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palatine divorce lawyerWhen parents divorce, they rarely walk away from the relationship entirely. Because they share children together, they will be in each other's lives at least until their children are grown. Co-parenting with an ex or soon-to-be-ex is not always easy, but there are steps parents can take to make co-parenting less stressful for everyone involved.  

If you are recently divorced or intend to divorce soon, read on to learn some tips and tricks for co-parenting during summer vacation.

Effective Co-Parenting Starts with a Strong Parenting Plan

Divorcing parents in Illinois will create a parenting plan which describes parenting time, parental responsibilities, and other vital matters. Ideally, the parents will be able to agree on the terms of the parenting plan with help from their respective attorneys. However, if the parents cannot agree, they can submit separate parenting plans to the Court, and the Court will determine the best course of action.

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Arlington heights divorce lawyerEach state handles divorce slightly differently. Furthermore, divorce laws frequently change to better reflect the needs of modern families. Updates and modifications to divorce laws can make it difficult for some divorcing spouses to know which laws apply to them. The changes can also lead well-meaning friends and relatives to offer outdated or inaccurate divorce advice. If you are thinking about divorce, read on to learn about the grounds for divorce in 2022.

Illinois is Now a No-Fault State

The term “grounds” refers to the legal justification for an action. When someone files for divorce, he or she is effectively asking the Court to grant him or her a divorce. The person who files, called the petitioner, will need to list the ground on which he or she is basing his or her request.

Prior to 2016, Illinois had both fault-based and no-fault-based grounds for divorce. Fault-based grounds for divorce included things like adultery, habitual drunkenness, and mental cruelty. However, Illinois has since abolished all fault-based grounds for divorce and is now a no-fault divorce state.  

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palatine child support lawyerChild support provides financial assistance to parents with the majority of the parenting time. The funds received through child support may be used for rent or mortgage payments, educational costs, groceries, and other expenses. Once the child becomes an adult, he or she is expected to become financially independent. Child support payments usually terminate when the child reaches adulthood and graduates high school. Sometimes, child support payments are extended until the child completes an undergraduate degree.

If a child has a disability, he or she may not be able to reach the same level of financial independence as a child without a disability. Disabled children and their parents may require financial support in the form of child support even after the child becomes an adult. Fortunately, Illinois law provides the opportunity for non-minor support in situations like this.

Extending a Child Support Order When a Child Has Disabilities

Children with disabilities often require extra medical care and educational services, which can become quite expensive. If your child has a disability, you may worry about how you will cover these costs once your child is an adult. Fortunately, you can petition the Court for non-minor support.

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palatine divorce lawyerGetting engaged to be married is one of the most exciting life experiences a person can have. If you are newly engaged, congratulations! You probably have a million things on your mind right now. You may be thinking about wedding plans, moving in with your partner, starting a family, and much more. You may also be thinking about whether you and your spouse should sign a prenuptial agreement. Premarital agreements or "prenups" offer numerous benefits to spouses. However, prenups are not exactly romantic. Bringing up the idea of a prenuptial agreement to your partner can be awkward. There is no way to eliminate the awkwardness entirely, but the following tips may help.

Make Sure You Both Understand The Benefits of a Prenup  

Prenuptial agreements should benefit both parties in a marriage. These valuable legal tools can help you identify which assets and debts are marital and which are non-marital. This is very useful if either spouse has significant assets such as a business or professional practice. Prenups are also useful if one spouse has significant debts such as credit card debt or student loans. You can also use a prenuptial agreement to describe a spouse's right to spousal maintenance, keep family heirlooms in the family, and much more.

Think of a Prenuptial Agreement Like an Auto Insurance Policy

If you drive a car, you probably have auto insurance. Having insurance does not mean that you are more likely to get into a crash or that you are an unsafe driver. Insurance exists to provide financial security in the event of a crash. Similarly, signing a prenuptial agreement does not mean that the spouses intend to divorce or lack faith in their marriage. A prenuptial agreement can be thought of as an insurance policy that goes into effect if the marriage ends in divorce or the death of a spouse.

