IL divorce lawyerEngagement - and the sparkling, expensive piece of jewelry that typically accompanies it - is the subject of many romantic movies and books. The internet is replete with articles detailing exactly how much a man can expect to spend on an engagement ring, and in a new marriage, a ring is often a couple’s most valuable asset.

Unfortunately, not all relationships end up as happy and hopeful as the moment of engagement. When an engaged couple breaks off the engagement or a married couple decides to get divorced, there are often questions about what happens to the engagement ring or other gifts couples have purchased for each other that might be considered marital property.

What Happens to the Engagement Ring if We Do Not Get Married?

The fate of an engagement ring depends on who broke off the engagement, but generally, it must be returned. Illinois law has determined that if the recipient of the ring breaks off the engagement, she must return the ring. Likewise, if a couple mutually ends the relationship, the ring must be returned.

If the person who proposed breaks off the engagement, Illinois law is less clear. The majority consensus is that the recipient may keep the ring if the giver ends the engagement.

Do I Have to Give Back the Engagement Ring if We Get Divorced?

Because a ring is a gift given in anticipation of marriage, once the marriage has taken place the ring belongs to the recipient as his or her exclusive property. This means it is usually not considered marital property and is not subject to division in the event of a divorce.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce ends a relationship between two people, but it also requires them to separate their finances. Often, resolving the latter issue is far more complicated than resolving the former. A couple who has been married for many years and who shares high net worth assets often has a complex financial picture and extensively intertwined finances.

Unfortunately, the process of asset division only becomes more complicated when one spouse attempts to hide assets or other financial resources from the other spouse. If you believe that your spouse is being dishonest about their finances, contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney right away.

Why Do Spouses Try to Hide Assets?

Spouses often try to diminish the appearance of their overall financial picture in order to reduce their portion of the divorce settlement and increase their financial resources after the divorce. Other reasons spouses may dissemble about their finances include trying to favorably manipulate their share of child support or spousal maintenance or attempting to hide unrelated financial problems that may be revealed during divorce proceedings.

Generally, the more complex someone’s financial assets are, the easier it is for them to hide or lie about assets during the divorce process. If someone has many investment and bank accounts, rental properties, residential properties, international assets, or businesses, there may be many opportunities to hide the true value of their finances.

How Do Spouses Hide Assets in Divorce?

People can become surprisingly creative when it comes to cheating their spouses out of money. Some of the most common ways spouses hide their finances include:

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IL divorce lawyerDivorced American military families face unique challenges when navigating issues regarding parenting responsibilities and parenting time. Arranging for the care of a child during deployment, ensuring the child can visit with extended family during deployment, and catching up on lost time when the parent returns are all things military parents in Illinois must manage.

Fortunately, Illinois law recognizes these challenges and allows for special accommodations. Here are five facts about military deployment and parenting time in Illinois.

Facts for Deployed Military Parents in Illinois

Military parents can request that courts allow for make-up parenting time before or after deployment. This must be in the best interests of the child, and the parents’ schedules and circumstances must allow for it. The court order will specify who must fulfill certain responsibilities. For example, if divorced parents live in different states, they will have to decide who is responsible for paying to transport the child from one state to the other.

Military parents can also request parenting time be scheduled while they are home on leave. Because service members do not always know when they will get leave, Illinois allows courts to prioritize service member cases so that deployed parents who receive leave on short notice are still able to see their children.

If the military parent is unavailable to attend court sessions during their deployment, no permanent changes to existing parenting time arrangements may be made. This prevents civilian parents from moving out of state with the child or trying to slip in other arrangements that would be unacceptable to the military parent, just because he or she is deployed. If they are able, service members are permitted to join court proceedings by phone or video call.

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IL divorce lawyerToo many people getting a divorce in Illinois fail to consider how Social Security benefits are handled until after the divorce is over. Because Social Security law is complex and not subject to division as part of the asset division process, it is easy to overlook.

However, many people are entitled to Social Security benefits according to their former spouse’s work history. If you are getting divorced, you will likely want to understand how federal law provides for situations in which divorcees can obtain Social Security benefits so you do not miss out on money to which you are entitled.

When Can a Divorcee Qualify for Spousal Social Security Benefits?

