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Posted on in Family Law

fault divorce, no-fault divorce, Illinois family lawyerWhen a married couple is no longer able to continue building a future together, divorce is sometimes the best option. The reality is that many couples do not really belong together and trying to force a relationship between the spouses is neither productive nor particularly healthy.

Several decades ago, a couple needed specified grounds, or reason, to pursue a divorce. Typically, grounds included destructive or injurious behavior on the part of one spouse, including bigamy, adultery, habitual substance abuse, and mental or physical cruelty. A divorce could also be granted on the grounds that a spouse was convicted of a felony or “other infamous crime.”

In 1984, however, the Illinois legislature finally acknowledged that, in many cases, the cumulative effect of smaller issues can drive a couple apart, with neither spouse at fault, just as much as more serious negative behaviors. No-fault divorce, or divorce citing the grounds of irreconcilable differences, was added to the law, allowing unhealthy marriages to end more easily and with less evidence.

visitation, restricted, Illinois family law attorneyBeing a parent is not easy. It can be infinitely more difficult to be a parent when you are divorced, separated, or were never married to the child’s other parent and he or she has been granted primary residential custody. Under ideal circumstances, you should be entitled to reasonable rights of visitation with the child, but the real world is rarely ideal. For example, you may be dealing with personal problems of your own, and as a result, the court may have restricted your rights of visitation. While such a situation may be incredibly challenging, it does not need to last forever, and there are some things you can do to work toward the reinstatement of your full visitation rights.

Be Totally Compliant

Even as you work on your own issues, it is vital that you comply with your visitation restrictions, no matter how emotionally difficult it may be. If you are permitted just an hour per week with your child, make the most of it. Make every effort to demonstrate your commitment to being a better person and a better parent. Any attempts to circumvent the court’s decision will not be seen favorably, and could result in full termination of your parental rights.

non-minor support, educational expenses, Kane County family law attorneyIf you currently pay child support, you are probably operating under the assumption that your obligation will be complete when your child turns 18 and graduates from high school. In most cases, you would be correct. The child support laws in Illinois generally require a parent—usually the one without primary residential custody—to pay support until the child is no longer a minor and has earned a high school diploma. You may be surprised to learn, however, that your obligation may continue, depending on your family’s specific circumstances, as your child pursues an undergraduate degree. Illinois, for some time, has recognized the right of a child to seek support from either or both parents for help with educational expenses, and, earlier this year, some cleanup language was added to the law that will take effect in January.

Not Usually Part of the Divorce

Although divorcing parents may be able to reach an agreement on paying for college during the course of the marital dissolution, many do not even think of it. With so many issues of more currently-pressing importance, it is easy to understand why that may be the case. The law in Illinois, however, leaves the door open for any party—either spouse or the child—to revisit the subject later, even after the child has already turned 18 and started college.

guardian ad litem, child representative, Kane County family law attorneyWhen any child-related legal proceeding has reached a point at which it has become clear that the parents or other parties to the case cannot agree on what constitutes the child’s best interest, the court may intervene and appoint an attorney to serve on behalf of the child. There are several roles under law which a lawyer may be appointed to fulfill, but the two most common are called the guardian ad litem and the child representative. The responsibilities of each, as they pertain to family law matters, are specified in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Child’s Best Interests

Although only one or the other is typically appointed it a given case, both the guardian ad litem (GAL) and the child representative (CR) share a common goal: identify and advocate for the best interests of the child. In order to identify the best possible outcome for the child, the GAL and CR are both granted investigative powers. They are permitted and encouraged to interview the child, both parents, and any other interested party to the case. They may also review court documents, filings, and other evidence to help establish what they believe to be the most positive situation for the child.

marital property, division of assets, Kane County family law attorneyWhen you got married, did you and your new spouse move into a home that one of your already owned or did you find a new house? Have you purchased a new home since your marriage?  The answers to those two questions could directly impact the division of property process should you and your spouse ever divorce.

Prior Ownership

According to the law in Illinois, all assets that were owned by either spouse prior to the marriage are considered individual property, not subject to division upon divorce. Determining ownership is fairly easy for smaller items. For example, you paid cash for a washing machine; you own it. Larger purchases and investments are a bit more complicated. You made a $25,000 down payment on a house, for example, but you are only 15 years into a 30-year mortgage; technically, the mortgage lender still owns about half of the house.

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