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Posted on in Divorce

palatine divorce lawyerThe end of a marriage is always sad. However, many separated and divorced people also see divorce as an opportunity for a happier future. For many divorcing couples, the split follows months, years, or even decades of a miserable marriage. Consequently, many divorcing spouses are excited about the prospect of reentering the dating world and finding someone who is a better fit for them. However, many people in this situation are also uncertain about the consequences of dating during the divorce proceedings. Can you date when you are separated but not yet divorced? Will dating affect the divorce process in any way? These are important questions that anyone considering dating during divorce should consider.

Going on Dates While Divorcing in Illinois

If you are getting divorced, you may be excited at the thought of meeting someone new. You may even already have someone special in your life other than your spouse. 

There is no law prohibiting dating during the divorce process. Technically, infidelity is a criminal offense in Illinois, but this law is not enforced, and no one has been charged with adultery for decades. Illinois is also a no-fault divorce state, so dating during divorce will not influence the grounds or reasons for the divorce. However, it is possible for dating during divorce to influence the case's outcome.

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palatine child custody lawyerA child’s parents are arguably the most important individuals in his or her life. Consequently, Illinois Courts do not interfere with the parent-child relationship unless there are extreme circumstances. Parents have the right to spend time with their children and be involved in their children’s lives. However, there are situations in which a parent may lose some or all of his or her parental rights. Parental unfitness can take many different forms, but the consequences of being deemed unfit are usually profound.

What is an Unfit Parent?

An unfit parent is incapable or unwilling to provide for a child’s basic needs and keep the child safe. Illinois law specifically states that a parent may be considered unfit if he or she:

  • Abandons the child
  • Neglects the child
  • Mentally, emotionally, or physically abuses the child
  • Has a serious drug or alcohol addiction
  • Has a mental illness that prohibits him or her from carrying out parenting duties
  • Puts the child in a dangerous living environment
  • Is currently incarcerated
  • Is not concerned for the child’s welfare
  • Subjects the child to extreme or repeated cruelty
  • Has been convicted of certain violent criminal offenses 

Failure to pay child support is not considered grounds to declare a parent unfit. Parental fitness is assessed on a case-by-case basis. For example, a parent’s incarceration does not automatically make him or her unfit. The Court will consider evidence and testimony from multiple sources before issuing a ruling about a parent’s fitness.

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palatine divorce lawyerWhen someone passes away, they often leave an inheritance to their loved ones through their estate plan. Heirs may receive money, real estate, vehicles, jewelry, or other assets from a close friend or relative who has passed away. How is this type of property handled during divorce? Do both spouses have a right to funds or property obtained through an inheritance? What if the inheritance was acquired before the couple decided to divorce? Is there a way to protect an inheritance from being split between spouses in a divorce?

Are Assets Obtained Through Inheritance Marital or Non-Marital Property?

Divorcing spouses have the right to negotiate their own property division arrangement during a divorce. If they cannot reach an agreement about who should keep what property, the Court will be forced to intervene. Illinois Courts follow equitable distribution laws when dividing property. Property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is typically considered marital property. However, Illinois law explicitly states that property acquired by inheritance is non-marital property owned solely by the spouse who inherited it. This may seem straightforward, but determining ownership rights of property originally acquired by inheritance can be complicated in certain situations.

What Happens if Inheritance Assets Are Commingled with Marital Property?

Determining a divorcing spouse’s entitlement to inheritance assets is harder to determine when the assets are mixed with marital property.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1931266286.jpg Divorcing spouses with children are subject to a parenting plan that describes the allocation of parental responsibilities and each parent’s right to parenting time. This parenting plan is incorporated into the final divorce decree and becomes a legally binding agreement. Parents cannot withhold parenting time from the other parent or otherwise deviate from the parenting plan. If your child’s other parent is not letting you spend time with your child, it is important to know your rights.

Visitation Abuse in Illinois

Not letting a parent see his or her children in violation of a parenting plan is sometimes called visitation abuse or “abuse of allocated parenting time.” The other parent may claim that the child does not want to see you, “forget” about your parenting time, or refuse to let you pick the child up for your scheduled parenting time. 

