st. charles divorce lawyerBy the time a couple has decided to get a divorce, the acrimony between them is often high. It is not uncommon for the contention between the two spouses to be so thick that they are even unable to have a civil conversation with each other. This can make negotiating divorce issues difficult. If the couple has children, this tension between them can make co-parenting impossible. In these situations, the court may decide to appoint a parenting coordinator.

Parenting Plan

When a divorcing couple does have children, a major part of the divorce settlement is the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time (previously referred to as child custody and visitation). In many divorces, the couple is able to civilly work through and come up with an agreeable parenting plan, usually with the help of their divorce attorneys. But if they cannot get to this point, the court will intervene.

Mediator

If the couple has significant disagreements about parenting time, the court will order the parents to participate in mediation. The mediator must be on a court-approved list and meet certain requirements, including having either a law degree or an advanced degree in family relationships. The mediator must also have a minimum of two years’ experience in their profession.

If the mediation can help the couple reach an agreement on a parenting plan, that plan will be drafted into a formal parenting time agreement for the court.

Guardian Ad Litem

If the couple is unable to reach an agreement even with the assistance of a mediator, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem. This person is an attorney who is solely focused on what is in the best interests of the child. The guardian ad litem will meet with both parents and the child. In some cases, the guardian ad litem may also meet with extended family members, family friends, the child’s teachers, therapist, and any other appropriate parties.

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 st. charles divorce lawyerOne of the main components of a divorce is to divide the assets and property the couple have acquired during their marriage. Under Illinois law, this is done via “equitable distribution.” This means that the court will distribute the assets between the spouses in an equitable manner. Unlike community property states, which split the marital estate 50/50, Illinois courts focus on the division being a “fair” one, not necessarily and equal one.

Marital Property

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the state defines marital property as any property that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage, excluding inheritances or gifts. Other definitions of non-martial property under the law include:

  • Any property that is acquired by a spouse after the court has entered a legal separation judgment.
  • Any property that is specifically included by a legal agreement, such as documented in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
  • Any property acquired before the marriage. This exception may not apply to any retirement plans that spouse may have.
  • Any increase in the value of non-marital property, regardless of where those contributions that result in the increases.

One other factor to consider is that the court also considers marital debt as part of the marital estate and will decide how debt should be divided between the spouses.

Other Issues That Can Impact the Equitable Distribution of the Marital Estate

The equitable distribution of the marital estate may also be affected by other factors that arise in the divorce. One of the most common issues is the comingling of marital and non-martial assets, such as one spouse depositing what would normally be considered non-marital assets into a joint bank account. In these situations, the courts will have to decide if those assets still “retains their identity” or “loses their identity.”

Another common issues is “dissipation of assets.” This occurs when one spouse “wastes” martial assets. This often comes up in divorces where one spouse is cheating on the other or has some type of addiction, like gambling or drugs. When a court determines that one spouse has committed dissipation of assets, it will likely redistribute marital assets in a way that compensates the wronged sposue.

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st. charles divorce lawyerThe results of a new study released last week reveal that the number of calls to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline continues to increase each year while the number of domestic violence survivors reaching out to police for help has decreased. The study was conducted by The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. The organization gathered data from a variety of sources, including public agencies, service providers, law enforcement, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, the Department of Children and Family Services, and interviews with survivors.

Serious Statistics

According to the data collected, there were more than 32,000 calls made to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, up by 9 percent from the year before. Although there was an increase in hotline contacts, the number of domestic violence survivors reaching out to police decreased by 5 percent. The reasons cited for that decline by survivors are alarming. Many said that there is a lack of support from law enforcement, including being met with denial by police and even accused of lying.

In contrast, the support that survivors say they receive from community-based programs was cited by survivors as being beneficial, with many saying if it were not for those services, they would still be trapped in their abusive living situations.

Another alarming statistic cited in the study was the problem with access and funding in order to secure safe housing once a survivor has left their abuser. Many victims are unable to access subsidized housing and other public benefits. In fact, less than 6 percent of domestic abuse survivors who applied for housing were approved, for a total of only 86 applicants.

