IL divorce lawyerDivorce settlements often contain orders regarding property division, debt payment, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and other matters. One concern many people getting a divorce have is whether their soon-to-be ex-spouse will actually comply with the terms contained in the divorce settlement or judgment. It is important to remember that court orders are not optional. If an individual deliberately refuses to follow a court order, including orders related to divorce, he or she can be charged with contempt of court.

Contempt Charges for Failing to Comply with a Property Division Order

When you get divorced, you will be expected to fulfill the obligations specified in your property division order. For example, you may be required to make mortgage payments, pay off a shared credit card, or submit certain property to your former spouse. If you purposely do not follow the directions in your property division order, you may be held in contempt of court. The possible penalties for contempt of court include steep fines and even jail time.

Nonpayment of Spousal Support or Child Support

If a divorce settlement includes an order for spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, the paying party is expected to make these payments in full and on time. This same is true for child support payments. If a paying party intentionally fails to make these payments, he or she can potentially be charged with contempt of court. However, if the paying party cannot make these payments because of a major change in circumstances, such as a job loss, he or she will most likely not face contempt charges. If you are a parent who is struggling to make child support or spousal maintenance payments, never simply stop payments. You may be able to obtain a modified order if the circumstances warrant it. Furthermore, it is very important that you follow directions regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time contained in your parenting plan. Deliberate failure to do so can also result in contempt charges.

Contact a Kane County Post-Divorce Enforcement Lawyer

The directions contained in a court order are mandatory. Failure to comply with these directions can result in serious consequences. If your former spouse is refusing to follow the orders contained in your divorce settlement or you want to request a post-divorce modification, we can help. Contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable St. Charles family law attorney.

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IL divorce lawyerGetting a divorce in any circumstance can be heartbreaking and overwhelming. However, getting divorced when you have children with your spouse can be especially challenging. Many parents worry that ending their marriage will be traumatic for their children. While breaking the news of divorce to children is never a pleasant conversation, there are certain steps parents can take that may minimize the trauma as much as possible.

Have a Family Meeting About the Impending Divorce

Child development experts and mental health professionals generally agree that it is best to break the news of divorce with both parents present. Use the word “we” when explaining the split to the children – even if the divorce was not a mutual decision. When only one parent tells the children about the divorce, it can make the children feel like they have to choose sides. While some families choose to tell the older siblings before the younger siblings, many mental health professionals suggest telling the children all together regardless of their ages. When some children know about the divorce before the others, it leaves them with the unfair burden of keeping a secret.

Plan What You Will Say in Advance

Just as you probably plan for important work meetings, you should plan how you will tell your children about your divorce. Think about the main messages you want your children to take away from the conversation. You may want to reassure your children that they will still be loved and cared for and that the divorce is not their fault. Remind them that even though you and your spouse are no longer going to be married, this does not change the fact that you are still their parents.

Accept Your Children’s Reactions

Children are all different and may have a variety of reactions to the news of divorce. Some children may throw a tantrum or become extremely angry. Others may cry and want to be held and comforted. Some children may initially act nonchalant or even have no noticeable response at all to the news. These are all normal reactions. Try to give your children space to work through their emotions and remind them that you are available to talk and answer questions whenever they feel ready.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we know the toll that divorce can take on a family. Our highly-skilled, compassionate St. Charles family law attorneys are fully prepared to help you with issues related to property division, child custody, child support, and more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a member of our team today.

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IL divorce lawyerThe National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that one in four women and one in nine men have been the victim of violence or stalking at the hands of a romantic partner. Domestic violence affects people of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels. If you have been a victim of domestic violence or abuse at the hands of your spouse, you may be considering divorce. Leaving an abusive spouse takes a tremendous amount of courage. If you are divorcing a spouse who has abused you physically, emotionally, financially, or otherwise, you should know that you do not have to face the divorce process alone. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you with orders of protection, child custody, and child support concerns, property division, and more.

Emergency Orders of Protection

If you are worried that your spouse will react violently when you leave him or her, you may want to obtain an emergency order of protection (EOP), sometimes referred to as a “restraining order.” An EOP is a court order that instructs an abusive spouse or other family member to stay a certain distance away from you, your children, or your workplace or school. EOPs can contain many different types of directions depending on your particular needs. If the abuser violates the terms of the EOP, call the police and he or she will be arrested.

