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Inverness child custody attorneyIn a perfect world, all children would live with both parents in a safe and loving home. However, this stable and supportive situation does not exist in all families, and children can end up splitting their time between parents, living solely with one parent, or being cared for by relatives.

Child custody, referred to as parental responsibilities under Illinois law, legally and traditionally rests solely with the parents. Parents are presumed to be fit, and efforts are made to keep children under their parents’ care. For a variety of reasons, however, parents are sometimes unable or unsuitable to take on this responsibility, and in these cases, a safe and stable alternative must be found that protects the best interests of the child. The road to achieve custody rights as a non-parent can be difficult, but not impossible.

Challenges to Custody

The biggest challenge any non-parent will face when seeking to assert custody rights is whether he or she has standing to bring the matter before the court. Standing refers to the petitioner’s ability to maintain a legal case. With non-parents, standing will only be found if the child is not in the physical custody of either parent (step-parents and grandparents do not necessarily need physical custody to gain standing if certain conditions are met). The person caring for the child must have obtained possession by consent, acknowledgment, or acquiescence of the parents, and the arrangement needs to be more than temporary.

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Arlington Heights prenup lawyerMarriage naturally intertwines a couple’s social and financial lives, and these matters must be untangled in the event of divorce. This is no easy task, especially in light of equitable property division, a legal model that ensures both spouses receive a fair share of marital property following divorce. Under this standard, spouses can expect to divide marital assets in roughly equal measures, regardless of which spouse provided the resources to acquire the property in the first place.

While the contributions of both spouses need to be recognized in a divorce, a spouse who has substantial assets coming into a marriage or the potential to become a high-earner may have reasonable concerns about protecting his or her interests if the marriage does not work out. In these cases, a couple may choose to use a prenuptial agreement to address the resolution of financial issues in the event of divorce or another designated event, such as the death of a spouse.

Planning for the possible end of a marriage before it has even begun may appear pessimistic, but a prenuptial agreement serves an important purpose, and it can make the divorce process faster and simpler by sorting out complicated issues in advance. Importantly, this need is not limited to couples in a particular stage of life at the time of their marriage, as both younger and older couples can benefit from prenuptial contracts.

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Schaumburg divorce lawyer college expensesDivorced parents rightly assume that their obligation to pay child support ends when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. Financially supporting a child until he/she is legally able to engage in full time employment makes sense from a practical and legal perspective; however, many children go on to attend college and obtain a degree, causing them to incur the sky-high cost of a college education in America.

Unless a child receives a full scholarship that covers tuition, room, board, books and other expenses, the financial assistance of their parents is often necessary to help pay for their college education. Paying for college is a struggle for many parents, and divorced parents face the added pressure of juggling this cost while maintaining separate households. 

While educational expenses for primary-level instruction are included in child support formulas, college expenses are not. If a parent wants to ensure that the other party helps cover the costs of a child’s college education, they will need to file a petition requesting contribution toward college expenses. 

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Posted on in Spousal Support

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

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

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

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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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allocating parental responsibilities, Hoffman Estates family law attorney, parental rights, temporary custody order, emergency temporary custody orderTaking care of a child’s needs during the divorce process is challenging and not always easy to ascertain. If the parents are experiencing a high amount of conflict, this can compound and complicate how a parent should approach protecting his or her child from negative consequences. Depending on the source of the conflict, requesting a Court implement a temporary order allocating parental responsibilities (how Courts now refer to child custody matters) may be necessary to protect the child’s wellbeing. In addition, emergency motions governing parental access and/or authority over the child may also be filed if there is an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety.

While not uncommon, requests for temporary custody arrangements are not a standard practice in divorce cases, and Courts will expect to see some basis for such a request, and ideally, some agreement on the terms. Actress Jennifer Hudson is currently battling over custody of her son, and recently agreed to give her ex-fiancé temporary custody due to her work-related travel schedule that left the father as the primary caretaker, in spite of a previous protective order for physical and emotional abuse.

Consider the following information regarding how Courts evaluate requests for temporary custody, and how these orders can influence the terms of the final child custody.

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Posted on in Division of Property

Hoffman Estates family law attorney, dividing debt, debt and divorce, marital debt, marital propertyOne of the perks of marriage is sharing and receiving benefits from a spouse’s property and income. However, this can become a huge negative when a couple divorces.

In addition to dividing marital assets, a divorcing couple is also expected to divide marital debt. Deciding how to handle these obligations can be tricky, and both parties may benefit from settling property division before a divorce is finalized, or at the very least, via a private agreement.

If the Court gets involved in deciding this issue, Illinois follows the equitable division of marital property system in divorce. Equitable division requires Courts to determine the fairest way to split a couple's marital property by taking into account a variety of factors set forth in Illinois statute. In practical terms, this may mean the division is not equal. Moreover, as the division concerns marital debt specifically, how the debt was accumulated can greatly influence how a Court decides to allocate that debt.

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Posted on in Divorce

filing for divorce, Hoffman Estates family law attorneyThe process of divorce, from beginning to end, is different for everyone. Few couples rarely jump to ending a marriage at the first sign of trouble. However, couples who enter divorce must decide at some point that the marriage is not salvageable. Legally dissolving the relationship may be the best decision.

Once the decision to divorce is made, the hardest part of the process may seem over, yet filing a divorce petition and proceeding through the legal system is not as seamless as one may think. First, one must determine where he or she is eligible to file for divorce, and in which specific courthouse to file the papers. Someone seeking divorce cannot simply walk up to any Court in the state to file the necessary documents. At the very least, residency and venue requirements must be satisfied before a Court will accept a person's petition for divorce.

Residency and venue issues are the gateway to starting the divorce process. Yet while these issues are straightforward for most couples, others may have reason to challenge the opposing party's claim. Consider how to establish residency and determine venue for purposes of divorce, as well as when someone may want to dispute these issues.

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