Recent blog posts

Posted on in Divorce

divorce tax consequences, Palatine divorce lawyersMany couples who are facing divorce often question what to do with the marital residence, which often is the parties' most valuable asset and an asset that neither spouse may be able to maintain on his or her own. As a result, many individuals in this situation opt to sell the marital home, either during or just after their divorce. A recent online article highlights the potential benefits of the federal gains tax exclusion that divorcing couples can receive if they decide to sell the marital residence. These benefits may allow you and your spouse to receive proceeds from the sale of the home free of federal income taxes, which can give you the money to downsize into a more affordable home.

How the Gains Tax Exclusion Works

If a couple decides to sell their home, they potentially may be able to receive gains from the sale of up to $500,000 without any federal income tax being assessed on those gains. Even if the couple is separated, they may still be eligible for the joint exclusion if they were still legally married at the end of the year in which the home is sold. If the couple is already divorced, however, and the spouse who receives the home through the divorce proceedings wishes to sell it, he or she can still receive tax-free gains of up to $250,000. If the parties still co-own the home and they are newly divorced, they potentially can each have gains of up to $250,000 free of federal income taxes, assuming that they meet the additional eligibility requirements described below.

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Posted on in Child Custody

child relocation in illinois, palatine child custody lawyerIn the past, a parent typically could relocate with his or her child anywhere within the state of Illinois. If the parent wanted to move outside of Illinois, he or she would have to obtain permission from the Court in order to do so. Changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that took effect on January 1, 2016, however, dramatically changed the rules for a parent who wants to relocate with his or her child where the parents are divorced or otherwise separated and draws a sharp distinction between the requirements for a parent moving with a child and relocating with a child.

Moving With Your Child

If the parent with which a child spends most of his or her time wants to move, he or she is generally able to do so without the permission of the Court. Under Illinois law, “moving” refers to a parent living in a new home that is no more than 25 miles away from the original home that is located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or Will Counties. Moving also includes moving to a new home that is no more than 50 miles away from the parent's original home if it is located in a county other than those previously mentioned. Despite this ability to move without Court involvement, however, a parent still should provide the child's other parent with his or her new address and telephone number.

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Illinois spousal maintenance, Palatine divorce attorneysWhen a judge issues a spousal maintenance or spousal support order, one spouse must pay a certain amount of money on a regular basis to the other spouse. You only receive maintenance if the judge decides that you need it and your spouse has the ability to pay it. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains uniform guidelines for spousal maintenance orders in Illinois divorce proceedings. The goal of the guidelines is to make spousal maintenance awards in divorce more consistent and to let you know what to expect if you get spousal maintenance in your Illinois divorce.

Application of the Spousal Maintenance Guidelines

The spousal maintenance guidelines apply only when the judge already decided that maintenance is appropriate. To determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in your case, the judge must consider several factors, including the following for both parties:

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Posted on in Child Custody

right of first refusal, Palatine parenting time lawyerIn Illinois, before agreeing to a custody arrangement, divorcing couples are required to consider including a right of first refusal provision in their parenting plans. This means that before a parenting plan can be approved, parents must consider including a guarantee that anytime the custodial parent needs someone to care for the children, he or she must ask the other parent first before engaging the services of a babysitter or other family member.

Current Law

According to Illinois law, if a Family Court awards parenting time to both parents, it must consider whether one or both parties should be awarded the right of first refusal, which would give the non-custodial parent the first opportunity to care for the child if the custodial parent intends to leave for a significant period of time.

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Posted on in Child Support

enforcing child support in Illinois, Palatine family law attorneyChild support is important for parents’ and children’s financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options. The parent may garnish the nonpaying parent’s wages, seek contempt charges in court or seek driver’s license suspension. Parents also have other options for enforcement through the courts or by reporting the nonpayment to Child Support Services.

Liens

Since a child support order is a Court Order, unpaid child support judgments may be enforced by the same methods as any other judgment. The Court may place a lien on the delinquent parent’s bank accounts; real estate; cars; lawsuit settlements, including workers’ compensation claims or other assets. If the parent does not pay the child support amount, the sheriff may seize the parent’s property, sell it and pay the custodial parent out of the proceeds.

