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What Happens If I Report Child Abuse?Feeling the need to report child abuse is a serious and uncomfortable situation to encounter. Many people will ignore signs that may resemble abuse because they do not want to misinterpret what actually happened. Reports state that of incidents of abuse go unreported, leaving most abused children in dangerous homes. While it can feel as if you are intruding on someone else’s business, reporting suspected abuse can save a child from a lifetime of trauma.

Types of Abuse

  1. Physical Abuse: This form of abuse is fairly self-explanatory and easier to spot than others. Any form of physical injury that is not accidental is considered physical abuse. Some children may be able to hide their injuries as “playing rough outside”; however, constant bodily injuries could be a sign that the child may be suffering from physical harm at home.
  2. Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse can be performed by a parent or an older child. This can be difficult to detect as children do not fully understand the problems with the assaults. That is one of the many reasons why sexual abuse goes unreported. According to Childhelp, 20.7 percent of adults report having been sexually abused as a child.
  3. Emotional Abuse: Many adults may think it is questionable to report this form of abuse; however, it is just as detrimental to children as other forms of abuse. Emotional abuse can include name calling, insulting, threatening violence, or withholding love or support. Some may see this as “tough parenting,” but repeated abuse can cause damage to a child over time.

What Happens If I Report a Parent?

If you suspect a child is being abused, it is important to specify the type of abuse and provide the child’s information. Child Protective Services will meet with the parents to assess the situation and see if a problem is going on. One report does not result in a child’s removal from their home. CPS will provide the family with resources such as counseling, mental health/drug abuse services, training on financial responsibility, and parental education. If the child is in serious danger, they will be removed from the household for their own safety. While it may seem that you are breaking a family apart, the child’s safety is most important.

I Was Reported to DCFS – What Do I Do Next?

Being reported to the Department of Child and Family Services can be extremely stressful and frustrating for a responsible parent. It may seem like the reporter is out to get you or that DCFS is disregarding your history as a good parent. Many reports do not continue past the initial checkup, but it is important to be prepared if the case goes to court. If you have been accused of child abuse and need legal assistance, contact our experienced Glen Ellyn, Illinois, DCFS lawyers at A. Traub & Associates. Call 630-426-0196 for a free consultation. 

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Lombard estate planning lawyersEvery adult should have some type of estate plan in place. Even just a relatively simple will could provide a great deal of security and direction for surviving loved ones in the event of a tragedy. However, the reality is that more than half of Americans do not have an estate plan of any kind.

While there may be many reasons for this, arguably the most common is procrastination. Most people realize that an estate plan is a good idea, but it is not always something that is a high priority. As a result, people tend to wait until they approaching retirement age to begin the process. Those who wait, unfortunately, often find themselves the unwitting targets of scammers who are simply looking to make money as they prey on the fears and uncertainty of those looking for peace of mind.

What Are Trust Mills?

Estate planning scams can take many forms, and they are not limited to shady-looking, back-alley operations. Fully licensed attorneys have been known to take advantage of estate planning and administration situations in an attempt to collect unnecessary fees. Trust mills are another common source of estate planning scams that you should be aware of.

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What is an Adoption Home Study and How Can I Prepare?The adoption process is quite lengthy and requires lots of preparation in order for you to be ready to immediately care for your new child. A home study is one step of many in the adoption process. The purpose of a home study is to ensure that you and your spouse are good potential parents who can provide a child with a safe and happy home. The home study is more than just a house inspection. The inspector will also spend time interviewing both parents to gauge their character and parenting ability. This part of the adoption process can be extremely nerve-wracking but is also the part of adoption that you have the most control over.

What Should I Bring to My Home Study?

Home studies vary depending on the type of adoption that you and your spouse decide is best. However, the primary goal and document requirements remain fairly consistent. Home studies often take longer than a single visit, sometimes taking months to fully complete. The best way to reduce the amount of time spent in the home inspection is to educate yourself on the process and have the necessary documents in hand. These can include:

  • Certified copies of birth certificates;
  • Adoption decrees for any other adopted children;
  • A marriage certificate;
  • Death certificates of former spouses;
  • Divorce papers for you and your spouse;
  • Employment and income verification;
  • Proof of life and health insurance;
  • A list of assets;
  • Debt information; and
  • Mortgage or rent information. 

The interview also requires physical exam results as well as a public health and fire inspection for your home. While the paperwork may seem daunting, it is crucial that you bring multiple copies of each form to avoid scheduling additional appointments. 

