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West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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St. Charles IL family law attorneyAs a parent, negotiating for a parenting time schedule that allows you as much quality time with your children as possible is a crucial part of the divorce process. Perhaps equally important, however, is ensuring that when your children do stay with you after the divorce, they feel comfortable and welcome in your home. Transitioning from one household to two is often a difficult adjustment for children, and your efforts to make your house feel more like home can go a long way toward making the change less stressful.

Creating a Comforting Home For Your Children

While it is sometimes possible for one parent to stay in the family home after a divorce, in many cases, both parents will need to find a new home. Here are some things to keep in mind that can help you make an unfamiliar location homier for your kids:

  • Give your children a dedicated space. Giving your child their own room, especially one that they can personalize to their liking, can help them feel like your new house is truly their home. If a separate room for each child is not possible given your living arrangement and financial resources, work with your kids to set aside smaller spaces where they can take comfort.

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Kane County family law attorneyIn Illinois, child support is an important obligation for all unmarried parents, as it works to ensure that their children’s needs are provided for. However, child support can also be a source of confusion and consternation for parents with complicated or unusual financial circumstances. Many parents who are ordered to pay child support receive some or most of their income from self-employment or a business or professional practice that they own. In these cases, determining a parent’s child support obligation is not always straightforward.

The Basic Child Support Calculation in Illinois

Since 2017, Illinois has used a standard calculation to determine each parent’s expected financial contribution to provide for their children’s basic needs. This calculation uses an “income shares model” in which a parent’s support obligation is based in large part on their portion of the combined net income of both parents. This means that for a child support order to be equitable, it is important to have an accurate understanding of each parent’s income.

Net income not only includes income from employment, but also many other sources. Even parents whose income is primarily from wages paid by an employer will need to report other sources of income for the purposes of calculating child support, and this can include income from a side business. For parents whose primary source of income is their own business, it will be important to thoroughly review the business’s revenue and expenses.

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St. Charles IL divorce lawyerThe process of legally ending a marriage can take many months even after a divorce petition has been filed. However, for many couples who separate before seeking a divorce, the process can be much longer. Some people are separated for years before finally making the decision that divorce is the best option. If this is true for you, you may find yourself dealing with some of the following legal issues during the divorce process.

Demonstrating Irreconcilable Differences

In order for a divorce to be granted in Illinois, the petitioner must demonstrate that the marriage has failed due to irreconcilable differences. This is a minor obstacle for most couples who are in agreement about getting a divorce, but it can be a bigger challenge when one spouse is opposed. However, if you and your spouse have already been living apart from each other for at least six months, with or without a judgment of legal separation, the court will consider this as irrebuttable evidence of irreconcilable differences, meaning that the divorce can proceed despite a spouse’s possible objection.

Revisiting Spousal Maintenance and Child-Related Issues

If you have petitioned the court for a judgment of legal separation prior to filing for divorce, it is likely that you have already reached an agreement with your spouse regarding spousal support, child support, and the allocation of parental responsibilities throughout the separation period. This may help you to simplify the divorce process if this arrangement continues to meet everyone’s needs and you can agree to continue it under the same terms after the divorce. However, if your circumstances have changed substantially during the separation, or if you are no longer satisfied with the agreement, you will have the opportunity to renegotiate the agreement during the divorce process.

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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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St. Kane County family law attorney paternity

When a child is born to unmarried parents in Illinois, there are often complicated questions surrounding child support and custody, or even the identity of the child’s biological father. When the parents are in general agreement on the answers to these questions, a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) can help to simplify the process. However, in some cases, complications may arise in the midst of an attempt to voluntarily establish paternity, and it is important that parents know how to handle them.

Presumed Fathers and Denials of Parentage

When only one man has a claim of fatherhood, establishing legal paternity can be as simple as completing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, ensuring that both parents and a witness sign it, and filing it with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Upon completion, the acknowledged father will have an obligation to contribute to child support, and the parents can petition the court for an order allocating parenting time and parental responsibilities.

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Kane County family law attorney divorce

When it becomes clear to a couple that their marriage has failed, perhaps after many years of stress and unhappiness, it is understandable that they would want to avoid further stress during the divorce process. As such, many couples choose to pursue an amicable divorce, rather than one involving a contested trial. In truth, even amicable divorces can rarely be described as “stress-free,” given the potential for conflict and the many life changes that will ensue, but it is possible to keep stress at a manageable level with the right approach.

