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Lombard estate planning attorneyAs with most estate planning arrangements, you, thankfully, have a say over who you appoint as your “agent” when it comes to your health care power of attorney. Under this planning tool, you are considered the “principal” and the person you appoint as “agent” is granted various permissions regarding your health care.

In short, a health care power of attorney, or POA, is a type of advance directive which allows you to designate someone you trust to make decisions about your health, on your behalf, in the event you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to illness or debilitative condition. You can create a binding power of attorney for your health by using the standard state form or by writing your own.

How the Powers Are Determined

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Posted on in Divorce Rate

lombard family law attorneysWinter holidays often bring to mind thoughts of families around massive turkey dinners and children excitedly opening Christmas presents. Summer months involve similar—though usually outdoor—family gatherings and vacations. Children are on a break from school and parents can grill dinner outdoors while getting some sun. Although we generally think of holidays as a fun-filled vacation from stress, a new study from the University of Washington suggests otherwise. According to the study, rates of divorce filing significantly increase in the time period after the holidays.

Divorce filings seem to peak in March, after the winter holidays, and in August, at the end of summer vacation. Sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral student Brian Serafini found evidence of a biannual pattern in divorce in Washington State between 2001 and 2015. Their results suggest that divorce rates rise 40% from December to March. 

Why Is Divorce Seasonal?

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Posted on in Family Law

Lombard family law attorneyMore couples are choosing to live together without being married than ever before. In fact, cohabitation is being called the "new normal," when it comes to living arrangements for younger couples. Three out of four women will have lived with a male partner before turning 30, according to one study. Whether you are considering marriage in the future or have decided to forego marriage altogether, it is still important to protect yourself and your rights while living together with a partner. A family law attorney can help you craft a cohabitation agreement and answer any other questions you may have.

Cohabitation Facts

A government study spanning the years 2006-2010 reported that nearly half of all women - 48 percent - in so-called first-unions, or long-term relationships with men, chose to move in with their partners prior to or in place of getting married. The figure represented a five percent increase from a similar study conducted in 1995. Roughly 40 percent of those cohabitants studied married their partner within the next three years, and another 32 percent continued to live with their partner without getting married.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen it comes to estate planning and documenting your wishes regarding your health care, it is important to know which options you have and to understand your rights before you put anything in writing. After all, this is your chance to speak your mind concerning what you do and do not want in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your own health.

Acquainting yourself with the full scope of the options available to you can help you select the advance directives that best suit your needs and desires. Having these plans in place not only offers the advantage of bringing you peace of mind, but it can also benefit your loved ones as well by providing them with the comfort knowing you are prepared for the unexpected.

The Four Main Advance Directive Options in Illinois

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Lombard family law attorneysAt the beginning of 2016, sweeping amendments to Illinois state law changed the terminology and application of child-related matters during divorce. Child custody became known as the allocation of parental responsibilities and visitation was renamed as parenting time. These changes are meant to reduce contention, preserve family bonds, and keep children at the center of divorce proceedings. Understand how this may affect your case, and how you can effectively navigate the process.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities in Illinois

Under the new provisions, decision-making regarding where a child will go to school, what church they will attend, where the child will reside, if and when they should have certain medical or surgical procedures, and other important decisions are known as the allocation of parental responsibilities. It may be split equally among parents, or the most authority may go to the parent that has the greatest amount of parenting time. Alternatively, there are situations in which the parent with the least amount of parenting time will have the most decision-making power. Essentially, the circumstances are as varied as each individual family.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyMaking any kind of estate plan is an emotional task, especially when the arrangements you are creating impact the ones you love most. Estate planning can be particularly challenging when you have to consider a loved one with special needs, as the circumstances surrounding their health and finances may mean more time and attention spent on details on your part to ensure they are properly cared for.

If your loved one’s capacity for self-care is limited due to a mental or physical disability, you thankfully have resources and options available to you. Illinois law allows you to offer assistance to your disabled loved one and protect their best interests, beginning with two special estate planning tools: a guardianship and a special needs trust.

Obtaining Guardianship

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Lombard family law attorneysCreating a parenting plan following a divorce can be a challenge, especially when you and your spouse cannot see eye-to-eye on the arrangements. The role of a professional, certified mediator can be extremely helpful as you piece together the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation), but what happens when the parenting plan you work so hard to negotiate falls apart down the road or causes continual conflict?

When assessing your current parenting plan and whether or not it would benefit from certain modifications, consider the following:

  • Are your children content with existing visitation patterns? If your child is demonstrating any resistance or is showing any signs of emotional distress while sharing time with either parent, it is wise to reassess and consider whether or not the current parenting time schedule is conducive to your family’s needs and general well-being; and
  • Has tension between you and your spouse escalated recently? If you are experiencing more conflict than usual between you and your spouse or within the family circle, it might be time to re-evaluate your dynamic and current parenting plan arrangements. While some conflict can be brought on due to external family changes, such as school or job performance, or a new significant other stepping onto the scene, some conflict cannot be resolved by time or circumstantial change. It might be time to seek professional assistance to ensure your parenting plan is as efficient--and healthy--as it can be for your entire family.

