IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements are often misunderstood. Some people mistakenly assume that a prenuptial agreement is only for the extremely wealthy or for individuals who plan to get divorced. In actuality, prenuptial agreements, or “prenups” for short, are valuable legal tools that benefit both parties in a marriage. Read on to learn about the many ways that a prenuptial agreement can benefit you and your soon-to-be spouse.

Establishing Each Spouse’s Property Rights and Responsibilities

The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to decide in advance how the couple wishes to divide debts and assets should they later decide to divorce. While this may not be a very romantic possibility to consider, it is an important step to take. Keep in mind that creating a prenuptial agreement does not mean that you and your spouse intend to get divorced. However, current research shows that just over 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. Preparing for this possibility simply means that you and your partner understand that there is a chance that the marriage will not work out. Signing a prenuptial agreement is crucial if:

  • You have children from a previous marriage
  • You own complex assets such as a business, stocks, stock options, and long-term investments
  • There is a significant discrepancy between you and your partner’s income and assets
  • You or your partner have accumulated significant debt

A prenuptial agreement allows you to decide what property belongs to each spouse, which spouse should be accountable for certain debts, and whether spousal maintenance or alimony will be paid should you get divorced. A prenup can also address inheritance issues, the ownership of death benefits from life insurance policies, and several other concerns.

Opening up an Important Dialogue Regarding Finances

If you are interested in creating a prenuptial agreement but are unsure about bringing up this idea to your partner, there are a few things you should keep in mind. While a prenuptial agreement does determine how certain issues will be handled in the event of a divorce, this is not the only benefit of creating a prenup. Prenuptial agreements are also valuable in the event of a spouse’s death. Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that arguments about money is frequently cited as the top trigger for divorce. By having a frank, honest conversation about finances before getting married, you and your partner ensure that you are on the same page regarding money-related issues.

Contact a St. Charles Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer

Prenuptial agreements can address property, debt, inheritance issues, spousal maintenance, and more. However, these documents must meet certain criteria to be legally enforceable. If you are interested in creating a prenuptial agreement, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. Schedule a free initial consultation with a talented Kane County family lawyer by calling us today at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering divorce, you may have concerns about how financial issues and child custody concerns will be handled between the initial split and the conclusion of the divorce. Divorce cases, especially high asset divorces and those involving a high degree of conflict, can take several months or several years to resolve. You may be asking yourself, “How will I make ends meet without my spouse’s income during the divorce process?” or “How will parenting time and parental responsibilities be divided before the divorce is finalized?” One way to answer these questions is to petition the court for temporary relief orders.

Temporary Arrangements for Child Custody, Child Support, and Spousal Maintenance

A petition for temporary relief asks the court to issue temporary court orders regarding certain financial and child-related issues. You can ask for a temporary relief order at any time throughout the divorce process. The temporary relief may address issues related to:

  • Possession of the marital residence
  • Spousal maintenance (alimony)
  • The sale of marital property
  • Health insurance
  • Child custody
  • Child support

The directions contained in temporary orders only last until the divorce is finalized. These orders may be modified if a spouse experiences a “significant change in circumstances” that necessitates the modification. Temporary orders for child support and spousal maintenance have no impact on the final orders. It is very possible that the amount of child support or spousal maintenance awarded in the final judgment will differ from what was awarded in the temporary order. On the other hand, temporary child custody orders can influence the final decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. This is because the court makes child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. It is generally assumed that dramatically changing a child’s living situation only adds to his or her stress during divorce. Consequently, courts are inclined to consider the child’s living arrangements during the divorce when deciding post-divorce custody issues.

Determining the Amount of Temporary Support to Be Awarded

Temporary orders for spousal maintenance and child support can provide a spouse with financial relief before any final decisions about maintenance and support are settled. When determining the amount of temporary relief that a spouse receives, the court will consider the incomes, assets, and needs of each party as well as the needs of the children. The court will review the spouses’ financial affidavits and parenting time arrangement and evaluate financial documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements to determine fair and reasonable temporary support arrangements.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you would like to learn more about temporary relief during your divorce or you have other divorce-related concerns, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys today.

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IL divorce lawyerThe USDA estimates that it costs over $230,000 to raise a child from birth until age 18. If you are expecting a child and you are not married to the child’s father, you may have concerns about how you will pay for child-related expenses like housing and child care. Child support is a valuable source of financial assistance that parents are entitled to by law. If you are an unmarried mother, it is essential that you take the steps to ensure that you and your child will have the financial resources you need.

How Can I Get Child Support in Illinois?

In Illinois, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” have been replaced by the terms “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Parenting time refers to the days that a parent is responsible for caring for his or her child. The parent with the majority of the parenting time, formerly called the custodial parent, is the recipient of child support and the parent with less parenting time is the payor. If your child’s father and you agree that you should have the majority of the parenting time, you will create a parenting plan stating this agreement and describing other child-related arrangements. This plan is submitted to the court. You will then be able to petition the court for child support. The amount of child support that you will receive will largely depend on the difference between your income and the father’s income.

