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pets, Lombard family law attorneyThere is little question that family pets have a special place in the hearts of many people. In fact, as many as two-thirds of all American households own at least one dog or cat. Owning a pet, of course, can be very beneficial to both the family and the animal, but what happens in the event of divorce? Does either party have presumed rights to keep the animals or to visitation? In the state of Illinois, the answer is rather unclear as a matter of law, and recent appellate court decision has not really helped to clarify the law’s intent.

Children and Property

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, considerations in a divorce must be made for a couple’s children and the disposition of property. These, obviously, are very reasonable, but, for many families, pets seem to fall somewhere in between. Dogs and cats may not be as important as children–although to couples without children they may be—but they are certainly more valuable than a piece of furniture or artwork. Without statutory guidance, each case must be considered individually.

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domestic violence programThe Chicago Police Department responds to almost 500 domestic violence calls every day. In 2013, approximately 1,500 of those calls involved aggravated domestic battery, where the abuser attacked his or her victim with a gun, knife, or other dangerous weapon.

The City of Chicago recently expanded a pilot domestic violence program that has been in effect since last year. The program takes a more proactive response approach by police, prosecutors and social services agencies and providers.

The program was first introduced to the Chicago Police Department’s 14th Division. The aim of the program is to enable law enforcement to identify households which may be at an elevated risk of domestic violence and serious injuries in order to coordinate a rapid response. An assessment form was developed which asks questions that help determine if a victim is at elevated risk of injury. Patrol officers use these assessment forms when responding to domestic violence calls. If the victim’s answers indicate a serious risk, the department has put protocols in place which activates an immediate investigation.

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language of adoption

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), both highly dedicated to the health and well-being of all children, would like to remind medical professionals, family and friends associated with a recent adoption that often unnecessary or thoughtless language can damage the already fragile self-esteem level of the child and even perhaps the adoptive parents.

In conjunction with the AAP, the DCFS offers the Let’s Talk! Respectful Adoption Language and Behavior booklet, both online and in hard-copy form to all medical professionals or interested adoptive families or friends interested in the Do’s and Don’ts of adoption language and behavior.

The following guidelines provide respectful options for broaching the subject of adoption. These guidelines may also prove helpful to those couples considering adoption as to what may be appropriate and what may be insensitive.

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Posted on in Divorce

post divorce check listOnce a divorce is granted, there are still many things a person has to do to ensure all official and/or legal connections with their now ex-spouse are taken care of.  The divorce decree ends your marriage, but you still need to make contact with various entities to ensure that your ex-spouse no longer has access or benefit of things to which they are no longer entitled.

The best way to do this is to make a list of the particulars you will have to change. Some of the items that may be on your task list include:

  1. All testamentary documents that you have drafted will need to be updated. Make sure you change the beneficiaries on any will and trusts you have, otherwise your ex-spouse would still be able to inherit your assets and property if something should happen to you.
  2. If there are any other entities where your spouse is named beneficiary, those should be changed as well. You will want to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary from insurance policies, bank and stock accounts, and any other financial accounts you may have. The only time this should not be done is if the divorce settlement says differently. For example, if you are paying spousal support, the judge may have ordered you to keep your spouse as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy for the duration of your alimony obligation. There may also need to be changes made to retirement accounts, such as a partial roll over into one spouse’s name, depending on the divorce settlement.
  3. If your divorce settlement included an exchange of real estate between the two of you, then you will need to have quit claim deeds recorded. There may also need to be mortgage refinancing that needs to be done to remove the other spouse from financial obligation of the property, again depending on what the final divorce settlement reads.
  4. If there are any joint utility bills, such as electric, water, and telephone, those will also have to be changed into the name of the spouse that will be living in the home.

If you are considering a divorce and are looking for an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney, contact A. Traub and Associates for a consultation today.

Surviving the Holidays as a Blended Family Although many strive for a personal rendition of the idyllic Norman Rockwell holiday when the winter season comes, those facing the challenges of a blended family may only revisit feelings of loss, sadness and even anger, often emotions associated with a recent divorce or remarriage.

Noted professionals offer numerous suggestions to ease the tension between blended families during the holiday season.

Fran C. Dickson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University and featured contributor to Communications Currents, a publication of the National Communication Association, offers the following advice to blended families as means for exhibiting better behaviors throughout the holiday season.

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Emotional Complexities of AdoptionCelebrating 50 years of protecting and supporting families, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has successfully assisted with the adoption of more than 17,000 children over the past decade. By providing these children the opportunity to find love and permanent homes, there lies perhaps an even more personal story hidden behind the scenes. For every child adopted through the DCFS, there is a birth parent experiencing an array of emotions.