Child Custody Concerns

Child custody and visitation are called “the allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois. If you or your children have been abused by your spouse, it is crucial that you notify the court of this abuse. Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on the best interests of the child. If you believe that your children will not be safe with your spouse, you can petition the court for the sole responsibility of your child, sometimes called “sole custody.”

Getting a Fair Divorce Settlement

If your spouse tried to manipulate and control you through violence or intimidation during your marriage, it is likely that he or she will try to do so during your divorce as well. It may not be possible for you and your spouse to reach a fair agreement about the terms of your divorce by discussing these issues on your own. Mediation can sometimes help a couple reach an agreement about property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support, but the mediation process is not typically recommended for divorces involving a history of domestic violence or abuse. A lawyer will protect your rights and advocate on your behalf so you receive a fair divorce settlement.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

No one deserves to be abused by their spouse. If you are ready to divorce your abusive spouse, contact a St. Charles family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. We can assist with obtaining an emergency order of protection, petitioning the court for sole custody of your child, fighting for your rights during property division, and more. Call us at 630-584-5550 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a compassionate lawyer from our firm.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerMultiple studies show that disagreements about finances are the top predictor of divorce. Finding a way to manage money in a way that meets the needs of each spouse in a marriage can be extremely difficult. This is especially true if one spouse is more of a spendthrift and the other spouse considers saving money a greater priority. If you are getting a divorce, you may be concerned about how you and your spouse’s debts will be divided. The division of property and debt is often one of the most complicated and contentious aspects of a divorce. Finding a fair way to allocate property and debt often requires help from an experienced divorce lawyer.

Marital Debt Versus Nonmarital Debt

In Illinois, only the marital estate is divided during divorce. The marital estate includes all of the marital debt and property acquired during the course of the marriage. Property and debt which was acquired before the couple was married is typically not divided and is instead assigned to the original owner. If your spouse had incurred a great deal of credit card debt before you were married, you are not responsible for repaying the debt. However, if your spouse took out a car loan during the marriage, you may still be on the hook for this debt even if you did not drive the car. If you and your spouse had previously signed a valid prenuptial agreement that allocates debt and property in the event of divorce, the terms of this agreement are followed.

Student Loan Debt

Differentiating between marital and separate debt is not always straightforward. In the case of student loans, educational debt incurred before the marriage took place is typically considered nonmarital property. However, this is not always the case. Illinois courts consider several factors when determining whether or not educational debts are considered part of the marital estate. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • How the money was used
  • Who benefited from the money
  • At what point in the marriage the debt was acquired
  • Tax implications
  • Each spouse’s earning power

If the student loans are considered part of the marital estate, they are subject to division according to the rules of equitable distribution. This means that the debt is divided equitably, or fairly, based on each spouse’s income and assets, the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and many other factors.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Illinois courts use a property division method called equitable distribution to divide debt and property fairly. However, the courts have discretion to deviate from this method in certain circumstances. A Kane County divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C will protect your rights and advocate on your behalf during property and debt division. Call our office at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you achieve a fair divorce settlement.

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are a parent getting divorced in Illinois, you will be required to submit a “parenting plan” or parenting agreement regarding how you intend to care for your children after the divorce. The plan must contain directions for the allocation of parental responsibilities as well as parenting time, or visitation. While some parents take on all of the parental responsibilities, sometimes called having “sole custody,” a shared parenting arrangement is more common. Parents who wish to share parental responsibilities will need to include a parenting time schedule and directions for how child-related duties will be divided between the parents in their Illinois parenting plan. If you and your child’s other parent are struggling to come to an agreement about how to share parental responsibilities and parenting time, mediation may be a way to reach a resolution.

The Benefits of Mediation For Divorcing Parents Who Cannot Agree

Understandably, many parents getting a divorce are overwhelmed with emotions. They may worry that they will not get to spend enough time with their child after the divorce or they might have concerns about how their spouse will handle post-divorce parenting obligations. It can be challenging to remain objective and calm when discussing the provisions of a parenting plan with a soon-to-be ex-spouse. If you and your spouse have found yourselves in this situation, mediation may help you effectively negotiate parenting issues so that you can reach an agreement without the need for expensive litigation.

