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Palatine divorce lawyerRecently, English actress Danniella Westbrook and former husband Kevin Jenkins finally got a divorce after living apart for six years. Westbrook took to Twitter on Jenkins’ birthday to suggest that the perfect present would be to get a divorce since the pair had been separated for five years.

Although it is true that some people wait years before making a divorce final, most people want the entire process over with as soon as possible. After all, divorce can be messy and expensive, so few want it to drag on unnecessarily. Luckily, there are a few steps that you can take to shorten the length of your divorce proceedings. 

Illinois’ Waiting Period

The waiting period to get a divorce in Illinois is six months, meaning that once you file your paperwork with the court, you typically have to wait a minimum of six months before the divorce is final. When Illinois allowed for grounds of fault, that waiting period was extended to two years, unless the two parties agreed to waive it and lived separate and apart for two years. However, now that Illinois solely recognizes no-fault divorce, there is only a six-month waiting period.

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Hoffman Estates divorce attorney property division

Dividing the marital home is a large part of many divorces and this is an extremely complex process. Couples typically have three choices when dividing the home—they can continue to be co-owners, one spouse may solely keep the home, or the couple can sell the home and divide the proceeds fairly. Regardless of the option the couple chooses, or a judge decides during property division hearings, it is important to have a professional appraisal performed on the home so everyone is aware of its current market value.

Reasons to Get an Appraisal

You may think you can estimate how much your home is worth but that number may not be accurate. Having a professional appraisal done on your home will provide you with a concrete number you can use when dividing or selling your house. This will also help avoid disputes if you and your spouse cannot agree on the value. If a dispute does arise about the value of the home, a family law judge may order you to have the home appraised anyway. Already having an appraisal in hand can help the divorce process move quicker. The value of homes changes regularly, depending on market conditions and the condition of the overall property. So, unless you have had it appraised very recently, your home’s value may have changed since your last appraisal.

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Northwest Cook County divorce attorney

If you are getting a divorce, you must make decisions based on reliable information. Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding divorce in Illinois and the various issues people face during the process, such as child custody, visitation, and the division of marital assets. When going through the divorce process, recognize the common divorce myths that you may hear and understand the truth behind them.

You Must Prove Fault in a Divorce

When first considering divorce, you may think that you have to prove your spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Oftentimes, the ending of the marriage is not anyone’s fault, people simply fall out of love or want to go in different directions. Fortunately, the only type of divorce you can file in Illinois is known as a no-fault divorce, which means you only have to state that the marital relationship has broken down and there is no chance of reconciliation. So, even if neither you nor your spouse was at fault for the divorce, you can still file to legally end your marriage.

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Hoffman Estates divorce attorney child custody

There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, many of which do not affect your capabilities as a parent. However, you may be concerned that a diagnosis will affect your child custody case when going through a divorce. Generally speaking, suffering from mental health issues is not enough for you to lose your parental responsibilities in Illinois. However, how you treat and manage your mental illness can have an impact on the outcome of the legal proceedings. That is why it is critical to seek the legal guidance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can help protect your parental rights. 

Factors Determining Child Custody in Illinois

A judge will consider several factors when determining child custody, also known as the allocation of parental responsibilities, under Illinois law. All of these factors center around what is in the best interests of the child. There are a number of issues a judge will take into consideration, including the following:

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Barrington divorce attorney

Divorce can be an emotional process, and it also involves a wide variety of legal issues that can be difficult to understand. Both of these factors can cause people to make mistakes that may not only result in unfavorable decisions, but they can also make the divorce process more expensive. If you are going through a divorce, avoiding the following mistakes is crucial in order to protect your financial interests and future.

Fighting Unnecessarily

The stress of separating from your partner, when combined with the anger, sadness, or resentment you may be feeling, can result in fights that will not help your case. For example, you may argue about certain marital property based on a desire to win arguments with your spouse rather than out of a real need to keep these assets. Doing this can draw out the divorce process unnecessarily, resulting in higher costs that may leave you in a more difficult financial position following your divorce. While you may have to fight for what is rightfully yours, you should be sure to understand when these types of disputes will be necessary, and when they will be financially beneficial.

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Inverness premarital agreement attorney

Recently, Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce from her husband, Brandon Blackstock, after nearly seven years of marriage. Clarkson is worth an estimated $45 million and is stating that she wants her prenuptial agreement enforced. Reportedly, the prenup outlines an arrangement for legal and physical joint custody of their children, and Clarkson is asking the court to terminate Blackstock’s right to ask for spousal support. The case was filed in a Los Angeles court, but would the court approve her requests if she filed in Illinois? How can you ensure that your premarital agreement is enforced in the Prairie State?

