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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce attorneysDivorce can touch the lives of people of any race, gender, income level, or age. Some marriages that seemed doomed to failure from the beginning end up flourishing while other marriages that seemed like perfect matches end up dissolving. Researchers have known for years now that there are certain demographics of people who are statistically more likely to get divorced than others. For example, those who marry very young or wait until their late 30s or longer to marry are more likely to get divorced than those who get married in their 20s. It is also fairly well-known that women are more likely to initiate divorce than men are. For non-married couples, however, men and women are equally likely to end the relationship.

Women More Likely Than Men to Be Unhappy in Their Marriage

A survey conducted by the American Sociological Association found that in heterosexual couples, women start the divorce process or first seek a divorce 70 percent of the time. The study’s lead author, Michael Rosenfeld, theorizes that women may be more likely to initiate divorces because they are more likely to be dissatisfied with the quality of the relationship than men are. Rosenfeld said that these results support the idea that some women experience heterosexual marriage as oppressive or unfulfilling. He explains further, “I think that marriage as an institution has been a little bit slow to catch up with expectations for gender equality. Wives still take their husbands’ surnames…husbands still expect their wives to do the bulk of the housework and the bulk of the childcare.”

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneyThe Illinois Living Will Act states that every citizen has the basic right to control decisions about his or her health care. Unfortunately, however, there may come a point in a person’s life where he or she is not able to make such decisions on the spot. Advance medical directives, including living wills, can be used to document a person’s wishes regarding certain types of medical care in certain situations, removing the burden of making such decisions from family members and loved ones.

Those who advocate for living wills say that such instruments are crucial in protecting a patient’s rights. Living wills, in particular, address which types of death-delaying procedures the patient wishes to receive—or not receive—if he or she is ever diagnosed with a terminal condition and is unable to communicate his or her wishes at the time. A terminal condition is one that is incurable and will ultimately result in the patient’s death. Death delaying procedures are defined as treatments that will only serve to postpone the moment of death and commonly include:

  • Assisted ventilation and the application of artificial respirators;
  • Intravenous medication and nutrition;
  • Whole blood transfusions; and
  • Artificial kidney treatments, including dialysis.

A living will cannot direct medical personnel to withhold food or water to allow death to occur from starvation or dehydration.

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Lombard family law attorneyMarried couples get divorced for an endless variety of reasons. For some, infidelity may an issue while financial stresses drive others apart. Of course, there are often many factors that play into a couple’s decision to end their marriage, and researchers are always trying to identify trends that could help married couples recognize possible red flags. According to several recent studies, however, a first-born daughter could be one of the potential warning signs.

Australian Team Studies Dutch Families

Dr. Jan Kabatek and Dr. David Rebar, faculty members at the University of Melbourne, conducted one such study. The pair examined more than two million marriages in the Netherlands over the course of 10 years. They chose the Netherlands because Dutch marriage and family records are very comprehensive and provide exact dates of marriages, divorces, and births. Other, similar studies have been based on participant’s responses to surveys—which rely on memory and recollection as opposed to objective data.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerRecently, a previous post on this blog discussed the definition and some of the possible benefits of reverse mortgages. In that article, we talked about how reverse mortgages are often taken out by seniors to supplement their retirement income by borrowing against the equity they have built in their homes. In many situations, a reverse mortgage may be an appropriate option, but it is important to consider that reverse mortgages could also have some disadvantages—including an impact on the assets passed down to a person’s heirs.

Unforeseen Costs

The entire point of a reverse mortgage is to give an elderly person—62 is the minimum qualifying age—access to additional money during his or her lifetime. The amount a person can borrow in reverse mortgage is dependent on a number of factors including the type of reverse mortgage, the borrower’s age, the value of the home, and interest rates. Of course, in most cases, the lender will also apply a number of costs and fees, including an origination fee, costs at closing, and servicing fees for the life of the loan. Some lenders also charge for mortgage insurance premiums for certain reverse mortgages.

