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Geneva asset division lawyerThe end of a marriage involves several legal steps and decisions. Determinations need to be made about many issues, including how property will be divided, if spousal support is appropriate, as well as child-related issues if a couple has a family. During the divorce proceedings, spouses may come to agreements on all of these matters. However, they may also argue over who gets what. In such cases, the court will intervene and make decisions on their behalf. When determining how a couple’s assets will be divided, Illinois follows the equitable distribution method. This also means that any marital debt will have to be split fairly. If you are concerned about what will happen to your debt once you are divorced, a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help navigate this complex issue. 

What Constitutes Marital Debt?

There are many reasons for the accumulation of debt. Money is often borrowed to pay for higher education, to purchase properties, or to start a family business. Each spouse may bring personal debt to a marriage, or in some cases, none at all. Marital debt refers to any debts that a couple accrues after they are legally married. Therefore, if one party had significant student loans or credit card balances that he or she racked up prior to the marriage, that would not be considered marital debt. Similarly, any loans or bills that are accrued after the divorce are the responsibility of the spouse who made the purchases or took out the loan.

Under Illinois law, spouses are responsible for each other’s expenses to maintain the household or support the family during the marriage. This can include buying food, clothes, and toiletries, as well as paying rent or mortgage, vehicle costs, and health insurance. If these items are not paid for outright, they may be charged to a credit card. For housing, the mortgage payments would be made through a bank loan.  

Kane County divorce attorney for parental alienationThe decision to end a marriage can be difficult for many reasons. In many cases, spouses may be unhappy for a long time but hesitant to end the relationship if they have a family. Studies show that the stress of a divorce can significantly impact a couple’s children. This can manifest itself in various ways, such as manipulative behavior by one or both parents. The concept of parental alienation syndrome (PAS) was first introduced by psychiatrist Richard Gardner in the 1980s. This typically occurs during or after a divorce when one parent psychologically manipulates a child into exhibiting unwarranted fear, disrespect, or hostility toward the other parent. In some cases, the manipulative parent’s ultimate goal is that the child will reject the other parent and want nothing to do with him or her. After your divorce, it is important to recognize signals that indicate PAS might be occurring to protect your child’s well-being as well as your rights to custody and parenting time.

Symptoms of Psychological Abuse

It may be natural for a child to exhibit some hostility or sadness when his or her parents split up, regardless of the child’s age. However, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that can have devastating effects on a child as well as the parent who is being alienated. Some of the signs and symptoms that a child may be subjected to this include the following behaviors: 

  • Poor self-esteem
  • Angry outbursts toward the targeted parent and other family members
  • Inconsistent sleep patterns 
  • Eating disorders
  • Problems in school (academic or behavioral)

Manipulative Behaviors 

When a parent is actively trying to make his or her child “take sides” in a divorce, he or she may do certain things to accomplish this objective. Below are a few examples of what a parent might do to instill negative thoughts or feelings about his or her ex in a child’s mind:

Geneva family law attorney for annulmentThere are millions of married couples in Illinois and throughout the United States. However, not all marriages last. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. Many people may equate a divorce with an annulment or even a legal separation, but they are not the same thing. In a divorce, a couple will seek to dissolve a valid marriage. In an annulment, the marriage is ruled as invalid, as if it never happened. Some people assume that an annulment is easier to obtain than a divorce, but that is not always true. Annulments can have stricter requirements and time limits when compared to a divorce. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is essential that you hire professional legal counsel to fully understand your legal options.    

Declaration of Invalidity 

It is important to note that an annulment is not the same thing as a divorce or legal separation. When married couples legally separate, they live apart but are still technically married in the eyes of the law. An annulment is a way for two people who are in a fraudulent or invalid marriage to legally leave the marriage by essentially voiding it. A marriage can be deemed invalid for various reasons, including if one party was unable to consent to the union due to:

  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Coercion
  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • Inability to consummate the marriage
  • Being underage at the time of the wedding

A marriage can only be annulled if the court issues a Declaration of Invalidity. An invalid marriage represents an illegal relationship and is therefore not recognized by the state. 

Kane County juvenile criminal defense lawyerIn the United States, a person is considered a juvenile if he or she is under 18 years old. You may have heard the phrase “juvenile delinquency” before, but you may be unsure about what it actually means. It is generally defined as the repeated commitment of criminal offenses by a young person, typically one below the age at which traditional criminal prosecution is possible. In many instances where a crime was committed by a minor, a separate juvenile court system hears these cases and promotes rehabilitation as opposed to penalties such as jail time. Nonetheless, it is important to know that as an Illinois parent, you could be held liable for injuries or losses caused by your child’s actions.

Possible Penalties for Retail Theft by a Minor

Under Illinois law, shoplifting is also referred to as retail theft or larceny. The crime of shoplifting involves taking an item from a store or retailer with the intent to deprive the owner of its full or partial value. This can mean the offender places the product in his or her pocket or backpack without paying for it. It can also include switching price tags to make an item scan at a lower cost. 

Depending on the age and cooperation of the juvenile thief, the act of shoplifting may be handled in various ways. A store may or may not call the police or press charges. The child could get off with simply a warning. In most situations, the minor’s parents will be notified of the incident, and the retailer will likely prohibit the juvenile from entering the store again. Even if the authorities are called, a minor shoplifter who is taken to the police station may still only receive a warning if it is his or her first offense. 

Kane County legal parentage lawyerFor married couples, the identity of a child’s parents is typically not in doubt, and both spouses are prepared to raise the child. However, for parents who are not married, establishing paternity can make a great difference for a child, ensuring that both parents will play a role in the child’s life and provide the child with financial support. By including a father’s name on a child’s birth certificate, this can protect the rights of both the father and the child.

What Is Paternity?

When a child is born, the relationship between the mother and the child will be obvious, but the child will not necessarily have a legal relationship with his or her father. If the mother is married, her husband is assumed to be the child’s father. However, for couples who are not married, even if they are engaged, the identity of the father will not be presumed, and paternity will need to be legally established. The only exception to this is if a mother’s marriage ended within 300 days before the child was born. In these cases, her former spouse is assumed to be the child’s father. 

In most family law situations, Illinois courts prefer to keep both parents involved in a child's life whenever possible. This is exactly what establishing paternity does; it gives a child the right to have a relationship with both parents, and both the father and mother will be required to provide child support to meet the child’s needs. The child will also have the right to receive benefits such as Social Security, insurance coverage, and veteran’s benefits, and he or she will be able to receive an inheritance from both parents. The father would also have child custody rights if something were to happen to the mother. While establishing paternity does not guarantee that a father will share in parental responsibilities (custody) or parenting time (visitation), it gives the father the right to petition the court to address these matters. 

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