IL family lawyerIf you are currently divorced or soon will be, you probably have questions about the financial implications of your divorce. One issue that many divorced parents are concerned about is their child’s college expenses. The average tuition for an Illinois public college is just under $5,500 a year. For out of state schools, tuition can be upwards of $20,000 a year. The average cost for a private college education in Illinois is almost $30,000 a year. Understandably, most parents experience “sticker shock” when they realize how expensive their child’s college education will likely be. They may also wonder how this cost will be divided between them and their child’s other parent.

Allocation of College Tuition for Unmarried and Divorced Parents

As with many other child-related matters, divorced or unmarried parents in Illinois have the opportunity to determine their own arrangements for financing their child’s college education. If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court may intervene. Parents’ financial responsibility for their child after he or she has turned 18 and graduated high school is referred to as “non-minor support.” Typically, parents are only responsible for non-minor support during the child’s undergraduate degree.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

Illinois judges have the authority to allocate college expenses between parents who are unmarried or divorced. These expenses may include costs related to tuition and fees, on-campus or off-campus housing, textbooks, and healthcare. If a child is living with one of his or her parents while he or she attends college, the parents may still be jointly responsible for costs related to transportation, food, and utilities. Unlike child support, there is no statutory formula for determining college expenses in Illinois. The amount each parent must contribute to the child’s college tuition and living expenses is at the judge’s discretion. Courts consider the following factors when determining how to allocate college costs:

  • Each parent’s financial resources
  • The child’s financial resources
  • The standard of living the child would have experienced if the parents were married
  • The child’s academic performance

Illinois law uses the present costs of tuition, fees, and housing at the University of Illinois, Champaign / Urbana to set the maximum amount of money a parent can be required to contribute to their child’s college education. The parents’ obligation terminates if the child does not maintain at least a “C” average or turns 23 years old. Upon good cause, such as the child’s medical problems or military service, the parent’s obligation may be extended until the child’s 25th birthday.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

If you are unmarried, divorced, or considering divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help with issues related to child support, the allocation of college expenses, and much more. Schedule a cost-free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce can sometimes make individuals much more stubborn and argumentative than they would normally be. If you are considering divorce, you may have concerns about how you and your spouse will reach an agreement about how to divide your property, share custody of your children, or how to handle other divorce issues. Family law mediation is a process during which a divorcing couple meets with a mediator to discuss unresolved divorce issues. If you are thinking about mediation, you may have many questions about what the process entails or how the mediator will actually help.

A Mediator Helps Facilitate Productive Conversation

Mediators receive special training in conflict resolution and family law. They know how to help couples discuss issues without getting caught up in arguments, irrelevant details, or off-topic conversations. The purpose of a mediator is not to tell you how to handle your divorce or to favor one spouse over the other. The mediator will simply guide the conversation, help ensure that both spouses are given the opportunity to speak and facilitate productive negotiations. He or she may point out common ground and help the spouses find solutions that they can both agree to. If the conversation begins to get heated, the mediator may suggest a quick break or change of subject until the spouses cool down and are able to discuss the issues with a clear head. Many couples find that mediation allows them to reach a resolution about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, division of assets and debts, and other divorce concerns without needing to go to trial.

Mediators are Bound to Confidentiality

Many people are hesitant to reach out to a mediator for help resolving their divorce issues because they are worried about confidentiality. After all, it is likely that you will be discussing private financial information and matters that are very personal in nature. You may worry that the mediator will share this private information with others or that what you say will be used against you if the case does end up going to litigation. Fortunately, mediation is a confidential process. The mediator does not share what is said during mediation – even if you are unable to reach a resolution about divorce issues and the case goes to trial. The only exceptions to the confidentiality requirement occur when a parent makes a serious allegation of child abuse or threatens to commit a crime.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Mediation may help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, property division, and more. However, mediation is not appropriate in every divorce case. If you would like to learn more about mediation, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Illinois divorce lawyer Matt Shaw is also qualified to serve as a mediator and has helped many couples successfully negotiate divorce issues. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL divorce lawyerMost people assume that once a divorce has been finalized, the spouses’ actions can no longer influence the terms of the divorce. However, this is not the case when it comes to issues such as child support and spousal support. If you plan to remarry, you should know that your remarriage could influence the terms of your divorce decree. However, the ways in which remarriage impact divorce issues can vary case by case.

Spousal Support Terminates Upon Remarriage

If you are receiving spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, you will most likely no longer receive payments once you have remarried. As per Illinois law, a spousal maintenance recipient’s remarriage results in an immediate termination of the other spouse’s maintenance obligation. You should also know that a paying spouse may file a motion to terminate spousal support if the recipient spouse is living with a romantic partner on a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” This means that you may lose your spousal support if you are living with a boyfriend or girlfriend – even if you decide not to formalize the relationship through marriage. The only exception to these rules is if you and your ex-spouse had agreed to a different spousal maintenance arrangement in a valid marital agreement such as a prenuptial agreement.