This lack of safe housing is also a problem when survivors seek help from domestic violence shelters. Last year, more than 4,450 survivors were turned away from shelters because there was no space available. Many of these survivors have no financial resources – more than 40 percent of survivors that received help from the state of Illinois last year had an income of less than $500 per month. Sadly, this is far too common, as a recent study in California discovered. According to that study, financial abuse occurs in more than 99 percent of gender-based violence cases.

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 illinois divorce lawyerOne of the main factors the court will use when deciding child custody in a divorce is what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Over the past few decades, society’s – and the courts – have changed their understanding of what those best interest actually are. Although there is no “official” legal checklist the court checks off to meet that standard, there are elements the judge will look for when making his or her final decision.

The Age of the Child

The first thing the court will consider is the age of the child. The younger the child, the more “hands-on” care they need. In especially young children, the court may look at which parent has been the primary caretaker thus far, evaluating what type of bond has been established with each parent. In older children, the court may consider what type of arrangement the child prefers.

Parenting Ability

Another element the court will examine is the ability of each of the parents to meet not only the child’s physical needs – such as food, housing, clothing, etc. but also the child’s emotional needs. If a parent has issues with their emotional or physical health, the court may weigh that as well, if the issue would interfere with the parent’s ability to care for the child.

Consistency

Children need consistency. Their security often depends on knowing their day-to-day routine, with no surprises, when it comes to where they live, go to school, childcare, extra-curricular activities, and more. When deciding custody, a judge will try to keep the child’s living arrangements as close to what they are used to, as long as this is in the child’s best interest. This is especially important if there is any kind of distance between where the parents’ homes.

Safety

The safety of the child is always of the utmost important to the court and judges will not hesitate to limit parenting time if there is sufficient evidence that a parent is struggling with an alcohol and/or drug issue, or if there has been a history of any family violence.   

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kane county divorce lawyerIf you are thinking about ending your marriage – or have already made the decision to do so – there are likely many questions and concerns you have regarding the divorce process and what will happen during this process. For example, you may be worried about your spouse removing all the funds from any joint bank accounts you have. If you have children and the divorce is contentious, you may be concerned about your spouse making decisions about your children – such as changing their schools or even where they live – without consulting with you first.

In these situations, it is not uncommon for a judge to enter temporary orders in order to prevent either spouse from taking these types of actions without the other spouse’s knowledge.

What Types of Issues Can Temporary Orders Be Issued For?

Either party may request temporary orders – also referred to as temporary relief – regarding property or children. When the court approves a petition for temporary orders, the orders take effect immediately and remain in effect until the court either changes the orders or the divorce is finalized. It is important to remember that just because the judge issues a temporary order, this does not mean that what is in the order will be the same in the final divorce decree.

Some typical provisions include:

  • Financial restraining order – The court can issue a financial restraining order that freezes the couple’s bank accounts or prohibits either spouse from selling marital property. The court may also issue an order that determines which spouse will live in the marital home until the divorce is settled.
  • Child custody – The court will determine the temporary allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. The order can also prohibit either spouse from removing the child beyond the court’s jurisdiction.
  • Child support – If the child will be living primarily with one parent, the court may order the other parent to pay temporary child support.
  • Spousal support – A divorce can mean a significant loss of income for one spouse, especially if they were the stay-at-home parent during the marriage. Temporary spousal support may be ordered to cover home expenses, attorney fees, daycare costs, and more.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If are getting a divorce and are concerned about steps your spouse may take, a dedicated St. Charles, IL divorce lawyer can help you petition the court for the appropriate temporary orders that may apply in your case. In some cases, particularly if there is a substantiated allegation of family violence, a judge may enter temporary orders without a hearing. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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gray divorce lawyerOne of the fastest-growing groups of people who divorce are those 50 years of age or older. Divorce involving older adults is commonly referred to as “gray divorce.” According to national statistics, since 1990, the rate of gray divorce has doubled. Currently, approximately 25 percent of all divorces that are filed each year in the U.S are by couples who fall into the gray divorce category. It is predicted that by the year 2030, there will be more than 828,000 gray divorces each year.

Impact of Gray Divorce

Unfortunately, study after study reveals that when an older person divorces, the emotional and financial impact of the marriage ending can be even more significant than for their younger counterparts. Older individuals are often left feeling they wasted their lives with the wrong spouse and fear they will end up living what is left of their life alone. Studies show that the levels of depression are higher for a person going through a gray divorce than it is for a person whose spouse has died.

