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Naperville legal separation attorney

Here is a common question regarding divorce in Illinois: If I divorce my spouse, can he or she still inherit property under my will? The short answer is that if you did not bother to change your will after the divorce–and you really should–then any language naming your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or executor is automatically invalidated. The remainder of your will remains valid; the law simply acts as if your former spouse had predeceased you. Of course, you are always free to sign a new post-divorce will naming your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or executor; this rule only applies to pre-divorce wills. If a person dies without a will, his or her estate is subject to distribution under Illinois intestacy law. Intestacy usually provides that the surviving spouse will inherit all or part of the estate, depending on whether or not the deceased had any children or heirs. But as with the rules governing wills, a former spouse’s right to intestate succession ends with the entry of a divorce judgment.

Property Settlement Waives Husband’s Rights to Inherit from Wife’s Estate

A less common question is what happens in the event of a legal separation? Although a separation involves many of the same formalities as a divorce, the parties remain legally married. So what happens when one spouse dies during the separation? Does the surviving spouse still have inheritance rights?
In some cases, the parties will already have a property settlement in place to address such contingencies. Take this recent decision from the Illinois Second District Appellate Court, In re Estate of Holms. This case involved a husband and wife who legally separated in 2017. At the time, an Illinois judge approved a judgment of legal separation that incorporated a property settlement agreement (PSA). Among other provisions, the PSA included a “release of claims,” which states the spouses “mutually release and forever discharge each other from all…claims against each other’s property,” except as otherwise provided for in the PSA or the court’s legal separation judgment.
The wife passed away in May 2018. She did not have a will. The husband then claimed he still had the right to inherit from her estate under Illinois intestacy law. The wife’s daughter filed an objection. She insisted the PSA’s release of claims barred the husband from inheriting anything from the wife’s estate.
A Lake County judge sided with the husband, holding that nothing in the PSA “referenced the possibility of death or clearly indicated the intent to surrender or waive” the surviving spouse’s inheritance rights. The daughter appealed this decision. The Second District took her side, holding that “the language of the judgment for legal separation and the PSA is susceptible to only one reasonable interpretation,” namely that the spouses “intended to waive all interest in each other’s property, including any spousal inheritance rights.” Put another way, the PSA was a “final settlement as to all property rights as a result of the marriage.”

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Joliet Courthouse child support attorney

When it comes to modifying child support obligations in Illinois, a court must answer one basic question: Has there been a “substantial change in circumstances” justifying a departure from the original award of child support? What qualifies as a “substantial change” will depend on the facts of a given case. But one thing to keep in mind is that if a change was anticipated or expected at the time of the parents’ divorce, that alone will not guarantee that a court will increase or reduce a non-custodial parent’s support obligations. Below is a recent court case that involves parenting time and a request for a child support modification in Illinois.

Court: Will County Father Not Entitled to Reduce Support  

A Will County case from earlier this year, In re Marriage of Connelly, helps to illustrate what Illinois judges look at when considering a request to modify support. The parents in this case divorced in 2015. Under a joint parenting agreement (JPA) approved by both sides, the mother became the residential parent, with the father receiving certain visitation or parenting time rights. A subsequent marital settlement agreement (MSA) required the father to pay 28 percent of his income as child support.

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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 obligations do not always end when a minor turns 18. In Illinois, the law also provides for non-minor support obligations. Specifically, a parent may be required to make certain “contributions” toward their adult child’s college expenses. Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act authorizes a judge to make such orders. Unless the parents agree otherwise, the court will not order parents to support their child’s education past their 23rd birthday. (In exceptional circumstances, this may be extended to the child’s 25th birthday.) In this context, educational expenses include not only tuition but also housing, medical, and other “reasonable” living expenses. That said, a parent is not obligated to pay the full cost of an out-of-state private school. Illinois law caps a parent’s total obligations based on the current in-state tuition and room and board rates used by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Contributions to College Savings Plans Do Not Reduce Obligations 

A recent decision from the Illinois Second District Appellate Court, In re Marriage of Wilhelmsen, illustrates how Section 513 of the IMDMA can be applied in practice. This case involved the parents of three children. The parents divorced in 2013. At the time of divorce, the parents entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA), which was approved by the court as part of the final decree. Under the MSA, both parents agreed to share their children’s college expenses under Section 513. Separately, the father agreed that he would pay approximately $79,000 in back-owed support to all three children’s college savings (Section 529) plans.

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Naperville divorce attorney judgment order

Divorce cases in Illinois often take many months--and sometimes years--to fully resolve. During this time, it is possible that one spouse may pass away. If this happens, what effect does it have on the divorce case? For example, can the surviving spouse enforce a property division order against the deceased spouse’s estate?

