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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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Wheaton divorce lawyerWhen a couple decides they are getting a divorce, it is not uncommon for one spouse to willingly move out of the home. While this makes the most sense for many couples, it can also raise concerns for some. How can you make sure your spouse is still contributing to household expenses? How do you make sure your children still see their other parent? When this happens, you have two options: come to an agreement about how expenses and child custody will be handled for the time being or go to court to ask for a temporary order to protect yourself and your family.

If you are able to, coming to an agreement with your spouse about how these things will be handled during the divorce process is usually favorable. In some situations, however, this is not feasible. In these cases, your best bet may be to get temporary court orders that you and your spouse must abide by. Temporary orders can help you address some of your immediate concerns while your divorce is going on, and they will last until your divorce is finalized. Here are a few issues you can petition the court to decide using temporary orders:

  • Possession of the Marital Home: If one spouse petitions to have exclusive possession of the marital home during the divorce process, you must attend a hearing in which the judge will determine whether or not this is in the best interests of the family. Usually, exclusive possession is awarded if the well-being of a person or their children may be compromised if both spouses continue to live in the home.

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Naperville Legal Separation AttorneyComing to the decision to get a divorce does not happen suddenly. It often takes couples months or even years to reach the point where they no longer want to be married. In the time between the start of marital trouble and the signing of divorce papers, couples often live apart from one another and lead separate lives. During this time, a couple may file for a legal separation, allowing them to address certain issues while they live separately. Following a legal separation, a couple will remain married in the eyes of the law. However, at any point, either spouse may decide to move forward with their divorce.

What Is a Legal Separation?

A legal separation is the “official” way of saying that you and your spouse are taking a break from one another. To get a legal separation in Illinois, there are a few requirements that you must meet. One of the most basic terms requires either you or your spouse to be a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days. Then, you will need to file a petition for legal separation in the court of the county that you or your spouse lives in. The petition will contain specific personal information, but most importantly, it will contain proof that you and your spouse currently live separately from one another and are not financially dependent on each other. During the process of legal separation, you will create a separation agreement that addresses how you will handle issues such as child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and the division of marital property while you are living separately.

Can I Benefit From a Legal Separation?

Many people think that getting a legal separation will end their marriage. While it is true that a legal separation and a divorce have many similarities, they are not the same. A legal separation is a good stepping stone for couples who are contemplating the possibility of a divorce. A separation is not permanent, so it can sometimes allow a couple to reconcile and get back together. It may also allow spouses to maintain some of the benefits of being married, such as insurance coverage, while living separately, and it may be an option for ending a relationship while avoiding divorce for religious, cultural, or family reasons.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerAccording to statistics from the National Survey of Family Growth, around 22% of all marriages end within the first five years, and an estimated 53% of marriages dissolve by the 20-year mark. With these statistics in mind, it is not surprising that divorce is common for Americans. Getting a divorce has been said to be one of the most stressful life events, second only to the death of a loved one. One of the ways you can help alleviate some of this stress is by effectively preparing for the end of your marriage. Here are a few tips to help you get your affairs in order before you begin your divorce:

Get a Clear Picture of Your Finances

First, you should have full knowledge of your financial situation. It is not uncommon for one spouse to be more in tune with the family's finances than the other. However, it is important to be in the loop when it comes to your income, assets, expenses, and other financial matters, since everything will be divided in the end. Make a list of all of your marital assets and debts so you can figure out what you actually own and owe. Next, make a preliminary budget for what you need to live off of after the divorce is said and done. This will help you figure out what you should fight for during the asset division process and whether you might be eligible to receive spousal maintenance.

Talk With Your Children

If you have children, you are probably worried about how your divorce will affect them. Many parents are hesitant about getting a divorce, because they do not want to hurt their children. However, ending a marriage that is full of conflict and arguments can often be the best thing for your kids. Studies have shown that children who have divorced parents often have fewer emotional issues than those whose parents stayed together but were unhappy with each other. If you have children, the first step to a healthy transition period is to talk to them about the divorce and explain to them what is happening. You might be surprised at how much they understand, and they may even have a positive opinion about the upcoming changes to their lives.