What Makes a Prenup Invalid in Illinois?

Generally speaking, premarital agreements in Illinois are enforceable as long as the agreement is in writing and both parties have willingly signed it. However, there are instances in which a premarital agreement may not be enforced. These include:

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Inverness divorce attorney

During your divorce, you will want to be sure you are working with an attorney who is the right person for your case. In some situations, you may have personality conflicts with your divorce lawyer, or the trust or confidence in your attorney may have broken down. If you are not receiving the legal help you need, you may ask yourself if you should change divorce lawyers. However, before ending your relationship with your lawyer and hiring someone else to represent you, you should be aware of some important considerations.

Reasons to Look for a New Lawyer

There are many reasons you may want to change the divorce lawyer who is working on your case. These include:

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Palatine divorce lawyer for real estate propertyProperty division is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce, particularly when it comes to the family home. You and your spouse will need to determine who will own your marital home, and many factors may come into play when making that decision. To help you decide what to do with the family home in your divorce, you can ask yourself the following questions:

Is the Home Separate or Marital Property?

In many situations, a husband and wife will purchase a home together after they have gotten married. If this is the case, the home is marital property, and it must therefore be included in the property division process during divorce. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means the home’s equity is subject to being divided between spouses. In some cases, one spouse will keep the home, while the other will receive other property of similar value. In other cases, the home may be sold, and the proceeds will be divided between the spouses. 

If one spouse owned a home before getting married, it will likely be considered separate property and may not be subject to Illinois’ property division rules. However, if one spouse made contributions to a house owned by the other spouse, such as by sharing in mortgage payments or assisting with improvements that increased the value of the property, that spouse may be reimbursed for their contributions to non-marital property.

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Mt. Prospect high net worth divorce attorneyAfter English singer-songwriter Adele divorced her husband in 2019 without a prenuptial agreement in place, many wondered what would happen to her amassed wealth. Ultimately, the divorce settlement was worth 140 million English pounds, which is more than 175 million dollars in the United States. Some people have stated that the fact that Adele did not have a prenup in place was a mistake. However, there are other mistakes many people make when going through a high net worth divorce. If you are about to go through a divorce, and you or your spouse have a high net worth, you will want to understand how you can protect yourself financially. Here are some common mistakes that you will want to avoid:

1. Hurrying the Divorce Process

No one wants to go through a lengthy divorce, but high net worth divorces are rarely over quickly. Multiple professionals often have to get involved, including attorneys, financial advisors, forensic accountants and others. These professionals can provide valuable insight into how to resolve the legal and financial issues involved, and they can help divorcing spouses reach a fair settlement. If you try to rush the divorce process, you may end up making hasty decisions that will cost you in the long run, and you may regret these mistakes for years to come.

2. Letting Emotions Take Over

Feelings of guilt, anger, regret and resentment are common in any divorce. These emotions are all completely normal, but you will want to do your best to put them aside and to ensure that they do not influence the decisions you make. Failure to do so can lead to mistakes that you may regret in the future. 

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Rolling Meadows divorce lawyerNo couple gets married thinking that they are going to divorce. Traditionally, the top reasons marriages fail have been considered to be mishandling money, marrying too young and suffering a loss of identity; however, a recent study found that those are no longer the most common reasons for divorce. Below are the three most common reasons why modern couples choose to end their marriage, according to the study:

Lack of Love and Intimacy

No matter how passionate a relationship is at the beginning of a marriage, this passion tends to diminish over time. This is normal and happens to many couples. However, intimacy is still an important part of marriage and includes much more than just what happens in the bedroom. When couples reach the point where they experience fewer acts of affection, including holding hands, kissing or even calling or texting just to express one’s love, this may be a sign that divorce is on the horizon.

Communication Problems

Communication is extremely important in a marriage. A couple must be able to not only talk to each other about everyday life, but also the big and small problems that may crop up during their marriage. Although different styles of communication are not necessarily a sign that a couple is going to divorce, each spouse will want to understand the other’s style of communication so he or she can adequately respond to it. In addition, both spouses should understand that talking and listening are equally important.