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DuPage County estate planning attorneyMore than half of Americans do not have any estate planning documents in place at all. Those that do most often have a will and nothing more. However, there are many estate planning instruments above and beyond a last will which can be greatly beneficial. One of these instruments is a trust.

Some people shy away from trusts because they do know exactly how trusts work or how a trust can benefit them and their family. Others assume that only the wealthy require trusts to handle the distribution of assets after their death. Neither of these estate planning myths is true. Read on to learn about the basics of trusts and how a trust may be able to work for you. 

How a Trust Works

In a last will and testament, an individual writes directions for how his or her property should be distributed to heirs upon his or her death. A trust can also address how property is passed down to beneficiaries, but in a different way. A trust establishes an agreement between a testator and a trustee. The testator is the person creating the trust and may also be referred to as a settlor or grantor. The trustee is tasked with managing the settlor’s assets and distributing those assets according to instructions contained in the trust. The trustee is a fiduciary with a legal obligation to follow the terms of the trust and avoid any self-dealing or conflicts of interest in managing assets contained in a trust.

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Common Parenting Schedules to Take into ConsiderationDetermining the allocation of parental responsibilities can be one of the most difficult aspects of divorce. Parents are not used to having to schedule a time to see their children. It is typically built into their schedule out of default. Making parenting decisions can be the portion of divorce that causes the most conflict. Emotions can run high, which can lead to an inaccurate representation of who you are as a parent. In order to avoid being overwhelmed by the legal process, it is important to be prepared when discussing parenting schedules.

Common Schedules

Although all parenting schedules can be adjusted to fit your family, there are four common divisions of parenting time that many families follow.

  1. 50/50: Evident in the name, the 50/50 plan has the child spending equal time with both parents. Some families have the children spend a whole week with each parent while some prefer to alternate days. This schedule is best when both parents live nearby and both are actively involved in parenting. The 50/50 schedule can make it difficult for the child to feel grounded depending on the number of days spent in each household.
  2. 60/40: This schedule is close to the 50/50 plan but assigns a primary home for the child. The 60/40 requires four days with one parent and three days with the other. Children will normally stay with one parent during the week and spend a long weekend with the other parent. This tends to give the child more stability during the school week, allowing them to focus on their academics during the week.
  3. 70/30: This schedule has the child living with one parent five days a week and the other two days a week. Similar to the 60/40, children normally stay with the non-custodial parent on the weekends, but this is adjustable based on each family’s situation.
  4. 80/20: The 80/20 has the child spending the majority of their time with the custodial parent while visiting the non-custodial parent every other weekend. Many families choose this to give both parents time with their children on the weekend, especially if both parents work. Although the child lives primarily with one parent, it can be difficult to spend “quality time” with them during the week.

Contact a Lombard Divorce Lawyer for Help

Divorce changes your lifestyle significantly, especially for parents. Rather than seeing their child every day, parents have to learn to adjust. At A. Traub & Associates, we work with you to do what is best for your whole family. If you are searching for assistance with your divorce, contact our experienced DuPage County attorneys for a free consultation at 630-426-0196.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAlthough we generally consider marriage to be primarily a romantic relationship, when two people join their lives together, it is also a financial union. Many studies show that disagreements about finances are the top predictor of divorce. One of the best ways that engaged couples can avoid this pitfall is to be upfront, honest, and proactive about financial plans and concerns from the very beginning. If you are a newlywed or plan to “take the plunge” this summer, it is important to consider the estate planning steps you should take to safeguard your family’s financial future.

Create Your Last Will and Testament or Update Your Existing Will

In past blog posts, we have discussed some of the most ubiquitous misunderstandings about wills. Perhaps the greatest myth regarding wills is that they are only needed after a certain age. The reality is that an adult of any age will benefit from creating a will.

Although it is unpleasant to think about, unexpected tragedies happen every day. By creating a will now, you are safeguarding your ability to make decisions about what happens to your debt and property after you pass away. Furthermore, creating a will helps you identify and explore your current financial situation. This can help you and your soon-to-be-spouse better discuss financial concerns and plans for the future. If you already have a will, you will need to update it after getting married. An experienced estate planning attorney can be a valuable resource when drafting or updating a will.