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Lombard family law attorneysPeople do not stay in one place as often as they once did. With the global economy entirely interconnected and the job market in a seemingly constant state of flux, family moves are more common. However, so are divorces. In Illinois, the laws regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities—formerly called child custody—provide requirements that must be met before children can be moved a significant distance from their current home.

A Child’s “Home State”

For the purposes of parenting plans, a child must have a “home state.” This is the state in which a court would have jurisdiction to decide cases involving the child. Illinois is a child’s home state when (1) that child has lived in Illinois for six months (or since birth, if the child is not six months old yet), and (2) the child has no other home state, and/or the child (or their parent) has significant connections to the state. If a parent intends to move to another state and take their child with them, the child’s home state will change.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersIf you watch television at certain times of the day, you are likely to see occasional advertisements for reverse mortgages. These ads often run in similar timeslots as commercials for arthritis medication and electric scooters. It is clear that they are intended to reach a certain demographic—namely, seniors who are starting to consider the reality that they will not live forever. As with most television pitches, it understandable that the audience would be skeptical, but a reverse mortgage may be an option for certain individuals and families.

Reverse Mortgages Defined

Most people understand that a standard mortgage is a financial arrangement in which a lender provides a borrower with money to buy real estate, including a home. The property itself is the collateral used to secure the loan. The borrower makes regular installment payments until the amount borrowed and any accumulated interest is repaid.

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Lombard divorce lawyersFor years, scientists have known that children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced as adults. People have speculated that this was because children spend time with their divorced parents during their formative years and therefore grow up to have a similar lifestyle. However, a new study suggests that genetics may play a role in whether children grow up to get divorced or not.

The study was conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University and published in the journal Psychological Science. It examined data regarding divorce in adopted children and children who grew up around their biological parents. The study’s findings showed that children who did not grow up knowing their biological parents and siblings still had a tendency to match their biological family’s decisions regarding divorce. The adopted children were less likely to have similar histories of divorce as their adoptive parents. This could mean that many of the choices we make about our relationships as adults are influenced by our DNA. When it comes to divorce, nature may be a stronger factor than nurture.

Destined to Divorce?

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Lombard estate planning attorneyOlder men and women are often among the most vulnerable members of our society. Children, of course, are also vulnerable, but as a whole, we have been historically more likely to aggressively protect children than adults and seniors. Unfortunately, this means that is relatively easy for elder men and women to be exploited—often by those who have been entrusted with guardianship or other responsibilities. With proper estate planning that includes contingency clauses and protections, it may be possible to reduce the likelihood of such abuse. A new federal law will also provide additional help in the battle against elder abuse and exploitation.

Bipartisan Efforts

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Protection Act was drafted by Representative Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Representative Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican. The bipartisan measure passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

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Posted on in Child Support

Lombard family law attorneysUntil just a few months ago, Illinois courts calculated child support as a percentage of the income of the parent with fewer parental responsibilities—referred to in the past as the non-custodial parent. Since July 1, 2017, however, a new law has brought child support guidelines in Illinois up to date with modern trends and started improving the lives of all parties involved.

The Old Child Support Law

The previous law in Illinois has long been criticized for being inequitable, with not enough potential exemptions taken into account, and an alleged unfair burden on the non-custodial parent. Under the old guidelines, there were two primary factors in determining the amount of support to be paid: the income of the non-custodial parent and the number of children to be supported.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersEstate planning can be a difficult task for many individuals. Rare is the person who is excited about confronting his or her own mortality. The reality is that none of us will live forever, and estate planning affords us the opportunity to provide for our family members and loved ones well beyond our lifetime. Some elements of estate planning, however, are intended to take effect, if necessary, while you are still living so that your affairs can be properly managed, no matter what happens to you. Powers of Attorney are among the most important estate planning instruments, but they are often overlooked by those who are unfamiliar with their application.

