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DuPage County Divorce LawyerIf you were recently married, but you regret it, you may be interested in getting the marriage annulled. Annulment is commonly portrayed in movies and television shows as a quick fix for couples wanting to end their marriage. However, annulment is more complicated than movies would lead you to believe. Annulments are only available in a narrow range of circumstances in Illinois. Couples who do not meet annulment criteria will need to end their marriages through divorce.

Annulment Criteria in Illinois

Many people assume that annulment is the same thing as divorce. However, these are completely different legal actions. An annulment declares a marriage invalid and makes it as if the marriage never happened. Divorce terminates a valid marriage.

Annulment is warranted under the following conditions:

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerFinances are often a key factor in divorce and family law disputes. For the court to make a determination about the division of assets and debts, child support, and other issues, the court needs accurate financial information from both parties. Unfortunately, not everyone is as forthcoming about financial information as they should be. Some people disclose only partial financial information or actively hide assets and income during family law cases to gain an unfair advantage.

If you are involved in a divorce, child support case, or another family law matter and you suspect that another party is lying about income, contact a family law attorney for help. Attorneys have various means of finding undisclosed income and hidden assets so any determination is based on factual financial information.

How People Hide Income in Family Law Cases

The simplest way to hide income in a divorce or family law case is to simply fail to disclose it. Hiding income is much easier for individuals who own businesses or are self-employed. Because there are no payroll stubs showing exactly what they made, they can easily lie about how much money they earn. Some people also get jobs “under the table” that pay cash and do not keep records of payments.

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Naperville Divorce LawyerMarriages end for countless reasons. Some gradually break down over the course of years or decades. Other marriages end abruptly because a spouse has an affair or violates the other spouse’s trust. Sometimes, spouses simply fall out of love. If your marriage has reached the point of no return and divorce is imminent, there are things you can do now to make the divorce process easier.

Preparing for Divorce Can Help Make the Process Go More Smoothly

Divorce is a difficult process to go through, but preparing in advance can help you ready yourself to tackle divorce issues like property division, spousal maintenance, and child-related matters.

If you know that your marriage is beyond saving and you will soon divorce, here are six steps you can take to prepare yourself, your family, and your finances.

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyBeing a parent is hard regardless of your marital status. But co-parenting kids with an ex comes with additional challenges. If you are planning to divorce or you are an unmarried parent sharing custody of your kids with an ex, you may already have experienced some of these difficulties. Parents may disagree about parenting time schedules, their child's education or participation in extracurricular activities, healthcare, and much more.

Every co-parenting relationship is bound to experience problems, but there are steps you can take to lessen co-parenting disagreements.  

Disagreements About Child-Related Issues

Parents often have strong opinions about what is best for their children. When parents disagree on what is in their child's best interests, the situation can quickly devolve into an argument.

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DuPage County Protection Order AttorneyDomestic violence victims in Illinois have the option to get an order of protection to protect themselves, their children, and their property. A protection order is often the first step in leaving an abusive marriage or relationship. Protection orders can also provide legal protection if the abuse is at the hands of an ex-romantic partner, current or former household member, or family member. Unfortunately, many domestic violence victims are unaware of their rights and options under Illinois law. This leads them to suffer in silence and without the legal protection they need. Read on to learn about protection order hearings and what you can do if you are ready to get a protection order for yourself or a loved one.

Emergency Protection Orders May Be “Ex Parte” Orders

The first step in seeking legal protection against an abusive or harassing individual is an Emergency Order of Protection (EOP). In Illinois, EOPs are offered on an “ex parte” basis which means that the respondent (the subject of the order) does not need to be present. You can get an EOP from the court based solely on your testimony. The abuser’s presence is not required. Often, domestic violence victims are able to get an EOP on the same day on which they requested it.

Protection Order Hearings and Plenary Orders of Protection

When someone gets an EOP, the court enters a hearing date for a longer-lasting protection order called a Plenary Order of Protection. This hearing is more traditional. Both parties are expected to show up to the hearing. The judge will give the abuse victim and the abuser the chance to make their case. Often, the parties’ attorneys speak on their behalf during the hearing. Each side will be given the opportunity to provide testimony, call witnesses to the stand, and submit evidence to the court for consideration. After the hearing, the judge makes a decision. He or she will either grant the Plenary Order of Protection or deny the request based on the testimony and evidence presented.

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DuPage County Divorce AttorneyIf you are getting divorced, there are probably a thousand questions running through your head at any moment. Divorce can have major personal and financial implications. One issue many people worry about is what happens to debts in a divorce. You or your spouse may have student loans, credit card debts, personal loans, a mortgage, and other debts. What happens to this debt when you get divorced? Who is ultimately liable for debts accumulated during a marriage? The answers to these questions vary. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand your financial rights and responsibilities during your divorce and the best way to protect your financial interests.

