IL family lawyerWhen Illinois parents divorce, they are asked to create a “parenting plan” describing parental responsibilities and parenting time and submit it to the court. If the parents disagree about the terms of the parenting plan and cannot reach a compromise during mediation, the court may decide on the unresolved elements for them. Life is full of unexpected changes, and consequently, there may come a time that a parent needs to alter the terms of the parenting plan. However, parental responsibilities and parenting time arrangements may only be modified in certain circumstances.

When Can Parental Responsibilities Be Modified?

Parental responsibilities refers to a parent’s authority to make major decisions about the child such as where the child will attend school or religious services. Illinois law places a two-year moratorium on parental responsibility modifications in order to promote stability in the child’s life. However, parental responsibilities may be changed before the two-year period if:

  • Both parents agree on the modification and the court finds the modification to be in the child’s best interests.
  • The parents agree to waive the two-year moratorium.
  • Each parent has requested a modification.
  • One of the parents cohabitates with a sex offender.
  • The current circumstances endanger the child’s mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing.

If it has been more than two years since the establishment of the parenting plan, the allocation of parental responsibilities may be modified if there is a “substantial change in circumstances” and the modification is in the child’s best interests. If the parents have been following a different arrangement for over six months, they may modify the parenting plan to reflect the arrangement that they have been following.

When Can the Parenting Time Schedule Be Changed?

The parenting time schedule may be altered at any time if there is a change in circumstances that necessitates the modification and the modification is in the child’s best interest. For example, if a parent’s work schedule changes, the parents may need to switch the days that each parent is responsible for the child. A parent’s relocation is automatically considered a change in circumstances. Parents may also modify the parenting plan to reflect a new parenting schedule if the parents have followed a parenting schedule for at least six months and wish to make this schedule official.

Contact a St. Charles Parenting Plan Lawyer

Child custody concerns are rarely straightforward. If you need to create a parenting plan, modify your parenting plan, or you have other child custody concerns, contact a Kane County child custody attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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Il family lawyerDomestic violence does not always involve physical harm like punching and slapping. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as harmful. An abuse victim may be psychologically manipulated in such a way that he or she fears leaving the abusive situation or even blames himself or herself for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that some abusive people use to manipulate and control their victims.

Controlling a Victim Through Deceit

The term “gaslighting” refers to a 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman called Gaslight. The film centers on a manipulative husband’s attempts to undermine his wife by making her question her sanity. One of the tactics used by the husband to make his wife think she is going crazy is dimming and brightening the gaslights. The term has since become a catch-all term for psychological manipulation used to maintain control or power over a victim.

Examples of Gaslighting in a Toxic Relationship

Gaslighting can take many forms. An individual may use the tactic to avoid being caught in a lie or to make the victim question his or her version of a past event. A person who is using gaslighting to manipulate you may:

  • Consistently accuse you of misremembering conversations and events
  • Deny actions or remarks that you are sure actually occurred
  • Pretend to forget things that you told him or her
  • Disregard your feelings
  • Tell you that you are “crazy” or overacting
  • Prevent you from seeing friends and family
  • Discourage you from seeking healthcare services or psychological counseling

Gaslighting is Sometimes a Sign of Abuse

Gaslighting is often a sign of an abusive relationship. If you have been the victim of abuse and the perpetrator is a former or current romantic partner, household member, or family member, you are not alone. Domestic violence affects the lives of millions of Americans. In Illinois, there are legal protections that can help you avoid further abuse. An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) is available without the abuser’s knowledge. The order may require the abusive person to stay a certain distance away from you and your children, temporarily move out of your shared home, surrender firearms, and cease contacting you.

Contact a Kane County Family Lawyer

If you are the victim of threats, control, manipulation, harassment, intimidation, or abuse at the hands of a spouse or family member, you do not have to tolerate this treatment. For help getting an order of protection, divorcing an abusive spouse, or other family law needs, contact a St. Charles family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerDomestic violence is a hidden epidemic in Illinois and throughout the country. Millions of men and women suffer silently in abusive marriages because they are unaware of the resources they have at their disposal. In fact, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence served over 45,000 adults and nearly 9,000 children in the year 2019 alone. If you are ready to leave an abusive marriage, you should know that there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your children.

Protecting Yourself and Documenting the Abuse or Harassment

In Illinois, what are often referred to as “restraining orders” are called orders of protection. An order of protection is a court order that prohibits an abusive person from further abuse or harassment. If the subject of the order, called the respondent, violates any of the terms of the protection order, he or she may be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Furthermore, a protection order serves as a crucial record of the abuser’s actions that will be very important during any subsequent divorce or child custody cases.

Prohibiting your Spouse from Coming Near You

An emergency order of protection (EOP) is often issued on the same day on which it is requested. You do not have to wait to attend a hearing with your spouse in order to get an EOP. You must simply fill out the proper form and file it with the circuit clerk at your county courthouse. You will then attend a hearing and answer any questions the judge has about your request for protection. Your spouse does not have to know about the hearing.

