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barrington divorce lawyerEvery couple going through a divorce with children must make child custody arrangements for their children before they can complete the process. Your parenting plan must contain information about how you and your spouse will split parenting time and share decision-making responsibilities. Parenting time is often a tough issue for parents during a divorce. Many parents do not want to give up spending time with their children. One of the ways parents can spend a bit more time with their children is by crafting a well-thought-out “right of first refusal” clause in the parenting agreement.

Understanding the Right of First Refusal

There are fifteen different elements that must be addressed in the parenting plan per Illinois law. One of the provisions you must include is a description of how and when parents may invoke the right of first refusal. The right of first refusal gives a parent the opportunity to care for their child before the other parent takes the child to an alternative care provider. For example, if a mother cannot watch the child on her assigned day, she must contact the father to see if he can watch the child before calling a babysitter. The right of first refusal is a right that both, one, or neither parent may have, depending on what would be in the child’s best interests. 

What to Include in the Agreement

Parents are encouraged to come to an agreement about the right of first refusal, but if they are unable to, the Court reserves the right to make the final decision. There are a few things you should be sure to include in the agreement:

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Barrington family law attorney for joint simplified dissolutionMuch of what people know about the divorce process stems from movies, TV shows, and what they have seen in the media. While this can provide a general idea about divorce, these on-screen divorces are usually much more dramatic than is necessary. In many cases, there is some sort of disagreement or tension between the couple, but this is not always the case. Some couples agree on getting a divorce long before they ever begin to seek legal help. Contested divorces can be stressful for everyone, especially when they drag on for months or years. Couples who agree on all issues may have the option to file a joint simplified divorce in Illinois, which could help make the divorce process a little easier.

Determining Eligibility

While a joint simplified dissolution of marriage can be much more favorable to some couples, not all couples will qualify for this type of divorce. Before a couple can file a joint simplified dissolution, they must ensure that they meet all requirements for this process. A couple can only use the simplified dissolution procedure if:

  • Neither spouse relies on the other for financial support;
  • Both spouses waive their right to spousal support;
  • At least one spouse has been a resident of Illinois for at least six months;
  • The couple has provided proof of irreconcilable differences;
  • The couple has no children, and the wife is not currently pregnant;
  • The marriage did not last for more than eight years;
  • Neither spouse has retirement accounts, or if they do, the account is in their name only and has less than $10,000 in it;
  • Neither spouse has a gross annual income of more than $30,000;
  • The combined gross annual income of both spouses is less than $60,000;
  • The total value of all marital property is less than $50,000;
  • The couple has signed a written agreement that distributes any marital property or debt that is valued at more than $100 while also addressing any companion animals owned by either spouse; and
  • Both spouses have fully disclosed all property and financial information.

Speak With Our Barrington, IL Simplified Marriage Dissolution Lawyer Today

If you are considering a simplified dissolution procedure to end your marriage, you are not required to have an attorney, but hiring a skilled Inverness, IL divorce lawyer can be extremely beneficial. At the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., we will help you determine if a simplified dissolution procedure is the right choice for your situation. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 847.873.6741.

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Rolling Meadows divorce attorney for spousal maintenanceOne of the many considerations that commonly arise during divorce is the issue of spousal support, which is also known as alimony or spousal maintenance. In years past, spousal support was more common than it is now, simply because our culture and society were different. In many cases, it was not uncommon for women, in particular, to stay home to raise children and take care of the household while the man worked outside of the home to financially support the family.

While this may have worked during the marriage, it tended to create financial dependence, causing issues if the couple ended up getting divorced. Rather than leaving the woman to fend for herself, spousal maintenance was created, requiring the working spouse to contribute a portion of his or her income to help support their former spouse until they can get back on their feet. In today’s world, spousal support is less common than it used to be, but it is still an issue that can arise, and it can lead to contentious disputes between divorcing spouses.

Awarding Spousal Support in Divorce

Spousal maintenance is not guaranteed in all Illinois divorces. There will be some cases in which spousal support would not be appropriate, such as if both spouses have jobs and earn enough income to support themselves. If the issue of spousal support is contested, a judge will determine if a spousal maintenance award is necessary. To do this, he or she will look at a variety of factors that may include things like you and your spouse’s income, each of your present and realistic earning capacities, how long your marriage lasted, and each of your needs.

