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Naperville IL family law attorneyIn today’s world, most divorces are settled in some sort of amicable fashion. As the understanding of family, child, and adolescent psychology has evolved in the past couple of decades, family courts have increasingly advocated for couples to settle their issues in agreement with one another, which can lessen the burden on everyone. Unfortunately, however, not everyone is able to do this. Some couples end up in contentious situations that breed resentment that follows them into their post-divorce life.

Child-related issues such as parenting time and parental responsibilities are very emotionally driven topics that are often the cause of disputes after the divorce is final. Sometimes, a parent can take a dispute to the extreme and begin to interfere with the court-ordered parenting plan, which causes even more stress for the family.

Creating a Parenting Plan With Court Intervention

When you get a divorce as a parent in Illinois, one of the things you are required to do prior to finalizing the split is submit a parenting plan to the court. A typical parenting plan contains detailed information about how you and your spouse will parent your child from this point forward. This information will include things such as how parental responsibilities will be allocated to each of you and how parenting time will be distributed. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your parenting agreement, the court will intervene and make the final determination, though this can leave some parents unhappy with the court’s decision.

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DuPage County marital debt division attorneyWhen going through the divorce process in Illinois, couples typically focus on how to divvy up assets they acquired during the marriage. Less attention is paid to the financial obligations the parties incurred since the wedding date, so debt in divorce is often overlooked. In particularly contentious cases, bitter disputes and court battles may erupt as one spouse attempts to hold the other accountable for the amount due. Even if you are on relatively good terms, marital debts can often stand in the way when you are trying to reach an agreement on distributing real estate and personal property.

It is always wise to rely on experienced legal counsel when addressing divorce-related issues, so you should consult with an attorney about your specific circumstances. However, an overview of Illinois law may help you understand the basic concepts.

Illinois Law on Dividing Assets and Debts

Illinois’s statute on the disposition of property in a divorce requires an equitable distribution of all property and assets that belong to the marital estate. The law goes on to include debt and financial obligations in the definition of “marital property.” Therefore, it is important to consider the following regarding any debt belonging to you or your spouse:

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Naperville IL divorce lawyerDivorce can be a particularly expensive legal endeavor, especially for couples who already have complicated finances. When a couple or one of the spouses is struggling with debt, the costs of divorce can be incredibly difficult to bear. Many people benefit from pursuing debt relief through bankruptcy around the time of their divorce, but if this is something you are considering, you should understand how the timing of your filings can affect your finances and the divorce process.

Timing Your Divorce and Bankruptcy Filings

Some couples choose to file for bankruptcy together before beginning the divorce process. One benefit of doing so is the ability to share bankruptcy fees and costs with your spouse. Filing for bankruptcy before divorce can also help to simplify the division of marital assets and debts, especially in the case of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, through which certain assets are liquidated in exchange for the discharge of debt. Having a more clear understanding of where your finances will stand after bankruptcy can lead to a more equitable distribution.

However, there are situations in which waiting to file for bankruptcy individually after the divorce is a better option. For example, if a spouse has mostly non-marital debt, it is likely in the other spouse’s best interest to stay out of the bankruptcy process. Filing for bankruptcy separately may also be necessary to ensure that each spouse qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy according to the terms of the means test. Alternatively, if you are interested in pursuing Chapter 13 bankruptcy so that you can retain more of your assets, it may be best to wait until after the divorce, as this process can last for between three and five years.

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Naperville IL parenting time attorneyAfter the divorce process has been initiated, one of the most difficult things for parents to adjust to is the change in their parenting schedules. Instead of seeing and spending time with your child every day, you might only be spending a few days with your child each week. For many parents, this can feel as if they never get to spend enough time with their children. One option that can help a divorced parent spend more time with their children is including a clause known as the right of first refusal in the parenting agreement. An Illinois family law attorney can help you draft a parenting plan that includes this provision.

What is the Right of First Refusal in a Parenting Plan?

The right of first refusal means that when one parent is unable to take care of the child during their scheduled parenting time, they are to first check with the other parent to see if they would like to care for the child before making alternative child care arrangements. The idea behind this is to allow both parents to spend as much time with their children as possible rather than resorting to another option, and in some cases, it may even help parents save on child care costs.

