St. Charles, IL parenting plan attorneyIn 2016, Illinois updated the language describing child custody. Today, the state recognizes “parenting time” and "parental responsibilities," which refer to physical custody and decision-making authority respectively. Divorcing parents will need to determine how they will make decisions about their child's education, involvement in church or other religious activities, medical care, and more. They must also determine how they will share responsibility for supervising the child and meeting his or her day-to-day needs. A parenting plan provides an agreement between two parents regarding who has what rights or responsibilities related to the children. Developing a mutually-agreeable parenting plan is rarely a simple task, so it is important to start thinking about these issues early in the divorce process.

Parenting Time, Parental Responsibilities, and Other Crucial Matters in Your Parenting Plan

Whenever possible, parents are encouraged to create their own parenting plans as opposed to letting the court determine the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time for them. Sometimes, this requires help from their respective attorneys or a divorce mediator.

As you work on your parenting plan, make sure you discuss the following topics:

  • The parenting time schedule - The parenting time schedule describes when the child will live with each parent. It may include who will have the child on holidays and vacations, as well as how transportation arrangements will be handled.
  • Parental responsibilities - The parenting plan should also address which parent has decision-making authority over certain matters pertaining to the child's upbringing, such as education or religion. The parents may also decide that they will make all major child-related decisions jointly. 
  • Resolving disputes - All parenting plans should include a dispute resolution procedure, such as mediation. Disagreements are bound to arise, and parents will have an easier time resolving disagreements if they have planned for this possibility in advance.
  • The right of first refusal - This clause states that one parent must notify the other if he or she is unable to care for a child during his or her designated parenting time. It specifies that the other parent must be given the opportunity to care for the child first before a third party such as a babysitter or grandparent is asked to watch the child.
  • Future modifications to the parenting plan - As the child grows up and the parents' lives change, there may come a time that the parenting plan needs to be modified. The plan should include a clause specifying how future changes will be handled.
  • How and when the child will communicate with both parents - A parenting plan should include a clause specifying how and when the child will communicate with a parent during the other parent's parenting time. This is an issue that can sometimes cause conflict, so it is best to address it early in the process and make a mutually-agreeable plan. For example, you may specify that the parent who has parenting time will have the child call the other parent before bed, or use text messaging to stay in touch with the other parent throughout the day.

Contact a St. Charles Parenting Plan Lawyer

The Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Sanders, P.C. can help you develop a parenting plan, address any child custody disputes, establish a child support order, and much more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and set up a free initial consultation to learn more.

Source:

...

St. Charles, IL divorce attorneyDivorce inevitably involves conflict. However, some divorce cases are extremely contentious. One of both parties may intentionally draw out the divorce process, refuse to compromise, lie about finances, or use unscrupulous tactics to get what they want. They may overreact to small issues or be completely unwilling to negotiate.

A "high-conflict partner" is someone who constantly blames others, fails to take responsibility for his or her actions, uses threats or manipulation to control others, and has extreme emotions. If this sounds like your spouse and you are planning to end your marriage, you may be facing a very challenging divorce. It is highly recommended that you work with an attorney who can provide the legal support you need and advocate on your behalf throughout the divorce.

Signs of a High Conflict Personality

A high-conflict person is one who is constantly embroiled in conflict. Here are five signs that your partner may be a high-conflict person:

  • All-or-nothing mentality - A high-conflict person sees the world in black and white and refuses to see any other perspectives. Any perceived slight or disagreement is seen as an attack and they will go to extreme lengths to prove they are right.
  • Sees themselves as the victim - A high-conflict partner often plays the victim, claiming that everyone else is to blame for their situations and problems in life. They may view themselves as victims of injustice and feel that no matter what they do or how hard they try, they will never get what they want.
  • Lacks empathy - A high-conflict partner is often unable to sympathize or empathize with others. They may not take into consideration the feelings of other people and can be insensitive to their needs.
  • Unpredictable behavior - A high-conflict person has a volatile temper and their behavior is hard to predict. They may have extreme emotional outbursts at any time and can be easily provoked.
  • Overreaction - A high-conflict partner tends to escalate minor disagreements into major fights. They may become irrationally angry or hostile in situations where other people would simply brush it off.

Strategies for Divorce

If you are divorcing someone who meets some or all of the criteria listed above, your divorce may be more complex than the average divorce case. Alternative resolution methods like mediation may be unsuccessful. You may need to limit direct communication with your spouse and instead communicate through your respective attorneys. It is also important that you are prioritizing your own needs during this tumultuous time. Consider attending therapy or joining a support group. Practice self-compassion and self-care. It will not be easy, but with the right support system and legal help, you can get through a high-conflict divorce.