The EOP may:

  • Prohibit your spouse from coming to your work or your children’s school
  • Force him or her to surrender firearms
  • Require your spouse to move out of your house
  • Prevent your spouse from contacting you or your children

An EOP lasts 10 days, however, you may be able to get a plenary order of protection if you require a longer protection period.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen parents split up, children can sometimes feel as if their entire world has been turned upside down. Divorce that involves a significant amount of contention is often especially hard on children. If you are a parent who is going through a high conflict divorce or you suspect that you soon will be, you are probably worried about how this will affect your kids. Poor performance in school, behavioral issues, low self-esteem, and other psychological consequences have been shown to result from parental conflict. However, there are things that you can do to reduce the negative effects of divorce on your children.

Use Caution When Telling the Children About the Divorce

The moment that your children learn that you and the other parent are divorcing may be one that they remember for the rest of their lives. It is important to plan out what you will say in advance. Most experts suggest that parents tell their children the news together, however, this may not be possible in a high conflict situation. The age of your children will determine the types of conversations that you can have about divorce, however, experts agree that it is best to tell them all at once. This prevents one child from having to keep a secret from the others.

Make sure to keep it fact-oriented and to avoid details about why the marriage is ending. Blaming the other spouse for the divorce or bad-mouthing him or her can make it much harder on the children. It may also lead to allegations of parental alienation. Focus on reassuring your children that they are loved and safe.

Keep Conversations About the Divorce Out of Earshot

Research shows that parental arguments and tension have a profound impact on children. A child’s mental health, future relationships, and overall emotional wellbeing can all be negatively impacted by family conflict. It is important to shield your children from conflict as much as possible during the divorce. Keep conversations with the other parent or your lawyer private. Do not fight in front of the children and never ask them to choose sides.

Create a Detailed Parenting Plan

During the divorce, you and the other parent will be expected to create a parenting plan. If you cannot reach an agreement, the court will determine a plan for you. The more detailed your plan is, the less room there is for disagreements in the future. An attorney experienced in high conflict divorce can help you negotiate a parenting plan and represent you during your child custody dispute.

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IL family lawyerParents have a moral and legal obligation to help support their children. Unfortunately, getting the financial support you need as a single parent can be complicated if a parent does not cooperate. If you are a mother who wishes to get child support from your child’s father, there are several steps you may need to take. If you were not married to the child’s father when your child was born, there is no legal presumption of paternity. You may need to establish the father’s legal relationship to the child before you can get child support from him.

When the Father Acknowledges His Parentage

If your child’s father acknowledges that he is the child’s biological father, the process of establishing paternity is much easier. You can establish the legal relationship between your child and the father using a document called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). You and the child’s father simply fill in the required information, include copies of your government-issued IDs, and sign the document. Unfortunately, the process is more involved if the father does not voluntarily acknowledge his parentage.

Establishing Paternity When the Father Refuses to Sign the VAP

If the father does not think that he is the child’s biological father, wants to evade financial responsibility for the child, or otherwise refuses to sign the VAP, you may need to get an administrative paternity order. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) is the branch of the Illinois government that deals with paternity issues. The DHFS will contact the father and try to establish paternity without needing to go through the courts. If the father does not believe that he is the child’s biological father, the DHFS will schedule DNA paternity testing. If the father does not show up for the paternity test, the DHFS may automatically deem him to be the child’s father.

In some cases, you may need to take legal action to establish paternity. If you seek to establish paternity through the court, you and the alleged father will be asked to attend a paternity hearing. If the father does not attend the hearing, he may be declared the father by default. Once paternity has been established, you can start the process of requesting child support.

Contact a Kane County Paternity Lawyer

If you want to secure child support from your child’s father, you will first have to establish his paternity. For help establishing paternity, requesting child support, enforcing a current child support order, and much more, contact a St. Charles family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL family lawyerDisagreements about financial issues is consistently ranked as one of the top reasons for divorce. Financial deception is also a common issue in marriages across the United States. Spouses may spend large quantities of money, hide assets, and rack up debt without the other spouse’s knowledge. The popularity of online banking has made it easier than ever to hide financial transactions from your spouse. If you are getting divorced and financial deception has been an issue for you in the past, it is important to take steps to ensure that you receive a fair divorce settlement.

