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When Can I Adjust My Parenting Plan?In every divorce involving children, parenting plans must be formulated. Parenting plans, commonly known as custody arrangements, divide responsibilities between each parent. They define responsibilities such as the time each parent is scheduled to spend with their child, who should be the one taking the child to medical visits, and which house the child will reside in. These are just a few of the many responsibilities required of a parent as well as those that are defined under parenting plans. While parenting plans are legally in place until the child turns 18 years old, it is almost impossible for them to last that long without a need for adjustments – situations change and so do children’s needs. 

Which Situations Warrant an Adjustment?

As with any legally-binding contract, there must be legitimate proof that an adjustment is necessary. Judges do not simply change parenting plans for the convenience of the parent. There are certain situations that will allow, and even prompt, judges to modify a family’s arrangement. The following are common examples:

  • The child is not safe, especially in their residence;
  • A parent is moving or relocating;
  • The child is older and has asked for adjustments to be made;
  • A parent’s work schedule has changed, affecting their ability or flexibility to care for the child;
  • The family’s situation has changed, specifically their financial stability; and/or
  • Their current arrangement is not being followed.

Some families have a combination of the circumstances mentioned above, while others have different reasons altogether. Regardless, each decision is situational and is dependent on the child’s best interests.

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How Does Remarriage Affect Child Support Payments in Illinois?Child support laws vary from state to state, especially in situations where one spouse remarries. Illinois uses an income shares model to calculate how much each parent must contribute to child support. The parents’ combined net income and the number of children will determine their combined child support obligation. Then, each parent will pay a percentage of the obligation that is proportionate to their percentage of the combined incomes. For example, a parent who makes $70,000 of a $100,000 combined income would pay 70 percent of the child support obligation.

The parent who has a majority of the parenting time will receive child support payments from the other parent, regardless of who has a greater income. However, a minority parent with a lesser income is not required to pay as much towards the children’s expenses as the majority parent with a greater income. The equation can change in a shared parenting agreement, which Illinois defines as each parent having at least 146 days with the children during the year. There are also situations in which a parent can request a modification of the child support payment. 

How Does Remarriage Tie In?

Illinois allows a parent to petition to modify child support when there is a change of circumstances that affects either:

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What are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that works for many couples seeking to end their marriage but wanting to skip the typical divorce proceedings. This type of alternative resolution becomes somewhat of a conversation between the spouses and a mediator. After the mediator explains the process, they will act as a neutral third-party. The session will typically last a few hours as a group, followed by the mediator meeting with each party individually to speak with them. This will allow the spouse to tell them anything they feel that they left out or any information that they felt uncomfortable sharing with their spouse in the room. 

A second session will be scheduled to make final decisions. Issues discussed are uniform to that of a divorce; however, there are supposed to be little to no arguments done in the mediation process. The allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, division of assets, and spousal maintenance are the main topics that are deliberated. The mediator will then draw up the plans based on the conversation between the spouses that lays out their divorce in front of them.  

Advantages of Mediation

Divorce mediation requires an amicable relationship between both spouses as the purpose of the alternative dispute resolution is to avoid conflict. While it does not work for all couples, many prefer mediation over typical divorce proceedings for a variety of reasons.

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Mistakes to Avoid in Your Parenting HearingWhether the allocation of parental responsibilities determinations are done by negotiating with your spouse or become a “battle” in front of a court, this portion of divorce is often the most difficult. Every parent wants the best for their children, and it can be difficult to figure out what is “best” when you and your spouse are accustomed to co-parenting under one roof. Parenting cases can get ugly even when divorcing couples are on amicable terms.

Common Errors

The determination of your parenting plan is an important part of the divorce process to prepare for. An experienced attorney should warn you of the following mistakes:

  1. Talking About the Case with Others: While it may be an instinct to confide in friends, this can lead to your demise in the end. You and your spouse probably still have mutual friends or friends that know each other, and gossip spreads fast. It is important to keep the details of your case confidential to avoid accidentally informing your ex about your defense tactics.
  2. Letting Your Emotions Make Your Decisions: The purpose of the allocation of parental responsibilities is to put your child’s best interests forward regardless of your relationship with your spouse. The reason for your divorce does not necessarily reflect on their parenting ability or style. Friends or family members will frequently take your side and provide you with a multitude of reasons to fight for sole responsibility. However, it is important to remember that what is best for you may not be best for your child.
  3. Using Your Children: Many parents can fall into the trap of hearing their ex’s business through their child or using their child as a messenger between parents. Placing your child in the middle of your divorce is an easy way to lose their respect and damage your relationship. This will be seen as bad parenting by a judge and can land you in hot water with your parenting arrangements.
  4. Social Media As an Outlet: In the digital age, many people turn to social media for comfort or for a sense of validation from friends. The worst time and place to talk about your new life or vent about your old one is on social media. Your account can be used against you in multiple areas of your divorce proceedings.  

