Getting a divorce is rarely easy. When a couple is facing divorce, they often envision lengthy legal battles in the courtroom. However, divorce proceedings do not have to involve the courtroom at all, and ex-spouses are often able to part ways amicably. When a couple wants to minimize the amount of conflict in a divorce while having control over the terms of their divorce settlement, they often turn toward mediation.
Mediation is a process in which the two divorcing spouses meet with a mediator to come to an agreement on all terms of the divorce, including child custody, child support and property division. Mediation often sounds like the ideal solution because these proceedings are civil and respectful. However, like anything else, mediation does have its own pros and cons. You should weigh these against each other when considering whether mediation is a viable solution for you....
There are few things more difficult for a family to go through than divorce. This is particularly true when there are children involved. Emotions run high, and everyone wants to leave the marriage in a manner that is fair to them, and the entire family can struggle to move on with their lives. In addition to all of this, parents must negotiate a child custody agreement and determine child support obligations. During this process, there are three very important things each parent must keep in mind.
1. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Spouses will normally experience strong feelings when going through a divorce, such as sadness, anger, disappointment and frustration. However, letting these emotions rule child custody negotiations typically results in a longer, more difficult process. Parents should do their best to try to avoid being confrontational during these proceedings, and remember at all times that negotiations are taking place in the best interests of the child, not the parents. In addition, remember that these negotiations can take time. Rather than rushing to reach an agreement as soon as possible, you should ensure that the final agreement protects your parental rights and meets your children’s needs.
2. Know the Laws
Child support is determined by a judge who will use the financial information the two spouses have submitted to make a decision. Due to this, both parents going through a divorce must provide accurate financial documents, and they should be sure to understand the laws surrounding child support....
There is no getting around it – if you live in Illinois and want a divorce, it is going to cost you. Even if the divorce is amicable and you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on all aspects of property division and child custody, you will still face expenses and at least some attorney’s fees. With money suddenly an issue, you may wonder how much the divorce will cost and who is responsible for paying those fees.
Illinois Fourth Most Expensive State for Divorce
A report released early this year by FindtheData.org ranked Illinois as the fourth most expensive state for couples getting divorced. At $337 just to get the paperwork filed, Illinois ranks behind only Florida, Minnesota and California. Perhaps because of this, Illinois also ranked as having one of the lowest annual rates of divorce, tying for third with several other states at eight divorces per 1,000 married couples....
As discussed previously, collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows parties going through a divorce or child custody issue to attempt to come to a mutually agreeable solution. It sounds similar to mediation, but the two are not exactly the same.
In mediation, the parties meet outside of Court in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the contested issues, just as in the collaborative law process. The difference is that in mediation, pleadings, motions and other filings have been submitted to the Court, the parties have been (or are scheduled to be) deposed, and there have been Court hearings. Mediation, then, is an attempt to resolve the issues before the proceedings get any more contentious and adversarial.
In collaborative law, coming to an agreement before entering the Courthouse is the goal. When the parties use the collaborative law process, they bypass Court's initial involvement; there are no pleadings, no Court hearings; and hopefully, if the process works as planned, there is only a single hearing once an agreement has been reached for the Judge to approve the agreement and finalize the divorce. At the outset, the parties agree that they do not want the process to be contentious or adversarial....
Children are one of the most important and fought over parts of a divorce. Severing the marital relationship also means decreasing the amount of time parents can spend with their child, which means discussions can quickly become contentious. Before proceedings begin, understanding the different types of child custody and available visitation arrangements is helpful to work on an arrangement that takes into consideration the most important factor in all child custody cases: the best interests of the child.
Sole vs. Joint Child Custody in Illinois
When making an award of child custody (or when the parents agree to custody), the Court makes two separate awards: one for legal custody and another for physical custody. For both types, parents are awarded either sole or joint custody....
Divorce is an unfortunate fact of life. Couples realize they are no longer compatible and agree to go their separate ways. For some couples, however, whether due to religious, health or financial reasons, divorce is not an option. Yet they are still incompatible and can no longer live together. For these couples, Illinois provides legal separation.
What is Legal Separation?
Legal separation is more than what is commonly referred to as a “trial” separation. In a trial or physical separation, couples live apart while trying to decide if they should get divorced. There is no payment of alimony, no child support or custody agreement, no property division, and the Court is not involved....
Throughout your marriage, you and your spouse saved in anticipation of retirement. Your spouse put five percent of his/her monthly salary into a company funded retirement plan, which equates to 10 percent when including the company match. You both looked forward to retirement spending your golden years traveling, playing golf and relaxing. Now, however, you find yourself in the middle of a divorce. Most of your assets can easily be divided, except those retirement accounts, which are payable only to your wife. What can you do?
You can get a QDRO (pronounced quad-row).
QDRO for Dividing Illinois Retirement Accounts...
More than a quarter century ago, George Strait, an American country recording artist, released one of his most popular songs, All My Ex's Live in Texas. What may have been lyrical for Mr. Strait does not necessarily hit the high notes for the rest of U.S. divorcees.
Recently reported by The Huffington Post, Texas did not even rank in the top 10 states that may sway your marital success. The American Community Survey (ACS) ranked the following cities and their respected states as possibly hazardous to your wedded bliss:
|1||Panama City, Florida|
|2||Sierra Vista, Arizona|
|3||Charleston, West Virginia|
|8||Palm Bay, Florida|
|10||Grand Junction, Colorado|
Texas may be off the hook, but for those couples residing in Panama City, Florida, or any of these top 10, perhaps a change in address may be a considerable option. So what about Illinois?...