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What Is Child Relocation in Illinois and How Can I Get It Approved?Many people decide to relocate after a divorce in order to have a fresh start. Seeing their former spouse in town or going to places that you used to frequent throughout your marriage can make it difficult to move on and start over. While this does not require court approval for all divorcees, those with children will need to get this legally approved. This is mandated in Illinois in order to prevent the custodial parent from intentionally keeping their children away from their other biological parent. This can occur if the marriage did not end amicably; however, a bad marriage does not make someone a bad parent. Despite the cases where one parent is attempting to control the other, relocation can be done with the child’s best interests in mind.

What Is Considered Relocation in Illinois?

Moving and relocating are not one and the same. Relocating is moving a residence on a much larger scale. According to Illinois law 750 ILCS 5/600, there are a few specific parameters required to be classified as “relocation”:

  • A child living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will county moves to a new residence that is 25 miles from the child’s current residence;
  • A child living in an Illinois county that is not listed above moves to a new residence within the state that is 50 miles from their current residence; or
  • A child moves to a new residence that is outside of Illinois and is more than 25 miles from their current residence.

What Does the Court Consider When Evaluating My Request?

There are various factors that the court will look at to ensure that the intentions for the move have the child’s best interests in mind. A judge will typically speak to the child depending on their age and maturity level. Although the child’s opinion may not be the determining factor in the court’s decision, facial expressions and body language can sometimes reveal more information than words. The judge will also look at the potential change in the quality of life. This includes the child’s educational, physical, and emotional development. The reputation and level of education of the child’s current school are often compared to the new school to ensure that they will have equal opportunities if the relocation is approved. Another area that the court will focus on is the child’s relationship with each parent. If the child has a strong relationship with the non-custodial parent and moving would disrupt that, the judge will probably not allow them to move. At the end of the day, the court’s priority is the child’s happiness and well-being.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysEven though there are numerous benefits to creating a will, studies show that only about 60 percent of Americans have established a will, trust, power of attorney, or other estate plans. Many people use misinformed excuses to justify not having estate plans. They may incorrectly think “I am not rich, so I do not need a will” or “I can wait until I am older or in poor health to create estate planning documents.”

Estate planning does require a person to face some uncomfortable inevitabilities and can be tedious, so it is understandable that many procrastinate on this important undertaking. However, waiting too long to think about estate planning may mean that very personal decisions regarding your property, heirs, and even your medical care could be left up to others. 

Why You Need an Estate Plan Even If You Are Young and in Good Health

Anyone who drives a car on public roads must have auto insurance according to Illinois law. However, it is safe to assume that many people would have auto insurance even if it was not required by law. They know that car accidents happen across the country every day and that it is better to be safe than sorry. Generally, people understand how insurance protects them much better than how estate planning protects them. However, the two concepts are not entirely different.

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Lombard guardianship attorneyWe generally think about guardianship with regard to guardianship of children, however, this is not the only type of legal guardianship that exists. When a person cannot care for themselves due to a disability, old age, or a debilitating illness, a family member may take on the responsibility of caring for him or her. Sometimes, visiting the person several times a week and helping with certain errands and tasks is enough while other people need much more extensive assistance. For situations in which a person needs significant help, you may consider guardianship. Seeking guardianship of an adult may be the best way to ensure a disabled adult is receiving the care he or she needs, but the process is not always simple.

When Do Courts Grant Guardianship of Adults?

In Illinois, guardianship of a person over age 18 only takes place through the court system. Before a court will assign someone to be another person’s guardian, it must first confirm that the disabled or sick individual needs this level of assistance. The court will evaluate to what degree the disabled person is incapacitated by mental illness, cognitive decline, physical ailment, developmental disability, or another issue. In some situations, a drug or alcohol addiction may also be considered disabling enough to qualify a person for guardianship. The court will determine the level of incapacitation the disabled person experiences and the particular responsibilities that he or she cannot accomplish for himself or herself. Next, the court will determine what type of guardian should be selected.

Guardian of the Estate Versus Guardian of the Person

While there are many types of guardianship in Illinois, they fall into two main categories: guardian of the estate and guardian of the person. When the disabled person only needs help with making financial decisions, the court will likely assign someone to be their guardian of the estate. If the disabled person cannot make healthcare and medical decisions on his or her own, the court may appoint a guardian of the person. In the event that a disabled person needs both types of guardians, one person can fulfill both of these roles or a separate person can be assigned to each role. An individual in need of a guardian may nominate the person(s) he or she wants to act as guardian, but the court must approve this decision.

