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Lombard, IL first responder divorce attorneyCouples may choose to pursue a divorce for many different reasons. Sometimes, differing work schedules and being required to work long and irregular hours put a terrible strain on a marriage. Unfortunately, this strain can lead to divorce. Out of all the occupations out there, few jobs require more sacrifice and demand than being a first responder. Whether a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic, first responders are real-life heroes who frequently put themselves in harm's way to help others. If you are a first responder looking to get a divorce, consult a highly experienced Illinois divorce attorney with experience in cases involving first responders. An attorney can work with you in tackling the different challenges you may face as a first responder getting a divorce.

How Come First Responders Are at a Heightened Risk of Divorce? 

Most occupations have set hours that allow employees to manage and separate their personal and work life effectively. However, first responders often work peculiar hours. Not only are the hours challenging, but first responders frequently face dangerous situations which can affect them psychologically. The longer someone works as a first responder, the greater the chance they will be involved in a distressing situation. Each event can take a severe toll on the first responders who are called to the scene. After witnessing something distressing, the first responder may withdraw from their spouse and keep their emotions bottled up to try and save their spouse from knowing the grisly details of what occurred at work. In some cases, a first responder may develop PTSD, further leading to communication lapses and tension between them and their spouse. This may lead to the quality of their marriage suffering.

Unique Divorce Challenges for First Responders 

Due to the unique challenges of being a first responder, various complications can arise during divorce proceedings. These may include:


DuPage County estate planning lawyerWhen it comes to estate planning, choosing the appropriate tools, selecting suitable beneficiaries, and accurately preparing all necessary documents can be a complex and daunting task. This is especially the case when one of your intended beneficiaries relies on a government aid program. For example, suppose you plan on issuing an inheritance to a family member who relies on government aid programs. In that case, you may unknowingly impact that individual’s ability to continue benefiting from government aid programs. To avoid this, you may create a special needs trust to provide security to your loved one while ensuring you do not jeopardize their ability to benefit from a government aid program.  

If you have a loved one you believe would benefit from creating a special needs trust, consider consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney with knowledge in creating special needs trusts.

Understanding Special Needs Trusts

Government aid programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Benefits, and others are meant to protect the ongoing needs of people who have disabilities. A significant portion of some of these programs is contingent on that person’s financial need. Therefore, they look at their income and available resources when determining how best a program may help. Adding assets or property, whether large or even small, like a personal injury settlement or an inheritance, may cause a disabled person to exceed program aid limits and threaten their eligibility for such programs. 


DuPage County adoption attorneyChildren deserve to be raised in loving, caring and nurturing households. It is becoming increasingly common for families to have children by non-traditional methods. An excellent option for growing a family is through adoption

Adoption can be a profoundly rewarding experience for so many different types of families. Adoption allows you to grow your family while simultaneously positively impacting a child who needs it. There are lots of options available for families interested in pursuing adoption. If you are interested in pursuing adoption, consult an adoption attorney who knows the law and will ensure all steps are appropriately taken care of, ensuring the adoption process is as seamless as possible. 

Who Can Adopt a Child in Illinois?

In a broad sense, individuals or couples in Illinois are eligible to adopt if they can satisfy basic residency requirements, possess a good reputation, and do not have a legal disability. In addition, the prospective parent needs to be able to financially manage and support the new addition to their family, like providing the child with appropriate housing. Contrary to popular belief, there are no set income requirements for adoption. People who are single or unmarried, as well as married couples, are all eligible to adopt. However, if a married couple who lives together wants to pursue adoption, each spouse needs to be a part of the adoption process. 


Lombard, IL fathers' rights lawyerStarting a family can be one of the happiest and most rewarding things someone can do with their time on earth. In life, however, few things ever go according to plan. For various reasons, what could have started as a happy marriage may dissolve and end in a divorce. In times of familial crisis, such as during a divorce, parents are often most concerned with protecting their children and are focused on minimizing the traumatizing effect a divorce can have on a child's life. 