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Barrington divorce attorney summer parenting timeSummer is quickly approaching, and some divorced parents may have vacation plans that include their child. Whether these plans include taking lengthy trips or having children stay with a parent for a whole week instead of a weekend, summer schedules are often quite different than they are during the school year. Parents who share child custody may struggle to address these changing schedules and ensure that they can spend time with their children as planned. To make it easier, here are some tips on what you should and should not do when addressing issues related to summer vacations.

How to Co-Parent in the Summer

There are a variety of ways to make co-parenting easier during the summer months when parents and children may be able to spend more time with each other. During this time, it is important to:

  • Plan in advance: If you have any plans with your child that deviate from your parenting plan, you will want to discuss them with your former spouse ahead of time. Ideally, you will be able to work together to come to an agreement about any changes to your parenting time schedules during the summer months while ensuring that the decisions you make will protect your children’s best interests. 
  • Get your child involved: Divorce can be hard on kids. They may already be adjusting to dividing their time between parents’ homes, and during this time, maintain a consistent routine. No matter how fun a vacation is, it can still be a disruption that could make it harder for your child to cope with the changes that have come with your divorce. To minimize these types of difficulties, involve children in vacation planning by asking them what they would like to do, and be sure they know what to expect. When children are older, you may also need to determine whether they will have any of their own plans, and be sure to consider this when preparing for summer.
  • Keep communication open: As you carry out your summer vacation plans, be sure to remain in contact with the other parent, and make sure your child communicates with them regularly. Encourage phone calls and texts so they can stay in touch.

How Not to Co-Parent in the Summer

As you prepare for summer, you may inadvertently take some steps that are not appropriate for the situation. You should do your best to avoid the following mistakes:

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Palatine parenting time lawyer coronavirusEven when certain issues, such as child custody, have been finalized in a divorce settlement, parents and children may experience changes that affect these matters. That may never be more true than during these uncertain times in which we deal with the threat of the coronavirus. First and foremost, parents should know that the Governor of Illinois has stated specifically that parents are allowed to transport children to carry out court-ordered parenting time schedules. After all, families need each other more than ever right now, and children will need to maintain close relationships with both parents. However, there are some uncertainties and safety issues that parents may need to be aware of when addressing child custody.

Steps to take When a Child Is Endangered

While many of the courthouses in Illinois have closed and will not reopen until the coronavirus crisis dies down, courts will be available to deal with emergency situations. If a parent feels that allowing their child to spend time with the other parent would put the child in danger, they may pursue an order of protection that will ensure that they and their child will be safe from harm. As soon as courts are back in session, a parent may file a petition to modify the child custody order.

Responding When Someone Is Experiencing Symptoms

Some parents may come across the situation in which they, their child, or the other parent is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. In the event that anyone is experiencing symptoms, the parenting time schedule may need to be adjusted to minimize the possibility of infection. In these cases, parents will want to work together to reach an agreement that will protect their children’s best interests. This may mean temporarily foregoing parenting time, and the loss of time with the child may be made up at a later date once the infected party has made a full recovery.

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Northwest Cook County divorce attorney child issuesDivorce can be extremely hard on the children involved. That is certainly not a myth. However, there are other myths surrounding divorce and children that are not true, and parents going through the divorce process should be prepared to address concerns about how their children will be affected. Four of these myths, and the truth behind them, are outlined below:

Divorce Is Easier for Younger Children

Divorce is not easy for any child, but some people believe that the younger a child is, the easier the divorce process will be for him or her. This myth seems to stem from the belief that when a child is a toddler, he or she is unable to form sufficient memories, and if a child cannot properly remember a divorce, it cannot cause as much trauma. Unfortunately, this is not true. Fighting and tension between parents can be extremely difficult things for a toddler to deal with, and these conflicts can impact a child’s development. As such, it is important for parents to try to address divorce disputes as amicably as possible when children are involved, regardless of how old those children are.

Each Parent Should Have the Same Rules After Divorce

It is natural for parents to have different approaches to raising their children, both when they are married and after getting divorced. Following divorce, parents often believe that they will need to impose the same rules in each household, but that is not true. Different rules in different households will not harm the mental or emotional health of a child, and in fact, those differences can help the child become more adaptable and learn how to be flexible in different situations.

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Inverness divorce attorney coronavirusThere have been reports that divorce rates are increasing in China now that the spread of coronavirus has settled down. Typically, disasters tend to bring people together, so this current trend has many wondering why the virus seems to be tearing some couples apart. After an in-depth look, it is not difficult to understand why the coronavirus has caused the breakdown of some marriages.