A Qualified Mediator May Help Parents Reach a Resolution Regarding Parental Responsibilities

Parents may be ordered to attend mediation if they cannot reach an agreement about child-related issues or they may choose to attend mediation voluntarily. During the mediation process, a credentialed mediator acts as a neutral third-party facilitator. The mediator’s job is not to make decisions for the parents or choose one parent’s parenting plan over the other’s. The mediator simply helps the couple discuss parenting issues in a meaningful, productive, amicable way. Both parents will have an opportunity to share their points of view regarding the provisions of the parenting plan and then parents will negotiate until they can reach a solution. Unlike courtroom litigation, anything you say in mediation is confidential and not part of the public record. If parents cannot reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, or the other issues addressed by their Illinois parenting plan, they may require court intervention.

Contact a Kane County Mediation Lawyer

If you want to learn more about how mediation can benefit you and your children, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an accomplished St. Charles mediator by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerLegal separation is one way that a married couple can live apart, manage parenting issues, and isolate their finances from the other spouse without getting divorced. There are a great number of reasons that a couple may choose to get a legal separation. Separation offers many of the same benefits as divorce, but unlike divorce, separation is reversible. Only you can decide whether or not legal separation is right for you. If you do decide to separate, make sure to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding separation under Illinois law.

Why Do Married Couples Become Legally Separated?

In some cases, a couple knows that there are major problems in their marriage, so they separate for a period of time in order to work on these problems independently. Other times, a couple separates because they are not ready for the finality of divorce but they want to live apart and divide their parental responsibilities and finances until they decide if divorce is the next step. Some religions prohibit divorce, so members of those religions who do not want to live with their spouse get a separation in order to gain some of the benefits of divorce without actually ending the marriage. There also may be tax, social security, and health insurance-related advantages to remaining legally married. Legal separation can also be a great way to protect your finances from a spouse you are currently in the process of divorcing.

Requirements for Legal Separation in Illinois

If you want to file for a legal separation in Illinois, there are a few prerequisites you should be aware of. In order to qualify for separation, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state of Illinois for at least 90 days. For the court to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, your children must have lived in Illinois for at least six months. You must also be living physically apart from your spouse in order to qualify for legal separation. It is very important to note that physical separation is different from legal separation. You may be living apart from your spouse, but you are only legally separated if you request a petition for legal separation and are granted a separation through the court. If you later decide that you want to get divorced, you can file a request with the court to convert your separation into a divorce.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Legal separation offers many of the same advantages as divorce. Legal separation allows you to divide your finances, parental responsibilities, and manage spousal maintenance issues. However, separation does not formally end a marriage the way divorce does. If you have further questions about separation or divorce, want to formulate a legal separation agreement, or have other family law needs, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a consultation with an experienced Kane County legal separation lawyer by calling us at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL family lawyerIf you are getting divorced or you are an unmarried parent, you may have questions about how child custody, called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, is handled. You have probably seen phrases such as, “The court will determine a parenting time schedule that is in the child’s best interests.” You may have wondered what the phrase “best interests” actually means in this context.

Determining What is in a Child’s Best Interests

When a married couple with children gets divorced or an unmarried couple has a child together, they have the option of creating their own arrangement for parenting time and parental responsibilities. Parents who need help negotiating a parenting plan may benefit from the help of a qualified mediator. However, even with mediation, coming to an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities is not possible for some parents. In cases like this, the court will consider a number of factors to determine a parenting arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s wishes regarding custody
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express these wishes
  • The relationship the child has with his or her parents, siblings, and any other individuals who may affect his or her best interests
  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate a good relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and neighborhood
  • Any domestic violence or abuse that has occurred and
  • Whether or not either of the parents is a sex offender

Unless there has been ongoing abuse as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, Illinois courts typically assume that it is in the child’s best interests to have both of his or her parents highly involved in his or her life.

Contact an Aurora Child Custody Lawyer

When parents cannot agree on child custody issues, the court will decide for them. The parents’ wishes, the wishes of the child, any history of abuse, the health of the parents, and many other factors are considered by Illinois courts when making child custody determinations. If you are in a custody dispute, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. Schedule a free consultation with a proficient Kane County family law attorney by calling us at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL family lawyerSpousal maintenance, also referred to as spousal support or alimony, can help a lesser-earning spouse avoid being at a serious financial disadvantage after getting divorced. When a married couple divorces in Illinois, it is not guaranteed that a spouse will be required to pay spousal maintenance to the other. Whether or not a spouse receives spousal support and the amount and duration of payments are based on a variety of circumstances.