But it is not just the emotional impact that can be devastating for a person going through a gray divorce. The financial impact can be brutal.

A person who goes through a divorce after the age of 50 can expect their “net worth” to drop by at least half. Unfortunately, there are very limited – if any – ways to financially recover from that decrease.

Studies also show that this financial impact hits women harder than it does men. When a woman over the age of 50 gets divorced, their standard of living plummets by 45 percent. That is double the decrease for younger women who divorce.

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kane county child support lawyerA common frustration for many divorced parents in Illinois is the unavoidable fact that they can be ordered by an Illinois family law judge to pay child support for their adult child’s college expenses. While some parents are happy to support their children while they attend college, other parents might disagree with their child’s choice of major, the rising expense of college, or the idea of college as necessary in the first place. Other parents may be justifiably concerned that an ex is encouraging an adult child to attend university against the child’s wishes because they want to get under the other parent’s skin. 

If you are divorced in Illinois and have questions about adult children and child support for educational expenses, read on and then contact a Kane County child support attorney who can help. 

How Much Can I Be Required to Pay For My Child’s College? 

The cost that parents can be required to pay for their child’s education is equivalent to the cost of in-state tuition, room and board, and books and supplies at the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana. The estimated cost of tuition for the 2022-23 academic year is between $17,138 and $22,324, while room and board come in at $12,720 and books and supplies are estimated to cost about $1,200. 

There is no statutory formula for determining adult child support payments in Illinois, but parents can be ordered to pay all or part of the cost or to split the cost with the child. A judge will consider each parent’s resources and retirement prospects, any money the child has plus the child’s earning capabilities, and whether it is reasonable for the child to take out student loans to fund part of their education. 

What if My Child Chooses a Major I Do Not Approve Of? 

While a parent can argue that a child’s choice of major will require extensive payments on the part of parents with little financial benefit to the child at the end of the degree, the child’s choice of major will likely not impact a judge’s decision to order parents to contribute to college expenses. However, a child’s grades can impact a parent’s obligation; if the child does not maintain a “C” grade point average, the parent’s obligation may be terminated. Other situations, such as the child turning 23, getting married, or dropping out of school, can also terminate adult child support. 

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st. charles child support lawyer Divorced or unmarried parents of minor children in Illinois often believe they will be able to stop making child support payments when their youngest child turns 18. Many parents are surprised to learn that child support can continue past the age of legal adulthood in several circumstances. If you are paying or receiving child support and have questions about whether payments might be extended past your child’s 18th birthday, read on to learn about circumstances in which a parent may need to pay child support for an adult child. Then, contact an Illinois family law attorney with experience in child support matters for further answers to your questions. 

The Child is Still in High School

If a child has turned 18 but has not yet finished high school, child support payments will continue until the child either graduates or drops out of high school. However, if the child is over 18 and decides not to finish high school, the parent making payments will need to file a motion with the court requesting that payments be terminated. Ending payments without permission from the court can result in owing back child support and legal consequences. 

The Child is Attending College or Vocational Training

Illinois is unique in that judges can require divorced or never married parents to pay child support for an adult child who is going to college or a vocational school, such as a cosmetology or diesel mechanics program. Because courts do not want children of divorced parents to miss out on education opportunities simply because their parents are divorced, a judge can compel both parents to contribute to a child’s college expenses.

The Child Has a Disability

Children with a disability that existed before their 18th birthday may be eligible to receive child support indefinitely. A child with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, clinical depression, or other legitimate disability may require extensive medical care, help with daily expenses, and assisted living accommodations for their entire lives. Both parents are expected to contribute financially and may be required to place funds into a trust account for the benefit of the child. If one parent is the child’s primary caregiver, the other parent may be required to continue making payments to that parent. 