Awarding the Right of First Refusal

As with the parenting time schedule, it is preferred if the parents can agree to a plan for the right of first refusal between themselves. However, if the parents are unable to do so, the judge will determine whether or not awarding the right of first refusal to one or both parents would be in the child’s best interest. To make this determination, the judge would use the same criteria that are used when making decisions on parenting time.

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Naperville IL family law attorneyIn many divorces, the most contentious issues tend to be those involving the children. Both parents are usually concerned with protecting their rights, and it is not uncommon for parents to disagree on issues such as the allocation of parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Even after the dust has settled, these disagreements can be dragged up again and get even more heated when one of the parents requests a modification to the parenting plan because of their intention to relocate with the children. If you are opposed to your former spouse’s relocation, you may have options to prevent it from happening.

Prior Notice of Relocation Must Be Provided

If your ex-spouse wants to move from their current residence to a new residence and take your children with them, they are not always able to do so without your permission. In some cases, a parent’s move is considered a relocation, which requires certain prior documentation and notice to the other parent before the relocation can take place. A notice must be provided to you prior to the relocation if the other parent’s new residence will be:

  • More than 25 miles away from the child’s current residence in Lake, Will, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, or Cook Counties.

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DuPage County hidden asset divorce lawyerFor every divorcing couple, there will always be at least one issue that is likely to be contentious and cause issues during negotiations. For some couples, issues involving the children, such as the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities, can cause tension and difficulty. For others, the asset division process can be this source of tension. The financial side of divorce is extremely important to pay attention to, as it can greatly affect your individual finances for years into the future. Some people may even go as far as to attempt to hide certain assets from their spouse in the hopes that the asset will not have to be split upon divorce. Purposefully concealing income and other assets from your spouse during a divorce is illegal and can prevent a fair distribution of marital assets.

Hidden Assets and the Asset Division Process

Obviously, one of the issues that would be affected by your spouse hiding assets is simply how the assets are allocated between the two of you. Illinois law states that all marital property is to be divided in an equitable manner among both spouses, but marital property cannot be divided if it is concealed. Here are a few signs to look for that may indicate that your spouse is concealing assets:

  • Your spouse insists on maintaining complete control over the finances and access to online bank accounts.

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Naperville divorce finances attorneyIf someone were to ask you right now how much money you would need each month to live comfortably, do you think you could give them an accurate number? Most people have no idea how much money they actually need to survive each month or how much they actually spend, even if they do have a budget. However, when you go to get a divorce, it is important to have an idea of your spending habits and financial needs, as it will be one of the questions that your attorney will bring up when discussing issues including spousal support and asset division. Most of the time, people will significantly underestimate or overestimate what they actually need to live a comfortable life or to maintain the lifestyle that they had during their marriage. A lifestyle analysis can help to ensure that you are prepared for life after your divorce is final.

Components of a Lifestyle Analysis

The goal of a lifestyle analysis is to produce a report that contains all of you and your spouse’s recent financial information. The analysis will also establish a basis for what your standard of living was during your marriage, and it may help to identify any issues or discrepancies. Information in your lifestyle analysis may include:

  • Personal tax returns from at least the past three years for both you and your spouse, along with business tax returns if either of you owns a business

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Wheaton IL child support enforcement lawyerIn most situations in which a child’s parents are not married or in a relationship, there will be some type of formal custody agreement detailing the rights and responsibilities of each parent, including the allocation of parenting time between them. Both parents have a legal obligation to financially provide for their child, whether or not they are the parent who is required to pay child support to the other parent. Most often, the parent with less parenting time is the one who pays support, the amount of which is determined by a formula that considers income and other factors. There are a number of reasons why a person may not make their child support payments, which can be extremely frustrating and financially straining for the other parent. If your child’s other parent is behind on child support payments, an Illinois child support enforcement lawyer may be able to help.

Failure to Support in Illinois

In most cases, there are few excuses for a parent missing or not paying child support payments without first notifying the court or petitioning for a modification to their support payments. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that any parent who fails to comply with a child support order will be punished the same as in any other contempt case. Typically, a person will not be found in contempt of the support order unless they have willingly defied the order or there is a history of missed or late support payments.

