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DuPage County family law attorney child custody

During a divorce, one or both spouses may seek counseling or therapy. Due to the universal Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Agreement, patients are reassured that the sessions are private. However, it is possible your therapy records could end up in the courtroom during your divorce proceeding. When this occurs, it is important to hire a family law attorney to protect your rights. 

Record Contents

Typically, if you are attending therapy or seeking the help of a professional counselor, you may have overwhelming issues that affect you psychologically and hinder your daily activities. Discussing them with an unbiased individual can be comforting and allow you to process your emotions. Problems may involve alcohol/drug addiction, a tragic event, or mental health issues. Within a divorce proceeding, these issues may negatively affect spousal support, and/or the allocation of parental responsibilities.  

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Wheaton divorce attorney

When a couple decides to call it quits, one or both spouses may file for divorce. However, in some cases, one spouse may walk out without an explanation, leaving the other spouse to wonder about his or her whereabouts. If you wish to get a divorce but are unsure where your spouse is, be sure to contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to help resolve this complex situation.

Publication Divorce 

If a spouse would like to get a divorce but is unable to find their spouse, Illinois law allows “divorce by publication.” Publication divorce occurs only after a judge has been convinced that the divorcing spouse is unable to find the missing spouse after extensive searching. Extensive searching may include:

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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

According to the Addiction Center, more than 90 percent of people who have an addiction started to use drugs or drink alcohol before they were 18 years old. Problems with drugs or alcohol may impact a person’s professional and personal life. Substance abuse is one of the most common reasons for divorce. Since substance abuse can affect many different aspects of a divorce proceeding, it is important to consult with a skilled family law attorney to ensure that parental rights and responsibilities are protected. In some cases, a spouse’s addiction may influence the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody). 

A Child’s Best Interest

Within the state of Illinois, the allocation of parental responsibilities is heavily based on a child’s best interest. Typically, both parents will split time with the child. However, if substance abuse plays a role in the child custody battle, the judge may determine that an arrangement of that nature would not be suitable for the child’s well-being. 

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DuPage County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement, typically known as a prenup, is a written contract created by two individuals prior to their marriage. This legally binding document establishes the future of any separate and marital property and/or assets, debts, and estate plan for each spouse in the event of a divorce. The state of Illinois has its own laws on what can and cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement, so before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to verify the validity.

Important Issues to Address in a Prenup

A prenup is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement, meaning the elements that one couple may address in their agreement might not be appropriate for another couple’s situation. However, the topics listed below are a few general ideas you may want to consider including in your agreement:

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DuPage County child support attorney

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to lay off or terminate their employees for a period of time in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. Losing your job for any reason can be alarming, especially if you have children. Being unemployed can affect your finances, as well as your mental and emotional health. In addition, if you are a divorced parent, it can impact your ability to pay child support. In Illinois, child support is a legal order made as part of a divorce judgment, and the amount of child support payments is based on the needs of the children, as well as both parents’ financial situations. This type of support is meant to pay for children’s necessities, such as food and clothing. If you have recently lost your job, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding child support payments according to Illinois law.

What to Do if You Cannot Pay Child Support

Within the state of Illinois, you are required to follow the court's orders regarding payment of child support, regardless of your current circumstances. If you miss any payments while you are unemployed, you will still have to pay them at some point, and interest may be applied to past-due payments. Missing payments could result in significant penalties, including fines, the loss of your driver's license, or even jail time. To save yourself from potential legal trouble, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits that will allow you to meet your obligations, and you can take steps to modify your child support order based on your financial circumstances.

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Wheaton asset division attorney pet ownership

Pets are often considered members of the family. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 68 percent of American households have a pet. In the event of a divorce, pets are often included within the property and asset division process, and ownership of a pet may be awarded to one spouse. If a couple cannot agree on who gets to keep the pet, this decision may be made by the court.A judge will consider what is best for the health and well-being of the pet. In some cases, a shared visitation arrangement may be made, similar to ones made in child custody cases.

Marital Property 

Within the state of Illinois, a marital asset is considered property and/or assets that were acquired during a couple's marriage. Many couples purchase or adopt a dog or cat after they tie the knot as a way of expanding their family. In these situations, their furry companion would be considered marital property. 

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Lombard estate planning attorneyGetting a divorce can sometimes make it feel as if your world has been turned upside down. Between dealing with the financial consequences of your divorce and managing child custody or spousal support concerns, you may feel like there are almost countless tasks to complete.  In all of the chaos, it can be easy to forget important estate planning considerations. Unfortunately, if a person divorces, beneficiary designations and certain other estate planning arrangements do not change automatically. You will need to update such provisions manually, and a qualified estate planning attorney can help.  

Review and Revise Your Will

Only about 40 percent of U.S. adults have a will or other estate plan in place. If you already have a will or trust that describes your property distribution wishes, you are already ahead of most Americans. However, you will want to read and update your will after divorce. According to Illinois law, any directions in your will that refer to your spouse are made void once he or she becomes your ex-spouse. However, any provisions that address inheritance for your ex-spouse’s family members remain valid. It is always a good idea to go over your will after divorce and make sure it still reflects your current wishes.

