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Naperville child support attorney

In divorce cases that involve children in Illinois, one of the issues that must be addressed is child support. In Illinois, the financial duty of raising a child is not the responsibility of solely the custodial parent -- both parents have a legal obligation to financially provide for their children. Typically, the parent with the least amount of parenting time will pay the other parent support each month until the child’s 18th birthday or until they graduate from high school, whichever comes later. The amount of child support that each parent is responsible for is determined by using a formula that takes into account both parents’ incomes and parenting time shares. Over time, the factors used in that equation or your life circumstances may change and the amount of child support currently being paid may no longer be sufficient. Fortunately, it is possible to modify your support order in Illinois.

Common Significant Changes in Circumstances

There are only three reasons why a child support order is permitted to be modified: Either parent can demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances, the support order has been found to deviate from the support guidelines, or the child’s healthcare needs have changed. The most common reason, however, for child support modifications tends to be significant changes in circumstances. Some of the most common changes can include:

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Naperville divorce attorney

Divorce is one of the hardest things a person will ever go through. While it presents personal challenges, divorce is a legal process and is governed by many different laws. When getting a divorce, not everyone understands these laws and therefore, they make mistakes that greatly affect their case. An experienced divorce attorney can help people avoid these mistakes, and provide sound legal advice for anyone who is ending their marriage.

Choosing the Wrong Type of Divorce

People going through a divorce often envision a costly and lengthy battle that takes place in a courtroom. However, that is not the only way to get a divorce today. In Illinois, couples can enter mediation or the collaborative process, both of which can greatly reduce the conflict of divorce and give you more control over the process.

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DuPage County divorce attorney joint simplified dissolution

Much like our views about many other things in society, our opinions of the divorce process can look different to everyone depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. There are many ways you could go about getting a divorce in Illinois -- the traditional litigated way, in which you may end up in front of a judge in a courtroom and through the collaborative method, which requires cooperation between spouses, among others. In particularly contentious divorces that are relatively “simple” in nature, the spouses may decide to agree on the divorce settlement because they just want the process to be over. For some couples, Illinois’ joint simplified dissolution procedure could be the answer to a quick, relatively simple, and low-stress solution.

Understanding Illinois’ Joint Simplified Dissolution

If you are asking the judge to grant you and your spouse a joint simplified dissolution of marriage, you are basically asking for an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses must agree on all major issues in the divorce, including property division, spousal maintenance, and determining who is responsible for which debts, among others. However, when it comes to a joint simplified dissolution specifically, there are certain requirements you must meet before you can file.

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DuPage County collaborative divorce attorney

Over the years, the trends and typical practices in family law have changed and evolved as society has. Decades ago, it was common for a couple to take their divorce to a judge to have him or her sort the issues out, rather than resolving the issues out themselves. Now, most divorce court systems across the country encourage couples to work with one another as much as possible to create a divorce settlement that is mutually agreeable. One such practice that has been shown to greatly increase the success rate of uncontentious divorces is utilizing the collaborative divorce process

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

While some couples may be on the same page when it comes to getting a divorce, the unfortunate truth is that most couples will not be. Most of the time, one partner (typically the one who did not initiate the divorce) is much more hesitant and can even be more adversarial than the other partner, making the divorce process that much more difficult. The collaborative divorce process offers a way for both spouses to work together with their attorneys and a team of supporting professionals in a cooperative manner to produce a divorce agreement. For many couples, the collaborative divorce process carries many benefits that can greatly enhance and improve their divorce experience. These benefits include:

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DuPage County criminal defense attorney spousal maintenance

One of the most stressful and frustrating aspects of divorcing your spouse is the financial aspect of the situation. For some couples, the money side of the divorce may not be of much concern, but for most couples, getting a divorce puts a real financial strain on both parties. According to Bankrate, the average cost of a divorce is around $15,000, but the final price tag could be upward of $100,000 in extremely contentious divorces. That is a hefty bill for anyone to foot, especially for those who are disabled or who have been homemakers and who have not held a career. In some situations, spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, can be paid by one spouse to another to help with living expenses. However, spousal maintenance is not awarded in all divorce cases.