Speak to a Lawyer As Soon As Possible

If your spouse has been dishonest or controlling about finances in the past, it is very likely that he or she will continue to do so during your divorce. Per Illinois divorce law, you deserve an “equitable” or fair share of the marital estate. However, you can only receive your fair share if you know what your fair share is. You also deserve child support and spousal support arrangements that are based on your actual financial circumstances. An attorney who is experienced in handling divorce cases involving complicated financial issues can help you uncover the truth. Your attorney may use a variety of techniques to get accurate and complete information about income, property, debt, and expenses during the divorce, including:

  • Requests for production
  • Depositions
  • Interrogatories
  • Admissions of fact

Gather Financial Documents and Information

In many marriages, one spouse handles the finances and the other spouse simply trusts him or her to do so ethically. Unfortunately, spouses do not always act with integrity when it comes to finances. If your spouse has lied about money-related concerns in the past, he or she may continue or even escalate this behavior during divorce. Your spouse may “forget” to report revenue from his or her small business, overstate his or her debts, or hide sources of income. One of the best ways that you can help your attorney is to start gathering financial documents as soon as possible. If possible, obtain copies of:

  • Tax returns
  • Mortgage statements
  • Bank statements
  • Pay stubs
  • Retirement account statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Credit card statements
  • Bills
  • Investment accounts

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If there have been issues with financial deception in your marriage and you want to get divorced, it is important to stand up for your right to a fair divorce settlement. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we know the strategies that spouses use to hide assets and lie about finances during divorce. A St. Charles divorce attorney from our firm can find hidden assets and unveil other financial dishonesty so that you can get a divorce settlement that is based on the truth. Call us at

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IL family lawyerFor many married couples, it can be hard to know when to officially call it quits. Many couples consider divorce for months or even years before they make the decision to end the marriage. You may find yourself in that situation now. Perhaps you are unhappy in your marriage but you still hope that things can change. In situations like these, many couples decide to undergo a “trial separation.” If you are interested in temporarily separating from your spouse, it is crucial that you know the potential legal and financial ramifications.

An Information Separation Is Not a Legal Separation

People often use the word “separation” in reference to both living apart and getting legally separated. However, these are two completely different situations in the eyes of the law. If you are living apart from your spouse, this alone does not change the status of your relationship. A legal separation, on the other hand, involves a legal action. If you get legally separated, you and your spouse will formally decide on issues like the division of assets and debts, parenting time and parental responsibilities, child support, and spousal support. You can reach an agreement about these issues outside of court, or if you cannot reach an agreement, the court will hand down a decision. The only issue that Illinois courts cannot determine during a legal separation is property distribution.

An Informal Separation Can Leave You Vulnerable During Divorce

If you and your spouse decide to live apart for some time while you work out your differences, you should know the impact this can have on your finances and your potential future divorce. Simply living in separate homes does not afford you legal protections the way a legal separation does. For example, if your spouse racks up a great deal of debt during the trial separation, you could still be on the hook for repaying it. Courts also cannot enforce any informal arrangements you make about child support or spousal support.

You should also know that the child custody arrangements you decide on during the trial separation can influence future child custody decisions if you divorce. Illinois courts aim to make divorce as easy on children as possible. This means that they are more likely to favor the “status quo” as opposed to a new custody arrangement. For example, if your spouse kept the children during the school week during your trial separation and you decide to divorce, the court may favor keeping the custody arrangement the same.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If you want to learn more about legal separation or divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. A Kane County family law attorney can help with matters related to child custody, property division, child support, and more. Call 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.

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IL family lawyerUnderstandably, most parents have strong opinions about divorce issues involving their children. Child custody disputes are often one of the hardest types of family law disputes to resolve. Parents may disagree on where the child should attend school, the child’s religious upbringing, which parent should have the majority of the parenting time, and countless other issues. Sadly, it is often the children themselves that suffer the most during child-related disputes in a divorce. If you are a parent involved in a child custody dispute, one option you may want to consider is family law mediation.

Advantages of Reaching An Agreement on Parenting Issues Through Mediation

Parents have 120 days after filing for divorce to submit a parenting plan to the court. Family law mediation may help you and your spouse reach an agreement about the elements of your parenting plan. There are several advantages to using mediation to resolve child custody issues, including:

  • The mediator’s job is to help you reach an agreement. Family law mediators receive training in conflict resolution and effective communication strategies. They are skilled at helping spouses stay focused on the issues at hand and work toward a mutually-agreeable solution. Mediators do not tell you how to resolve your issue or choose one participant’s side over the other. Instead, they help facilitate constructive conversations and negotiations so that you can reach your own conclusion.
  • Mediation may keep you out of court. Divorcing parents are expected to create a parenting plan that describes how they intend to handle a wide range of parenting issues. If they cannot reach an agreement, the case may go to litigation. Any type of legal proceeding can be a stressful experience. However, child custody litigation is often particularly taxing – on the adults and the children.
  • Mediation is confidential. Unlike a public child custody hearing, the mediation process is private.
  • Mediation can help reduce the chances of future child custody conflicts. Parents are typically more likely to follow a parenting plan that they helped create than one that is handed down by the court through an allocation judgment.
  • Mediation may have a positive effect on your co-parenting relationship. During mediation, you may learn communication skills and conflict-avoidance techniques that you can utilize during your post-divorce co-parenting relationship.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

The team at Shaw Family Law, P.C. are highly experienced in family law mediation. Illinois divorce attorney Matt Shaw is a certified family law mediator. Our team can help you decide if mediation is right for you and work with you to resolve your child custody dispute in a way that reduces the stress on you and your child. Call 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.