Is the Debt Marital Debt or Non-Marital Debt?

The first question you will need to ask yourself regarding debt is whether the debt is considered marital debt or non-marital debt. Ideally, spouses will have signed a prenuptial agreement that clearly explains which debts and assets are marital and non-marital. However, if there is no such agreement, the debt classification will be determined by Illinois law.

Per Illinois law, marital debts are those debts which were acquired during the marriage. Non-marital debt is obtained before the couple weds. However, there may be exceptions. If a debt was used exclusively for the benefit of one spouse, one could argue that it is non-marital debt even if it was accrued during the marriage.

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Naperville Parenting Time LawyerWhen divorcing spouses share children together, the divorce process becomes much more complicated. In addition to financial matters like property division, the couple must also address child-related concerns like child custody and child support. Read on to learn about some of the top questions Illinois parents have about parenting time and what you can do to get personalized legal guidance during your divorce case.

How is Parenting Time Different Than Child Custody?

One of the most complicated parts of the divorce process is navigating the sea of confusing legal terms and language. Illinois law no longer uses the term child custody. Instead, child-related matters are broken down into the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parental responsibilities refer to the parents’ right to make decisions about their child’s education and other important matters. Parenting time is the time that parents spend with their children. The parents will include their parenting time schedule in their parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval.

What Can I Do to Modify Our Parenting Time Order?

Changing work schedules and other issues may require a modification to the parenting time schedule. If you want to modify your parenting time order, you will need to show that there is a substantial change in circumstances and that modification is in the child’s best interests.

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Naperville Divorce LawyerTaxes are probably the last thing on your mind if your marriage is ending. You may be more focused on the immediate financial implications of the split, the divorce’s effect on your children, ownership of the marital home, and other issues. However, divorce can have major tax implications for both spouses. Read on to learn about some of the top tax-related issues Illinois couples encounter when they divorce.

Tax Implications of Property Division

You and your spouse will need to value and divide your shared property in your divorce. The way you distribute property can have certain tax advantages and disadvantages. Usually, property transfers during divorce are non-taxable events. However, each case is different, and you may decide to forgo the opportunity for tax-free transfers if there is an advantage to doing so. There can also be major tax implications associated with retirement assets and liabilities like capital losses and charitable deductions.

Choosing Your Tax Filing Status  

Usually, the tax filing status you should select is fairly obvious. However, it can be confusing if you were married for part of the year and divorced for part of the year. The IRS states that a couple’s filing status should be based on their marital status on December 31. If your divorce is not finalized by the end of the year, you may need to decide whether to file jointly or separately.

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerSpousal support, spousal maintenance, and alimony are all terms used to describe financial support paid by one spouse to the other after divorce. Spousal support can be a significant source of financial relief to those who receive it. However, it can also be a major expense for the paying spouse. Whether you are the primary earner in your marriage or you intend to seek spousal support for yourself, it is important to understand how spousal support works in Illinois divorce cases.  

Spousal Maintenance is Usually Ordered for a Limited Time

In most cases, spousal maintenance is temporary. The spouse receives financial assistance in the form of maintenance until he or she is able to become self-sustaining. If the marriage lasted more than 20 years, permanent maintenance might be ordered. However, spousal maintenance always terminates if the recipient gets remarried or the paying spouse dies.

Fixed-term maintenance is awarded for a specified amount of time. The court chooses a date on which maintenance payments will cease. This type of spousal maintenance is often ordered when a spouse needs financial support while he or she gets back on his or her feet after the divorce. For example, a stay-at-home parent who has not worked outside of the home in many years may need time to reenter the workforce and become financially independent. Conversely, a spouse who sacrificed higher education to help put the other spouse through school may need financial support while he or she goes to college or trade school.

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Naperville Divorce LawyerDivorce is rarely a pleasant experience, but most people expect their spouse to participate and cooperate to at least some degree. Unfortunately, some spouses make the divorce process much harder by refusing to participate. Some may leave the state or even travel out of the country to avoid divorce.

If you want to get divorced but you cannot find your spouse to serve the petition or your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, you may be feeling frustrated and lost. Illinois law recognizes that some spouses are not able to be located or refuse to participate in the divorce proceedings. In cases like these, spouses may be able to serve notice of the divorce by publication and seek a default judgment.

Seeking a Divorce by Publication Because You Cannot Locate Your Spouse  

The person who initiates the divorce is called the petitioner. It is the petitioner’s job to “serve” or deliver the divorce petition to the other spouse, called the respondent. Some divorcing spouses are able to simply hand over the paperwork to the other spouse. The spouse may send the summons through certified mail or use a designated server such as a county sheriff to deliver the divorce paperwork.