Determining a Need for Spousal Maintenance

In some cases, a couple may have an existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that dictates the terms of spousal support. If the agreement is determined to be valid and upheld, the guidelines contained in the agreement can be used to determine spousal maintenance.

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Bolingbrook divorce attorney asset division

If you have ever seen any television show or movie about a couple involved in a divorce, you have probably seen the typical depiction of the pair arguing over who gets things like the home, the cars, certain household items, or even custody of the children. Many people going through a divorce, even in real life, forget about what is often one of their most valuable and important assets -- their retirement fund. In Illinois, you and your spouse are required to divide the value of any asset that is considered to be a marital asset, which could include a portion of both you and your spouse’s retirement fund. An Illinois divorce lawyer can help you understand your rights to any retirement funds that you or your spouse may own and how to establish ownership to those funds.

Determining if the Plan Is Marital Property

In Illinois, marital property is defined as any property that is acquired by either spouse during the time of the marriage, with a few exceptions. Retirement funds can be all marital property, all non-marital property, or a combination of both. If a spouse began a retirement fund and made contributions to that fund before the marriage, that portion of the contributions would not be subject to division, while the rest would be. However, if the retirement fund was excluded by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, then the entire retirement fund would be considered non-marital property.

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Naperville uncontested divorce attorney

When you tell someone that you are getting a divorce, their first question is often, “Why?” There are a million reasons why couples get divorced, ranging from infidelity to dissatisfaction, to domestic abuse. Prior to 2016, the state of Illinois allowed couples to choose between filing a “no-fault” or “fault” divorce, in which reasons such as adultery and alcohol or drug abuse could be used to place blame for the divorce on one of the spouses. Now, only “irreconcilable differences” are cited as being the reason for a divorce, so as not to assign blame to either spouse. However, couples can still be considered to have a contested or uncontested divorce, depending on the level of cooperation between the individuals. Filing an uncontested divorce has many benefits, like saving time and money, but it is not always feasible for everyone.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

Every divorce has a myriad of issues that need to be settled and agreed upon before the divorce can be finalized. Although the issues will vary slightly by the couple, they are the same for most and require couples to make decisions regarding:

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DuPage County divorce attorney asset division

For many couples, the asset division process is one of the most contentious issues that they must face when they get divorced. Although the asset division process is not as emotionally charged as proceedings involving child custody or parental decision-making, the decisions made during the asset division process can be significant. The decisions you make when determining how you will split up your property and divide your debt have the potential to impact your life for years to come. If you are going through a divorce in Illinois, it is important that you understand how the asset division process works.

Illinois Is an Equitable Distribution State

Each state across the country has different divorce laws. Some states are considered to be “community property” states, which means they generally split all assets in an equal, 50/50 split. Illinois is not one of those states and is instead considered to be an equitable distribution state. This means that marital assets will not always be split in an “equal” manner, but they will always be distributed fairly and equitably. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

When you are in the midst of a divorce, it can start to feel overwhelming, like there is no end in sight. Divorce negotiations can be unpredictable, leaving you with much to wonder about, including what your life will be like after your divorce is over. There are so many questions that you likely have on your mind -- where you will be living, if you have to sell your home, and whether or not you will have enough income to support yourself and your children if you are a parent. Regardless if you are a stay-at-home parent or you work outside of the home, many people have financial worries when they go to get a divorce. 

Financial Considerations

The best way to ensure you are in good financial standing after your divorce is to take the proper steps to protect your financial health during your divorce. Here are a few ways you can be proactive in preparing your finances for post-divorce life:

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Plainfield divorce attorney

“We need to talk.” Those four words have so much power and weight to them, especially when you are in a romantic relationship with someone. The conversation that you must have when you tell your spouse that you want a divorce can be extremely difficult. It often requires you to face the conflict head-on and outwardly admit that you are unhappy in your marriage. Even though it is not a conversation you necessarily want to have, it is a conversation that you must have if you are thinking about ending your legal union with your spouse. Whether you and your spouse have tried to make the marriage work for years or the marriage is simply over, having this conversation is the first step in initiating the divorce process. 

