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naperville child custody lawyerAlthough most divorced parents in Illinois are eager to spend more time with their kids, a few parents are flaky or disinterested. While on the surface, this may seem like a great way for the other parent to get more time with the kids, in reality, it leads to frustrated plans and - even worse - disappointed children. If you are in this situation, you already know how hard it can be to deal with an ex who does not show up for his or her parenting time. The good news is that there are options for taking action. 

What is Parenting Time? 

Parenting time, formerly known as visitation in Illinois, is the schedule that describes each parent’s allotted time with their child. Usually, parenting time kicks in once a parenting plan has been established after a divorce, but parents who have never been married can create a court-ordered parenting plan as well. 

Illinois courts begin with the presumption that both parents are fit to spend time with their child, and absent evidence proving otherwise, will work hard to ensure both parents get parenting time. A great parenting plan allows both parents to maintain a warm relationship with their child while also having the structure and predictability to allow each parent to carry out their lives. 

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will county child support lawyerWhen parents divorce, it is standard for the parent with less parenting time to pay child support to help finance their children’s needs. Children have the right to be financially supported by their parents in Illinois. Most child support orders from the court end when the children involved turn 18 years old and become an adult. However, there are circumstances where child support payments are extended to non-minor children.

When is Non-Minor Child Support Required?

There are a few key reasons the court may require non-minor child support payments from a parent. Below are the three most common reasons that Illinois may extend child support payments for children over the age of 18.

  • Educational Expenses — The most common reason parents pay child support for children over 18 years is for college or other post-secondary educational expenses. College tuition and additional costs involved with university or a post-secondary educational program can be costly, especially for only one parent to pay alone. It is common for parents to petition for extended child support to assist with college expenses. These expenses typically include tuition, room and board, clothes, textbooks, food, school supplies, and other necessities.  

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naperville divorce lawyerIt is normal to have many questions about the process when going through a divorce. There are two main types of divorces, and they differ in a few ways. An uncontested divorce refers to a divorce process that is amicable and communicative. A contested divorce, on the other hand, involves partners who are in disagreement over one or more divorce issues. Contested and uncontested divorces vary in a few ways, including duration and price. Here are five key differences between contested and uncontested divorces.

Communication 

The main difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce is the degree of productive communication between spouses during the process. During an uncontested divorce, both partners can express their desires for a divorce outcome and can agree on virtually every aspect of a divorce decree. For example, during an uncontested divorce, both spouses will decide on how property will be divided, who will retain permanent residence in the family home, and how child custody will be divided between parents. However, communication may be more difficult in an uncontested divorce. Sometimes, spouses only communicate through their respective attorneys. 

Control

Each spouse's ability to control the outcome of their divorce can depend on whether or not the divorce is contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, spouses can easily communicate and agree upon an outcome that works best for both parties. However, the outcome of a contested divorce may ultimately be determined by the courts. Spouses are less in control when a judge finalizes the elements of their divorce agreement.

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dupage county divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce, the state divides marital property in an equitable, fair fashion. Marital property is divided between the spouses based on many factors including their contributions to the marriage, financial resources, earning capacity, and needs. If one spouse receives the house after the divorce, the other may receive a more significant portion of the retirement account. However, what happens to personal belongings and family heirlooms during a divorce? Can a spouse be awarded the other’s personal belongings?

Shared Versus Unshared Property

Property division during a divorce is considered under the umbrella of two property types— shared and unshared. Shared items, also known as marital property, were obtained throughout the marriage, so both spouses have a right to the property. Non-marital property includes items purchased before the marriage or given to a partner before the marriage. Assets acquired through inheritance or gift are also separate property. 

Protecting Your Items After Marriage

Your spouse is not entitled to non-marital property that you individually own. One way to protect your personal property is through a postnuptial agreement. Like a prenup, married couples can draft an agreement after marriage that expresses all of the joint and separate property for each partner. Postnuptial agreements are a helpful way to legally keep track of property and make property division in the case of divorce much more collaborative. 

