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Kane County family law attorneyThanks to legislation that was passed in Illinois last spring and signed by the governor last July, 2016 has been a year of change and adaptation in the realm of family law. While the new statutes address a wide variety of topics, perhaps the most important changes affect the way in which courts will now approach the idea of child custody. Beginning this year, in fact, the phrase child custody has been all but removed from the law, replaced by the allocation of parental responsibilities.

In the minds of many parents, child custody was once a very black-and-white issue. A parent was either granted sole custody or would share joint custody of a child following a divorce, separation, or other situation in which the parents stopped sharing a household. These two types of arrangements referred to the authority of each parent regarding major concerns in the child’s life, not just how much time the child spent with mom or dad. A parent with sole custody was responsible for all important decision-making, while parents with joint custody were responsible for developing a plan to make such decisions together.

A Customized Plan

mediation, Geneva family law attorneyWhen you and your spouse recognize that divorce is inevitable, you will probably start looking for ways to simplify the process and alleviate the associated stress. Many couples are able to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement agreement through mediation, as well as through other types of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation, when appropriate, can allow a couple to resolve their differences while, for the most part, avoiding the contentiousness of courtroom litigation. The value of mediation cannot be overstated, but it is important to realize that, sometimes, this approach may not be the best for your particular situation.

Uncooperative Parties

Divorce mediation requires both parties to meet with a third-party facilitator for constructive negotiation sessions. The process requires each spouse to remain fully invested in working toward an agreeable outcome. In many divorce cases, though, the relationship between the spouses has deteriorated to the point where cooperation is simply not possible. Anger, resentment, and other emotions may prevent productive communication, which is a basic element any mediated proceeding.

good faith, order modifications, Geneva family law attorneyWhen a couple gets divorced, it is not uncommon for the pair to remain financially connected in some way for a period of time—sometimes a significant period—following the end of the marriage. For some, the connection may be in the form of agreed-upon or ordered spousal maintenance. For divorced parents, an order requiring the parent with less parenting time to make child support payments is highly probable. In certain cases, both spousal maintenance and child support orders may be needed. Over time, these financial obligations may need to be revisited as a situations and family needs continue to change. Of course, economic resources are a major factor in proceedings to modify an existing order. There is, however, another important consideration; a party is expected, at all times, to make good faith efforts toward meeting his or financial obligations.

Substantial Change in Circumstances

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that an order for spousal maintenance or child support can be modified “upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.” This means that something major has developed in the family’s situation that needs to be addressed. Common examples of a substantial change in circumstances include a dramatic increase in the child’s or recipient spouse’s needs, a significant change in the payor party’s income, job loss, injury, or illness.

prenuptial agreement, Geneva family law attorneyEvery year, thousands of couples throughout Illinois formally legalize their relationship through the institution of marriage. As the average age of first marriage continues to rise, along with the increasing rate of remarriage, prenuptial agreements are also becoming more common than ever. In many ways, this makes sense, as today’s single men and women have had more time to earn money and accumulate assets than in generations where younger marriage was prevalent. Remarriage, of course, presents its own challenges, including children from a previous relationship and increased focus on retirement and estate planning, and prenuptial agreements are advisable for these types of situations as well.

Agreements Regarding Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, as it is sometimes called, is one of the most common issues addressed in a prenuptial agreement. A couple may agree, before ever getting married, that maintenance either should or should not be paid in the event of a divorce. They may also address criteria under which maintenance would be required—such as a so-called lifestyle clause or an infidelity penalty clause. Should the couple get divorced, the court presiding over the proceedings is required to take into account any valid agreement between the parties, including prenuptial agreements that address spousal maintenance.

domestic violence, Kane County family law attorneyAccusations of domestic violence are all too common in family law cases. While there is no doubting the serious problem of domestic violence among families in Illinois, sometimes the accusations are not true. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you need to understand what you can do in family court to defend yourself.

Protective Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders

Victims of domestic violence in Illinois are able to apply for a protective order or a temporary restraining order without any advance notice to the alleged abuser. The judge will issue the order if the victim’s application meets all of the legal requirements.

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