 

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IL family lawyerWhen most people think about child custody issues, they assume that the issue involves the child’s biological parents. However, non-parents such as grandparents can also be important figures in a child’s life. If you are a grandparent, you may be curious about your right to see your grandchild. You may wonder if there is any way that you can be granted visitation rights the way that a biological parent would be. In Illinois, grandparents can be issued visitation rights, but only in certain circumstances.

Grandparents Rights in Illinois

The Illinois state government generally assumes that parents know what is best for their child. However, if the wellbeing of the child is questioned, the government can step in. If a parent does not want their child to spend time with his or her grandparents, it is assumed that the parent has a good reason for doing so. However, this is a rebuttable presumption. If a grandparent can prove that spending time with a grandchild is necessary to protect the child’s wellbeing, the court may grant visitation rights to the grandparent.

Petitioning the Court for Grandparent Visitation

Sometimes, parents refuse to let their children see their grandparents. If you are a grandparent who has been denied access to your grandchild, you may want to gain court-ordered visitation. To do so, you will need to file a petition with the court. Because it is assumed that parents have their children’s best interests in mind, you will need to show evidence that the parents’ denial is causing undue physical or psychological harm to the grandchild. Additionally, you will need to show at least one of the following:

  • The parents are divorced or separated and at least one parent agrees to grandparent visitation
  • The parents are unmarried and living separately
  • One of the child’s parents is deceased or missing
  • One of the parents is “unfit” to care for the child
  • One of the parents has been incarcerated for 90 days or more

When deciding whether to grant grandparent visitation, the court will also consider the child’s preferences, the grandparent’s health, the quality of the grandchild – grandparent relationship, and several other factors.

Contact a Kane County Grandparents’ Rights Attorney

At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we understand how important grandparents are in the lives of their grandchildren. For help petitioning the court for grandparent visitation, contact a skilled St. Charles family lawyer from our firm today. Call 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.

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IL family lawyerWhen a couple gets divorced, one of the parties may be subject to a child support or spousal support order. These court orders are legally-binding and must be obeyed. However, there are situations that can change child support and spousal support orders. One of these situations is the remarriage of either spouse. If you are divorced and your or your spouse is getting remarried, it is important to know how the remarriage could affect child support and spousal maintenance.

Spousal Maintenance Terminates Upon the Recipient’s Remarriage

Spousal maintenance, also referred to as spousal support or alimony, is intended to provide financial aid to a spouse who suffers financial harm due to divorce. Some spousal maintenance obligations are temporary while others are indefinite. If the recipient of spousal support gets remarried, his or her entitlement to maintenance payments automatically terminates. If the paying spouse made payments after the remarriage, he or she is entitled to reimbursement for those payments.

If the payor of spousal support gets remarried, there is no automatic impact on his or her spousal maintenance obligation. However, it is possible that the payor’s remarriage could influence spousal maintenance modifications.

Child Support and Remarriage of Either Spouse

Although child support payments are made to the child’s parent, the money is intended to support the child. Because of this, a child support recipient’s remarriage does not necessarily influence the paying spouse’s child support obligation. A stepparent is not required to help support his or her stepchild. However, there have been cases in which a parent’s child support obligation was affected by the recipient’s remarriage. In one case, the Illinois Appellate Court stated that trial courts may consider the income of a parent’s spouse when determining an appropriate child support award. This means that a recipient spouse’s remarriage could potentially influence the paying spouse’s obligation. If the paying spouse or “obligor” gets remarried, this is unlikely to have an impact on his or her child support obligation.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

The way that Illinois laws are interpreted is constantly changing. If you have questions or concerns about divorce, child support, spousal maintenance, or other family law issues, it is important to work with an attorney who is familiar with the ever-changing landscape of Illinois family law. For dependable legal support regarding a range of family law matters, contact an accomplished Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen most couples get married, they are thinking about the personal and romantic significance of their commitment. They are much less concerned with the financial implications of marriage. However, when spouses enter into a marriage, they merge many of their assets and debts. Undoing this financial entanglement during divorce becomes especially complicated if spouses have a high income or own high-value assets. If you or your spouse have greater than average wealth, you should know about the ways that your wealth may influence your divorce case.