Self-Isolation

While “social distancing” may be helping to slow the spread of the disease, it can cause a great deal of difficulty in a household. When spouses and family members are forced to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together, they may begin to argue over a variety of issues. These fights may escalate into more serious disagreements, especially if a couple has unresolved issues or resentments that have been building for years. If remaining constantly together in close quarters has caused the cracks in a couple’s relationship to deepen, and resolution of these issues seems unlikely or impossible, divorce may be the best option. 

Money Troubles

The coronavirus has not only been a threat to the public’s health, but it has also caused a great deal of financial trouble for many families. Businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters have had to close, leaving the owners of those businesses struggling to make ends meet when they no longer have the income coming in that they once did. Many workers are also being told to stay home in order to limit the spread of the virus, leading to a loss of income that has affected their ability to make ends meet. Concerns about money are some of the primary issues that can lead to the breakdown of a marriage, and these financial difficulties may strain relationships past the breaking point, leading to more divorces.

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Barrington child custody attorney unwed parentsChild custody always has the potential to become an extremely complex issue. However, when parents are not married, it can become even more complicated. While married couples will make decisions about child custody as part of their divorce, unwed couples may need to take legal action to address issues related to their children. In some cases, paternity will need to be established before decisions can be made about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

In Illinois, married spouses are presumed to be the parents of any children born during the marriage, unless there is documentation that says otherwise. However, when the parents of a child are not married, the same assumption is not made. In the case of unwed parents, the paternity of the father must be established. There are three ways to do this:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity: If both parents agree on the paternity of the child, they can both complete and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. 
  • Administrative Paternity Order: If the parents cannot agree, the State of Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services can issue an Administrative Paternity Order to establish paternity.
  • Order of Paternity: The last method of establishing paternity is to appear in court and have a judge issue an order of paternity.

An Administrative Paternity Order and an Order of Paternity are typically only required if the father disputes that he is the biological father of the child. In these cases, DNA testing will usually be used to confirm that a presumed father is in fact the child’s biological father.

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Palatine divorce attorney property division alimonyIn many cases, people going through a divorce find themselves in a difficult situation simply because they did not fully prepare for their situation and take steps to protect themselves. If you know that divorce is in your future, there are a few steps you can take to help the process proceed more smoothly and ensure that you are able to achieve a fair settlement that will meet your ongoing needs.

Copy Important Documents

Before filing for divorce, you will want to make copies of all of the important documents pertaining to your finances. These may include tax returns, wills, mortgage documents, life insurance policies and statements for bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts or investments, as well as any other documentation related to your marital property. This will allow you to have a full understanding of the financial issues you will need to address during your divorce.

Understand Household Finances

You should keep track of your utility bills, mortgage or rent payments and other household expenses. You will also need to be sure you understand your spouse’s income as well as your own and any debts or financial obligations either of you may have. If either you or your spouse are self-employed or own a business, you should keep track of all of the income that comes in for a few months prior to the divorce. By understanding your ongoing income and expenses, you will be able to address these issues during divorce and ensure that you can meet your needs after your marriage has been dissolved.

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Hoffman Estates child custody attorney for parenting timeDivorce can be very difficult for everyone who is affected by a couple’s breakup, including their children. One of the biggest concerns children of divorcing parents may have is how their living situation might change and when they will spend time with each parent following the divorce. In many cases, parents and children alike may expect that children will play a role in making decisions about their living arrangements. Although children’s opinions and desires may be a factor in some cases, this will not necessarily be true in every situation. When addressing child custody matters, a family law attorney can help ensure that children’s best interests are protected.

Parenting Time in Illinois

In divorce cases, the time children spend with each parent is commonly referred to as “physical custody” or “visitation.” However, in 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was modified, and those terms are no longer used. Today, the time children spend with each parent is referred to as “parenting time.” The law recognizes that it is in children’s best interests to have regular, ongoing time with each parent, and during divorce, parents will need to create a parenting plan that includes a schedule for when children will live with each parent. The parenting plan will also address how parents will divide the responsibility for making important decisions for their children, such as where they will go to school and what religion they will be raised in.

Do Children Have a Choice Where They Will Live?

One prevailing myth that people may have heard states that once a child turns 14, the court will consider him or her to be mature enough to make a decision about where he or she wants to live. However, this is not a provision that is included in Illinois law. When making decisions about parenting time, a judge will take many factors into consideration to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The child’s desires are one of these factors, and a judge may listen to what a child has to say and take any preferences he or she has into consideration. Rather than identifying an age at which a child’s preferences will be considered, the law states that a judge may consider the child’s wishes if he or she is mature enough to be able to express his or her “reasoned and independent” preferences.