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Hoffman Estates divorce attorney for children’s medical costsPrior to filing for divorce, you may not have given much thought to maintaining health insurance coverage for your children and covering these costs. Health insurance is a somewhat controversial topic in the United States that also has the potential to lead to disputes during a divorce. One of the important elements in your parenting plan for your children will be the terms addressing your child’s medical information. You and your spouse must come to an agreement on several issues pertaining to your child’s healthcare, including how decisions will be made. One of the most important elements involves how you and your spouse will split the costs of your child’s medical care.

Maintaining Health Insurance for Your Child

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides the formula that is used to calculate the basic child support obligation that both parents are responsible for. This formula takes into account various factors, such as the parents’ income and parenting time. The IMDMA states that the basic child support obligation is meant to be used toward a portion of your child’s out-of-pocket medical expenses. However, the court has the discretion to order either or both parents to initiate health insurance coverage for your child. If neither parent has health insurance coverage, or if their child is not eligible for coverage, the court may require the parents to seek state-sponsored health insurance for the child.

Managing Other Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Expenses

There will likely be times that you find that health insurance does not cover 100 percent of the costs associated with certain medical treatments or doctor’s visits. In these situations, it could be confusing and frustrating if you and your ex did not have a plan in place. If you often have out-of-pocket medical expenses for your child, you can ask the court to include a medical expense contribution in addition to the monthly child support obligation. This contribution would help cover expenses such as:

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Northwest Cook County family law attorney child custody

In Illinois, child custody is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities. Regardless if a married couple with children was married and decided to divorce or they never tied the knot, they must determine who is going to care for their kids in the future. Typically, Illinois courts favor both parents staying involved in their child’s life after a divorce or a breakup if they were unmarried. However, there are situations where one parent may be abusive or neglects to properly care for his or her children. In these cases, a parent may be deemed unfit by a judge and his or her custody terminated involuntarily.

Terminating Parental Rights

Unless there is convincing evidence, rarely will an Illinois court terminate a parent’s rights completely. The court needs actual proof that the other parent’s actions (or inactions) are negatively affecting the kids. Proof of unfitness may include photographs or videos showing abuse, medical records illustrating injuries due to an unsafe environment, police reports, and electronic communication such as text or email messages and social media posts. Even if a parent is deemed unfit, he or she is usually given certain parental rights, albeit very limited. 

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Hoffman Estates divorce attorney asset division

When a couple is married, they often share many things, including property and assets. However, if their union sours and they decide to divorce, they will have to decide how to divide all of these items. Marital property consists of anything that is acquired during the marriage. Nonmarital property is anything that one spouse obtained prior to the marriage. According to Illinois law, any debt that spouses accumulated together falls under marital debt, so it is, therefore, subject to division. Determining who is required to pay off certain debts can be challenging to say the least. 

Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Debts

Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, debt is divided “fairly” rather than equally. This method can apply to different types of debt, from cars to home improvements to educational loans. In addition, if a couple owns and runs a company together, that family business must be valued to determine how to divide its assets. If one spouse owned a business before the marriage, but the other spouse helped manage its day-to-day operations, then he or she may be entitled to a portion of its value or worth.

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Hoffman Estates family law attorney postnuptial agreement

When two people enter into marriage, they may not consider what would happen if the relationship sours. However, a prenuptial agreement that is signed before the wedding can outline how certain issues are addressed and assets are divided in the event of a divorce. A postnuptial agreement is a legal document that is drafted after a couple gets married or enters into a civil union. Similar to a prenup, the provisions in a postnup commonly account for the division of property and spousal support in a divorce, or the death of a spouse. In many ways, a postnuptial agreement provides a sense of security and trust by clarifying how certain issues will be handled in the future if the two spouses go their separate ways. It can also save time and money since the parties do not have to go to court to hash out the details of their case.  

Safeguarding Your Interests

Although you may think your love is going to last forever, circumstances and people can change. There are many benefits to planning for the unknown, even after you are legally married. In order for a postnup to be valid in Illinois, the document must be put in writing and signed voluntarily by both spouses in the presence of a witness. In other words, a spouse cannot be coerced or forced into signing a premarital or postnuptial agreement. In addition, a full and accurate disclosure of financial records is necessary when making a postnup. 