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Wheaton debt division lawyerDealing with the marital estate is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. Contention over who gets to keep the family home and who gets the money in savings accounts can be the cause of many arguments during the asset division process. One thing to note is that property and assets are not the only things that must be divided during this division process you must also allocate your debts between the two of you. Allocating debt can prove to be a stressful process, especially since debts created by one spouse may need to be divided between the two of you.

Is it Marital or Non-Marital Debt?

The first thing you must do is determine which of your debts are actually part of the marital estate and which of your debts are personal debts. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), any property or debts acquired between the day you were married and the day you filed for divorce are considered to be part of the marital estate. If the debt was acquired before you were married or after you filed for divorce, it will probably be considered individual debt. Marital debt can include:

  • Credit card debt

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Wheaton uncontested divorce lawyerWhile it is true that some couples do not end their marriages on the best of terms, many divorces are amicable, with both partners knowing that divorce is the best option for everyone. Getting a divorce means you will have to make some difficult decisions about your life and your children’s lives. Even though you may not agree on everything, your divorce does not have to be a strenuous process. An uncontested divorce can be preferable and beneficial for everyone involved -- that is, if you are able to cooperate and negotiate with your spouse.

Understanding an Uncontested Divorce

In the most basic of definitions, an uncontested divorce is simply one that is able to be negotiated and settled without the intervention of a court or a judge. There are certain things that all divorcing couples will have to decide before they can complete their divorce. These issues can include:

Naperville adoption lawyerAs soon as you have made the decision that you want to adopt a child, you are then tasked with determining which type of adoption you want to pursue. There are many types of adoptions, but the first decision you must make is whether you want to adopt a child domestically or internationally. There are certain unique aspects that come along with each type of adoption, creating benefits and drawbacks to each. Deciding between a domestic and international adoption dictates how you begin the adoption process and will determine the steps taken throughout your adoption journey. Here are a few considerations that you should keep in mind when deciding between an international and domestic adoption:

Communication With the Birth Family

In the United States, very few adoptions are "closed" nowadays. There is usually some degree of "openness" in domestic adoptions, and adoptive children will typically have some form of contact with one or both of their birth parents. In some cases, the birth mother may receive periodic updates on the child and their life. In others, the birth mother may spend holidays or other special occasions with the adoptive family.

In international adoptions, birth mothers are rarely in contact with their biological children once they have been adopted. Though it is not impossible to keep in touch, contact with the birth parents typically ends once the adoption process is finalized.

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Naperville child custody lawyerFor divorcing couples with children, a parenting plan must be created before you can tie up the loose ends of your divorce and move on with your life. Illinois courts urge parents to create a parenting plan together that contains all of the provisions and stipulations that they wish to abide by once their divorce is finalized. If you do not come up with a parenting plan, or if you are unable to agree upon one, the responsibility then rests on the courts. A judge, along with a team of professionals, will create a parenting plan for your family, but this often results in one or both of the parents being unhappy with the terms of the agreement.

There are certain commonalities that all parenting plans must share, but parents are given a generous amount of freedom in regards to what can be included in a parenting plan. Here are a few things that may not come to mind right away, but are worth consideration for your plan:

  • Religion: This can be a point of contention between parents, especially if the parents are not of the same religion. Since religion is such a personal matter, it is highly recommended that you and your former spouse make the decision about the child’s religious upbringing together. If the court is forced to intervene, they will most likely make a decision based on prior conduct in regards to the child’s religion.

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DuPage County divorce attorney

Marriage may look bright and shiny on the outside, but it can be a difficult relationship to maintain over the years. As people change, sometimes their partners do not change alongside them. No couple stays the same throughout the entirety of their marriage. For some couples, this can lead to new adventures throughout life’s stages, while for others, it can cause them to grow apart with no hope for reconciliation. Every marriage is unique, but there are a few common denominators that experts have found to be frequent causes of divorce

Money, Money, Money

In the past, many couples got married at a young age, meaning that they often did not have much money to their names. This has shifted in the last decade, as millennials decide to wait a little longer before tying the knot. Money troubles are common for young couples looking to start a life together. Rather than taking the time to build up a fair amount of savings, these couples can find themselves struggling to pay their bills, putting their relationship on the back burner. Although this is common with younger couples, those who get married later are far from exempt from financial issues. Some are used to being independent and find it difficult to share finances with their partner, while others run into hard times financially due to a job loss or medical care costs. Regardless of the reason, disagreements regarding money are common for all couples, and they can sometimes make or break a relationship.

