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Lombard fathers rights attorneysMany studies have shown that children do best with both parents in their life. Of course, this is not true for situations involving abuse or domestic violence, but generally, removing one parent from a child’s life is damaging to the well-being of that child. Fortunately, many parents who get divorced or who never marry are able to work out a shared parenting arrangement which includes both parents as full participants in their children’s’ lives. Unfortunately, a new study shows that Illinois fathers are at the bottom of the list when it comes to how much time they spend with their children.

Study Analyzes Shared Parenting Schedules Across the Country

The study, which was piloted by a software company that makes apps for divorced and separated parents, involved a compilation of data regarding the most common parenting time arrangements in each of the fifty states. Through a survey of legal professionals and judicial standards across the country, the researchers were able to calculate the average amount of time parents spend with their children. The study only included cases in which both parents wanted custody of their children, and there were no extenuating circumstances, such as long-distance separation or criminal convictions.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersThe passing of a loved one is almost always a terrible ordeal to endure. When a relative passes without a will, the process of managing the deceased person’s final affairs only adds to the difficulty. A person who dies without a will is considered to have died “intestate.” Illinois intestacy laws determine how a person’s property and debt are distributed after their death when a valid will is not present.

Laws of Intestate Succession When No Valid Will Exists

The rules regarding how a deceased person’s property should be divided are largely dependent on the deceased person’s surviving relatives. When a single person with no children passes away, his or her estate will go to his or her parents or siblings. If that person does not have living parents or siblings, their estate will go to nieces and nephews or more distant relatives. If an unmarried person with children passes away, their estate will go to their children. If a married person passes away, their spouse will usually receive the part of the estate which is considered marital property. Unfortunately, unmarried couples do not have any legal right to their partner’s property if that partner passes away without a will.

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Lombard divorce attorneysIdeally, every divorcing couple would be cooperative and amicable during the divorce proceedings and the time leading up to it. However, this is not how a large number of divorces go. Spouses are often at least partially resentful of each other or harbor negative feelings about their soon-to-be-ex. In most instances, these hostile feelings only result in a few sideways glances or muttered insults between the spouses. In more extreme circumstances, one spouse may try to “get even” or hurt the other spouse through excessive spending or squandering marital property. This wastefulness is called “dissipation of assets,” and Illinois courts take the matter very seriously.

What Exactly Does "Dissipation of Assets" Mean?

The concept of dissipation can be hard to understand. The formal definition of dissipation comes from the Illinois Supreme Court. Dissipation formally refers to “the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” In order to know if your spouse is guilty of dissipation, you need to determine what property has been misspent. Generally, marital property includes any property or income which was accumulated by either spouse during the marriage. So, if a spouse wasted money from a bank account which was used for shared expenses like bills and household expenses, he may be guilty of dissipation.

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Lombard family law attorneysMost of us are familiar with at least the basic concept of child custody. In most instances, we realize that the phrase refers to making arrangements for raising a child or children following a divorce or breakup between the parents. While it is possible for non-parents to gain custody of a child, the vast majority of child custody disputes are between a child’s biological parents.

In 2016, sweeping reforms to the family law statutes in Illinois eliminated the official use of the phrase “child custody.” The amendments introduced new terminology that was intended to be less divisive and more cooperative. For many years, parents sought to “win” custody of their children, rather than working together to find the best possible parenting arrangement. Today, the legal concept of child custody in Illinois is known as the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Two Primary Components

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Lombard estate planning attorneysThe American Stress Institute has named divorce as the second-most stressful event a person can endure. Ending a marriage is considered even more stressful than losing your job or going to jail. Of course, the emotional toll that comes with ending a serious relationship is a big part of this stress, but the logistics and paperwork required to properly divorce can sometimes be even more stressful. This is one reason A. Traub & Associates is dedicated to helping clients adjust their estate plans after a divorce. In this final post of a four-part series about how divorce will affect your estate plan, we will discuss updating beneficiaries after a divorce.

