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Barrington divorce attorney, property division, Illinois divorce cases, marital property, dissipation of assets, spouse's behaviorRarely does one single issue or event push a spouse to file for divorce. Usually, divorce comes as problems pile up over time until, one day, the couple realizes the marriage cannot continue. The typical slow buildup to divorce does not mean that some issues are not more pivotal than others or that one overarching problem was the main catalyst,. Yet do the reasons behind the decision to end a marriage have any effect on the outcome of the divorce case?

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state that means that all a spouse must claim in the divorce petition in order for a Court to dissolve the marriage is that irreconcilable differences led to the breakdown of the marriage. While no particular grounds are needed to justify divorce, this does not mean the Court will not look at the specific behavior of a spouse when evaluating the appropriate provisions of the final divorce order, especially as it concerns property division.

An article in the Chicago Tribune describes the most recent chapter in the ongoing divorce battle between former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife, Sandi Jackson. Sandi Jackson now wants Jackson Jr. to provide the names and contact information of all his sexual partners during their 25-year marriage, which could be used later as a factor in the alimony award and property settlement. How and when do Courts examine a spouse's behavior as a factor during divorce?

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high earners seeking divorce, Barrington family lawyer, divorce and taxes, Illinois divorce process, property settlement agreementAny couple that enters the divorce process must contend with the fact that their marriage is over, and the image they had of the relationship is over. Regardless of the specific circumstances that led to the decision to dissolve the marriage, divorce typically requires the parties to address certain basic issues.

However, some couples present unique circumstances that have a direct and significant effect on the proper approach to divorce itself and the specific issues that are likely to be contentious. Couples with high net worth, especially, fall into the category of individuals who need a specific and personalized strategy to make the divorce process as streamlined and effective as possible.

Couples with considerable wealth have a lot to lose due to the complex and unique financial issues they bring to such cases. If divorce cases of this kind are not properly handled, the need for additional costly litigation is greatly increased. By focusing on the correct issues, however, all areas of disagreement can be satisfactorily settled within the initial divorce petition.

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Rolling Meadows family law attorney, religion and child custody, child custody determinations, Illinois child custody, parenting timeRaising a child requires both parents to compromise on key issues that form the basis of the child's core values. Even parents who have similar child-rearing philosophies are bound to have areas of disagreement. Education, medical care, extracurricular activities and friends are all areas in which parents are apt to conflict. However, one matter that has the potential to provoke the strongest reaction is religion. Navigating this issue as part of divorce and child custody decisions can be difficult, especially if each parent subscribes to a different religious practice.

As more people now appear to be entering into inter-faith marriages, legal resolution of disagreements over a child's religious upbringing may become more common if these marriages end in divorce. The recently announced divorce of Janet Jackson from her husband of four years is one example of a divorcing couple in this situation.

Jackson was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, while her husband is a practicing Muslim. These two belief systems could lead to a protracted fight in Court if the parties strongly defend their positions. Illinois specifically requires the issue of religion be addressed in a parenting plan or in the Court's allocation of parental responsibilities, if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

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hiding assets, Barrington divorce attorney, Illinois divorce, Illinois divorce process, concealing assetsAvoiding the stress that accumulates prior to and during a divorce is not possible for most individuals. The issues surrounding divorce are sensitive, personal and have significant long-term implications that often overwhelm one's attempts to keep his or her emotions in check. Property division, especially among couples with substantial assets, is one of the more complex and contentious areas in divorce proceedings.

Disputes are particularly more likely if one spouse is the primary income-earner and controller of the assets. In this situation, the other spouse may have concerns about the concealment of assets in an effort to keep a spouse out the divorce settlement. The concealment or intentional omission of assets potentially subject to division in divorce will have serious financial consequences for the deceived spouse, and must be aggressively investigated if such action is suspected.

The former wife of Robert Foisie, a wealthy entrepreneur and benefactor of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, filed a lawsuit against Foisie and the school following discovery of a Swiss trust account containing $4.5 million that was not disclosed during their divorce — a trust that was later gifted to the school. Given how important accurate accountings of assets are to a fair divorce settlement, a understanding of the financial information all divorcing parties must disclose, and how to handle suspicions a spouse is hiding assets, is essential.

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uncontested divorce,  Schaumburg divorce attorney, Illinois divorce law, divorce proceedings, Illinois family lawIn legal terms, divorce is the dissolution of a marriage prior to the death of either spouse. In Illinois, a divorce can move through the legal system as either contested or uncontested.