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Wheaton high asset divorce attorneyThe financial aspects of divorce can be an additional stressor for those in the process of ending their marriage. For some, this stress comes from worrying about the cost of divorce. But for couples who have money to spare, their extensive assets can actually be the root of the divorce anxiety. During divorce, couples who have a high net worth have a few different issues that many other couples typically do not have to worry about. If you are going through a high net worth divorce, here are a few mistakes you should try your best to avoid:

Concealing Assets From Your Spouse

Trying to hide assets from your spouse is not uncommon in high net worth divorces. This is possibly one of the worst mistakes you can make, because not only is it unfair, but it is illegal. During divorce negotiations, you are required to be completely truthful with your spouse and their attorney. If you do not fully disclose all aspects of your finances during the discovery process, including the income you earn, the assets you own, and the debts you owe, you could end up paying a lot more than what you would have originally, causing you to lose the assets you were trying to protect.

Forgetting About Tax Issues

Getting a divorce involves a lot of financial decisions that can affect you for the rest of your life. One thing you must keep in mind when making these decisions is how it will affect your taxes after the divorce papers are signed. With the many financial aspects of divorce, there are tax implications that can come up in the future. Issues such as spousal support can affect the amount of taxes that you pay, along with 401(k) distributions or selling certain assets.

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Naperville holiday parenting time lawyerIn the midst of the holiday season, families across Illinois are planning how to spend time together during Christmas and New Year's. In addition to the vacations surrounding these days, there are plenty of other holidays and special days throughout the year that can be fought over by parents who are no longer married. Parenting plans are required by all Illinois couples who are divorced and have children. These legal plans must contain a parenting time schedule that is followed throughout the year. Also included in the parenting plan is how holidays will be spent between the two parents. The holiday parenting time schedule will usually supersede the normal parenting time schedule, so it is important for you and your ex to agree on one that works for you.

Examples of Holiday Parenting Schedules

There are a few ways that are commonly used to distribute holiday time amongst parents who are divorced. The Illinois Supreme Court has published a sample parenting plan that is accepted in all Illinois courts and provides more than one way to settle holiday parenting time issues. For simplicity, you can choose their premade holiday parenting plan, or you can determine which specific holidays each parent gets to spend with their child. Many parents choose to personalize their holiday parenting plan so they can create an arrangement that both parents agree on. Common holiday parenting time schedules include:

  • Alternating Years: One of the most common ways parents agree upon sharing holidays is by celebrating them on a rotating schedule. For example, if mom gets the kids for Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Halloween in even years, then dad gets to spend those holidays with the children in odd years. In such an arrangement, you are guaranteed to spend time with your child for almost every holiday on a semi-annual basis. 

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Wheaton property division lawyerFinancial issues are some of the most commonly-cited reasons for divorce. In some cases, one spouse may not have believed in overspending, while the other spouse was comfortable with leaving a balance on the credit card every month. In other situations, spouses may have disagreed about how much to spend on daily necessities or luxury items. Whatever the reason for the financial mismatch, tensions can increase when the decision to get a divorce is made. It is not uncommon in a marriage for one spouse to be the “go-to” spouse for all things money-related. In situations like these, it can be tempting, and rather easy, for that spouse to conceal or hide assets in hopes that they will not have to share them with the other spouse.

Protecting your finances during your divorce is extremely important, because it can dictate your financial health for the rest of your life. Even if you were the spouse in the marriage who did not handle the majority of the finances, you will want to make sure you are receiving your fair share of assets in the divorce. If you suspect your spouse might be hiding assets from you, here are a few ways you can uncover them:

Start With the Tax Returns

The first place you should begin looking for any financial wrongdoing is on your tax returns. If the tax returns contain itemized deductions, scan through them and see if anything jumps out. For example, a deduction for property taxes can reveal a hidden property. You should also pay attention to capital gains and losses, which can help you discover hidden real estate or stocks and bonds.

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