Any parents' worst nightmare is that during the divorce process, they may be denied a say in making decisions where their children are concerned, or that they may even be denied visitation and parenting time with their child. It used to be assumed that during a divorce, the mother, seen as the nurturer, would be granted custody of the children. However, times have changed, and fathers are recognized as equally important in their children's lives. If you are a father and have been denied visitation or parenting time with your child and believe you do not have enough say in matters, consider contacting experienced Illinois family law attorneys who are passionate about protecting a father's rights during divorce. 

Protecting Your Parental Rights as a Father

Under Illinois law, the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act definitively states that parents possess the right to have reasonable parenting time unless there is sufficient reason to believe that a parent should be denied access to their child. For instance, a court may bar a parent from access to their child if there is reason to believe the child's physical or mental health would be significantly compromised if allowed unsupervised time with one of their parents. In addition, unless a parent has a history of domestic violence or has been previously convicted of a violent crime, they have a legal right to spend time with their child.


DuPage County estate planning lawyerMore likely than not that you have heard of a will. In case you need a refresher, a will is a legal document that serves as the foundation of an estate plan. In addition, the document acts as a road map and guide for allocating someone's assets and property after they pass away. Finally, creating a will is an important step that grants someone’s  family security and peace of mind.

So, you may be wondering, what is a living will? Essentially, a living will is a written document that functions as an advanced medical directive, which allows you, while you are still alive, to make specific decisions regarding what medical treatment you would like to receive if you become incapable of making such choices for yourself in the future. You may know other medical directives, like do-not-resuscitate orders and mental health treatment declarations. If you are interested in creating a living will, consider contacting an experienced living will attorney who can help you or a loved one navigate this sensitive time with the utmost compassion and knowledge of the best procedures moving forward. 

Determining Your Wishes for the Living Will

When drafting a living will, a critical issue is your values and what you consider an acceptable quality of life. Is there any circumstance where you would feel life is not worth living? Are you someone who would like their life extended in any situation? Or would you only want treatment in case a cure is possible? These are questions to ask yourself as you address possible end-of-life choices in your living will. 


Lombard surrogacy contract lawyerIt is often said that there is nothing more magical and rewarding than becoming a parent. But, sadly, becoming pregnant is not always as easy as a couple may expect. Many aspiring parents need a little extra assistance to make their family dreams come true. 

Whether you are looking to see if you are eligible for surrogacy or are the intended parents considering surrogacy as a pathway to becoming parents, several legal requirements must be adhered to for the process to be legally valid. First, a surrogacy contract must be established at the outset of the process in Illinois. This contract is an agreement and, in many ways, a road map for the prospective parents and surrogate mother that helps safeguard the rights of the intended parents and surrogate. Whether you are the intended parents or a surrogate, an experienced surrogacy contract attorney can help both parties ensure that all rights are protected throughout the process.

What Are the Requirements for a Surrogacy Contract to Be Valid? 

Under Illinois law, according to the Gestational Surrogacy Act, which was updated as recently as 2015, there are a number of requirements that the surrogate and intended parents must meet for the surrogacy contract to be valid. Let us begin with the requirements for the surrogate. The surrogate must:


DuPage County estate planning lawyerWhen planning for the future, there is no greater gift to grant a loved one than security and peace of mind. Questions like, “What will happen when I die?” or “Will my family be secure if something were to happen to me?” can be overwhelming but essential questions one must ask oneself. Building an estate plan that fits your and your family's needs is a critical step in ensuring that your family will be protected no matter what life throws at you. In addition, wills and trusts are excellent ways to grant yourself and your family the assurance that your family will be taken care of adequately in case of the unexpected. 

What is a Will, And What Does It Include? 

Essentially, a will is a legal document that serves as the foundation of an estate plan. This document organizes the allocation of a person's assets, property, and more after passing away. A will is customized to fit your family's financial and familial circumstances. While a lawyer is not required to make a will in Illinois, it is wise to hire a lawyer for the will-making process to ensure the document is legally binding and will hold up in a court of law against any legal challenges. 

