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Lombard divorce attorneyWhen divorce becomes more of an eventuality than a possibility, you will need to begin thinking about the attorney you will hire to protect your interests. Technically speaking, you are not required to retain legal counsel during a divorce, but to proceed without one can be a costly mistake.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of attorneys to choose from in the greater Chicago area, so how do you know which one is right for you? During your search, you should compile a list of several law firms or lawyers whose values seem to align with yours, then schedule an appointment to meet with them. It is also helpful to prepare a list of questions that can help you determine the best choice. These may include:

  • How long have you practiced family law? – While young lawyers certainly deserve a chance to prove themselves, there is no substitute for experience. It is also worth finding out how much of the attorney's practice is dedicated to divorce and family-related matters. If your candidate is a personal injury lawyer who handles one or two divorce cases per year, you may want to look elsewhere.
  • Will I speak directly with you each time I call? – This question addresses two concerns at the same time. First, how accessible will your attorney be? Your divorce can be slowed considerably if you are not able to communicate well with your lawyer. The second concern is that of the division of labor. Is your attorney planning to remain active in your case or will legwork be handed off to an associate, paralegal, or secretary?
  • How much do you charge? – Again, this question includes multiple components. Some attorneys offer divorce representation for a flat rate, which can be suddenly disregarded later as your case becomes more complex. Most, however, charge an hourly rate, so it is important to know what constitutes billable time and what the smallest billing increment is. For example, if you attorney says that time spent answering your email is billable, will he or she charge in increments of 6 minutes—tenths of an hour—or 15 minutes—quarters of an hour? The difference between the two can add up quickly.
  • How committed are you to reaching an amicable settlement? – Studies have shown that a negotiated divorce agreement is often more stable and easier to follow than a judgment issued by the court. If such an agreement can be reached, you and your attorney should remain committed to the process until a resolution is found. Some attorneys are quick to push for litigation, while others all but refuse to enter the courtroom. By asking questions, you can ascertain where your candidate stands and whether the intended approach matches your needs.

Of course, there are dozens of other questions you may have. These are just a few of the most basic ones to get the ball rolling.

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Lombard family law attorneyWhile there are certain exceptions, most children fare best after divorce when they have a lasting and healthy relationship with both of their parents. Unfortunately, there are situations in which one parent tries to interfere with the bond that the child has with the other parent. This is known as parental alienation, and it can have a serious impact on the mental and emotional well-being of a child. Learn how to spot its symptoms, and what to do if you suspect that it is happening to you and your child.

Symptoms of Parental Alienation

During and after a divorce, emotions are high and couples are often struggling to find a new way to communicate and get along. This is just a part of the process, and there are bound to be a few bumps along the way. After all, it can take time to perfect the drop-off, pick-up, and parenting time schedules. This is different than parental alienation, which is an intentional interference with another parent’s relationship with their child. Symptoms that indicate this insidious and damaging behavior may include:

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen most people think about estate planning, they think of wills, inheritances, and other ways to pass down a person’s property and assets to their heirs. Such an image is not necessarily wrong, but it certainly does not tell the whole the story. There are a number of reasons for estate planning that have very little to do with money and possessions, which makes the process important for every family, regardless of wealth or net worth.

1. Control Over Privacy

Without proper planning, your estate will be required to go through the process of probate, which is often long, cumbersome, and unpredictable. Probate is also a matter of public record, meaning your family’s affairs are made available to the general public. By taking steps in advance, you can limit the impact of the probate process and possibly avoid it altogether. In doing so, you can keep your personal details within your chosen circle.

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Posted on in Visitation

Lombard family law attorneyAs a parent, there is nothing more important to you than the safety and well-being of your child. If you share parenting responsibilities or even just parenting time with your former partner, you can only hope that he or she shares your focus on your child’s best interests. But, what if he or she does not? What if he or she is not able to separate his or her own wants and needs from those of your child? Can you do anything about it? The answer—as with most aspects of divorce and family law—is that it depends on the specifics of your situation and whether your child is in serious danger.

Be Objective

Illinois law provides a court with the authority to limit a parent’s time with his or her child if such parenting time presents a serious danger to the child’s physical, emotional, mental, or moral health. What constitutes a serious danger is left to the interpretation of the court. You, as a parent, are very close to the situation, and you may find it difficult to determine what is a serious danger and what is simply parenting in a different manner than yours.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyerIt seems that, with each generation, the golden age of retirement increases. Decades ago, many people retired at 62. Then that number was pushed to 65, where it hovered for quite some time. However, over the past few years, many people are encouraged to keep working until they are at least 67 years old, or even older. But, does working past 65 help or hurt your retirement objectives or your estate planning goals.