You Must Establish Paternity Before You Can Receive Child Support

You cannot petition the court for child support until you have established paternity. This means that you take steps to establish the child’s biological father as the child’s legal father. The simplest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital where the child is born. If the father denies his parentage or refuses to sign the VAP, the process becomes more complicated. In this case, one option is to pursue an administrative paternity order through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). DNA testing may be needed to establish the biological relationship between the father and the child. You may also be able to establish paternity through the court. The court will schedule a paternity hearing that both parents are expected to attend. If the father fails to attend the court hearing or administrative paternity hearing, he may be declared the father by default.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

If you are a single parent, it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure that you receive the financial support you need. For help establishing paternity, petitioning the court for child support, resolving child custody disagreements, and much more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerDomestic violence affects millions of men and women across the country and throughout Illinois. Leaving an abusive partner takes a great deal of courage, but many former victims feel that leaving their abuser was the best decision they ever made. If you are planning to leave your abusive spouse, you may feel uncertain and afraid. You may not know what your rights are under Illinois law or how you can protect yourself during the divorce process. Read on to learn about some of the steps you can take to protect yourself, your children, your property, and your future when divorcing someone who has abused you.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones From Further Abuse

Abusers often use physical violence and psychological manipulation to keep their victims under their control. When an abusive person learns that his or her spouse plans to file for divorce, his or her threatening and abusive behavior may escalate in an effort to maintain this control. An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) is like a restraining order. It prohibits the abuser from coming within a certain distance from you, your children, your pets, your home, or your workplace. It can even force the abuser to move out of your shared home and require him or her to surrender any firearms. If the abuser violates any terms of the protection order, you can call the police and have him or her arrested. You can obtain an EOP based on your testimony alone and without your abuser’s knowledge. Getting a protection order is a crucial step in protecting yourself from further abuse and establishing an official record of your spouse’s abusive behavior.

Protecting Your Financial Future

If you have been the victim of mental, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, it is very likely that you have also been a victim of financial abuse. One of the best steps you can take when preparing to divorce is to gather copies of important financial documents such as bank statements and tax returns. Take inventory of your valuable possessions or those that are important for personal or sentimental reasons as well. Recording information about your property will help ensure that your spouse cannot hide or destroy assets. It also is an important first step in preventing your spouse from lying about finances during divorce in an effort to sway the divorce settlement in his or her favor.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Hiring an experienced attorney is highly recommended for anyone who has been a victim of abuse. Your attorney can help ensure that your rights are fully protected throughout the divorce process and that you receive the fair divorce settlement you deserve. At Shaw Family Law, we help victims with everything from protection orders to settlement negotiations to child custody concerns. Schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled Kane County divorce attorney today by calling 630-584-5550.

 

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il adoption attorneyThere are a number of reasons that a child may be placed in the Illinois foster care system. Some children are orphaned after their biological parents pass away. Other times, a child enters the foster care system because his or her parents lost their parental rights due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect. Choosing to foster parent a child gives him or her the loving home he or she deserves. However, it is also a tremendous responsibility. If you are interested in foster parenting a child or you want to adopt your current foster child, make sure you educate yourself about the person and legal implications involved.

Foster Parenting Versus Adoption

Being a foster parent and adopting a child are two totally different legal processes. When a child is adopted, his or her adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents and take on all of the rights and responsibilities associated with parentage. Adoption is also permanent. When you foster a child, you do not receive the same rights as an adoptive parent would receive. Depending on the situation, the child’s biological parents may still have involvement and decision-making authority in the child’s life. A foster child placed in your care may only stay with you for a certain length of time before he or she is returned to his or her parents or adopted by another family. Sometimes, foster parents are able to formally adopt their foster child and make him or her a permanent member of their family.

How Do I Become a Foster Parent?

Being a foster parent is likely to be one of the most rewarding and one of the most challenging experiences you will ever have. To qualify for foster parenting, you must be at least 21 years old. You may be married, single, divorced, or separated. Before you are cleared to become a foster parent, you will need to:

  • Pass criminal background check
  • Submit to a social assessment and home inspection conducted by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services
  • Demonstrate that you are financially stable enough to care for a child
  • Complete a health examination and verify that your immunizations are up-to-date.
  • Complete 27 hours of foster parent training which will help you better meet the needs of the children placed in your care

Contact a St. Charles Adoption Lawyer

Being a foster parent and adopting a child are two completely different processes. If you are interested in learning what it will take for you to adopt a foster child in your care, Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help. Contact our skilled Kane County family law attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

 

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering divorce, you are probably concerned about how divorce will affect your children. You may also be unsure of what steps you will need to take to establish child support or arrange a co-parenting schedule. Divorce involving children can often be complicated and emotionally-charged. Fortunately, you do not have to face the divorce process alone. A family law attorney can be a valuable resource during this challenging time in your life.

