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Barrington, IL child custody lawyerNavigating the sometimes rough waters of a child custody dispute in process can be challenging, both legally and emotionally. Very few parents would willingly give up any of the time they share with their children, and this often means that any disputes relating to parenting time or the parenting plan can become quite contentious during a divorce. 

The time period while parents are divorcing can be quite stressful for children of any age. Parents need to take the right steps to protect the well-being of their children, as well as their own parental rights during this time. An attorney can advise you on how best to serve both goals at the same time. 

Proven Tips for Navigating Custody Disputes 

A few commonly-offered tips for parents undergoing a custody battle include: 


Planning for Safety Before Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Palatine, IL divorce lawyerAnyone who has been in an abusive marriage has likely been asked, “Why do you not just leave?” People who have never been in this position often struggle to understand why leaving an abusive marriage is more complex than exiting almost any other type of relationship. Abusers tend to control every aspect of their spouse’s life. They may have complete control over the finances, making it impossible for you to simply go make alternate living arrangements.

Many isolate their spouse from any family members or friends they could go to for help leaving. Other abusers will use intimidation and threats to prevent their spouse from leaving. These threats may be violent or legal in nature. Making threats such as, “If you divorce me I will paint you as a bad parent and keep the kids away from you,” is quite normal in an abusive marriage. 

Although leaving a marriage is generally not as easy as people who have never experienced spousal abuse seem to often think it is, a divorce can be done with a bit of preparation and help from an attorney


What Is Considered a High-Asset Divorce? 

Posted on in Divorce

Mt. Prospect, IL divorce lawyerA high-asset divorce involves a couple who owns property with significant value that must be separated in a divorce. There is not a set net worth a couple must have to qualify for a high asset divorce, but it generally involves couples with a net worth of a million dollars or more. Since all divorce calls for a division of assets, there are several things you need to consider to protect your financial interests when the stakes are this high. Luckily, the work of a skilled divorce lawyer can help. 

What Has to Be Divided in a High-Asset Divorce?

Regardless of the type of asset a couple or individual owns, as long as it is a marital asset and not an individually owned asset, its value must be divided in a divorce. These assets include: 

  • Real estate
  • Liquid assets like cash savings
  • A variety of investments
  • Business ownership
  • Collectibles 
  • Intellectual property

Couples can be creative and come up with their own asset division arrangement that allows each partner to keep the fair portion of their shared net worth in a way that makes sense for them. If a couple cannot decide for themselves, a Judge will have to get involved. 


Untitled---2023-09-12T151458.026.jpgIn many divorce and family law cases, child custody is one of the most important issues to address. In Illinois, the courts seek to protect the best interests of the child when making decisions about parental responsibilities and parenting time. The court will look at a variety of factors to determine the best ways to provide for children’s needs going forward. Parents who are seeking to protect their parental rights and resolve child custody disputes can work with an attorney to make sure these issues will be addressed correctly.

Types of Child Custody

Child custody issues generally fall into two categories:

  • Legal custody: This is known as the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, and it refers to a parent's right and responsibility to make decisions regarding their child's upbringing. Decision-making responsibilities may address issues such as education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities, and they may be shared between parents or granted primarily to one parent.
  • Physical custody: This is often known as visitation, but it is referred to as parenting time in Illinois law. This form of custody will address where the child will live on a day-to-day basis. In many cases, a child will live with one parent most of the time while still spending regular time with the other parent. In other situations, parenting time may be divided equally, or other arrangements may be put in place.

In most cases, the court will award joint legal and physical custody, as long as this would be in the best interests of the child. Sole custody may be granted in some cases. However, even if one parent will have sole legal custody, the other parent will usually have the right to regular, reasonable parenting time.


Inverness, IL child custody lawyerChild custody is now called parental responsibilities in the state of Illinois. Although the name has shifted, the complex and emotional nature remains and parents always want the best for their children. 

You may find yourself at odds with your ex-spouse based on different parenting styles, opinions, and lifestyles. Luckily, there are amicable ways you can resolve parental responsibilities disputes. With the help of a skilled child custody attorney, you can use mediation to settle your child's arrangement questions. 