Parenting time abuse is not mixing up the parenting time schedule once or twice, or making honest mistakes. Abuse of allocated parenting time occurs when a parent is willfully non-compliant.

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palatine divorce lawyerIf you are getting divorced, you may have many questions and concerns about the property division process. Often, the first things that come to mind when thinking about asset division are physical assets like the home and vehicles. However, valuing and dividing complex assets like retirement accounts is often more complicated and time-consuming. Whatever age you are, retirement is likely an important concern for you. Read on to learn about how retirement plans are addressed during Illinois divorce cases.

Determining the Value of Your Retirement Plan

Divorcing couples may be able to negotiate property division and make a decision without the Court’s involvement. However, regardless of whether property division is resolved through the Court or via an out-of-Court settlement, the spouses will need to determine the value of the retirement assets first. If you or your spouse have a defined contribution retirement plan like a 401(k) or 403(b), determining the value of the retirement plan should be relatively straightforward.

Defined benefit plans like pensions are more difficult to value and divide during divorce. A pension’s value depends on the pension-holder’s total years of service to the employer and average annual income. If a spouse owns a pension but has not yet retired, determining the present value of the pension for the purposes of divorce can be quite complex and require professional appraisal.

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palatine divorce lawyerMost people know that, like most legal matters, divorce involves paperwork. You will “serve” the divorce petition to your spouse. He or she must “respond” to the divorce petition and either agree to the proposed divorce terms or contest the divorce terms. However, some spouses are so estranged that the spouse seeking the divorce does not know where the other spouse is. Fortunately, there is a way to proceed with divorce even if a spouse is missing. Read on to learn more.   

Understanding the Divorce Service Process

When someone files for divorce in Illinois, he or she uses a document called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This document starts the divorce process and lists the petitioner’s demands. Some spouses are able to simply hand the divorce petition to their spouses. Others deliver the divorce paperwork by certified mail or hire a county sheriff to serve the petition and summons to the other spouse. However, if you do not know where your spouse lives and have no means of contacting him or her, these are not feasible options.

Divorce By Publication

Spouses who do not want to get divorced sometimes do everything in their power to avoid the process. They think that my moving to a new home and cutting off ties, they can stop the divorce from happening. Other spouses go missing because of mental health issues, drug addiction, or personal issues. If your spouse cannot be located, you can still get divorced. To do so, you will need to post notice of the divorce in a newspaper. Divorce by publication in the newspaper is considered a last-ditch effort to notify the spouse about the divorce and give him or her time to respond.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_96904435.jpg Divorce can be complex legally, financially, and personally. Ending your marriage will likely have a profound impact on your life in a multitude of ways. Fortunately, there are steps you can take now to prepare for the divorce process and set yourself up for success.

Inventory Your Assets and Debts

One of the most consequential aspects of divorce is the division of marital assets and debts. You will need to determine who you and your spouse will divide bank account balances, real estate, vehicles, household items, retirement funds, credit card debt, and much more. Take some time to go through your financial documents and make a list of the assets you own and the debts you owe. Gather and make copies of your tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, loan applications, and other financial paperwork.

Learn About Illinois Divorce Laws and What to Expect

Each state has different divorce laws, and these laws frequently change. It may be a good idea to research Illinois divorce laws so you will know how the process generally works. Each case is different, but this can give you a place to start. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state without a waiting period or mandatory separation period. However, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for 90 days to file for divorce in Illinois.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1134923861-2.jpgWhen parents divorce, the final divorce decree will contain the terms of the divorce, including child custody terms. The parents are required to follow these terms. Failure one-size-fits-all to charges for contempt of Court. However, circumstances change, and sometimes, the initial child custody terms are no longer appropriate for the situation. Read on for several frequently asked questions about modifying child custody in Illinois.

How Can I Change My Parenting Plan?

Illinois parents use a Parenting Plan or Parenting Agreement to describe how they will share parenting duties. Illinois law classifies parenting duties into two main categories: Parental responsibilities are decision-making responsibilities, and parenting time is the time a child spends with each parent.