Under Illinois law, every will must be in writing. However, when drafting a will, there are specific provisions that you may include. These include: 


IL estate planning lawyerResponsible adults of every age and wealth level can benefit from setting up an estate plan while they are sure of their wishes and sound mind. While the end of life is rarely a pleasant thing to contemplate, people are often surprised at the peace of mind they get when they know their wishes will be respected and their family members are protected.

Unfortunately, an unexpected death may have left your loved one unable to create an estate plan, leaving you - the executor or beneficiary - trying to determine what to do. If you are responsible for managing the estate of a deceased person (the “decedent”), consider meeting with an Illinois estate planning attorney to find out whether a small estate affidavit could benefit you.

Small Estate Affidavit in Illinois

When someone dies without an estate plan, their property must go through the Illinois probate process. This can be long, difficult, and expensive, to say nothing of the emotional burden of managing an unplanned estate after the loss of a loved one.


IL family lawyerWhen divorce in Illinois is a messy emotional affair, it typically comes on the heels of an equally messy relationship. Couples often experience many years of difficult interpersonal conflict before deciding to get divorced, with the result that they may not want anything to do with each other once the divorce is finalized - even if they share minor children.

It is easy for partners who changed their last name when they got married to revert to their original last name after a divorce is finalized - doing so can simply be part of the divorce judgment. However, parents who want to change their minor child’s last name as well can run into significant challenges.

When Can a Child’s Last Name Be Changed After Divorce?

Every decision that affects a child’s life after divorce is under scrutiny by the court. Parenting time, allocation of parental responsibilities, where a child lives - these things must all be approved by a judge and parents can be penalized for not following a court-ordered child custody order.


IL family lawyerDivorcing parents in Illinois frequently disagree about the best way to arrange shared parenting time and parental responsibilities. After so many years of an unhappy marriage, it can feel like negotiating your relationship with your child is too much to ask. Many children are caught between parents who cannot agree on a parenting plan and often, both the parents and children are dissatisfied with the eventual outcome.

But children grow older and as they do, they begin to develop more mature relationships with their parents. This can include a more nuanced perspective on their parents’ divorce, as well as strong preferences for a parenting arrangement that may be different from the current court order. As a child’s personality continues to develop, he or she may express a desire to spend more time with one parent than the current schedule allows. For the parent with whom the child wants to spend more time, this may be a welcome adjustment - but where do you go from here?

Can A Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

In the best-case scenario, a child who declares his or her preference to change the parenting time schedule will have the preference affirmed by both parents, who will then willingly approach the court and modify the parenting plan. However, this is frequently not the case.


IL trusts lawyerSetting up an estate plan for the first time can be a daunting task. Not only does it confront you with potentially uncomfortable questions ranging from the practical to the existential, but it also requires careful accounting of your assets and detailed planning for the future. Fortunately, you are not required to manage your estate plan alone. Experienced attorneys who have no motive but to protect your wishes are available to help you identify the type of estate planning instruments that will benefit you the most. One common feature of an estate plan is a trust.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a fiduciary (financial) arrangement that allows someone to give their assets to a designated person (trustee), who will manage or hold the assets until they pass on to the trust’s recipients (beneficiaries). People who have specific plans for their money, property, or heirloom belongings after they pass away commonly use trusts to ensure their wishes are protected.

The other major benefit of a trust is that it usually avoids the probate process, which is when a deceased person’s estate gets reviewed and distributed to beneficiaries in a court proceeding. This generally allows beneficiaries to access an inheritance more quickly and with less hassle, taxes, and court costs than an estate without a trust.


IL estate lawyerEstablishing an estate plan early and reviewing it often will ensure your wishes are met and that your loved ones are protected; waiting too long to take care of your estate plan can instead leave your loved ones scrambling to make tough decisions. Having a power of attorney - i.e., giving someone the legal authority to make decisions for you - is essential for helping you and your family in times of need. Here are five kinds of powers of attorney and how each may benefit you.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is applicable and legally binding as soon as it is signed. It is effective even if you become incapacitated, or unable to make decisions for yourself. Unless otherwise specified, most powers of attorney are presumed to be durable, but it is best to be as specific as possible in your estate plan. A durable power of attorney continues to be effective even if you come in and out of capacity, or if you are only capable of making certain decisions.