Because spousal benefits are not automatically given to former spouses, you must apply to receive benefits through the Social Security Administration. No matter which state you live in, Social Security benefits are decided according to federal law. The federal government considers several factors when determining benefit eligibility for divorcees:

  • Your Personal Benefits - It is impossible to collect federal benefits for two people at the same time. Instead, the government will look at your age-based or disability benefits and your spouse's benefits and allow you to collect the greater of the two.
  • Age - You and your former spouse must be at least 62, even if they are not collecting their benefits yet. Collecting benefits through your former spouse does not affect their benefits or obligate them to begin collecting their own.
  • Marriage and Relationship Status - In order to collect your former spouse’s benefits, your marriage with your former spouse must have lasted ten years or more. As of the time you filed for benefits, you must have been divorced from your spouse for at least two years, and you may not be married while collecting.

How Large Will My Social Security Payments Be?

Your benefit amount will depend on the following factors:

  • If your former spouse is alive, your payments will depend on the amount of their benefits. For example, if you are at full retirement age, you can receive half the benefit amount your former spouse receives.
  • If your former spouse has died, you are also entitled to half of their benefits but you may begin collecting at age 60, rather than waiting to be at full retirement age.
  • If you marry someone else before age 60, you may not receive benefits from your former spouse at any time. If you get married after 60, you may.
  • If you begin taking payments before full retirement age, your benefits will be permanently reduced.

Speak with a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Understanding the monetary implications of divorce is a crucial part of your long-term financial well-being. The Kane County divorce attorneys with Shaw Family Law, P.C., have experience helping people like you understand their options under state and federal law. We will advocate for your interests throughout the divorce process and help you plan for life after divorce. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerSpousal support is often a contentious issue in an Illinois divorce, but it is of crucial importance to the receiving spouse. Often, one spouse will have sacrificed their career options for many years in order to do the majority of the child care and housekeeping. Even if there are no children involved, the income disparity between spouses can be so extreme that the quality of life a couple has built together is entirely compromised by the divorce. In cases like this, judges are likely to award spousal support payments (previously called “alimony”) to one spouse.

Which Factors Determine Whether Someone Must Pay Spousal Support?

Illinois courts consider many factors when making decisions regarding spousal support payments. The goal is never to punish one spouse and reward the other, but rather to attempt an equitable arrangement at the end of a marriage. The court may consider, but is not limited to, the following factors:

  • Any existing valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
  • The current income of both spouses, as well as their likely future income
  • Any factors which may impact employability, such as a disability
  • The educational attainment of both spouses, as well as their potential to obtain future education or training
  • The contributions each spouse made to the marital estate
  • The quality of life the couple enjoyed while together

How Long Do Spousal Support Payments Last?

Spousal support is generally intended to be rehabilitative, meaning that the payments are ordered to last as long as the recipient needs to become financially independent. In situations like these, the payments will end as soon as the court order expires. However, in situations where a couple was married for twenty years or more, a judge may award spousal support payments for as long as the marriage lasted.

Other factors affecting the length of spousal support payments are remarriage or cohabitation on the part of the receiving spouse or a change in circumstances on the part of the paying spouse. In each case, it is the responsibility of the paying spouse to petition the court for a change in support payments.

Contact a St. Charles, IL Spousal Support Attorney

The attorneys with Shaw Family Law, P.C. recognize that spousal support is often crucial for spouses who may have given up personal career ambitions in order to support their family at home. We will aggressively advocate on your behalf to ensure you get the spousal support to which you are entitled. Contact a Kane County spousal support attorney with Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call us today at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerA divorce can be a very difficult experience for a stay-at-home parent. If you dedicate the majority of your time to caring for your children and the family home, the end of your marriage can upend your entire life. Many stay-at-home parents are understandably concerned about the financial implications of divorce, like their ability to provide for themselves and their children on their own. However, parenting time can also be a major concern, especially when you are used to seeing your children all the time.

Parenting Time Agreements for Stay-At-Home Parents

There are many reasons why a person may choose to be a stay-at-home parent, but chances are, you and your spouse had some sort of agreement during your marriage that it was best for the family for one of you to stay home. Perhaps this was because one parent was better equipped to provide for the children’s regular care, or because the other parent needed to work outside of the home to provide financially for the family. When you are getting the divorce, these reasons may still hold true, and you and your spouse may be able to negotiate a parenting time schedule in which the stay-at-home parent maintains a greater share of parenting time.

One thing, to keep in mind, however, is that a stay-at-home parent will likely eventually need to find a steady source of income, even if the divorce resolution includes spousal support for a time. When negotiating a parenting time agreement, a stay-at-home parent may want to include some time away from the children during which they can further their education or pursue employment.