Deceased Husband Owes Wife $25,000 for Misconduct in Divorce Case

A March 2020 decision from the Illinois Third District Appellate Court, In Re Estate of Strong, addressed the rights of a person to assert a creditor claim against the estranged spouse’s estate. In this case, the husband and wife married in Germany in 1986. The husband returned alone to the United States in 2013 and filed for divorce in Illinois a year later. When the wife failed to respond, the Illinois court granted the husband a default judgment of divorce.

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Will County child support attorney

There are many circumstances that can lead to a divorce, and every situation is unique. Illinois divorce law makes it somewhat easy to justify your reason for wanting to legally end your marriage. Citing irreconcilable differences is the only grounds for divorce in Illinois. However, nothing about divorce feels that simple when you are going through it, so having the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney can make the proceedings less intimidating. As you are preparing to file, it is important to consider the several routes that a no-fault divorce can take.

Illinois’ Divorce Laws

In Illinois, you do not have to find fault with your spouse to legally justify your reason for wanting a divorce. In the past, you would have to prove that your spouse was adulterous, an alcoholic, abusive, or engaging in other harmful behaviors. Since Illinois is a no-fault state, you can file at any time and get divorced in a fairly quick manner if both you and your spouse consent to the terms of the settlement. Your divorce decree will contain information on spousal support, property division, as well as child support and parenting time if you have children. 

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Plainfield parenting time attorney

When most people get married, they intend the union to last a lifetime. However, that is not always the case due to various reasons. Statistics show that between 40 and 50 percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. In some cases, infidelity, abuse, financial or cultural differences can put a significant strain on a relationship, causing it to break down. Spouses may try counseling to save their marriage, but in many cases, it might be too little, too late, ultimately leading to the difficult decision to part ways. When a couple has children together, there are many issues that need to be resolved before the divorce can be finalized in Illinois. This includes the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, formerly known as child custody and visitation. Divorce typically requires an adjustment period for everyone involved, but an experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process.  

Creating an Effective Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines important matters that affect any children in a divorce, including how those decisions will be made. This plan also includes a parenting time schedule, which specifies what days of the week each parent sees his or her children. 

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That’s another very common question we get asked a lot, and it’s another one that can vary greatly from case to case. There are a lot of factors involved in the length of your case, but the primary factor relates to the level of agreement between the parties. If the parties are largely in agreement on most issues, then the case can be over quite quickly. In a situation where the parties have come to complete agreement, and they just need a lawyer to memorialize this in a settlement agreement and make sure the parties have addressed all issues required by statute, the case can be completed expediently, often times in 60-90 days.

On the flip side, if there are some issues that are outstanding, and that have to be brought before the court, the case can drag out for some time. This is because the court system is designed to be fair, not fast. With court filings everything has deadlines and time periods. Once a motion is filed on an issue, then the other side is given time to file a response, and then a hearing is set. The timeline for a single motion can easily be over a month or longer from initial filing to resolution. If parties find themselves in a position where they do not agree on much of anything, this can cause a divorce to go on for quite some time if numerous issues have to be brought to the judge for resolution.

Another thing that can come into play is the attorneys in the case. We take more of a cooperative approach and try to work things out outside of court and discuss things with opposing counsel, and attempt to drive matters to a reasonable conclusion. However, there are attorneys out there who feel the need to contest every issue and try to “win” on every minor detail, which can cause issues to need to be brought before the court that otherwise would not.

Under Illinois law college costs are addressed under Section 513 of the statute. That Section states that the court will look at the situation, the parties, each party’s respective income and their ability to pay. So if one party’s income is drastically higher than the others, they’ll likely have to pay a higher amount of the college costs.

The court will also look at the child’s ability to pay. It’s not uncommon for a court to essentially look at the parties and say one third, one third, one third, but if there are savings accounts that can be used first that were set up and designated for the child for college, all that will be taken into account. But, typically college expenses are not designated at the time of the divorce because it’s an issue that’s in the future and the statute recognizes that and anticipates that the parties’ situation at the time when college education costs become reality is the appropriate time to examine the parties’ abilities to pay.

The cost of divorce is one of most common questions we get asked, and unfortunately there is no simple answer to it.Costs of Divorce The cost can vary greatly depending on the initial level of agreement between the parties when they first start the divorce process, and it can vary greatly based on the amount of property and the nature of the assets to be divided. If the parties are in relative agreement on a lot of issues, the cost will be lower. If they have many issues to that are in conflict, such as kids, or a business, then the costs are going to be driven up just by the nature of the number of issues that have to be settled.

As for who pays for the divorce- generally people are responsible for their own attorney’s fees, but practically, it is all coming out of marital funds. Generally the court will order one person to pay another person’s attorney’s fees is when that party controls almost all the assets in the marriage. A typical example of that would be if one party did all the finances for the family, they paid all the bills, they had access to everything, and they maintain this control when the divorce begins. At that point it would be proper to petition the court to have the other party pay the attorney’s fees for the party who does not have access to the funds.