A contested divorce occurs when there are issues to settle between the parties, such as child custody and spousal maintenance. Typically, contested divorces take more time and may require the use of outside resources to resolve the disputed matters. Uncontested divorce, by contrast, occurs when spouses settle all issues privately and seek formal approval of the agreement from the Courts. Uncontested divorces, because the procedure is more or less a ratification of the couple's negotiated settlement, are less expensive and faster.

However, the ease and quickness of uncontested divorces may lead a spouse to believe he or she can skip certain steps that commonly occur during litigated divorce cases. While uncontested divorces are simpler from a legal standpoint, parties choosing to use this simplified process should still take precautionary measures to ensure their interests are adequately protected.

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Inverness divorce attorney, high net-worth divorcesThe divorce process requires both spouses to accept and expect that a considerable amount of money will be spent to dissolve the marriage. The expense of divorce is especially an issue for couples with high net-worth, and the associated complications often relate to property division and spousal maintenance.

One cost that parties are particularly reluctant to pay is attorney fees. While this cost may seem like a considerable amount, divorce attorneys provide valuable services that contribute to the outcome of Court decisions on pivotal issues, such as child custody and the division of assets. However, which party pays attorney fees is a common negotiating point in divorce settlement agreements between wealthy spouses.

The Illinois Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in a case on the issue of attorney fees in a divorce that involved a considerable amount of litigation initiated by the same party. This decision could impact how legal fees are paid in divorce cases going forward, making the exploration of the Court's rationale necessary.

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Posted on in Divorce

filing for divorce, Hoffman Estates family law attorneyThe process of divorce, from beginning to end, is different for everyone. Few couples rarely jump to ending a marriage at the first sign of trouble. However, couples who enter divorce must decide at some point that the marriage is not salvageable. Legally dissolving the relationship may be the best decision.

Once the decision to divorce is made, the hardest part of the process may seem over, yet filing a divorce petition and proceeding through the legal system is not as seamless as one may think. First, one must determine where he or she is eligible to file for divorce, and in which specific courthouse to file the papers. Someone seeking divorce cannot simply walk up to any Court in the state to file the necessary documents. At the very least, residency and venue requirements must be satisfied before a Court will accept a person's petition for divorce.

Residency and venue issues are the gateway to starting the divorce process. Yet while these issues are straightforward for most couples, others may have reason to challenge the opposing party's claim. Consider how to establish residency and determine venue for purposes of divorce, as well as when someone may want to dispute these issues.

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Arlington Heights family law attorney, custody rightsDisputes over child custody and visitation between parents are an unfortunate but common occurrence. Further, when parents separate or divorce, the impact is felt far beyond the core family unit. Relatives and friends often lose valuable and important connections in the aftermath of these decisions, however necessary and well-intentioned. The significance of some of these relationships between a non-parent adult and the child can sometimes be enough to motivate the other adult to explore the possibility of seeking visitation or custody rights if there is a fear that contact will be cut off. However, the law is not especially keen to award parental responsibilities to non-parents, and great pains are taken to limit when exceptions to this policy may apply.

Parents are viewed as the primary and best source to raise a child, and other adults are always considered a last resort. Consequently, non-parent adults are generally unable to receive custody rights over a child, absent extenuating circumstances. A recent example of this policy is evident in the denial of a grandmother's petition for guardianship over her young granddaughter. The child's mother is serving a prison sentence in Bali for murder, but the Court said that even in this situation, the mother's consent to guardianship was necessary. However, Courts are permitted to make exceptions for certain parties seeking custody under specific circumstances.

Who May Petition

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Barrington family law attorney, spousal maintenance awardsTransitioning from a two-income household down to one, following divorce, is a large adjustment for most individuals. In most instances, though, each party is able to financially support himself or herself, excluding child support, without contribution from the former spouse. However, maintenance, or spousal support, is sometimes necessary to sustain a former spouse while he or she, for example, gains new skills or training to make him or her more employable.

Illinois amended the laws on spousal maintenance in 2015 to make these awards more predictable by removing any subjectivity on the amount and duration of the maintenance obligation — although, a Court's obligation to first determine if maintenance is appropriate remains the same. A set formula now determines how much and for how long maintenance awards will be, and only marriages of 20 years or more are eligible for permanent maintenance, which is left to the Court's discretion to decide.

However, even though maintenance awards are easier to predict under the new provisions, changes may occur once the Court order is in place that justify a modification or cancellation. Someone subject to pay maintenance should not be locked into this obligation if circumstances make this arrangement untenable or unfair.

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Arlington family law attorney, parenting responsibilitiesRaising a child is no small task, and includes an incredible amount of responsibility. Most parents try, and have a vested interest in, basing their decisions on what is best for their child. This selfless tendency is part of the reason why the law favors awards of shared parenting time between parents in divorce or paternity proceedings.