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Naperville Family Law AttorneyJohns Hopkins Medicine reports that approximately 26 percent of adults in the United States have some form of mental illness. Depression and anxiety are some of the most common psychological problems experienced by Americans.  Panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia are less common, but these illnesses still affect millions of Americans.

If you or a family member suffer from a mental illness, you may wonder how the illness can influence divorce, parentage, child custody, or other family law matters. Read on to learn more.

Mental Illness in Divorce Proceedings

There are no longer fault-based grounds for divorce in Illinois, so mental illness is not listed as a reason for the divorce. However, a spouse’s mental illness can influence a divorce case. When a spouse has a mental illness, he or she may be less capable of participating in mediation or divorce-related negotiations. The spouse may struggle with court paperwork or procedures.

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerThe marital relationship can be extremely tricky to navigate. Many married couples go through rough patches but eventually work out their differences. Other couples are plagued by disagreements, infidelity, or other issues until the day they separate. It can be hard to know for sure when a marriage is over and it is time to get divorced. It is especially complicated when one spouse thinks that the marriage is over but the other spouse believes there is still a possibility of reconciliation. In situations like this, the court may require the couple to attend a conciliation conference.

One Final Chance at Reconciliation

Illinois courts have the authority to order spouses to attend a conciliation conference if there is a chance that the marriage may still work out. Either spouse can petition the court for a conciliation conference, or the court can order the conference if there is reason to believe that the couple may be able to avoid divorce. The purpose of the conference is to give the couple one last chance to resolve their differences and stay married.

What Occurs During an Illinois Conciliation Conference?

A conciliation conference is usually conducted by a licensed therapist, counselor, or another mental health provider. The spouses’ divorce lawyers do not attend the conference, and nothing said during the conference is admissible in the divorce proceedings unless both parties agree to it in writing.

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Naperville Family Law AttorneysIn 2016, Illinois made substantial changes to the laws regulating child custody and family law matters. Instead of using terms like “sole custody” or “visitation,” the law now describes child custody in terms of “parenting time” and “parental responsibilities.”  

One of the most frustrating aspects of a divorce, child custody case, paternity suit, or other family law case is dealing with unfamiliar legal terms. One such term you may see repeated throughout Illinois law is “a child’s best interests.” Illinois courts make every child-related decision based on what is in his or her best interests. But what does “best interests” really mean?

Understanding How Courts Determine a Child’s Best Interests

When the court makes a determination about parental responsibilities or parenting time, the court will consider many different factors to evaluate which case outcome would best serve the child.

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DuPage County Divorce LawyersTypically, asking someone how much money they make is considered rude. However, in a divorce case, both spouses are expected to fully disclose their income and other financial information. Finances influence property distribution, child support, spousal maintenance, and more. Lying on your financial disclosure paperwork during divorce can lead to an unfair settlement or judgment. It is also illegal to falsify financial information during a divorce.

Underreporting Income During an Illinois Divorce

Each spouse’s net income is used to calculate child support and spousal support. Spouses should report wages, bonuses, commissions, income from investments, business income, and other sources of income. However, some “forget” about certain income sources or underreport wages in the hopes of swaying the terms of the divorce in their favor. Self-employed spouses and those with multiple income sources may find it easier to lie about money on their financial disclosure forms. However, forensic accounting and divorce discovery can uncover evidence of the deceit.

Hiding Assets Can Take Many Forms

Another way spouses try to cheat the system during a divorce is to hide assets. The most common way to hide assets is to simply fail to disclose the asset. For example, a spouse may have cryptocurrency of significant value that he or she never told his or her spouse about. The spouse may assume that he or she can avoid sharing the value of the cryptocurrency by failing to report it. However, spouses who do this are often caught.

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DuPage County Child Custody LawyerAs a parent, being accused of intentionally harming your child can be shocking and deeply offensive. Sadly, some parents will do whatever it takes to gain an advantage in divorce or child custody proceedings, even if it means fabricating allegations of child abuse. If your ex is lying by saying you abused your child, you may be unsure of how to handle the situation. There is no perfect strategy, and each case is different. However, there are a few steps you should immediately take if you find yourself in this situation.

Comply With Any Orders of Protection

An Illinois Emergency Protection Order is often issued on the same day it is requested and may be based solely on the petitioner’s testimony. If your spouse got an order of protection against you, the order may require you to stay away from your spouse and children. It may even require you to move out of your own home. Even if the grounds for the protection order are false, the best thing to do is to comply with the protection order for now. Getting arrested for violating the order will only complicate your case and make it harder for the truth to come out. Although it is extremely hard not to, it is crucial that you do not confront your spouse or try to see your children in violation of the order.

Work With an Attorney Experienced in Complex Child Custody Disputes

If you were falsely accused of abuse, you need a lawyer who knows what you are going through and how to handle it. Work with an attorney who has experience representing parents in child custody disputes. Your lawyer can help you determine the next steps. You may need to attend a hearing to tell your side of the story and defend yourself. Your lawyer can represent you and advocate for you and your children during this hearing.