Court-Ordered Parenting Time

When parents are unable to reach an agreement on a parenting time schedule, the court will make a decision based on the child’s best interests. Illinois law does not expressly favor one parent over the other; for example, a mother does not have a blanket advantage over a father. However, some of the factors that the court will consider do tend to favor stay-at-home parents. The court will try to prioritize an arrangement that interferes with a child’s routine as little as possible, and will also consider prior caretaking arrangements between the parents and the amount of time that each parent has recently spent caring for the child. This does not mean that a working parent will be granted no parenting time, but it is common for a stay-at-home parent to be granted a larger amount.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

If you are a stay-at-home parent, it is important to consider how you can best protect your interests throughout the divorce process. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we can advise and represent you in negotiations and disputes over parenting time, spousal maintenance, and the division of marital assets. Call us today at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation with a St. Charles parenting time lawyer.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets married, they make what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment to each other. Unfortunately, things do not always turn out that way, and many marriages last for much shorter timespans. In fact, recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth show that more than 20 percent of first marriages result in divorce or separation before reaching the five-year mark. Marriages can fail in the early years for a number of reasons, and you could find yourself facing the prospect of divorce much sooner than expected.

Contributing Factors in Early Divorces

It may be hard to imagine how a marriage would fail so soon after it begins, but the truth is that there are many serious issues that can come to the surface in the early years of married life. Some examples include:

  • Financial conflicts - For many couples, marriage marks the beginning of sharing financial responsibilities and decision-making. If a couple has not discussed finances before getting married, they may find that they have incompatible priorities, or even that one spouse has been hiding financial troubles from the other.
  • Conflicts related to living together - Many couples also wait until after getting married to move in together, and this can be a difficult adjustment period. Spouses may feel that they have lost their personal time and space, or a spouse may become frustrated with their partner’s lack of contribution to household responsibilities.
  • Lack of communication - A marital relationship can soon fail if spouses do not commit to regular, open communication with each other. Problems may start to arise when one or both spouses hold back from expressing their needs for fear of starting conflict, or when a spouse fails to share important information with their partner.
  • Unmet expectations - Sometimes, a person will decide to get married thinking that it will help them solve existing problems in their relationship, or that their partner will “change their ways” after the marriage, which can result in disappointment when this does not turn out to be the case. Other times, a person may simply realize that their spouse is not who they thought they were before the marriage.
  • Infidelity - When a person cheats on their spouse in the early years of marriage, this can create an obstacle that may be impossible to overcome. Dishonesty about other things can also quickly destroy the trust necessary to sustain a marriage.

What to Expect from the Divorce Process

If your marriage does fail early on, your divorce may be less complicated than a divorce that occurs after many years of marriage. In Illinois, you may even be eligible for an option known as a joint simplified dissolution of marriage if you have few assets and you do not have any children. However, it is still a good idea to consult with an attorney who can help you protect your interests and resolve any difficult challenges you may face.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we know that a divorce is a difficult experience no matter how long you have been married. We take the time to understand the issues you are facing so that we can provide legal representation that meets your needs throughout the divorce process. For a free consultation with a St. Charles, IL divorce lawyer, contact us today at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL divorce lawyerThe division of marital assets in an Illinois divorce is a stressful process under any circumstances, and it can be made worse by a spouse who recklessly or intentionally wastes assets, or uses them for self-serving purposes before the divorce is finalized. The legal term for this behavior is “dissipation,” and there are remedies available to a spouse who has been wronged by it. However, it is important to understand what actually qualifies as dissipation to make sure you have grounds to file a claim against your spouse.

Uncovering Signs of Asset Dissipation

Before you can go about claiming dissipation, you need to be aware that it is happening. In some cases, a spouse’s wasting of marital assets may be open and obvious, especially if they are doing it out of spite or a desire to hurt the other spouse. However, it is more common for a spouse to try to hide their dissipation. You may be able to find signs of dissipation on your own by carefully reviewing your joint bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial documents. You can also enlist the services of a forensic accountant to find signs that you may have missed.

What Qualifies as Dissipation in Illinois?