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How to Be a Stepparent – Legally and Emotionally Because divorce is so common, having a stepparent or becoming one has also become less of a rarity over time. Children whose parents divorce and remarry at a young age often see this as their norm. Because they grew with it, there is nothing outside of the ordinary about having more parental figures than just the people who are biologically related to you. This is not the case with children or teens whose parents get divorced when they are old enough to remember a life when their parents were married. A stepparent can seem like a foreign concept. The emotional transition can be just as difficult, if not more, as the legal process to becoming an “official” parent through adoption.

What Does the Legal Process Look Like?

An individual is considered a child’s “stepparent” once they marry the child’s biological parent. However, in the eyes of the court, this person has no legal rights with the child. Becoming a legal guardian of a child as a stepparent can be difficult. A child can only have two legal guardians, thus the other biological parent must give up their legal rights in order for the child to gain a new legal guardian. Stepparent adoptions are most common when the other biological parent has passed away. If this is the case, the only permission needed is the stepparent’s spouse. From there, the process is similar to other adoptions. Legal documents must be completed, interviews conducted, and a decision made about whether or not the stepparent is fit to adopt the child.

How Can I Be a Good Stepparent?

Taking on the responsibility of a stepparent is no easy task. Children or teens are typically resistant to the change at first. To them, you can appear to be taking the place of their deceased parent or overstepping your bounds. The following are tips on how to ease into the stepparent role:

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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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DuPage County estate planning lawyersHaving a will, trust, and other estate planning documents in place can give you the peace of mind that if something happens to you, your final wishes will be fulfilled. Furthermore, comprehensive estate planning allows you to make decisions about your property and healthcare so that your family will not be burdened with making these decisions on your behalf. There are so many benefits to creating an estate plan, that it may surprise that only about 40 percent of Americans have created a will or trust. There are many myths and misunderstandings about estate planning which contribute to this.

Misunderstanding 1: You Need to Be Wealthy to Have a Will

One of the greatest misunderstandings about estate planning is that people assume it is only for the wealthy. On the contrary, anyone over age 18 can benefit from estate planning. Even if you do not have high-value assets, you probably own sentimental items which you would like given to a certain family member or friend upon your death.

Even if you do not personally care what happens to your property and debt upon your death, there are other benefits to having a will or trust. When people die without a will, it often leaves a great deal of work for surviving loved ones. An estate plan saves your friends and family the burdensome task of guessing what you would have wanted regarding your property, debt, funeral arrangements, and more.

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The Pros and Cons of Adult GuardianshipWhen most people think of guardianship, they imagine something similar to adoption. They begin to take care of a child in a similar fashion to the way they would care for their biological child. While this is one form of guardianship, adult guardianship is also fairly common. Becoming someone’s legal guardian gives you the legal authority to assist that individual with their affairs. This is typically done to help an adult make decisions when they are incapable of doing so themselves. It can be difficult to take on this role, especially if the adults are your parents. However, when debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s affect the adult’s mental ability, it can be crucial to take on this position. 

Benefits of Guardianship

One of the primary benefits of legal guardianship is the peace of mind for everyone involved. Not only will you feel more secure and comfortable with the adult you are guiding but you will also feel personal reassurance. Guardianships are typically a last resort for family members when they see that their loved one is not able to make legal decisions on their own. That being said, once the unpredictability is removed from the situation it can take away the stress for everyone involved. Becoming a legal guardian also gives clear legal authority for instances in which it is necessary. When third-parties become involved, it is much easier to have a designated leader rather than someone who is unsure and incapable of making large decisions.

Disadvantages of Guardianship

Much like any other legal process, officially declaring guardianship over another adult involves a lot of time and effort from all parties. An attorney must be included in the process along with the signing of legal papers and court involvement. Although this can seem daunting to some, an experienced attorney can lift the stress of the situation off of everyone’s shoulders. The process as a whole can be very time consuming, yet worth the wait. If you are concerned that your loved one needs someone to help them with legal processes, it is well worth the time it takes to obtain your new title as legal guardian.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersAdvance directives are among the lesser-known estate planning tools. Studies show that only about a third of adults in the United States have signed an advance directive. There are a few reasons that advance directives are less popular that other types of estate planning documents like trusts and wills. Many people are not aware of how an advance directive can benefit them and their family if an unexpected tragedy should occur. While it can be quite difficult to plan for a possible future incapacitation, doing so has many benefits to both you and your loved ones.