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naperville divorce lawyerWhen dealing with a divorce, it is not uncommon to come across a contentious spouse. The disagreements between two partners often lead them to feel contempt for one another and break down their ability to communicate and reach a mutual agreement. The inability to communicate is usually expressed during the divorce process — contested divorces can include a failure to agree on various elements of a divorce decree. However, a problematic spouse can also lead to a difficult ex-partner. Suppose your ex does not uphold their end of the divorce agreement, including failure to pay spousal support. In that case, they can be held legally responsible. 

Defining a Divorce Decree

A divorce decree, or a divorce agreement, is a legal document upheld in a court of law. In other words, spouses can not violate a divorce decree. Both spouses will be legally required to follow the orders defined in the agreement. In the case of spousal support payments, also known as alimony, partners must uphold the agreement dictated in the divorce decree. If a partner decides not to follow their requirements from the contract, they can be held in contempt of court for refusing to obey a court order. 

Enforcing a Court Order

Suppose you find yourself in a situation where your ex-partner stopped paying spousal support. In that case, it is best to consult a skilled divorce and family attorney who can represent your interests. As mentioned, the divorce decree is a legally-binding document. If a spouse is no longer upholding their end of the agreement, the other party involved should seek legal action. 

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naperville divorce lawyerMaking the decision to divorce your spouse is difficult. However, breaking the news to your children can become another hurdle. News of a separation, divorce, or breakup can be highly unsettling for children, especially young ones. Kids thrive off of routine and stability, making separation difficult for them to accept. If you are struggling to break the news of a breakup with your kids, here are ten tips that can help you prepare for a conversation. 

1. Meet with a Child Psychologist 

Many psychologists and therapists specialize in working with children. Having a licensed counselor working alongside your children as they go through a divorce can help a child process their emotions and healthily work through grief. A therapist can provide you with strategies for communicating with your children. 

2. Maintain a Routine 

Children thrive on familiar behaviors, places, and people. One of the best ways to ease a child into a new lifestyle is by preserving some of an old routine or sticking to a new one. For example, sticking to the same morning and night routine can help a child adjust to a new home or city. 

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shutterstock_373550518.jpg If you feel that your relationship with your spouse is ending, you may be ready to terminate your marriage. Choosing to divorce a spouse is not easy, and most partners conduct lots of research before making this life-changing decision. Spouses may look into the cost of divorce, how to divide shared property, and use testimonies from other divorced couples to understand the divorce process. However, just like each couple, every divorce differs in many ways. 

Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Illinois 

Divorces can come in many forms. The most common distinction between divorces is whether the process is contested or uncontested. In a contested divorce, spouses will disagree over an aspect or multiple aspects of the divorce outcome. For example, a contested divorce could include a husband and wife in complete disagreement over who will remain living in the shared family home. On the other hand, an uncontested divorce is typically collaborative, and the spouses work together to form a mutual divorce agreement. In an uncontested divorce, there likely won’t be much fighting or disagreement. 

Due to the lack of contention, uncontested divorces can be resolved without significant litigation, making uncontested divorces much less expensive than other forms of divorce resolution. 

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dupage county divorce lawyer Separation before a divorce can be confusing for many reasons. While you are still legally married, you and your partner may live apart. Your partnership may feel more like a series of legal obligations to sort through before your divorce is finalized. While being separated allows couples to begin independent lives as single individuals, spouses still have legal obligations to one another. Partners must make many decisions during separation, including how to remain financially afloat. 

Who Pays the Bills?

Illinois courts will attempt to maintain the status quo when deciding who pays which bills throughout the divorce process. Essentially, this means that whatever the strategy was for paying the bills before separation will be maintained. For example, if your spouse would typically pay the mortgage payments, and you would pay for the cars, this payment schedule is expected to be maintained throughout the separation. 

Maintaining the status quo for bill payments throughout separation is beneficial because it helps prevent unnecessary contention between spouses. As the divorce process unfolds, couples may argue over various decisions, such as child care, property division, and debt allocation. By enforcing each spouse to maintain the bills they were capable of paying before separation, family units will have one less task to consider.

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naperville divorce lawyerThe divorce process opens the door to new discussions for partners. It can be challenging to know how to navigate the many gray areas uncovered throughout a divorce, such as how much spousal support will be awarded, who will stay living in the shared family home, and which financial assets belong to each respective spouse. One common question posed during a divorce is how to pay bills during the marriage dissolution process. In short, the answer to this question is that it depends. There are a few key distinctions to consider when deciding how to pay family bills during the divorce process. 