How the State Can Help

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Lombard family law attorneyFor years, marriage and relationship experts have presented evidence suggesting that financial struggles are often a key factor when a couple decides to get divorced. In many ways, the concept makes sense. Money management is a core principle of any relationship and spouses dealing with economic stress and anxiety will often reach a breaking point quickly. A new study, however, seems to indicate that there is more to the story than just money, as its results showed that a husband’s ability to find full-time work directly impacts the couple’s likelihood of divorce.

Behaviors Over Money

Alexandra Killewald, a sociology professor at Harvard University, recently authored a study that was published in the American Sociological Review. She reviewed more than four decades of information related to over 6,300 heterosexual couples in compiling her research. The data did not include husbands who voluntarily choose to fulfill the role of a stay-at-home parent.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen a friend or family member chooses you as a beneficiary in his or her will or any of their estate planning documents, they did so with the strong conviction that you are trustworthy and capable of acting on behalf of their best interests. Much thought and care likely went into their decision, and whether you were aware of their choice or not, the moment they pass away or entrust you with a valuable asset, you automatically take on the responsibility of carrying out their wishes.

Potential Complications

In many cases, exercising your rights as a beneficiary is a smooth process. You may work easily with an executor, attorney, or family member, without experiencing a single hiccup along the way. Sadly, though, issues can arise under certain circumstances as you attempt to exercise your rights, spawning a number of frustrations not only for you but for anyone else involved in the process.

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DuPage County family law attorneyDuring a proceeding for child custody—now known in Illinois as the allocation of parental responsibilities—your child may have strong opinions as to where they would like to live or how much time they want to spend with each parent. The amount that a child’s opinion affects custody decisions can vary from case to case and often depends on the judge’s discretion. There are several factors that a judge will take into consideration with regard to determining parenting arrangements, and the child’s wishes are often among of these factors.

The Child’s Reasoning and Decision-Making Abilities

Judges generally have some basic criteria they look for when deciding how much weight to give a child’s wishes during a custody proceeding.  These criteria can include but are not limited to:

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Posted on in Family Law

Lombard family law attorneysThe landscape of families in America is changing. The days of “Leave it to Beaver”-style nuclear families as the majority are largely behind us. Today, American families often include stepparents, stepsiblings, half-siblings, adopted children, single parents, or same-sex parents. Compared to previous generations, many more children are being raised by guardians or grandparents as well. 

A Look Inside the Numbers

A study from the University of Maryland’s Philip N. Cohen puts these changes into statistical perspective. For example, a household consisting of married parents in which the father worked outside of the home and the mother served as a homemaker accounted for 60 percent of families in 1960. Another 18 percent of families included married parents who both worked.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysProcessing a loved one’s death is hard enough on its own. There is no measure for the hurt and overwhelming range of emotions that comes with saying goodbye to someone near and dear to your heart and family. When it comes time to handling wills and other estate documents following the death, the very last thing anyone wants to deal with is an estate dispute.

Whether you discover an inaccuracy or you are simply having a hard time believing the information found in the document to be fair, examining a loved one’s wishes and estate arrangements after they are gone can be overwhelming, to say the least. Deciding to mount a legal challenge can be even more difficult.

Factors to Consider

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Lombard domestic violence attorneyDomestic violence cases are, unfortunately, all too common in Illinois. Thousands of Americans are affected by domestic violence each day, and the harmful consequences of do not stop after a victim has been separated from an abuser. Unfortunate after-effects such as low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, and post-traumatic stress disorder often plague victims for years after being abused. For this reason, it is important that victims seek help if they are dealing with domestic violence.

Fortunately, victims of domestic violence in Illinois are able obtain an order of protection or a restraining order to get themselves out of harm's way. Many victims, however, suffer silently, afraid or unable to report the abuse inflicted against them. Below are many alarming statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence on the current state of domestic violence in America. Keep in mind that many victims do not report the domestic violence they experience, so many of these numbers may actually be higher.  

Did You Know...

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Lombard estate planning lawyersChallenging the validity of someone’s will is not an easy undertaking, regardless of your reasons for opposing the document. Contesting a will is both time-consuming and expensive, and, in many cases, the effort to contest is more trouble than it is worth, especially in wake of the person's death. Additionally, not everyone is eligible to contest a will. In most cases, the person contesting must be listed as a beneficiary in the will in order to proceed with the objection.

Despite these considerations, however, there are certain instances where the desire to contest a will is understandable and within reason. In these cases, your best bet is to consult a competent estate planning attorney, who can help assist and guide you in the matter. You can begin the process by examining the following to determine whether or not you have legitimate grounds for contesting a will:

Can You Prove the Decedent Was Unduly Influenced?

