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kane county divorce lawyerIn recent years, pets and companion animals have taken on an increasingly important role in our lives. Recent studies show that over 75 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and that viewing pets this way is even beneficial for the owner’s physical and mental health. However, family law statutes throughout the U.S. have been slower to adopt this view, with many states still treating pets as equivalent to other forms of property in divorce cases. Illinois is one of the rare early exceptions, having enacted laws specifically addressing companion animals in divorce cases in 2018.

Which Spouse Keeps the Pets?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now specifically references companion animals in several places, recognizing that when a couple owns a pet together, ownership of and responsibility for the pet is an important part of the divorce resolution. For example, the law allows spouses to create an agreement regarding possession and care of their pets. In many cases, these agreements include visitation schedules, or even arrangements similar to parenting time in which the pets will live with each spouse on certain days. A companion animal ownership agreement is also noted as a necessary part of a joint simplified dissolution of marriage for couples who have pets.

In cases of contested pet ownership, the law allows a spouse to petition the court for temporary possession of their pet during the divorce process, or more permanent terms for pet ownership in the final divorce resolution. When making a decision, the court will consider whether the pet is a marital asset, typically meaning that it was adopted during the marriage. However, the court will not simply treat a pet as any other type of property, but will instead consider the animal’s well-being and whether continued joint ownership would be appropriate. The court will also exclude service animals from these decisions, ensuring that an animal trained to assist one the spouses will be able to stay with that spouse.

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Kane County spousal maintenance lawyerThe years after a divorce can be a difficult transition period for many people. You may still be tied to your former spouse through elements of your divorce order, while at the same time trying to move forward with your life. Often, your past and future can influence each other in complicated ways, including when it comes to the legal terms of your divorce resolution. One situation to pay close attention to is starting a new romantic relationship during an active spousal support order.

Effects on the Spouse Who Receives Support

In Illinois, spousal support orders usually last for a limited time, so as the receiving spouse, you will need to prepare for the payments to end eventually. However, a new romantic relationship can lead to the end of spousal maintenance sooner than you expect. Spousal support will not end simply because you start dating new people, or even because you enter a committed relationship with someone new. However, if the court determines that you are in a cohabiting relationship, the maintenance order can be terminated effective on the date the cohabitation began.

Defining a cohabiting relationship can be complicated, but in general, the court will consider things like the length of the relationship; the amount of time the partners spend together, including overnight stays; how they spend that time together; and whether they share property, expenses, or joint financial accounts. If the partners legally marry, the case becomes much more straightforward, and maintenance obligations will end on the date of marriage.

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Kane County parenting time attorneyThe summer months are a time when children often have less structure to their schedules because of the extended break from school. This can come with many benefits, including time to relax, participate in other activities, spend time with family, and take trips. However, it can also be a source of stress for parents, especially those who are recently divorced, as they try to adapt to the changes that summer brings. If you are going through a divorce, planning for summer break in your parenting agreement can help you prepare for many of the challenges you might encounter. Here are some things you may want to address in your parenting plan.

Shifting the Balance of Parenting Time

During the school year, it may be in a child’s best interest to spend the majority of the time during the week with one parent, so as to minimize interruptions to their daily routine. However, this may not be as important during the summer when children do not have as many schedule commitments. With this in mind, you might consider allocating more summer parenting time to the parent who has less time throughout the rest of the year. This arrangement often works especially well when parents live far apart, making regular travel between homes more difficult.

Setting Expectations for Travel

Many parents plan family vacations or trips during the summer, and it may be a good idea to address this directly in the parenting plan. For example, you could specify certain weeks when each parent can travel with the children, perhaps taking into consideration a fair allocation of summer holidays when parents have time off work. You should also include expectations for notifying each other about travel plans, as well as communication with your children while they are on a trip with the other parent.

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Kane County divorce attorneyGetting a divorce is not a decision to take lightly, and in many cases, it is a good idea to try to work out your differences with your spouse, possibly with the assistance of couple’s counseling or therapy, before resorting to ending your marriage. However, you may find that despite your best efforts to save the relationship, divorce is still your preferred solution.

At this point, you may have the question: Is there anything my spouse or the court can do to stop the divorce from moving forward? Fortunately, the short answer is no, but in some cases, you could find yourself having to go through additional steps to demonstrate that ending the marriage is the best option, including attending a court-ordered conciliation conference.

Understanding the Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

Since 2016, Illinois divorce courts no longer take fault into consideration in a divorce resolution. Instead, the only legally recognized grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. In transitioning to a “no-fault” divorce state, Illinois has recognized that couples may have any number of personal reasons for wanting to end their marriage. Irreconcilable differences are much easier to demonstrate than other possible grounds for divorce in the past. However, before granting a divorce, the court still may want to ensure that the couple has made all reasonable efforts to reconcile.

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Kane County divorce attorney child support

While most parents understand the importance of providing for their children, child support decisions can still be a source of conflict for unmarried parents or parents going through a divorce. As a parent, it is understandable that you would want to ensure that the terms of your child support order not only account for your children’s needs but also your own financial resources and ability to provide. In some cases, a child support order that once suited the needs of everyone involved may no longer be adequate in the coming years. This is perhaps more true than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when many parents are struggling with their health and finances in ways that they may never have expected. Fortunately, it may be possible to pursue a child support modification that can make the situation more manageable.

Modifying an Illinois Child Support Order During COVID-19

The basic child support payment calculation in Illinois considers the monthly net income of both parents at the time the order is issued, in an effort to allocate financial responsibility fairly between both parents. If your income changes after the initial calculation, however, you may find it difficult to continue fulfilling the obligation in your child support order. COVID-19 has brought many challenges that have led to decreases in income, including:

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St. Charles divorce mediation lawyersGoing through a divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of someone’s life. Determining who gets what after the marriage ends is often a complicated undertaking. Decisions made through litigation involve the court system and can be time-consuming and costly. However, there is an alternative dispute resolution method available for divorce that is known as mediation. Mediation is generally less expensive, less stressful, and less time-consuming than going to court and having a long, drawn-out trial.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which divorcing couples can meet with a trained, neutral third party to discuss and resolve typical divorce-related issues. The main goal of mediation is to use collaborative methods when determining who gets what after a divorce. If a couple can reach a mutual agreement, it is submitted to the court for approval. 

Some of the main issues that a mediator can assist you with include:

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