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Evening and Weekend Hours by Appointment
West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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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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Posted on in Family Law

Algonquin family law attorney adoption

If you are divorced with kids and remarry someone who also has children, it is sometimes referred to as a “blended family.” As the kids’ stepparent, you may have experienced just how rewarding it can be to grow your relationship with your stepchildren and solidify your new family unit. In some cases, it may be a good idea to take the relationship one step further by legally adopting your stepchild or stepchildren. Illinois law outlines a process for doing so, and an adoption attorney can guide you through the necessary steps.

When Is a Stepparent Adoption Possible in Illinois?

If you are legally married to a child’s biological or legal custodial parent, you may be eligible to adopt the child. Illinois law treats stepparent adoptions similarly to adoptions by other relatives, such as grandparents and siblings, meaning that the process is simplified when compared to an agency adoption or independent, non-related adoption. For example, you do not need to establish six months of Illinois residency, and you will likely not be required to undergo a home investigation. However, you will need to file a petition for adoption in court, as well as obtain the necessary consent.

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Kane County divorce attorney asset division

Getting a divorce can have significant financial implications not only for your immediate future but also in the long term. In particular, it may have an impact on your retirement plans, especially if you are divorcing later in life. Statistics show that more and more older couples are getting divorced these days, referred to as “gray divorces.” It is important to be aware of the potential effects of ending your marriage at this stage and to consider options that allow you to keep your retirement goals within reach as much as possible.

Divorce and Your Golden Years

Often called the “Golden Years,” retirement can be an enjoyable time for active adults who are done working. However, divorce brings a number of changes that can affect your retirement plans, including:

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Kane County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement is an option for any couple who is planning to get married, but it may not always seem like a necessary step, especially for younger couples who are tying the knot early on in life. However, the benefits of a prenuptial agreement often start to become more clear in cases in which one or both partners are entering their second marriage. If you are planning to remarry, it is at least worth considering a prenuptial agreement before you make your new marriage official.

Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement When Remarrying

People who are preparing for a second marriage are often doing so later in life, meaning that their circumstances can look very different from those of a couple getting married for the first time. These differences can make a prenuptial agreement helpful in a number of ways, including:

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Kane County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

The words “alimony” and “spousal support” may conjure visions of ugly court battles in which each spouse tries to get the better of the other, but in reality, this often does not have to be the case. If you and your spouse are willing to cooperate, it is possible to reach a mutual agreement on spousal support without requiring a trial at all. If you are concerned about your ability to support yourself financially after your divorce, it may be in your best interest to negotiate with your spouse to establish a maintenance arrangement that meets your needs.

Suggestions for Successful Spousal Maintenance Negotiations

As you prepare to approach a negotiation with your spouse on the subject of spousal support, here are some tips that may help you succeed:

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Algonquin family law attorney legal separation

If you are confident that staying married is no longer in your best interest, the finality of a divorce may be what you need to move forward with your life. On the other hand, if you have doubts or reservations, divorce may feel like too permanent of a decision for your current situation. In this case, a legal separation may be a good option, but you should be aware of the potential benefits and drawbacks before you begin the process.

Advantages of a Legally Separating

During a legal separation, you and your spouse will live separately while remaining legally married. One spouse’s move to a new residence does not automatically initiate a legal separation, however. Rather, you will need to bring the action before your county court.

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Kane County divorce attorney property division

A couple may choose to get a divorce for a wide variety of reasons, and chances are, there is more than one contributing factor in any divorce situation. A recent study in the Couple and Family Psychology journal sought to identify some of the common causes by interviewing divorced people about their reasons, and you may find your own situation reflected in the results. It is important to note that depending on the reasons for your divorce, you may be in for a very different divorce process.

Why Do Couples Get Divorced?

Some of the most common reasons for divorce reported in the study include:

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Algonquin divorce attorney order modification

Once your divorce is finalized, it is important to recognize that the terms ordered or approved in court are legally binding and that there can be significant consequences if you fail to follow them. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are forever trapped by an agreement that puts you at a disadvantage, especially if your situation has changed significantly since your divorce. When circumstances call for it, you can pursue a legal modification to your divorce decree that considers your current state of affairs.

Reasons for a Divorce Decree Modification

The most common elements of a divorce decree that can be modified are spousal support, child support, and the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. There are a number of possible situations in which a modification may be necessary or beneficial, including:

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Algonquin uncontested divorce attorney

If you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce, your top priority may be getting it over with as quickly as possible and with as little stress as is necessary. You may feel that the best way to do this is to handle everything on your own in an uncontested divorce, in which you and your spouse reach an agreement on all important decisions before submitting it for court approval. However, even in an uncontested divorce, an attorney can be a valuable resource, and you should give serious consideration to hiring one to ensure your rights are protected.

Benefits of an Attorney for Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

Divorce attorneys are not just for divorces that have to go to trial. Some divorce attorneys are understanding of your desire to maintain civility and avoid excessive conflict in your divorce, and they can provide their services in a way that allows you and your spouse to continue to handle the process amicably. Some ways that an attorney can assist with an uncontested divorce include:

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Kendall County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

After an emotionally challenging divorce, the idea of finding a new partner can give you hope for a happier future. However, entering into a new relationship, and especially getting remarried, is a major decision that you should not take lightly, as it will significantly impact you, your children, your ex-spouse, your new partner, and his or her family. With a thoughtful approach, you can put yourself in a better position for a happy and healthy second marriage.

Suggestions for a Successful Second Marriage

As you consider beginning a new romantic relationship after your divorce, here are some suggestions that can help you keep your priorities straight:

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