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Arlington Heights divorce attorney

Coming to the decision to divorce can take months and even years before you decide to take the necessary legal steps to end your marriage. Perhaps you and your spouse slowly grew apart or you have been unhappy for a long time. Regardless of the details of your union, getting divorced can be a very challenging process, even if both of you were willing to compromise. If you and your spouse have a great deal of conflict, this only exacerbates the legal proceedings. If children are involved, emotions can run even higher, so managing this situation requires strategy. An experienced divorce attorney can help protect your rights every step of the way. 

Managing the Stress of it All

Under Illinois divorce law, a couple can reach their own agreement regarding property division, spousal support, and parental responsibilities. However, if they disagree on any issues, they will have to go to court and a judge will make determinations based on several factors, such as what is in the best interest of any children. 

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Arlington Heights divorce attorney parenting time

Many married couples stay together “for the sake of the kids” even though they are unhappy in their marriage. However, studies show that children do not benefit from living in a household filled with anger, resentment, or tension. They do, however, thrive when both parents are involved and engaged in their lives. This type of parental relationship can be accomplished even when parents decide to legally end their marriage and divorce. Although co-parenting after divorce can be challenging, an alternative option is a parallel parenting plan, which can provide a shared parenting arrangement that benefits everyone.  

Illinois Parenting Time

In Illinois, divorcing parents can determine the allocation of parenting responsibilities if they agree to the terms. Similar to the traditional co-parenting method, parallel parenting involves limited direct contact between the parents. This approach can be ideal in high-conflict divorces where parents have difficulty communicating with each other in a civil manner. If parents choose to try parallel parenting, they may change to a co-parenting model in the future as conflict subsides and they are able to get along better. 

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Arlington Heights divorce attorney property division

Pets are often considered special members of any family. For those couples who do not have children, their dog or cat can seem like a child. According to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67 percent of American households, or approximately 85 million families, own a pet. There are many different types of pets one can have, and some of the most common include dog, cat, rabbit, turtle, hamster, guinea pig, lizard, bird, or snake. When a couple decides to part ways and gets a divorce, a common question is what happens to the family pet or pets? Understanding how asset and property division, as well as child custody work in Illinois, can help determine where a pet will reside post-divorce. 

The Division of Marital Property Is Fair

In Illinois, marital property is divided using the “equitable division” method, which means that instead of assets being split in half, they are divided fairly. In some cases, a couple may agree on who gets what, including their pet. Several factors are considered by a judge if a couple cannot agree to the terms on their own, such as the length of the marriage and each spouse’s contributions to the marriage. Every situation is unique, so what works for one family may not work for others. In cases where there is more than one pet, the spouses may agree to each take one.

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Northwest Cook County divorce attorney asset division

Often found in the business world, commingled assets refer to mixing personal funds with business funds or using business assets for personal reasons. Commingling of funds or assets can also occur between two spouses, making it difficult to determine which funds and/or assets belong to whom in a divorce. For example, it can be hard to distinguish when one spouse’s separate property is mixed with the other spouse’s marital property. However, this is crucial to ensure that each party receives his or her fair share of the marital estate. 

Equitable Distribution 

Under Illinois law, marital property is divided using the equitable distribution method, which means items or assets are not necessarily split in half, but rather in a fair way. Marital property is generally considered property that was acquired during the course of the marriage. Non-marital or separate property is that which one spouse owned prior to getting married or acquired during the marriage through gift or inheritance. Separate property is not subject to division in the divorce settlement. 

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Arlington Heights divorce attorney

The decision to divorce can be a long and winding road, often taking a couple many years to come to terms that their relationship is not working. Part of the anxiety of divorcing involves the fear of the unknown. The transition from being married to being single may seem daunting and overwhelming. If you have children, that can further complicate matters, and you may worry about the toll the divorce will take on them. You likely have a million thoughts running through your head and a long to-do list as you start the next chapter of your life. Disregarding your physical and emotional health during this tumultuous time can be easy to do. However, make it a priority as you navigate this new future for you and your children. 