How Does Mediation Work in Divorce?

During mediation, a neutral third party works with both parents to find a mutual solution to any divorce issues, including child support, spousal support, and asset division. In this case, your mediator will help facilitate an agreement on parental responsibilities. 


Untitled---2023-08-24T084158.758.jpgWhen a marriage is no longer working, one or both spouses may feel that divorce is the only solution. However, before making such a drastic decision, couples may benefit from exploring other options that could possibly save the marriage or provide clarity on whether divorce is truly the best course of action. In some cases, legal separation may be a solution that is preferable to divorce.

What Exactly Is Legal Separation?

In Illinois, legal separation allows couples to live apart while still being legally married, giving a couple the chance to take a step back from their marriage and decide whether they want to continue with the relationship.

During legal separation, couples will address many of the same issues that they would during a divorce. They may divide their assets and debts, address child custody issues, determine whether spousal support (also known as alimony) will be appropriate, and make decisions about any other concerns related to their family and their finances.


Untitled---2023-08-18T101456.988.jpgThe end of a long-term relationship can be challenging for everyone involved, and a divorce or separation can be especially hard on children. Co-parenting is a way to ensure that children continue to receive the love and support they need from both parents, even after the parents’ marriage or relationship has ended. While co-parenting may not always be easy, the effort helps protect the children’s well-being. As you work to resolve child custody issues in your divorce and establish workable co-parenting arrangements, following these tips can help make the process easier for everyone involved:

1. Put Your Children First

The primary focus of co-parenting should always be what is in the best interest of your children. You will want to do your best to set aside any personal differences with your ex-spouse and make decisions based on what will benefit your children's emotional and physical development. By prioritizing your children’s needs over your own desires, you can create a healthier environment for them as they grow up.

2. Maintain Effective Communication

Open and honest communication is key to successful co-parenting. You and your ex will need to keep each other informed about important events or changes in schedules relating to your kids. You can communicate through email, text messages, or dedicated parent communication apps, and if necessary, you can set boundaries regarding what types of communication will be appropriate and what issues you will discuss. Ideally, you will want to use neutral language when discussing child-related concerns and avoid using these conversations as opportunities to rehash past conflicts.


Untitled---2023-08-15T114355.825.jpgIn any divorce or separation involving children, Illinois courts require the parents to create a parenting plan that outlines how they will share parenting time, decision-making authority, and other child-related responsibilities. A parenting plan is a legal document that helps ensure both parents are involved in their children's lives and provides a framework for co-parenting after the dissolution of a couple’s marriage or the end of their relationship. By understanding what will be included in a parenting plan, parents can make sure they will be able to resolve child-related issues during a divorce or family law case, and they can be prepared to work together to raise their children in the years to come.

The Basics of a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan will cover a wide variety of relevant issues related to raising children, ensuring that parents can make decisions about important aspects of their children’s lives and provide for their children’s ongoing needs. While each case may have its unique considerations based on a family’s circumstances, here are some common elements that will be addressed in an Illinois parenting plan:

  • Parenting time schedule: This schedule will determine where children will live on different days throughout the year and when they will spend time in the care of each parent. A parenting plan will include details about regular visitation schedules, holidays, vacations, birthdays, and other special occasions.
  • Custody arrangements: The parenting plan will detail how parental responsibilities will be allocated between the parents. Depending on a family’s circumstances, parents may share the right to make decisions about their children's education, healthcare, religion, and other issues, or one parent may have primary responsibility in certain areas.
  • Communication: To ensure that parents will be able to work together to discuss child-related issues and address concerns about their children's well-being, a parenting plan may include guidelines for phone calls, emails, text messages, or apps specifically designed for co-parent communication.
  • Transportation and exchanging children: As children transition between their parents’ homes, parents can make an effort to avoid conflict and ease stress by outlining when and how these exchanges will take place. A parenting plan may include details about when each parent will pick up or drop off children at the other parent’s home or whether other arrangements may be made, such as meeting in a neutral location to exchange children.
  • Extracurricular activities: Parents may address how they want to handle activities that children will participate in, such as sports, music lessons, or clubs. A parenting plan can address issues related to enrollment fees, transportation arrangements, and other related matters.
  • Parental relocation: Either parent may choose to move to a new home at some point in the future, and a parenting plan may address these situations to ensure that a parent’s relocation will not affect the other parent’s relationship with the children. Parents may agree to restrictions on relocation, or they may put rules in place to determine what procedures will be followed in these situations.
  • Dispute resolution methods: A parenting plan can outline the methods that may be used to resolve disputes that may arise between parents in the future. By agreeing to use mediation or other methods, parents can take steps to minimize conflict and work together to find solutions that will protect their children’s best interests.