Taking Action to Recover Child Support

If you are having trouble receiving timely and accurate support payments from your child’s other parent, you may be able to request a contempt proceeding to determine whether or not your ex really is in contempt of the order. This proceeding will allow your ex to come forward with an explanation as to why they have not paid the child support, such as losing their job.

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DuPage County spousal maintenance lawyerEven in today’s world where a two-income household is becoming more of the norm, it is not uncommon to come across a family in which one parent works while the other stays at home to take care of the children. This may work during the marriage, but if the couple were to ever get a divorce, the stay-at-home parent could be at a significant financial disadvantage. In these types of situations, spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, is sometimes awarded to a lesser-earning spouse to help them become self-sufficient and to ensure they are able to enjoy a similar standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage. 

How Long Does Spousal Support Continue?

The terms of a spousal maintenance award, including the duration of the payments, can differ from case to case depending on a variety of factors. However, there are a few situations in which spousal support will almost always automatically terminate:

  • Cohabitation: Illinois is one of the states in which spousal maintenance terminates when the receiving spouse moves in with or begins to cohabitate with a new partner. The spouse paying the support has the burden of proving the other spouse has a cohabiting relationship with another person, which is defined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) as two people living with one another “on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.”

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Naperville IL marital property division attorneyGetting a divorce often makes people feel like they are diving into the great unknown. From the moment you and your spouse make the decision to split up, there are many changes that should be anticipated. Some of the biggest changes that take place during a divorce have to do with your finances and how your assets are distributed. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that each spouse is supposed to get an equitable share of the marital estate, which may not always work out to be an equal share. However, when it comes to certain assets, such as those obtained through an inheritance or family wealth, property division can become tricky because each situation is different from the next.

Determining Your Marital and Non-Marital Property

Prior to actually dividing any of your property, your attorney will want to determine which of your properties are marital assets and which are non-marital assets.  According to the IMDMA, in general, any asset acquired by either spouse prior to the marriage is considered to be non-marital property that is not subject to division during a divorce. Any asset that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered to be marital property, which is subject to division during a divorce. There are a few exceptions to the marital property rule, however. Assets that are obtained during a marriage can be considered non-marital property if the asset:

  • Was given as a gift, acquired by legacy or descent, or acquired in exchange for such property

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Wheaton family law attorneyFor many families, the winter months are filled with weeks of celebrations, time spent with loved ones, and meals gathered around the family table. At the same time, the holiday season can be abundantly stressful, especially for children whose parents are going through or who have already gone through a divorce or a separation. During the first holiday season after the separation, parents often face difficulty when it comes to bringing the magic of the season alive in their homes, but there are some things you can do to help. 

Managing the Holidays After Divorce

Here are a few things you can do to make the holidays easier for you and your children after your divorce:

  • Expect emotional reactions from your children. The first holiday season after your separation will likely be one of the hardest you will experience. While you may understand that the sadness that you feel during this holiday season will not last, your children may not. They may become frustrated, or they may not understand why things this year are different from years before. When you notice your child’s mood beginning to take a turn, try encouraging your child to talk about what they are feeling.

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Naperville IL parenting plan lawyerSome of the most contentious issues in a divorce are often the issues that revolve around the children, such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Before a couple with children can divorce, they must come to a consensus on all of these issues and put their agreement in writing into what is called a parenting plan. If you and your spouse are able to come up with the agreement on your own, this can be extremely helpful in the long run. Keeping the negotiations between you and your spouse, rather than taking the issue to court, also allows you to personalize your parenting plan and include provisions that are specific to your family’s situation. 

Items to Address in Your Parenting Agreement

Though you should further discuss your parenting plan with an Illinois divorce lawyer, here are a few things you should consider adding to your Illinois parenting plan:

  • Dietary standards for your child: Though it may sound strange, in some cases, one parent may want their child to follow a certain diet. For example, a parent may want their child to follow a vegetarian or gluten-free diet. Including a provision in the parenting plan could help ensure both parents stick to the diet.

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DuPage County divorce attorneyDivorce is no doubt one of the most stressful things a person can experience in their lifetime. Even for adults, coping with the stress of a divorce can be difficult, but for a child, it can be nightmarish. Children are not nearly as developed as adults are in any sense, whether that be emotionally, physically, or mentally. As such, children tend to have a much more difficult time coping and dealing with the impact of the divorce than their parents, especially if the divorce is particularly contentious. For many parents, the well-being of their children is the most important thing and at the top of their list of concerns, and if they are struggling to cope with your divorce, it may be beneficial for them to talk to a family therapist.