Complex Assets and Hard-To-Value Property

The division of marital property is often one of the most challenging aspects of divorce. Complex assets, hard-to-value assets, and assets with fluctuating value are often especially difficult to account for during divorce. Special attention must be paid to assets such as:

  • Businesses and business investments
  • Stocks and stock options
  • Securities and investment accounts
  • Deferred compensation and bonuses
  • Overseas investments and tax shelters
  • Real estate and investment properties
  • Retirement accounts, 401(k) accounts, and pensions
  • Bitcoin and other digital currency

Child Support Deviations

Typically, child support payments are determined by statutory formulas established by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The parents’ net incomes are added together to find their combined net income and then this information is compared to an “income shares schedule” to find their basic support obligation. The basic support obligation is the amount of money that both parents are expected to contribute to their child’s upbringing. The basic support obligation is divided between the parents based on their respective net incomes. The parent with less parenting time makes his or her contribution in the form of child support.

The tables and formulas used to calculate a parent’s child support obligation are based on statistics and averages. If your financial situation is not typical of the average Illinois family, calculating child support using the statutory formulas may be inappropriate. Instead, the court may deviate from the typical method of determining child support and instead make a determination based on your unique circumstances.

Hidden Assets and Financial Fraud

Financial transparency is a crucial element in any divorce case but it is especially vital in high-income divorce cases. Some spouses may attempt to manipulate their divorce settlement by hiding assets, undervaluing assets, transferring funds, or falsifying financial information. They may use businesses to conceal assets or even intentionally overpay the IRS to create the illusion of a lower net worth. If you suspect that your spouse will lie about finances during divorce, speak to a divorce lawyer right away. A skilled attorney with experience handling complex divorce cases can help you uncover hidden assets and get the divorce settlement you deserve.

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IL custody lawyerIn Illinois, parents who divorce must create a “parenting plan” that describes each parent’s rights and responsibilities. If the parents cannot reach an agreement about the provisions in the parenting plan, the court will hear arguments from both sides and then issue a parenting plan based on what the court thinks is in the child’s best interests. If your ex is not following your parenting plan, you may be frustrated and annoyed. You may wonder what you can do to make your spouse comply with the terms set forth in the plan.

Do the Other Parent’s Actions Constitute a Violation of the Parenting Plan?

Divorced couples who share custody of children have the unenviable responsibility of remaining in each other’s lives for the sake of their children. Your ex may forget about responsibilities, drop off children late, or make other mistakes that lead to unnecessary frustrations in your life. While this can certainly be annoying, not every mistake is considered a violation of the parenting plan. Recently, COVID-19 lockdowns have caused many parents to be unable to carry out some of the responsibilities contained in their parenting agreement. If a parent makes an honest mistake regarding the parenting time schedule or unintentionally disobeys the parenting plan, the best way to deal with the situation may be to talk with him or her about potential solutions. You may consider requesting a modification to your parenting plan and changing the plan so that works better for your unique situation.

Holding a Parent in Contempt of Court for Willful Noncompliance of a Parenting Plan

If your child’s other parent is intentionally disobeying the parenting plan, you may need to take more extreme legal action to correct the problem. Parenting plans are legally binding court orders. A parent may be held in contempt of court for violating a parenting plan. If you have already discussed the problem with your ex and he or she refuses to comply, you may need to file a motion for contempt or a "Parenting Time Abuse" petition. Make sure to keep a detailed record of all of your ex’s parenting plan violations as well as records of your communications with him or her. Evidence such as this will be a crucial component in building your case.

Contact a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer

If your child’s other parent is not following your parenting plan or you have other custody-related questions and concerns, contact a St. Charles family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL family lawyerWhen two people get married they merge their financial lives in such a way that dividing assets and debts prove quite difficult during divorce. Property division during divorce is further complicated when the couple owns complex assets, has a particularly high income, or when a spouse refuses to be honest about his or her finances. The spouses’ financial situations will also have a dramatic impact on child support, spousal support, and other elements of the divorce. Forensic accounting may help divorcing spouses trace marital assets and debts, reveal hidden assets and income, determine how much money is available for support payments, and much more.

How a Forensic Accountant May Help During Divorce

Divorce lawyers often utilize the expertise of a forensic accountant when complicated financial circumstances or financial deception confound the divorce process. Forensic accounting is often used when a married couple owns a business or professional practice or other complex assets like stocks and stock options, retirement funds, cryptocurrency, or real estate.

Forensic accounting may also be used as an investigative tool. Divorcing spouses are expected to fully disclose accurate information about their income, business revenue, assets, expenses, and debts. In order to sway the outcome of the divorce in their favor, some divorcing spouses conceal assets or lie about finances. A forensic accountant may help your lawyer uncover hidden accounts, secret property transfers, and other sources of deception. Accurate information about finances is needed to make a determination about many different issues during divorce including asset and debt division, alimony, and child-related issues The only way to ensure you receive a fair divorce settlement or award is to base that settlement off of verifiably accurate financial data. Forensic accountants may assist in your divorce case by:

  • Investigating a spouse’s finances and looking for inconsistencies
  • Finding hidden assets, income, and revenue streams
  • Assigning a value to items with fluctuating or hard-to-determine values
  • Inventorying valuable personal property such as art, jewelry, and collectibles
  • Evaluating the long-term financial consequences of potential divorce settlements