Spouses Can Decide on Alimony Arrangements in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

One way that a spouse can receive spousal maintenance is if the spouses have previously signed a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement that dictates what spousal maintenance arrangements will be if the couple divorces. For example, if a spouse plans to sacrifice educational and career opportunities to be a homemaker or stay-at-home-parent, the spouse may want to ensure his or her right to adequate spousal maintenance if the marriage ends. A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” allows spouses to make decisions about the amount and duration of maintenance payments in advance. However, it is essential that prenuptial agreements meet the criteria required by Illinois law. If a prenup is signed under duress, contains extremely unfair provisions, or otherwise does not meet the guidelines set forth in the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), it may not be legally enforceable. It is always a good idea to have an experienced family law attorney review any marital agreements to ensure that they are valid.

Spousal Maintenance May be Ordered by the Court

If a spouse requests spousal maintenance during divorce proceedings, the court will consider a wide range of factors to make spousal maintenance determinations. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • How long the marriage lasted and the standard of living established in the marriage
  • The spouses’ age and health
  • The spouses’ property, income, and employability
  • Any impairment to the present or future earning capacity of the spouse pursuing maintenance caused by time spent as a homemaker or parent
  • The amount of time needed for the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire the training, education, and employment to become self-supporting

Spousal maintenance is most often temporary and designed to give a spouse time to become financially independent. However, in some situations, such as when a marriage lasted twenty years or more, maintenance payments may be permanent. Maintenance payments terminate when the recipient spouse remarries.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

There are many factors that influence whether or not a spouse will receive alimony. If you are planning to end your marriage and have spousal maintenance-related concerns, a qualified St. Charles family law attorney can help you understand your legal options. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation.

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IL family lawyerIn a previous blog, we discussed the many benefits that an engaged couple can gain from signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement or “prenup” protects each spouse’s financial interests and dictates how property division and other issues will be managed in the event of divorce. Many couples find that the act of creating the prenuptial agreement itself is also hugely beneficial to their marriage. When spouses understand their financial rights and responsibilities prior to marriage, they may be less likely to get into arguments about money in the future. Prenups must be written in a way that meets Illinois state guidelines. There are many problems that can cause a prenuptial agreement to be declared invalid.

Each Spouse Must Be Transparent About His or Her Finances

A prenuptial agreement must include a full account of each spouse’s property and debt. Before decisions can be made about how property should be divided in the event of divorce, the spouses must fully understand each other’s financial circumstances. If a spouse does not disclose all of his or her property and debt, the decisions made in the prenup will be based on incomplete information. If it is discovered that a spouse was not honest about finances during the creation of the prenuptial agreement, the document may be considered invalid during divorce proceedings. This is just one of many reasons it is so important to have a qualified family law attorney review any prenuptial or premarital agreement you create with a soon-to-be spouse.

What a Premarital Agreement Cannot Include

A prenuptial agreement cannot include any provisions which dictate how child custody or child support is managed. These are separate issues that are determined by Illinois statute during a divorce. Prenuptial agreements also cannot contain “unconscionable provisions.” These include provisions that are grossly unfair or unreasonable. For example, a provision that assigned all of the marital property to one spouse and left the other with nothing would likely not be enforced by the court. Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement may not be signed under duress. If a spouse was tricked, forced, or coerced into signing a prenup, the document may be thrown out entirely. Spouses must also have enough time to contemplate the terms of a prenuptial agreement. A prenup that is handed to a spouse mere hours before the wedding ceremony would almost certainly be considered invalid.

Contact a St Charles. Family Law Attorney

For help drafting a prenuptial agreement or other family law needs, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling us today at 630-584-5550.

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IL family lawyerOrders of protection, sometimes called restraining orders, are court orders designed to prevent an abusive or harassing individual from further harassing his or her victim. The directions contained in a protection order vary, but many prohibit the person named in the order, the respondent, from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the person who requested the order, called the petitioner. If you or your children are victims of domestic violence, an order of protection may give you the space you need to escape the abusive situation. An order of protection is also a critical step in creating a formal record of the respondent’s harmful actions with the court.