Contact a Kane County High-Conflict Divorce Lawyer

The St. Charles divorce attorneys at Shaw Family Law, P.C. are familiar with the difficulties and complexities a high-conflict spouse can bring about during divorce. We can protect your rights and provide the legal support you need. Call 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

...

St. Charles, IL divorce modification lawyerOnce a divorce is finalized, the divorce decree will contain the specific rights and obligations of each party. Often, this includes provisions describing the terms of spousal maintenance, child support, or child custody. Spouses are expected to comply with the terms of the divorce decree.

Failure to comply can result in civil contempt of court, a form of punishment for not following a court order. If you are found to be in contempt, there may be significant consequences, including fines or even jail time. This is meant to ensure that each spouse meets their legal obligations according to the court order.

Divorce Decree Noncompliance 

Spouses who cannot meet their obligations should seek a modification through the appropriate administrative or judicial avenue. It may be possible to change a child support, spousal support, or child custody order. The worst thing a person can do is to simply fail to meet his or her obligation. Failure to comply with a court order can lead to being held in contempt of court. A spouse who does not pay support may also be subject to wage garnishment, property liens, bank account seizures, and other collection procedures.

In civil contempt proceedings, the judge will consider several factors, including the nature and severity of the violation, whether there was intentional disregard for the court's orders, and whether the party has a history of noncompliance. The judge will also look at any mitigating circumstances that may have caused the spouse to fail to comply with the divorce decree. If the judge finds that the spouse willfully violated the court order, then a finding of contempt may be made with consequences such as fines or jail time.

It is important for spouses to seek legal advice before attempting to modify their divorce decree, as there are strict procedures and deadlines associated with these actions. If these processes are not followed, it can lead to a finding of contempt. It is always better to seek legal counsel and modify the decree if you are having trouble complying with its terms, than to risk being found in contempt of court.

...

St. Charles, IL stay at home mother divorce lawyerWhen you have dedicated most of your time to raising children, career advancement and financial security become less of a priority. Many stay-at-home parents rely on their spouse’s income to pay bills and cover everyday expenses. When divorce occurs, it can be difficult for a stay-at-home parent to adjust to life without this income.

Many stay-at-home parents also worry about how the divorce will affect their children. Will they be forced to move? Will the children need to change schools? Who will receive the majority of the parenting time and parental responsibilities after the split? These are just some of the many questions stay-at-home moms contend with during a divorce.

Child Custody Issues in an Illinois Divorce

Divorcing parents are asked to create a parenting plan that describes each parent's decision-making authority and parenting time schedule. If the parents cannot reach a decision, the court decides on these issues. 

Stay-at-home mothers are not guaranteed to receive custody of their children in Illinois divorces. The court considers the "best interests" of the child when deciding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time arrangements. Factors such as the age of the child, the wishes of the parents, each parent’s relationship with the child, and other factors will be taken into consideration when making this determination. Because children spend so much time with stay-at-home parents, it is likely that a stay-at-home mother would be favored during any custody dispute. However, the situation is rarely this black and white.

Spousal Maintenance for Stay-at-Home Mothers

The reality of the situation is that stay-at-home moms are often at a major financial disadvantage during a divorce. However, some may be entitled to spousal maintenance, also called alimony. Maintenance payments are based on a statutory formula that uses both parties' incomes. The duration of maintenance payments is usually based on the length of the marriage.

...

Posted on in Mediation

St. Charles, IL divorce lawyerEnding a marriage is often an emotionally exhausting process that involves difficult decisions regarding asset division, child custody, and other important matters. Divorce cases are sometimes ligated through the court system, but this is not the only option for resolving a divorce. There are alternatives such as mediation that allow divorcing spouses to have more control over the outcome of the divorce. Instead of letting a judge make decisions about whether each party should receive certain assets or which parent should have custody, divorce mediation gives parties the opportunity to work out an agreement outside of the courtroom.

If you are considering mediation to settle disputed issues in your divorce, you may have several questions. What happens during mediation? What does the mediator do? What does the mediation process look like?