Estate Planning Housekeeping for Those Getting Divorced

In the last few posts, we discussed updating wills, trusts, and powers of attorney after a divorce. In addition to these tasks, divorcing individuals should make sure to update documents that designate beneficiaries for things like insurance policies, pensions, and retirement plans. If you are like most people, you probably named your spouse as the primary beneficiary of many policies and accounts. Some individuals assume that when a person divorces, these beneficiary designations automatically change. However, this is not the case. If you are getting a divorce and do not want your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to be a beneficiary anymore, you are responsible for making these changes.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyOver the last couple of weeks, posts on this blog have discussed how your estate plan could be affected by a divorce. The first post covered your will while the second post talked about the impact of a divorce on certain types of trusts. While wills and trusts are two of the most common estate planning tools, there are others that might need to be updated if you decide to get divorced, including powers of attorney for property or health care.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney refers to an arrangement in which a person—called the “principal”—gives legal authority to another person—called an “attorney in fact” or an “agent—to make decision on the principal’s behalf. A power of attorney can include a wide range of decision-making responsibilities, but there are two basic types. A power of attorney for property gives the agent the authority to make decisions regarding the principal’s assets, debts, and other property, while a power of attorney for health care allows the agent to act on the principal’s behalf in matters related to health and medical care.

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Lombard divorce attorneysWhen a couple is getting divorced in Illinois, the law provides that all of the couple’s marital property should be divided in a manner that is fair and just. To determine a “fair and just” allocation of assets, the court will take many factors into account, including each spouse’s age, health, and employability, as well as their contributions to the marital estate. The court must also consider any claims made by either spouse against the other regarding dissipation of marital assets.

What Is Dissipation?

The Illinois Supreme Court established a definition for dissipation as “the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” Over the years, the state legislature has alternated between including and excluding non-marital property in its definition of dissipation. The most recent version of the law provides that only marital property can be dissipated.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyIn Part 1 of this series of posts, we talked at length about how a divorce could impact the provisions and enforceability of a person’s will. A will, in many cases, is just one component of a comprehensive estate plan, which means that there are other estate planning instruments that could be affected by a divorce. For example, you may have established one or more trusts to protect and transfer your property to your chosen beneficiaries. The types of trusts that you have set up will determine how they are affected by your divorce.

Revocable Trusts

Illinois law provides that any provisions, appointments, or nominations made regarding a person’s spouse in the person’s will are automatically revoked when a judgment of divorce is issued. The law is similar in regard to trusts but with some important differences. The differences are caused by the nature of certain kinds of trusts and the rules that apply to them.

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Lombard family law attorneySources report that former NBC news anchor Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque are likely headed for divorce. The news is not surprising considering the events of last November when Lauer, along with several other high-profile men, were accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. Lauer was fired for the alleged inappropriate behavior. Now, it appears that his marriage may also be ending. In the course of his tenure at NBC, Lauer is estimated to have made upwards of $100 million. If the couple does end up divorcing, their extravagant wealth will undoubtedly complicate the process. When high net worth couples divorce, there is much more room for expensive mistakes to be made. If you are considering divorcing your spouse and have complex assets or high net worth, read on to learn common mistakes you should avoid.  

Mistake No. 1: Letting Emotions Guide Your Behavior

Of course, divorce is one of the most emotional things a person can endure. It is completely understandable that spouses feel sadness, regret, anger, resentment, or even vindictiveness. However, when you allow your emotions to be the only basis for your actions during a divorce, the results can be costly. For example, some men and women are so anxious to divorce a spouse they can no longer tolerate that they agree to terms that are not fair to them. It can be tempting to agree to whatever your soon-to-be-ex wants just to hurry along the divorce process, but doing this only increases the chances that you will not receive your fair share of marital property or support. For high net worth couples, this mistake can be extremely expensive.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyMost people recognize the importance of having an estate plan in place just in case something unexpected happens. Depending on the size and nature of your estate, a comprehensive estate plan may include a will, various types of trusts, powers of attorney, a living will, and more. Sometimes, however, the unexpected “something” can take the form of a divorce. A divorce can dramatically impact your existing estate plan, so if your marriage will soon be ending, you will need to review and amend nearly every element of your estate plan.