Creating a Parenting Plan

Divorcing parents in Illinois are asked to create a parenting plan or parenting agreement. In the plan, you will describe how you and your child’s other parent will handle child-related responsibilities. The parenting plan must include:

  • A parenting time (visitation) schedule or method for determining a parenting time schedule
  • Transportation arrangements for the child
  • How you will make important decisions about the child
  • Each parents right to be informed of child-related emergencies, healthcare, and other significant concerns
  • Information about any future parental relocations
  • And several other provisions

Reaching an agreement about all of the elements in your parenting plan may be quite difficult. One option that has helped countless parents resolve child-related disagreements is mediation. During family law mediation, you and your child’s other parent will work with a specially-trained mediator to negotiate parenting issues and reach an agreement that serves your child’s best interests.

Establishing Child Support

In the majority of divorce cases involving parents, a parent is ordered to pay child support. The parent with the majority of the parenting time is the recipient of child support and the other parent pays child support. The amount that payments will be is largely determined by the parents’ net incomes. If each parent has the child at least 146 overnights a year, this is a “shared parenting” arrangement. Because each parent has the child a relatively equal amount of time, child support is reduced accordingly.

Helping Your Child Cope With The Divorce

Children can have a wide range of reactions to divorce. If you and your spouse were obviously unhappy together, it is possible that the divorce may even be a relief to your child. It is also possible that your child will be very upset or angry when he or she learns of the divorce. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your child cope with the major changes taking place in his or her life. Experts encourage parents to avoid arguing or discussing legal issues related to the divorce in front of their children. Keeping your child’s routine as close to normal during the transition can also help lessen his or her stress. Above all else, make sure your child knows that he or she is still loved and cared about and that the divorce is not his or her fault.

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IL divorce lawyerFor many divorcing individuals, their divorce case is the first time they are involved in an extensive legal proceeding. If you are getting divorced, you may have numerous questions about what you should expect. During the “discovery” step of the divorce process, the spouses’ attorneys gather information and documentation from the spouses. This information is used when negotiating divorce issues such as property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody. If your divorce case goes to trial, the information gathered during discovery becomes valuable evidence that will be used to argue your case during litigation. Depositions are one way that information is gathered during discovery.

What Happens During a Deposition?

A deposition is a formal question and answers session that takes place outside of the courtroom. The individuals present at a deposition typically include the spouses, their respective attorneys, and other professionals relevant to the case such as a Guardian Ad Litem. If you attend a divorce deposition, you will be placed under oath and then asked a series of questions aimed at gathering information about the facts of your divorce case. A court reporter will record all of the questions and answers. It is important to answer the questions carefully and truthfully. Anything you say during a deposition may be later used against you.

Tips to Keep in Mind During Your Deposition

It is essential that you are well-prepared for your deposition. The fewer surprises you encounter, the better. Your lawyer can help you understand what to expect and help you practice answering the questions you will likely be asked during the deposition. When you are asked a question, take your time and answer it thoughtfully. Do not volunteer additional information or offer answers that are mere speculation. Your own lawyer may also ask you questions during the deposition that are designed to help you share information that is beneficial to your case. It is important to remain calm and professional during a deposition. Your spouse and his or her lawyer may say things that make you upset. However, keeping your cool is the best way to ensure that you do not say something that damages your case.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois Divorce Lawyer

The experienced Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Family Law, P.C. understand that a contentious divorce can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. That is why we are committed to offering dependable legal guidance throughout the divorce process. To learn more about how our attorneys can help you, call our office at 630-584-5550. Schedule a free, confidential initial consultation today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerAs the saying goes, the only thing constant in life is change. If you are a divorced or unmarried parent subject to a child support order, changes in your life or the life of the other parent may necessitate a child support modification. However, Illinois child support orders can only be modified under certain situations. Read on to learn about when child support orders are eligible for modification and what you should do if you need to request a child support adjustment.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order Through a Modification Review

Child support orders established by a judicial proceeding may only be changed through a court order. Administrative child support orders may be modified through the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). Every three years, child support orders are eligible for a “modification review” by the DCSS. If a parent wishes to take advantage of this opportunity, they will be asked to submit documents verifying their income. This information is used to determine whether or not the parents’ financial circumstances have changed significantly enough to warrant a child support modification. The dollar amount of child support payments may remain the same, increase, or decrease. If a parent disagrees with the results of the modification review, he or she has the right to request an administrative hearing or appear in court to contest the child support order.