Mediators Facilitate Productive Communication and Negotiation

Getting divorced involves much more than simply deciding to end the marriage. Spouses must also address complicated issues, such as how to divide shared property and debts and how to allocate parental responsibilities. During mediation, divorcing spouses have an opportunity to discuss these issues and explore various options. Most divorcing spouses have a very hard time doing this on their own. Married couples often have years of memories – both good and bad. Emotions are running high during divorce and this makes it difficult to think clearly.

A mediator helps the couple put emotions to the side and focus on the facts of the case. If the couple starts arguing about unrelated issues or veers off course in a conversation, the mediator is there to gently guide them back to the task at hand. Mediators can help couples break down complicated issues and contentious disagreements into small, manageable steps.

Mediation sessions vary in duration and frequency. Some couples are able to reach an agreement within one or two sessions. Others may need as many as eight sessions. Each situation is unique.

...

St. Charles, IL child custody modification lawyerIn 2016, Illinois changed how courts handle child custody matters. Child custody now involves two components. The allocation of parental responsibilities refers to the allocation of child-related decision-making authority. Parenting time, which used to be called visitation, is the time each parent cares for the child.

In order to promote stability in a child’s life, the court only allows parents to modify their child custody order under certain circumstances.

Modifying a Child Custody Order in the First Two Years

The rules about child custody modifications depend on when the order was established or last modified. It is generally believed that maximizing consistency is in the child’s best interests after a divorce. Consequently, the courts want to prevent the parents from making unnecessary changes to the child custody order. If it has been less than two years since the child custody order was first established or last modified, there is a higher burden of proof needed to change the order. If you want to modify parental responsibilities within two years, you usually must submit an affidavit to the court affirming that the current allocation of parental responsibilities is endangering the child’s physical, mental, psychological, or moral health.

Modifying a Child Custody Order After Two Years  

The only thing certain in life is change. Many parents find themselves in a situation where they need to change their allocation judgment after a divorce. If it has been more than two years since the child custody order was established or modified, you will need to demonstrate the following to modify the order:

  • There is a substantial change of circumstances that directly affects the child
  • The modification is in the child’s best interests

Countless different situations may constitute a major change in circumstances. For example, if a parent moves a significant distance away, a child custody modification may be needed to change the parent with primary decision-making authority.

...

St. Charles, IL asset division lawyerWhen a couple gets married, their financial lives become intertwined. Untangling the spouses’ finances is a major aspect of the divorce process. Marital property, which is jointly owned by both spouses, must be distinguished from non-marital property, which is owned by only one spouse. Any assets and debts included in the marital estate will need to be valued and divided between the spouses. Divorcing spouses can negotiate their own property division agreement, or, if no agreement can be reached, the court will determine how to divide property.

Because assets must be divided equitably, transferring assets or giving gifts to others during divorce can be problematic. In some cases, transferring assets, even though a seemingly harmless gift, can lead to accusations of dissipation.

Dissipation of Assets

Illinois law defines dissipation of assets as the use of marital property for reasons that are unrelated to the marriage, only benefit one spouse, and during a time when the marriage is breaking down. Some classic examples of dissipation of assets include:

  • Spending money during an extramarital affair
  • Selling marital property to fund a drug addiction
  • Destroying a spouse’s property in revenge

However, one lesser known type of dissipation of assets occurs when a divorcing spouse gives gifts of money or property to other people during the breakdown of the marriage. Giving a $20 birthday present to a family member or other small gifts are not considered dissipation. However, loaning large amounts of cash to other people or buying extravagant gifts for others may be considered dissipation.

Dissipation of assets may even involve gifts to a child. Consider the following example: A divorcing father has children from a previous marriage. One of his children from the previous marriage turns 16 years old and he buys her a car. If marital funds were used to buy the car, the marriage was undergoing a breakdown, and the gift was not approved of by his current wife, the wife could potentially have a valid dissipation claim.   

...

Kane County divorce attorneyThere is no denying that divorce is hard. Even the friendliest of divorces can have moments of tension and acrimony between the couple, never mind situations where the relationship is downright contentious. As difficult as it may be for a husband and wife who are ending their marriage, the impact of divorce on their children can be significant. The more difficult it is for a child to adjust to this major change in their lives, the more of a struggle they can have in other areas of their life, including school, with friends, and extracurricular activities.

This is why it is critical for divorced parents to put aside their differences and make a genuine effort to co-parent cohesively. It is also why Illinois requires all divorcing parents to participate in a certified parenting education program.