Two Types

There are two different kinds of Powers of Attorney (POA): Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Health Care. The two categories refer to the subject matter covered by the document, but both types give a trusted friend or family member the authority to make decisions for you in the event you are not able to make them for yourself. As their names imply, a POA for Property gives your chosen individual or entity—known as an agent—the power to make decisions regarding your finances, assets, and debts while a POA for Health Care appoints an agent to make medical and health-related decisions. By using POAs properly, you can help protect your family from uncertainty and unnecessary costs associated with guardianship proceedings.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen most people think about estate planning, they often focus the transfer of assets from one generation to the next. Wills and trusts—the most common vehicles for transferring such assets—represent a significant part of the estate planning process, but there are many other considerations that should be addressed. One of the most often overlooked aspects of estate planning is preparing yourself and your home to make life easier as you age, and doing so often takes time, money, and self-awareness regarding your current and possible limitations.

A Glaring Need

According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 12 million Americans over the age of 65 live alone. A disproportionate 69 percent of that number—nearly 8.3 million—are women. While independence among senior citizens is often a desirable alternative to assisted living or nursing facilities, the reality is that a home that is suitable for a healthy, able-bodied adult may not be convenient or safe for an aging senior.

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Lombard family law attorneysDivorce is extremely common, and sometimes, it can come at an inopportune time. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of military families, when essentially, there is no “good” time unless the person with a military career is essentially retired. To help military couples obtain a divorce in an amicable fashion without having to wait years, there are certain specific divorce laws that apply only to them.

Service and Timing Issues

The main issues in trying to obtain a divorce from an active duty military member are personal service and the possibility of default. A divorce can be filed in Illinois if one or both spouses either live in state permanently, or if one or both spouses are stationed in the state. However, in any contested divorce, the non-moving party must be served personally with a copy of the petition filed by their spouse. Otherwise the court, in theory, has no jurisdiction over them. In other words, without personal service, the military member would not have enough contact with the place where the court is for that court to have any power over him or her. If the divorce is not contested, personal service may be waived, but if it is contested, the rule is absolute.  This means that the personal service requirement can make going forward with the divorce very difficult if the military member is overseas or in a war zone.

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard family law attorneySame-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities that marriage entails. Parenting for same-sex couples can be tricky, however, as certain legal issues are likely to arise. Fortunately, the state of Illinois has measures in place to help same-sex parents obtain and exercise parental rights in variety of situations. One such option is a second parent adoption, or SPA.

SPA Defined

Second parent adoption is defined as an adoption in which a second parent may adopt a child without the first losing any parental rights. Normally, adoptions require a parent to renounce his or her parental rights—or to have them terminated—in favor of another caregiver, but SPA allows both caregivers to have legal rights regarding the child.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyMost people are familiar with the concept of different “stages of grief.” While you may not necessarily be able to list the five stages as they were introduced in 1969, you are most likely aware that grieving, for most people, is a process with fairly distinct elements. While there are other situations that could cause a person to go through the grieving process—such as a divorce or giving a child up for adoption—the most common is during the period following the death of a loved one. When you die, your children, grandchildren, and other family members will almost certainly experience a great deal of grief, which makes responsible estate planning all the more important.

What Are the Five Stages?

In 1969, a Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book called "On Death and Dying" which introduced the stages of grief as she saw them. Based on her experience and study, she identified the five stages as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Despite being laid out as linear—suggesting that one stage leads into the next—the reality is much more complicated. A person who is largely in the Anger stage of grief is likely to experience moments or days of Denial and Depression. He or she may even skip a stage and effectively come back to it at a later point.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce lawyerMost of the time, when two people want to get divorced, they simply inform the other person by having a copy of the papers served upon them, usually by hand delivery. However, there are some very rare situations when the spouse cannot be located. When that happens, a suitable alternative must be found. The answer in Illinois and many other states is called divorce by publication.