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Posted on in Child Support

enforcing child support, Illinois divorce lawyersEvery child in Illinois has the legal right to receive financial support from both parents. This responsibility does not end simply because parents divorce or separate. The payment of child support can be extremely important for a child's or parent's financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options.

Garnishing Wages

If a parent wants to enforce a child support order without going to court, he or she may send a Notice to Withhold Income for Support both to the parent and to the parent’s employer. The parent’s wages will be garnished, and the child support will be paid directly out of the parent’s paycheck. Sometimes, however, the parents have previously agreed not to pursue income withholding, and this option is not available. Fortunately, several other enforcement methods are possible in Illinois.

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wrongful death, Palatine IL child support lawyersCalculating child support is one of the most important aspects of a custody case, as the result has the significant likelihood of affecting a child’s life for years to come. Often, a change in one of the parents’ financial circumstances, such as a new employment opportunity, requires courts to reevaluate that person’s monetary contribution. In a recently issued opinion, an Illinois Court of Appeals clarified what constitutes a material change in circumstances such that child support must be modified.

In re Marriage of Fortner

In 2002, Rob Fortner and Shelley S. Scanlan were married and subsequently had a child. In 2003, the couple separated, and an Illinois court ordered that Mr. Fortner pay $313.11 a month in child support. In 2014, Mr. Fortner successfully brought a wrongful death claim against the hospital that treated his father during a fatal heart attack. After deductions for attorney’s fees and other costs of litigation, Mr. Fortner received $169,725.48. Ms. Scanlan then filed a motion to modify child support based on Mr. Fortner’s changed circumstances, although Mr. Fortner argued that the settlement did not constitute increased income for purposes of child support allocation.

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contested divorce, uncontested divorce, Palatine family lawyersDivorces can be contentious. The end of a marriage means separating two lives and involves many major decisions, from spousal and child support to property division. There are plenty of issues on which spouses can disagree, but when a divorcing couple can reach a compromise on as much as possible, they can save significant amounts of time and money.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce means that the spouses reached an agreement on all the issues before beginning the divorce process, including property division, alimony, child support, child custody and parenting time. Uncontested divorces are both simpler and faster than contested divorces.

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Palatine family law attorney, debt division, Illinois divorcesWhen a couple dissolves their marriage, all marital property, including both assets and liabilities, must be allocated between the spouses. Dividing marital debt is a similar process to dividing assets; however, there are unique issues that come with apportioning debt in a divorce.

Equitable Distribution

The best and simplest solutions are when spouses are able to either pay off their debt or collectively divide their debt before filing for divorce. However, these options are not always possible, and the Court may need to split the marital debt.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Palatine family law attorney, terminating parental rightsSometimes, terminating a parent's rights is in a child’s best interest. Most often, this occurs in the case of an adoption proceeding. However, in the case of abuse, neglect or abandonment, a Court may terminate a person’s parental rights without an adoptive parent stepping in to take the abusive parent’s place.

Termination

In Illinois, there are two ways to terminate parental rights:

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Posted on in Child Support

Palatine family law attorney, child support, imputed incomeChild support determinations can be filled with tension, and the amount of support is often hotly contested. Child support calculations in Illinois are based on each parent’s earnings, and sometimes, one parent tries to evade responsibility for support payments by hiding income.

Imputing Income

If the judge in a child support proceeding suspects that one parent is trying to avoid paying child support, Illinois law has a mechanism to ensure fairness — imputing income. When a Court imputes income, a parent is assigned a higher income for purposes of calculating child support. This action is appropriate when there is doubt as to the accuracy of the parent’s reported income and evidence shows that the parent is or could be earning more than reported.

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Palatine family law attorney, social media, family law caseSocial media is a useful tool with widespread use. However, social media use means that privacy has changed as well. We often do not fully consider the implications of what we post online and may expose too much information to the outside world.

Social media use can create tension in a marriage and may additionally affect family law issues such as divorce, custody proceedings and spousal or child support issues.