Parenting Education Programs

In Illinois, parents who are involved in any type of child custody case (referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time under Illinois law) are required to take a parenting education course, unless they can show a good reason not to. The purpose of these programs is to educate parents on communication skills and working together to co-parent post-divorce. Both parents are required to take the course – although they are not allowed to take the course together or with the child.

The course requirements and costs depend on the county the court hearing the custody case is located in:

  • Kane County – Parents who live in Kane County are required to take the KiDs1st Program. Classes are offered both in-person and via Zoom. The program must be completed within four months of the initial filing of the child custody. The current cost of the program is $90.00.
  • Cook County – Cook County offers two different programs for parents. The first program is Focus on the Children and is an in-person, four-hour program. The cost of the program is $50.00. The second option is the Child In Between program. This four-hour program is completely online. Once enrolled, participants have 30 days to complete the course. The cost of this program is $49.99.
  • DuPage County – In DuPage County, programs are available both in-person and online. The course a parent takes depends on the status of their case. If the custody case is between two parents who are divorcing, they need to take the Co-Parenting Course. If the parents were never married, they need to take the Parents and Kids program.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

If you are ending your marriage and need to work out a custody and parenting time plan, contact a St. Charles, IL child custody lawyer to find out what legal options may be available to you. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential schedule.

...

St. Charles, IL pension division lawyerFor many married couples, planning for the future includes saving money for retirement. This can include 401(k) accounts and pension plans. And just like other assets, should a couple of divorce, any retirement funds they have are often deemed part of the marital estate that must be divided equitably between the two. Unlike other assets, however, dividing pension accounts can be more complex.

Determining Pension Value

There are two things that need to be considered when determining the value of a pension in order to determine how it should be divided in the divorce. The first issue the court must decide is whether or not the pension is, in fact, marital property. In most situations, the value of the pension that was accrued during the marriage is considered marital property, while the value of any portion of the pension that was accrued prior to the marriage is considered separate property. There are situations where the judge may determine that all the pension funds have been commingled and are therefore all part of the marital estate.

The second issue the court will consider is what type of pension plan it is. One type of pension plan is referred to as a defined contribution. This is where a specific amount is deducted from the employee’s paycheck each pay period, such as a 401(k) plan or profit-sharing plan. Since these plans have a specific dollar amount, they are fairly easy to value for the purpose of dividing assets.

The second type of pension plan is referred to as defined benefit. These types of plans are funded by the employers and payouts are calculated with a formula that uses the employee’s age, salary, and how long they worked for the company. These types of plans usually require a financial professional to determine the pension’s value for the purpose of the division of assets.

QDROs

Once the court has determined the value of the pension and how it will be divided between the couple, it will be necessary to submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in order to establish one spouse as an alternate payee who is entitled to receive a share of the other spouse’s pension.

...

St. Charles, IL asset division lawyerOne of the most common issues in divorce cases is the family home. For many couples, their home is often the largest asset of their marital estate and becomes a central focus in asset and property division. Along with the financial aspect of the family home, there are also emotional attachments that may exist that can make it harder to give up. Although a spouse may want to keep the family home as part of their share of the marital estate, there are several factors that should be considered when weighing the options.

Financial Factor

One of the main factors to consider when it comes to keeping the family home is the expense. Illinois uses the equitable distribution method for dividing assets in a divorce. This means that if one spouse is awarded the family home, they will either have to buy the other spouse out of the home or give up their share of other assets that have an equitable value as the home. Either way, the spouse who decides to keep the home is usually left with less cash on hand than the other spouse.

Without cash reserves, as well as going from a two-income household to a one-income household, the spouse keeping the home may find it difficult to keep up with all of the home’s expenses. Homeownership typically involves a mortgage, property taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities, and other assorted costs. Before making the decision of keeping the family home, it is important to consider all of these factors and how these expenses will affect your future.

Stability Factor

Many people do decide that there are other important benefits of keeping the family home that outweigh the financial factor. One of the biggest benefits is the stability that staying in the family home provides the couple’s children. Many children are emotionally overwhelmed when their parents go through a divorce and unsure of what their future will look like. Knowing they will still live in the same home, go to the same school, and be near their friends can help a child adjust to the divorce and other changes that divorce brings.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If you have decided to end your marriage, you want to make sure that whatever assets you end up with in the final divorce settlement will provide you with a solid financial foundation for your new life. A St. Charles, IL property division lawyer can evaluate your situation and provide legal guidance on what type of asset distribution will be in your best interest. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

...