Child Support Payments May Be Impacted by Remarriage

The way remarriage affects child support is not as straightforward as the way remarriage typically affects spousal maintenance. The Illinois Appellate Court has stated that courts may “equitably consider the income of a parent's current spouse” when deciding an appropriate child support order. If you are currently receiving child support from your ex-spouse it is very possible that your new spouse’s income will influence the amount you receive in child support. Child support obligations in Illinois are calculated using each parent’s net income. Although your new spouse’s income is not directly included during child support calculations, it is likely that your spouse’s financial support will impact your overall financial situation. For example, you and your new spouse may decide to share responsibility for monthly bills like rent, utilities, and groceries. This means that your expenses will likely be lower once you remarry than they were before you had this support. Consequently, you may be entitled to less in child support.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

Family law concerns like child support and spousal maintenance can often be complex. For help, contact a skilled Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation.

 

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are a parent who has decided to end your marriage, announcing the divorce to your children may be the most dreaded part of the entire ordeal. You may be worried about how your children will react to the news or afraid that you will not have the answers to their many questions. You may also be concerned that your children will think that the split is somehow their fault. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding this important discussion. On the bright side, a tremendous amount of research has been conducted about how to help children cope with divorce. There are several things experts say you can do to make the divorce announcement go as smoothly as possible.

Include Both Parents in the Conversation

Understandably, you and your spouse may not be on the best terms right now. However, psychologists and other experts suggest telling the children about divorce together, if possible. When one parent announces the divorce in the other parent’s absence it can sometimes make the children feel as if they have to choose sides. Having the conversation as a whole family can help your children feel more secure. Explain that even though you and your spouse will no longer be living together, you will still love and care for the children just the same.

Avoid Oversharing Details About the Reasons for the Split

Children are naturally inquisitive. While it is important to remind children that their actions did not cause the divorce, be careful not to divulge too much information about why you have decided to split up. Talking about the reasons for the divorce can quickly lead to blame and accusations between the adults. Even if the divorce was largely caused by one spouse’s infidelity or other harmful behavior, telling the children too much adult information will only burden them.

Remind Children That Their Feelings Are Normal

Children can have a wide variety of reactions to the news of divorce. Some will pretend that everything is fine and act like they did not even hear what you said. Others will break down and cry or become angry and non-communicative. Some children, especially those who have been exposed to numerous parental arguments, may even feel a sense of relief. Remind your children that their feelings are valid. Answer their questions to the best of your ability and remind them that you are available if they want to talk or ask other questions in the future.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

The practiced St. Charles family law attorneys at Shaw Family Law know just how difficult divorce with children can be. We are here to help you with all aspects of your divorce including child custody matters, child support, property division, and more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs today.

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IL child support lawyerMany people are struggling financially during these challenging times. If you are a parent with a child support obligation, you may sometimes have trouble making your payments. However, it is important to never simply stop making child support payments. Not only is child support nonpayment heavily penalized in Illinois, child support is also an important source of income for your child’s other parent. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, it is possible that you may be eligible for a reduced payment through a child support modification.

Penalties for Child Support Nonpayment in Illinois

If you have been ordered by the court to pay a certain amount in child support every month, these payments are not optional. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you do not pay, you could face major administrative or even criminal penalties. You may be subject to:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Property liens
  • Tax refund interception
  • Driver’s license revocation

Because not paying child support is in violation of a court order, it is also possible that you could be held in contempt of court or even charged with a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense. If you are struggling to make your support payments on time and in full, simply stopping payments is never the answer. Instead, petition the court for relief through a child support modification request.

Requesting a Child Support Modification

The amount a parent pays in child support is based on both parents' net incomes. Payment amounts are designed to be fair and reasonable while still providing the child the financial support he or she needs. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, you may be able to receive a reduced obligation through a child support modification. There are three main ways that a parent can be granted a child support modification:

  • You or the other parent have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. This change could be the loss of your job, a considerable reduction in your income, a considerable increase in the other parent’s income, or another major change.
  • The current child support order significantly deviates from the child support guidelines set forth by Illinois law and this deviation was not the court’s intention.
  • The current child support order does not account for the child’s healthcare needs.

If the reason you cannot pay your child support is that you were laid off at work or have experienced an income reduction, your child support obligation may go down. However, you will be expected to find suitable employment and show evidence of your attempts to do so.

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are considering divorce, you may have considerable concerns about how the split will affect your finances. One issue that many divorcing couples have questions about is how retirement accounts are handled during divorce. Even if retirement is still several years away, it is important to ensure that you will have access to the funds you need when the time comes. Depending on the type of retirement account in question and the length of your marriage, it is possible that retirement funds will play a significant role in the division of marital assets during divorce.

Which Retirement Funds Are Considered Part of the Marital Estate?

Marital property includes assets that were acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Non-marital property includes assets that were acquired before the marriage. Retirement funds that accrued while you and your spouse were married are usually considered marital property while funds accumulated before the marriage are non-marital property. Therefore, it is possible that a portion of the retirement funds will be considered subject to division during divorce while another portion of the accounts are not subject to division. Accurately valuing and dividing pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s, during divorce can be a complex task – especially if the retirement funds include stocks or other assets that may fluctuate in value. The tax consequences of retirement fund distribution is also a major factor to consider when deciding how to handle retirement accounts.