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyChildren are very sensitive to changes in their family. When parents divorce, children may struggle to adjust to a two-home lifestyle or become overwhelmed with emotions. They may act out at school, experience mental and physical health problems, or withdraw from their family and friends.

Because divorce and other major changes to the family unit are so hard on children, Illinois requires parents involved in family law proceedings to attend a parenting class. Read on to learn more.

Mandatory Parenting Class for Divorcing Parents in Illinois

If you are getting divorced, pursuing a paternity action, or are otherwise involved in a child-related family law dispute, you will likely be required to attend an educational course. The purpose of the course is to teach parents about how family reorganization and related changes affect kids and how to help their children cope with these changes. According to the Illinois Supreme Court, each circuit or county approves of a parenting class. The class must be at least four hours long. Unless good cause is shown, both parents are required to complete the parenting class within 60 days of the initial case management conference. The court has the authority to impose sanctions on any parent who intentionally fails to complete the parenting class. Even if your divorce is uncontested, meaning you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce, you will still be expected to complete the course.

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Posted on in Family Law

Wheaton Abusive Marriage LawyerSadly, what is supposed to be a loving relationship can sometimes turn into a relationship based on threats, manipulation, and violence. Domestic violence is shockingly common across the United States. Each minute, approximately 20 people are physically abused by a spouse or romantic partner.

If you are in an abusive marriage, you are not alone. Read on to learn about some of the strategies that may help you protect yourself and your children during the divorce process.

Remember That the Abuse is Not Your Fault

Victim-blaming is a tactic that many abusive people use to try and manipulate their victims. Your abuser may tell you that his or her behavior is justified because you did something to provoke him or her. Sadly, some abuse victims start to believe this. If you are being physically, mentally, or emotionally abused, it is not your fault. You deserve to be treated with respect.

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerWhether you are divorced or unmarried, raising a child with an ex can be challenging. Understandably, parents want what is best for their children. When two parents disagree about what is in a child’s best interests, the situation can quickly escalate. Building a parenting plan is the best way to ensure that you and your child’s other parent are on the same page. Parenting plans are also required for parents getting divorced in Illinois.

Required Elements for Illinois Parenting Agreements

Parents who file for divorce in Illinois are asked to submit a parenting plan to the court. If the parents cannot agree on the terms of the parenting plan, the court will have them each submit their own plan separately. Often, parents who disagree about child custody issues are required to attend family law mediation to discuss the issues and work out an agreement. If mediation fails, the case may advance to litigation.

The two main factors in an Illinois parenting plan are:

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyA crucial part of the divorce process involves dividing the spouses’ assets and debts. Depending on your particular situation, you may need to address real estate, vehicles, art and collectibles, business interests, and many other assets. You may also have credit cards, loans, and other debt to deal with during the property division portion of your divorce. One issue that can make the division of assets even more complicated is asset “dissipation.” The word dissipation refers to waste, misuse, or destruction of property. In some cases, divorcing spouses may recoup the value of dissipated assets through a dissipation of assets claim.

What Counts as Dissipation of Assets?

Illinois law states that dissipation occurs when marital property is sold, destroyed, or used for a purpose unrelated to the marriage and in a way that only benefits one of the spouses. The waste of assets must occur during the marriage’s “breakdown” to count as dissipation. The marital breakdown is usually defined as the point at which the couple stops trying to salvage the marriage. For example, if you and your spouse decided to divorce and then he or she destroyed your shared property in revenge, you may have a valid dissipation of assets claim.

Other examples of dissipative acts may include:

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naperville divorce lawyerFor many people, the beginning of a new year presents an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. While new year’s resolutions do not always last more than a few months, they can help you take stock of your life, identify potential areas of improvement, and begin taking steps toward a more positive future. For those who are going through a divorce or who have recently ended their marriage, resolutions can be especially beneficial. A divorce will require you to make major changes, and the new year can be a good opportunity to take a positive approach to these changes and determine the best ways to move forward into the next phase of your life.

Resolutions That Can Benefit You Following Your Divorce

While everybody’s situation is different, there are some common factors to every divorce. After being used to sharing your life with a partner, you will need to get used to living on your own. Some new year’s resolutions that may benefit you as you reorient your life include:

  • Take control of your finances - As you determine how you will be able to support yourself on a single income, you may need to make some adjustments. By resolving to manage your finances effectively in the new year, you can make sure you will be able to meet your ongoing needs. You can get started by taking the time to fully understand your income and expenses. This will allow you to create a workable budget that will ensure that you can live comfortably. You can also determine the best ways to save money and plan for any major purchases you plan to make in the future. By maintaining control of your finances, you can alleviate stress about your ability to provide for yourself and your family.

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