Social Media Evidence

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Palatine family law attorney, fraudulent financial affidavitsUnfortunately, in some divorces, one or both parties may attempt to hide or misrepresent their assets from the other. However, the recently passed Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now makes the attempt to provide false information on a financial affidavit punishable by financial sanctions and attorney’s fee awards.

Financial Affidavits

During a divorce, either party is permitted to submit a petition for temporary maintenance or temporary child support. Maintenance is a set payment that may be paid in one or more installments and is intended to help the petitioning party pay necessary expenses and living costs.

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Palatine family law attorney, military child custody proceedingsThe stresses of military deployments can lead struggling couples to begin the process of divorce and custody proceedings while one party is still overseas. However, a federal law, the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), provides some protection to members of the military who are at a disadvantage in asserting custody rights due to physical distance.

SCRA

Under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, judges are permitted to grant a stay of custody when a military member’s participation in the proceedings is materially affected by his or her service. In fact, stays are mandatory for 90 days after deployment if certain conditions are met, including the submission of:

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scholarship winnersFour area students receive the 3rd Annual Scholarships for College-Bound Chicagoland Powered by the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C.

This month, the 3rd Annual Scholarships for College-Bound Chicagoland Powered by the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., were awarded to four area high school students. Applicants highlighted one issue facing today’s society and outlined a possible solution.

Congrats to the winners listed below, along with the issue highlighted:

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Palatine family law attorney, DCFS reporting requirementsBetween 2011 and 2013, residential Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) facilities reported 29,425 incidents of children who had gone missing while in DCFS custody. Tragically, many facilities did not immediately report runaways or missing children, making it much more difficult, if not impossible, for local law enforcement to locate them. However, a new law, known as the Safeguard Our Children Act, went into effect in Illinois this year and is aimed at addressing these practices. The law places a series of requirements on DCFS employees in regards to reporting incidences where children of any age, who are under their care, have been missing for more than 12 hours.

Senate Bill 1775

The new law, introduced last year by Senator Bill Cunningham, requires DCFS to consider a child under its care, who is living in a residential facility under contract with the Department, missing if he or she:

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Palatine family law attorney, non-minor children with disabilitiesIn many states, parents are not legally required to provide child support for their disabled, non-minor children. In Illinois, however, a recent amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) enabled Courts to allocate funds from the income or property of either or both parties to a divorce, for the maintenance of any adult children with mental or physical disabilities.

Disability

Under the amended law, a disabled person is an individual who:

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Posted on in Child Custody

Palatine family law attorney, visitation interferenceUnder the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the consequences of one parent’s interference with the other parent’s allocated visitation time are more severe and rigidly enforced than previously. The violation of a parenting agreement can result in a variety of civil and criminal penalties and range from fines and driver’s license suspensions to probation and jail time. Moreover, a negative impact on a child's well-being is extremely likely to occur with regard to scheduled visitation interference.

Petitions

The new law, which went into effect this year, requires Courts to provide expedited procedures for handling the enforcement of parenting time. In order to bring an action for enforcement of visitation rights, a parent or guardian must file a petition with the Court. The following information must be included:

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Palatine family law attorney, allocation of parenting timeIn a recently issued opinion, an Illinois Court of Appeals clarified how much weight should be given to a child’s opinion when determining the allocation of parenting time in post-divorce proceedings.

In re Marriage of Adamson

In October 2007, a Court issued a judgment for the dissolution of the marriage of James Adamson and Jennifer Adamson. According to the judgment, both parties were granted joint legal and physical custody of their two minor children, aged seven years and two years.

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Palatine family law attorney, single mothers and parentageRecently, a new Bill that would have amended the Vital Records Act, sponsored by Representatives John D. Cavaletto and Keith Wheeler, was filed in Springfield, Illinois. If passed, the new law would have placed significant restrictions on a single mother’s ability to obtain financial assistance from the government if she could not establish the paternity of her child at the time of his or her birth. However, resulting public outcry led to the hasty tabling of the Bill and the loss of support from both sponsors.

While support has been withdrawn for the time being, the Bill's introduction still raises concerns about the future of public assistance for single mothers in Illinois.

House Bill 6064

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