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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce attorneysThere are many reasons for a divorce. In some cases, it is because a couple grows apart and comes to the mutual decision to part ways. An amicable divorce typically means both partners agree on all or most of the marital issues. This makes the divorce process simple, fast, and less expensive than a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is not always possible, especially if one spouse does not want the divorce in the first place. If a divorce is contested, it could also mean that the spouses do not agree on issues such as child support, spousal support, and the division of property. This animosity can carry over into the divorce proceedings, so if you are contesting any issues in your divorce, it is imperative to have legal counsel to protect your rights. 

Illinois Divorce Laws

In the state of Illinois, the only legal grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences, which, defined by the law, “have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” Also, it must be determined by the court that attempts to reconcile failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would not in the best interests of the family. Any divorce, whether contested or uncontested, begins with one spouse filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and “serving” the other spouse with the papers. 

Reasons for Contesting the Divorce

The spouse who did not file can still try to contest the divorce by stating that there are no irreconcilable differences. However, under Illinois law, if the parties have lived apart in separate residences for at least six months right before one spouse files the petition, there is an “irrebuttable presumption” of irreconcilable differences between the pair. 

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Kane County family law attorneysWhen a couple decides to end their marriage through divorce, they have the option of deciding how to divide their assets and wealth on their own. However, when a couple cannot come to an agreement about property division, the courts must intervene. Illinois courts use a system called “equitable distribution” to divide a divorcing couple’s marital estate. If you are considering getting a divorce in Illinois, it is important to understand how asset division decisions are made.

Marital Property and Separate Property

According to Illinois law, only marital, or shared, property is divided in a divorce. Marital property typically includes any property or funds that either spouse accumulated during the marriage. Non-marital property, or separate property, includes assets that a spouse already owned before he or she got married. However, differentiating between separate and marital property is not always this straightforward. Certain gifts and inheritances may also be considered separate property – even if the spouse received the gift or inheritance while he or she was married. Furthermore, separate property can be transformed into marital property when it is commingled with marital property.

For example, if a husband purchases a house before he got married but then he and his wife both contributed to the mortgage, the home will likely be considered marital property during divorce. Similarly, if one spouse receives an inheritance during the marriage but then deposits those funds into a shared account, the inheritance funds transform from separate into marital property. The inheritance would then be subject to division according to equitable distribution.

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Elgin divorce attorneyIf you are going through a divorce, the first thing on your mind may not be taxes or financial issues; however, it is important to know that a divorce does have tax implications. Your filing status, tax consequences of maintenance payments, property transfers, and more are typically decided by your divorce judgment/order and affected by any new tax law changes.

A division of assets agreement should take into account any tax issues so there are no surprises later. If you are ending your marriage, a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you prepare for any financial consequences.

Asset Division 

When a couple negotiates how to divide marital assets or property during a divorce, it is imperative to consider the areas that may have potential tax implications. Most marital property does not incur a tax liability if transferred, but you should consider the potential tax consequences of considerations such as:

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Geneva estate planning attorneyAccidents and major life changes can happen at any moment; nobody is able to predict when something serious will occur. If an emergency arises, you may need another individual to speak on your behalf to carry out your wishes. By arranging things ahead of time, you could have a trusted delegate in place making decisions regarding your health and financials. Establishing a power of attorney (POA) is an imperative step to ensure your affairs are being handled in the manner that you wish.

Selecting a Power Of Attorney

The state of Illinois recognizes two different types of POAs: a medical POA and a financial POA, also called a POA for property. Choosing your agent depends on which type of POA you are considering.

The responsibilities differ for each POA, so here are some general guidelines for making an appropriate selection:

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Kane County family law attorneysThe National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) received its five millionth call in May of this year. This statistic shows how prevalent domestic violence can be in relationships. In many cases, the victimized person may fear for his or her safety on a daily basis. However, he or she may also be afraid to leave an abusive spouse or partner. Domestic violence can take many different forms. These can include physical harm, verbal threats or harassment, and more. Sometimes making that first call for help is the most difficult step in the process to escape an abusive situation. It is important to understand what behavior constitutes abuse so you can recognize it and seek legal orders of protection. 

Illinois Domestic Violence Law

Domestic violence is considered a crime in Illinois. Any individual who hits, kicks, chokes, harasses, threatens, or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member violates the Illinois Domestic Violence law. Illinois law defines family or household members as:

  • Family members who are related by blood;
  • A married or divorced couple;
  • People who share or previously resided in the same home;
  • People who have a child in common;
  • People who are current or former dating or engaged partners; and
  • People with disabilities and their caretakers.
  • Forms of Domestic Abuse

Although physical abuse is the most recognizable form of domestic violence, it is just one of many forms of it. Domestic violence encompasses:

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Kane County family law attorneysAdoption is a wonderful way to expand a family and give a child a loving home. The road to achieving this dream can be a long process, but well worth it. In certain situations, a couple may wish to adopt a relative if the child’s biological parents die or are unable to care for the child. In other cases, a person may want to adopt a stepchild after getting remarried. The procedures for related adoptions are different than traditional domestic or international adoptions, so it is important to learn the requirements before embarking on this journey.   