 Kane County parenting time lawyerWhen parents decide to divorce, part of that divorce process involves establishing allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Even if parents were never legally married, they should still petition the court to legally establish custody if they decide to end their relationship.

Unfortunately, once the court has made its final custody determination, there are parents who will not be happy with the outcome. They may feel the child should be with them for longer periods of time than the court established and even take steps to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time.

There are also parents who will attempt to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time because of some other issue. They may be angry over the breakup or because the other parent has started to date again. Some parents will also interfere with parenting time if the other parent is not meeting their court-ordered child support obligations.

Regardless of why this parental interference is occurring, it is important for all parents to understand the civil – and even potentially criminal – penalties they could face for interfering with the court’s parenting time order.

Criminal Remedies

Abuse of allocated parenting time is considered a petty offense under Illinois law, similar to a traffic violation. In order to pursue criminal charges, the aggrieved parent would need to convince law enforcement that the other parent was interfering with their parenting time. Police would then issue a report to the State’s Attorney, who would prosecute the alleged guilty parent.

...

Posted on in Family Law

Kane County stepparent adoption lawyerYears ago, the nuclear family typically consisted of a mother, a father, and their biological children. Today’s nuclear families come in all different “shapes and sizes,” including single-parent, blended, same-sex, and extended families. Given the high rate of divorce and remarriage in the United States, it should come as no surprise that stepfamilies have become fairly common, with one or both spouses bringing children from a prior relationship into the marriage. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the biological parent of the children has either passed away or is not an active part of the children’s lives, and the stepparent essentially steps into that absent parent’s role. Many families decide to take steps to make that role a legal one.

Stepparent Adoption

Under Illinois law, there are several factors that must be met in order for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. The first factor is that the stepparent must be legally married to the child’s biological mother or father. This also applies to same-sex couples.

Another factor under Illinois law is that if the child is 14 years of age or older, they must consent to the adoption.

A third factor that applies is the state’s law that does not permit a child to have more than two legal parents. This means that if the child’s other biological parent is not deceased, they must either sign away their parental rights, have disappeared from the child’s life, or have been proven to be an unfit parent.

Adoption Process if One Parent is Missing

Even if the child’s other parent has disappeared, the law states they still have the legal right to object to the adoption. If their location is unknown and there is no way to notify them of the adoption petition by conventional means, then the courts will allow notice by publication. Service by publication is when a legal notice is published in newspapers of the area the parent was last known to have lived in. The notice is published several times and if the parent still does not respond, the courts will consider the adoption an uncontested one.

...

Posted on in Family Law

 

Kane County stepparent adoption lawyerYears ago, the nuclear family typically consisted of a mother, a father, and their biological children. Today’s nuclear families come in all different “shapes and sizes,” including single-parent, blended, same-sex, and extended families. Given the high rate of divorce and remarriage in the United States, it should come as no surprise that stepfamilies have become fairly common, with one or both spouses bringing children from a prior relationship into the marriage. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the biological parent of the children has either passed away or is not an active part of the children’s lives, and the stepparent essentially steps into that absent parent’s role. Many families decide to take steps to make that role a legal one.

Stepparent Adoption

Under Illinois law, there are several factors that must be met in order for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. The first factor is that the stepparent must be legally married to the child’s biological mother or father. This also applies to same-sex couples.

Another factor under Illinois law is that if the child is 14 years of age or older, they must consent to the adoption.

A third factor that applies is the state’s law that does not permit a child to have more than two legal parents. This means that if the child’s other biological parent is not deceased, they must either sign away their parental rights, have disappeared from the child’s life, or have been proven to be an unfit parent.

...

Posted on in Family Law

St. Charles prenuptial agreement lawyerMany engaged couples now make sure that they have a prenuptial agreement on their wedding to-do list. And while most prenups are fairly standard, it is still important to have an experienced family law attorney working with you when putting it together. This is because there are certain things that Illinois law does not allow in prenuptial agreements and could declare the contract void if you ever do divorce.

A valid prenuptial agreement can include the assets and debts that each spouse has, what will be considered marital property and what will be considered separate property, how marital expenses will be paid, how any student loan expenses will be paid, and whether there will be any spousal support should the parties divorce in the future. There should also be a provision regarding any arbitration or mediation requirements. The following are some of these items that are unenforceable.