Over the next couple blog posts, we will highlight several types of estate planning tools and how they might be affected by your divorce.

Your Will

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DuPage County family law attorneyIf you are a parent and are unmarried, separated, or divorced, you probably already know that sharing parenting responsibilities is not always easy. When parents disagree about how their child should be raised, conflict can arise which is not in the best interest of the child. Incompatible parenting styles can create unnecessary tension and complication in your family. One of the best ways to avoid conflict when in a shared parenting scenario is to sit down with the other parent and create a parenting plan or parenting agreement. A parenting plan can clearly designate each parent’s role in making important decisions about the child’s life.

Significant Decision-Making

The term “significant decision-making” refers to “deciding issues of long-term importance in the life of a child.” The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act outlines some decisions that are considered significant, including:

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Lombard probate lawyersThe term “probate” refers to the legal proceedings which deal with a deceased person’s assets and debts. The probate courts are tasked with determining the validly of the decedent’s will, if he or she has one. If he or she did not have a will, the court will need to have much more involvement in the estate administration. There is a bit of confusion about probate, and many people are not sure what exactly it is. Read on to learn the answer to the most frequently asked questions regarding the probate process.

What Happens During Probate?

There are several things which typically happen during probate. If the decedent had created a will before he or she died, the judge will verify that it is a valid will. A will can be invalidated or thrown out if it is not signed by the testator (deceased person) and at least two witnesses, was forged, or if the testator created the will under undue influence. A will can also be invalidated if a newer will is discovered. Next, the judge will appoint an executor responsible for managing the estate. If the decedent had a will, the judge will appoint the individual named in the will. If there is no valid will, the judge will often appoint the next of kin as the executor. The executor is responsible for paying the deceased person’s final bills, notifying creditors of the decedent’s death, filing income taxes on behalf of the decedent, distributing assets to heirs according to the will, and more.

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Lombard family law attorneysSince 2016, child custody has been formally known as the allocation of parental responsibilities in the state of Illinois. If you and your child’s other parent are involved in a dispute over how such responsibilities should be divided, you may have had several discussions with your child about the situation. In fact, your child may even very strong feelings about where he or she wants to live and how much time should be spent with each parent.

When you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement on your own, the court will be required to step in a make custody decisions for you. In doing so, the court will hear from both you and your former partner, but what about your child? Does he or she get the chance to be heard? The answer, in most cases, is yes, but the court is by no means obligated to give the child what he or she wants.

A Combination of Variables

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Lombard estate planning attorneyBeing the executor of a will is a serious responsibility. An executor is tasked with managing the estate of a deceased individual and must do so until the estate is legally closed. When choosing the executor of your estate, it is important to select someone who has integrity and is capable of fulfilling the required duties. An estate executor is responsible for paying creditors and taxes and must oversee any legal processes such as a will contest or an estate tax audit. Depending on the circumstances, the job of being an executor can last months or even years. Experts have some advice for those who are ready to choose their executor.

The Importance of Having a Will – Regardless of Age

Recent surveys have shown that a staggering 64 percent of Americans do not have a last will and testament. This is quite surprising because it is one of the most fundamental estate planning tools a person can utilize. A will provides directions for how a deceased person’s property should be managed after death and can also include instructions regarding any minor children the person has. Those who pass away without a will put decisions regarding property, inheritance, guardianship of minor children, and more in the hands of the court.

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Lombard family law attorneyIn September of last year, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a measure that amended several laws related to divorce in the state. The two biggest changes pertained to the calculation of spousal support, or maintenance, as it is formally known in Illinois. The law went into effect on January 1, 2018, so if you have recently filed for divorce, it is important for you to know how your case may be affected.

New Income Guidelines

For several years, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has provided a formula by which a divorce court is expected to calculate how much maintenance should be paid in a particular case. The formula is a weighted function of each spouse’s annual gross income designed to offer extra support in situations where one spouse makes substantially less than the other. Specifically, the law states that the amount of maintenance to be paid is found by taking 30 percent of the payor’s income and subtracting 20 percent of the recipient’s income, as long as the maintenance plus the recipient’s income did not exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.