Children thrive most when both parents play a large and consistent role in their lives; though in practice, one parent usually provides the majority of the childcare. However, Courts have the authority to deviate from the shared model when circumstances warrant such a decision, including and up to giving one parent sole physical and legal parental responsibilities of the child.

Even if one parent is given sole responsibility, the other is usually granted some degree of visitation and communication with the child to prevent the total loss of a parent. This type of restricted visitation is used when the child's safety or development is threatened, but the parent with primary responsibility for the child cannot impose or deny visitations without a Court order, even if his or her concerns are legitimate.

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Palatine family attorney, custody ordersBalancing work and family following divorce is bound to involve many challenges and tradeoffs, particularly when child custody is shared. The logistics of transferring a child between parents and households is often tricky, especially as the needs of the child change over time. These difficulties exist when parents live in close proximity to one another. However, they are greatly magnified by distance.

Once state lines are crossed, visits may become less frequent. Visits may also last for days or weeks on end instead of just one weekend. When distance is a factor in visitation, one concern that either parent may have is enforcing the terms of the parenting plan. If a parent decides to withhold visitation, limit communication, or refuse to return the child as agreed upon, then the other parent will likely need to initiate legal action to force the other parent to comply. Still, with parents accessing Courts in different states, the possibility exists that Courts could issue conflicting custody orders resulting in the child pinging back and forth between parents. This situation is not in the child's best interest, and 49 states, including Illinois, have passed a uniform law that governs how Courts should treat custody disputes that cross state lines.

What Are Courts Allowed to Decide

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Palatine divorce attorney, valuing assets, high net-worth divorceA complex divorce tends to center around conflict and is related to two key issues — parenting responsibilities and property division. Both parties have a lot at stake and are invested in each matter. Hence, each party has much to lose if the outcome is not in his or her favor.

Specifically, with regard to property division, the number and type of property that is potentially subject to division can require a complicated analysis to determine if the property qualifies as marital and what the likely value is for that property. While one spouse may think he or she has a complete picture of all the property owned by the other party, analyzing and verifying the information listed in the mandatory financial affidavit must serve as the starting point for division.

The issue of property valuation is particularly important in divorces where considerable wealth has accumulated during the marriage. Securing proper valuations of all marital assets is crucial to ensuring that the division of property is fair and will provide the income/financial resources as intended.

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Posted on in Divorce

Palatine divorce attorney, mental health issuesDivorce is an emotional process that can sometimes bring out negative aspects of a person's personality. However, these behaviors are momentary lapses. When one spouse has a mental health issue, what is already a difficult process becomes exponentially more complicated.

Marriage to someone with mental health issues that manifest as erratic behavior, severe mood shifts and the potential to harm him/herself or others can quickly become overwhelming.

A study conducted in 2011 looked at the impact of mental health disorders on the rate of marriage and divorce found that these issues increased the likelihood of divorce from 20 to 80 percent, varying by the type and degree of disorder present. Mental health issues often result in high conflict relationships that are hard to endure long-term. If a couple shares children, the implications of mental health disorders on a spouse's ability to parent effectively and safely become a major concern that Courts do carefully consider.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Palatine family law attorney, custody in IllinoisNo issue is more important to a parent than the role he or she plays in a child's life. The importance of this active participation in a child's life particularly comes into play during divorce. The process of separating and dividing a household and family brings unavoidable change to a parent's relationship with his or her child. In an ideal situation, parents work out a shared custody arrangement so the child does not lose too much interaction with either parent. Still, parents do not always agree on what is best for the child.

If a Court has to intervene and decide child custody, Illinois has a specific set of provisions that govern how Judges should make these determinations. Currently, Judges have discretion to order the custody arrangement they decide is in the best interests of the child. However, several groups supporting the rights of fathers in Illinois are pushing for legislation that would create a presumption in favor of joint custody, requiring a parent who opposes an agreement to argue why joint custody is not appropriate.

Judges and family advocacy groups disagree such a change is prudent since a 50/50 split is not workable in some families. Given that child custody is such an integral issue for any parent contemplating divorce, an overview of how Courts assess this issue is necessary.

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Palatine family law attorney, parenting plansWhen couples divorce, crafting a parenting plan to regulate child custody is one of the more challenging aspects of the process. The age of the child and the employment of each parent are major factors affecting the type of arrangement that best suits the circumstances of the family. The best interests of the child is the primary motivating factor in these decisions, but discerning what a child needs to ensure the best possible opportunity to develop is likely to change over time. What is best for a child at the age of six is likely to differ substantially from what a child might need at the age of 15.