Consideration One — Joint and Separate Assets  

In Illinois, whoever owns the financial asset, whether a mortgage or other payment, is responsible for maintaining that payment, even throughout a divorce. If you and your partner share the deed to the house, you are both responsible for paying the mortgage until the divorce is finalized. Couples should consider which assets are individually owned and which are shared to create a plan for maintaining those bills throughout a divorce. 

Consideration Two — How are the Bills Already Split?

How are bills currently split between you and your partner? Do you both have a system that is working for you? Has one partner decided to stop paying their portion of bills? Has either of you had a change in income or job status? 

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shutterstock_298029158.jpgChoosing to divorce your spouse is a difficult decision. There are various reasons that couples make the final decision to dissolve their marriage, from infidelity to unmatched values. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, which means that spouses do not need to express the reasoning behind the divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the only grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. 

Defining Irreconcilable Differences

When things are irreconcilable, they are unable to be made compatible. In divorce terms, irreconcilable differences refer to couples being completely incompatible and unable to resolve their differences. This is an overarching term used to describe the many reasons that couples argue, leading to a divorce. For example, in a state with fault-based divorce, infidelity may be listed as the grounds for divorce. However, infidelity and other marital miscouduct usually has little bearing on the outcome of an Illinois divorce.

Illinois law on the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act describes irreconcilable differences as meeting these four criteria:

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shutterstock_1040307988.jpgThroughout a marriage, couples wind up sharing virtually everything from a house to bank accounts. When spouses decide to make the difficult decision to file for divorce and dissolve their marriage, they must discuss how to divide this shared marital property. They may consult a divorce attorney to discuss who will remain in the family home, which spouse will receive most parenting time or custody of the children, and how debt payments will be divided and paid off. Most people focus on these big-ticket items. However, many other types of overlooked shared marital property are essential to consider when filing for divorce

Pets

Spouses may overlook pets when considering how to divide shared marital property during a divorce. Although pets may feel like family members, pets are considered property in Illinois. Before 2018, when deciding who gets what during a divorce, pets were treated the same as any other type of property. The court did not award joint ownership or make “pet custody” arrangements. New provisions enacted after 2018 allow spouses to create joint ownership agreements for pets and consider the pets’ best interests.

Airline and Travel Points 

Credit cards and shared debts are often considered in divorce proceedings. However, many people tend to push aside included assets, such as airline mileage points. If both spouses shared a credit card or had shared expenses and debts, they will also share the incentives, such as travel points. 

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naperville divorce lawyerMost people believe that a divorce attorney is only necessary for a contested, highly volatile divorce. This theory is often portrayed in the media, from high-profile celebrity divorce cases to movies that depict lawyers fighting for their clients in court. Although attorneys can be used in contested situations or to help provide mediation between parties, divorce law can cover a variety of situations, including uncontested divorces. Even when both spouses agree about divorce issues like property division and parental responsibilities, a lawyer can help facilitate the process, file the correct documents with the court, and ensure the marriage dissolution is completed correctly. 

What Can a Divorce Attorney Do For Me? 

Many life-changing decisions are made during a divorce. While these choices may be challenging for some couples, some spouses can agree quickly. In an uncontested divorce, spouses can agree on issues such as who will remain in the shared family home, how financial assets will be divided, and who gets the majority of parenting time if the couple shares children. Even if there are no negotiations or mediation necessary between spouses, an attorney is helpful. A divorce lawyer can:

  • Help spouses complete the paperwork to file for divorce in a no-fault divorce state 

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naperville divorce lawyerEvery divorce is different and unique to the family undergoing marriage dissolution. When spouses cannot agree upon these decisions together, there are many different routes that families can take to complete a divorce, such as mediation between spouses. During a divorce, litigation is usually seen as a last resort. Litigation can be intimidating, time-consuming, and expensive. If a settlement is not reached, litigation will move to trial.   

