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On January 1, 2016, new laws regarding divorce and child custody went into effect in Illinois. At first glance, these new laws appear to have significantly changed child custody in the state. In fact, the very concept of “custody” has been replaced by the concept of “allocating parental responsibility” under the new legislature.

Child Custody and Parenting Plan In application, however, the law is still essentially the same. What the legislature has done is to update the statute to shift focus to what is in the best interests of the children. In the past, custody of parties’ children was considered something to be “won” or “lost”, therefore encouraging parties to argue over it. In the end, however, the vast majority of parents settle on a parenting agreement that provides for both parents having parenting time with their children, and both parents taking responsibility for certain day-to-day decisions and activities.

By removing the idea of “custody” from the statute, the legislature has aimed to change attitudes when negotiating a parenting agreement. Parenting agreements will now deal primarily with the allocation of parenting time and of responsibilities as a parent. Children involved in a divorce benefit if the parties can work together to determine how to care for the child, rather than taking the position that every issue is “winner takes all” in a fight for custody.

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When a couple decides to get a divorce, they begin to analyze the most common matters to be addressed such as division of property and accounts, spousal support, a schedule for sharing parenting time, and responsibility for debts as well as future expenses for children and college education. They will often begin to research divorce attorneys for representation, but may also consider handling the divorce on their own. “Pro Se” is a Latin phrase meaning “for oneself”, and therefore, if someone handles a divorce Pro Se, it means that they are representing themselves.

Divorce Attorney Representation The most common reason for a couple to explore handling a divorce on their own is financially motivated. Simply put, they want a divorce, and they want it to be as inexpensive as possible. Parties may feel that they have already worked out the terms of their agreements and do not want to hire an attorney when they feel they can do the paperwork themselves. Often it is just one of the divorcing parties who the proponent of going Pro Se, while the other may prefer to hire attorneys. In this case, it is important to consider if keeping the divorce cost low is your spouse’s only motivation for going Pro Se, or if it is an attempt to control the outcome of the settlement.

Time and time again, attorneys receive calls from parties who have filed for or completed a divorce on their own and have run into problems. The legal documents that are entered upon the completion of a divorce must be detailed, covering every aspect of the parties’ agreements on financial and parenting matters based on local statutes and specifics of a client’s individual situation. Though the intent is to save money, couples who go Pro Se often miss important details and make costly mistakes. Unfortunately, many find themselves back in court post-decree correcting areas that were not clearly defined in their original agreements.

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If you hadn’t heard of the adultery website called Ashley Madison (ashleymadison.com) before last Tuesday, chances are you’ve heard about it now. The recent news about the breach of the private data collected by this website, whose tagline is “Life is short. Have an affair.”, has caught the attention of the news media, many potentially guilty spouses, and divorce attorneys everywhere.

Reportedly, personal details of Ashley Madison members were hacked last month by a group known as The Impact Team, and the group threatened to make this information public. Though initially there was skepticism by investigators about the validity of the breach and threats, earlier this week the group made true on their threat to “dump” the stolen information early this week onto the Dark Web, an area of the Web only accessible by a covert browser.

While preliminary investigation shows that users of the site are located all over the world, Chicago came in 8th in the top ten U.S. “cities with the most cheaters” according to a recent posting on CBS News’ website. Locally, the Chicago suburbs of Plainfield and Naperville were ranked number two and number 18 in a July 21st article posted to the Plainfield Patch website.

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Introducing a new five-part series of revealing articles focusing on the collaborative approach to divorce. At the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C., we seek to educate and inform individuals who browse the internet in search of accurate information about the available divorce options. Our series on collaborative divorce is a must-read for anyone considering divorce.

The collaborative approach to divorce, when it proceeds as it is intended, is a respectable option for completing a divorce. There are, however, drawbacks to every approach, and collaborative law is not without its flaws. One such flaw is the tendency of collaborative law to attract inexperienced attorneys. As the name implies, the collaborative approach is designed for parties who are able to work together in a non-confrontational manner toward the common goal of ending their marriage. The parties agree up-front to proceed with honesty and in good-faith, and so approaches associated with traditional divorce such as courtroom appearances and extensive, detailed collection of financial information on a case, may be severely curtailed.

These characteristics of the approach are the very things that attract young, inexperienced attorneys to exclusively practice collaborative law. Traditional divorce, or litigation, involves appearing and defending a client in a courtroom in front of a judge. Through years of unique cases and familiarity with specific judges and how they rule on particular matters, a traditional attorney gains valuable knowledge and the ability to represent and defend a client if matters become confrontational. Many collaborative attorneys have limited or no courtroom experience, and are not comfortable or effective in a situation where conflict may exist. These inexperienced attorneys are noticeably at a disadvantage when up against an attorney with traditional courtroom experience, and they may even avoid working with attorneys who present a challenge.

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Introducing a new five-part series of revealing articles focusing on the collaborative approach to divorce. At the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C., we seek to educate and inform individuals who browse the internet in search of accurate information about the available divorce options. Our series on collaborative divorce is a must-read for anyone considering divorce.

Even when couples enter into a collaborative divorce with the best intentions, sometimes the process breaks down and parties must take a more litigious route to complete their divorce. The failure of the collaborative process may occur for various reasons, and when it does, starting over can be expensive.

When a couple enters into the collaborative process they should be confident that they will be able to proceed in an agreeable and cooperative fashion. However, once the divorce is underway, it is not uncommon for unforeseen issues to arise, and spouses may realize that they are not in agreement on as many areas as they had expected.

At the root of the concept of collaborative divorce is trust. Many failures of collaborative divorce are due to one or both parties’ perception that the other party is not being fully honest. Once it is suspected that there is an attempt by either party to be less than honest in a collaborative divorce, the process may begin to break down.

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