You may have questions and concerns about your spouse’s spending behavior in a variety of circumstances, but only certain kinds of behaviors qualify as dissipation from a legal standpoint. You can better determine whether your spouse is dissipating assets by asking yourself the following questions about their behavior:

  • Did you approve of your spouse’s use of the assets? If you knew of your spouse’s spending behavior and agreed to it at the time, it will be difficult to make a case for dissipation even if you later decide that the behavior was inappropriate. On the other hand, use of assets without your knowledge or consent may qualify as dissipation.
  • Did you benefit from your spouse’s use of the assets? Even if you did not know in advance of your spouse’s intention to use assets, it will be difficult to claim dissipation if you benefited from their behavior in some way, like using a car that they bought or going on a trip that they paid for. However, if your spouse used the assets for entirely selfish purposes, like gambling, paying for a solo trip, or buying gifts for an extramarital affair, a claim of dissipation may be more successful.
  • Did the behavior occur after your marriage had failed? Only behavior that took place after the start of an “irretrievable breakdown” in your marriage qualifies as dissipation. You may be able to demonstrate such a breakdown if you were already living apart if you were aware of your spouse’s affair, or one of you had already filed for divorce, for example.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If you believe your spouse has dissipated marital assets, the St. Charles divorce lawyers at Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help you file a claim for reimbursement. With our help, you can better protect your interests throughout the division of marital property. Call us today for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL family lawyerWhen a baby is born to unmarried parents in Illinois, the father is usually not automatically recognized as the child’s legal parent. Establishing legal paternity requires further action through either the Illinois court system or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Though it may seem daunting to attempt to resolve a legal matter, establishing paternity can actually be quite simple, and it can offer significant benefits for everyone involved.

Benefits for the Child

The most important reason to establish legal paternity is to better provide for the child’s needs. A man who has been recognized as a child’s legal father is required to contribute his fair share to child support, including for basic childcare expenses and any extraordinary needs that the child may have. A child may also be entitled to many other benefits through their legal father, including military and veteran’s benefits, Social Security benefits, health insurance benefits, and inheritance benefits.

Benefits for the Father

While establishing paternity comes with financial responsibility for the father, it also provides crucial benefits for fathers who want to protect their relationships with their children. Without establishing parentage, a father has no standing to pursue parental responsibilities or parenting time. However, upon being recognized as the child’s legal parent, a man can petition for these parental rights. An unmarried father can even be granted sole or primary custody if the court determines that doing so is in the child’s best interests.

Benefits for the Mother

For the child’s mother, establishing a man’s paternity can not only provide peace of mind that the child will be provided for, but it can also help the mother secure valuable assistance. A mother with limited financial means may depend on a father’s child support contributions to provide for the child’s needs. If the mother and father can agree to an arrangement for sharing parenting time and parental responsibilities, the father can also support the mother in their mutual duty to raise the child and provide emotional support.

Options for Establishing Paternity in Illinois

The most straightforward way to secure all of the benefits of legal paternity is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital when the child is born. If this is not possible, either parent can petition the court for adjudication of paternity, either for the purposes of securing child support or grounds to pursue parental rights.

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IL Divorce lawyerWhen a couple is preparing for divorce and considering their options, many will find that mediation is a much better alternative to a protracted, hostile divorce court battle. Mediation allows couples to have greater control over the entire process, and to settle their differences with a more satisfactory compromise than they might if a judge makes the decisions for them.

However, mediation is still a complex and emotionally exhausting legal process, and it takes some preparation. Important decisions must be made that will have long-term effects on the couples’ lives, as well as those of any children.

Here are a few tips that will help spouses prepare for the process of mediation.

Know Your Priorities

It is not easy to advocate for yourself when you do not really know what you want. Understand that compromise is going to be a crucial part of mediation, and contemplate which things are most important to you and why. If your family has a unique Christmas tradition, then maybe spending Christmas day with your child will be much more important for you than visitation time over Easter.

It may also be helpful to anticipate the things your spouse is likely to request so you can enter mediation prepared to negotiate a solution that is beneficial to you both.

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IL family attorneyIn Illinois, parental income has long been an important factor in establishing the terms of a child support order. Since 2017, this now includes the income of both parents, rather than just the paying parent. As such, changes to either parent’s income can have a significant impact on the amount to be paid. Perhaps the most dramatic change in income a parent may experience is the loss of their job. If you or your child’s other parent have recently become unemployed, you should be aware of how this can affect child support moving forward.

Unemployment and Initial Child Support Calculations

Whether a child support order is established during the divorce process or after an adjudication of paternity, the size of the payments is determined in large part by each parent’s income at the time. Obviously, when a parent is unemployed, they will not have any wages to factor into the calculation, but unemployment can still influence the calculation in other ways, depending on whether a parent is involuntarily or voluntarily unemployed.