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Financial issues during divorce are often complicated and contentious. If you are considering divorce and you or your spouse own a business or other complex assets, forensic accounting may be an advantageous tool. Forensic accounting may also be used to find hidden assets and reveal other forms of financial fraud during divorce. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., our accomplished Kane County family law attorneys know how to work with experts such as forensic accountants to ensure our clients receive the settlement they deserve. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce can bring about complicated financial questions. One issue that many divorcing individuals have questions about is alimony. Alimony or spousal support is referred to as spousal maintenance in Illinois law. Often, spousal maintenance is used to help a spouse who is financially dependent on the other spouse transition into being financially self-supporting after a divorce. In some situations, spousal maintenance is permanent. If you earn a higher income than your spouse or your spouse does not work outside the home, it is possible that you will be required to pay maintenance.

When is Spousal Maintenance Awarded in Illinois?

If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement that requires you to pay spousal maintenance following divorce, the court will most likely uphold this requirement. However, if there are issues that invalidate the prenuptial agreement, the maintenance agreement may not be legally binding. If you have not agreed to pay maintenance through a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, the court has discretion when it comes to ordering maintenance. If your spouse files a petition for spousal maintenance, the court will consider a range of factors to determine if maintenance is appropriate. The court will look at:

  • The income, assets, expenses, employability, and future earning capacity of both spouses
  • Each spouse’s financial needs
  • The duration of the marriage and the standard of living established during the marriage
  • Any damage to the future earning capacity of the spouse seeking alimony caused by domestic or childcare duties
  • Contributions that a spouse made to the progression of the other spouse’s career or education
  • Whether the spouse requesting alimony can become self-supporting
  • The spouses’ age and health

Fighting a Request for Alimony

You are not required to pay alimony simply because you earn a higher income than your spouse. However, it is possible that your spouse will present a good argument for receiving maintenance to the court. Some spouses even exaggerate or outright lie when making a spousal maintenance request. If you suspect that your spouse will petition the court for spousal maintenance during your divorce, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who is familiar with Illinois spousal maintenance laws. Your attorney will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not forced to pay an unjustified amount of alimony.

Contact a St. Charles Alimony Lawyer

Alimony or spousal maintenance is typically awarded when a spouse is unable to support themselves financially after a divorce. For help with a range of spousal maintenance concerns, contact an Illinois divorce attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office at 630-584-5550 to set up a free consultation today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerMany people assume that the decision to end their marriage is the most difficult part of divorce. Unfortunately, many divorcing spouses find that reaching an agreement about the terms of their divorce is just as challenging. When divorcing spouses disagree about child custody, property and debt division, alimony, and other aspects of their divorce, they have several options. One of these options is to attend family law mediation and work with a specially-trained mediator in an effort to reach a resolution. However, mediation is not effective or even appropriate in every case.

What Happens During Mediation?

Reaching an agreement about divorce issues is often the biggest obstacle divorcing spouses must overcome. When a divorcing couple cannot reach a decision on their own, they may choose to go to mediation. Family law mediation may also be ordered by a judge. During mediation, the couple works with a neutral third party called a mediator. The mediator does not choose one spouse’s side over the other or tell the couple how to resolve their differences. The mediator’s role is instead to help guide the conversations and negotiations so that they are as productive as possible. The mediator may help the couple stay focused on the task at hand and avoid arguing about unrelated issues. The mediator may point out any common ground that the spouses share and suggest potential compromises. However, reaching an agreement is ultimately up to the spouses themselves. Many spouses find that this extra assistance is what they need to reach an out-of-court agreement and avoid divorce litigation.

Limitations of Mediation

It is very important to note that mediation is not the appropriate way to resolve divorce issues in every case. If you and your spouse own complex assets such as a business, have an especially high net worth or are in the midst of complicated financial struggles, mediation alone may be insufficient. Mediation may be inappropriate if there has been a history of domestic violence, abuse, or large power discrepancies in the relationship. It is also important to remember that a mediator is not the same thing as a lawyer. Only someone licensed to practice law can provide legal advice or represent you during a legal proceeding. However, there are some lawyers who also act as mediators.

Contact a Kane County Mediation Lawyer

If you are ready to end your marriage and you want to learn more about the best way to do so, contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law P.C. Attorney Matt Shaw has served as a mediator and a Guardian ad Litem and is qualified to assist with a wide range of family law matters. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and set up your confidential consultation today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerTypically, the more complicated a divorce, the longer it will take to resolve. If you and your spouse disagree on the division of marital property and debt, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal maintenance, or other divorce terms, it is likely that this will increase the amount of time it takes to finalize the divorce. Complex assets such a family business or certain investments may also increase the duration of the divorce. Fortunately, you may be able to receive temporary relief orders from the court that address immediate concerns during the divorce process.