Focusing on the Future

A divorce has been compared to a death in the sense that it is a great loss that results in feelings of grief and sadness. This may cause you to be depressed and engage in harmful coping behaviors such as drinking, drugs, or compulsive shopping. You may overeat or not eat at all, sleep too much, or have insomnia because you are so distraught. The stress of divorce combined with lifestyle changes can put you at risk of serious health complications. Studies have shown that divorced people are approximately 20 percent more likely to suffer from life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, or even cancer. That is why it is especially important to be mindful of what you put into your body, even if it may seem like a “quick fix” or provide instant relief. 

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Northwest Cook County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

In the wake of your divorce, the thought of rejoining the dating scene may seem unappealing and unrealistic, but as the months or years go by, you may find yourself longing for the companionship that you once had in past relationships. Many divorcees find a new partner without even looking through work, friends, or their involvement in the community. But just because you meet someone does not mean that you feel the need to get married again. Whether it is a result of trauma from your past marriage or simply a sense of content with your current situation, you may opt to be a lifelong partner rather than taking on the title “husband” or “wife” again. You may think that your dating life no longer concerns your former spouse; however, your new relationship can affect the details of your divorce agreement.

Spousal Maintenance

Most divorces include the payment of spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, from one spouse to the other. The purpose of this financial support is to ease the transition from sharing finances throughout your marriage to becoming financially independent. When the court determines the details of spousal maintenance, they typically leave the payment period open-ended. This does not mean, however, that the payments are completely indefinite. There are a number of factors that can lead to the termination of spousal maintenance, including cohabitation with a new partner. This does not mean that if you move in with a friend or roommate, your former spouse will no longer owe you alimony. Once you have moved in with a new partner “on a resident, continuing conjugal basis,” the paying party can request to terminate his or her financial support obligations.

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Arlington Heights divorce attorney asset division

In any divorce, a couple will have to go through a legal process before the marriage is legally terminated. These proceedings involve many different decisions, especially when children are involved or there is a significant amount of assets. In the state of Illinois, marital property is divided using the equitable distribution method, which means items are split fairly but not necessarily 50/50. Full disclosure of assets is necessary in order to properly divide the marital assets. If one spouse is hiding or wasting a portion of the marital assets, this can negatively affect the property awarded in the divorce settlement.

Revealing Deceptive Tactics

By the time that a couple files a petition to dissolve their marriage, their relationship is likely to be over. In some cases, one party may try to gain an advantage by making it appear that there are fewer assets to be divided. These actions can also include transferring marital property to a third party without the other spouse’s consent. In Illinois, for this kind of activity to be considered dissipation, it has to occur when the marriage is already broken down beyond repair. 

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Arlington Heights divorce attorney parenting time

Getting a divorce can be one of the most difficult decisions of someone’s life. In some cases, couples may put it off if they have children because they cannot bear the thought of not seeing their kids all of the time. Parents also might worry about the negative impact the split may have on the children. However, studies show that youngsters are resilient and often handle major life transitions better than adults. Also, if spouses are unhappy, constant conflict and arguing in front of the kids does not do anyone any good, causing a lot of stress and anxiety. Learning to share parenting time can be challenging, but an experienced attorney can help you and your ex-spouse achieve a co-parenting arrangement that works for everyone. 

Making the Most of Your Time Together

In Illinois, divorced parents must create a parenting plan that outlines living arrangements and shared time with the children as well as how decisions will be made regarding education and healthcare. Depending on your situation, you and your ex might be able to mutually agree on the details of your parenting plan. If you have difficulty coming to an agreement, the court will become involved, and a judge will make decisions for you. In any case, they will consider several factors to make determinations based on what is in the best interest of their children. 

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Hoffman Estates family law attorney

Although many people who enter into marriage believe it will last their lifetime, that is not always the case. A couple may choose to get divorced for many reasons, such as infidelity, financial problems, mental illness, or simply because they grew apart. In some cases, they may have gotten married very young and as they matured, realized that they did not have anything in common or their interests or goals were not aligned. Some older couples may come to this realization after they raised their children and are empty nesters. Regardless of when you end your marriage or your age, you can find love again. In these situations, you may want to make your relationship legal by getting remarried. Even though you have been through it before, a remarriage can present its own set of challenges, especially if you have children. Talking with an experienced Illinois family law attorney can help make sure your rights are protected this second time around. 

