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Recent blog posts

St. Charles adoption lawyerAdoption can be a wonderful way of expanding your family. Some people may legally adopt a child who is related to them or they may choose to adopt someone unrelated to them, either domestically or internationally. Through a legal process, a person who is 18 or older can become the legal parent of an individual who is not his or her biological child. There are several types of adoption in Illinois. Related adoption occurs when at least one of the adoptive parents is related to the child who is being adopted. For example, the adoptee can be a niece or a nephew, or it can be a stepchild in a second marriage. Although this kind of adoption is typically not as complex, there are still procedures you must follow. An experienced family law attorney can help you successfully navigate this life-changing endeavor. 

Steps to Becoming a Family Unit

Besides organizing the necessary paperwork and forms that adoptive parents must submit, they should also make sure their homes are in order before their child arrives. In addition, soon-to-be parents must prepare themselves emotionally and mentally. If a couple has other children, there will be a period of adjustment for them as well. 

Here are a few practical ways that prospective parents and siblings can help make the adoption transition easier:

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Algonquin divorce attorney mediation

You probably have an idea in your mind about what divorce looks like. It may include discovering your spouse’s hidden assets, failing to come to an agreement on your children, and spending extensive amounts of time with your attorney in court. While contentious divorces can include all of these, many divorces are mutually agreed upon and do not involve drama. Not all marriages end in flames, some simply fizzle out and both parties decide that they are ready to move on. In cases such as these, divorce mediation may be a more productive way of creating your divorce agreement, avoiding time in court, or heated arguments with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Rarely are married couples, who have never been divorced, experts on the divorce process, and the options available to them. Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that may be used if you would prefer to stay away from the divorce litigation process. Mediation allows spouses to discuss how they would like things handled after their divorce with a certified mediator present to act as a neutral, guiding party. In most cases, these mediators are divorce attorneys who also work with individuals who prefer to handle things in court. Finding a mediator who doubles as an attorney is a benefit since they are familiar with the legal details and can help guide you with the various areas addressed in a divorce, including the asset division process, the creation of parenting plans, spousal maintenance payments, and more. Mediation allows you and your spouse to take control of your divorce agreement, rather than placing it into the hands of a judge. It can also help you maintain an amicable relationship with your spouse, which is especially important if you have children and will need to co-parent once the divorce is final.

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Algonquin divorce lawyersMost couples begin their married life together with good intentions that it will last forever. Many partners scoff at the idea that something or someone could come between them. That is, until they find themselves in a loveless marriage or confronted with the fact that their spouse cheated. Statistics show that between 40-50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce

In some cases, the divorce may not be mutual, and one spouse can be blindsided by the news. The thought of being single after several years or even decades of being married is often overwhelming. That is why it is important to seek professional legal counsel to represent your best interests if you suddenly find yourself at a crossroads. In addition, below are a few practical ways to help you move on and find happiness again.  

Reinventing Yourself

Going through a divorce at any age can be daunting, filled with the fear of the unknown. Besides completing all of the legal aspects that go into finalizing your divorce, recognizing the emotional toll it can take on you and your children is also an essential part of the process. Once you realize and accept that your marriage is irretrievably broken, it is time to start thinking about what lies ahead. 

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Kane County family law attorneysThe global pandemic due to the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way we do things. The state of Illinois issued a stay-at-home order in an attempt to limit exposure to the virus. Many people have been working from home in an effort to stop the spread. Despite the restrictions, there may still be legal issues that need attention. For example, if a couple is considering a divorce, they may be wondering if that is still possible during coronavirus. In Illinois, it may be possible to obtain a divorce virtually with the help of a skilled family law attorney. 

Addressing Legal Matters Online

When spouses decide to divorce, there are many issues that need to be resolved, which the couple can do on their own if they agree to the terms. Some of these include the division of assets or property and spousal maintenance if applicable. If a couple has children together, the allocation of parental responsibilities will be allocated and child support may be awarded to one parent. If partners cannot reach an agreement, the court will intervene to help and base its decisions on the best interests of the involved parties. 

Since many courts are temporarily closed except for emergency orders, divorce proceedings are now going online. A virtual divorce allows couples to split up without leaving their houses, which can be a major convenience, saving time and money in traveling to and from court. Numerous people are embracing video conferencing as a new way of completing their divorce proceedings. The process may begin by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage online. In some cases, a judge may decide if depositions and court proceedings are needed to be completed virtually. 

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Kane County family law attorneysOne of the main reasons a couple procrastinates filing for divorce is because they are worried about the effect it will have on their children. The thought of sharing time with their kids can be troubling to any parent. Depending on the circumstances, one parent may be allocated the majority of the parental responsibilities. The other parent is typically awarded parenting time (visitation). A parenting plan outlines the details, such as a schedule of when the children are with each parent. This is a legal document that is enforceable once the divorce is finalized.