Springing Power of Attorney

A springing power of attorney becomes effective once you are no longer capable of making the kinds of decisions listed in the power of attorney document. Your designated agent will begin making decisions on your behalf, or “springing” into action only when necessary. Springing powers of attorney are useful for those who wish to keep making decisions as long as they can. You can be highly specific about the conditions that must be met before a springing power of attorney goes into effect.


IL divorce lawyerIllinois is a no-fault divorce state. This means that, no matter how poorly spouses treated each other during their marriage, the only fault that can be given when a couple gets divorced is “irreconcilable differences.” With few exceptions, divorce judges do not take a spouse’s behavior during a marriage into consideration when he or she is making decisions about the outcome of the divorce.

For a spouse who has been wronged, this can feel deeply unfair. After all, it makes sense that someone who ruins a marriage with unforgivable acts of infidelity should not have the right to make the same demands of their spouse as someone who has been faithful. Unfortunately, this is how the law works in Illinois. But this does not mean that you cannot use the law to your advantage if your spouse is already with someone else and is asking you for alimony.

Can I Fight My Ex’s Alimony Petition if They Have Another Partner?

In Illinois, alimony is technically known as “spousal maintenance.” While spousal maintenance is awarded less often than it used to be, for spouses who have been married for a long time and who have a significant difference in their ability to make money, spousal maintenance is still common.


IL divorce lawyerDivorce brings many changes and a new school year can heap challenge upon challenge for newly divorced parents who are managing children’s schedules from two different households. The first school year can be especially difficult as you come up with new strategies for managing the new and old problems that come with having minor kids in school. Here are four situations that Illinois parents frequently encounter during the school year and some suggestions for handling them smoothly.

Homework and School Projects

It is important for parents to be on the same page about enforcing homework rules and expectations. This is especially true for bigger projects and tests that can take weeks to complete or prepare for and which may require supplies to be moved between households. The more a routine can be predictable and simple, the easier it will be for kids and both parents to follow.

School Lunch

Whether your child buys lunch at school or takes lunch with them is less important than everybody knowing what to expect. After all, the last thing you want is for a kid to be surprised at school with an empty lunch account balance and a hungry stomach. If a child is eating school lunch, make sure you discuss how to manage the costs (this can be a great issue to address in your parenting plan). If you need to reimburse the other parent for the cost of food, do it directly through them, not your child.


IL estate lawyerWhile many stepparents come to have close relationships with their stepchildren, other stepparents do not nor even wish to. Step-families are often a complex mix of histories, emotions, grievances, and perceived injuries, making warm relationships difficult to establish and nurture.

Whether one feels positively or otherwise about his stepchildren, when it comes to estate planning, certain questions must be answered. Does a stepparent need to specifically address stepchildren in the estate plan? Is a stepparent a terrible person if they choose to specifically exclude their stepchildren or even one particular stepchild? If you are learning more about creating an estate plan, read on and then contact our Illinois estate planning attorneys for skilled legal assistance.

Do Stepchildren Have Rights to an Estate?

The good news for stepparents who are not interested in making their stepchildren part of the estate plan is that, unless they are adopted, stepchildren have no inheritance rights. Even if they are not mentioned in an individual’s will, stepchildren do not have standing to claim an inheritance from a stepparent. Stepchildren who are adopted are treated the same as biological children.


wheaton estate planning lawyer Trusts are rapidly replacing wills as the main form of testamentary estate planning. You do not need to be a millionaire for using a trust to make sense. In terms of deciding who gets what when you have passed away, a trust can do everything a will can do while also allowing for some discretion and more gradual distribution. There are a number of benefits trusts offer that wills cannot. Unless you have minor children, you may not need a will at all if you establish a trust. There are also numerous different types of trusts that all offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. An attorney can help you understand all your options so that you can make a well-informed decision. 