Prenup Made Under Involuntary Circumstances

The first issue a court will look at to determine the validity of a prenup is whether or not it was made voluntarily by both parties. The agreement can be ruled void if any of the following applied when the contract was signed:

  • Failure to provide full disclosure of assets
  • Fraud
  • Duress to sign the agreement (or undue influence)
  • Unfair or unconscionable provisions

Child Custody and Support Provisions

Illinois law has specific laws when it comes to child custody and child support. Child custody – called allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time under the current state statute – is determined using the “best interest of the child” doctrine. This means that the court will have the final say in matters related to child custody. Couples cannot have provisions in a prenuptial agreement that state how custody should be divided in the event they break up.

The same applies to child support provisions. Because of the laws of the state govern how much a parent should pay based on the income shares model, this is another area where a child support clause in a prenup would be ruled null.

...

St. Charles, IL child custody lawyerThe issues that need to be decided between a divorcing couple can be difficult. One of the most difficult is deciding how custody of children will be shared. In Illinois, child custody is divided between the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parents must agree – or the court will decide for them – which parent will be responsible for major decisions in a child's life, including their education, medical treatments, and religion, as well as how parents will divide the children’s time between them. 

One of the most difficult parts of parenting time scheduling is the emotional burden, as well as the physical burden, it puts on children. They go from one parent’s house to the other, with a bedroom, different clothes, and toys in each home, and it can be exhausting for them. This is why many parents are turning to “bird’s nest” custody where the children live in the same home all the time, and it is the parents who take turns living there.

How Is Bird’s Nest Custody Handled?

Under a bird’s nest custody plan, the marital home becomes the “nest.” A child lives in the home full-time. The parents will have come up with a parenting time schedule, but it is the parents who stay with the child at the “nest” during their parenting time and leave when the other parent arrives for their parenting time.

Bird’s nest custody can work for parents who have equal parenting time or even in parenting schedules where one parent may only have parenting time every other weekend. No matter what the parenting time schedule is, the most important component this arrangement brings is consistency for the child who sleeps in the same bed every night. This also allows them to go to the same school, play with the same neighbors and friends, and participate in their regular extra-curricular activities with no interruptions because they have to be at the other parent’s home, which may not even be in the same town.

What Are the Downsides to Bird’s Nest Custody?

While there are many benefits to this type of arrangement, there are some factors that parents need to consider carefully before agreeing to it. For one thing, instead of maintaining two separate residences, the parents would be maintaining three – the marital home where the child lives and then their own homes where they stay during their non-parenting times.

...

St. Charles divorce lawyerWhen a married couple decides to end their marriage, one of the decisions that will have to be made is how their assets and property will be divided. Illinois is an equitable division state, which means that all the couple’s assets will be distributed equitably and fairly, which may not necessarily mean equal. In order to successfully and fairly negotiate a divorce settlement, it is important to understand the different types of assets and property you and your spouse may have.

Separate Property

Separate property is that which one spouse owns as an individual. In an Illinois divorce, the courts do not include separate property in any assets or property that needs to be divided as long as those assets or property remain separate during the marriage. Generally, separate property can include:

  • Any assets or property the spouse had prior to the marriage
  • Any income or profits that the spouse gains from separate property – i.e., rent
  • Any property that the spouse purchased with their separate assets
  • Any gifts or inheritances from third parties received by the spouse during the marriage

Marital Property

Marital property is that which the spouses acquired during the marriage. These are the assets that are included in the final divorce settlement and generally include:

  • Property purchased by either spouse paid for with funds earned during the marriage
  • Wages earned by both spouses during the marriage
  • Businesses started by either spouse during the marriage
  • Contributions made to either spouse’s pension plan during the marriage

Commingled Assets

While separate property and marital property may seem fairly cut and dry, there are many situations where the lines blur – especially if the couple has commingled assets, which essentially means a combining of assets.

For example, in a situation where one spouse owned a home prior to marriage and that is where the couple lived during the marriage, there is a high chance of commingling assets if marital funds were used to pay the mortgage, make improvements, and pay other expenses that all result in an increase in the value of the home. Although the home itself would remain the owner spouse’s property in a divorce, the other spouse could be entitled to a share of the increased equity that has built up in the property during the marriage.

...

Kane County divorce mediator lawyersA mediator does not have to be a lawyer. In the state of Illinois, a mediator is not legally required to have any type of license or certification. But do you want to trust your divorce to someone who is not familiar with the law or the legal process?   

Family law attorneys make great mediators because they understand what can unfold in court and they are knowledgeable about the law. Electing to end your marriage is not an easy decision but an experienced divorce mediation attorney can help you focus on conflict resolution and craft an effective mediation agreement.  