Contact a St. Charles, IL Adult Child Support Lawyer

If you have questions about adult child support and whether you may need to pay or receive it after your child turns 18, schedule a free consultation with an experienced Kane County adult child support attorney. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., our goal is to make sure you have the information and legal representation you need to make smart decisions and get great results. Contact us now at 630-584-5550 to learn more. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerWhen a couple in Illinois gets divorced, alimony - technically known as “spousal maintenance” - is sometimes negotiated or awarded if a court deems it appropriate. For couples who have been married for a long time, spousal maintenance is more common. Spousal maintenance may be awarded permanently or indefinitely if a divorcing couple was married 20 years or longer. However, this does not mean that the spousal maintenance will actually need to be paid forever; certain actions on the part of the recipient can terminate payments. If you are paying alimony in Illinois and you know your ex is engaging in behaviors that would permit you to stop making payments, read on. 

Why is Permanent Alimony Ordered By a Court? 

Although it is less common now, traditional marriages of the past often consisted of a spouse who earned all or most of a family’s money and a spouse who cared for the children and the home. After several decades of such an arrangement, the non-working spouse will often struggle to find sufficient employment or education to support themselves after a divorce. Although paying alimony forever may feel unfair to the person making payments, Illinois courts see this as necessary for ensuring the spouse who gave up their career and educational advancements to support a marriage is not left penniless because that marriage ended. 

When Can Permanent or Indefinite Alimony Be Terminated? 

Even when alimony has been ordered permanently, certain situations can cause it to end. The first of these is remarriage. If a former spouse gets remarried, the spouse making payments can terminate them without permission from a court as soon as the marriage is official. 

But a spouse living with a new partner is also grounds for spousal maintenance termination. This can be something of a gray area because it is not always clear what constitutes “living together” and, unfortunately, some people will try to hide behavior that would be considered cohabitation so they can continue receiving spousal maintenance. To show your spouse is cohabitating, you need to go to court and file a motion to terminate support. You will be responsible for proving your spouse is cohabitating, which may require the help of a professional such as a private investigator. 

Even if you are sure your ex is cohabitating with their partner, you cannot terminate payments without approval from a court. However, if a court finds that your ex has been cohabitating from a certain date in the past, you may be able to have the amount of maintenance you have paid reimbursed. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_st-charles-il-family-law-attorney.jpgIllinois family judges take parental rights seriously and only terminate them against the wishes of the parent in the most serious cases. Abuse, neglect, or abandonment can make it dangerous for a child to live with a parent in their home and Illinois DCFS must sometimes take action against a parent’s and even a child’s wishes. Unfortunately, this means that if your parental rights have been terminated, it is very unlikely that you will get them back, even if you have taken extensive measures to improve your circumstances. 

However, it is sometimes possible to reverse a parental rights termination and reunite a child with his or her parent. An experienced Illinois family law attorney can talk to you about your situation and help you understand your options. 

Clear and Convincing Evidence

Most states never allow parents whose parental rights have been terminated the option to reinstate those rights. However, Illinois law states that parental rights can be reinstated if a motion has been filed by the child or by DCFS that is supported by “clear and convincing evidence” that reinstating parental rights would be in the child’s best interests. While this may sound open to interpretation, it is a strict burden of proof that must be met before a judge will reinstate parental rights. In addition to providing clear and convincing evidence that reinstating parental rights would be in the child’s best interests, the following conditions must also be met: 

  • Three or more years have gone by since parental rights were originally terminated 
  • The child must be at least 13 years old, or be the younger sibling of a child who is 13 years old and wants their parent’s rights reinstated, and understands the full implications of the parental rights being restored 
  • The parent wants reinstatement and can prove there has been a substantial change in circumstances since their parental rights were terminated

Children of Deported Immigrant Parents

A unique circumstance that sometimes grants more flexibility in the reinstatement of parental rights is when a parent who is an undocumented immigrant is deported, leaving a child who is a U.S. citizen without a parent. These children are often left in foster care or are cared for by relatives who are not their parents. A judge may reinstate your parental rights if you lost your parental rights due to deportation. 

Contact a Kane County Parental Rights Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we know that good people make mistakes. We also know how important your children are to you and how important you are to them. If you have had your parental rights terminated and want to know whether you may be able to get them back, schedule a free consultation with a St. Charles parental rights attorney who can walk you through your options. Call us today at 630-584-5550

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st. charles divorce lawyerTelling your children about divorce is, for many parents, the worst part of the entire process. The idea of facing your child’s disappointment, tears, and confusion can feel overwhelming at best. But it is important to plan this conversation carefully; first, because it is inevitable, and second because your children will likely remember this conversation for many years to come. Like any other difficult task that must be done, planning ahead and creating a strategy can minimize negative feelings and make the conversation much more productive. Here are three tips to help you break the news of your Illinois divorce to your kids. 