A “Good Faith Search”

In all cases, your soon-to-be-ex-spouse must be informed of your desire and intention to file for divorce. However, if they have moved or are trying to avoid you and have left no forwarding address, the normal methods of mail or hand delivery are impossible. Yet it is contradictory to public policy to demand that two people remain married when they are not even living together and all communication has broken down. Publication is generally the best possible chance for your information to reach your absent spouse.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysDo you have a signed and executed will or any other elements of an estate plan in place? If so, you are already ahead of more than half of American adults.

Next question: Have you had in-depth discussions about estate planning with your children and other important family members? If so, you and your family are well prepared for unexpected surprises—assuming your estate plan addresses all or most of the details that are significant to you and your loved ones.

Final question: Would your children agree that you have had the necessary conversations and do they know where to find important documents, passwords, and account information? Unfortunately, serious disconnects in communication are all too common when it comes to estate planning.

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Posted on in Adoption

DuPage County adoption attorneysAdoption can be a wonderful and happy event for everyone involved. However, there are times when the process becomes quite complex, especially when an adoption involves a parent who ostensibly could assert parental rights, yet is nowhere to be found. There is a very specific process to go through before a child with an absentee parent (or two absentee parents) may be adopted into a family where he or she will receive the kind of attention he or she deserves.

Abandonment and Desertion

In most situations, a child is presumed to have two parents, but this is not always the case. However, this may be untrue in certain cases. Illinois allows paternity to be legally established immediately following the birth of a child, by one of four methods:

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Lombard family lawyersIt is almost too easy to send a text message on your cell phone. It takes only a few moments to type out a quick hello or make plans with friends and family. More than six billion messages are exchanged every day in the United States—that is over 2.2 trillion each year! Unfortunately, the ease of sending a text message can sometimes get people into trouble, as they may send a message without thinking or in the heat of a moment. This can cause problems for those involved in legal proceedings such as a divorce or child custody battle.

Text Messages Last Forever

An individual who is going through a divorce or other matter of family law may experience a wide range of emotions. He or she may feel betrayed, spiteful, confused, and upset. Often, there is animosity and tension between spouses who have decided to end their marriage. Divorce is an especially emotional process, and there may be many things left unsaid between two former romantic partners who have called it quits. There may also be things that are said but that should have been left unsaid. This is when the ease of pulling a cell phone from a pocket and quickly sending a nasty text message can cause problems.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersEvery person deserves to have control over the medical care they receive, including that which is provided at or near the end of their lives. Advance medical directives, such as a living will, give you the power to make certain decisions about your end-of-life care in advance, taking into account the possibility that you may not be able to make such decisions if and when they are necessary. Unfortunately, many advance medical directives are open to interpretation which could result in a decreased quality of life and unneeded suffering. There are some things you can do, however, to ensure that medical care is provided in accordance with your wishes, regardless of your condition at the time care is needed.

Death-Delaying Procedures

A living will is used primarily to specify the types of death-delaying procedures that you wish to be provided if you are ever diagnosed with a terminal condition and are unable to make care decisions for yourself. Death-delaying procedures refer to treatments and care that are postponing death in situations where healing or curing the condition is not possible. Such procedures include blood transfusions, artificial respiration, dialysis, and intravenous feeding or medications.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersThere are many things to consider when you are creating your Last Will and Testament. One you may have not considered is what will happen if your will is contested. A will contest is a lawsuit that an individual files in order to invalidate a deceased person’s will. Someone might file a will contest because they don’t believe a family member’s or friend’s will accurately reflects their true final wishes. Any intestate heir or beneficiary named in the person’s will can file a will contest.

In previous blog posts, we have talked about challenging the will of a recently-deceased loved one using a will contest. Today, however, we will look at how you can help prevent your will from being challenged. There are a few things that can be done to protect your will. One of these is a provision included in the will known as a “no-contest clause.”

What Is a No-Contest Clause?

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