Benefits of an Attorney-Mediator  

The stakes can be high in a divorce. You may be fighting for custody of your children, pets, spousal support, or property division. But rather than face expensive litigation, mediation is a process in which couples meet with an impartial third party to discuss their differences without going to court. For this process to work, there must be good faith and cooperation.   

Some benefits of a mediator who is also an attorney include:  

  • Negotiation - A certified mediator who is an attorney is a skilled negotiator who can guide the divorcing couple through this challenging process. 
  • Crafting effective agreements – A divorce mediation attorney is adept at drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that can be legally binding because they understand Illinois laws. Keep in mind that the MOU is not enforceable until it is signed by a judge, and it is entered as a court order. 
  • Couples with children - In Illinois, the allocation of parental responsibility and time-sharing must be drafted into a parenting plan. This can often be a source of conflict between both sides.  
  • Spousal support – Another potentially sensitive issue that should be incorporated into the agreement is maintenance or money for a spouse’s expenses which is based on the length of the marriage. 
  • Legal follow-up - If you hire a non-lawyer to mediate your divorce you will likely need to hire an attorney to review the agreement. It is crucial that you understand each decision made during mediation and how it will impact you legally and financially. 
  • Experience - In most counties in Illinois, the court will order mediation to help couples sort out parental responsibilities and parenting time. If you hire a divorce attorney before you see a mediator, the court will likely order mediation. In such cases, you do not choose your mediator but are assigned one from an approved court list. Mediation remains an unregulated field in which the only requirement for a court-approved mediator is taking a 40-hour class.  

Experienced Family Law Mediation   

If you are facing divorce, you may be dreading the negotiation process. You need someone empathetic and knowledgeable about the law. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., attorney Matt Shaw is both. He is a certified mediator who has resolved numerous cases outside of court. With more than three decades of extensive court and trial experience representing men, women, and children in Illinois, attorney Shaw will help you keep things amicable with your soon-to-be ex.  

...

Kane County divorce attorneyIn Illinois and across the nation, a divorce can have significant financial ramifications for all parties involved, depending on how both parties’ assets are divided. To gain the economic upper hand over their spouse, individuals may attempt to hide portions of their assets to keep money and other resources from being allocated to their partner during the divorce proceedings. If you believe your spouse may be hiding assets, consider hiring a knowledgeable divorce attorney with experience uncovering hidden assets.

How Can Assets Be Hidden?

In the state of Illinois, the law states that marital assets are eligible to be fairly distributed in divorce proceedings. However, this is only if the assets have not already been addressed by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. To secure a more significant percentage of the estate, a spouse may try to hide certain resources or revenue streams. The hiding of assets can take place before or during the divorce proceedings. 

A spouse can attempt to hide assets from their partner in several ways. Some of these ways include:

  • Combining personal finances into business accounts controlled by that spouse  
  • Secretly opening bank or retirement accounts to stockpile resources
  • Spending large amounts of money on items such as jewelry, art, and other luxuries they plan to resell after the divorce
  • “Gifting” high-value items to friends or family members
  • Falsifying documents to hide assets
  • Underreporting their income

How Can Hidden Assets Be Uncovered?

There are three primary options an individual can pursue to account for the assets in their marriage accurately. It is essential to remember that gaining an accurate representation of the marital assets will allow for a fairer distribution of all assets involved in the divorce. Your three options are as follows:

  1. Have your legal counsel look at the numbers - Hiring an experienced divorce attorney means they have analyzed financial statements. Depending on what your lawyer recommends, they may suggest you pursue forensic accounting, which will take an even deeper dive into the assets in the marriage.
  2. Consider hiring a forensic accountant – Forensic accountants are specialists at finding money and other assets. While this can be expensive, it is the most comprehensive option. Forensic accountants are trained in analyzing, interpreting, and summarizing complex financial matters. If your spouse is hiding financial information from you, it is more probable than not that a forensic accountant will bring this information to light.
  3. With the guidance of an attorney, look at the numbers yourself – If you are looking to save on costs, you could consider gathering all your relevant documents and analyzing them yourself. Although this is not as comprehensive an option as hiring a forensic accountant, there are online resources available to help you understand the process of tracking down assets. 

Contact a St. Charles Illinois Divorce Attorney

Divorce can be incredibly stressful, especially when it comes to handling marital assets. To weigh your options, contact an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer to advocate on your behalf while ensuring your rights stay protected. Call 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and private consultation at Shaw Sanders, P.C. today.