How Are Related Adoptions Different From Other Adoptions?

Unlike domestic or international adoptions, related (also called “kinship”) and stepparent adoptions are typically handled in a more streamlined process in the courts. In the majority of cases, background checks, family investigations, and home visits by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are not required. To initiate a relative or stepparent adoption, all of the following must be true:

  • The stepparent relationship must be legally established (the stepparent’s marriage to the child’s birth parent is valid);
  • The child consents to the adoption, if he or she is at least 14 years old; and
  • The child’s other parent consents to the adoption and termination of his or her parental rights, or such rights are terminated by a judge.

In a relative or stepparent adoption, the other biological parent’s rights must be terminated before the stepparent can legally adopt his/her spouse’s child. If the other parent contests the adoption, grounds for terminating the other’s parental rights must be proven. Possible grounds can include the following:

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St. Charles divorce lawyersWhen two people get divorced, the court typically issues a final judgment that documents the terms and conditions of the divorce. However, it is not uncommon for there to be changes to the original divorce settlement or agreement. Sometimes these changes are necessary due to lifestyle changes or if they are in the best interest of a couple’s child. Post-judgment order modifications can include a change in the child support payment amount or allocation of parental responsibilities if one parent loses his or her job or moves to another state. 

Steps to Take for Enforcing an Order

Post-divorce decree issues can often become hostile and expensive. It is ideal if everyone involved can resolve these issues without taking actions such as contempt of court. If possible, negotiating an amicable resolution saves all parties time and money. However, this is not always the case if one party does not follow an order. If one party is not willing to cooperate, someone can pursue enforcement through the courts by filing a contempt of court motion. In the majority of divorce cases, contempt of court actions are typically filed for reasons such as:

  • Non-payment of child support;
  • Non-payment of spousal maintenance;
  • Failure to adhere to parental responsibility and parenting time agreements; and
  • Sale of property that violates property settlement agreements.

The Illinois Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has the authority to implement certain enforcement procedures. For example, if one parent is behind on child support payments, they can garnish wages from his or her paycheck. Sometimes, the DCSS gets overloaded with a lot of cases, and a lawyer can file a contempt of court motion on a parent’s behalf to help recover any money that is owed.

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St. Charles hidden assets attorneysUnder Illinois divorce laws, marital property is subject to equitable distribution, meaning each party receives a fair share of any assets that were acquired during the marriage. However, sometimes a spouse can be dishonest, depriving the other spouse to what he or she is entitled. This can be done a number of ways, and although common in high net worth or complex divorces, it can happen in any type of divorce. Forensic accounting is defined as the use of accounting practices to investigate fraud and to analyze financial information for use in legal proceedings, such as disputes or litigation during a divorce.  

How Are Assets Hidden?

People can be creative when they want to conceal money or valuable possessions. In a lot of cases, one spouse earns the majority of the income or owns a business, so that spouse often has easier access to financial matters.

Some of the ways assets can be hidden include:

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St. Charles family law attorneyWhen a couple decides to end their marriage, they may be able to get an annulment. It is important to know an annulment is different from a divorce. A divorce is the legal dissolution of a valid marriage by a court or other governing body. An annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void within secular and religious systems. Unlike divorce, it is typically considered retroactive, meaning an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the start like it had never even happened. In Illinois, annulment is called a Declaration of Invalidity, and marriages can only be annulled if they were considered illegal from the start.

Grounds for an Annulment in Illinois

An annulment is only used to end an “invalid” marriage, or one that should never have happened in the first place. Annulments are rare in Illinois because it is somewhat difficult to prove grounds for annulment. There are certain legal guidelines for annulments, as well as possible time restrictions depending on the circumstances of the case. One of the following legal grounds must be met for an annulment to be granted:

  • Fraud or misrepresentation: One spouse did not tell the truth, such as already being married;
  • Impotency or incest: One spouse is impotent (and did not disclose this information to his or her partner prior to the marriage), or the spouses are too close in relation to marry legally; or
  • Lack of consent: One spouse did not have mental capacity for consent or was forced to get married.

Grounds for a Divorce in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a spouse can file for divorce based on “no-fault” grounds, commonly referred to as “irreconcilable differences,” which requires proof that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the couple must be separated for an amount of time. For many years, it was also possible to seek a divorce on “fault-based” grounds such as adultery, abandonment, or repeated abuse. Today, however, all Illinois divorce petitions must indicate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences.