Change Your Beneficiaries on Your Retirement Accounts

If you have an IRA, 401K, or other retirement plan, you will probably need to update the beneficiaries listed in your policy. As a part of your divorce settlement, you may be required to share retirement funds with your ex-spouse. However, any remaining retirement funds should rightfully be yours. If your spouse is currently listed as the beneficiary on your retirement account, you need to change this sooner rather than later. Some divorced individuals still want their spouse listed as a trustee for their children. If this is your situation, read through your retirement policy and other estate planning documents any make any necessary changes so that they documents reflect your wishes

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Wheaton family law attorney

Going through a divorce can significantly disrupt your life. Not only does it affect your mental and emotional health, but it can also wreak havoc on your financial situation. It may be hard to maintain the same standard of living once you and your spouse part ways. However, you can still obtain a sense of financial security. In some cases, you may be awarded spousal support or child support payments, or you may be required to pay support to your former spouse. To alleviate some of the stress, it is important to be hands-on and in control of your assets, income, debts, and expenses. A skilled family law attorney can guide you through the legal proceedings and help ensure that you are positioned for success once your divorce is complete. 

Here are a few steps to regain financial stability after a divorce:

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Wheaton spousal support attorney

Since November 2013, same-sex couples have had equal access to marriage and divorce rights under federal law. In Illinois, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) marriage is similar to opposite-sex marriage. Not only do same-sex couples have the right to get married, but they can also share property and assets, file joint tax returns, receive retirement and veterans’ benefits, and many other rights and responsibilities that opposite-sex couples receive following marriage. Since same-sex marriage is still relatively new, couples may not fully understand how the law applies to them when it comes to divorce. Therefore, if you are considering a divorce, it is critical that an experienced attorney guides you through the process. 

Illinois Divorce Laws

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not need to give the court a reason why you and your spouse wish to end your marriage. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, in order to be granted a divorce, a couple must only prove:

  1. Irreconcilable differences have initiated the failure of the marriage.

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Lombard, IL child support attorney

Child support refers to the money paid by one parent to the other parent to help financially support their child after the parents get a divorce. However, these types of payments may also be appropriate for couples who never married but had a child together. Typically, child support is paid to the parent who was allocated the majority of the parenting time with the couple's child. In Illinois, child support is based on both parents' net incomes, and an “income shares model” is used to calculate the amount of the payments. Child support arrangements must be approved by the court. Payments are typically made on a monthly basis, and a parent can face penalties if the support payments are late or if support is unpaid.

Child Support Uses

Overall, child support is intended to maintain the child’s well-being and guarantee all of his or her basic needs are met. The basic child support obligation determined using the income shares method is meant to cover the following types of expenses:

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Wheaton divorce attorney parenting time

If you are a parent who is divorced or legally separated, you are likely familiar with the court-approved parental responsibilities you and your ex may have spent hours trying to resolve. A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines child-related issues such as with whom your child will live, who has decision-making authority regarding issues such as children's education and medical care, and more. Unfortunately, your child may not be too happy about the decisions made during your divorce, and they may state that they do not wish to spend parenting time (visitation) with your ex-spouse. However, even if your child is reluctant to spend time with his or her other parent, you will be required to follow the parenting time schedule set down in the parenting plan, and you may face penalties for failing to fulfill the court's orders.

The Reasons Behind the Refusal

Understanding why your child does not want to visit the other parent is the first step in addressing the issue. During this time, it is important to keep these tips in mind:

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Wheaton family law attorney stepchild

The United States is a nation in which a majority of families are divorced. However, many people find love again and choose to remarry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1,300 new stepfamilies are formed every day. Becoming a stepparent can be stressful and intimidating. However, with realistic expectations and a certain approach to building a relationship, a sustaining bond can be created. In some cases, a stepparent may even wish to legally adopt his or her stepchild. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney assist you throughout the legal process.

Blended Families 

A remarriage often involves more than just a couple. One or both parents may have children from their previous marriages or relationships. If you are getting remarried after a divorce, and you will have a stepchild, keep these tips in mind for a smoother transition for everyone involved:

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DuPage County divorce lawyer name change

Getting a divorce can be a very complicated process. It may be difficult to think about the decision to keep your married name or revert back to your maiden name when there are so many other pressing issues that need to be resolved. Because of this, many women choose to continue using their married names for the time being. However, if they choose to go back to using their maiden names, a skilled family law attorney can help you complete the legal steps to do so. 

Reasons for Changing Your Name

Changing your last name after your divorce is one of the first steps in getting your original identity back. Whether this decision is emotionally difficult or easy, consider these factors when deciding:

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting time

It is only human nature for children to want their parents to remain married “till death do us part.” However, in some cases, that may not be possible. Regardless of whether infidelity played a role or a couple simply grew apart, it may be in everyone’s best interest to part ways. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40–50 percent of married couples in the United States get divorced. Telling your children about your divorce may be one of the toughest conversations you will ever have. Despite the difficulty and intense emotions that may arise, keeping your child in the know is crucial to a smooth transition.