Create a Constructive Narrative 

While you and your spouse know the nitty-gritty details of your divorce, your children do not need to know them - and, depending on their age, probably should not know them. Instead of sharing the hurtful and embarrassing things you and your spouse have done to hurt each other, create a constructive narrative that allows you to explain the situation to your children without revealing the hairy details. In this case, giving the exact truth is less important than helping your children feel supported and reassured.

Set Reasonable Expectations

On top of the prospect of their parents’ separation, children can easily be frightened by the uncertainty of divorce. Where will they live? When will they see their mother? Will all their siblings still be around? To the extent possible, give your kids the information they need to plan for the future. They may not have a detailed event calendar like you do, but they do need to be able to anticipate the future with some degree of certainty. If you do not know the answer to a question, be honest; but provide reassurances that you love them and will be there to support them no matter what. 

Anticipate a Range of Emotions

Your children may or may not be caught off-guard by the news; they may immediately express anger and sadness, but they may not. They may not even know how to express what they are feeling and you may have to interpret their emotions through their behaviors. If you have a child who suddenly becomes sassy, angry, unmotivated, or self-isolated, understand that these are all normal reactions as they process difficult information. However, it is important to monitor your children for more severe depression and anxiety and be aware of when these emotions may require professional help. 

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney Today 

While the St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys at Shaw Sanders, P.C. cannot make hard conversations about divorce easier, we can go out of our way to make sure the legal and logistical aspects of your divorce are well-managed and well-planned. For help making a smart divorce strategy and handling other areas of your divorce, contact us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation at your convenience. 

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st. charles divorce lawyersOne of the most difficult challenges of an Illinois divorce is dividing your marital assets and debts. Any property, money, vehicles, loans, credit card debt, or other financial instrument or asset that you acquired during your marriage must be divided. While property division has to be fair, there is no guarantee that your financial situation after divorce will be easy; divorce is notoriously difficult on a person’s net worth, as well as their credit score. If you are considering divorce, here are three tips for managing your credit as you go through the divorce process. 

Get to Know Your Credit Report 

Many people do not think twice about their credit report during their marriage, especially if their spouse has good credit and manages the family finances. But this can be risky, especially if you do not have your own credit history. There are many free, easy-to-use resources available for accessing your credit report. Become familiar with every account on your credit report and start finding ways to build your individual credit. 

Begin Separating Your Finances Early

As soon as you know you are getting divorced, do what you can to close joint credit accounts and take your name off of debts. Even if you do not consent to spending money on a credit card, if your name is on it, you are still legally responsible for paying it off - even if your divorce decree says your spouse has to make payments! The sooner you can pay off and close joint credit accounts, the sooner you can prevent the risk of being held responsible for debt that you did not accrue. 

Negotiate a Divorce Decree that Separates Your Finances Completely

Divorcing couples are encouraged to create a divorce agreement with the help of a neutral mediator. Because couples divide marital debts as well as assets, sometimes a divorce decree will allow credit accounts to stay open under both spouses’ names while one spouse is responsible for paying off the debt. To protect yourself from bad debt and late payments, your best option is to negotiate a divorce decree that minimizes outstanding debt and gives you or your spouse exclusive ownership of whatever portion of the debt each of you needs to pay off. 

Contact a St. Charles, IL Divorce Lawyer

While divorce may be difficult on your finances, you can still make careful decisions and plan for the future. For help managing the challenges of divorce, put your trust in the hands of the experienced Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Sanders, P.C.. In addition to knowing the ins and outs of Illinois divorce law, we also have a wide network of professionals who can support you in other areas of divorce. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule your first meeting. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerMany people get divorced after many years or even decades of being married. Even if a marriage is unhappy, for most people there is a certain level of predictability, stability, and companionship that comes with being married. An Illinois divorce upends all of those things, even as it can free a spouse from a stifling, distant, or abusive relationship. 

In addition to the significant changes of divorce, the fear of being alone is often as compelling as the fear of remaining in an unhappy marriage forever. If you are considering divorce and wondering whether you can adjust to the single life again, know that millions of people have done so happily - and when you are ready to finalize your divorce, here are four steps that could help you. 