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When faced with a divorce, you will encounter a variety of complicated legal issues: Who will keep the house? Where will our children live? How will we divide our credit card debt? With all the uncertainty in the divorce process it puts extra strain on your emotions. However, it is important to stay engaged and keep your focus on important details. List below are 10 tips to help you survive and thrive through the divorce process.

Compile Information

It is important to gather as much information as possible about what your spouse is doing. It is often common for one spouse to know very little about what the other has in regard to income, expenses, investments and retirement assets.

Make Copies of Everything

Once a divorce is under way; it is very common for documents to disappear. Formal discovery and subpoenaing bank records can be very costly, and you can save yourself a lot of time and money by making copies of everything you can get your hands on early.

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Maintenance (Alimony)

Maintenance (alimony) describes payments made by one spouse to the other spouse to preserve their lifestyle when the earning capacity of one is significantly greater than the earning capacity of the other.

The court may grant a maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and the maintenance may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse.

The court shall first make a finding as to whether a maintenance award is appropriate, after consideration of all relevant factors, including:Spousal Support

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Every divorce is unique and has its own special set of facts and circumstances, which include the interests of the children. Stages of Your Divorce Each client deserves the right to have an attorney who has the skill, knowledge, and experience for their case, and selecting the right attorney is your first important step. At the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C., we make a point of getting to know our clients, their interests and concerns, and especially the interests of their children.

Petition For Dissolution of Marriage

The divorce begins when a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed with the county Circuit Court Clerk. The Petition will identify the parties to the divorce and any children of the parties. It will also contain factual information, and the party filing for the divorce will state a reason as part of the Petition. Grounds for divorce no longer exist in

Appearance and Response

Usually, the Petition is served along with a Summons by an Officer of the county’s Sheriff’s Department or licensed process server in order to acquire jurisdiction over the other party. Or, the Petition may be sent directly to the other party, requesting that party or party’s attorney to voluntarily file an Appearance, and avoid being served. The Appearance is a form whereby a party acknowledges the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been filed, and the party submits to the jurisdiction of the court. The party receiving the Petition also has the opportunity to file a Response to the issues in the Petition that are disputed, as well as set forth that party’s position on certain issues.

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In my practice as a Naperville divorce attorney, I often recommend that my clients consider mediation (or other non-adversarial options) for their divorce. There are many benefits to non-adversarial approaches such as mediation over traditional divorce litigation; however mediation is not for everyone. This article covers situations where you may have to consider litigation over a less adversarial divorce resolution process like mediation or collaborative divorce.

Mediation requires that there is some level of cooperation

Couples that are going through divorce always have issues that they are in disagreement with. Why Litigation is Sometimes Necessary Whether or not mediation is successful comes down to the magnitude of the disagreements, and more importantly, whether or not both parties can cooperate enough to reach a settlement. If cooperation is simply not there, then litigation may be the only path.

Additionally, with mediation both parties to some degree have to be ok with the idea that their soon to be ex-spouse can live a happy life going forward. This is important, because with mediation it is necessary that each party negotiates based on their common interests and needs, not out a sense of revenge or desire to “win”. When one or both of the parties are out for vengeance (or to seek an unfair settlement), then mediation becomes impossible. In this situation litigation may be the only option.

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It’s no secret that divorce is hard. For most people it’s one the most emotionally challenging times in their lives. As a Naperville divorce attorney for the last 18 years, I have found that clients who have successfully moved on with their life after divorce exhibit certain characteristics and behaviors. In this post, I offer a list of suggestions for achieving a successful outcome for your divorce.

Focus on your new life Tips for a successful divorce

Yes, divorce is tough. However, after a period of adjustment many people find that their new life is much better. It is important during the divorce process to focus on your new life, work towards new dreams, and most importantly let go of the past.

Stay positive and confident about yourself

Being divorced does not mean that you are a failure or that you’ve done something wrong. It simply means that your relationship with your spouse did not work out. This is not a time to get down on yourself. You are worthy of love and capable of living a great new life post-divorce. Stay positive!

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For children of divorcing parents there is a period of adjustment for them to feel comfortable and happy living in two houses. It is possible that, your children may already have some anxiety about the divorce and adapting to life in two households may increase their anxiety. However, as a parent you can employ some strategies that will make the transition less challenging for your children.

Children of Divorcing Parents Here are some strategies for helping your children adjust to living in two homes:

Focus on routines

Kids love stability so it is very important to maintain consistent routines for play, bedtime, homework, and meals. These routines do not need to be the same at each house. However, it is important to have consistent routines in each home.