Advantages of Using a Trust, Not a Will

Some of the benefits that have people turning to trusts as their primary testamentary document include: 

  • Gradual distributions - When you use a will, your beneficiaries get whatever gifts you have left for them in their entirety immediately. Depending on your beneficiaries and how they are with financial management, this could be a recipe for disaster. With a trust, you can have money slowly distributed to them over time instead of handing them a lump sum. 


lombard family law attorneyMany couples in Illinois feel as though they have lost a romantic connection or have differences too great to overcome. At the same time, these couples may not be ready to completely commit to a divorce - now or ever. When this happens, Illinois law offers an alternative option that may be a better fit: Legal separation. If you want to officially separate from your spouse but do not want a divorce, read this overview of legal separation and then talk to a DuPage family law attorney about your options. 

What is a Legal Separation in Illinois? 

When married couples who want to separate move out of the marital home, they may be physically separated but they have not yet gotten legally separated. Legal separation is not merely living apart; rather, it is a legal term that describes formally separating your life with your spouse in virtually the same way as a divorce without actually getting divorced. 

For example, in a divorce spouses must resolve the following issues:


Lombard Probate Law AttorneyCreating an estate plan can take some effort. You have to carefully consider who you would like to receive what. There can be an emotional aspect to estate planning. There is some legal strategizing involved. The last thing you want is for someone to dispute your estate planning documents when you are no longer here to defend yourself and your plans. Disputes are common when a relative is left out of the estate plan and becomes upset. They may also occur simply because your survivors are not getting along with each other. Document disputes are not always raised in good faith. There are steps you and your lawyer can take now to reduce the likelihood of a dispute later. 

Ways to Stop a Future Dispute Before it Happens

If you have any suspicion that someone may have an interest in disputing your documents later, inform your attorney. They may recommend strategies like: 

  • Private planning - Your lawyer may ask that you come to all appointments with them alone rather than with a relative or other intended beneficiary. Meeting with your lawyer to do your estate planning in private may help remove any appearance of undue influence by one beneficiary. In fact, it may be preferable to not tell your loved ones that you are engaged in estate planning until the process is complete. 


illnois divorce lawyerThe purchase of a first home is a major milestone in many couples’ marriages. Unfortunately, the division of the marital home later in divorce is often a difficult issue to resolve, especially when only one spouse has their name on the title or purchased the home before the marriage. If you are thinking about getting divorced and are wondering whether you have any claim to the home you lived in during your marriage, make sure you have a skilled Illinois divorce attorney on your side. 

Homes Can Be Personal Property, Marital Property, or Both

Before assets can be divided in a divorce, they need to be categorized as either personal or marital property. For smaller assets like a car or a piece of jewelry, determining the category is usually fairly straightforward. For a home, however, the process can be a little more difficult. 

For example, if you waited until after you were married to buy a house but only one spouse had good enough credit to purchase the home, the home may appear to be owned exclusively by that spouse. But marital property is not necessarily determined by whose name is on the title of the home; rather, if an item was bought after a marriage using both spouses’ incomes, the item is considered marital property no matter who is listed as the owner. 


illnois divorce lawyerThe purchase of a first home is a major milestone in many couples’ marriages. Unfortunately, the division of the marital home later in divorce is often a difficult issue to resolve, especially when only one spouse has their name on the title or purchased the home before the marriage. If you are thinking about getting divorced and are wondering whether you have any claim to the home you lived in during your marriage, make sure you have a skilled Illinois divorce attorney on your side. 

Homes Can Be Personal Property, Marital Property, or Both

Before assets can be divided in a divorce, they need to be categorized as either personal or marital property. For smaller assets like a car or a piece of jewelry, determining the category is usually fairly straightforward. For a home, however, the process can be a little more difficult. 

For example, if you waited until after you were married to buy a house but only one spouse had good enough credit to purchase the home, the home may appear to be owned exclusively by that spouse. But marital property is not necessarily determined by whose name is on the title of the home; rather, if an item was bought after a marriage using both spouses’ incomes, the item is considered marital property no matter who is listed as the owner. 

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