Adoption.net, a relatively new informational adoption source, recently opened a forum discussion targeting the difficulties facing birth parents. The forum offers advice for compartmentalizing the emotions often associated with this life-altering decision. Feelings of intense loss, shame and guilt often proceed resolution over making this difficult decision.

The site offers an informative and constructive fact sheet highlighting the following topics, all of which may prove helpful to all the parents involved in the adoption process.

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Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage

Planning on petitioning for a divorce or dissolution of marriage depends on which state you call home. If you are an Illinois resident consulting with a qualified divorce attorney under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) the proper terminology is the dissolution of marriage.

For Illinois and fellow dissolution states, the view on marriage is a legal contract between two people, and filing for divorce is the act of legally requesting the dissolution of a contractual agreement.

Since divorce procedural law is not governed at the federal level, individual state law requirements are enacted and expected to be strictly followed. After consulting with your Illinois divorce attorney, you will become well-versed in Illinois dissolution law as it pertains to your personal situation. Discussions involving the discovery and division of marital assets, continual maintenance (alimony), child support and visitation will be addressed as you move through the dissolution process.

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Divorce Effects on Children Juvenile LawThe ramifications of divorce can be numerous, especially if there are adolescent children involved. The psychological effects of divorce during the developmental years can often leave unresolved issues as your children approach their teens and even adulthood. As a parent how you handled the divorce process by ensuring your children had your support and understanding may have not been enough, especially when it comes to your adolescent engaging in risky behavior.

A teen and parent relatable webpage, created by undergraduate student, Ben Beary of Northern Illinois University, under the guidance of J. Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D., School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences, Northern Illinois University not only states the obvious, 50 percent of all marriages in the U.S. result in divorce.  Also it reiterates that adolescents of divorced families are more likely to experience academic and psychological problems often leading to risky behavior outbreaks.

If you recently divorced and have noticed an increase in undesirable behavior in your son or daughter and legal issues arise, you may require the services of an experienced family law attorney to assist with navigating through the Illinois juvenile system. How do you help your child on a personal level?

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retirement age marriageStatistics show that gray divorce – divorce for people who are 50 years old or older – has doubled since 1990. 60 percent who will decide to give marriage a second try will not have any better luck than they did the first time.

Legal and financial advisers say there are steps that older couples can take to help their chances of having a successful marriage the second time around, including communication and a prenuptial agreement.

Especially of concern for people who are close to or already retired are finances. According to some studies, the majority of couples who are engaged fail to discuss their present and future financial situations with each other before they are married. Communication before marriage is essential. This can be especially critical for older people who have been saving all their lives for retirement, only to find out their new spouse has serious financial obligations they knew nothing about.

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signs of marriage troubleIs your marriage in trouble? There are signs that marriage and family therapists say can be indicators that a marriage is headed for divorce court. They are also good indicators if you have been struggling with the decision to divorce of where exactly your marriage is at.

  • Do you find yourself no longer consulting or valuing your spouse’s opinion or input? From serious topics, such as work issues, to plans for the weekend, making decisions on your own without even broaching the subject with your spouse, especially if this is something you always did in the past, is an indicator of a breakdown in communication.
  • Another sign there could be serious problems is if you do not consider ever putting your spouse’s needs or wishes ahead of your own anymore. As one therapist put it, making yourself "king or queen of the castle" is a sign something is wrong.
  • Has the ebb and flow of giving in the relationship now been replaced by a scorecard of what you do and what your spouse does?
  • Do you feel like you are living with a partner or with a roommate? Partners work together, making plans for the future and achieving goals together. Roommates share the same space but live singular lives. They pick up after themselves, cook their own dinners and buy their own food, etc., without considering or including the person they live with.
  • Do you purposely hit your spouse’s "hot button" to try to get a reaction from him or her? In healthy relationships, we learn what things are upsetting to our spouse and try to avoid those actions. That’s not always the case in marriages that are breaking down.
  • Do you still date? Even married couples need to court and woo each other, just like they did when dating. Love notes, little gifts, and wanting to look good for your spouse are all things that help keep the romance in a marriage.
  • Do you still talk? Not just talk about problems or issues that come up, but do you and your spouse enjoy conversations with each other about anything? If you barely communicate with your spouse, unless it is about who needs to pick up the kids or take the dog to the vet that can indicate a marriage in trouble.

Do you think a lot about what life would be like without your spouse in it and envision it as a much happier and better life than it is right now? If you are thinking about divorce, contact an Arlington Heights family law attorney to find out what legal options you may have.

consecutive marriageAccording to an article published by Psychology Today, second and third marriages often result in divorce. Past statistics support that while first marriages have a 50/50 chance of survival, second and third marriages often fail with rates of 67 to 73 percent, not providing much hope for eternal bliss.