Discussing Your Divorce with Your Children

Whether you think the divorce will come as a shock to them or not, keep these tips in mind when breaking the news to your kids: 

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Wheaton property division attorney

During the divorce process, couples must go through financial documents when determining how to divide assets and property and addressing issues such as spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support. In many marriages, a couple’s finances are straightforward, but that is not always the case. In some situations, forensic accounting may be necessary to analyze financial data more closely. If you are considering a divorce and are not sure how forensic accounting may benefit you, it is essential to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can help you explore your options. 

What Is Forensic Accounting? 

Forensic accountants utilize accounting and auditing skills as well as investigative skills to perform a thorough examination of individuals’ financial records. Forensic accountants can be useful during a divorce because they are adept at uncovering financial information that a divorcing spouse may have attempted to hide from his or her spouse and the courts. Forensic accountants may review several types of documents, including:

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DuPage County child custody attorney psychological expert

Even when spouses have the best intentions to end their marriage peacefully, divorces have the potential to be filled with contention. Throughout the divorce process, a couple must make many life-altering decisions, including how assets are divided, the details of a parenting plan, and decisions regarding spousal support. In many cases, the decisions regarding children can be the most difficult. When determining the allocation of parenting responsibilities, it may be beneficial to seek the professional opinion of a psychological expert. If you are facing a custody case, your family law attorney can help you explore your options and provide you with advice on when to use a psychological expert. Below are three important factors to consider during your custody case:

Can Psychological Experts Impact the Outcome of a Custody Case?

When parenting plans are determined, the most important factor is the well-being of the child. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a parent (or both parents) to undergo a mental health evaluation per Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215. For example, a judge may order a mental health evaluation if there is any doubt regarding mental illness, addiction problems, or other psychological conditions that could impact the life of the child. During the exam, a psychological expert, who may be either a psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker, will determine:

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Wheaton spousal maintenance attorney

The decision to end a marriage can be emotionally, financially, and even physically devastating. A trusted therapist may help ease emotional stress, but what about the worries regarding finances? Regardless of whether your divorce is amicable or tumultuous, you will need to understand how to protect your rights to the marital estate. If you are facing a divorce and are unsure how to protect your financial interests, you should speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney to explore your potential next steps. In the meantime, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about finances during divorce:

How Much Will a Divorce Cost?

There are many expenses associated with the divorce process. You will be required to pay a variety of court costs and filing fees, and the costs of hiring and working with an attorney throughout the divorce process may add up to several thousand dollars or more. In addition, there are a variety of other ways that legally ending your marriage can impact your finances, including:

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Wheaton divorce attorney child support enforcement

Child support payments are typically ordered by the court as part of a divorce decree, but child support payments can also be included in a legal separation agreement. In some cases, both parties may mutually settle upon the payment arrangement. Regardless of the situation (divorce or separation), there are laws in Illinois that ensure that child support orders are enforceable. However, even though child support orders are legally binding, some parents may still struggle to collect payments from a former spouse or partner. Disagreements over late, missing, or inadequate payments can create heated disagreements and high tension in both newly divorced couples and partners who have long been separated. If you are struggling to collect child support payments, a knowledgeable child support attorney can advise you of your legal options.

What Happens During a Child Support Hearing?

In the state of Illinois, a child support hearing may be conducted in one of two places: a courtroom presided over by a judge or through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). During a child support hearing, each party will answer questions about their specific circumstances, which will allow the court to determine the correct amount of support. A couple who has not yet established paternity may need to address the issue of legal fatherhood first before a child support order can be issued.

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Wheaton family law attorney legal separation

When a married couple is struggling to live in harmony under the same roof, one person usually moves out of the shared residence. The distance and time apart may allow the couple an opportunity to work through relationship problems and determine their next steps. For a couple who can no longer reside together, there are several options available, including divorce and legal separation. If you are struggling in your marriage and would like to discuss your next steps, a family law attorney can explain your rights and your legal options.

What Are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

A divorce legally dissolves the marriage between two individuals, while a legal separation acknowledges that the couple is still married but lives apart from each other. Divorce is a permanent decree, but legal separations may be either temporary or permanent. A couple who is legally separated may eventually decide to file for divorce, but they also have the option to end the separation and reunite. It is important to note that during the legal separation, the spouses may not get married to anyone else.

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Lombard, IL family law attorney for parental relocation

When a couple decides to end their relationship, it is probable that at least one of them will no longer live in the home they once shared. In some cases, both spouses may move out of the marital home following divorce and relocate to smaller dwellings. However, while moving to a new home may be necessary, parents should be aware of the restrictions that may apply when they plan to move with their children. In some cases, parental relocation may require approval from the court. If you are not sure how a potential move may impact your rights as a parent, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about the child relocation laws in Illinois.

Why Do Relocation Restrictions Exist?

The parental relocation laws in Illinois have been put in place to protect a child’s bond with both of his or her parents. In cases that meet the criteria for relocation, the relocating parent must give the other parent at least 60 days' notice prior to the move, and they will need to receive approval from the court for any modifications to the parties' parenting plan. These restrictions ensure that all moves are made in good faith and that a proposed relocation will protect the best interests of the child. 

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