Recent blog posts

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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Hoffman Estates divorce attorney, marital assets, dissipation of marital assets,  property division,  equitable distributionA large and overarching issue in many divorce cases is the division of assets and more specifically, what to do with the marital home. This asset has a lot of sentimental value. Often, the marital home represents a substantial portion of a couple’s net worth. Couples should attempt to settle this issue without the Court’s involvement.

The importance of resolving this issue in the best possible way is quite high, as the outcome is typically tied to the future financial security of both spouses. However, if mutual agreement is not forthcoming, looking to a Court to decide the matter is usually the next step.

Equitable Distribution

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Inverness family law attorney, property division, divorce and retirement benefits, equitable division, retirement incomeOne event that has reverberating and long-term effects on an individual’s ability to implement and maintain a viable plan for retirement is divorce. Divorce is one of the single most financially damaging events a person may experience. In order to mitigate the negative consequences, one needs to understand how retirement benefits fit within the division of property generally and the specific rules that govern how Courts may treat these benefits. Dividing retirement benefits is frequently much more complicated than other assets because of the numerous laws and regulations that control when and how they may be transferred and accessed.

Property Division Generally

Illinois, like many other states, follows a standard for dividing property in divorce called equitable division. This standard requires all marital property to be distributed according to what is most fair under the circumstances. Hence, not all divorces will result in an equal split of assets and liabilities.

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Schaumberg family law attorney, file for divorce, contested divorce, Illinois divorce process, divorce courtMany considerations go into the decision to get divorced; family, finances and personal happiness are important drivers. Making this momentous decision often feels like the hardest part of the process; however, deciding to divorce is just the first of many decisions couples must make as they transition to single adulthood.

One of the earliest and most important decisions in the divorce process is where to file the case. For many couples, this issue is not terribly complicated if both parties live in close proximity. Yet knowing where to file is not so straightforward for those who live in different states or in different parts of the same state.

One example of how contested this issue can become is seen in the highly contested divorce case of former House Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., who is in the middle of a months-long battle with his wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, over whether the divorce should be granted in Illinois or Washington, D.C.

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Posted on in Divorce

Inverness family law attorney, divorce settlement, family law litigation, divorce negotiation, collaborative divorceInitiating the divorce process, once the decision to end a marriage has been made, can quickly overwhelm many people. Divorce is unavoidably emotional, and adding in the often-mysterious legal process to achieve an uncomfortable end can be daunting. The traditional image of a bitter and protracted trial to resolve disputed issues does not help alleviate this natural trepidation. Negotiating a private settlement is more naturally associated with divorces that have no or few issues to resolve. However, this much less contentious method of working through disagreements is also available for couples with complex matters to sort out, and may offer a better alternative in the long-run, compared with the restraints of letting a judge decide the outcome.

Former power couple Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, who are likely to have a number of high-conflict issues, recently decided to take their divorce into private negotiations to avoid the spotlight of a public trial that serves as an example of the benefits of this process in hotly contested divorces. Consider the following information on how the negotiation process works, and important advantages this alternative has over litigation.

What Negotiation Looks Like

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Posted on in Divorce

Palatine divorce attorney, digital assets, digital snooping, online accounts, divorce and social mediaPeople keep much of their personal and sensitive information online and often share accounts and passwords with partners and spouses. Sharing access tends to be more efficient for keeping up-to-date on personal and financial matters, but can become a point of concern if divorce or separation enter the picture. Because so much of one’s life exists exclusively in the digital realm, spouses getting divorced could use this knowledge to search for damaging information against the legal position of the other side.

Misconduct, evidence of infidelity or financial waste/theft are the primary concerns of spouses in the divorce process. Hiding such activity is distinctly more difficult in the transparent world of today. However, while the temptation to delve into the digital accounts of a spouse may exist, the ramifications of this choice, both legal and relational, should be taken into account so decisions are not later regretted.

How Snooping May Occur

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Posted on in Divorce

Inverness family law attorney, cost of divorce, divorce and finances, attorney fees, collaborative divorceFinancially, divorce can be expensive. Hence, the cost can deter some spouses from pursuing the dissolution of marriage. Various costs associated with divorce are unavoidable, but generally, choosing a process other than litigation to accomplish the dissolution of the marriage can greatly reduce the overall financial outlay. Such financial considerations may be of high importance if there is significant concern over maintaining financial stability after divorce.

Mediation and collaborative divorce give spouses more control over what expenses are incurred, and more easily allow couples to share costs. These options also give the parties more control over the outcome. Further, if a divorce is uncontested, i.e., all relevant issues are settled, the costs are relatively minimal. However, the more traditional route to divorce through litigation is sometimes necessary if the parties want very different outcomes, or if concerns over misconduct/misrepresentation are present.

Since one spouse is typically at a financial disadvantage, the prospect of litigation can be daunting, and potentially push him or her to agree to a quick settlement to avoid high legal fees and Court costs.

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establishing paternity, parental rights, Palatine family law attorney, young parents, parentagePaternity is a process unmarried men must go through to gain legal recognition as a child’s parent in order to receive and assume all of the associated rights and obligations. Parenthood can be a daunting responsibility, and sometimes young men and women facing an unexpected pregnancy lack motivation or support for undertaking this central role.

Young men, in particular, may have a hard time adjusting to the news of an unexpected pregnancy, since they can more easily remove themselves from the situation. However, many young parents do want the chance to actively and responsibly raise their children. Young, single parents are at a particular disadvantage. However, a program offered by a Chicago-based organization, One United Hope, gives young parents parenting education and continuing support through in-home visits until a child is three years of age.

Young, unmarried fathers may not realize they do not automatically receive parental rights, despite the financial and physical efforts they provide to care for the child. Establishing paternity gives important rights to the father and provides critical financial benefits to the child meant to create a level of financial security until age 18.

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