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

The errors listed and explained above can hurt you in your divorce case, but the biggest mistake of all is failing to hire an experienced attorney for the allocation of parental responsibilities. No matter how many tips and tricks you follow, having a professional on your side is the best way to fight for your child.  At A. Traub & Associates, we will provide you with the legal advice you need while fighting for you throughout your divorce proceedings. If you are searching for help in your parenting case, contact our Arlington Heights family law attorneys at 630-426-0196.

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Summer: Wedding Season or Divorce Season?When most people think of summer, they imagine attending weddings and enjoying time spent with their families. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many couples. According to research conducted by University of Washington sociologists between 2001 and 2015, there is a biannual pattern for divorce. The months of March and August have been found to have high volumes of divorce. While it may seem like a coincidence, there are actually reasons for this spike in ending marriages.

 

Why the Divorce Pattern?

All relationships are different thus making each divorce case unique. Despite the individuality of each couple, studies have found a few common denominators that may contribute to this seasonal divorce pattern.

  1. Post-Holiday Blues: Holiday season is charged with excitement and fun activities to attend. Whether it is Christmas dinner or a Fourth of July barbecue, families spend a lot of time together throughout the holidays. This brings many families together but can also drive some apart. It is common for all of this “family togetherness” to cause emotions to rise and friction to occur. Most couples will wait for things settle down after the holidays before officially deciding to go separate ways.
  2. Back to School: Many parents will wait until the end of the summer before disclosing their decision to divorce to their children. Going to school is a good distraction for children, eliminating large amounts of time that could be spent at home, worrying about their family’s relationships. Having children in school throughout the divorce process also makes it easier to get legal processes done without childcare responsibilities interfering.
  3. Vacation Stress: Family vacations are more common in the summer due to the nice weather and time off from school. Similar to holidays, vacations can bring on more problems than good memories. Traveling is stressful, especially with a spouse that you are unsure about. Traveling difficulties and a large amount of time spent together can ultimately lead to conflict and a solution of permanent separation.

Contact a Lombard, IL, Divorce Attorney for Help

Filing for divorce is difficult, regardless of how much conflict exists between you and your spouse. Parting ways with someone you thought you would spend a lifetime with is not easy no matter the situation. At A. Traub & Associates, we take on the legal process to give you time to focus on your emotional well being. If you are filing for divorce, contact our Glen Ellyn divorce attorneys at 630-426-0196. 

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Filing for DivorceWhether it is a long time coming or a recent revelation, divorce is difficult. Leaving someone you have been with for years is difficult regardless of the quality of your relationship due to the familiarity in having a constant presence by your side. It can be challenging for people to separate their current reality from a nostalgic past. Because filing for divorce is one of the most serious decisions you can make, it is important to be absolutely sure that this is what you want and that this is what is best for everyone. Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself before signing official documents:

  1. Have You Fully Communicated Your Concerns with Your Spouse?: As years of marriage continue on, communication can often get lost in translation. One spouse assumes that they know what the other is thinking due to past experiences. If divorce is on your mind, you should ensure that you have expressed your concerns with your spouse in order to avoid making a rash decision. Disclosing that your unhappiness has led you to consider divorce can sometimes be the wake-up call that spouses need after years of marriage.
  2. Have You Tried Counseling?: Many married couples view seeking out counseling as a weakness. While it may cost your momentary pride, marriage counseling is an effective solution for many couples. Discussing difficulties within your marriage while a third-party is present can help provide another perspective and keep emotions in check. Counseling is often seen as a last-ditch effort but can be effective for many couples.
  3. Why Do You Fear Ending Your Relationship?: One of the most common reasons for avoiding divorce is fear for the future. For some, potential loneliness keeps them from leaving. For others, their physical and financial dependency on their spouse forces them to stay. Identifying these fears is a step in the right direction to understanding why you are hesitant about filing for divorce.
  4. Am I Using My Children as an Excuse?: Couples that have children often put off divorce “for the child’s sake.” Some believe that they are actually helping their children while others use this as an excuse to avoid confrontation and life changes. Studies have proven that staying together for your children’s sake can often be more detrimental to them than getting a divorce. Children are happier when they are in a healthy and happy household. Getting a divorce may be difficult for the child to adjust to, but this is often a healthier lifestyle than living with parents who are clearly unhappy together.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney for Help

Finally making the decision to file for divorce takes lots of self-reflection and consideration of the future. This decision can sometimes take years to make. For a complete life change like divorce, it is important to have experienced attorneys on your side. If you are considering divorce, contact our Lombard, Illinois, attorneys at A. Traub & Associates at 630-426-0196.

