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Barrington family law attorney, children and divorce, counseling and divorce, post divorce parenting class, Illinois divorce proceedingsChildren are known to suffer negative emotional and social effects following divorce, and parents must be willing to address these issues both during and after a divorce case concludes to prevent long-term damage. To support the wellbeing of children struggling with the adjustments divorce demands, various counseling programs are specifically targeted to this group and often need tailored approaches to avoid the academic, behavioral and financial repercussions.

After parents seek to intervene (and in some cases before), Courts also have the authority to order counseling as a measure to potentially save a marriage and help families with child-related issues deal with this difficult transition.

Consider the following information with regard to when a Court may order participation in counseling, as well as an overview of the parenting class all divorcing couples must attend, which is intended to facilitate more effective communication and parenting post-divorce.

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Mt. Prospect family law attorney, parenting plan, non-compliant parent, child custody violation, allocating parental responsibilitiesTrusting an ex-spouse to follow the terms of a parenting plan is one of the harder aspects of shared child custody. While most parents truly make an effort to abide by the provisions in good faith, others take advantage of the requisite trust to abuse their authority and take impermissible acts, such as taking extra parenting time or making educational decisions without consulting the other parent. 

Parents should primarily seek to work out disagreements between each other, both for a quicker resolution and for the child’s sake; however, a parent willing to take unilateral action solely for his or her own benefit, and often to the detriment of the other parent, should not be allowed to proceed without comment and consequences. The more a parent is allowed to disregard the terms of a parenting plan, the more likely the other parent’s rights will be eroded over time and the parent/child relationship damaged.

One example of the lengths a parent must sometimes go to stop abuse of parental authority by another parent is illustrated in the recent story of a Bloomington mother who will soon be reunited with her son after eight months. An arrest warrant was issued for the father after he failed to appear in Court five consecutive times to justify his removal of the boy to Boston and his refusal to return.

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Inverness family law attorney, parenting responsibilities, parental rights, child custody and religion, parental responsibilitiesFew topics arouse more tension and conflict than religion. Religious beliefs have fomented wars, destroyed countries and displaced countless people across the globe since ancient times. Religion is just one of many child rearing issues divorced parents must handle as part of sharing parenting responsibilities.

Due to the animosity, anger and resentment disagreements that religion tends to produce, Illinois family law provisions specifically address how to divide this responsibility in the hopes of reducing or preventing conflict when this subject arises. Conflict over religion is primarily generated when interfaith couples divorce and fail to clearly articulate and decide each parent’s expectations for the child’s religious upbringing. Regardless of the source, disagreements over religion and raising a child needs resolution, and Courts will establish guidelines if necessary.

Religion is especially a point of contention if one or both parents follow highly regulated belief systems, common among Judaism and Islam, that make compromise extremely difficult. Consider how Illinois Courts view religion in the context of divorce, and ways in which this responsibility may be divided.

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parenting time awards, Illinois fathers, Illinois child custody, Barrington family law attorney, parenting timeStudies repeatedly support the fact that continuous engagement with both parents is key to a child’s long-term development and wellbeing. Divorced parents in Illinois are expected to divide parenting responsibilities (absent issues of danger or neglect), including childcare duties; however, this mandate does not necessarily translate into equal time for both parents. While a growing number of states at least state a strong preference for, if not outright demand, equal parenting time, Illinois has no such provision and merely says both parents are presumed fit and some amount of parenting time should be allocated to each.

A recent study by Custody X Change that looked at how states divided parenting time between mothers and fathers found that Illinois ranked among the bottom, only surpassed by Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Specifically, Illinois fathers, on average, get 23.1 percent of time with their children. Obviously, this number is low, and does not bode well for fathers who must rely on the Court system to make this decision. Consider the following on how Courts evaluate parenting time questions, as well as strategies to boost a father’s chance at receiving more parenting time.

Court’s Assessment of Parenting Time

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Barrington family law attorney, non-parents and custody, children and divorce, custody rights, child custody rightsParents are traditionally, legally and historically associated as the primary caregivers in their child’s life. This standard is supported by the fact that society and the law presume parents to be the most fit individuals to provide for their child’s needs and to make decisions in their child’s best interests. This paradigm works well in the vast majority of families, including those in which child custody is shared following a divorce or separation. However, in a minority of families, one or both parents are unavailable to provide adequate care, usually due to illness, substance abuse, or criminal issues. These children still require care, and if the living situation at home is unsafe or unstable, then alternate arrangements must be found.

The question that routinely arises in these situations is the long-term custody rights of non-parents to care for these children. In the worst case, these children end up — at least temporarily — in foster homes or State shelters. In fact, a recent article about Illinois’ handling of children unable to live with their parents reveals hundreds suffered unnecessary weeks and months in State psychiatric facilities, even though cleared for release, because there was nowhere for these children to go. Children should always have the benefit of growing up in a supportive environment.