Reducing Stress During the Divorce Process

By following these suggestions, you may be able to achieve a divorce that is as stress-free as possible:

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Kane County family law attorney divorce

Ending a marriage is always a difficult process, but it is especially hard when you are trying to divorce a spouse who has been abusive to you or your children. An abusive spouse may try to stop you from filing for divorce in the first place, and they will likely do everything in their power to make the divorce process as difficult as possible, often including threatening your safety. It goes without saying that good faith negotiations are not possible in such circumstances, and your best option for protecting yourself and your interests is to work with an experienced attorney who can stand up for you.

Protecting Yourself and Your Property

Perhaps the most important consideration when divorcing an abusive spouse is securing the physical safety of yourself and your children. If you have been the victim of domestic abuse or you believe you are in danger, you can petition for an order of protection in Illinois court. An order of protection can prohibit your spouse from engaging in acts of abuse, or communicating with or coming near you or your children at home, work, or school. An order of protection can also grant you temporary exclusive possession of your home and other property, or prevent your spouse from taking or destroying marital property.

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Kane County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

When couples choose to create a prenuptial agreement, their reason for doing so is often a desire to clarify each partner’s rights to certain property and assets both during the marriage and in the event of a possible divorce in the future. During this discussion of the couple’s finances, it is also possible, and in some cases beneficial, to determine how spousal support will be handled if the marriage ends in divorce.

Including or Excluding Spousal Maintenance in a Prenup

Under the terms of the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a couple has the ability to address “the modification or elimination of spousal support” in their prenuptial agreement. This means that you and your partner can iron out this often complicated matter well before a potential divorce and when the two of you are on good terms. Your prenup could address details including the amount and duration of spousal support, as well as the method by which it will be paid.

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Barrington divorce attorney child custody

When parents get divorced, it can have a major impact on all aspects of their children’s lives, including their education and academic success. Many children struggle to maintain the same level of focus and performance at school due to the stress of the divorce, and some children have to change schools entirely because of their new living arrangements. However, children are often better able to adapt and succeed when both parents continue to be involved in their education. With this in mind, it is important for Illinois parents to carefully consider how they will share responsibilities related to their children’s education as they work toward a divorce resolution.

Important Educational Responsibilities for Divorced Parents

Several different elements of a divorce resolution can directly or indirectly impact a child’s education. Some of the most notable include:

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St. Charles family law attorney child support

On a fundamental level, Illinois law seeks to ensure that a child’s basic needs are met and that whenever possible, both parents contribute financially to meet them. However, many parents find it important to provide their children with more than the basics, perhaps because they have the means to do so, or because their children have special needs that result in additional expenses. In the event of a divorce or any other situation involving a child support order between unmarried parents, it is important to consider the full range of expenses for which each parent should be expected to provide.

Extraordinary Child Support Expenses

The baseline amount that parents are expected to contribute to child support is determined in large part using a schedule of basic child support obligations maintained by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The schedule considers the combined income level of the parents, as well as the regular annual costs of raising a child, including food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and minor educational and medical expenses.

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Kane County family law attorney divorce

Parents who are getting a divorce face many challenges when it comes to their children. Not only will they need to reach a resolution that protects their children’s interests, but they will also face the difficult responsibility of helping their children process the many changes and stresses that come along with the end of a marriage and family unit. Children of all ages are bound to have questions throughout the divorce process, and parents should be prepared to answer them to the best of their ability.

Common Questions Kids May Ask About Divorce

Regardless of whether or not there have been noticeable signs of conflict in your marriage, your children will likely be surprised and shocked when you tell them that you are getting a divorce. Every child will react differently to this news, but most will have questions either immediately or after they have some time to process their emotions and thoughts. Some of the most common questions include variations of the following:

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Kane County divorce attorney property division

Out of all the properties that must be divided in an Illinois divorce, the home in which the couple and their family lived often causes the most conflict and disagreement. Not only is it typically the most valuable asset that a couple shares, it also serves as a place of shelter and comfort, and in many cases, it inspires strong emotional attachment. However, the reality is that it is almost never reasonable for divorced spouses to continue living in the same home, so a difficult decision will likely need to be made. As you prepare to divide your marital property, below are some questions that could complicate decisions regarding the marital home.

Is the Home Considered Marital Property?

Many married couples choose to purchase a home together, with both spouses’ names on the mortgage and deed. When this is the case, the home will almost certainly be included in the division of marital property. Even if only one spouse’s name is listed, the home will likely be considered marital property if it was purchased during the marriage, especially if it served as the couple’s primary residence.

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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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Barrington divorce attorney parenting time

During the divorce process, “normal” is a relative term. Of course, you, your spouse, and your children are going through a monumental life change, and many of the things you have grown accustomed to will never be the same. That said, it is still important that you try to keep things as normal as possible for your children to help them cope with the things that are changing and assure them that they still have a stable support system.