Actively Socialize

One of the challenges of divorce is that it breaks up family and friend groups, leaving both spouses with fewer social connections than they had during the marriage. To make up for this, you may have to take a more active role in forming new social connections than you have in many years. Divorced singles often find meaningful friendships at church, support groups, and game nights. When someone asks you over for dinner, say yes - and invite people into your home as well. 

Pick Up a New Hobby

Learning something new is a rewarding experience at any stage of life - and especially when you have a lot on your mind, doing something with your hands can be a great way to stay busy and stop yourself from obsessing over the divorce or other parts of the past. If you already have skills or hobbies, spend more time getting better at them or find a way to turn them towards the service of others. 

Focus on Your Career 

Once your divorce is finalized, you may have more free time that you can spend on enhancing your career aspirations. While a career is not a replacement for meaningful relationships, a satisfying and engaging job can make a big difference in your overall life satisfaction. If you are not satisfied with your job, perhaps now is the time to take classes so you can consider a career change. You can learn nearly anything for free now and building a great portfolio can often act as a replacement for a degree or certificate. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerUntil fairly recently, the vast majority of men and women entered into heterosexual marriages at a young age and stayed married to one person for the rest of their lives. However, with the advent of no-fault divorce, over the last 50 years and particularly over the last 20 years, societal expectations of what is considered marriage have expanded and far fewer people are even getting married to begin with. 

Although marriage rates may be declining, people are still engaging in relationships just as they always have. Yet when relationships are not formalized as marriages, leaving the relationship can get complicated because couples do not always know how to protect their interests while breaking up. Here are three non-marital relationships and how they end in Illinois. 

Civil Union

Couples can no longer enter into civil unions in Illinois. However, there are still many couples who are in civil unions who eventually decide to separate. Civil unions dissolve much the same way that marriages do; couples have property rights and must divide their marital assets and debts. Likewise, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for civil unions are enforceable as long as they are legally sound. 

Cohabitation 

More and more couples are choosing to cohabitate rather than get married. A cohabitating couple’s commitment may be no less serious than a married couple, but, unfortunately, cohabitating couples do not share any of the property protections that married couples have. Although some couples create cohabitation agreements, there is some question about whether these agreements are enforceable, as the Illinois Supreme Court has decided that Illinois gives preference to marital contracts and can strike down workarounds like cohabitation agreements. Couples who own property together but cannot agree on how to divide it will need to address their disagreements in civil court. 

Common-Law Marriages 

While Illinois does not allow couples to enter into common-law marriages, couples who are in common-law marriages in other states can have their marriage recognized in Illinois. However, proving that you were in a legitimate common-law marriage in the state in which you were “married” can be tricky, so be sure to have an attorney help you manage your common-law marriage’s dissolution. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerAll marital property needs to be accurately valued and fairly divided before an Illinois divorce can be finalized, and while that may sound straightforward in writing, in reality it can be quite complicated. One type of property that tends to be the most complicated is that of a small business or personal practice

Professionals spend many years and countless resources obtaining an education and building their careers, and the prospect of having the fruits of those labors divided in a divorce can be devastating. If you are an attorney, doctor, accountant, or another similar professional and own your own practice or share a small business with a business partner, you likely have questions about how your divorce could change the way you do business. 

Is a Professional Practice Always Marital Property? 

Spouses often opt to protect their professional practices with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that carefully detail the treatment of said practices in the event of a divorce. But without a legally enforceable contract protecting a practice, the value of a practice that was earned during a marriage is usually marital property and subject to division. This is true whether the practice was started after a couple was already married or whether a spouse owned the practice before the marriage began. 

How is the Value of a Professional Practice Determined? 

Spouses will likely want to get the help of a professional appraiser to determine the value of a practice. Valuation methods can differ greatly depending on the type of practice; for example, a dental practice, with valuable equipment and hundreds of patients would have to be valued differently from a psychotherapist’s practice in which very little equipment and far fewer patients are involved. Whatever valuation method spouses choose, eventually spouses will have to agree on the value of the business and how to divide its value. This can be done by selling the practice and splitting the value, buying out one spouse’s value with other marital assets, or, when couples cannot decide themselves, entrusting the matter to a court to decide. 