Who Can Request Custody Rights

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Palatine family law attorney, child legal advocates, children and divorce, child custody, divorce proceedingsDivorce, child custody and child support are all emotional and difficult legal issues that separated families face. Parents typically intend to shield their children from the stress and negative emotions of these proceedings; however, sometimes, they leach out anyway. Further, even in the best of situations, the best interests of the child can become lost in the midst of legal battles.

To ensure the child’s needs are properly addressed and considered, a Judge has discretion to appoint a child advocate to help him or her better understand the child’s situation and the type of arrangement that would best promote the child’s healthy development. Attorneys are used for such an appointment and would serve in one of three differing capacities intended to provide a voice to the child’s past and current situations.

Consider the following three roles an attorney may play as a child advocate in family law cases, and examples of circumstances that may prompt a Judge to make this type of appointment.

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Posted on in Spousal Support

Hoffman Estates family law attorney, enforcing alimony, maintenance payments, Illinois spousal support, divorce and financesFormer spouses who receive alimony, or maintenance, are often cast by society as greedy and lazy, using this support to avoid becoming employed and self-sufficient. What many people fail to understand is that alimony is rarely a permanent form of financial assistance, and the vast majority of recipients need that money in the short-term to get their lives in order after a divorce. Recipients count on this money as a major part of meeting financial obligations, and suffer huge detriments when it is not paid.

Payors sometimes feel resentful over this obligation, and some choose to sidestep the responsibility by failing to pay the required amount. Alimony awards are legally enforceable, and the party denied rightful payment has the ability to petition a Court to force compliance. Usually, any penalties associated with violations are limited to additional financial outlay; however, in more extreme cases, criminal charges are possible.

The former head of the Chicago Board of Trade, Patrick Arbor, fled the country five months ago to avoid paying the alimony and property settlement award ordered in a divorce from his wife of 17 years, and was recently arrested by Boston Police when he re-entered the country, though quickly released when Illinois authorities declined to extradite him. While the circumstances of this case are somewhat outside the norm, it does illustrate seriousness of flouting Court-ordered obligations.

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Inverness family law attorney, dividing cryptocurrencies, property division, marital property, non-marital propertyLooking for points of disagreement in a divorce is not particularly hard to do. Couples facing the end of a marriage often find the avoidance of giving in to volatile emotions that are easily triggered difficult. One area that is especially prone to the dispute is the division of marital assets. The more complex and valuable the property at stake is, the more invested each spouse is in getting the share he or she thinks is appropriate.

Property division is even more important now that federal tax law eliminates deductions for maintenance payments (spousal support), thus giving the higher-earning spouse much less incentive to agree to pay maintenance as part of a divorce settlement or pre-/post- marital agreement. This means the lower earning spouse will have to hope a large property settlement comes his or her way.

One additional asset that is becoming more of an issue among high net-worth couples is cryptocurrency. This digital currency is known for wild swings in value, but is gaining ever-growing traction among mainstream financial institutions and the federal and State governments. In fact, Illinois is considering allowing residents to pay their taxes with bitcoin. This lack of stability, as well as the ease of concealing its existence, can present challenges when evaluating how to address cryptocurrencies in a divorce.

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Posted on in Divorce

Inverness family law lawyer, grounds for annulment, Illinois divorce, annulment or divorce, ending a marriageDeciding to marry should be a happy time for a couple — a time filled with celebration and joy, not thoughts of possible separation and divorce. A happy marriage inherently requires both parties to enter into the union voluntarily and freely. This dynamic is supported by age requirements that the law places on the ability of a couple to get married — the minimum age being 18 — without parental consent. However, even with this rule, not all marriages last and a significant percentage end their union at some point. Divorce is one option to which most couples instinctively turn when contemplating severing their marriage; however, annulment is an alternative some could consider.

Studies show that the younger a person marries, particularly prior to age 20, the more likely he or she will get divorced. Delaware, in an effort to eliminate the possibility of child marriage, is on the cusp of becoming the first state in the country to ban this possibility by removing any exceptions to the minimum age requirements. When a couple marries at a very young age, a higher risk of the relationship ending results. Thus, could an annulment be an option?

Annulment vs. Divorce

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allocating parental responsibilities, parental responsibilities, Hoffman Estates family law lawyer, child custody issues,  non-biological parent rightsDividing child custody (legally termed parent responsibilities) is a critical, complicated, and emotional undertaking that challenges even the most cooperative spouses getting divorced. Practically speaking, both parents will have to compromise and cede some amount of authority and autonomy over the child’s life in order to facilitate sharing responsibilities with the other parent.