When a parent has lost their job involuntarily, perhaps due to lay-offs, furloughs, or other forms of employment termination, they may be eligible for state unemployment insurance benefits in Illinois. These benefits typically come in the form of bi-weekly payments, with increased benefits available for parents who have a dependent child. These benefits are considered income for the purposes of calculating child support, so a parent on unemployment benefits will need to report the amount to the court.

When a parent is voluntarily unemployed, meaning they have left their job or have chosen not to pursue employment, they will usually not be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, in these cases, the court may consider the parent’s potential income when calculating child support. The court will look at evidence including the parent’s past earnings, employment history, and education, as well as job opportunities within the community. Potential income usually applies to working parents who may be attempting to reduce their child support obligation, rather than stay-at-home parents who have forgone employment to focus on caring for their children.

Modifying Child Support Due to Unemployment

In many cases, working parents become involuntarily unemployed after a child support order has been issued. A receiving parent who loses their job could need more resources to provide for their children, while a paying parent could struggle to fulfill the court-ordered payments. In these cases, either parent can petition the court for a modification of the child support order based on a substantial change in circumstances. Court approval of a modification can provide financial relief, but it is important to make every effort to follow the original order until the petition has been resolved.

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IL family law attorneyIf you are preparing for a divorce, you may be familiar with the resolution method of mediation. This option is desirable for many divorcing couples, as it allows them to work through their issues peaceably and privately, maintain control over the outcome, and often save time and money. You may be surprised to learn that mediation services are available not just for divorce, but also for several other family law matters.

Family Law Mediation Services in Illinois

As long as both parties are willing to come to the table and negotiate an agreement, mediation can work to resolve many family law disputes that would otherwise have to be addressed in court. Family law mediators are well-versed in a variety of cases, and they have the skills and experience to help spouses, parents, and other parties identify common ground while remaining neutral themselves.

Family law mediation can help you address issues including:

  • Property division - Mediation often helps divorcing couples avoid having to sell or split a large part of their marital assets, and instead allows for more satisfying resolutions in which each spouse can keep certain important properties intact.
  • Spousal support - Including spousal maintenance in your resolution can also allow for a more customized division of assets. You may be able to reach a spousal support agreement through mediation even in cases when the court would not typically order it.
  • Parental responsibilities and parenting time - Mediation can help divorced and unmarried parents create a parenting plan that meets both of their needs, addressing issues including schedules, transportation, communication, and decision-making.
  • Parental relocation - When a single parent wants to move with their children, mediation can help them reach a fair agreement with the other parent rather than having to fight the issue in court.
  • Order modifications - In addition to parenting time modifications in relocation cases, mediation can also help former spouses or co-parents agree on modifications to support orders or other child custody details. If you are struggling to uphold an order, attending mediation could help you avoid enforcement actions.
  • Visitation - In some cases, mediation can help to resolve disputes between parents, grandparents, and other relatives who are seeking visitation rights regarding a child.

Though mediation is a good option in many different situations, it should not be used for cases involving domestic violence or anything else that endangers you or your children. In these cases, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you protect yourself through the court system.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Mediation Attorney

At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we know the benefits of mediation in many divorce and family law cases. Our Attorney Matt Shaw is also a trained mediator, and he can help you decide whether to pursue mediation and what to expect if you do. Contact our St. Charles family law attorney today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets married, their finances become intertwined. This includes not just the property they own, but also their obligations to repay certain debts. Just as a couple’s home is often their most valuable asset, the mortgage they took out to finance it is often their largest source of debt. In the event of a divorce, the home’s equity and the outstanding mortgage balance will both significantly impact the division of marital property.

As you decide how to handle all of your assets and debts in your divorce, you should give special consideration to your home mortgage. If you and your spouse are willing to work out an agreement, you may have several options to either reduce the debt or allocate it fairly.

Eliminating Mortgage Debt by Selling Your Home

Often, the simplest option for handling your home and the associated mortgage in your divorce is to sell the property. If the housing market is strong, you may be able to completely eliminate your mortgage debt by selling your house, perhaps with revenue left over to distribute fairly between you and your spouse. Of course, this means that neither of you will be able to continue living in the home, but this may be a good option if you are both looking for a fresh start.

