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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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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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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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