Contact a St. Charles, IL Property Division Attorney

Determining what happens to marital property can be a complicated part of any divorce. Having an experienced St. Charles property division attorney with experience and negotiation skills is essential to ensuring your interests are protected during your divorce and well into the future. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we know how important it is to protect your personal reputation and professional practice. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free case review and learn more about how we can help. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerParents who get divorced in Illinois are frequently concerned with the potential effect the divorce could have on their children. After all, research suggests that children whose parents are divorced often struggle with many aspects of life, including their own intimate relationships later in life. However, when done carefully and thoughtfully, divorce does not need to be a traumatic experience for children. Collaborative divorce offers a cooperative, mutually respectful way for parents to separate while keeping their children’s best interests in mind. Here are three ways collaborative divorce could benefit your children. 

Less Conflict

One of the hardest parts of a divorce is the conflict. Children frequently get caught between arguing parents and may feel like they have to choose a “side.” This can be confusing and deeply disheartening for children, who naturally love and respect both of their parents. Collaborative divorce is so focused on reducing conflict that every person involved is committed to reaching a resolution - even the attorneys. In fact, if collaborative efforts are not successful, the entire process dissolves and parents must seek new attorneys. This ensures that everybody is motivated to cooperate and find the best possible solution. 

Child-Focused Professionals 

Child psychologists or therapists who specialize in divorce’s effects on children are frequently part of a collaborative divorce team. In addition to working with children to help them process their feelings about the divorce, child-focused divorce professionals can counsel the parents as they seek to create a parenting plan that has the children’s best interests in mind. They can gently remind parents to put the children’s needs first, even when it may be inconvenient or difficult for the parents, ensuring that the transition from one household to two is as smooth as possible. 

Faster Resolution

Because everyone on a collaborative divorce team is focused on achieving compromise, collaborative divorce often moves a divorce towards a final conclusion faster than other methods. This benefits children by reducing their exposure to the stress that the divorce process can put on their parents and benefits everyone by allowing life after divorce to begin as soon as possible.  

Schedule a Free Consultation with a St. Charles, IL Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., our St. Charles collaborative divorce attorneys know that every family needs a divorce strategy that takes their unique needs into consideration. If you are getting divorced and want to mindfully and peacefully separate from your spouse, call us now at 630-584-5550 to schedule your free initial consultation. Our comfortable offices are conveniently located on Randall Road. We look forward to helping you. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerParenting often requires parents to be flexible and make up or change arrangements as they go. Children frequently get sick, injure themselves, and change their minds about what they want to do, making even the best plans difficult to follow. However, when parents get divorced, their parenting time schedules are legally enforceable court orders. Although parents who get along can reasonably agree to temporarily modify their parenting agreement from time to time, a parent who consistently refuses to drop off or pick up children on time or at all can be very taxing. If you are struggling to get your ex to follow the terms of your Illinois parenting plan, read on. 

Talk To Your Ex

The first thing you need to do is try to have a conversation with your ex to find out why they are not following the terms of the parenting plan. The best way to do this is over email, where responses can be easily recorded, emotionally neutral, and used as evidence later if necessary. If your ex has a good reason for violating your parenting time schedule, such as a work problem or car issues, you may be able to work together on a short-term solution. Using a mediator may help. However, if your ex either does not respond, is hostile, or does not have a legitimate reason for modifying the parenting schedule, you may need to escalate your response. 

Petition for Rule to Show Cause

A petition for rule to show cause is a form that asks a court to require a non-compliant parent to come to court and explain their actions. You, the petitioner, will need to fill out the form with the help of your attorney and provide evidence showing that your ex is non-compliant. You will also need a copy of your parenting agreement from your divorce or modification. 

Depending on the respondent’s explanation, whether they have violated the parenting agreement before, and whether a judge believes they are acting in good faith or trying to cause problems, a judge can use a variety of punishments to try to bring someone into compliance. These often include changes to the parenting schedule that reflect the care the child is actually getting; fines; charges of contempt of court, and, in the most extreme cases, jail time. 