Refinancing the Mortgage

If you or your spouse wants to continue living in your home after the divorce, the person who keeps the property will likely need to assume full responsibility for the mortgage and reimburse the other spouse for their share of the equity. Usually, refinancing the mortgage in one spouse’s name is the most effective way to do this, as long as that spouse has the credit, income, and assets to qualify for the loan on their own. Refinancing ensures that the other spouse is not still liable to creditors, and it may even result in a more favorable interest rate for the spouse who keeps the home.

Setting Up a Payment Agreement

A less conventional arrangement is one in which you and your spouse remain as joint owners of your home for some time after the divorce. This may be a good choice if, for example, you want to continue raising your children in the home they are accustomed to. However, you should be certain that you and your spouse can trust each other to maintain this arrangement, and it is a good idea to include provisions in your divorce agreement regarding how you will share mortgage payments and other expenses related to the home.

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IL family lawyerAfter getting a divorce, you may have many reasons for wanting to move to a new location, including starting a new job, being closer to your family, or simply putting more distance between you and your ex. However, if you have children, you will need to consider their needs as you prepare to move, and your former spouse will most likely also be a factor in your plans. From both a legal and personal standpoint, there are certain things you can do to help the move go more smoothly.

Consider Talking to Your Former Spouse

If your move qualifies as a relocation for legal purposes, which in Kane County usually means moving at least 25 miles away either within Illinois or out of state, you have a legal obligation to notify your children’s other parent in advance and obtain approval for the move. Relocations can be among the most contentious Illinois family law cases, especially if you and your former spouse are not on good terms.

However, if you do get along with your ex, you may be able to make the process much easier if you talk to them about your plans to move well in advance. If they understand your reasons for moving and the benefits for the children, they may consent to the move without the court’s involvement. They may also be willing to work with you to make the necessary modifications to your parenting plan so that you can continue co-parenting effectively while both being able to spend quality time with your children.

Make Arrangements for Your Children

Of course, your children are the most important people to consider when planning for your relocation. Whether your spouse consents to your move or contests it in court, the judge will want to be sure that the move is in your children’s best interests. In part, this means that there will be good opportunities for your children at the new location. You should research the school district for your new home, as well as look into opportunities for your children to continue their favorite extracurricular activities or possibly start new ones. In many cases, the relocating parent is also responsible for managing transportation to ensure the children can maintain a relationship with the other parent, so you may want to start planning your drives or consider booking flights. You should also talk to your children to reassure them about the move. While you may be able to see the benefits, a move is always a huge change for young children, and they may need your help adjusting.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Consulting with an experienced Kane County family lawyer is also a good idea as you prepare for your move. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we can help you take the necessary steps to obtain approval for your relocation and review your proposed parenting plan modifications. We can also represent you in court if your former spouse tries to prevent the move. Contact us today for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

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IL family lawyerSince 2014, same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois. This means that same-sex married couples have the same rights and benefits under Illinois law as opposite-sex married couples, and it also means that they must go through the same process to get a divorce. However, many same-sex couples in Illinois are in civil unions rather than marriages, whether because of a personal choice or because their union began before same-sex marriage was legal. If you are in a civil union with your partner, you may wonder what will happen if the relationship fails and you wish to dissolve the union.

Property Division and Maintenance in Civil Union Dissolution

According to Illinois law, the sections of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act regarding the divorce process also apply to the dissolution of a civil union. In part, this means that both partners have a right to most forms of property, assets, and debts that were acquired during the union, including the home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and more. These assets and debts will need to be distributed fairly between partners based on the same criteria used in the division of marital assets.

The dissolution of a civil union can also include an order for maintenance or alimony if it is necessary to ensure a fair resolution. This means that the partner with greater income and assets could be ordered to make payments to the partner who needs help supporting themself. Keep in mind that maintenance obligations end not only if the receiving partner gets married, but also if they enter into a new civil union or even start living with a new partner.