Tips to Consider Before Discussing the Subject

Telling your partner that you want a divorce should not be done on a whim or out of anger. It should be approached after careful consideration and preparation. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when telling your spouse you want a divorce:

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Joliet Courthouse divorce attorney property division

Getting a divorce means you and your spouse will have to make quite a few decisions pertaining to you and your family’s finances and how you will separate them as you move through the divorce process. Many of these decisions will be difficult to make depending on what they are, but it is typically agreed that dealing with the marital home during your divorce is one of the hardest. Many people have an emotional attachment to their homes, especially if they have raised a family in the home. The property division process can be stressful and dealing with the family home can be especially daunting, but you can achieve a positive outcome with the assistance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney. 

Making the Decision About Your Home

During the property division process, you must determine how to untangle all of the finances you and your spouse have entangled throughout the years that you have been married. This includes determining what is and is not marital property, separating your joint bank accounts and credit card accounts, and splitting your retirement accounts. When it comes to dealing with a large asset such as the family home, there are three basic scenarios that make up the majority of situations involving this marital piece of property:

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DuPage County divorce attorney

It does not matter if you were married for two years or 20 years -- getting a divorce is a painful and demanding process no matter how long you were together. When you get married, you plan to spend the rest of your life with that person and perhaps raise a family together. A divorce causes you to undergo major life changes, losing your companion, lover, co-parent, and friend. A divorce can also cause you to undergo a great deal of stress, as divorce almost always causes a restructuring of the housing arrangements, household responsibilities, and finances. If you have recently begun the Illinois divorce process, you should speak with a knowledgeable Illinois divorce lawyer who can help alleviate some of that stress by taking care of the legal details. 

Coping Strategies

Dealing with a divorce can feel extremely draining, both emotionally and financially. Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to help you cope with the stress of a divorce. These include:

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Bolingbrook divorce attorney

Nobody ever plans to get a divorce when they get married. Couples typically do not go through the trouble of planning a wedding and shelling out the big bucks just to get a divorce a few years later. For many people, getting a divorce would put a huge strain on their finances, so naturally, their first question is often, “How much will the divorce cost?” The answer to that question is almost impossible to obtain until you have almost completed or finalized the divorce process. There are various costs associated with getting a divorce and many of them are dependent on how things progress during the divorce process. An experienced Illinois divorce attorney would be able to explain your legal options to you.

Factors That Influence Divorce Expenses

Many things could affect the cost of a divorce. For the most part, however, the cost of getting a divorce typically ranges from thousands of dollars ($2,000-$3,000) to upward of tens of thousands of dollars ($20,000-$30,000). Some couples, however, can see their divorce price tag skyrocket to hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions if there are extensive assets.

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Bolingbrook divorce attorney co-parenting

When you have children, divorce usually does not mark the end of all interactions with your ex-spouse. In most cases, the two of you continue to bear an important responsibility to share in the raising of your children. While it can be nice to have the other parent’s support and assistance, co-parenting after divorce may also result in disagreements and conflict between you and your spouse, so you should know how to manage those conflicts to keep them from getting out of hand and hurting your children.

Tips for Successful Co-Parenting After an Illinois Divorce

It is not always easy to co-parent with your ex, but following these suggestions can help you reduce stress and maintain a better situation for yourself and your children:

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Bolingbrook divorce attorney legal separation

When a couple is having problems with their marriage, sometimes the decision to divorce is clear-cut. However, many couples are not ready to take the irreversible action of ending the marriage, and instead, wish to spend time apart while they contemplate their next step. For these couples, or for those spouses who wish to avoid divorce because of cultural beliefs or health insurance benefits, a legal separation may be a good option. If you do choose to pursue it, you should understand exactly what legal separation entails and how it differs from a complete dissolution of the marriage according to Illinois law.

What Happens in an Illinois Legal Separation?