Until a Court order says otherwise, both legally recognized parents (typically, those biologically related to the child) have full rights to make any decision on the child’s behalf and to determine the child’s physical location, without the other parent’s knowledge or permission. Once a Court order is issued, though, this expansive ability to make unilateral decisions stops if parental responsibilities are shared, which is almost always the case.

Biological parents have a tough time sharing these rights and duties, and when a non-biological parent seeks the same level of parental authority, the other parent is likely to push back hard against such claims. This situation occurred between a same-sex female couple from Rockford who used artificial insemination to impregnate one of the women, yet failed to legally acquire parental rights for the other spouse. An Illinois appellate court recently ruled that the non-biological former spouse had parental rights that she could attempt to enforce.

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Inverness family law attorney, substance abuse, child custody issues, alcoholism, alcohol abuseCouples decide to divorce for a variety of reasons, though finances and the stresses of parenthood are often at the top of the list. However, one factor that greatly increases the likelihood a marriage will end is alcohol or other forms of substance abuse.

Forming and maintaining intimate relationships with spouses and children when judgment is routinely impaired, and priorities are more often focused on finding the next drink, is almost impossible. This behavior can leave other family members feeling unsupported and neglected. Moreover, these issues can be of particular importance if the addicted spouse is entitled to ask for parenting time in a divorce.

The safety and security of minor children is a general societal concern, and both the Courts and state agencies have a vested interest in protecting children from possible harm due to a parent’s alcoholic tendencies. One woman, who was recently arrested in the Chicago area for drunk driving and dubbed “one of the worst DUI offenders in the U.S.,” lost custody of her 11 children due to past behavior and the number of convictions and outstanding warrants on her record. Alcoholism can cause a huge disruption in a person’s life, and this does not end when a divorce case is filed.

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Palatine family law lawyer, contempt of court, ignoring a court order, child custody issues, parenting planWhen a couple goes through a divorce, both spouses typically assume ongoing obligations under a Court order or private settlement agreement, especially when child custody issues and support are a concern. Reconciling oneself to years of mandatory obligations is rarely easy but is necessary to avoid unpleasant legal consequences. However, the law will not support or ignore individuals who attempt to get out of legally enforceable obligations that commonly are most damaging to the needs of the child and not the former spouse.

Courts have a number of ways to compel action from an individual trying to shirk his or her responsibilities, and the most powerful one is holding someone in civil contempt of Court. While this is principally used as a last resort when other collection and compliance methods have failed (i.e. wage garnishment, property liens, suspension of licenses, etc.), this option is an effective measure to spur action.

What is Contempt?

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parental responsibilities, Inverness family law lawyer, coparenting, parenting time, child custody issuesDividing parental responsibilities is always a tricky proposition, as each parent is likely to believe he or she is best equipped to provide for his or her child’s physical needs and emotional support system. However, the reality in most homes is one parent is typically more involved in a child’s day-to-day needs and scheduling requirements.

When this factor aligned with the model used to allocate parenting time, a Court is more likely to give the bulk of the responsibilities to the parent who is more involved. This allows continuity for the child to be maintained. However, the situation often leaves the other parent feeling as though he or she has no real opportunity to have equal time with the child, or an ability to make a significant contribution to the child’s life.

Further, fathers are typically more affected by this tendency, which serves to reinforce the stereotype that single fathers have little desire to engage with their children on a meaningful basis. A Bill is currently under consideration in the Illinois legislature that would change the child custody model used by Courts so that both parents would start from the presumption of having equal time with their child.

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Rolling Meadows family law attorney, child custody disputes, child custody decisions, parental responsibilities, parenting timeChild custody is never an easy issue to resolve, even when parents form their own agreement, because the issue is intricately tied to powerful emotions and relationships that are central to the family structure. Settling parenting responsibilities on the heels of divorce becomes even more complex if the Court is asked to decide an arrangement that will govern future interactions.

Sometimes, when parents experience high amounts of conflict, or have legitimate concerns about the child’s welfare, Court intervention is necessary. Because of the importance of child custody, the impartiality of the Judge overseeing the disposition of the case is crucial.

Historically, and according to gender stereotypes, women are traditionally seen as the parent most suited to taking the primary role of caretaker in divorce, with the father receiving much less parenting time comparatively. Recent research into the gender bias affecting the Court system showed that Judges were highly prone to injecting personal bias into child custody decisions that favored the mother, and discouraged the father from taking a meaningful role as caretaker.

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Schaumburg family law attorney, property division, marital property, real estate sales, property settlementsNo one wants to give up an item he or she worked hard to acquire, but divorce requires both spouses to relinquish a portion of the assets accumulated during marriage. Still, agreeing on an acceptable division of property is a huge challenge for many divorcing couples.

Illinois law requires property division to be equitable or fair. This often means spouses receive roughly equal amounts; however, the final outcome will depend upon the Court’s evaluation of factors that examine the circumstances of the marriage and the financial position of each party. While a Judge can settle the issue if requested, couples may be better off finding a private compromise in cases of extreme disagreement.