Designing Your Own Property Division Arrangement

A divorce lawyer experienced in property distribution concerns can help you negotiate a divorce settlement that minimizes the negative tax consequences associated with paying out a retirement account. Depending on your unique situation, it may be best to assign one spouse the retirement funds and assign the other spouse marital assets of an approximately equal value. This is referred to as the “immediate offset method.” In other cases, it makes sense to actually divide the retirement funds between the spouses. If you plan to divide retirement funds, you will likely need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This is a court order that instructs the retirement plan administrator to implement the division. Retirement funds divided via a QDRO may be immediately distributed as a lump sum or the funds may be released to the spouses upon retirement. Fortunately, retirement funds withdrawn through a QDRO are not subject to the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

For trustworthy legal advice regarding division of assets during divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Kane County divorce attorneys.

 

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IL custody lawyerWhen you are a parent, getting a divorce does not only affect you and your spouse, it can also have a dramatic impact on your child. If your child has an intellectual or physical disability, you may wonder how you can minimize your child’s stress during this difficult transition. You may have concerns about the emotional effects the divorce will have on your child as well as the logistical and financial issues you will need to address. Although there is no perfect way to handle divorce as a parent of a child with disabilities, there are several steps you can take that may lessen the strain experienced by the whole family.

Minimize the Contentiousness Between You and Your Spouse

Numerous studies have shown that children are very sensitive to parental tension and hostility. One of the best things you can do for your child is to make your divorce as cooperative and respectful as possible. Many parents find that family law mediation allows them to resolve divorce issues such as property division and parental responsibilities without going through a stressful and contentious court trial. During mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a skilled mediator who helps keep discussions focused on solutions rather than accusations, blame, or irrelevant subjects.

Keep Your Child’s Routines as Normal as Possible

Whether your child has a physical disability or an intellectual disability like autism, one thing you can do to lessen the negative impact of divorce on him or her is to keep established routines and schedules the same. Your child’s life is about to change in countless different ways. One way to give him or her a sense of security is to keep morning routines, bedtime, mealtimes, and household rules as consistent as possible. You may be tempted to relax the rules or spoil your child during this tumultuous period in his or her life, but experts say that doing this may actually worsen your child’s stress.

Plan for Your Child’s Financial Future

Disabled children may need specific medical equipment, physical therapy, mental health counseling, and other specialized medical care. The costs of these special needs can certainly add up and will need to be addressed during your divorce. Typically, the parent with the majority of the parenting time receives child support from the noncustodial parent until the child reaches adulthood. Fortunately, Illinois allows children with disabilities to continue receiving child support even after they have turned 18 and/or graduated high school. This financial support may go to the child, the parent with whom the child lives, the facility in which the child lives, or into a special needs trust.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Having a child with special needs can complicate the already complex process of ending a marriage. For help with questions or concerns related to child custody, child support, property division, and much more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation with one of our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys to discuss your needs.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-finances_20201014-015550_1.jpgWhen “yours” and “mine” becomes “ours” in a marriage, undoing this financial entanglement through divorce can be quite complex. If you are planning to divorce and you or your spouse have significant credit card debt, you may be wondering who will be responsible for paying this debt. Depending on the circumstances under which credit card debt was accumulated and used, it is very possible that both spouses will be responsible for repayment.

Who Pays the Credit Card Balance?

Illinois courts divide marital property equitably but not necessarily evenly. Marital property refers to the assets and debt acquired during the marriage by either spouse. Save for certain inheritances and gifts, any property or debt obtained while the spouses are married is included in the marital estate. Property accumulated before the marriage is typically classified as nonmarital property and is assigned to the original owner. This means that typically, spouses are not jointly responsible for credit cards that were opened before the marriage and are in only one spouse’s name. However, spouses may be liable for credit card debts that were accumulated during the marriage – even if only one of the spouses made the credit card purchases. A spouse may not even become aware of credit card debt until he or she begins to examine financial documents in preparation for divorce. This is one reason that taking a full inventory of your property and debts during divorce is so crucial.

How Should Joint Debt Be Dealt With?

Credit card companies do not take marital status into consideration when collecting debt repayment. This means that if your spouse is responsible for making payments and fails to do so, you could be pursued by creditors. Many experts suggest paying off debt prior to filing for divorce, however, this is not always feasible. Another option is to use marital funds to pay off marital debt during the divorce. These funds may be from a savings account, the proceeds from the sale of your home, or another source. You may also want to consider negotiating a settlement in which you take responsibility for the joint debt and are awarded other marital assets in exchange. This helps you avoid having to trust your soon-to-be ex-spouse to continue making payments on the debt after the divorce is complete.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

The division of marital property and debt can be a complicated and contentious issue during divorce. For dependable legal guidance regarding these and other divorce issues, contact Shaw Family Law. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a confidential case consultation with one of our Kane County divorce attorneys today.

 

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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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