Emergency Orders of Protection Can Be Obtained Without a Hearing

There are three main types of protection orders available in Illinois: an emergency order of protection, interim order of protection, and plenary order of protection. An emergency order of protection (EOP) can be obtained without the respondent’s participation. This is called an 'ex parte' hearing.

To obtain an EOP, you will submit a petition for an emergency order of protection with your local county courthouse. In your petition, explain why you are seeking a protection order and describe the abusive or threatening actions the respondent has committed. An EOP lasts up to 21 days. The order can prohibit the abusive person from coming within a certain distance from or contacting you and/or your children.

The order may also require the person to surrender his or her firearms. The judge can set any other restrictions that he or she finds appropriate. When the court grants an EOP, it also sets a hearing date for a more permanent protection order called a plenary order of protection.

Interim Orders of Protection and Plenary Orders of Protection

A plenary order can last up to two years. You will need to attend a hearing in order to be granted a plenary order of protection. During the hearing, you will need to justify why you are requesting protection from the court. The respondent will have the chance to respond to the accusations leveled against him or her.

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IL family lawyerIllinois courts believe that children have a right to receive financial support from both of their parents- even if those parents are unmarried or divorced. Child support payments can help parents share child-related costs such as tuition, childcare, extracurricular fees, basic necessities, and medical care. While the costs of feeding and clothing your child will likely stay relatively stable throughout his or her childhood, medical expenses can quickly add up to excessive amounts – especially if your child requires ongoing or specialized medical care. Read on to learn about how medical costs are handled under Illinois child support laws.

Special Needs and Extraordinary Medical Costs

Typically, when parents receive a child support order from the court, the order will dictate how routine medical care such as yearly physicals, dental cleanings, and doctor’s visits for minor medical issues are handled. “Extraordinary” medical expenses include out-of-pocket or uninsured medical costs like co-pays, deductibles, or costs associated with major medical interventions like surgery. These costs may not be covered by the child support order you originally received from the court.

If your child has a medical condition that requires medical care above and beyond what is accounted for in your current child support order, you have a few options. One option is to revisit your child support order through a child support modification. Illinois law states that parents are permitted to request a child support modification when there is a major change in either the child’s needs or the parents’ income.

If you are overwhelmed by child-related medical costs, you may be able to request that these additional expenses are included in your child support order. A judge may also require parents to pay medical costs in addition to the child support order. For example, if your child requires treatment for cancer, the judge may require parents to share this cost in addition to the existing child support order. Generally, the court divides extraordinary medical costs between parents proportionately and based on each parent’s income.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

When a child’s financial needs increase dramatically due to a medical condition, managing child support can become very complicated. For sound legal guidance regarding child support modifications and other family law matters, contact an accomplished Kane County family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. We can help you explore your options and decide on a course of action which is in your child’s best interests. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.

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Posted on in Paternity

IL family lawyerWhen a woman gives birth to a child, she automatically becomes the child’s legal mother. Similarly, when a married woman gives birth, her husband is presumed to be the child’s father. The father will not need to take any additional steps to become the legal parent of his or her child. However, the same is not true for unmarried fathers. An unmarried father must formally establish paternity in order to be the official parent of his child. There are several ways that parents can establish paternity in Illinois.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

The easiest and most straightforward way to establish paternity in Illinois is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). A VAP form is typically available at the hospital after the baby is born. You can also obtain a VAP through the county clerk's office, local registrar of vital records, local Department of Human Services office, or child support services office. A VAP must be signed by both parents, so this option may not work in some situations. If your child’s father does not acknowledge his parentage, he will likely refuse to sign a VAP. In this case, you will need to pursue other avenues for establishing paternity.

Administrative Paternity Order

If your child’s father contests that he is the biological father of your child, you may need to pursue an administrative paternity order. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) will first act as a liaison and attempt to establish paternity without the need for legal intervention. If the biological relationship between the alleged father and child is in question, the DHFS will schedule DNA testing and require the father to attend an interview. If the father does not show up to the interview, the DHFS can declare him to be the child’s legal father by default.

Court Intervention

In some situations, paternity cannot be established outside of court. If court intervention is necessary, the DHFS is represented by the State’s Attorney’s Office during the paternity hearing. Both parents are required to attend the court hearing. If the father is not present at the paternity hearing, the judge can establish paternity in his absence.