The Importance of a Well-Defined Parenting Plan

A parenting plan can help reduce conflicts and provide clarity for both parents as they navigate their co-parenting responsibilities. By addressing all essential aspects of raising children, parents can avoid misunderstandings and potential disagreements later.


Untitled-88.jpgWhen a couple decides to end their marriage, they will need to address a variety of concerns as they proceed with their divorce. In some cases, spousal support (also known as spousal maintenance or alimony) will be an important issue to address. Spousal support orders will create a legal obligation in which one spouse will be required to pay financial support to their former partner. These payments may be necessary to address a disparity in the incomes earned by the parties and ensure that both spouses will be able to maintain their standard of living. However, it is important to understand that spousal support can be awarded in different forms, including both temporary and permanent support.

Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary maintenance, as the name suggests, is awarded for a limited period of time during divorce proceedings. This is designed to provide financial assistance to the lower-earning spouse until a final spousal support order is issued. Temporary support is meant to maintain the status quo and ensure that both spouses can meet their financial needs during the divorce process.

A family court judge may determine an appropriate amount of temporary spousal support based on the incomes and needs of both spouses. The court will consider factors such as the expenses that both spouses will need to pay and the financial resources available to each party. The goal is to ensure that both spouses will be able to meet their needs during the divorce process. When temporary alimony is ordered, one spouse will be required to make regular payments to the other, and this requirement will typically remain in place until the divorce is finalized.


Untitled-87.jpgGoing through a divorce can be emotionally and financially challenging. However, the divorce process can become even more complicated when one spouse suspects that the other is hiding assets. In Illinois, the law requires both parties to fully disclose their assets during divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, some individuals may try to conceal or undervalue certain assets in order to gain an unfair advantage when dividing marital property during the divorce process.

If you believe your spouse has hidden assets, consulting with an experienced family law attorney who can help uncover these issues and ensure a fair division of property is crucial. At The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., our skilled divorce lawyer understands the complexities involved in identifying and addressing hidden assets in an Illinois divorce.

Identifying Hidden Assets

The process of identifying hidden assets will often involve a thorough investigation and analysis of financial records by professionals such as forensic accountants or private investigators. These experts can uncover discrepancies and trace money trails that might lead to undisclosed assets.


How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-42.jpgDuring the divorce process, couples will need to address a wide variety of issues, and they will need to determine how to resolve disputes over issues such as property division and child custody. To ensure that a divorce can be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible, couples will often look at what options are available for resolving their outstanding issues and avoiding conflict. Mediation is a popular alternative to traditional litigation for couples who are seeking an amicable resolution to their divorce. During the mediation process, a couple will work together with a neutral third-party mediator to negotiate with each other and reach agreements on important divorce-related issues. If you are planning to use mediation to create a divorce settlement, you will need to understand the steps to take as you prepare to address and resolve the issues in your case.

Educate Yourself About Mediation

As you prepare to address divorce-related issues, familiarize yourself with the mediation process. You may want to speak to the mediator ahead of time to gain an understanding of his/her approach while working with you and your spouse to address and resolve the unique concerns that affect you. You can also research the divorce laws in Illinois, so you will be able to advocate for yourself and your rights. This knowledge will empower you to actively participate in the mediation process and make informed decisions.