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Posted on in Divorce

Rolling Meadows divorce attorneyWhen you are going through a divorce, you will want to work with an attorney who can help you secure a fair settlement and make the process as easy as possible. However, you do not need just any attorney; you need the lawyer who is right for your case. Although there are many good divorce lawyers in Illinois, you will want to find someone you are comfortable with who can address your unique concerns and help you complete the divorce process successfully. You will want to ask your divorce lawyer following questions:

Have You Handled Many Cases Like Mine?

No two divorce cases are alike. You may need to address a variety of complex issues, such as a high net worth, child custody disputes, or potential dissipation of assets by your spouse. You might expect your divorce to be contested, or you may plan to reach an amicable settlement with your spouse using methods such as mediation. You will want to be sure the attorney you ultimately hire should is experienced in handling the issues you will need to address.

How Will We Communicate During the Divorce?

Attorneys tend to have preferred methods of communication, and you will want to be sure you are comfortable discussing your case in this manner. Whether you prefer to communicate via email, phone, or text messages, you will want to establish a plan for how you will send information, ask questions, and receive updates.

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Barrington parenting time attorneyFor many parents going through divorce, the biggest fear they have is that they will not be able to spend as much time with their children. This fear is an understandable one. Although the divorce laws in Illinois state that a parent’s gender should not be considered when making decisions about child custody, many judges still have a bias, even if they do not realize it. In many cases, parents worry that they will be treated unfairly when courts allocate parenting time, and they may be unsure of how they can protect their parental rights and ensure that the decisions made during divorce will provide for their children’s best interests. However, Illinois lawmakers are currently considering legislation that could change how parenting time is addressed in divorce and family law cases.

Are There Minimum Parenting Time Standards in Illinois?

Studies have found that it is in a child’s best interests to spend at least 35 percent of his or her time with each parent. However, under Illinois law, there is no minimum requirement for the amount of parenting time that should be allocated to a parent. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that parents are presumed to be fit to care for their children unless there is evidence to the contrary. However, parents are only entitled to “reasonable” amounts of parenting time, and the IMDMA does not specify a minimum amount or percentage of parenting time that is considered reasonable. Because of this, Illinois has received a ranking of C- from the National Parents Organization in its Shared Parenting Report Card. Clearly, there is work to be done in the state regarding shared parenting, and some lawmakers are attempting to address this issue.

House Bill 0185

A bill has been introduced to the Illinois House of Representatives that would change the way judges decide on parenting time in the state. House Bill 0185 would require judges to begin a child custody case with the presumption that it would be in children’s best interests for parents to share equal amounts of parenting time, as long as each parent is fit and able to care for his or her child. If, after reviewing the facts of the case, a judge determines that one parent should have less parenting time than the other, he or she would be required to provide a written explanation for the deviation from this presumption. The goal is to reduce the amount of conflict in divorce and child custody cases and make them easier and fairer for everyone involved, while protecting children’s best interests at all times.

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Posted on in Divorce

Hoffman Estates divorce lawyer child custody alimonyUnder Illinois law, gender is not a factor that should be considered when deciding a divorce case; however, some may fear that the decisions made during divorce will favor their ex-spouse, and they will want to understand their rights and the best ways to achieve success during the divorce process. Below are some of the biggest myths that still surround men and divorce and the truth behind them:

When Men Do Not Pay Child Support, They Cannot See Their Child

Fathers may worry that if they fall behind on child support payments, the mother may be able to refuse to allow them to spend time with their child. Fortunately, this is not the case. There are serious consequences for not paying child support, including being held in contempt of court. However, the courts view child custody and child support as two separate issues, and a mother cannot punish a father for non-payment of child support by restricting parenting time. If a parent withholds visitation because their ex-spouse did not pay child support, she/he can face serious consequences themselves.

Mothers Are Always Awarded Primary Child Custody

This is perhaps the biggest myth surrounding men and divorce. Although it is true that at one time, the courts were more likely to award child custody to mothers, this is no longer the case. Today, decisions about child custody are based on what is in the child’s best interests. The gender of the two spouses has nothing to do with child custody hearings. Instead, courts will consider factors such as the health of the parents, the children’s wishes, and how parents acted in the past when providing care for their children.

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