The Reason Why Divorce Cases Move to Trial

The main reason divorces move to trial is because spouses are unable to reach an agreement about one or more divorce issues. A trial will leave the decision-making to the court, not the spouses themselves. Many decisions made during a divorce are problematic because they drastically change the family dynamic moving forward. For example, many couples will disagree regarding child custody and visitation arrangements or ownership of shared marital property. Firm disagreement over divorce issues results in a contested divorce

Three Steps to Prepare for Trial

Litigation, especially during divorce cases, can be nerve-racking. The idea that decisions will be left for a judge to decide makes many individuals feel uncertain about their futures. It is critical to work alongside a skilled divorce attorney who can advocate on your behalf during the divorce trial. Here are three steps to take to maximize your chances of a favorable divorce outcome:

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naperville child custody lawyerIt can seem like a nightmare scenario when your ex-spouse withholds visitation or parenting time with your children. However, there are many legal avenues that a parent can take to ensure they receive their fair share of parenting time with their children. Typically, the allocation of parenting responsibilities and parenting time is detailed in the divorce agreement — a legally binding document. Since the divorce decree is a court order, spouses must uphold it. If either spouse or parent chooses to breach the terms in a divorce decree, they can face significant consequences. 

Option 1: Mediation

Sometimes, parents need to reevaluate the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time and make modifications to their Parenting Plan. Parents may be able to reach an agreement about parenting time and parental responsibilities through mediation. Alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation offer ways to handle legal issues without going directly to a court judge. Mediation involves a neutral third party to assist parents in resolving legal matters. 

If you and an ex-spouse are having trouble sticking to the custody, parenting, or visitation plan outlined in your divorce agreement, a mediator may be able to help. Seeking mediation rather than court intervention could save you time and money. However, mediation only works if both parents are willing to communicate. Mediation is appropriate for parents looking for a trained individual to help facilitate negotiation. However, mediation is not helpful if there is contempt between spouses, ongoing refusal to adhere to the parenting plan, or if a parent suspects abuse or neglect by the other parent. 

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naperville child support lawyerWhen couples that have children together decide to file for a divorce, many challenging questions arise regarding how to continue raising and supporting the children. These questions include who will retain the majority of parenting time, where the children will live, how parents will divide custody and visitation time, and which parent will be required to pay child support. Child support is the amount of financial assistance that the parent with less parenting time will pay to the parent with the greater amount of parenting time. These payments are usually a part of a divorced couple's divorce agreement, and they are calculated using the Income Shares Model to ensure both parents' financial situations are being considered. 

Using the Income Shares Method for Child Support Calculation 

The Income Shares Model is a financial tool used to calculate child support payments in a way that is equitable and fair. The court will weigh both spouses' individual incomes and financial responsibilities against each other to determine how much child support to award the parent with the majority of parenting time. 

Parents can understand the Income Shared Method by breaking it into five key steps: 

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shutterstock_704183452.jpgMany elements of the divorce process are complicated and stressful. When spouses choose to dissolve their marriage, they must make many decisions regarding children, shared property, and finances. These agreements made between spouses during the divorce process can be life-changing, leading to contention between families. Suppose both spouses are looking to work together during the divorce process. In that case, there are Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options to help facilitate a smooth divorce and transition into a new phase of life, one being collaborative divorce between spouses. 

Understanding Collaborative Divorce 

A common issue that arises during the dissolution of a marriage is disagreement between spouses. Conflict can occur for various reasons, including the inability to agree on the division of property, tension regarding the allocation of parenting responsibilities, or poor communication between partners. Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) are intended to give couples options for resolving disagreements without litigation. Litigation is more expensive and time-consuming, leading to another layer of stress for divorcing couples. Some common ADRs include mediation, arbitration, or collaborative divorce. 

Collaborative divorce is best for couples who wish to work together but have trouble agreeing on specific aspects of their divorce plan. Each couple will have their own divorce attorney separate from their spouse to represent individual interests during this dispute resolution process. However, both attorneys will work together to form an agreement without going before a judge. Typically, these negotiations are informal. Each partner's legal representation will advocate coming to a mutual understanding on a spouse's behalf.