Maintaining Consistency Throughout the Divorce Process

As your family goes through the upheaval of a divorce, here are some suggestions for promoting a degree of stability and normalcy for your children:

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Kane County divorce attorney property division

Illinois requires an equitable distribution of property during the divorce process, but this does not necessarily mean that every last asset owned by either spouse must be divided. Rather, properties that are considered non-marital are excluded from the process of property division, and one of the best ways to protect your assets and financial interests in your divorce is to ensure that you have a strong understanding as to which of your personal assets are considered non-marital. However, this is often complicated, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can provide qualified advice and assistance.

How to Identify Non-Marital Property in Illinois

As you prepare your financial records for your divorce conference or trial, you should pay special attention to the following forms of non-marital property as defined by Illinois law:

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In many ways, divorce mediation offers advantages over trial litigation, including greater control over the outcome, increased privacy, and often lower costs and a shorter time frame. However, it is a mistake to assume that mediation is “easy” and therefore requires less preparation. Even if you and your spouse get along exceptionally well and are committed to a mutually beneficial resolution, you will still have to make many important decisions that can affect the rest of your lives. With so much on the line, it is best to go into your mediation sessions fully prepared.

Tips for Preparing for Divorce Mediation

If you have decided to try to resolve your divorce through mediation, here are some things you can do to prepare before the process officially begins:

  1. Gather your documents. Primarily, this includes documentation of your financial assets and debts, including both marital property and your own personal, non-marital property. Bringing your own documents can help you protect your interests as you negotiate a fair division of property. If you and your spouse have previously created a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, this is also an important document to bring with you to mediation, as it can significantly expedite the process.

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Kane County divorce attorney debt division

A divorce often involves conflict, or at least extensive discussions, regarding the equitable division of marital property. It is understandable that you and your spouse will both have strong feelings about the assets that you want to retain, for both personal and financial reasons. However, as you engage in these conversations, it is important not to forget about the impact of marital debt on the proceedings. You will want to be sure that you are not left with more debt than you can handle, and that any debts remaining in your name are appropriately managed.

What Is Considered Marital Debt?

In Illinois, debts are treated much the same as assets when it comes to determining which are considered marital and non-marital. This means that a debt incurred by one of the parties before the marriage will likely remain separate, or the sole responsibility of that person, but a debt incurred by either or both parties during the marriage may be considered the joint responsibility of both partners. Along with marital property, these marital debts must be distributed equitably when the partners decide to get a divorce.

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Kane County divorce attorney parenting time

After a divorce, sharing parenting time with your former spouse throughout the year can be difficult, and sharing time on the holidays can be even harder. It is not easy to get used to the idea that you may be apart from your children at such a meaningful time, but it is important to recognize that your children need to be able to spend time with both parents. While you and your ex may not agree on every detail regarding holiday parenting time, you should try to practice healthy ways of managing this disagreement.

Co-Parenting Suggestions for Important Holidays

Whether this is the first holiday season after your divorce or you have been trying to successfully co-parent for years, these tips may help you manage conflict with the other parent more effectively:

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Kane County divorce attorney child support

Couples who decide to end their marriage have several decisions to make, including how to divide their assets and property. When children are involved, there are additional factors to consider. Parents who get a divorce while their children are under the age of 18, one of the court’s top priorities is ensuring that the children will still have access to the same level of financial support from both parents that they had during the marriage. In most cases, this means that one parent will be ordered to pay child support to the other for the purposes of providing for the children’s basic needs. As you prepare for your Illinois divorce, it is important to know whether you are likely to be the paying parent.

What Factors Influence Child Support Payments?

Based on the way that child support is calculated in Illinois, the answers to two basic questions can help you determine whether you will be expected to make support payments to the other parent:

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Kane County divorce attorney parenting plan

Divorce can be especially difficult for children. It can be hard for them to understand the reason why their parents’ marriage is ending, and they are certainly not the ones responsible for the final decision, but their lives will nevertheless be turned upside down as a result of the separation. As a parent, it is important for you to understand how a divorce can affect your children so that you can provide the best possible support for them now and in the future.

Common Effects of Divorce on Children

On a surface level, the most notable effect of a divorce on children is the major change to their routine, as they will likely be dividing their time between both parents’ homes. Working with your spouse to develop a thoughtful parenting plan that addresses parenting time and decision-making responsibilities can go a long way toward helping your children adjust to this transition and ensuring that their best interests are protected.

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