Gather and Organize Documents

To ensure that issues related to your property and finances will be addressed correctly, you can take steps to collect all relevant financial and legal documents pertaining to your marriage and divorce. These may include bank statements, tax returns, property deeds, mortgage statements and employment records. Organize these documents in a clear and accessible manner, so you can refer to them during mediation. Having all the necessary information readily available will help streamline the negotiation process.


b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-32.jpgGetting a divorce can be a complex and difficult process, regardless of the situation. However, for stay-at-home parents, the divorce process can involve a variety of unique concerns and considerations. From financial concerns to child-related issues, stay-at-home parents need to be aware of their rights and options when going through a divorce.


The Importance of Legal Representation

When facing a divorce, the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer can be crucial for a stay-at-home parent. An attorney who is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of Illinois family law can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, ensuring that the best interests of the parent and children are protected. As a parent, your attorney can help negotiate child custody arrangements, determine child support obligations, advocate for a fair division of assets, and determine whether spousal support may be appropriate.


Mt. Prospect divorce attorneyManaging the many emotions you experience during your divorce can be an incredibly challenging and draining experience. Even if the divorce is something you want, the end of your marriage can bring forth a range of intense feelings, including sadness, anger, fear, and confusion. Effectively managing these emotions is important, and it can ensure that you will be able to navigate the divorce process in a healthy and constructive manner. The following are some tips that may help:

Do Not Suppress Your Emotions

First and foremost, you should recognize the importance of acknowledging and accepting the emotions that you may encounter. Divorce is a significant life transition, and you are likely to experience a wide array of emotions during this time. Allowing yourself to feel and process these emotions can be cathartic, and it can help prevent negative feelings from building up and causing further distress.

Get the Support You Need

Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist can be essential while navigating through your divorce. Having a solid support system in place can provide you with a safe space to express your emotions, gain some perspective, and receive guidance. Friends and family can offer comfort and understanding, while a therapist can provide professional help while you try to figure out what you want your new future to look like.


Hoffman Estates fathers' rights attorneyIn Illinois, no legal presumption favors mothers over fathers in child custody cases. Both parents have equal parental rights, and the Court makes decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time based on the child’s best interests. In cases where parents are unmarried, establishing paternity will ensure that a father will be able to assert his parental rights, and until the father is named the child’s legal parent, the mother may have sole custody of a child.

What Factors Does the Court Consider in Child Custody Cases?

When determining how issues related to child custody will be addressed, the Court may consider various factors to determine what arrangements will be in the best interests of the child. The issues considered may include the:

  • Wishes of the parents.
  • Wishes of the child. The child’s ability to express independent and reasoned preferences and their level of maturity may be considered when determining how their wishes may affect the decisions made.
  • Physical and mental health of all individuals involved.
  • Child’s adjustment to their home, school and community.
  • Level of cooperation between the parents and their willingness to foster positive relationships between the children and both parents.
  • Distance between the residences of the parents, the difficulty and cost of transportation and the daily schedules of the parents and child.

In most cases, Illinois courts are reluctant to grant sole custody unless there have been issues such as abuse or neglect that have put the child’s health or safety at risk. In general, both parents are assumed to be fit to parent the child, and each parent is entitled to have reasonable parenting time with their child on an ongoing basis.


Rolling Meadows parenting plan attorneyOur world has changed dramatically in the past decade. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the rise in sophisticated technology, our lives have been changed in ways that we never imagined. As a result, there are more considerations than ever for divorcing parents to keep in mind as they prepare for their separation.

If you are getting divorced, your parenting plan will include decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, information about your right to access child-related records, provisions addressing future modifications of the parenting plan, and much more. However, divorcing parents should not stop at the bare minimum. They may also need to address the following five key issues:

Technology and Online Safety

With the increased use of technology in children's everyday lives, online safety has become a major issue for parents to consider when creating their parenting plan. Whether agreeing on appropriate internet usage or developing guidelines for monitoring online activity, both parents should be aware of their expectations in order to ensure the safety of their children.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_32532727-min.jpgMany people considering divorce assume that keeping lawyers out of the process is the best way to reduce conflict and simplify the divorce process. They believe that hiring an attorney will mean that the divorce becomes an adversarial “me versus them” situation. However, this is not the case.