Due to the Illinois stay-at-home order issued in response to COVID-19, regular schedules may need to be adjusted since kids are at home if parents’ work schedules are different. However, in situations such as these or if distance keeps you apart, virtual parenting time may be an option. 

Virtual Visitation

In some divorce cases, one parent may relocate out of state for a new job. Teleconferencing apps or video calls can help alleviate the stress of not having in-person visits by facilitating contact between parents and kids when they are apart. With today’s technology, parents in these situations can still see and communicate with their children, keeping them connected and involved in their lives. Through electronic devices, they can even play a game, read a book, or make a recipe or a craft together. There are also many online video games that two or more people can play together even if they are in different states. 

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St. Charles divorce attorney“Empty nest syndrome” is a phenomenon characterized by feelings of grief or loneliness that affects parents whose children have grown up and left the family home. This can occur when children leave to go to college, get married, or just move out on their own. For some parents, the experience of letting go can be bittersweet and difficult to process. Although a normal part of life, it can put a significant strain on the parents’ marriage. In some cases, it can make or break a relationship. Some partners who are not distracted may find that they have nothing in common after so many years together. Many unhappy couples stay together because they believe it is better for their kids. Once the children leave the nest, they may be ready to part ways themselves by filing for divorce

Factors That Can Destroy a Relationship

Empty nest syndrome can expose problems within the marriage that may have always been there. In some cases, a couple was so busy with working and child-rearing that they failed to address any of their own marital issues. In other cases, problems begin surfacing for the first time. 

Regardless, empty nest syndrome can leave some spouses with a profound sense of loss that might affect them negatively. They may try to “replace” their children with items or activities. 

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West Dundee divorce attorneysRegardless of whether you have been having problems for a long time or you were not expecting your spouse to file for divorce, the thought of ending your marriage can be daunting. It can be scary to think about how you will live apart, especially if one of you did not work or made significantly less than each other. Many issues will need to be resolved in a divorce, including the division of property or assets, to name a few. In some cases, your spouse may have been dissipating or  hiding assets in an attempt to receive more after the divorce. Therefore, it is important to have legal representation when making decisions regarding your divorce settlement. In addition to an  attorney’s help, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you are not being taken advantage of by your spouse.   

Keeping Information Private in the Digital Age

In today’s digital world where everything is put online, it can be hard to keep personal matters private. Using electronic devices to send and receive information leaves a digital footprint even if you delete messages. Sensitive information can often become public, and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may try to use that against you. For example, if you post pictures of a lavish vacation you took with your friends, you could find it harder to convince the court that you should be entitled to spousal support payments.
In addition, even if you block your spouse on certain social media sites, you may have mutual friends who take it upon themselves to pass along information they see as potentially damaging to you or your spouse. Basically, you will want to change any shared devices to have separate access so your spouse cannot track your every movement. Turning location sharing services off can prevent this, which can be helpful in divorces that involve stalking or harassment.

Here are a few more ways that you can protect yourself during the legal dissolution of your marriage:

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Kane County domestic violence attorneysUnfortunately, physical and emotional abuse occurs in many marriages. This can lead to a spouse filing for divorce in some cases. Victims of domestic violence have certain legal options to protect themselves. These can be in the form of protective orders issued against the alleged abuser.

Commonly referred to as restraining orders, orders of protection offer a level of safety by forbidding the accused abuser from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the alleged victim for a designated period of time. However, that does not always mean the person issued the order will abide by it. He or she may still try to harass his or her spouse. If an order of protection is violated, it can result in criminal consequences in Illinois.   

Domestic Violence Laws

The ways in which a defendant can be charged with violation of an order of protection will depend on the specific terms of the order, but they generally include making contact with the protected person either in person or via phone, email, or text message. Another means of violating an order of protection may be going within 500 feet of a protected party, residence, or workplace. Also, simply having another individual pass along a message to the petitioner can result in a violation. In order for someone to be charged with violating a court order, there must be proof or evidence that he or she did not obey the terms of the order. This may include voicemail messages, video, or photos. 

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Kane County estate planning attorneyCoronavirus is a global pandemic that has impacted individuals all over the world. Here in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a “stay at home” order through April 30 to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. Non-essential businesses are temporarily closed, such as schools, shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and bars. Many people may be wondering if they can still take certain legal action during the order. Law practices are considered essential business, and many firms are utilizing video conferencing to ensure the health and safety of their clients. Although meetings and consultations can be performed virtually, you may have questions or concerns about signing and witnessing important legal documents, such as wills and trusts. If you have an estate planning matter that needs to be resolved, it is still essential to seek professional legal counsel. 