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Kane County adoption lawyerMany couples choose adoption as a way to expand their family if they cannot have biological children of their own. On the other side of the subject, some parents choose to give up their child for adoption if they cannot adequately provide for the child’s needs.

Regardless of the reasons for an adoption, it is one of the biggest decisions that anyone will make in their lifetime. In some situations, an adoption can be contested. In the majority of cases, this happens when the biological father does not know about the child until the adoption process already started, or in which a biological father changes his mind about the adoption while it is in progress. 

Consent and Best Interest Hearings 

In cases where an adoption is contested, all involved parties must attend a consent hearing in court at which time a judge will listen to evidence presented by both sides. For instances when the biological father contests an adoption, he does not give consent to the adoption and he declares that he is willing and able to assume legal responsibility of the child. During the hearing, the father can show examples of his actions throughout the pregnancy, as well as after the child’s birth. For example, pictures or documentation of him going to doctor appointments or at the hospital after the birth, etc. However, if the biological father does not provide child support or contact the child for more than a year, he may lose his right to contest the adoption on the grounds of abandonment.

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Algonquin Family Law AttorneysDivorce can be really difficult for everyone involved, but especially for a young child whose parents are splitting up. Parents often fight over the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly called “child custody”) or parenting time (formerly called “visitation”). Their child might feel torn between trying to be loyal to both parents. In Illinois (and every state), a person under 18 years old is considered a minor and in most cases, unable to make legal decisions. Illinois courts consider the age of the children and the children’s wishes as well as family circumstances in deciding child-related issues.     

Best Interest of the Child 

Some people think there is a certain age at which a child can choose which parent with whom he or she wants to live, but that is a misconception. In Illinois, 14 years old is generally age at which a child’s opinion starts to be considered more by the court regarding under whose roof he or she will live. However, this is also based on the level of maturity of the child in question. For example, a mature 11-year-old boy may prefer to live with one parent because he attends a private school in the town where that parent lives. A 15-year-old girl may state she wants to live in the house where the parent does not enforce many rules or where there are no step-siblings if a spouse remarries. Ultimately, the court’s decision is based on which living situation or environment is in the best interest of the child.

In general, Illinois courts recognize “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Legal custody gives a parent or guardian the right to make important decisions, such as where a child will attend school or go to church. The term physical custody refers to which parent with whom the child will live. Like in other states, sometimes one parent (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents can have legal and/or physical custody in Illinois.
A judge will take into consideration many factors regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities (custody), including but not limited to:

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Kane County divorce lawyersIf a couple has been married for many years, the decision to divorce is not an easy one. Since a lot of time and effort was put into the marriage, it can be devastating both emotionally and financially for one or both of the spouses. The division of marital assets is an issue that needs to be determined during the divorce proceedings, which can cause a lot of conflict if the spouses do not agree on how to divide everything, especially financial assets. One or both partners might have retirement accounts such as 401K, IRA, or pension. Even in an uncontested divorce, splitting the retirement assets can be confusing, so it is helpful to seek legal counsel to make sure both spouses receive what they deserve.  

What is Considered Marital Property?

According to Illinois divorce law, any marital property will be divided fairly and equitably, but not necessarily equally. This is referred to as “equitable distribution.” Marital property is generally considered all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This can include real estate, furniture, and vehicles, in addition to financial and retirement accounts.

A spouse may be entitled to a portion of the other spouse’s retirement plans, such as a 401(k), IRA, stock options, or pension benefits, and vice versa. If a spouse pays into a retirement account or a pension during the marriage, at least part of that account or pension is considered marital property, regardless if only one spouse’s income was paid into the account. All pension benefits, including those under the Illinois Pension Code, as well as stock options, acquired by either spouse during the marriage are marital property, regardless of which spouse participates in the pension plan.

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St. Charles divorce lawyerA divorce is likely one of the most difficult events you can go through in your lifetime. Even if you are the spouse who filed for divorce, the full impact of your decision might not hit you until long after the ink has dried on your papers. Additionally, if you did not want the divorce or were blindsided by it, you may feel hopeless and unsure of what the future holds for you.

Many communities throughout the region have divorce and separation support groups, which are offered through churches or local park districts. These groups can be a good forum for people of all ages and backgrounds who are going through a painful period in their lives.   