Signs That Your Children Are Struggling to Cope

Here are a few signs that may indicate that your children need help:

  • Frequent Outbursts or Displays of Aggression: Children are still learning important skills, like emotional control and regulation. Some children may express their strong emotions by lashing out in anger, throwing tantrums, being disobedient, or otherwise acting completely out of character.

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DuPage County high-conflict divorce attorneyGetting a divorce is rarely easy, but for some couples, the divorce process can be especially troublesome. It is normal for a divorcing couple to have disagreements, but when it seems as if the conflict will never cease, you can begin to feel worn down and burnt out. This can end up affecting not only your divorce case, but your physical and mental health, too. In many cases, a high-conflict divorce is the product of a high-conflict spouse. Often, it is possible to predict whether or not your spouse is likely to be combative or difficult to work with during your divorce process, allowing you to prepare yourself emotionally, mentally, and practically. 

Managing the Divorce Process With a Difficult Spouse

If you are going through a high-conflict divorce, here are a few ways to help you survive:

  • Limit the contact you have with your spouse. The easiest way to limit the stress of a high-conflict divorce is to limit the amount of communication you have with your spouse. A high-conflict spouse may thrive off of the arguments and the rise they can get out of you, so limiting the amount of time you spend talking with one another limits the amount of time they have to escalate the situation. Try to cease face-to-face communication and keep emails, text messages and phone calls short and simple.

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Naperville IL paternity attorneyOver the years, there have been many significant advancements in law and society when it comes to recognizing different family situations. For example, same-sex marriage was not only frowned upon but was illegal in many parts of the country for hundreds of years until a 2015 Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, there are also many ways that the laws still reflect traditional family structures. For example, Illinois generally presumes the father of any child born to a married mother to be the mother’s husband, though there are many situations in which this may not actually be the case. If a person wants to contest the paternity of a child, it is possible but it can be difficult, which is why hiring a paternity lawyer is recommended.

How Do I Contest Paternity If I Am Married?

When a child’s mother is married when the child is born or within 300 days before the child was born, the person the mother is or was married to is legally presumed to be the father of the child. Establishing paternity is a crucial step in solidifying a father’s rights to his child, but it also means that a legal father will be held to certain parental responsibilities, like child support, in the event of a divorce. If a man learns or suspects that he is not the biological father of his wife’s child and wishes to contest his paternity, he must take swift legal action, or the judge could choose to deny his petition.

How Can Paternity Be Disproven?

Once the father files the petition to contest paternity, the court will almost certainly order genetic testing to be completed. Genetic testing is an extremely accurate way of being able to tell whether or not a child is biologically related to an adult and usually only requires a simple cheek swab. Once the orders are given for genetic testing to be completed, the presumed father, mother, and child must all give samples so the DNA can be compared. If the results indicate that the man is not the child’s biological father, the legal parent-child relationship may be ruled to be nonexistent.

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Naperville, IL parenting time lawyerGetting a divorce brings about many changes to your everyday life, which can be especially true if you are a parent. One of the biggest and most difficult changes to cope with for many Illinois divorcees is how much less time they get to spend with their children. In Illinois, the default is to allow both parents to have unrestricted parenting time with the child, unless there is strong evidence that unrestricted parenting time would be harmful to the child’s physical or emotional and mental well-being. If restrictions are required, a common example is requiring the parenting time to be supervised.

What Does Supervised Parenting Time Look Like?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), supervision during parenting time simply means that there is a third party present during the parenting time of the parent in question. Typically there are two types of “supervisors” or third parties that are often used in supervised parenting time cases:

  • A court-approved professional, such as a therapist, psychologist, social worker, counselor or other professional

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DuPage County family law attorneysDivorcing with children means you must pay attention to and come to an agreement on a slew of additional issues other than your usual divorce topics. Making decisions and coming to a consensus on things such as parenting time agreements and child support payments with your spouse can seem like you are running a marathon, especially if you and your spouse are not on the friendliest of terms. In some cases, the child can even become stuck in the middle of the parental conflict and become a victim of parental alienation. This type of parenting behavior can be harmful to your child’s wellbeing, which is why you should take action at the first sign of alienation.

