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Barrington family law attorney, divorcing parents, parenting time, shared custody, allocation of parental responsibilitiesWhen divorced parents are asked what part of the experience was hardest to confront, most will respond that the impact the divorce had on their children was most difficult. A number of studies have shown that children thrive best in two-parent households that divorce suddenly and permanently takes away. However, parents still have the ability to mitigate this negative impact with proper intervention and long-term planning.

Shared child custody, the situation most divorced parents face, presents many logistical and financial challenges for the adults. Moreover, shared custody can be emotionally upsetting the child. To minimize the likelihood of future disputes between ex-spouses and to better protect the well-being of the child, advanced long-term planning should be a large aspect of any parenting plan or custody agreement and should be executed as part of any divorce or legal separation.

Advanced planning presupposes the parties mutually and privately agree on terms that will govern the exercise of parental responsibilities. While parties do have the option of allowing Courts to decide this issue for them, a Judge can never fully know the unique needs of each family, nor have the capacity to address every potential concern of each parent.

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Rolling Meadows family law attorney, custody of pets, pets and divorce, pet custody law, divorcing spousesWhen the divorce process is put into motion, sudden and abrupt shifts in the structure of the affected household shortly follow. As a parent/spouse moves out of the home, those left behind must figure out how to adjust to this new reality. Children are known to struggle with these drastic changes in living situations, and the focus of divorcing spouses are, understandably, geared towards making the transition as easy as possible.

Child custody, generally, is a big facet of many divorces. However, another member of a household that can be overlooked in the shuffle — one that still feels the impact of the divorce — is the family pet. How central the family pet is to a household varies greatly from family to family, but deciding which spouse will have primary responsibility for the animal's care can be a hotly contested issue.

Americans, in general, place a high degree of importance on their pets that is reflected in the amount of money consumers annually spend on pet-related purchases — $66.75 billion in 2016. Recognizing the new status of pets as full family members in many households, as well as the difficulties of determining which spouse will retain possession in a divorce, the Illinois Legislature passed a Bill that addresses this issue. The Bill is currently awaiting the governor's signature, and would provide clarification and direction to Courts when pet custody is unsettled.

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divorce proceedings, legal separation, Illinois divorce, Inverness divorce attorney,  allocation of parental responsibilitiesThe build-up that leads to the end of a marriage can be slow and methodical, with each spouse looking for ways to avoid the potential unfortunate outcome. The last step some couples take, before starting formal divorce proceedings, is to separate for a period of time in one final effort to salvage the marriage.

Periods of separation are commonly informal, and spouses mutually and privately decide how living arrangements, child custody and finances will be handled. Additionally, periods of separation will typically lead to either reconciliation or divorce; however, couples do have the option of formalizing their separation with the Courts.

Legal separation may be a mere formality before initiating divorce, or separation could be an in-between arrangement a couple remains in for a significant period of time. Legal separation provides most of the legal mechanisms and benefits offered in divorce, yet this process stops short of dissolving the marriage. Consider the following suggestions as to when couples may want to consider legal separation over divorce, the drawbacks of separation and how Courts handle these petitions.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_suspend-child-support-Barrington.jpgDisputes over child support from separated or divorced parents are fairly common, and each party has a legitimate stake in convincing the other why the money is being properly or poorly spent. Despite these disagreements, most parents ordered to pay child support realize the importance to the child's well-being, and continue to pay support regardless of contention with the other parent.

However, circumstances do arise that directly impact a parent's ability to pay child support, such as job loss and serious illness, and he or she may be motivated to ask a Court to modify the child support obligation to a level that is financially feasible.

Usually, constraints on a parent's ability to pay are connected to situations that engender some degree of sympathy or understanding. Still, some facts push others to have little to no compassion for the financially-strapped parent. One circumstance that squarely fits within this group are those parents who are incarcerated. People do not typically end up in jail or prison for following the law, but one obvious and serious consequence of incarceration is the inability of many of these parents to pay child support.

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Mt. Prospect family law attorney, divorce and sibling relationships, children and divorce, Illinois family law, child visitationDivorce is unavoidably difficult for people, both inside and outside of a couple's core family. However, children almost universally suffer a negative impact from divorce. Having a sibling to commiserate with and draw support from can help to mitigate the damaging effects. Still, this system of shared support can only work if siblings live together, or at the very least, visit regularly.

Splitting up siblings in a divorce is rarely the best or desired option for the children involved. However, for practical or legal reasons, sibling separation may still occur. Large families, blended families with half-siblings, and children with significant age differences are all examples of circumstances in which the children may be split between each parent. The best interests of the child are always at the forefront of child-related family law cases, and Illinois specifically wants to enable separated siblings to maintain regular contact.

Sibling relationships are special and important to each child's emotional and psychological development. To support these relationships, Illinois authorizes Courts to order visitation if a parent is preventing contact. Consider the following information with regard to when and how visitation will be granted by an Illinois Court.

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Posted on in Division of Property

Hoffman Estates family law attorney, dividing debt, debt and divorce, marital debt, marital propertyOne of the perks of marriage is sharing and receiving benefits from a spouse’s property and income. However, this can become a huge negative when a couple divorces.

In addition to dividing marital assets, a divorcing couple is also expected to divide marital debt. Deciding how to handle these obligations can be tricky, and both parties may benefit from settling property division before a divorce is finalized, or at the very least, via a private agreement.

If the Court gets involved in deciding this issue, Illinois follows the equitable division of marital property system in divorce. Equitable division requires Courts to determine the fairest way to split a couple's marital property by taking into account a variety of factors set forth in Illinois statute. In practical terms, this may mean the division is not equal. Moreover, as the division concerns marital debt specifically, how the debt was accumulated can greatly influence how a Court decides to allocate that debt.

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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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