Types and Benefits of Support Groups

Divorce and separation groups provide a comfortable environment in which you can share your innermost feelings. It can be very therapeutic to talk to other people who understand what you are feeling in order to begin the healing process. You can contact local churches or look online to find the closest divorce support group in your area. The following are some nationally recognized support groups dealing with divorce or separation:

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St. Charles family law attorneyWhen a couple decides to divorce, many issues need to be addressed, especially if they have been married for a long time. One such issue is how to divide marital property and assets. One of the most common questions in a divorce is “Who gets the house?” Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, not a community property state. This means marital property, including debt, does not need to be divided “equally.” Instead, the law requires property to be divided "equitably." Your house (or houses if you own more than one) is probably the largest asset you and your spouse own, so it is imperative to divide it in a way that is fair to both spouses in a divorce. 

Ways to Split Real Estate in a Divorce

Couples who are divorcing should keep in mind the sale of a home will likely have tax implications and therefore should be factored into the decision-making process. They should also consider what is in the best interest of the children if they have kids.

Options exist for division of real estate such as a house. Here are some clever tips for splitting a home or homes when going through a divorce:

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St. Charles family law attorneyMost couples do not enter into marriage thinking they are going to get a divorce. However, many married people do decide to split up for various reasons. Even if divorce seems unlikely, it is a good idea to make plans for how certain issues will be addressed if a marriage ever ends. A postnuptial agreement is a written agreement drafted between two married spouses or two people who have entered a civil union. This type of agreement functions as a legal contract, and it can outline what will happen to the couple's assets if they separate or get divorced. It may also decide whether either party will receive spousal maintenance (alimony), and it can address what will happen with marital property after the death of one spouse. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement (or “prenup”), except it is created after a couple gets married rather than before they tie the knot.

Pros and Cons of Postnuptial Agreements

One of the main reasons a couple creates a postnuptial agreement is to ensure that assets such as property, finances, and even debts are distributed equally after a divorce. Making decisions about ownership of property ahead of time can help avoid conflict during the divorce process. A postnuptial document can also be helpful if children are involved, as it may be used to ensure that they have financial security for their future. For example, if your children want to attend college or a trade school, a set amount of marital assets can be set aside to go toward their tuition, room, and board.   

While a postnuptial agreement can be beneficial, it can also present problems, especially if a spouse signs the agreement without fully understanding the terms. In some cases, a person may even sign an agreement against their will or after being coerced into doing so by their spouse. This can complicate the divorce process later if a spouse tries to contest the agreement.

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Geneva divorce lawyer

Getting a divorce is a difficult decision under any circumstances. However, if one spouse has Alzheimer's, that adds even more stress to the scenario. In many cases, the healthy spouse may feel like the marriage is over, since the other spouse’s personality or behavior has changed. If dementia is a factor in your Illinois divorce, you should contact a skilled family law attorney to help you understand the legal aspects of your situation.

Moral and Legal Considerations During Divorce

Today, 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to memory loss and behavioral changes. An affected spouse who was normally calm and loving can become violent and angry, due to chemical changes in the brain.

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Algonquin paternity lawyer

In Illinois, paternity must be established in order for a father’s name to appear on their child’s birth certificate. Also, it is essential in setting up child custody (officially called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois), parenting time (child visitation), and child support if the child’s parents are not married or in a civil union.

By legal definition, paternity is the official, documented relationship between a father and their child. When it is established, it provides a child with eligibility for health insurance, life insurance, Social Security disability benefits if their parent is disabled, veteran’s benefits, and inheritances. While paternity can be a straightforward and quick process, it can be complicated in certain scenarios. Either way, it is important to seek legal guidance from an experienced family law attorney.

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Posted on in Divorce

Barrington divorce lawyers

Divorce can be an emotionally and physically traumatic experience, regardless of the level of civility shared by the divorcing spouses. Still, the more contentious the relationship, the more draining the divorce process can be. 

For soon-to-be former couples who wish to avoid combative and costly courtroom divorce litigation, there are ways to keep divorce proceedings from becoming total warfare.

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St. Charles family lawer

When a party involved in a family law case receives an unfavorable decision from the court, they can appeal the ruling. When you have initial conversations with prospective family lawyers for your case, make sure you discuss their knowledge and aptitude regarding the appeals process, which could be critical if that step becomes necessary. 

There are a few common mistakes litigators can make. It is helpful for even skilled and experienced lawyers to review these points as a refresher. Here are some areas to cover with your lawyer so that together you can craft the best possible strategy to achieve a favorable result.

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Kane County divorce lawyer

The decision to get divorced is often one of the hardest choices a person can make. Besides the divorce process itself, it is also difficult to make the announcement to all your family, friends, coworkers, and others. Although a divorce is painful for everyone involved, it is helpful for both parties to be on the same page when delivering the news. You and your spouse shared a community of mutual friends and some might not know how to react. 

Describe Your Divorce in Simple Terms

Not only will you have to tell people about your divorce, but once they start talking, you will get a lot of questions about your divorce as well. Come up with a brief description of your divorce, around one to three sentences. This will help steer the follow-up questions so you and they feel comfortable.

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