The reasoning behind the statistics? Often, those entering a second marriage are "on the rebound," and those trying for the proverbial third time charm have failed to learn from past mistakes.

Cathy Meyer, a Certified Divorce Coach, Marriage Educator and contributor to About.com’s Divorce Support, a general online resource for divorce, provides further explanation of why these marriages fail.

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Illinois domestic violenceAny one instance of domestic abuse is one too many, and for those residing in Illinois, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 (750 ILCS 60) provides the basis for protection. Generally, any instance of physical, emotional or interference with one’s personal liberty at the hand of a family or household member is a crime and will be prosecuted as such. Although often, domestic violence crimes go unreported.

The Chicago Foundation for Women is fighting to put an end to domestic violence through Illinois statute and education. If you are a victim of any type of domestic violence, the following information may prove helpful. You may also consider contacting an experienced Illinois family law attorney to discuss your legal rights under Illinois law.

Staggering Statistics

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joint custody after divorceDivorce is painful, sometimes unexpected, financially and emotionally draining and, most often, difficult on the children involved. Fortunately, the concept of shared joint custody between two responsible parents is on the rise.

For those residing in Illinois, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) recognizes joint custody as one of the two basics forms of child custody, the other being sole custody.

When it works well, joint custody permits continuing involvement of both parents in the lives of their children, providing them with a more encouraging outlook for the future.

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So you are getting married! Congratulations! Now the whirlwind begins... Appointments with the wedding planner, the florist, the photographer, the banquet manager, the musical director, the clergy, the bakery manager, the dressmaker and the jeweler. Your schedule is filling up fast, so many discussions and decisions, but is there one discussion you may be avoiding on your growing list of "to-dos"?

 prenuptial agreementThe Prenuptial Agreement Not for celebrity use only, the prenuptial agreement has been around as long as couples have been tying the knot. According to a New York Times article, the prenuptial agreement can be traced back at least 2000 years. Ancient Hebrew society drafted marriage contracts known as Ketubahs and the French included an agreement as part of the dowry as far back as the ninth century. Originally, these predecessors of the prenuptial agreement were drafted to protect the wife in case of her husband's death or divorce, as a form of predetermined insurance. Often today, a prenup suggests the protection of sizable wealth, but in all reality, an effective agreement can cover all the bases by eliminating lengthy and costly differences over assets in the event of a divorce. So how do you go about discussing this with your eager fiancee without finding yourself immediately thrown back into the dating scene? As unromantic as it may seem, if you are adamant about drafting a prenup, these tips may help when approaching your unsuspecting fiancee: Yours, Mine and Not Ours This may be the best argument for signing an agreement. For example, if you are still paying off student loans by drafting a prenup you can secure that your future spouse doesn't assume your debt. In the event your intended has investments made prior to your union, you can also ease their worries by legally refraining from any financial control of those investments. Financial consideration also protects both partners from any changes in state law regarding marital property.  Bringing Up the Kids Literally, when the little ones arrive, what's the plan? Will one parent leave the workforce to raise the children? A predetermined agreement can protect asset distribution for the stay-at-home mom or dad in the event of a break-up.  Cents and Sensibility By clearly defining goals, a prenuptial contract can be drafted for less money than the cost of two divorce attorneys in the event the marriage fails.  Mapping the Marital Future A prenup can also secure a standard of living without the many financial surprises a divorce can bring. Having set arrangements for alimony and residence determinations can ease the pain of divorce and the fear of the unknown. Child custody and child support, however, can not be determined in a prenuptial agreement.  The Golden Years If it would ease your fiancee’s concerns, a sunset clause can be added to the agreement. This allows an automatic termination of terms within a specified time period, protecting each person's assets early in the marriage. A prenup can also be terminated at any time if both spouses are in agreement.  Legal vs. Marriage Counseling Once your fiancee is on board, plan on scheduling an appointment with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about all of the options that are available to you. Executing an amicable prenuptial agreement can ease the tensions of constant "what-if's" as well as defining your marital goals. It may also prevent heated arguments about finances and responsibilities and thwart a trip to the marriage counselor. Your wedding day is destined to be one of the most memorable days of your lives, having a strategically drafted prenuptial agreement in place will only be the icing on your wedding cake. We understand the concerns. At A. Traub & Associates we are experienced with working with couples to draft a prenuptial agreement that will best suit everyone’s expectations. Contact us at 630-426-0196 to schedule your consultation today.
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