Changing a Child Support Based on a “Substantial Change in Circumstances”

If you are not eligible for a modification review, you may still be able to change your child support order if the current order does not adequately provide for the child’s healthcare needs or if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”

Examples of substantial changes in circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • The child’s financial needs have increased due to school or extracurricular expenses, medical issues, or another valid reason
  • Either parent’s income has considerably increased or decreased
  • Either parent has lost his or her job
  • The child has turned 18 and graduated from high school
  • There has been a change in the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Modification Lawyer

Many parents find that they run into significant obstacles, complications, or delays when trying to modify a child support order. At Shaw Family Law, P.C, we help parents with a wide range of complex family law issues. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Kane County child support attorney from our firm, call us at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerAs part of your Illinois divorce process, you and your spouse will be asked to submit a financial affidavit that lists your assets and income. This financial data is vital to obtaining a fair divorce settlement. Asset division, child support, and spousal maintenance are all contingent on divorcing spouses’ financial circumstances. If a spouse omits income sources, underreports business revenue, hides assets, or otherwise falsifies data on his or her financial affidavit, decisions about these divorce issues will be based on inaccurate information. Furthermore, lying about finances during divorce is unlawful. A process called forensic accounting is often the best way to uncover the truth about a deceitful spouse’s finances during divorce.

What Do Forensic Accountants Do?

Forensic accounting refers to an investigation into a spouse’s property, income, debts, and expenses. The more complex a spouse’s financial portfolio, the more in-depth this investigation will need to be. A forensic accountant is a financial professional who has specialized auditing, accounting, and investigative skills. He or she will work closely with your divorce attorney to thoroughly examine your spouse’s finances and discover evidence of deceit. Tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, business contracts, invoices, mortgage applications, and other documents can all provide clues about hidden assets.

Methods for Hiding Assets During an Illinois Divorce

There are many different ways that a spouse may lie about finances in order to manipulate the divorce settlement or judgment. Financial deception is often used in an attempt to pay less in child support or spousal support or keep the other spouse from receiving the property division settlement he or she deserves. A deceptive spouse may hide assets by not reporting the assets or transferring assets to an unknown bank account. Spouses may also transfer assets to friends, family members, or coworkers. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also sometimes used as a hiding place for assets. By “accidentally” overpaying the IRS, the spouse essentially loans the IRS money that is then returned to him after the divorce is finalized. Spouses may also undervalue assets, report lower than actual business revenue, or exaggerate debts and expenses in an attempt to sway a divorce settlement in their favor.

Contact a Kane County Hidden Assets Lawyer

Whether your divorce case is resolved through lawyer-assisted negotiations or courtroom litigation, accurate and complete financial information from both parties is crucial. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, underreporting income, or otherwise lying about his or her finances, you need a divorce attorney who can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a consultation with a highly experienced St. Charles divorce attorney to learn how we can help you get the divorce settlement you deserve.

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_adoption_20200716-210037_1.jpgA person does not need to be a blood relative of a child in order to love and care about him or her. If you married someone who already had a child, it is very possible that you have spent a great deal of time getting to know the child and providing for his or her needs. You may even think of the child as if he or she was your own biological offspring. If this situation describes you, you may be wondering what it takes to adopt your stepchild. Stepparent adoptions can sometimes be complicated personally as well as legally. This is why it is a good idea to work with a skilled family law attorney who has experience handling stepparent adoption cases.

Stepparent Adoption Criteria

Stepparent adoption is a significantly different process than other types of adoption. In many cases, an investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services or background check is not required. In order to qualify for a stepparent adoption the following criteria must be met:

  • The stepparent is legally married to the child’s parent. Boyfriends and girlfriends cannot proceed with a stepparent adoption even if they have been heavily involved in the child’s life.
  • If the child is 14-years-old or older, he or she must agree to the adoption. Teenagers have the ability to block a stepparent adoption.
  • The parental rights of the child’s other parent have been terminated.

According to the law, a child can only have two legal parents. If your stepchild’s other parent is still alive, he or she will need to terminate his or her parental rights in order for you to be able to adopt the child.

Reasons for the Termination of Parental Rights

In some cases, a parent may voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights in order to allow a stepparent adoption. However, if the other parent does not consent to the adoption, the process becomes more complicated. If you wish to adopt your stepchild but your child’s other parent objects to the adoption, the only way you can adopt the child is by having the other parent’s parental rights involuntarily terminated. The court will terminate the parent’s rights if it determines that the parent is “unfit.”. According to Illinois law, a parent may be considered unfit if he or she:

  • Has abused the child physically, sexually, or psychologically
  • Has abandoned or severely neglected the child
  • Has failed to protect the child from danger
  • Has shown a marked disinterest in the child’s wellbeing
  • Has a major substance abuse problem
  • Has certain criminal convictions on his or her record

Once the other parent has terminated his or her parental rights and the child, if old enough, has consented to the adoption, you may file your adoption request in the county circuit court.

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IL divorce lawyerIn 2016, significant changes were made to the way Illinois law handles a parent’s ability to move with a child. Before this update, a custodial parent, meaning a parent with the majority of the parenting time, could move anywhere in the state of Illinois without the other parent’s approval or permission from the court. However, out-of-state moves required court approval even if the move was only 20 or 30 miles away. Now, parents must seek permission from the other parent and/or the court for all moves that are a significant distance away. If you are a parent who wishes to move with your child and you currently share custody with your child’s other parent, there are several requirements you should be aware of.

