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Frequently Asked Questions About Property Division

 Posted on May 18, 2018 in Property Division

Geneva property division lawyersIf you are considering divorce, you may be worried about how you and your spouse’s combined property will be divided. You may have seen television or movies where a spiteful spouse takes their former partner for everything, leaving the other spouse destitute. Luckily, the reality of property division during divorce is much more reasonable. Illinois courts distribute property and assets according to “equitable distribution” laws, which means that although property may not be divided 50/50, it will be divided justly.

What Is Considered Marital Property?

Not every asset that a spouse owns is eligible to be divided during a divorce according to Illinois laws. Only marital property, which is most property acquired during the marriage, will be equitably allocated between the spouses. This is not as simple as it may seem, however. For example, if a person is awarded a cash inheritance from a deceased relative, this money is considered separate property. It cannot be divided up during divorce. However, if the individual adds that money to a joint banking account or uses it to pay family bills, it becomes marital property and therefore is subject to division.

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Will the Divorce Court Punish My Spouse for Cheating?

 Posted on May 17, 2018 in Divorce

Kane County family law attorneyIt is nearly impossible to know for certain what percentage of married individuals have cheated on their spouses. There are several reasons for this. First, many people may be hesitant to admit instances of infidelity, even in an anonymous survey or study. Next, and perhaps more importantly, cheating can be defined differently from one relationship to another. Regardless of large-scale numbers, if your spouse has engaged in actions that you define as cheating, you may be at a loss regarding what to do next. Many couples never fully recovery from infidelity, and cheating is a contributing factor in a large number of divorces.

Not Grounds for Divorce

When you have been cheated on, it is understandable for you to feel betrayed and ready to end your relationship. In Illinois, however, adultery is no longer an available grounds for divorce. Since 2016, every divorce in the state is granted on the basis that irreconcilable differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. By definition, all Illinois divorces are considered to be no-fault, which means the court has no interest in assigning blame to one spouse or the other for the breakdown.

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What Is a Guardian ad Litem?

 Posted on May 11, 2018 in Guardian ad Litem

Geneva family law attorneyFamily law is one of the most sensitive and challenging areas of the law. While the applicable statutes themselves may not be quite as complicated as tax or real estate law, for example, the personal nature of issues such as divorce and the allocation of parental responsibilities make them particularly difficult for who are going through them.

In some cases, child-related disputes can become so contentious that the parties are unable to remain objective and focused on the child’s best interests. When this happens, the court may appoint a specially trained attorney to serve as a guardian ad litem (GAL) for the duration of the proceedings.

The Job of a GAL

In Illinois, a guardian ad litem must be a licensed attorney who has undergone specific training on how to resolve family law concerns. Each county maintains a list of available GALs who may be appointed when needed by the court.

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How Mediation Can Help You Avoid Divorce Litigation

 Posted on May 08, 2018 in Mediation

Kane County divorce attorneyGoing through a divorce can be one of the most stressful things a person ever endures. According to the American Institute of Stress, divorce is second only to the death of a spouse in terms of the stress it brings to a person’s life. Although some couples will simply not be able to divorce without court intervention, preventing courtroom litigation can significantly reduce the emotional and financial costs of a divorce. For couples that are able to at least partially cooperate, mediation may be the best way to end their marriage fairly and civilly.

Mediation Puts More Control in the Hands of the Spouses

If your divorce ends up in litigation, any decision you and your spouse cannot agree to will be made by the judge. Judges can make decisions regarding spousal maintenance, child support, property division, and more. Although courts will always try to be as fair as possible, often court-ordered decisions do not fully satisfy either spouse. Mediation, on the other hand, puts much more control in the hands of the spouses. With help from the mediator, spouses negotiate and come to their own conclusions about things like property division and maintenance payments. Studies have shown that when individuals have more say over these types of decisions that they are more likely to comply with the judge’s final divorce decree. This results in fewer instances of returning to court to enforce or modify the decree. 

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Divorced Parents and Parenting Plans for the Summer

 Posted on May 02, 2018 in Child Custody and Support

Kane County family law attorneyIn just a few short weeks, your children will be out of school for the summer. They are probably already looking forward to the freedom to sleep in and to spend time recreating with their friends. As a parent, you may also be excited for summer, but it is also common for parents to approach the extended break from school with at least some concerns. Such worries are often amplified for parents who share parental responsibilities with an ex-spouse. If you are subject to an Illinois parenting plan or custody agreement, it is important to prepare well in advance for the months ahead.

Review Your Existing Arrangements

Before planning any trips or summertime events, it is important to know what your parenting plan says about the summer break. Many parenting plans give the bulk of summer parenting time to the parent who sees the children less often during the school year—particularly if that parent lives relatively far away. Other plans keep a schedule similar to that which is in place during the school year. If your plan makes definitive arrangements regarding summer parenting time, you need to follow them or come up with a compromise so that both you and the other parent can enjoy the summer as well.