Temporary Court Orders for Financial Issues and Child Custody Concerns

At the conclusion of a divorce, the divorce decree will describe the terms of the divorce. The decree may contain directions for child support, the division of debt and property, spousal maintenance, and/or child custody which the spouses are expected to follow. However, you may not have to wait until the divorce is finished to receive court orders about these issues. A temporary relief order may address which spouse lives in the marital home during the divorce process, spousal maintenance, marital property, child custody, child support, and health insurance.

When deciding temporary orders for spousal support and child support, courts consider the spouses’ assets, income, and needs and then issue an order that is reasonable based on these circumstances. Temporary orders may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances such as a major change in income. Temporary orders expire once the divorce is finalized. The orders contained in the final divorce decree may differ considerably from temporary orders.

Temporary Child Custody Orders Can Influence Final Child Custody Determinations

When married parents decide to get divorced, most decide to live apart during the divorce process. This means that the parents will need to decide how to divide parenting time while the divorce is still ongoing. A temporary order for child custody can do just this. However, it is important to note that a temporary child custody order can have a significant impact on final child custody determinations. Illinois courts are likely to keep a child’s living arrangements similar to what he or she has already become accustomed to.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be a complicated legal process that may take months or even years to resolve. If you are ready to end your marriage, let an experienced Kane County divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. help. Call 630-584-5550 today and schedule your free initial consultation.

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IL family lawyerExpanding your family through adoption can be one of the most rewarding choices you ever make. However, it is important to remember that adoption is a complex legal procedure. This is why individuals wishing to adopt are highly encouraged to work with an experienced adoption lawyer. Your lawyer can explain what is expected of you and can help you avoid obstacles that will hinder the adoption process. The type of adoption you are pursuing will determine the specific steps you will need to take in order to add a child into your family, however, there are some aspects of adoption that are the same for all Illinois adoptions.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to adopt a child in the state of Illinois, you must meet certain criteria. Typically, you must be 18 years old or older to adopt. The court may make exceptions to this requirement in some cases. Unless you are planning to adopt a relative, you must also have lived in Illinois for at least six months. The residency requirement is reduced to 90 days for those in the military. If you are pursuing any type of adoption other than a relative adoption, you will also need to pass a criminal background check.

Options for Adopting a Non-Relative

There are several avenues for adopting a child in Illinois. The most common is through a public or private adoption agency. You may also adopt a child through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Many of the children available for adoption through the DCFS have been removed from their original homes because of abuse or neglect. You also have the option of adopting a child directly from the birth parent(s) through a private adoption.

Steps Involved in Adopting a Child in Illinois

The first step in the legal adoption process is filing a petition or request to adopt with your local circuit court. Next, a guardian ad litem is appointed. This individual represents the child’s best interests and will oversee much of the adoption process. Adoptive parents seeking a non-relative adoption will be subject to a home study and background check. During the home study, an investigator will visit your home and ensure that it is a safe environment for children. The investigator may ask you questions about your reasons for seeking adoption, your thoughts and feelings about the potential adoption, and your finances. The investigator may also interview other household members. If the child’s biological parents still have their parental rights, the court will need to hold a hearing to determine if the biological parents’ rights should be terminated. You may be granted temporary custody of the child until the adoption is finalized. If the court finds that adoption is in the child’s best interests, the court will enter a judgment in your favor and grant the adoption.

Contact a St. Charles Adoption Lawyer

If you are interested in adoption, contact an experienced Kane County adoption attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. We can assist with relative adoptions, agency adoptions, private adoptions, and adoptions through the DCFS. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and set up a free consultation to learn more.

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IL divorce lawyerWe cannot control when we meet the man or woman of our dreams. Sometimes, a married individual meets someone else and decides to leave his or her spouse for their new partner. If you are planning to divorce your spouse and begin a new relationship with someone else, you may wonder how this situation will influence your divorce proceedings. There are several ways that a new romantic partner can affect your divorce – legally and personally – so obtaining legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney is highly recommended in this situation.

Dissipation of Assets

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. This means that there are not fault-based grounds for divorce. Marital infidelity does not automatically influence an individual’s divorce settlement. However, there are ways that your extramarital relationship can significantly impact your divorce. Dissipation of assets occurs when a married person uses funds or property on a purpose not related to the marriage while the marriage is undergoing a “breakdown.” If you spent a substantial amount of money on your new boyfriend or girlfriend at the end of your marriage, your spouse may file a dissipation claim against you and you may be required to reimburse him or her for the funds you spent on your new partner.

Spousal Support and Child Support

If you choose to get remarried to your new partner after your divorce, you should know that this can affect child support or spousal maintenance. Illinois spousal support automatically ends when the recipient gets remarried. Spousal support or “alimony” is eligible for termination if the recipient is cohabitating with a romantic partner. Your new partner’s financial support may also influence your child support order. If you receive child support, your partner’s income could result in you having more disposable income. This means that your ex-spouse could request a child support modification and may be eligible for a reduced child support obligation.