Estate Planning Documents

It is important to plan ahead for your future to make sure your wishes are followed in the event you become incapacitated or pass away. Some of the most common estate planning tools include:

  • Last Will and Testament: A will is a legal document that names an executor to your estate, gives instructions on how your property should be distributed, and designates a guardian for any minor children you have.
  • Living Trust: There are several types of trusts, which can be created for different purposes. A revocable trust is commonly known as a living trust. This document can be changed, altered, modified, or revoked during the grantor’s lifetime. An irrevocable trust cannot be easily changed in order to protect the property from creditors while the grantor is alive. Trusts are commonly used for purposes such as avoiding probate, limiting negative tax implications, and preserving inheritance for your offspring.

Signing and Witnessing Requirements

Under Illinois law, specific legal documents must be signed in the presence of a witness, including wills and trusts. This means that someone must be physically present when the documents are signed. There are generally two types of witnesses: a notary, who is certified, and a document witness, who can be anyone. For example, when signing a will, you need at least two document witnesses to your signature. These must be individuals who are “uninterested parties,” which means they are not named as beneficiaries.  

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Kane County family law attorneysEntering into marriage is typically considered a lifelong commitment. However, not all couples stay together “‘til death do us part.” Statistics show that between 40 and 50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. That is why some partners decide to do a civil union instead of getting married. In either situation, there are two legally binding options to protect their interests. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that specifies ahead of time how certain marital issues will be resolved in case the couple decides to part ways. A postnuptial agreement can address the same issues, but it is created after the wedding takes place. For those who may have not preplanned, a postnup can give them peace of mind in case of a breakup.  

Reasons for Creating a Postnup

There may be various reasons why a couple wishes to make a postnuptial agreement. They may want to document their wishes so they are known in case something happens to either of them. Three major factors that could lead to the creation of a postnup may be because a couple:

  • Did not have time before the wedding to create a prenuptial agreement
  • Are estranged but willing to work on the marriage
  • Want to change/amend an existing prenuptial agreement

Items You Can Include in a Postnup

Postnuptial agreements are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act in Illinois. Pre- and postnuptial agreements aim to preserve existing marriages by eliminating potential disputes, but they also protect each spouse’s best interest in the event of a divorce or separation. A few of the main topics that are covered in a postnuptial agreement include but are not limited to:

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Kane County family law attorneysWhen a couple decides to legally end their marriage, there are many issues that need to be addressed. For example, if children are involved, who will be allocated parental responsibilities, child support payment amounts, and a parenting time schedule must all be resolved. Decisions regarding who will get what in the divorce settlement are also important. Marital property can include homes, furniture, vehicles, as well as monetary assets like savings or retirement accounts. Spouses who did not work or participate in any type of retirement savings plan may wonder if they are entitled to a portion of their partner’s account. In Illinois, marital property is divided according to the principles of equitable distribution. As a result, your future ex-spouse can receive part of your retirement savings even if he or she never contributed to the account.

Types of Retirement Plans 

There are many different types of ways to save for retirement. In today’s society, people do not always spend their entire career with one company like in years past. Employees often choose to roll over their retirement accounts as they change jobs. In some cases, a business might not even offer any type of savings plan for retirement, so workers might create their own through a bank or a financial planner. 

A few of the most common retirement savings plans include:

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Kane County family law attorneysAs the number of cases of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) cases continues to rise in the United States, Americans are taking precautions by social distancing and staying at home. The first reported case of the highly contagious virus was in China, but it has since spread to countries around the world, including the United States, Italy, and England. The outbreak has led to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring it a global pandemic. Those infected can experience mild to severe symptoms, with some resulting in hospitalization and even death. Although the older population is at a higher risk of life-threatening complications, children can also contract the COVID-19. In Illinois, schools, restaurants, and other businesses are temporarily closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. With many people working from home or laid off and kids out of school, this can be a challenging time for co-parenting after an Illinois divorce.   

Co-Parenting During a Crisis

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a “stay at home” order for residents that began on March 21 and runs through April 7. This means only essential businesses are open during this time period. Healthcare, government, and some food retail workers are included in this group. Other non-essential employees who are able to work from home have been ordered to do so. 

With coronavirus on everyone’s minds, you may be wondering how to handle parenting time with your children. As a parent, the safety, health, and well-being of your child is your highest priority. That is why it is crucial that you work with your ex-spouse and be flexible if parenting time needs may change during these uncertain times. For example, if you are still going into work but your ex is laid off, he or she can take care of your child while you are at the office. 