Defining Relocation

If a parent moves only a short distance away from his or her current residence, this is not considered a relocation. Although the parent will still need to provide written notice to the other parent including the moving date and new address, he or she will not need court approval to move. However, if a move fits the criteria for a “relocation” as set forth in Illinois law, then the parent will need to take additional steps to gain court approval. A relocation is defined as a move that involves:

  • A parent living in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County, Will County, or McHenry County who wishes to move to a new residence in Illinois that is more than 25 miles away
  • A parent living in another Illinois county who wishes to move to a new residence in the state of Illinois that is more than 50 miles away
  • A parent living in Illinois who wishes to move out of state and at least 25 miles away

Obtaining Court Approval for a Relocation

You will need to obtain court approval to move if:

  • You have the majority of parenting time or you are in a shared parenting situation in which each parent has the child for more than 146 nights a year AND
  • The move fits the definition of a “relocation,” according to Illinois law

If the other parent agrees to the relocation and the court does not see any way in which the relocation would harm the child, the court will typically approve the move. However, if the other parent objects to the move, the court will need to evaluate several factors to determine whether or not to grant the relocation. These factors include the reasons for the relocation, the other parent’s reasons for objecting to the relocation, the educational opportunities available to the child at each location, the child’s wishes, and more.

Contact an Illinois Parent Relocation Lawyer

Parents in a co-parenting relationship who have the majority or an equal amount of parenting time must seek court approval for certain moves. Whether you are the parent who wishes to relocate or you object to your child’s other parent moving away with your child, Shaw Family Law, P.C. is here to help. Schedule a free consultation with a skilled St. Charles family law attorney to discuss your concerns by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerGetting a divorce, or dissolution of marriage as it is called in Illinois, is not reversible. Some married couples who are having relationship problems may know that they want some space apart, but they are unsure of whether or not divorce is the right choice. This is just one situation in which a legal separation may be beneficial. Couples who get a legal separation are still technically married so if they choose to reconcile, they will not be required to get remarried. If they do not decide to continue the marriage, divorce is still an option. Most importantly, legal separation offers married couples a way to address issues such as property division, allocation of parenting time and responsibility, and spousal maintenance without the finality of divorce.

Illinois Separation Process

It is important to note that there is a difference between a physical separation and a legal separation. A married couple is not legally separated until they are granted a separation through the court. In order to be granted a legal separation in Illinois, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days and the spouses must be living apart. If a spouse wishes to file for separation, he or she will need to file a petition for legal separation and a summons with their county’s Circuit Court. The petition and summons is then served to the other spouse and a date for a hearing is set. If the spouses have already resolved issues such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, division of assets, and spousal maintenance through a separation agreement, the judge will likely grant the separation after this initial hearing. If the parties have not reached an agreement about one or more of these issues, they may need to attend an additional hearing. The authority of Illinois courts to divide assets and liabilities during a separation is much more limited than it is during a divorce. The court can only include asset division in the order for legal separation if the spouses have reached an agreement regarding how their assets and debts should be divided.

Benefits of Legal Separation

There are many different reasons that a couple may choose to get a separation instead of a divorce. Some couples are simply not sure whether or not they are ready to divorce. Other spouses get a legal separation in lieu of a divorce because divorce is prohibited by their religious or cultural beliefs. A spouse may also choose to stay married and obtain a separation so that he or she can still receive benefits such as social security, health insurance, or pension benefits. A legal separation is an effective way for a married couple to separate their finances and resolve issues such as child custody without ending the marriage. If you are interested in learning more about the legal separation process in Illinois, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

Legal separation does not end a marriage. However, it does allow spouses to resolve issues including property division, child custody, spousal maintenance, and more. To discuss whether or not a legal separation is right for your unique situation, contact Shaw Family Law. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free, confidential consultation with a seasoned St. Charles divorce lawyer.

 

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IL custody lawyerThere are several ways that parental rights can be terminated in Illinois. For example, a father may lose his parental rights if the court finds that he is not the true biological or adoptive father of the child. The involuntary termination of parental rights may be a result of a parent being deemed “unfit” due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or another issue. However, there are also circumstances in which a parent may choose to give up his or her parental rights. Voluntary termination of parental rights is often an important step in the adoption process. For help with issues related to the relinquishment of parental rights in Illinois, contact an experienced family law attorney.

Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights Requires Court Approval

A parent who has terminated his or her parental rights loses the right to spend time with his or her child or have any decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing. Additionally, the parent will no longer be required to pay child support. However, a parent cannot simply give up his or her parental rights to avoid a child support obligation. Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. Therefore, courts usually only grant a voluntary termination of parental rights if there is another individual, such as a stepparent, who wants to adopt the child. If there is not an adoptive parent who is prepared to take on parenting responsibilities, a hearing must be held to determine whether or not the termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests.