Personal items and collectibles can be particularly hard to divide due to the sentimentality people often attach to them. One example of a creative solution to this dilemma is the auction Russell Crowe plans to have as part of the divorce settlement he will pay to his soon-to-be ex-wife.

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Schaumburg family law attorney, domestic violence, divorce process, protective orders, parenting timeDomestic violence is a tragic and intolerable situation experienced by millions of spouses each year, and attempting to leave a marriage by filing for divorce can be complicated by potential retaliation from the abuser and a general fear about the circumstances. Officials recognize the hardships faced by spouses in such a relationship. Thus, they provide the ability to get protection from the abusive individual, so other legal steps, like divorce, become viable options that allow more permanent ways to sever ties.

The persistent dangers of domestic violence are apparent in a recent news story out of the Rockford Register Star that discusses the disappearance of three individuals — a married couple with domestic violence issues that was in the process of divorce, and the wife’s new boyfriend. The likelihood of foul play in this situation is high and underscores the need to take decisive action as soon as possible to avoid a worst case scenario.

Protection Order

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce agreement, divorce settlement, divorce decree, Hoffman estates family law lawyer, parental responsibilitiesWhen parents decide to divorce, the process consists of more than simply deciding who will move out and how time with their children will be shared. The heart of any divorce decree is the settlement that outlines how a couple will address support, property division and child custody. Settling these issues is pivotal to concluding this process. However, due to the sensitive nature, these issues are some of the most difficult matters a person will ever consider.

Courts can be tasked with creating a settlement; however, they will be restricted by the confines of the law and the Judge’s limited knowledge about the parties’ needs and expectations. A better alternative is to negotiate a private settlement agreement that serves to keep the details of the divorce confidential and grants spouses more control over the outcome. Couples tend to underestimate how much work these endeavors require, as well as the approach most likely to lead to a fair and workable agreement.

What Goes into a Divorce Settlement?

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Posted on in Divorce

start of divorce, divorce process, divorce and finances, marital property, children and divorceThe road to divorce is rarely straight and clear and often involves a number of deviations and recalibrations as couples try to work through difficulties. When divorce is imminent, spouses may think that the hard part of the process is over. Yet while ending a marriage is extremely painful and complicated, deciding to move on is the just first step.

A spouse can certainly walk into a divorce attorney’s office without doing anything more than deciding to divorce, even before telling the other spouse. However, entering the divorce process without significant advance planning is likely to set a person up for a much harder transition, as well as a longer period of time to conclude the divorce case.

Taking the time to put key pieces of information together will allow consultations with a divorce attorney to be more productive and will make obtaining the result a person may want much easier. This approach may appear to involve more work than anticipated, but walking into the process without a clear picture of one’s starting position can greatly complicate things.

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discovery in divorce, Hoffman Estates family law attorney, divorce process, divorce requirementsWhen couples think about divorce, they usually focus on the emotional and financial repercussions of the decision and leave the procedural and legal requirements to a divorce attorney. Spouses generally have an idea about the need to produce and submit certain documents to the Court so the case can proceed. However, they may not realize that the other side is also entitled to request, and if necessary forcibly demand, the production of information as a routine part of divorce. This process is referred to as discovery, and typically takes the most time, resources and expenses to complete. In fact, this step is a necessary prelude to negotiation; therefore, any meaningful advancement of a divorce petition hinges on successfully completing this part of the process.

In an unusual move, a California U.S. Representative is seeking to depose a representative in Ohio in connection with his divorce case, which includes allegations of adulterous behavior. Given how integral discovery is to the progression and completion of a divorce case, understanding how this process works and the underlying purpose is an important part of moving through this transition as seamlessly as possible.

The Purpose of Discovery

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Posted on in Divorce

division of property, Schaumburg family law attorney, engagement ring, marital property, non-marital propertyWhen a couple decides to marry, no object is more symbolic of this commitment than an engagement ring. The level of commitment this piece of jewelry represents is reflected in the thousands of dollars typically spent. Consequently, if the marriage does not occur, or the relationship ends in divorce, the purchaser of the engagement may want the item back, particularly if the piece of jewelry is a family heirloom. However, the receiver may conceivably view the ring as a gift that was freely given, and thus, not necessary to return. 

These differing points of view can add more tension to an already combustible situation, and while filing a lawsuit to demand the return of the ring may seem tempting, resolving the situation privately is best for reducing additional emotional pain and unnecessary expense. However, in the context of divorce, fighting over a ring is often connected with the bigger question of which assets are considered marital property. An engagement ring, though, maintains a unique status under the law, and thus the right to possession is treated somewhat differently than other kinds of gifts.

Keeping Gifts Generally

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