Advance Directives Allow You to Be in Control of Your Future Medical Care

Have you considered what types of healthcare and medical intervention you would want if you ever became incapacitated by a serious illness or injury? For example, if you fell into a persistent vegetative state, would you want to be kept alive via a feeding tube? Facing these types of questions is not fun, but doing so now means that your family will not be burdened with the responsibility of making these plans for you if you became extremely ill. Through an advance directive, you can make decisions ahead of time about what types of medical care you do and do not want should the worst happen. This estate planning tool puts the power in your hands instead of in the hands of family members or doctors.

Durable Power of Attorney Versus Living Will

Advance directives fall into two main categories: durable power of attorney for health care and a living will. A power of attorney for health care is also called a medical power of attorney or health care proxy. A living will allows you to dictate the types of end-of-life medical care you want to receive as well as the treatments you do not want to receive. A health care power of attorney allows you to choose a representative, called an “agent” in Illinois, to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself. Most often, people choose a close friend or family member to be their agent. Being someone’s health care proxy is a tremendously important job, so it is critical that you choose someone responsible who understands your wishes. It is not uncommon for person to create a living will and appoint a medical power of attorney to ensure that the terms of the living will are followed.  

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Lombard, IL divorce lawyer

Divorce is a difficult time and transition for everyone involved, but children have a different experience altogether. Children often do not understand the reasoning behind the divorce and can blame themselves for the conflict between their parents. This is most common in young children but can also happen for older ones who have experienced their parents fighting throughout their lives. One of the most confusing parts of the divorce process is the transition from living under one roof with both parents to living part-time in two separate homes. 

Moving During Divorce

Custody arrangements look different for every family. Some share equal time with both parents while others only stay with their non-custodial parent on some weekends and holidays. While there are a variety of different arrangements, a house should feel like a home regardless of the amount of time a child spends there. The following are tips to make your house more comfortable for your child:

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DuPage County power of attorney lawyersWhen you look to the future, you probably understand that a time might come where you are no longer able to make sound decisions for yourself. Nobody likes to think in such terms, but the reality is your health could deteriorate to the point where you cannot express your desires about your money, belongings, or even your medical care. In order to account for this possibility, the law in Illinois allows you to choose a person to act as your power of attorney for important decisions like these. The selected person will have legal authority to make decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself.

Characteristics of the Right Person

Under Illinois law, the person you choose as your power of attorney is actually called an “attorney-in-fact” or an “agent.” Your agent must have the necessary skills and ability to handle the responsibilities associated with a good power of attorney. A solid candidate must:

  • Be detail-oriented;
  • Be organized and financially responsible;
  • Be educated and/or experienced in dealing with finances, insurance, and/or healthcare, depending upon the duties you are asking of him or her; and
  • Be able to work well with accountants, lawyers, doctors, hospitals, and other professionals to protect you and your best interests.

In addition to being capable, your selected agent must also be willing to take on the responsibilities associated with powers of attorney. A person who only agrees out of a sense of obligation is not likely to be very helpful. If you ask someone to be your agent and they seem unsure, you might want to ask somebody else.

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DuPage County Divorce AttorneyAccording to the American Psychological Association, more than 90 percent of individuals from Western cultures marry by the age of 50. Sadly, in the United States, 40 to 50 percent of these marriages end in divorce. However, while the nationwide average is high, not every state has such a high divorce rate. Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau found that Illinois has some of the lowest divorce numbers in the country, with there being 9.41 divorced individuals for every 1,000 married couples in the state. Other states, such as Hawaii, New York, Vermont, and New Jersey, have similarly low divorce rates.  What common factors do these states have that causes the divorce rate to be so low?

Why the Reduced Numbers?

It can be difficult to determine what the variables in a good marriage are. Studies of these states have found that there are commonalities they all share:

  • Reduced Student Debt: A common cause of divorce is financial stress. A couple’s financial state can sometimes make or break their marriage, depending on their situation. This is especially common for couples in which one person works while the other stays at home. Large amounts of student debt can be an immediate burden added to a marriage, particularly if the working individual is using their paycheck to pay off their spouse’s debt. Many of the “top five” low divorce states had lower average amounts of student debt owed.
  • An Age Range Change: Getting married young is not as common as it once was. Unlike their parents and their grandparents, millennials are choosing to get married at an older age. This has been attributed to higher education levels and increased opportunities, especially for women. Marriages that are officiated when the individuals are older have been proven to last longer. Many of the individuals in these five states wait until closer to age 30 to tie the knot.
  • Higher Income: Similar to the first reason, less financial burden equals less conflict about monetary constraints. The Census Bureau reports reflect a correlation between high divorce rates and large numbers of people who live below the poverty line. The opportunities that are available to people with higher incomes can reduce stress for couples, thus making them happier in their marriage.
  • Fewer People are Tying the Knot: Do not let the statistics fool you; fewer overall marriages means fewer divorces. In Illinois, less than 65 percent of people are married. This may also be attributed to higher education levels and greater independence for all genders, reducing the social requirement to get married. 