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Lombard divorce lawyersOnce you have reached the decision to end your marriage, the real work must begin. You and your spouse will need to decide how to divide your property, how to make arrangements for your children, and how to adjust to your new post-divorce lives. Before you can get there, however, one of you will need to start the legal process of divorce by filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage at the county courthouse. Many clients approach us with questions about this, often wondering how important it is to be the one who file for divorce and whether it makes any difference at all.

Knowing the Law

The divorce process in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), which is a comprehensive collection of statutes that address matters from choosing a venue to how parenting time matters will be decided by the court. A divorce, as a matter of law, is essentially a legal action used to dissolve a marital contract between two parties, and, as such, in every divorce, there is technically a plaintiff and a defendant. These terms, however, are far less important in a divorce than in other areas of the law, such as personal injury or criminal law, and, in fact, the IMDMA refers to the parties in a divorce as a plaintiff or defendant in just one paragraph.

The IMDMA does, however, make more references to a petitioner and a respondent. The petitioner is the spouse who initiates the proceedings by filing the divorce petition, making him or her formally the plaintiff. The non-filing spouse is the respondent and is given the opportunity to file an answer to the petition including motions of his or her own. For the remainder of the proceedings, each party maintains equal status as a party to the case, with the ability to file motions, request considerations, and present evidence. From a legal standpoint, therefore, there is little official advantage to filing for divorce before your spouse does.

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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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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce attorneysThere is some confusion in the general public as to the extent that a spouse’s adultery can affect a divorce case. Television and movies often show an enraged husband or wife discovering that their partner is having an affair and yelling about how they are going to take the house and have full custody of their children. Although adultery is still frowned upon by society, it is usually irrelevant to divorce proceedings.

No-Fault State

Since the beginning of 2016, Illinois has been what is called a “pure no-fault state.” A no-fault state is one which does not require divorcing couples to report the reason or “grounds” that they are seeking the divorce. In the past, things like mental cruelty or adultery could be reported as the official reason that the marriage ended. Today, all divorcing couples in Illinois as assumed to be divorcing on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.”  More specifically, a divorce will only be granted when “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.”

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Lombard divorce attorneysJanuary is often a popular time for couples to separate or divorce because many people wait until after the holidays to start the process of splitting up. If you are considering divorcing your spouse, or you have already decided to, you probably know you have a long road ahead of you. There is no perfect way to divorce, but following experts’ advice may help save you and your spouse from unnecessary stress and conflict as you end your marriage. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, you may wish to:

Resolve to Communicate Better

Communication is one of the most important aspects to any relationship, and it does not become less important when a couple is no longer romantically involved. In order to undo a marriage, both members of it must be willing to talk to the other about the plans moving forward. Understandably, many individuals who are facing the end of their marriage are emotional. They may feel anger toward their spouse because of the hurtful things that happened during the marriage. Others who get divorced feel so upset that they shut down and stop communicating entirely. While these feelings are natural, refusing to cooperate with your spouse will only prolong the painful divorce process. Be willing to “be the bigger person” and work with your spouse, even if you resent him or her. You will be thankful that you did.

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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 family law attorneysUsually, when a couple decides to divorce, the court prefers that the spouses create their own divorce agreement dealing with subjects like maintenance and child support. More often than not, couples are able to agree on these subjects and a divorce decree can be approved by a judge with minimal court intervention. However, there are cases when the agreement will be denied, and either the couple will need to fix a few things or the court will have to make a ruling in accordance with the current law.

Unconscionability

Illinois law holds that an agreement to divorce must not be unconscionable. Unconscionability is a doctrine dealing with contracts that prohibits terms that are so grossly unfair or skewed in favor of one party that it shocks the conscience. While this applies to all contracts, it is seen fairly often in divorces. The aim of a divorce settlement is to leave both spouses with the tools they need to live independently, and sometimes people create agreements that do not meet that criteria, whether they realize it or not.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneyIn many divorce cases, the concept of marital misconduct is often discussed, if only to underscore the fact that any evidence of it is not applicable to most divorce-related discussions. While Illinois law expressly excludes it from playing a role in issues like property division, it is still important to understand exactly what constitutes marital misconduct and what is simply a difference of ideology or opinion between you and your spouse.