Spousal Maintenance

In Illinois, spousal support may be awarded in certain divorce cases. For example, if one spouse stayed home to raise kids while the other spouse worked full-time, the stay-at-home parent is likely to receive payments as part of the divorce settlement until he or she can become self-sufficient. This financial relief can be paid out monthly or in one lump sum. However, it automatically ends when the receiving spouse gets remarried. The only exception to this rule would be if the former spouses agreed to a set duration regardless if either one remarries. On the other hand, if the paying spouse remarries, spousal maintenance may not be affected, unless the court determines that his or her former spouse is employable and should stop receiving payments. 

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Hoffman Estates uncontested divorce lawyer

When people hear the word divorce, they might automatically think a couple is fighting to the bitter end with a lot of drama and chaos. Although that can be the case, it is possible for some couples to end their marriage amicably and without conflict. This can be especially important when children are involved, since they may have a difficult time understanding why their family unit as they know it is over. Regardless, there are still many decisions to make in an Illinois divorce. In an uncontested divorce, couples do not have to go to court to resolve these issues.  

Retains a Level of Control and Privacy

As is the case in most other states, an uncontested divorce in Illinois means a dissolution arrangement in which both spouses agree to divorce without objections. Both spouses generally accept the major terms, and there is no need to hash out the details in court and have a judge make the determinations in a public forum. A few of the main terms that need to be negotiated by couples before a divorce is finalized include:

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Arlington Heights divorce attorney spousal support

When going through a divorce, a couple may think once they sign the final paperwork, everything is set in stone. However, that may not necessarily be the case. Situations and circumstances can change down the road, which can mean an existing divorce order is not appropriate anymore. In Illinois, the usual type of orders are outlined in a parenting plan, and they cover issues such as spousal maintenance, allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody), child support, and parenting time (visitation). The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people, with some experiencing reduced work hours or a job loss. These circumstances may warrant a change to an existing divorce order.   

A Substantial Change in Circumstances 

To increase the chances that a current order can be changed, an individual must show valid reasons for it. If a couple has children, any request that is made should also be in the best interest of the kids. For a change in parental decision-making, a parent has to wait at least two years from the original order, with the only exception being if the child is in danger.

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Barrington divorce attorney spousal support

Although all divorces may have some things in common, each case is unique depending on the couple. Some spouses mutually agree to legally end their marriage while in other cases, one partner is blindsided by the breakup. Typically, there are several issues that must be addressed before the divorce is considered final. According to Illinois law, marital property is subject to equitable distribution, which means possessions are divided fairly but not exactly 50/50. This also includes any outstanding debt the couple may have acquired throughout their marriage. Another aspect that is considered is whether one spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance or support, which is also known as alimony. Financial support of this nature allows one party to maintain a certain standard of living after the divorce until he or she can secure employment and become financially independent. 

Spousal Support Guidelines

As of January 1, 2019, the rules governing spousal maintenance in Illinois changed. If a couple cannot reach an agreement on spousal support payments, then the court will get involved. The court will consider all relevant factors to come up with a duration and an amount that is appropriate, including the length of the marriage, each party’s income level, as well as his or her future earning potential. 

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Rolling Meadows divorce attorney asset division

Although many people find love in their lifetimes, not all couples live happily ever after. The most recent census data and statistics show that approximately 40 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. Whether you were married for a few months or a few decades, you may still have the same issues to determine. One of the most important aspects of any divorce is determining who gets what once the papers are signed. In some cases, spouses may agree to divide their assets on their own. In other scenarios, a couple cannot reach a mutual decision and therefore the court gets involved, with a judge making a determination based on the equitable distribution method, which means marital property is split fairly but not necessarily in half. Once the divorce decree or settlement is finalized and you and your spouse part ways, it may be necessary to update important financial and healthcare documents.      

Preparing for Single Status Again

The thought of being single again after marriage can be frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. Naturally, you might be so focused on the emotional part of your relationship ending, that you do not even think about all the documents or paperwork that goes along with the dissolution of your marriage from a legal standpoint. One of the first things that need updating to reflect your new marital status is your last name. This would only apply if you are a female who wishes to start using your maiden name again. The court can include this name change as part of the divorce decree. If it is not included, you will need a certified copy of your divorce judgment from the circuit clerk to change your name. 

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