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney for Assistance

Illinois divorce rates may be some of the lowest in the country, but many marriages within the state do still end in divorce. It is important to seek out an experienced attorney to help you with the legal issues that must be addressed during your divorce thus allowing you to focus on the life changes you are about to experience. If you are considering filing for divorce, contact a Lombard, IL divorce attorney at 630-426-0196.

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DuPage County Wills and Trusts AttorneyThe instructions contained in a person’s Last Will and Testament are deeply personal. An individual usually thinks long and hard about how he wants his estate divided among heirs before putting these decisions in writing. According to Illinois law, wills produced through undue influence, coercion, force, or fraud are not legally-binding. If you believe that your loved ones will does not reflect his or her actual final wishes, you may be able to challenge the validity of the will in court. Challenging a will can be a complex legal endeavor. Help from an experienced estate planning lawyer may be necessary in these cases.

Did Your Loved One Have the Mental Capacity to Understand the Will?

When we age, both our bodies and our minds tend to weaken. In order for a person to be able to legally enter into a contract such as a will, he or she must have the mental ability to understand what he or she is agreeing to. This so-called “testamentary capacity" includes an understanding of the value of the property addressed in the will, an understanding of who should logically inherit this property, and the consequences of signing a legally binding document. Not everyone with dementia or another mental disability is unable to legally consent to a will, however. It is up to the person challenging the validity of the will to prove that his or her loved one could not consent to the document. In situations like this, the validity of the will may hinge on testimonies of the witnesses to the will signing, medical evidence, or an adjudication of incapacity.

Was Your Loved One Under Duress When Signing the Will?

Legal documents, such as wills and trusts, which are entered into through coercion or force are not legally valid. This means that if your loved one only agreed to the terms of the will because he or she was afraid not to, the will may be unenforceable. Duress can include threats of harm to the testator or his or her loved ones, intended harm, or other stress put upon the testator intended to get them to do something they would not otherwise do. Only estate planning documents signed and agreed to by the testator’s own free will can be enforced.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard, IL divorce lawyers

Whether you call it empty nest syndrome or a mid-life crisis, many couples struggle when their children leave home and they go back to their previous “empty house” lifestyle. This life change can be a tough adjustment since a parent has gotten used to having their child living under their roof for 18+ years. Spouses are used to focusing on their child’s schedule and activities. This can make an empty house feel lonely and uncomfortable, sometimes so much so that divorce enters the equation. 

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

Although it is not technically diagnosed, the commonality of empty nest syndrome illustrates its wide-reaching effect. Feeling a strong sense of sadness and loneliness after your children have moved out is the telltale sign of empty nest syndrome. Other symptoms include a lack of identity, extreme remorse, and a lack of self-worth. This lifestyle change can lead to clinical depression and apathy toward your spouse. Many feel as if they no longer have anything in common with their spouse since they have shared their child and the duties of parenting for the past decade. Although this can create a distance between spouses, there are various coping mechanisms for those who feel their emotions may be causing conflict.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyTelevision and movies are partially to blame for vast misunderstandings about wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools. On TV, the only people ever talking about a will are older wealthy individuals. Some people may even believe that only the rich should make estate plans. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Estate planning is a step that everyone should take, regardless of wealth or status.

Estate Planning Saves Your Surviving Family Members Burdensome Decision-Making

One of the most overlooked elements about wills and trusts is the benefit that they bring to the surviving family members of the deceased. When a person without a will passes away, their surviving family and friends are left to guess what the deceased person would have wanted regarding property and final wishes. This is a lot to ask of people who are already suffering the grief of losing a loved one. Even if your will only covers a few small pieces of property, putting your wishes in writing saves your loved ones from the emotional burden of making inheritance decisions on your behalf.

Estate Planning Ensures that You Have Power Over Your Future

Estate plans do not only involve what happens after your death. Several estate planning tools—including powers of attorney and advance medical directives—address issues that could arise while you are still living. For example, a power of attorney for property is an estate planning instrument which gives a representative of your choosing the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. This is vitally important if you ever become incapacitated through illness or injury.

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