While filing for a divorce is never easy, there are several things that you can do to make the process easier. According to Forbes magazine, you can give yourself a significant advantage in a divorce proceeding by filing first.
Being first to file for divorce has a few legal advantages in Illinois. Firstly, if you and your spouse have been separated and live in different counties, filing first allows you to have the divorce decided in the jurisdiction where you reside. Additionally, it allows you to be the first person to present your case at trial, if you should choose to do so.
Choosing to be the first to file for a divorce has several other serious advantages as well. First of all, you can assemble a file with copies of all of your important paperwork, including bank and income statements for both you and your spouse. This may prevent your spouse from attempting to hide assets later. It also allows you the time you need to prepare for the financial impact that divorce will have on your life, as well as save the funds you will need to hire your qualified divorce team....
You struggled with the decision, but you finally concluded that divorcing your spouse will be the best course of action. You are a stickler for detail, and before you contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney, you want to secure all personal documentation that may later be requested.
According to About.com's Divorce Support, having documents readily available to your attorney will ultimately alleviate any confusion and make the negotiation stage of the divorce run more smoothly. It is also suggested that presenting your attorney, and later the courts, an organized and complete document file provides you with more support of your case.
It is further recommended that you construct your divorce document checklist in this order:...
One of the sad realities of divorce is that each parent has less time to spend with their children. But in 2013, the Illinois legislature passed a law that would maximize the amount of time parents can spend with their children, regardless of the final division of child custody. The new law, which amended the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, went into effect on January 1, 2014, and allows the Court to grant parents a right of first refusal for child care in child custody and visitation agreements.
The Right of First Refusal in Child Custody Cases
A right of first refusal gives the non-custodial parent (the parent who is not currently caring for the child) the right to provide child care if the other parent needs a babysitter or other child care provider. For example, if the mother has primary custody but must put the children in daycare during the week while she works, she must first offer the father the opportunity to care for the children. If the father accepts, then he will be able to care for the children while the mother is at work, without the extra time being counted against his regularly scheduled visitation. If the father refuses, then the mother is free to put the children in daycare....
Many of us know doting grandparents. They often brag about their grandchildren’s every accomplishment and share an endless stream of photos on Facebook (the digital equivalent of photo-stuffed wallets). And grandparents undeniably have a lot to offer their grandchildren, such as a link to the past, unconditional love and valuable advice on the future.
But what if the grandchildren’s parents refuse to allow the grandparents visitation rights? Do the grandparents have the right to visitation? The answer is yes, under specific circumstances.
Illinois Law on Grandparent Visitation...
We often hear about domestic violence issues when celebrities and athletes are involved. As many Illinois residents know though, domestic violence is a significant problem in the rest of the population of the United States. According to the American Psychology Association, one out of every three women has experienced abuse by her partner in her lifetime. Domestic abuse affects every age, ethnicity, and class.
The latest newsworthy allegation involves Raymond Felton, a basketball player for the New York Knicks. His wife alleges that Mr. Felton threatened her with a firearm. While the facts are not yet established in the case, according to reports, Ms. Raymond-Felton did not wait for violence before getting help; she sought out support as soon as she was threatened.
This is an important lesson for all those at risk of domestic violence: a person should not necessarily wait until they are physically hurt to report a domestic disturbance....
Filing for divorce is almost always a difficult and time-consuming process for all parties involved. When the parties cannot agree on various terms and conditions necessary to the finalization of the divorce, such as how to divide assets, child support, and child custody issues, emotions can get hot. The “traditional” divorce involves litigating the matter within the court system. The process of traditional litigation ultimately means that crucial decisions are made by a judge, and not by the individual parties. In addition, a litigated divorce is often more costly and time-consuming than one settled through other channels.
As a result of these challenges, many couples are now choosing to turn to mediation to settle the issues that accompany any divorce, including division of marital assets, benefits from pension funds, maintenance, issues regarding child support, custody, and visitation.
Divorce Mediation in Illinois...
When a marriage ends or a separation occurs, there are often bitter feelings and questions about what the involved parties should do next. Most often, in cases of this nature, the individuals will first look to their friends and family for advice, or in some instances, advice is thrown at those in transition without solicitation. The reality, however, is that there is no substitute for sound legal advice from a legal professional who understands the law and can apply it to your particular case.
In Illinois, 750 ILCS 5/401 dictates the requirements for dissolution of marriage.The grounds for dissolution of marriage range from impotency, willful desertion to habitual drunkenness by the spouse for two years, the excessive use of addictive drugs for two years and beyond......
Lives change from day to day, month to month, and year to year. Often, what was good or beneficial at one point in life no longer holds the same significance later. Circumstances occasionally arise in which a divorce decree needs to be modified in order to better comport with current living situations.
An order for child support can be modified upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances. If there is no substantial change in circumstances, then the party receiving the benefits must demonstrate an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount as determined by the guidelines set forth in 750 ILCS 5, Section 505, unless that inconsistency is the result of a deviation from the guideline amount. This provision, however, only applies if a party is receiving child support enforcement services, and only if at least 36 months have elapsed since the order or last modification. There may also be a modification without showing a substantial change in circumstances, if a need can be shown to provide for the needs of the child’s health care through health insurance or other means....