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shutterstock_605213087-1.jpg Legal separation from a spouse is a legal term that refers to spouses who choose to place their relationship on pause. Separating from your partner does not mean that your marriage is over. Often, spouses will decide to separate to maintain their marriage but place some distance between each other to work through marital issues. Other times, religious or cultural beliefs prohibit a divorce, so separation is the best option. A legal separation will require spouses to follow a few key steps to ensure both partners receive equal treatment regardless of a couple's reasons behind separating. 

Divorce Versus Separation — The Difference 

Filing for and completing the divorce process includes dissolving the marriage and ending the relationship entirely. Separation does not end the marriage. There are a few main differences between how the court handles divorce and separation. In a divorce, the court may divide shared marital assets if the spouses cannot reach an agreement. There is no division of shared assets during a separation unless both partners explicitly ask the court to do so and agree to property division terms. 

Often, this is a significant reason why spouses choose to separate rather than divorce. Legal separation allows the couple to keep shared financial interests such as retirement plans, health insurance, or family businesses intact.

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naperville divorce lawyerMany difficult decisions are made during a divorce, one of which is choosing who will remain in the family home. Like many other legal questions, the answer to who gets the house relies heavily on a divorce's unique circumstances. Spouses must consider many factors to decide who will remain in the home, including addressing legal ownership, how much money each spouse makes individually, and if there are children or pets involved. With the help of experienced legal counsel, spouses can take a few steps during their divorce to address ownership of the home

Negotiation and Mediation 

The first way to address who will retain residence in the shared family home is through communicating directly. An open line of communication between both partners is advantageous. However, the dissolution of a relationship can cause tension between spouses, leading to a contested divorce. If both spouses can not agree on a decision as to who will remain in the home, there is a legal tool known as mediation that can help assist the situation. Mediation is where a neutral third party joins the conversation between the spouses to help negotiate. A mediator might help a couple decide by considering:

 Which spouse has the majority of parenting time or custody with the children

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naperville divorce lawyerLike any divorce process, divorcing during retirement has its unique challenges and hurdles. Divorces alone can be complicated, especially if the couple has been married for an extended time. Spouses wind up sharing many financial assets throughout a marriage, including retirement pensions and other savings accounts. An individual might be entitled to their spouse's retirement plans even if there was no contribution on that individual's end. When divorcing during or after retirement, spouses must be vigilant in protecting their savings to ensure financial health for their future. 

Protecting Your Retirement Plans

Individuals typically open retirement plans such as a 401(k) or an IRA when preparing for retirement. These are considered financial assets, which could be divided equally between two spouses during a divorce. Pension benefits from a spouse's career may also be regarded as a shared marital asset and divided equally between both partners. According to Illinois law, retirement plans, including pension, are often considered shared marital property and must be divided as such. In a no-fault divorce state such as Illinois, the court emphasizes the equitable division of finances and other property. If you are considering or actively pursuing a divorce and wish to have your retirement plan and pension separated from your spouse, it is in your best interest to work alongside an experienced attorney who can help you understand ownership of retirement assets and how best to divide assets between you and your spouse. 

Will My Spouse Split my Social Security Check?

At the age of 62, Illinois residents can collect social security benefits. Depending on how long you and your spouse were married and the amount of social security your spouse collected, you may be entitled to social security benefits based on your spouse’s employment history. Typically, spouses married for ten years or longer may be entitled to the higher-earning spouse's social security. 

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naperville child support lawyerThere are many reasons why parents choose not to pay child support payments. Whether a parent doesn’t feel the child support order is justified, or a financial loss makes it hard to maintain payments, real legal consequences follow nonpayment of child support. After the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more parents found themselves in tight financial situations, causing difficulty paying child support. To avoid legal penalties for avoiding child support payments, parents in a tight financial situation can follow a legal modification process to change their child support order.

Legal Consequences

Child support orders are written as part of a divorce decree. The divorce decree is a legal document drafted for spouses after a divorce. Parents choosing not to pay child support are breaking a legal document and can face severe penalties. 

If a parent is not paying child support, the recipient parent may contact the Illinois Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to enforce the child support order. After six months of avoiding child support payments, or after over $5,000 in outstanding child support has accumulated, the DCSS may choose to submit a prosecution request to the obligor parent through the state. 

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