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Parenting Plans for Successful Co-Parenting

 Posted on April 17, 2018 in Child Custody and Support

Geneva family law attorneyIf you are a parent considering divorce, your number one concern is probably about how the divorce will affect your children. Fortunately, there are many good resources for parents planning to divorce. One thing parents should do if they are planning to share custody of their children after the split is create a parenting plan or parenting agreement.

Every Plan is Different

If you are a parent getting divorced in Illinois, the courts will require you to draft and submit a parenting plan. In it, you should define the proposed custody and visitation schedule (technically called allocation of parental rights and parenting time respectively) as well as solidify other parenting decisions. Only the custody and visitation schedule is required, but many experts suggest parents use a court-required parenting agreement as an opportunity to get on the same page regarding the children. Each family is different, so your parenting plan will not look exactly the same as another family’s plan.

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Wage Garnishment and Other Consequences of Child Support Nonpayment

 Posted on April 15, 2018 in Child Custody and Support

Kane County child support attorneyWhen a couple with children divorces, the parent with less parental responsibility and parenting time is often ordered to pay child support by the court. Such a parent must make periodic payments to the other parent in order to help with child-rearing expenses. Since 1988, Illinois has allowed court-ordered child support payments to be paid through automatic income withholding. The amount of money that can be deducted from the payor’s paycheck is based on the Income Shares model. This method of determining child support takes into consideration both parents' incomes as well as the amount of parenting time and parental responsibility each parent has.

When a Parent Does Not Pay His or Her Required Child Support

Sometimes, for a countless number of reasons, parents are unable or unwilling to pay their court-ordered child support. When this occurs, the recipient parent, meaning the parent with more parental responsibility who is due support payments, can petition the court to address the problem. The state of Illinois has the authority to take child support obligations from other periodic payments such as worker’s compensation and unemployment benefits.

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Falsifying Financial Information During a Divorce Can Have Serious Consequences

 Posted on April 09, 2018 in Property Division

Kane County divorce attorneyAlthough we often do not consider it as such, a divorce is the end of a financial relationship just as much it is a romantic relationship. When a couple gets married, they combine not only their personal lives but also their finances. When a married couple divorces, courts must decide how to divide the property, assets, and debt which the married couple owns. The courts must also consider whether either spouse should be ordered to pay child support or spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) to the other. In order to make these decisions, courts rely on both parties’ complete honesty and transparency regarding their financial situations. When one or both spouses are not honest regarding their finances during a divorce, there can be serious consequences which significantly complicate the divorce process.

How Do Spouses Misrepresent Their Financial Status?

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Retirement Accounts in Divorce

 Posted on April 06, 2018 in Property Division

Kane County divorce attorneysDivorce among the baby boomer generation is more common now than ever before. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, divorces among married couples 50 and over doubled from 1990 to 2014. Over the same period, divorces among couples 65 and older tripled. Divorce among older couples has unique challenges. One important issue that older divorcees face is divvying up retirement accounts. Older Americans have a smaller window to earn after they divorce, so retirement accounts are a commonly fought over topic.

How Are Retirement Investments Divided?

Regardless of who saved more, retirement accounts are often split evenly, or close to it, when a couple divorces. Attorneys say that in a large majority of divorce cases, retirement accounts are considered marital property, and funds that were saved up to support one household must be divided to support two individuals. “There are a number of people who say ‘I have socked away every month and I do not see why I have to divide it with my spouse,” says Joslin Davis, former president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “The law says ‘too bad.’”

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Moving in With a New Partner Can End Your Spousal Support

 Posted on April 02, 2018 in Spousal Maintenance

Geneva family law attorneyIf you are divorced and receiving maintenance payments from your ex-spouse, you may have come to rely on that money. Maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is intended to help a financially disadvantaged spouse in the years that follow a divorce, so such reliance is rather understandable. There are, however, a few situations in which your actions could cause maintenance payments to end. It is important to understand the law in Illinois so that you can make the best decisions for your future.

Ending Support Obligations

Permanent maintenance—in other words, support for the rest of a spouse’s life—is generally reserved for divorces between spouses who have been married for 20 years or more. For shorter marriages, the court will usually set a specific amount of time for maintenance payments to last. Both situations presume that the court has identified the need for maintenance. When a support order includes an intended end date, payments must continue until that date unless the recipient remarries or either spouse passes away. (It is possible for a divorce settlement to include security provisions in the event of the paying spouse’s death, but that is a topic for another day.) The third situation that could terminate a spouse’s obligation to pay maintenance is if the recipient spouse moves in with a new romantic partner.  

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