Documentation is important when bringing a case of parenting agreement non-compliance before a judge. Text messages, emails, photographs, and voicemails may all be helpful. Speak to your attorney before trying to use phone calls as evidence, since recording phone calls between you and someone else without their permission could be illegal. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerPensions and other retirement funds are essential aspects of many individuals’ long-term financial planning. It can take enormous sacrifices and years of hard work in the hope of a secure future, and when divorce threatens that security, the implications can be frightening. 

While pensions and other retirement funds are generally seen as marital property and are subject to division in a divorce, the good news is that there are often things you can do to help protect yourself during the property division process and having an experienced Illinois divorce attorney can help. 

Are Pensions Marital Property in Illinois? 

If a spouse began earning their pension or retirement funds before they got married, the funds earned before the marriage will usually remain private property, including any increases in value through capital gains. But any portion of a retirement that was earned during a marriage is seen as marital property, even if the pension funds are not vested or have not matured. 

How Can a Pension Plan Be Divided? 

Sometimes, spouses do not need to divide pension or retirement plans and can instead trade different marital assets for full ownership of their retirement funds. Spouses can also divide the pensions according to their own agreement, or, if they cannot agree, a court will divide the couple’s marital property. Either strategy requires the help of a financial professional who can estimate the value of a pension using common valuation methods. 

When spouses split their pension or retirement fund, they can get a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, from the court. A QDRO allows the plan administrator to split the benefits or payments according to the spouses’ divorce arrangement. This allows spouses to each receive their portion of the benefits without having to depend on each other for payments or remain in contact. It is important to note that, after a plan has been divided, the spouse who is not the policyholder cannot take advantage of the plan’s benefits until the plan actually begins to pay. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_129290474.jpgDealing with the issue of paternity is often stressful for men and women alike. Mothers need financial support from a child’s father and often struggle to get it; men, who may be unsure whether they are a child’s father or who may not want a child at all, are often resistant to submit to paternity testing. 

While both parties may believe they are equally justified in their feelings and actions, Illinois law requires both parents to financially support their children, even if they do not want to be involved in the child’s life. This means that men who are the biological father of a child can be legally compelled to submit to court-ordered paternity tests and provide child support. 

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

There are several ways to establish paternity in Illinois. If both parents agree that a man is the child’s father, they may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form (also known as a VAP). This form is often signed at a hospital after a child is born, although it can be signed later as well. 

Another way to establish paternity is through an Administrative Paternity Order. This is an order from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). HFS can require mandatory DNA testing to prove that a man is a child’s father. However, HFS can also determine paternity even without a genetic test, so a man may be deemed a child’s father and ordered to pay child support even if he tries to dodge a genetic test. 

Courts can also issue a Judicial Paternity Order, which comes directly from a judge. Judges can also require a man to take a DNA test. Such an order is not optional - if a man tries to avoid the court order, he can be held in contempt of court and may be subject to fines and other punishments that can become progressively more serious the longer he avoids taking the test.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_228470305.jpgIssues of child custody are often among the most strongly disputed in Illinois divorces. Both parents, loving their children and believing they know what is best, may be at loggerheads about parenting time arrangements or who should have the power to make important decisions for the children. Courts may also be unsure whether either parent is capable or safe in their parenting abilities. If there are concerns about how parenting time and parental responsibilities should be allocated, a court may order a custody evaluation, or a 604.10(b) evaluation. 

When Can a Court Order a Custody Evaluation? 

Courts can request a comprehensive custody evaluation any time a judge has questions about the facts or circumstances of a child’s home environment, including when there are concerns about: 

  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Absent or neglectful parenting 
  • Mental illness
  • A child with special medical, educational, developmental, or other needs 

A custody evaluation can also be ordered when: 

  • One or both parents request a custody evaluation 
  • A child representative, such as a guardian ad litem, requests a custody evaluation

Even if a parent requests and pays for a custody evaluator, he or she is still a neutral party whose responsibility is to find and report on the facts. Whether the parents or a court request the evaluator, the responsibility for paying for the evaluator will be allocated to the parents. 

What Happens During a Custody Evaluation? 

Depending on the complexity of the case, the distance between parents’ homes, and the schedule of the evaluator, custody evaluations can take months to complete. While the needs of each evaluation will vary depending on the family and their particular concerns, most evaluators will complete the following tasks: 

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