What is Parental Alienation?

In the simplest words, parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to damage the relationship between the other parent and their child. The alienating parent will display unjustified negativity toward the alienated parent, with the intent that the child’s emotions will turn against that parent. Not only is parental alienation extremely stressful and emotionally painful for the alienated parent, it causes emotional distress for the child and is actually considered by most mental health professionals to be emotional abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation can have a devastating effect on children, especially if the emotional abuse goes on for too long. The best thing to do if you suspect your spouse is trying to turn your child against you is to look for the signs of parental alienation to prevent it from happening or stop it while it is in its early stages. Signs that parental alienation might be taking place include:

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DuPage County family law attorneysAt any given time, there are more than 437,000 U.S. children living in the foster care system, with 125,000 of those children eligible for adoption. Adopting a child is a happy and joyous time for everyone in the family, but it can also be a long and complicated process. This is why children in the foster care system wait on average, four years to be adopted.

If you are thinking of adopting a child in Illinois, you should be aware of the steps in the adoption process and what exactly adopting a child entails. There are many potential legal complications that could arise from an adoption, which is why enlisting the help of a skilled Illinois adoption lawyer is highly recommended.

Filing the Petition for Adoption

As long as you are eligible to adopt a child, you may file a petition to adopt after the child becomes available for adoption. In Illinois, adults over the age of 21 can adopt a child, whether they are single or married, regardless of their sexual orientation. According to the Illinois Adoption Act, the petition should be filed within 30 days of the child becoming available for adoption and should state:

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DuPage County family law attorneysEven if you have the best of intentions going into your divorce, you can still end up going through a contested divorce if your spouse decides he or she will be combative. Many times, you will know when your spouse is going to be difficult about certain issues in a divorce. In some cases, your finances can be the point of contention in your divorce and the source of much of the tension and disagreement. Some people end up needing to use subpoenas during their divorce cases and some do not; the majority of that depends on how cooperative your spouse is when it comes to the discovery process and dividing your assets.

The Discovery Process and the Role of Subpoenas

The discovery process is the formal exchange of financial information between the two spouses during a divorce. In some cases, this process does not even have to happen because both spouses are able to be fair and reasonable when it comes to asset division. However, in most cases, especially complex divorce cases, the discovery process is essential for uncovering all relevant financial information and documents. This is also typically when you or your attorney would request and draft any subpoenas for documents that you may need. You are permitted to subpoena people as well, but it is rare that you need to subpoena a witness in a divorce case.

Situations in Which a Subpoena Can Be Helpful

Not everyone is going to need to request and use subpoenas during their divorce. If your spouse is being cooperative and is complying with your requests for certain documentation or proof of other financial information, you usually do not need to go through the trouble of getting a subpoena. In some situations, however, subpoenas can be useful to ensure your interests are being protected. You may want to consider using subpoenas if:

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DuPage County family law attorneysThere are many issues that a couple is bound to disagree on during a divorce. Some of the most common conflict-causing issues include child-related concerns such as allocating parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, whether or not you receive spousal maintenance, and what to do with the family home, among others. The most notorious issue that may cause conflict, however, is your finances. Just as finances tend to be a common cause of arguments and conflict in marriage, your finances can also be an area of concern in your divorce. A temporary financial restraining order can be a useful tool during your divorce and can actually protect your assets from being mishandled or wasted by your spouse

Understanding Temporary Financial Restraining Orders

When you think of a restraining order, you probably think of a document that prevents one person from coming within a certain distance of another person or committing an act of violence against them. Though the subject of the two types of restraining orders are different, they both operate under the same principle of protection. With a financial restraining order, the goal is to protect your marital assets from being misused, destroyed, spent, transferred, or otherwise handled inappropriately by your spouse during your divorce. 

Do You Need a Temporary Financial Restraining Order?

Even in divorce cases that are technically considered “uncontested divorces”, there is going to be some level of conflict about something as you go through the process. Not all high-asset divorces are also going to be high conflict, but having more financial issues to deal with can lead to more disagreements.

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