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Kane County family law attorneysDivorce does not have to be the difficult process that you once thought it would be. You and your spouse can avoid costly battles in court and come to an amicable settlement through mediation. Negotiating with your soon-to-be ex-spouse can be challenging, especially if child-related issues are involved. It is important to arrive at your mediation meetings with the right frame of mind. Even with an experienced mediator, it is your responsibility to listen deeply, communicate your needs, and find a compromise. If you are feeling nervous at all, remember that the benefits of mediation go far beyond cost savings, and you have a better chance of maintaining a peaceful relationship with your ex-spouse once the divorce is final. A qualified divorce attorney can help you achieve this goal.

Listen Attentively and Be Courteous

Mediation is about compromise, so that means more than just stating your terms and hoping your spouse will agree to them. Depending on the circumstances, your spouse may attempt to push you to bend to his or her terms. You might also find yourself judging your spouse or focusing on your assumptions, but you will never be able to develop a solution that works for both of you if you do not stay present and respectful. Hopefully, your attentiveness will foster a comparable frame of mind in your spouse and that the mediation will go move forward smoothly.

Do Not Dwell on the Past; Build a Positive Future

Divorce and the painful experiences that lead to it are uncomfortable, but if you are trapped in those emotions, you might run into many pitfalls during your mediation. If this is the case, you will have a difficult time building a future that you can enjoy. Imagine the future that is best for you, your spouse, and your children, and cooperate with your spouse to determine the changes that will lead to that positive outcome.

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Barrington divorce attorney

Mental illness can manifest itself in many different forms, including depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. Some of these conditions are recognizable while others are harder to detect. Studies show that nearly half of American adults will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. In many cases, these conditions can cause the breakdown of a marriage. The emotional upheaval that a divorce causes can be challenging for anyone to go through, but when one spouse has mental health issues, legally ending a marriage can be even more intimidating. Although Illinois courts do not consider fault in a divorce, it will weigh several factors when determining certain marital issues such as child custody or dividing assets and property. The mental well-being of one spouse may impact the outcomes since a judge will consider what is in the best interest of the children.   

Practical Steps to Protect Yourself

The stress of a divorce can escalate the symptoms of mental illness. For example, a person who suffers from depression may become suicidal at the news that his or her spouse has filed for divorce. In other situations, a mentally ill person can become violent toward his or her spouse or children in response to the marriage dissolving. In certain cases, Illinois courts may terminate parental rights when a parent is mentally ill is unable to perform basic parental duties. 

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St. Charles paternity lawyersStudies have shown that a child thrives when he or she has a healthy relationship with both parents, regardless of the relationship between the adults. A mother and a father play different roles in the psychological development of a child. However, in some cases, the father’s identity may be in question for various reasons. For example, the mother might not have been married at the time she gave birth, and she may have had multiple romantic partners. 

Paternity refers to the legal relationship between a father and his biological child, which involves the rights and obligations of both the father and the child to each other. Even if both parents do not remain romantically involved, they can still work together for the best interest of their child by providing financial and emotional support. Establishing paternity is also important for protecting each parent’s rights.  

The Process of Establishing Paternity 

If a child's mother is or was married when the child was born or within 300 days prior to the child’s birth, the person the mother was married to (or in a civil union) at that time is presumed to be the child’s second parent. If the mother was married to a man, the man is presumed to be the child’s father. 

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St. Charles divorce attorneysRegardless of the circumstances surrounding the breakdown of a marriage, divorce can be complicated. For those couples who have a high net worth, divorcing may be a very complex process. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, which means items are divided fairly but not necessarily in half. In order for marital assets or property to be divided, they must first be assigned a value. This can be a difficult task for unusual or unique assets that are often acquired by individuals with considerable wealth. Even if a couple is amicable at the beginning of the process, the division of property can quickly become contentious, so it is important to have an attorney by your side to protect your rights.  

Dividing Property Can Be Complex

Items or assets that are accumulated during the marriage are considered marital property. Separate or “nonmarital” property is anything that one of the spouses acquired prior to the matrimonial union. However, gifts or inheritance are also typically classified under separate property. Forensic accountants or valuation experts can help a divorce lawyer accurately assign property as marital or separate. In addition, they can provide an accurate assessment of the overall value of the marital estate, including complex matters such as a family-owned business or an expansive financial portfolio. 

Illinois courts consider several factors into account when determining how to split these assets equitably. Some of these factors include each spouse’s occupation, health, age, and income sources. 