After paternity is established, the father will be subject to Illinois laws regarding child support. However, establishing paternity does not automatically establish child support. You will need to obtain a child support order through the family courts in order to start receiving child support.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerAlthough we generally think of divorce as the main way to end a marriage, there is technically another means of “undoing” a marriage in Illinois. Annulment is a legal process through which an individual’s invalid marriage is canceled. Unlike a divorce, an annulment makes it as if a person was never married. In Illinois, annulment is referred to as a Declaration of Invalidity. Not just anyone is eligible for a Declaration of Invalidity. You must meet certain criteria in order to have your marriage annulled in Illinois.

Why Do People Get Their Marriages Annulled?

There are a wide variety of reasons that a person may wish to get their marriage annulled. A person may decide to get married on a whim and then later realize that getting married was a mistake. Sometimes, spouses seek an annulment because they learn information about their partner which makes their marriage unreasonable or legally unenforceable. Other times, a person seeks an annulment because they could not legally consent to the marriage in the first place. Many people also seek annulments for religious reasons. However, it is important to note that an annulment through a church or other religious institution is not the same as a legal annulment through the courts.

Grounds for Annulment in Illinois

You must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for an annulment in Illinois. You may be able to have your marriage annulled if:

  • The marriage is prohibited by law because you and your spouse are close relatives.
  • The marriage is bigamous because one of the spouses is still legally married to another person.
  • You or your spouse cannot physically engage in sexual intercourse and the other spouse was unaware of this inability at the time of the marriage.
  • You or your spouse were under age 16 when you got married or were aged 16 or 17 and did not have the required parental permission to marry.
  • You or your spouse were unable to consent to the marriage because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or were otherwise incapacitated at the time of the marriage.
  • The marriage was entered into through fraud. For example, someone who gets married for the sole purpose of avoiding deportation is in a fraudulent marriage.
  • You or your spouse entered into the marriage through force or coercion.

There are certain statutes of limitations that restrict when a person can get an annulment in Illinois. If you are seeking an annulment due to mental incapacity, fraud, duress, force, or intoxication, you must file a petition for annulment within 90 days of learning of the issue. If the marriage is invalid because the spouses are underage, the spouses have until they are 18 years old to seek an annulment.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

If you want to learn more about declaring your marriage invalid, contact a qualified Kane County divorce lawyer from Shaw Family Law, P.C. today. We can help you determine whether or not your marriage qualifies for annulment and explore all of your legal options for ending your marriage. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling us at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements, also called premarital agreements or “prenups,” are some of the most misunderstood legal documents in all of family law. The media often presents prenuptial agreements in a negative light. Television shows and movies can also add to the confusion and misinformation surrounding prenuptial agreements. The truth is that a prenuptial agreement can benefit both members of a marriage in a wide variety of ways.

Prenups Protect the Financial Interests of Both Spouses

The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to determine in advance how property and debt would be divided if the couple gets a divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, assets are divided according to equitable distribution rules in Illinois. It is very possible that one or both spouses will not end up with the property that they wanted when the court makes property division decisions on behalf of the spouses.

  • A prenuptial agreement is especially important if:
  • There is a large difference in the spouses’ income or assets.
  • Either spouse has substantial debt.
  • The spouses have a blended family.
  • One of the spouses owns their own business.
  • One of the spouses has or plans to have long-term investments, vesting opportunities, or stock options from their employer.

In addition to financial protections, many couples find that the process of creating a prenuptial agreement itself is hugely beneficial. As part of drafting a prenup, you and your partner will need to list your assets and debts as well as make decisions about how finances will be managed during the marriage. Having an open dialogue about finances before the marriage can help reduce marital conflict in the future.

Getting a Prenuptial Agreement Does Not Mean You Believe the Marriage Will Fail

The number one falsehood about prenuptial agreements is that signing one means you have doubts about the success of the marriage. Some people falsely assume that a person would only get a premarital agreement if they do not trust their partner. This is simply not true. Just as getting car insurance does not increase your chances of getting into a car accident, getting a prenuptial agreement does not increase your chances of getting a divorce. Most couples enter into a prenuptial agreement because they take their financial responsibilities seriously and understand that all marriages have a possibility of ending. It is better to have a prenuptial agreement in place and not ever need it than to need one and not have it.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

To learn more about how a prenuptial agreement can benefit you and your partner or for other family law needs, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles family lawyer by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen two people marry, many of their possessions change from “yours” and “mine” into “ours.” Couples may share a home, vehicles, property, bank accounts, and more. When a married couple gets divorced, deciding which spouse should retain which assets can be quite difficult. There are many factors that can complicate the already complex process of property division. If you are planning to divorce and need help with asset division, contact an experienced family law attorney.