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Lombard guardianship lawyersIf you wish to be the primary caregiver of a friend or family member who is unable to care for themselves, one option which you have available in Illinois is guardianship. Guardianship can be granted by a judge to help an adult who cannot make general life decisions on his or her own. Guardian responsibilities are categorized into two groups: financial/estate responsibilities and personal responsibilities. In Illinois, there can be separate guardians for a person and their estate or the same person can look after the disabled individual’s personal needs and make estate decisions.

Guardian Qualifications

In order to become a person’s legal guardian, you must be at least 18 years old, not legally disabled, a United States resident, cognitively capable of caring for another, and free from certain prior felony convictions. If the disabled person in question wishes for you to become his or her guardian, such wishes will be considered by the court, but the court is not obligated to approve you as a guardian.

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Lombard family law attorneyOn June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states could no longer legally ban gay individuals from getting married. Since then, many same-sex couples have married, and some have chosen to start families of their own. Being a same-sex couple can bring up certain legal complications when children are involved, but fortunately, Illinois has measures in place to help potential parents obtain parental rights. One method some same-sex couples use to legally adopt a child into their family is second-parent adoption, also called co-parent adoption.

Second Parent Adoption Does Not Require Terminating Anyone’s Parental Rights

In most circumstances, when a person wishes to adopt a child, the child’s original parent or parents must terminate their parental rights. For example, when a woman places a baby up for adoption after giving birth, she signs documents which relinquish her rights to that child. A second-parent adoption is unique in that a parent can adopt a child without the child’s other parent losing their parental rights.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAccording to a CNBC.com survey, over one-third of high-net-worth families have failed to take even basic steps to provide for their loved ones when they die and to ensure that their final wishes are granted. More specifically, 38 percent of people with over $1 million or more in assets have not created an estate plan.

Many people do not realize the ways a comprehensive estate plan can help them and their loved ones, while others mistakenly believe that they do not make enough money to qualify for an estate plan. Another reason many otherwise financially-savvy people do not have an estate plan is because it can be exhausting and overwhelming to try to plan everything on your own. Studies show that some individuals suffer from what is called “estate planning fatigue” which makes them less likely to have up-to-date, enforceable estate plans.

Constant Changes to the Federal Estate Tax Laws Have Been Confusing

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DuPage County divorce lawyersThe roles of women and men have changed dramatically throughout the last 100 years. Women have gone from being treated as second-class citizens to earning the same rights as men. Even the last few decades have seen a dramatic increase in women in positions of power and authority. Many more women are choosing to make their career a top priority than in the past, and this has resulted in more families with a female breadwinner. If you are the primary earner in your marriage and you are considering divorce, you probably have many questions and concerns. Every divorce is different, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Know What Your Rights and Responsibilities Are

When we think of divorce, many consider the higher-earning spouse as more of a liability than an asset. After all, the spouse who brings more property and resources to the table has more to “lose.” The law treats marriage as a partnership, and most assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are considered to be marital property. However, many spouses struggle not to feel like certain things, such as retirement accounts or savings, are solely theirs. After all, they earned the money, so they believe they should get to keep it, regardless of the divorce.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerDo you know someone who is struggling to manage their life due to advanced age, illness or disability? Most of us know a person like this in our own families. In many cases, it is possible to help a person manage their affairs by sitting down with them and assisting them with paying bills, making health care decisions, and other aspects of everyday life. While this type of assistance is fine in some situations, others may require more drastic measures. One such option may be for you to seek guardianship of the person in question, but doing so can be complicated.

Identifying the Need for a Guardian

According to Illinois law, guardianship for an adult can only be granted by the court, but before the court can appoint a guardian, it must first determine that the adult is in need of one. Specifically, the court must find that the person in question is disabled due to deteriorating mental faculties, physical incapacitation, mental illness, or developmental disability. The court may also find a guardian to necessary for a person dealing with severe gambling, drinking, or drug problems.

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