If you wish to modify parenting time, you may do so if the modification serves the child’s best interests. If you and your spouse agree on the modification, you can submit the modification to the Court for approval. If you and the other parent disagree about the proposed modification, the Court may require you to attend family law mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful and you still disagree about the parenting time modification, the Court may appoint a guardian ad litem or child custody evaluator to assess the situation and provide the Court with an informed opinion.

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palatine divorce lawyerTo get divorced in Illinois, spouses must address multiple financial, legal, and logistical issues. If the spouses can agree on how to handle these issues, they can avoid the timely, costly, and stressful divorce litigation process. However, reaching an informed decision about property division, child custody, and other divorce issues is very difficult to do without help. Fortunately, Illinois spouses have the option of ending their marriage through collaborative law. Collaborative divorce is an alternative resolution method that offers numerous benefits for divorcing spouses and their children. One of the key elements in a collaborative divorce is the “participation agreement” or “collaborative agreement.”

Understanding Participation Agreements in a Collaborative Divorce

As the name implies, collaborative divorce is a collaborative process. The spouses and their lawyers seek to resolve divorce issues cooperatively, without the hostility that exists in many litigated divorce cases.  To ensure that everyone in the collaborative divorce process understands and agrees to the terms of the resolution process, each participant is asked to sign a participation agreement. The spouses, their attorneys, accountants, appraisers, child specialists, and others involved in the collaborative process agree to these terms.

Each collaborative divorce is different, but many participation agreements include promises to:

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palatine divorce lawyerThe National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that almost 15 million people struggled with alcohol use disorder in 2019. The statics for drug use are similarly disheartening. Just under 20 percent of teens and adults use illegal drugs or take prescription medication in an unlawful manner. Many people struggling with drug addiction are addicted to opioids like oxycontin or fentanyl. If your spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol, his or her addiction will likely influence your divorce case.

Is Drug Addiction Grounds for Divorce in Illinois?

Each state has different divorce laws. Illinois is currently a no-fault divorce state. You will not list your spouse’s addiction as the grounds for you divorce. The only available ground for divorce in Illinois is “irreconcilable differences.” If your spouse contests the divorce and disagrees that you have irreconcilable differences, living separately for at least 6 months is considered sufficient proof of irreconcilable differences.

What if My Spouse Does Not Participate or Cooperate in the Divorce?

Addiction to drugs and alcohol can take over a person’s entire life. Your spouse may be unable or unwilling to participate in your divorce. Fortunately, you can get a divorce even if your spouse does not participate. When you file for divorce, your spouse will be asked to file an appearance and respond to the divorce petition. If he or she will not sign divorce papers or file a response and appearance within 30 days, you may be issued a default judgment. This means that the Court issues a judgment in favor of the petitioner (person who filed for divorce) granting him or her the divorce outcome he or she requested.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_95098831.jpgMany parents struggle to pay for college expenses such as tuition, room and board, and related fees. In the United States, the costs associated with obtaining a college education are incredibly high, with college tuition sometimes costing upwards of six figures for four-year schools. 

No matter which college your child chooses to attend, tuition rates will likely be high. But if you are divorced in the state of Illinois, you may be wondering who pays for college between you and your ex. Do you both need to pay? Is a 50/50 division of tuition applied to a situation like this? 

Illinois Law Regarding College Expenses For Non-Minor Children 

Illinois imposes a rare law that may require parents to contribute equal amounts of money toward their child's college expenses until the child turns twenty-three years old. However, it is also possible for this Court order to be extended until the child turns twenty-five years old. 

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palatine divorce lawyerA divorce is an inherently tense process. Even when you are facing an uncontested divorce, tensions run high and a lot of difficult conversations must take place. 

However, a detail that can make an already-stressful experience even more overwhelming is when a divorce involves partners with high net worths and high-value assets. A high net worth divorce poses a series of challenges that a typical divorce case would not necessarily present. 

What is a High Net Worth Divorce? 