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If you are living in Naperville or the surrounding communities and are contemplating divorce, it is important to take the appropriate action and prepare for the divorce process. This post recommends 7 steps to prepare for your impending divorce.

Gather information, learn about, and understand your rights.

The vast majority of people entering the divorce process for the first time do not truly understand how the divorce process works. It’s important to consult with an attorney before the divorce process starts and learn what your rights and responsibilities are. Additionally, an experienced attorney can help you gain insight into what type of divorce you may be facing (litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce, uncontested divorce).

Develop a balance sheet for your marital assets and liabilities.

Start by listing all your debts and financial obligations (home mortgage, auto loans, credit cards etc.) Then list all of your financial accounts including insurance policies, retirement accounts and other savings accounts and vehicles. Additionally, take an inventory of all your personal belongings including automobiles, boats, artwork and furnishings. Having a clear understanding of your financial situation is critical for making decisions about your divorce, and will save you time and money when you start working with an attorney.

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If you are living in Oswego, Kendall County or the Naperville area and are considering Divorce, then you may want to consider Mediation as an option. Divorce mediation is a process where a neutral mediator assists both you and your soon to be ex in coming to an agreement on a divorce settlement. It’s a process that allows divorcing spouses to stay involved with the decision-making process during their divorce rather than rely on a court. For the most part the process focuses on cooperative problem-solving and addressing the needs of both you and your soon to be ex. Here are 7 benefits of divorce mediation:

  • You have increased decision-making powers over the outcome of your divorce. You and your ex choose the primary topics that you want to negotiate and settle on. Then through cooperative negotiation the two of you create a divorce agreement that aligns with the unique needs of your family. You and your ex are no longer forced to work within the strict guidelines of the litigation system which gives the court the decision making power over your final divorce agreement. As a result the two of you can create a more detailed agreement that meets the specific needs of your situation.
  • Increased privacy. All the communications and documents created during divorce mediation are confidential. In contrast when you take your divorce to court everything is argued in a public setting in front of a judge, attorneys, court employees and numerous other people that may be in the court room. It is an awful feeling to have to share details about your marriage and your children to a court room full of strangers.
  • Mediation is user-friendly. Often times you’ll have the option to have meetings in the evenings or on weekends. And it’s not required that you appear in person at the meetings. For example, many mediations occur via video conference. In contrast, the court may not be as flexible and you are required to adapt to the schedule and rules of the court.
  • It’s easier on the children. If you go to court your children may be required to appear there. For child custody proceedings it’s not uncommon for the children to be interviewed and observed by several experts. All this is avoided if the divorce mediation process is used. And because the overall process involves less conflict the children are less exposed to the hostility between the parents.
  • There is less adversity. The focus of the mediator is on the needs of both you and your spouse, not on winning or determining who is to blame. A good Mediator will work with you and your spouse to help you both stay focused on your individual needs and in turn help you come to a mutually acceptable agreement. With divorce mediation there is far more communication and far less fighting.
  • It will save you money. Typically in divorce mediation one professional works with both you and your ex to help you come to agreement. And you’re only paying for the time that you’re in meetings rather than waiting around in court with two attorneys. In contrast, with divorce litigation you’re paying for a costly drafting of motion papers back and forth between attorneys and then the associated court appearances.
  • It improves your chances of moving on to a new and better life. After all, the goal of the divorce is to make a positive change and move on. Mediation, because it’s less adversarial, allows both you and your ex to move on with your new lives in a more positive way and opens the door for you to forgive each other, to work well together raising your children, and to both live a great life.

Author Ron Hendrix is a Divorce attorney and mediator serving clients in Oswego, Naperville and the surrounding areas including Kendall County, Will County, DuPage County and the Chicago metro area.

The divorce process can be emotionally and economically draining on families. Over the years as a divorce attorney in Naperville, Illinois, I have found that the periods before and after the divorce are the most challenging times in my clients’ lives. And, the process of divorce can be particularly difficult for children of divorcing parents.

Children Through the Divorce Process When children are involved, the ideal scenario is that the divorcing parents are amicable and that they cooperate, not only in the divorce process, but in supporting the children during this time. However, not all divorces are amicable, and in this case it is even more crucial for parents to consider the emotional health of their children before, during, and after the divorce. The following guiding principles should be considered by any parent confronting a divorce.

Principle 1 – Encourage your child to have a positive relationship with your spouse during and after the divorce. Do not allow your child to overhear conversations about your spouse and your divorce, or make negative comments directly to your child about the other parent. It is important that children feel safe and know that both parents love and support them. Treating your spouse with respect and presenting a united front to the children will allow the children to maintain positive feelings toward both parents. If possible, parents should meet with their children together to explain the divorce.

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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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