Relinquishment of Parental Rights For the Purpose of Adoption

Children can only have a maximum of two parents according to Illinois law. A parent may be asked to terminate his or her parental rights so that another parent can adopt the child. If the biological parent agrees to the adoption, he or she will fill out a Consent to Adoption form as well as an affidavit asserting that:

  • He or she is, in fact, the child’s biological parent
  • He or she understands that the child is being considered for adoption
  • He or she agrees to the adoption

A voluntary termination of parental rights may be eligible for reversal if the termination was the result of duress or fraud. The decision may also be reversed if the Department of Family Services files a motion to restore parental rights based on the best interests of the child.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

Parents automatically have certain rights and responsibilities under Illinois law. However, these parental rights may be voluntarily or involuntarily terminated in certain circumstances. If you want to learn more about adoption or the termination of parental rights, contact a seasoned Illinois family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs.

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IL family lawyerTypically, the more complex a divorcing couple's assets, the more complex the property division process will be. Dividing bank accounts and personal property like vehicles and household furniture is often much more straightforward than dividing a small business. First, the business must be classified as either marital or nonmarital property. Next, the business must be properly valued. Divorces involving businesses are often complicated, so getting guidance from an experienced divorce lawyer is crucial.

Is The Business Considered Part of the Marital Estate?

You and your spouse have the option to design your own property division arrangement during divorce. You may be able to negotiate property distribution concerns with help from your prospective attorneys or you may be able to reach an arrangement during family law mediation. If you cannot reach an agreement, the court will intervene and make property division decisions on your behalf. In Illinois, courts make property division decisions based on the theory of “equitable distribution.” Marital property, meaning property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, is divided in an equitable, or fair manner. Nonmarital property includes property acquired before the marriage, gifts, and inheritance. Nonmarital property is not divided and is instead assigned to the spouse who owns the property. If you acquired your business during the marriage, it will most likely be treated as a marital asset. If your business was inherited, received as a gift, or was obtained before you got married, it will likely be classified as nonmarital property.

Valuing a Business During Divorce

If a business is considered a marital asset, the court will use the value of the business during property division decisions. There are several ways to determine the fair market value of a business. The “income approach” to valuing a business involves calculating the present value of the estimated future income from the business. In an “asset approach,” the total value of the business’s assets is divided by the business’s liabilities. Another method for determining the value of your business is the “market approach” which estimates the approximate value by comparing the business to similar businesses that have recently sold. The value of the business will be used to determine how marital property is divided. If one spouse retains ownership of the business, the other spouse will likely be assigned marital property of similar value. Divorcing spouses may also decide to sell the business and then split the proceeds. In some cases, a divorcing couple may even decide to retain joint ownership of the business after divorce.

Contact a Kane County Business Valuation Lawyer

Deciding how to handle a business during divorce can be quite challenging. You may be unsure of what the best option is for your unique situation. For dependable legal guidance regarding property division, business valuation, and more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a consultation with a skilled St. Charles divorce attorney.

 

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IL family lawyerWhen a couple with children divorces, child support is often ordered to ensure that the child receives financial support from both of his or her parents. Child support can be a major expense in the paying parent’s life as well as a valuable resource for the recipient parent. If you are a divorcing parent who already has a child support obligation from a previous relationship, you may be concerned about how any additional child support requests will be handled. Read on to learn about how child support is calculated in Illinois when the parent has multiple obligations.

Income Shares Method for Calculating Child Support

Illinois child support orders entered after July 1, 2017 are calculated based on the Income Shares model. Instead of child support being based entirely on the payor parent’s income, this calculation method takes into account both of the parent’s incomes. In order to determine the amount of child support that a parent pays, the court combines both parent’s net income and then uses a statutory formula to determines the total amount of support for which both parents are collectively responsible. This total is called the “basic child support obligation.” The basic child support obligation is then divided between the parents based on each parent’s income. If each parent has the child for at least 146 nights a year, this is called a shared parenting arrangement. Because both of the parents are responsible for a large percentage of the total parenting time, the child support obligation is reduced in cases involving shared parenting. The courts may deviate from the Income Shares formula if doing so is in the child’s best interests.

What is Included in a Parent’s Net Income?

The income that is used for child support calculations is the parents’ net income. This means that the income is calculated by subtracting taxes and other expenses from the parent’s gross income. Any previous child support obligations or spousal support obligations are also deducted from the gross income. For example, if a father has a monthly net income of $4,500 and he currently pays $1,000 in child support, any new child support obligations would be calculated using an estimated net income of $3,500.

Contact a Kane County, Illinois Child Support Attorney

Juggling multiple child support obligations can be challenging. For help establishing, enforcing, or modifying child support in Illinois, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Whether you are the payor of child support or the recipient, our St. Charles family law attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a consultation.