In order to best understand the challenges that a high net worth divorce poses, it helps to define this type of divorce proceeding. A high net worth divorce involves property with substantial monetary value. Often, divorcing spouses own complex and hard-to-value assets such as a professional practice or business. Having a high net worth creates a situation in which the spouses have more to lose in the divorce. Consequently, the need for experienced, skillful legal counsel in a high net worth divorce can hardly be overstated. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_583437694.jpgWhen two parents get a divorce, a major focal point of their divorce proceedings is often the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. These child custody agreements are designed with the best interest of the children in mind. When parents relocate to another city or move to a different state altogether, the relocation may impact your parenting plan. 

Three Steps Involved in Relocation When You Share Child Custody 

Each instance of relocation when child custody is involved will have its own set of complexities and specifications. The best way to ensure that you have a complete understanding of your situation is by hiring a family law attorney. 

Upon looking at the details of your parenting plan and hearing about your desire to move, a divorce attorney can inform you of how to proceed prior to moving. The county you currently reside in, as well as the distance from your current place of residence to where you plan to move, will also be taken into consideration. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_60018625.jpgA common question amongst people who are specifically filing for an uncontested divorce in Illinois is whether or not it is necessary to hire a divorce attorney. While not a requirement to retain legal representation when divorcing, people who are divorcing can benefit greatly from the guidance and experience of an experienced attorney.

But the reason this question is so commonly asked in the face of an uncontested divorce has everything to do with how easy people believe uncontested divorces can be. But why is that? And should you hire a lawyer if you are filing an uncontested divorce in Illinois? Here are the answers to these questions and more. 

What is an Uncontested Divorce? 

An uncontested divorce refers to a situation in which both parties have agreed on the terms of their divorce. Usually, couples must address the division of marital property and debts, spousal maintenance, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and other diviorce issues before they can finalize the divorce. 

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palatine divorce lawyerWhen Illinois parents file for divorce, they are asked to create a parenting plan. This plan outlines how the parents fulfill parenting obligations as a divorced couple. If the parents can agree on the plan’s provisions, they can create the plan together and submit it to the Court for approval. If they cannot reach an agreement, they can each submit their own separate plan to the Court for approval. If you are a parent thinking about divorce, make sure to avoid these common mistakes when creating your parenting plan.

Mistake #1: Undervaluing the Usefulness of the Parenting Plan

The parenting plan is not just another piece of paperwork to fill out. The plan is an opportunity for divorcing parents to decide in advance how they will raise their children as divorced co-parents. The more you and your spouse figure out now, the less you have to discuss in the future. Furthermore, if a parent fails to comply with the plan’s provisions, the other parent will have the ability to enforce the parenting plan through the Court. Do not underestimate the importance of this document and its usefulness in your co-parenting future.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to Account for Holidays and Special Occasions

A crucial aspect of your parenting plan is the parenting time schedule. Some parents assume that a vague weekly or monthly parenting schedule will suffice. However, failing to account for deviations and special occasions can lead to arguments and misunderstandings. Make sure your plan includes directions for how parents will divide parenting time during holidays, birthdays, school and extracurricular events, summer camp, and any other special occasions.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_356898968-4.jpg Domestic violence is much more prevalent than many people realize. The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority reports that 42 percent of Illinois women and 26 percent of Illinois men have experienced intimate partner violence. If you have been harmed by a former or current family member or household member, you are not alone. Domestic violence may involve married couples, ex romantic partners, family members, or roommates. If you or a loved one were a victim of domestic violence, an order of protection may give you the legal protection you need.

When is an Order of Protection Necessary?

An order of protection, called a restraining order in other states, is a court order that can protect domestic violence victims from further abuse or harassment. If you have been physically injured or psychologically tormented by a family member, ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, or someone with whom you share children, an order of protection can force them to stay away from you and/or your children.

Do I Quality for an Order of Protection?

Orders of protection are intended to protect domestic violence sufferers from further mistreatment. Domestic violence and abuse does not only involve physical harm like punching or hitting. Per Illinois law, the following actions may also qualify someone for a protection order:

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