For you and your spouse to be considered legally separated, you must be living in separate locations, and one of you must file a Petition for Legal Separation with your county’s Circuit Court. If your separation is approved, you should consider the following legal implications:

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Bolingbrook divorce attorney spousal support

A cheating or unfaithful spouse can put a huge strain on a marriage, and in many cases, one from which the marriage cannot recover. If your spouse has been unfaithful to you, you may understandably be angry and upset, and if you have cheated on your spouse, you may feel shame and regret. Beyond these emotional struggles, you and your spouse will likely face the difficult decision as to whether you should divorce in the aftermath of infidelity. If you do decide to proceed with legally ending your marriage, you should be aware of how the unfaithfulness can factor into the outcome.

Understanding the Impact of Adultery on a Divorce

Infidelity will almost certainly have some effect on the way you and your spouse go about the divorce proceedings, but it may not always have as much of an impact as you might expect. Some things to keep in mind about infidelity when going through your divorce include:

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Will County asset division attorney

Retirement accounts are frequently among the most important assets involved in an Illinois divorce case. If pension benefits are earned by either spouse during the course of a marriage, they are considered marital property. So in the event of a divorce, a judge may issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which enables the division and transfer of retirement funds without incurring any legal penalties.

Appeals Court: Divorce Settlement Did Not Refer to Former Husband’s Disability Pay

A recent decision from the Illinois First District Appellate Court raised an interesting question related to divorce and retirement benefits–namely, does a QDRO affecting a former spouse’s pension also apply to any pre-retirement disability benefits they receive?
The facts of this case, In re Marriage of Sullivan, are fairly straightforward. A husband and wife divorced after nearly 13 years of marriage. During the marriage, the husband acquired pension benefits through several plans. Based on a marital settlement agreement (MSA) negotiated between the parties, a Cook County judge entered a QDRO, giving the wife 50 percent of all listed pensions.
After the judge entered the order and the divorce was final, the now-former husband applied for Social Security Disability insurance benefits. This was necessary so that he could also receive long-term disability benefits under his pension plans. When the former wife learned of this, she went back to court, arguing that she was also entitled to 50 percent of the disability benefits. The former husband argued the MSA and QDRO only applied to retirement benefits, not disability.
The courts sided with the former husband. The First District, affirming a Cook County judge’s prior ruling, noted that the “absence of an express or even implied reference to disability or disability benefits” strongly suggested that the “parties did not contemplate benefits at the time of dissolution.” Indeed, the agreement and QDRO only intended for the former wife to share in the former husband’s “retirement benefits.
The way that disability works, the former husband will receive those disability benefits until he reaches his normal retirement age of 65, at which point those benefits convert into the pension. So as the appeals court explained, had the former husband “never become disabled, he would not be receiving any payments” from his disability plan.

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Bolingbrook child custody attorney parental relocation

It is not uncommon for one parent to move out of state following a divorce from the other parent. But when it comes to relocating with a minor child, an Illinois court must first determine if such a relocation is in the child’s best interests. Illinois law establishes a list of factors for the court to consider, including the circumstances and reasons for the relocation, the child’s educational opportunities at the new location, and whether the court can fashion a reasonable parenting plan if the move is allowed.

Illinois Court Reconsiders Earlier Decision to Deny Mother’s Request for Relocation

The parent seeking relocation bears the burden of proving that a proposed move will benefit the child. No parent should ever relocate under the assumption that the court will simply allow him or her to take the child along. In addition, should a court decide to reject a proposed relocation, the parent’s options for appeal can prove quite limited.

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Naperville child support attorney

Child support is considered a legal obligation. This type of financial support is used for a minor child’s basic needs, such as food and clothing. In some cases, it may also go toward housing, transportation, activities, and medical costs. When an Illinois court order requires a parent to pay child support, that order becomes an enforceable judgment in their divorce or child custody case. Like any civil judgment, failure to pay can lead to consequences, including an assessment of interest. According to the Appeals Court, interest is calculated based on when the parent stopped paying, not when the judge calculates how much money is owed. 

Calculating Interest 

A recent decision from the Illinois First District Appellate Court, In Re Marriage of Gloria Westlund, helps to illustrate how interest on unpaid child support works in this state. This case involved a couple that obtained a divorce in 2009. At the time, the parties had one minor child. The final divorce awarded the parents joint custody but named the mother as the custodial parent. The order also required the father, as the non-custodial parent, to pay child support.

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