...

Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce lawyerThe term "narcissist" is used to describe someone who is excessively self-involved, lacks empathy, and has an inflated sense of self-importance. An individual with narcissistic tendencies may intentionally provoke arguments and refuse to cooperate. He or she may even use threats or intimidation to upset you.  If you are divorcing a narcissist, it's important to be prepared for these behaviors. Here are five tips for dealing with a narcissist during a divorce.

Ending Your Marriage When Your Spouse Has Narcissistic Tendencies

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) lists the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The criteria include things like grandiosity, sense of entitlement, and being unempathetic. Even if your spouse does not meet the clinical definition of narcissistic, even one or two narcissistic traits can make someone a nightmare to divorce.

If your spouse has narcissistic tendencies, consider the following tips:

  • Take the high road - Your spouse will probably do anything to get a reaction out of you.  The best way to deal with this is to take the high road. Don't stoop to his or her level by arguing or fighting. This will only give your spouse the satisfaction of knowing that he or she can still get to you.
  • Keep communication short and to the point - When you do have to communicate with your spouse, make it brief and to the point. The less you engage with him or her, the better. If your divorce is extremely hostile or there is a history of domestic violence, it may be best to communicate through your perspective attorneys.
  • Document everything - If your spouse is being difficult, make sure to document it. This will be helpful if you need to go to court.
  • Set boundaries - It's important to set boundaries with a narcissist. If he or she is constantly calling or texting you, let him or her know that this is not acceptable and you will only communicate through email or your attorneys.
  • Get support - Dealing with a narcissist can be extremely difficult. Make sure to get support from friends or family members. You may also want to consider therapy to help you deal with the stress of the divorce.

While divorcing a narcissist can be challenging, it is possible to do so without losing your sanity. By following these tips, you can protect yourself both emotionally and legally.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If your spouse has narcissistic tendencies, refuses to cooperate during the divorce process, or has been abusive, you need an aggressive Kane County divorce lawyer protecting your rights and advocating on your behalf. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

...

Kane County divorce attorneyWhen parents get divorced, they are encouraged to work together to build a parenting plan that describes child custody arrangements. Parents who negotiate an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time can avoid the stress and expense of child custody litigation. If you are getting divorced and you and your spouse are struggling with custody decisions, consider working with a mediator or family law attorney who can help you negotiate an agreement.

Parenting Agreements in Illinois

There is no one-size-fits-all parenting plan, but there are certain elements that are typically included in Illinois parenting plans. These elements can help ensure that the plan is comprehensive and meets the needs of both parents and children.

A comprehensive parenting plan should address:

  • Allocation of parental responsibilities - Parental responsibilities refer to the parents' authority to make decisions about the child's education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and religious upbringing. In some cases, one parent has full authority to make any and all significant decisions about the child, such as where the child goes to school or the types of medical treatments the child receives. In other cases, parents divide or share parental responsibilities. For example, one parent may make decisions about the child's education while the other parent makes decisions about the child's healthcare.
  • Parenting time schedule - The parenting time schedule outlines when the child will be with each parent. Parents should be sure to include information about parenting time on holidays, school vacations, birthdays, and in other special circumstances.
  • The right of first refusal - The right of first refusal is a provision that allows one parent to have the first opportunity to care for the child if the other parent is unavailable. This can be helpful in situations where one parent works long hours or frequently travels for work.
  • Transportation arrangements - Parents should include detailed transportation arrangements in their parenting plan. This can help avoid conflict and confusion about who is responsible for picking up and dropping off the child.
  • Communication plan - Parents should develop a communication plan to ensure that they can easily communicate with each other about their child. This may include using a parenting app, scheduling regular phone calls, or sending emails or text messages.
  • Resolution of conflict - Parents should include a plan for how they will resolve disagreements or proposed modifications to the parenting agreement. This may involve working with a mediator or family law attorney.

The above are just some of the elements that can be included in an Illinois parenting plan. It is important to tailor the parenting plan to the specific needs of the parents and children involved.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

Our Kane County family law attorneys understand that creating a comprehensive parenting plan can be complicated and frustrating. We are here to help. Call 630-584-5550 to reach Shaw Sanders, P.C. and schedule a free consultation.

...

Recent Blog Posts

Categories

Archives

Contact Us

How Can We Help?

NOTE: Fields with a * indicate a required field.
*
*
*
*
AVVO LL BV