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Kane County family law attorneysFebruary is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Sadly, many teenagers, as well as adults, are in abusive relationships, whether it is within a romantic relationship or with a family member. Victims may be afraid to leave these dangerous situations for various reasons. However, Illinois law allows victims to file for orders of protection to keep themselves and their children safe. Sometimes called a restraining order, an order of protection is a court order that prohibits an alleged abuser from approaching or contacting his or her victim. If an individual violates the terms of the order, he or she can face serious legal consequences. If you or your loved one is concerned about your safety, it is imperative to hire an experienced family law attorney who can help you file and enforce a protective order.      

Illinois Domestic Violence Act

According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, domestic violence is a crime. Any person who hits, kicks, chokes, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of a family or household member has broken the law. Fortunately, if you are the victim of abuse, you can file for a restraining order to prevent the alleged abuser from contacting you or your children. 

A typical restraining order will do the following:

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Kane County dissipation attorneysAlthough it would be ideal, not every divorce is amicable. One spouse may have been planning to split for months, while the other spouse is blindsided by the news. In certain scenarios, one partner may have controlled all or most of the couple’s finances during the marriage. In these cases, one spouse is put at a disadvantage because he or she is financially vulnerable. 

Under Illinois law, the division of assets or property is subject to equitable distribution. This means any marital property that was acquired during the marriage will be divided in a fair manner. However, one spouse may be guilty of depleting and/or hiding assets in order to keep more for himself or herself after the marriage is legally terminated. Inappropriate spending in such a situation is called dissipation of assets, and a skilled attorney along with a forensic accountant can help in revealing this form of deception.         

How to Detect Wasteful Behavior

Dividing assets or property can be one of the most contested aspects of a divorce. The court considers several factors when determining who gets what. In some cases, the split could be 65/35 or 80/20, or all marital property could even be allocated to one spouse.  

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Kane County divorce lawyersA divorce can impact all areas of a person’s life, from physically separating to breaking apart emotionally and financially. Once the decision to divorce has been made, a couple may think the hard part is over. However, the legal process of ending a marriage raises many new queries that need to be resolved. For example, how will property and assets be divided? If children are involved, who will be awarded the allocation of parental responsibilities and who will pay child support? What are the tax implications, especially when it comes time to file your taxes? With tax season upon us, it is important to be prepared by considering the tax consequences when you get divorced in order to protect your financial future.   

Tax Implications of Divorce

Even if you or your spouse has filed the divorce petition, if you are still married as of December 31 of that given year, you have the option to file jointly for that year’s tax return. Until a divorce decree has officially been issued, you are married in the eyes of the law. However, once your divorce is final, each party has the option to claim as Single or Head of Household. The right choice for your situation will depend on your specific circumstances, and it is advisable that you speak with a tax professional.

If you have children together, the parent with the majority of the parental responsibility typically files as head of household, and the tax exemption or credit for the children usually goes to this parent. In some scenarios, parents can split tax exemptions using IRS form 8332, which means the custodial parent allows the other parent to claim a child on his or her taxes. Parents can also claim a tax credit for each dependent who is under the age of 17. There are also other credits for contributions to education and childcare.

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Kane County divorce attorneysPeople often say that a marriage is hard work. Once the “honeymoon” phase is over, being married can be challenging for various reasons. Even if two spouses love each other, life circumstances can get in the way of living happily ever after. For example, a job loss or the death of a loved one can cause one partner to turn to alcohol or drugs as a remedy. In other cases, someone may become addicted to shopping, gambling, or pornography as a way of coping with stress. Regardless of the root cause of an addiction, this type of behavior can destroy a marriage and ultimately lead to divorce. If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse who has an addiction problem, it is important to know how to protect yourself emotionally and financially.  

Irreconcilable Differences

In Illinois, the only recognized “grounds” or reason for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” This means the marriage has deteriorated without hope for reconciliation. Therefore, abusing drugs or alcohol cannot be the official reason to file for divorce, but it can definitely contribute to the breakdown of a relationship. When a couple has children together, addiction can put a significant strain on the family. In some cases, alcoholism can lead to physical or verbal abuse. Attempts at rehab or therapy may have failed to resolve the problem. A parent may feel he or she has no choice but to leave the marriage in order to protect him or herself as well as his or her child’s best interests. Even though it is not a legal prerequisite, if a couple has been separated for at least six months, that typically proves they have irreconcilable differences.

Protecting Yourself

Once you have decided to leave your addicted partner, there are a few things you can do to help prepare for the divorce process. In many divorce cases involving an addict, the two spouses do not agree on how to divide marital property or assets. For these situations, the court will consider many factors to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time. Overnight stays may not be granted, or a judge can order supervised visitation for the parent who has a substance abuse problem.

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