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Lombard family law attorneyMany divorced or separated parents often struggle with their new reality of limited time with their children. This is quite often the case for a parent who has been granted a relatively lesser amount of parenting time compared to the other. While you may understand logically that creating an equal parenting time schedule is not truly possible in most cases, knowing that does not make it any easier to be away from your children. There is a way, though, to include extra possible parenting time in your agreement with your ex. It is called the right of first refusal and, when utilized properly, this right can offer both parents and the child substantial benefits.

Understanding First Refusal

When you have precious little time with your child, you may be looking for any and all possible ways to see him or her more often. Changing permanent arrangement or schedule can be rather complicated, but including the right of first refusal is fairly simple. When the right of first refusal is part of your parenting agreement, it means that your child’s other parent is required to offer you the chance to care for the child when he or she would otherwise need to make other childcare arrangements. In short, this means additional parenting time opportunities for you. As the name implies, you have the right to refuse the opportunity, but if parenting time is at a premium, may be unlikely to turn down such a chance.

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Lombard divorce lawyersMothers choose to stay home with their children for a number of reasons. For some, their family’s lifestyle is easily supported by their spouse’s income, which gives them the financial flexibility to spend time with their children. Others may stay home out of necessity. Regardless of the reason – be it to care for a special needs child, a desire to parent full-time, or simply because they can – all are at risk for lifelong poverty, should their marriage end in divorce. If you are a stay-at-home mom and planning on filing for divorce, or have already been served with divorce papers, learn what you need to know about protecting your financial future, and how you can obtain skilled legal counsel, even if you have no assets of your own.

Why Stay-at-Home Moms Are at Risk

Despite the fact that women often do the very same work as men, they continue to make less per hour for the exact same tasks, positions, and responsibilities as their male counterparts. Furthermore, research has shown that divorced women often struggle to return to the workforce after divorce. This is often due to a lapse in employment that causes them to fall behind on necessary job skills or training. Add to that their lack of retirement earnings and they are at risk for poverty, not just during their child-raising years, but for the rest of their lives.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyPlanning a trust can initially feel like an overwhelming task, especially when arranging it in tandem with a will. The reality, though, is that establishing a trust can be a very effective tool if you want to be able to transfer your property or certain assets to someone while you are still alive. Whereas a will is a plan that is only executed after you pass on, a trust is a planning tool that can be carried out while you are still living. 

What Is the Purpose of a Trust?

The state of Illinois allows a trust to be “created by a will, deed, agreement, declaration or other written instrument”. State law says that the person establishing a trust may indicate any rights, powers, duties, or limitations applicable to the chosen trustee when establishing the trust. Additionally, the grantor (the person creating the trust) may also specify any immunities that are applicable to the trustee or beneficiary.

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Lombard family law attorneysIn 2016, changes were made to divorce and parenting laws to better reflect the modern family and ensure the best interest of children were more accurately considered. But, even in light of these changes, there is still much work to be done to protect the rights of fathers. Though studies show they are an integral part in the development and upbringing of children, many fathers still struggle to receive fair consideration in front of a judge. To bring awareness to this problem, single dads recently rallied outside Lake County Courthouse.

One in Three Children Do Not Live With Their Father

According to statistics, approximately one in three American children do not reside with their fathers. Of course, in divorce or in other situations where a parental allocation of responsibilities is necessary, the goal is not necessarily to have the children reside with one parent or the other, but to ensure each parent receives a fair and reasonable amount of time with their child. Fathers, although given more consideration in courts, still often feel as if the scales are not appropriately balanced.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyIt is never easy for one to think about the end of their life, and preparing a living will can feel unsettling as it stirs up a mixture of emotions. Despite the unpleasant nature of the subject, a living will can actually be a very useful and powerful tool when it comes to protecting your best interests, in turn offering a sense of peace of mind. Knowing you have addressed your wishes, boundaries, and directives regarding your health, property, and finances can give you a sense of accomplishment and make things easier for your loved ones.

How Does a Living Will Benefit Me?

In the state of Illinois, there are two kinds of power of attorney: one that covers health care and personal issues, and one that covers the management of property. Similar to these documents, a living will is an advance directive that also serves a specific purpose. It exists to allow a person who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness to express their desire to have death-delaying procedures withheld or withdrawn in the event they cannot speak for themselves.

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Lombard divorce lawyersOften when people hear the term mediation in the realm of divorce, they automatically think of the tense arguments and conflicts that typically surround the end of a marriage. While disagreements can certainly turn ugly in the midst of divorce, many marriages actually end civilly and peacefully, with minimal conflict between spouses.

However, for those who are having a difficult time seeing eye to eye on certain issues, tension can arise and the challenge to come to a settlement can create a very bumpy transition for the entire family. This is where divorce mediation in family law comes in. Mediation has a number of advantages, but it is particularly helpful in a number of ways.

Better Communication

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