Divorce attorneys offer a multitude of benefits during divorce, and hiring a divorce lawyer does not mean that your divorce will be acrimonious. Many divorce lawyers offer alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, which focus on amicably negotiated settlements instead of litigated court processes.

State-Specific Legal Knowledge and Advice

Divorce is a complex field that requires in-depth knowledge of state-specific laws and procedures. An experienced divorce lawyer will have a comprehensive understanding of the Illinois divorce process and the legal system as a whole. From property division and parenting plans to spousal maintenance, divorce lawyers provide valuable guidance, helping you navigate the intricacies of the process and protecting your rights.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_395639623-min.jpgUnmarried and divorced parents are often required to pay child support to their child's other parent. The amount of parent pays is based on the Income Shares Model, which considers both parents’ net incomes to determine an appropriate payment amount.

Child support is crucial for covering child-related expenses such as housing, tuition or other educational costs, extracurricular activity fees, and more. If a parent fails to comply with an Illinois child support order, the Illinois Department for Child Support Services has the authority to take enforcement actions. One such action is suspending the non-complying parent’s driver’s license.

Child Support Enforcement in Illinois

Child support is ultimately for the child. Illinois lawmakers believe that a child should receive financial support from both of their parents even if their parents are not married or have gotten divorced. Parents who fail to make their child support payments in full and on time can face various consequences.


palatine divorce lawyerWithout a doubt, owning a business complicates the divorce process. Unlike an employee of a company who can show his or her earnings on a weekly paycheck, business owners’ income varies significantly. Furthermore, business assets are often considered marital assets. This means that the non-owning spouse also has a right to a portion of the business’s value.

The situation becomes even more complex legally and emotionally if the spouses co-own a business together.

If you or your spouse own a business and you plan to divorce, you may want to consider using the collaborative law process to determine the division of marital property, child custody, and other divorce issues.


palatine divorce lawyerResearch shows that extramarital affairs are more common than many would suspect, and many lead to divorce. Whether it is a single instance of infidelity or a long-term secret affair, cheating can have a significant impact on a marriage. 

As you plan for your divorce, it is important to understand Illinois divorce laws and how the infidelity may impact your case. States vary significantly with regard to these matters, and laws change over time, so it is important to be educated. For personalized guidance regarding your divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

Dissipation of Assets

Unlike in other states, Illinois courts do not consider adultery or other forms of marital misconduct when determining how to divide property. In most cases, the property division process will not be affected by a spouse’s infidelity. However, there is one important exception. If a spouse spent a significant amount of money in connection with the affair, the other spouse may have a valid claim for dissipation of assets. The cheating spouse may be required to reimburse the marital estate for the dissipated funds.


palatine divorce lawyerWhen a married couple decides to divorce, typically, one spouse moves out. However, significant conflict can arise when there is a disagreement about who should move out of the home. Securing an apartment or other living arrangement can be stressful and expensive. Consequently, many spouses fight to remain in the marital home. 

In this blog, we will discuss how Illinois Courts handle disagreements regarding residency during the divorce process and what you can do if you and your other spouse disagree about who should stay in the marital home during the divorce process.

An Agreement is Often the Ideal Way to Resolve Disagreements About Living Arrangements

As with many issues during divorce, reaching an agreement regarding who will stay in the marital home is often the best option for divorcing spouses. Consider working with your respective attorneys to negotiate an agreement about who will keep the home and who will move out. Your agreement can also contain instructions for how the second home will be paid for. For example, one spouse may temporarily rent an apartment during the divorce proceedings, but both spouses will split the rent 50/50.


Introducing The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson

Nicholas W. Richardson is an experienced divorce lawyer and mediator whose comprehensive legal knowledge, commitment to clients and reputation for results bring lasting solutions to your problems.

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