Further, the circumstances of the parents may change as jobs come and go and other life adjustments are made over time. As a result, allocating parenting time and responsibilities may need to be shifted to address the changing needs of the child and the ability of each parent to adequately fulfill these responsibilities. While each parent is obligated to follow the terms of a parenting plan, Illinois law does allow parents to request modification under certain circumstances.

When a Request May Be Filed

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Palatine family law attorney, domestic violenceLeaving a marriage with domestic violence requires planning and support to ensure the victim and his or her children are safe. Usually, a victimized spouse must leave in secret and must also leave most possessions behind, so the abusive spouse does not discover the plan in advance. The law recognizes that domestic violence is an all-too-common issue in marriages, and therefore seeks to make keeping an abuser away easier for victims and their families.

In 2014, Illinois law enforcement received more than 65,000 calls related to domestic violence. Hence, knowing how to get retain legal protection against an abusive spouse, as well as how the Court views this issue in divorce/child custody cases, is crucial.

Orders of Protection

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Palatine family law attorney, prenuptial agreementIn the days leading up to engagement and marriage, thinking about the negative possibility of divorce is not a topic most couples want to contemplate. Visions of growing old and all the things they hope to accomplish together usually overtake any concerns about the relationship not lasting.

While expecting a marriage to last a lifetime is the reasonable way to approach a new relationship, no one knows the future. Hammering out how to handle property division and payment of support in the event of divorce through the use of a prenuptial agreement may not be romantic or optimistic, but sometimes pragmatism is more important in the long-term. These conversations are especially important if a couple is older and/or is bringing a lot of assets and other financial resources into the marriage.

Figuring out these issues before divorce is on the table will make the process of dissolving the marriage easier by reducing the likelihood of disputes and the time needed to negotiate a settlement. The terms of these agreements must be memorialized in writing and executed prior to marriage. Further, Illinois regulates the formation and types of provisions these agreements can legally contain.

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Palatine divorce attorney, temporary supportRegardless of whether the decision to divorce is mutual, at least one spouse will typically deal with substantial financial fallout. While some couples make enough money individually to weather the repercussions of divorce with minimal adjustment, in many households one spouse makes substantially more than the other. This disparity means that the lesser-earning spouse is forced to scramble for alternative ways to obtain money.

Borrowing from family and friends or selling possessions are methods commonly used to make up the shortfall. While this situation is hardly sustainable in the long-term, the situation should still be addressed in the short-term to prevent irreparable financial loss. Illinois allows parties with pending divorces to request temporary support until the dissolution is finalized and property division and spousal/child support is established on a more permanent basis.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, are currently facing this situation. Sandi Jackson alleges Jackson Jr. is not contributing to household expenses while their divorce is pending, leaving her to ask friends for money and selling belongings to make ends meet. Given how contentious the issue of support is in divorce, understanding when support may be temporarily awarded is important.

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Palatine family law attorney,  divorce, moving out-of-stateThe mobility of Americans is one the hallmarks and benefits of living in this country. Moving to a new place for a job, better schools or a different lifestyle are common reasons people give for uprooting their family to a new home and community. Moving with children always brings additional considerations because leaving friends and transitioning to a new school is difficult for many children.

If a parent decides to move following a divorce, this decision is even more complicated. Because of the importance of this relationship, divorced parents who share custody of a child are not free to independently decide to move away with a child. Consultation with the other parent, and at times a family Court judge are necessary to stay within the bounds of the law and the parenting plan. Taking a child to another jurisdiction without permission can lead to serious consequences, including criminal charges for kidnapping or visitation interference.

A mother from Russia faced this situation when she was arrested at O'Hare airport earlier last year for removing her child to Russia without authorization from her ex-husband or a Court. She was placed under house arrest, but recently obtained approval from an Illinois Court to leave the U.S. with her daughter.

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Palatine family law attorney, child support ordersBeing a single parent is one of the hardest roles someone can fill. No one is there to take over and give the parent a break, and inevitably more of the financial burden falls on this parent. However, all parents have an ongoing obligation to financially support their child until he or she becomes a legal adult, and divorce or legal separation does not relieve this duty.

Child support is even more important today with the ever-rising costs associated with raising a child that is partially connected to new expectations of participation in extracurricular activities and use of technology. Thus, any parent who provides the bulk of childcare needs to be able to rely on regular child support payments to ensure enough money is available to provide for the child's needs.

Child support provisions are included in all divorce decrees between parties who share minor children and can also be obtained through a paternity action if the child's parents are unmarried. Understanding how the Court determines how much the child support payment should be, and how to enforce the obligation if a parent fails to pay, is essential information for any parent receiving this money.

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