 

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IL family lawyerDivorcing and unmarried couples with children often struggle to reach an agreement about child custody and visitation, called “the allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” in Illinois. Divorcing parents are asked to create a “parenting plan” that addresses how the parents intend to share child-related duties. The plan contains information about which parent the child will spend time with and when, how parents will make major decisions about the child’s upbringing, transportation arrangements, and more. When parents cannot agree on one or more elements of a parenting plan, one option that may help them reach a resolution is family law mediation.

Parents May Be More Likely to Comply with Parenting Plans They Helped Create

During child custody litigation, the court considers arguments from each party and then decides on a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interests. During family law mediation, parents are encouraged to negotiate the unresolved issues and find solutions that both parents can agree to. This means that if the parents are successful in creating a parenting plan during mediation, the plan will contain input from both parents. It is much more likely that a parent will comply with a parenting plan that he or she helped create than a plan that was decided by the court.

Mediation Can Help Encourage a Positive Co-Parenting Relationship

Courtroom litigation can create an atmosphere of “us versus them” that may increase the level of bitterness and resentment between parents. On the other hand, mediation is designed to be a cooperative, respectful process in which both parents have the opportunity to voice their opinions. Parents who learn how to work out parenting issues during mediation build a strong foundation for amicably resolving co-parenting disagreements in the future. In the end, the people who often end up benefiting the most from family law mediation are the children.

Mediation is a Confidential, Cost-Effective Process

Statements made during litigation are a matter of public record. However, anything said during mediation is confidential – save for certain statements involving abuse or illegal activity. Parents can speak freely without worrying that private information will be shared with the public or that their statements will be used against them in court. Furthermore, family law mediation tends to be much less expensive than litigation.

Contact a Kane County Mediation Lawyer

For many parents, mediation is a great way to resolve child custody disagreements cooperatively and without the need for litigation. If you are considering mediation for your child-related legal dispute, Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help you determine whether mediation is the best choice for your unique situation, choose a quality mediator, and understand your rights during mediation. Call our office at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation with a St. Charles family law attorney to discuss your needs.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is not only a romantic separation; it is also a financial separation. Determining how assets and debts should be distributed to divorcing spouses is often one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Division of assets is made even more problematic when a spouse is not willing to be transparent about his or her financial circumstances. Spouses may attempt to conceal assets, understate income, overstate debts, or use other strategies to gain an unfair advantage during property division. If you are planning to divorce and you have reason to believe that your spouse may be hiding assets or otherwise lying about financial resources, an experienced divorce lawyer can help.

Financial Deception During Divorce

In order for a divorcing couple to fairly divide marital assets during divorce, each spouse must be honest and forthcoming about his or her financial resources. However, some spouses purposely lie about their financial circumstances in an attempt to manipulate property division, child support, or spousal maintenance determinations. Typically, the more complicated a spouse’s financial circumstances are, the easier it is for him or her to hide assets during divorce. If a person owns multiple bank and brokerage accounts, trusts, rental properties, vacation homes, stock options, deferred compensation, retirement plans, a business or professional practice, or other complex assets, there are many opportunities for him or her to be deceptive. However, spouses with simple financial portfolios may also lie in order to gain a financial advantage during divorce.

A spouse who is attempting to sway the divorce settlement through hiding assets may fail to report assets or revenue streams, claim that certain assets were lost, or transfer assets to a third party. He or she may:

  • Underreport income on tax returns
  • Purchase expensive items and then undervalue or “forget” about these items
  • Transfer stock to friends or business partners
  • Transfer personal assets to a “dummy” company, or a company that exists only on paper
  • Withdraw cash and hide it somewhere or “loan” cash to friends and family members
  • Intentionally overpay the Internal Revenue Service so that money is hidden during divorce and then refunded after the divorce is finalized
  • Postpone salary increases, new contracts, bonuses, or commissions until after the divorce

These are only some of the ways that a spouse may hide assets during divorce. Hiding assets is not only unethical, but it is also against the law. If a divorcing spouse is caught hiding assets, the court has the authority to assign a greater share of the marital assets to the innocent spouse. The spouse who hid assets may also face steep fines and other serious consequences.

Contact a St. Charles Hidden Assets Lawyer

If you believe that your spouse may lie about financial resources during divorce, you need an attorney who can help you uncover the truth. At Shaw Family Law, our experienced Illinois divorce attorneys collaborate with forensic accountants and other financial experts to expose financial deception and get clients the divorce settlement they deserve. To learn more about how we can help you, call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerIllinois child support payment amounts are typically based on the “Income Shares” model. This model uses each parent’s net income, the amount of parenting time each parent is responsible for, and a specially designed formula to determine how much child support an obligor parent must pay. However, this child support calculation method may not be reasonable or appropriate in certain circumstances. Illinois law gives courts the option to deviate from the Income Shares guidelines if the court finds that a deviation is in the best interests of the child.