Personal Implications

Divorce is never easy, but it is often especially dramatic when someone leaves their spouse for a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Your spouse may be heartbroken or angry about the split. He or she may take this out on you by refusing to agree to a divorce settlement or unnecessarily dragging out the divorce proceedings. The best way to handle this complicated situation is to speak with a divorce attorney early in the process. Your attorney can help you prepare for divorce and help the split go as smoothly as possible.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are ready to end your marriage, contact a skilled St. Charles, IL divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Our team understands that your situation is complicated and we are ready to help. Call 630-584-5550 and schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

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IL divorce lawyerArguments about finances are common among married couples. However, there are some situations in which money becomes a tool that an abusive spouse uses to control and manipulate the other spouse. Financial abuse is not discussed as frequently as physical abuse, but the consequences of financial abuse can be just severe as physical violence. If you have been a victim of financial abuse and are planning to end your marriage, you should know about the ways that financial abuse can impact your divorce.

When Control Over Money Crosses the Line

Many people like to keep track of their income and expenses, stick to a budget, and have tight control over their finances. However, there are times when control over finances becomes abusive. Financial abuse is typically defined as controlling a person’s ability to obtain, use, or save money or property. It may also involve stealing or withholding funds or property from the rightful owner. Some signs that you may be a victim of financial abuse at the hand of your spouse include:

  • Your spouse spends money you have earned without your consent
  • Your spouse insists on having your bank passwords and other financial data
  • Your spouse demands that you turn over your paychecks to him or her
  • Your spouse requires you to ask permission to spend even a small amount of money or gives you an “allowance”
  • Your spouse does not allow you to work or make your own money
  • Your spouse makes all of the financial decisions without your input
  • Your spouse uses threats, intimidation, or violence in order to access or control your money
  • Your spouse sabotages your efforts to become more financially independent

Divorce Involving a History of Financial Exploitation or Manipulation

If you are planning to divorce and you have been a victim of financial abuse, you need to take steps to protect your rights during divorce. If it is safe to do so, gather copies of important financial documents like tax returns and credit card statements. Consult with a divorce lawyer experienced in handling cases involving financial intimidation or domestic abuse. Your lawyer can provide legal support throughout your divorce. He or she will protect your rights and make sure that you are not tricked into a divorce settlement that is lower than what you deserve.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are planning to divorce and you have been a victim of financial abuse, you need a strong advocate on your side. Contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. for dependable legal guidance at every step in the divorce process. Our team can help with property and debt division, child custody, child support, and much more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free consultation.

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer.jpgThere are two main categories of divorce in Illinois, contested and uncontested. A contested divorce is one in which a couple cannot reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce. Because they cannot reach a settlement about property division, child custody, spousal support, or other issues, the court must make a determination on their behalf. An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses are able to reach an agreement about the relevant divorce issues without court intervention. Unlike spouses in a contested divorce, spouses in an uncontested divorce do not need legal representation during a divorce trial. However, a lawyer is still a valuable source of legal guidance, support, and assistance during an uncontested divorce.

Helping You Resolve Disputes That Arise During the Divorce

Many divorcing spouses still care about each other. They no longer wish to be married, but they still want the best for their soon-to-be ex-spouse and do not want to cause unnecessary stress or hostility for either party. Unfortunately, things rarely go as planned when it comes to divorce. You may think that you and your spouse have agreed on the terms of the divorce until you run into a disagreement. A divorce lawyer can identify all of the divorce issues that need to be settled upon and help you and your spouse reach an agreement about these issues. If a disagreement about child support, parenting time, the division of marital property and debt, or another issue does arise during the divorce process, your lawyer can help you negotiate possible solutions.

Avoiding Legal Issues After the Divorce

Your lawyer can also help you take steps to avoid legal disputes in the future. This is an especially important step in marriages involving children, significant marital property or debt, or spousal maintenance. For example, have you considered what will happen if one of the spouses moves away and wants to take the children with him or her? What happens if the spouse who promised to pay off the marital credit card debt falls behind on payments and the credit card company goes after the other spouse? Your lawyer can help you take steps to avoid future conflicts. He or she can help you determine in advance how any post-divorce modifications or concerns should be handled and formalize your decisions in the divorce decree.

Correctly Documenting Your Settlement

Most courts provide fill-in-the-blank forms that divorcing spouses can use to document their agreements about divorce issues. However, these forms typically only include the “bare bones” issues and do not go into detail about divorce concerns. Your lawyer can ensure that your settlement is documented fully and accurately. Your lawyer can also help ensure that the divorce settlement is not flawed or unreasonably one-sided.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If you are thinking about divorce and are unsure of where to start, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for a free consultation. We can identify the legal issues you will likely encounter during your divorce and advise you as to the best course of action moving forward. Call us at 630-584-5550 today and set up your free consultation with one of our experienced Kane County divorce attorneys.

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