There are benefits to continuing to work past 65. You will be adding more funds to your retirement accounts and allowing the interest to accumulate. The longer you are earning income, the shorter the time will be that you will actually be relying on retirement funds to support you. If you do keep working, however, there are definitely issues you will have to address in order not to be penalized.

Medicare

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneyA divorce, as most people are aware, can be a nasty, volatile affair. Parties who were once so in love that they agreed to spend the rest of their lives together can quickly become fierce rivals who can no longer stand to be in the same room as one another. Each aspect of such a divorce becomes a small battle in the war to see who will “win” in the end.

Many who are considering divorce fear that their situation will deteriorate to similar levels of contentiousness and hostility. The reality, however, is that divorce does not need to be this way. Rather, it is possible for a couple to end their legal marriage while remaining civil, respectful, and even somewhat friendly throughout the process.

Redefining Winning

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Lombard family law attorneysIn today’s fast-paced world, we can communicate more quickly than ever before. While the telephone has been around for almost 150 years, only recently have we developed the technology to take our phones—and now our computers—with us wherever we go. Now, we can instantly reach and out touch friends and family members anywhere in the world with just a few taps on our smartphones. Instant communication, however, can also be a curse, especially for a divorced parent who is prone to angry outbursts, as texts and emails full of insults and vitriol can quickly find their way in front of a judge.

Reaching an Equilibrium

If you are a parent who has gone through or is going through a divorce, you have probably experienced highs and lows in your post-separation relationship with your former partner. It is entirely understandable that you will have disagreements. You may have different philosophies regarding life in general, as well as many various aspects of parenting. There is a reason—probably many reasons—that you are no longer together so a somewhat tenuous relationship is to be expected.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyerAs you look ahead to a time when you will no longer be around to care for your loved ones, you have probably given a great deal of thought to those who rely on you the most. You may have a son or daughter or even a sibling with a disability or other types of special needs who is unable to care for him- or herself. While you may have been able to care for a loved one with special needs during your lifetime, providing for him or her after your death could present significant challenges and may require you to establish a special needs trust in your loved one’s name.

What Is a Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust, sometimes called a supplemental needs trust, is a tool that can allow the assets placed under the trust to be used for the care of a person with a disability or special needs without affecting his or her eligibility for government assistance programs. Special needs trusts are often funded by large, lump-sum settlements or through gifts and inheritances. Without a properly-drafted special needs trust, leaving part of your estate to a loved one with disabilities could potential disrupt the delicate balance of government aid programs upon which he or she relies.

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Lombard adoption lawyersThe Chicago Tribune reports that there are currently more than 17,000 children in Illinois who are in foster care, with over 6,000 of them being cared for by non-relatives. In addition, there are approximately 1,000 children available for permanent adoption in the state on any given day. With so many children in need of loving homes, state officials are always looking for more couples and families who are willing to provide stability and care.

“We just don’t have enough people who have stepped forward,” said Susan McConnell, founder of a regional nonprofit group that advocates for adoption and foster care. Her group, Let It Be Us, has joined with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to promote participation in the state’s adoption and foster care programs among gay and lesbian parents. “We think that in the (LBGT) community,” McConnell continued, “there are people who would be good parents.

Increased Rates of Participation

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Lombard family law attorneyAlso referred to in the state of Illinois as a POLST—practitioner orders for life-sustaining treatment—a do-not-resuscitate order can give you and your loved ones great peace of mind knowing your health wishes are officially documented should you be unable to make decisions about your own health matters. In the event of severe injury or illness, a DNR becomes a valuable advance directive document, so you may decide to include one when making your other estate planning arrangements.

How a DNR Is Different

Generally, federal law requires that every person admitted to a health care facility is informed of their to right to make an advance directive. The Patient Self-Determination Act requires not all, but many, providers to present information on advance directives to patients under their care. Unlike other advance directives, such as a power of attorney or living will, a do-not-resuscitate order exists to specifically address the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should your heart or breathing stop. Additionally, its purpose is to express your desires regarding any life-sustaining treatment.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneyNo one would ever deny that getting a divorce is a difficult and painful process. You had intended to stay married to your partner forever, and, now, your plans for the future are falling apart. Divorce is never the first option for those who are married, but going through one does not mean your life is over. After you have processed the sadness and pain of divorce is, you may notice a few potential benefits of the separation. For example:

Time to Pursue Hobbies and Interests

Managing a marriage and a family can be time consuming, but after a divorce, you may be sharing custody of children with your ex-spouse. This means that you suddenly have those nights without the children free. Even if you did not have children, you may notice that you have more time to spend how you choose anyway, as your time is yours alone. You could learn how to paint, take up a community sport, adopt a pet, or start practicing yoga. The door to your marriage may have closed, but many windows of opportunities have opened. 

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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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