Child Support Calculations

By law, Illinois courts must follow the Income Shares guidelines for determining child support unless the court finds that a deviation would be more beneficial to the child. Courts consider the following factors when determining whether or not to deviate from the guidelines:

  • The child’s financial resources
  • The child’s physical and emotional wellbeing
  • The needs of the child including his or her educational needs
  • The parents’ income, assets, and financial needs
  • The standard of living the child would most likely have experienced if his or her parents were married

If you or your child’s other parent has a very high income or other special circumstances that may necessitate a deviation from the Income Shares child support calculation method, contact an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer can help you petition the court to disregard the usual calculation method and instead make a child support determination that takes into consideration your unique situation.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order

Life is constantly changing and sometimes parents need to adjust their child support order to reflect those changes. In Illinois, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services gives parents the right to request a child support modification review every three years. During the modification review, the court evaluates the parents’ financial circumstances and other information in order to determine whether or not the child support order should be adjusted. Parents may also be granted a child support modification if a “substantial change in circumstances” necessitates the modification or if the child support order deviates from the Income Shares guidelines by more than 20 percent.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

Child support issues can be especially complex when one or both parents have a high income or other extenuating circumstances. For help establishing child support, enforcing a current child support order, modifying child support, and more, contact Shaw Family Law. Set up a free initial consultation with an accomplished St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen divorcing spouses share children together, the divorce process is often much more involved than divorces not involving children. This is especially true if the spouses are not able to reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. In some divorce cases involving child-related disputes, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed to act as a child representative. The judge may assign a GAL to the case or a spouse may request for a GAL to be assigned. The opinion of a guardian ad litem can have a major impact on the outcome of a child custody case.

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

Unfortunately, in many custody disputes, one or both parents are more interested in “winning” the case than working toward a custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. During a contentious divorce case, the wishes and needs of the children can become obscured. A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who represents the child’s best interests. He or she is tasked with investigating the facts of the case and eventually developing an opinion about what type of child custody arrangement is best for the child. This may be accomplished through evaluating the child’s residence as well as interviewing parents, siblings, teachers, daycare workers, and other people involved in the child’s life. The GAL will also look for evidence that suggests a living environment may be unsafe for the child. He or she may analyze criminal records, health records, school records, and any past or present Child Protective Services cases. The GAL then shares his or her findings and overall opinion with the judge. Although the judge is not required to follow the GAL’s recommendation, this recommendation will most likely carry substantial weight.

Should I Request a GAL?

Some divorcing spouses misunderstand the purpose of a guardian ad litem. They assume that the GAL is an additional attorney who will help them argue their side during the divorce process. However, the GAL does not “work” for one spouse or the other. His or her only allegiance is to the child or children involved in the dispute. You should only request a GAL if you are prepared to be honest and fully cooperate with his or her investigation. If the GAL catches you in a lie, this could significantly reduce your credibility. Many parents request a guardian ad litem because they have concerns that the other parent is not capable of providing a safe, loving home for their child. If you want to learn more about requesting a guardian ad litem, speak to an experienced child custody attorney.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who is responsible for investigating the facts of a child-related legal dispute and presenting a recommendation to the judge. To discuss whether or not assigning a guardian ad litem to your case may be right for you, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free consultation with an accomplished Illinois family law attorney from our firm.

 

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are thinking about adopting a child, you probably have many questions about what the process entails. The steps involved in an Illinois adoption vary dramatically depending on the type of adoption being pursued. Whether you are interested in adopting a relative such as a stepchild, an infant through an adoption agency, an international child, or you are interested in another adoption avenue, getting quality legal support is essential.

Types of Adoption

Relative adoptions: In some cases, a person or a couple may want to adopt a child who is related to them. Many relative adoptions involve a stepparent who wishes to adopt his or her spouse’s child. A child can only have two parents according to the law, so some relative adoptions may require the child’s biological parent to give up his or her parental rights. If the parent is unwilling to do so, the court may involuntarily terminate the parental rights if the parent is found to be “unfit” due to abuse, abandonment, or other issues.

Agency adoptions: Many adoptions take place through private or public adoption agencies.. Public adoption agencies usually care for children who are wards of the state due to abandonment, abuse, or because they are orphans. Many private adoption agencies are managed by charities and social service organizations. Children in private adoption agencies may have been placed for adoption by their parents because the parents believed that adoption would give their child a better life than they could provide on their own.

Private adoptions: Not all non-relative adoptions involve an agency. In a private adoption, adoptive parents work directly with the biological parent. However, there are still a number of legal procedures and requirements that must be met. It is especially important to work with an experienced lawyer during a private adoption. It is also essential to note that the biological mother of a child in a private adoption may change her mind up until the baby is born and she legally signs her consent for the adoption.

International adoptions: Adopting a child from another country comes with a variety of unique legal and financial complications. You will need to be in compliance with U.S. laws as well as the adoption laws in the country you are adopting from. Parents will also need to get an immigrant visa for their child through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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