the process of getting a divorce, the biggest question running through your mind is likely, “Is a divorce even possible at this time?”

Changes to Court Procedures

Thankfully, the answer to that question is yes, it is still possible to get a divorce during the pandemic, though it may be a little different from what you thought your divorce would be like. Beginning on June 8, the DuPage County courthouse reopened for normal business hours, but with changed procedures to help implement social distancing guidelines and other policies to protect court staff, judges, attorneys, and visitors. These guidelines include:

  • Reducing the number of in-person court calls conducted on a given day and requiring some court calls to be conducted through remote means to reduce the number of people present inside of the courthouse;

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Naperville child support lawyerWhen parents get divorced, there are many things that suddenly become a topic of concern for their children. Once you determine how you will split parenting time, you can then begin to calculate how much child support will be paid by whoever has the least amount of parenting time. In the state of Illinois, child support calculations take into account both parents’ incomes, the number of children, and the amount of parenting time that is allocated to each parent. Child support may also include a child’s medical expenses, which either or both parents can be responsible for. Child support calculations can be complicated and disputed, but an Illinois divorce lawyer can help you ensure your parenting plan addresses your child’s medical needs and his or her medical expenses.

Who Maintains the Child’s Health Insurance Coverage?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), a portion of the basic child support payment made each month to the custodial parent is intended to be used for basic medical expenses, such as cough medication if the child had a cold. However, the court does have the authority to order either or both parents to add the child to an existing policy held by either of the parents or purchase health insurance coverage for the child.

How Are Other Medical Expenses Managed?

It is rare that all of a person’s medical expenses will be completely covered by insurance. Typically, insurance companies pay for a portion of your healthcare services while you are responsible for the remainder of the cost. These costs can add up quickly, which is why it is important to denote how you will allocate those costs for your child in your parenting plan. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, the court has the discretion to order either or both of you to pay for medical expenses beyond insurance coverage, dental care, orthodontic care, and vision care.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerEvery divorce case will have its areas that cause disputes. For some couples, child-related issues will be the epicenter of most of the divorce conflict. For others, typically spouses who do not have children, the asset division process can be this source of contention. The asset division process can be long and confusing, especially since much of the process involves delving into your finances.

Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in some people, prompting them to do things that they normally would not do or things that they know they should not do. In a high-asset divorce, it is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to hide assets or otherwise keep his or her spouse from receiving a portion of the marital estate. This is where help from a forensic accountant can be beneficial.

Illinois Asset Division and Discovery

When it comes to the rules governing asset division, each state is different. The state of Illinois uses what is called an equitable distribution model. This, however, is not to be confused with equal distribution. Equitable distribution means that each spouse will receive a portion of the marital estate, that is deemed fair when all relevant circumstances are considered. Illinois courts urge couples to agree upon asset division themselves, but a court will divide assets if need be. If the court divides a couple’s marital assets, there is a chance that one spouse will receive a larger portion of the marital estate than the other spouse.

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Naperville divorce lawyerSocial media has changed the way humans communicate and interact with one another. Although it has been around for decades, every day we learn more and more about the effect that social media can have on our lives, especially as it pertains to relationships. Many studies have pointed toward social media as a possible factor for unhappiness in marriages and other relationships and even a possible trigger for some divorces. What some people may not know is that just as social media may play a role in your marriage, it can also have an effect on your divorce. However, whether the digital platforms are helpful or destructive is up to you.

Social Media and Your Divorce

In many divorce cases, social media can impact the proceedings. The most common way social media is used in divorce cases is to provide evidence toward an assertion that you or your attorney may have regarding your spouse. A social media post, photo, video, or other content could be the proof that you need to show that your spouse is not being entirely truthful with the court.

For example, let us say you request spousal support because you were a stay-at-home parent for most of the marriage. You know that you cannot live on spousal support forever, but you can only find part-time employment while you go back to school and finish your degree. Your spouse claims that he or she does not make enough money to pay for his or her own living expenses, along with spousal support and child support and that doing so would place a financial burden on him or her. However, you were scrolling through Instagram one day and saw your spouse had multiple posts about his or her recent beach trip to Mexico—a trip you knew nothing about.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

When parents get divorced, they cannot just go their separate ways and say goodbye — they will forever be connected by their children and will have to continue communicating with one another until their children reach the age of 18. Co-parenting with one another in the same city can be difficult enough. When one parent moves away, it can pose an entirely new set of challenges related to parenting. Whether you need to create an original parenting plan to facilitate the distance between you and your co-parent or you need to update your existing parenting plan, here are some tips that can help:

  • Coordinate with your co-parent as much as possible. It has been said before, but when it comes to long-distance co-parenting, communication really is key. Ideally, you should have your visitation schedule pre-planned and ready for reference. At a minimum, you should coordinate with your former spouse and determine which holidays and school vacations your child will be spending with each of you.

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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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