Marital Misconduct and Divorce

Marital misconduct is generally defined in the law as conduct of any kind that has helped erode the marriage. This can take many different forms, from the wasteful spending of marital money to adultery to domestic violence. In many states, this kind of conduct can have a negative effect on a spouse’s portion of the marital assets as well as on the amount of parenting time granted to them. The rationale behind such decisions is that someone who shows flagrant disregard for the marriage and its benefits should be entitled to less in a divorce.

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Lombard divorce lawyerOver the past decade or so, one of the more common scenarios that have emerged in family courts across the country is where one or both spouses who are going through the divorce process make the decision to represent themselves instead of hiring an attorney. This is known as a pro se divorce.

Going Through It on Your Own

Couples who decide for forgo the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney may do so for a number of reasons, including:

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Lombard mediation attorneysDivorce is typically a time of increased stress and emotions for the couple splitting. When we are emotionally wounded, we have a tendency to lash out against the person who caused the damage. Some events that happen throughout the course of a divorce have the proclivity to leave lasting emotional wounds to those involved. As adults, we have a better understanding of what is happening and why, but when children are involved, the situation changes. The impact of what happens during a divorce could last for decades or even a lifetime. Many divorcing spouses now seek alternative solutions as a means of protecting their children. One such method is mediation.

What is Mediation?

Even after years of marriage, it is possible just to realize that this is not what you truly want for your life. You and your spouse may have irreconcilable differences, and you just do not “mesh” well together anymore. That is absolutely okay and it does not make either of you any a bad or unlovable person. For situations such as these and others in which the splitting pair are able to maintain a civil relationship, mediation is a viable alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. Instead of heading straight to a courtroom armed with your own personal attorney, divorce mediation allows an opportunity for spouses to come together in a private location with a neutral third party—a mediator—and settle the divorce on their own terms.

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Lombard divorce attorneysWe have all heard the phrase “love is blind.” Many of us have even fallen victim to it ourselves. It is not uncommon for a person, when he or she first falls in love, tend to only see their partner’s good points while ignoring their faults and evident warning signs. This is likely to be a contributing factor to many divorces, especially for couples who marry after only knowing each other a short time.

Such is often the case for people who marry someone, only to find out later that their spouse is a “gold digger.” The word gold digger refers to a person who begins a romantic relationship or marries a partner because the partner is wealthy or well-connected. These relationships are also referred to as romance scams. Although it is common to think that only women are gold diggers, there are many cases in which men are just as guilty.

Know the Warning Signs

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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 divorce lawyersOften when people hear the term mediation in the realm of divorce, they automatically think of the tense arguments and conflicts that typically surround the end of a marriage. While disagreements can certainly turn ugly in the midst of divorce, many marriages actually end civilly and peacefully, with minimal conflict between spouses.

However, for those who are having a difficult time seeing eye to eye on certain issues, tension can arise and the challenge to come to a settlement can create a very bumpy transition for the entire family. This is where divorce mediation in family law comes in. Mediation has a number of advantages, but it is particularly helpful in a number of ways.

Better Communication

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divorce agreement, negotiation, Illinois divorce lawyersA marriage can legally end in just two ways, and both are incredibly difficult experiences. The first is by the death of either spouse, and, of course, the death of a loved one is always challenging. The second, as you probably realize, is divorce, or the dissolution of the marriage, according to the law in Illinois. For many, divorce is no less traumatic than a loved one’s death, and can even be made worse by months of intense fighting and brutal courtroom litigation. There is, however, an alternative to a hotly contested divorce process and, while still not necessarily easy, negotiating the terms of your divorce agreement outside of court may be the best solution for all parties involved.

What Can We Negotiate?

The laws governing divorce in Illinois are contained primarily in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The IMDMA is a comprehensive set of statutes that covers, often in great detail, the responsibilities of each divorcing party, as well as those of the court, for most matters of family law. Regarding divorce agreements, the IMDMA specifically acknowledges that a negotiated agreement promotes the "amicable settlement of disputes between parties to a marriage." It goes on to specify that such an agreement may contain terms regarding spousal maintenance, the division of property, the allocation of parental responsibilities, and child support.

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equitable property divisionIllinois, like the majority of states in this country, is not a community property state when it comes to dividing up the marital estate during a divorce. Instead, the decision is based on "equitable distribution" of a couple’s assets. Equitable distribution does not mean assets are split in half, with each spouse receiving 50 percent. Instead, it is the court who decides what an equitable and fair division is.

In some cases, spouses are able to negotiate an agreement between themselves, or with the help of their attorneys, and the judge’s signature is a formality needed to make the agreement legal. In many other cases, however, a judge is the one who makes the decision of what is an equitable distribution based on the evidence each spouse introduces into trial.

There are several factors a judge will consider when making his or her decision. These factors include:

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