Complex Assets

Illinois couples have the option to make their own decisions regarding the division of the marital estate. However, couples who disagree about asset division may require court intervention. If a couple owns complex or high-value assets, it is likely that the process of property division will be much more involved. Assets which can complicate the property division process include but are not limited to:

  • Family businesses
  • Trusts
  • Stocks, bonds, and other investments
  • inheritances or gifts
  • Real estate
  • Pensions and 401ks
  • Deferred compensation
  • Royalties
  • Executive bonuses
  • Offshore accounts

Duration of Marriage and Age of Spouses

You may be surprised to learn that the divorce rate for people over 50 years of age has doubled since 1990. More and more older Americans are getting divorced. Many individuals over the age of 50 have accumulated a significant amount of money in a term life insurance, 401k plan, or retirement account. They may also be receiving Social Security benefits. The duration of a marriage can influence several aspects of divorce as well including asset division, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and more. When a marriage of 20 years or more ends, the process of untangling the spouses’ intertwined financial lives can be especially difficult.

Dissipated Assets

Property or funds which are wasted near the end of a marriage are referred to as “dissipated assets.” Examples of dissipated assets can include funds lost to gambling or drug addiction, money spent on a secret affair, and property which was destroyed by another spouse in an act of retaliation. In order to be considered dissipation, the frivolous spending must be “for the sole benefit of one spouse and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.” Furthermore, the spending must take place “when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Generally, an “irreconcilable breakdown” refers to the time when a couple stops making attempts at reconciliation. If you and your legal team can prove that your spouse dissipated significant assets, you may be given a larger share of the marital estate to compensate for the lost property or funds.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

If you are getting divorced and have questions about property division, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. to get the answers you need. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorney by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerUnderstandably, divorce can be a very emotional process. Many people getting divorced struggle to make good financial decisions and not let their emotions dictate their behavior. Some of the most common divorce mistakes stem from short-sightedness and haste regarding finances. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid adding superfluous expense to your divorce. Read on to learn about some of the ways that divorcing individuals inadvertently increase the cost of their divorce and how you can avoid these financial pitfalls.

Mediation is an Affordable Alternative to Court Intervention

Cooperating and negotiating with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse can be one of the hardest parts of the divorce process. However, working with your spouse to come to an agreement on divorce issues is much less expensive than courtroom litigation. If you find it difficult to talk to your spouse about property and debt division, child custody, spousal support, or other divorce-related concerns, mediation may be a useful option. During mediation, a specially-qualified mediator acts as a neutral third-party during negotiations. The mediator helps the divorcing couple reach agreements about divorce issues so that the couple does not need to take the matters to court.

Unhealthy and Expensive Coping Mechanisms Can Cost

Ending a marriage can be an incredibly stressful undertaking. Because of this, many people getting divorced find themselves indulging in comforts like food, alcohol, or fun activities. Experts say that some self-pampering can be beneficial during divorce but overindulging can create serious problems. One recent study found that the risk of developing alcoholism increased for both men and women following a divorce. Using drugs, alcohol, gambling, or excessive retail therapy to avoid negative emotions during divorce can quickly escalate and lead to financial disaster in the future.

Carefully Consider What to Do with Your House

If you are like most people, you have a sentimental attachment to the place you call home. During divorce, the last thing you may want is to be uprooted and forced to move into a new house or apartment. However, it is not always in your best interest to keep the house when you get divorced. Making a monthly mortgage payment and maintaining a home alone is usually much harder than it is with a spouse. For other divorcing spouses, it makes more financial sense for them to keep the home than to sell it. Make sure to consider all of the possible options when it comes to the marital home and consider the long-term consequences of selling or keeping the house.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are getting divorced, contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. to get the help you need. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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IL custody lawyerA child’s well-being should be the top priority for parents going through a divorce. They should want their child to have everything they need throughout the stages of their life. However, often one parent can be substandard in their compliance with the parenting plan agreed upon with their former partner.

After a while of trying to get a co-parent to show up for visitations, send support payments, or just call to talk to a child, they may give up and choose to have a new partner - the child’s stepparent - adopt the little one.

Stepparents adopting their stepchild is not uncommon especially when a biological parent:

  • Is abusive
  • Is an alcoholic or a drug addict
  • Does not show up to scheduled visitations
  • Does not financially support a child
  • Is convicted of a crime that will see them in prison for a long period of time
  • Abandons their child

Being married to the primary decision-maker of the child can give a step-parent some rights, but they are still limited in their own decision-making because there is no biological relationship to the child. If an adoption occurs, the stepparent can then be included in major life choices for the minor including school plans, financial responsibility, and medical procedures.

Each state has a different process when a step-parent wants to adopt a stepchild. Also, each case is sensitive to each particular family since everyone has a different situation they are living through. The state of Illinois requires a step-parent to be a resident of the state for six months before filing for adoption. This is because the adoption will go through a family court locally so no one needs to travel for any reason. After that, the process should take three months to complete.

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IL custody lawyerMost of the courts in Illinois require a couple to go through mediation in cases involving allocation of parental responsibilities, visitation, and relocation before going through the court system. Child support will still be determined by the family court judge, however, all other issues can be settled in mediation.

This right is also given to unmarried parents, but there is an extra step that the couple must go through before heading to mediation.

When a couple has a child without being married, paternity cannot be assumed. It must be proven either through a court-ordered paternity test or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that can be filled out and filed at the time of a child’s birth.

If a father claims the child and all the proper paperwork is filed, the couple can go through a mediator to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities including:

  • Where the child will live and with which parent
  • How much time a child can visit with their non-custodial parent
  • Where the child will attend school
  • Who will be the child’s primary decision-maker on issues of health and religion

Child Support Determination

While some states allow parents to come to an agreed-upon amount for child support payments, Illinois requires that parental partners must have their payments determined by the court system.

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IL divorce lawyerIllinois law went through a change in 2016 in regards to parents relocating with their child after going through a divorce. Prior to the law change, the parent with physical custody of the child was allowed to move within the state whenever they wished.

According to the new law, a parent must get permission from the court if their relocation is over 25 miles from the current address. In some cases, the 25 miles could take the parent and child over Illinois state limits.

What Is the Process to Petition for Relocation?

The Illinois court system likes to make sure that a child is able to see both parents after a divorce takes place. If one parent moves out of state, the other may not get as much of a chance to bond with their child and a parenting plan can become difficult to maintain.

A lot of relocation cases can be handled civilly with both parents agreeing to the relocation and signing the necessary paperwork to avoid court. However, if the non-custodial parent feels like their time with their children are in jeopardy, they can refuse to sign the paperwork. This would lead the primary parent to file a petition for relocation to family court.

The parent looking to relocate would need to bring their written petition to the court a minimum of 60 days before the planned relocation. The petition must include:

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IL custody lawyerWhen the process of a divorce is civil, there is no need for the court to order a partner or parent to stay away from the household. However, when there is domestic violence present in the relationship(s), the victim and/or parent of the victim can petition family court for an order of protection until the divorce process is concluded - or sometimes even further.

Understanding Orders of Protection

Domestic violence is a serious reason why some partners choose to split. However, if the abuser is unhappy about their partner choosing to leave, the abuse can sometimes escalate. If this happens, the victim is encouraged to file for an order of protection which will eliminate contact between victim and abuser during their divorce. This includes:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Physical proximity to each other
  • Physical proximity to the victim’s residence
  • Physical proximity to the minor victim’s school or daycare

When there are children involved, the parent may file for an order of protection that includes them so that the abuser does not have contact with the minors during the process if it is believed the children may also be at risk. In Illinois, there are three types of orders which range in duration of non-contact:

  • Emergency orders, which cover a duration of 14 to 21 days.
  • Interim orders, which cover a duration of 30 days.
  • Plenary orders, which cover a maximum of two years.

All orders are able to be extended when the coverage time comes to conclusion. This must be done through the court as well.

Penalties for Violating an Order of Protection

An abuser needs to be knowingly violating the order of protection for a punishment to be given. In this case, the offender will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If there are children involved during the violation, the charges are elevated to a Class 4 felony.

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