Child-Related Issues

When a civil union is dissolved, issues like the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time may also be involved, provided that both partners are considered to be the children’s legal parents under Illinois law. Fortunately, Illinois treats marriages and civil unions the same with regard to the presumption of parentage. This means that if the child was born to one of the parents during the civil union, both parents will be presumed to have parental rights. The same can be true if the civil union started after the child’s birth if both partners are listed on the child’s birth certificate, though this can make matters more complicated. In this case, pursuing a stepparent or second-parent adoption can better ensure that both partners’ rights are protected if the civil union ends.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

If you want to dissolve your civil union, you need an attorney who has experience with the unique aspects of these cases. Our St. Charles, IL family lawyers at Shaw Family Law, P.C. will help you understand and protect your parental and property rights. For a free consultation, contact our office today by calling 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen getting a divorce, most married couples will need to sort out various financial concerns. Some of these concerns are obvious. For example, you probably already know that you will need to decide who will keep the house, how you will divide the checking account, or who will get the furniture. However, other financial issues often get overlooked or pushed to the side until the last minute. Part of planning for a smooth divorce process is learning about the various financial issues you will need to address before you finalize the split. The better-informed you are of these issues, the better position you will be in to make sound financial decisions during the divorce.

Allocation of Debt in an Illinois Divorce

Property division does not only involve the division of assets, it also consists of the division of liabilities and debts. According to Illinois law, debts are handled similarly to property during divorce. The debts that either spouse accumulated during the marriage are the responsibility of both parties. This true even if the other spouse did not purchase the item or the title is only in one spouse’s name. If a spouse agrees to pay a debt for which both parties are liable and fails to fulfill this responsibility, the creditor may pursue the other spouse – even after the divorce is final. This is why many divorcing spouses choose to sell assets to pay off jointly held debt during divorce.

Tax Consequences of Your Divorce

It is important to remember that ending a marriage may result in significant tax consequences. When negotiating a fair division of the marital estate, make sure to understand the tax implications of your arrangement. Even child custody can affect taxes. Only one of the parents can take the child exemption on their income taxes. Typically, the parent who has the majority of the parenting time is considered the “custodial parent” and therefore entitled to claim the dependency exemption.

Division of Retirement Accounts

Depending on the age of the divorcing spouses, retirement funds may constitute a significant part of the marital estate. Retirement plans are unique in that the asset may be partially marital (and therefore belonging to both spouses) and partially non-marital or separate. Typically, the portion of the retirement funds accumulated before marriage is considered separate property and not subject to division. The share accumulated during the marriage is part of the marital estate.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

If you are getting divorced, an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer from Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation today.

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IL divorce lawyerIn many Illinois divorce cases, one spouse has significantly greater income and assets than the other. This can make it difficult to reach a fair resolution through the division of property alone, especially if it will be challenging for the other spouse to support themself for quite some time. In these cases, the court will often award spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony or spousal support. However, maintenance orders come in several different forms, and you should be sure to understand the type of maintenance order, if any, that is likely to apply to your case.

How Do Illinois Courts Award Spousal Support?

If you and your spouse reach an agreement regarding maintenance, or if the court decides that maintenance is necessary, payments may be structured in a variety of ways. These are the most common types of maintenance orders that you should be aware of:

  • Temporary maintenance is sometimes ordered before the divorce is finalized to support a spouse in need throughout the divorce process. The appropriate amount is determined on a case-by-case basis using information from a financial affidavit filed by the spouse seeking maintenance. Any spousal maintenance included in the final divorce resolution will be determined separately.
  • Fixed-term maintenance requires one spouse to make regular payments to the other for a defined time period, usually based on a calculation that factors in the length of the marriage. The amount is typically determined based on each spouse’s income.
  • Lump-sum maintenance is sometimes awarded as an alternative to fixed-term maintenance. Rather than spreading out the payments over time, one spouse will pay the other the entire amount upfront. This is usually only possible when the paying spouse has substantial resources available.
  • Reviewable maintenance is similar to fixed-term maintenance, except that the court will designate a date upon which the order will be reviewed to determine whether it should continue or be modified or terminated, perhaps contingent on the receiving spouse’s attempts to become self-sufficient.
  • Indefinite maintenance requires regular, ongoing payments with no end date. It is typically only granted when the spouses were married for 20 years or longer, or when the receiving spouse has extraordinary needs.

You should note that fixed-term, reviewable, and indefinite maintenance orders can be modified after a substantial change in either spouse’s circumstances. Additionally, a maintenance order will terminate if either spouse dies, or if the receiving spouse remarries or moves in with a new partner.

Contact a Kane County Spousal Maintenance Lawyer

At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we can help you understand whether spousal support is a likely factor in your divorce case, and we will advise you regarding a reasonable payment structure to pursue. Contact us at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation with one of our St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys.

 

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IL divorce lawyerBeing a stay-at-home mom or dad can be a wonderful way to ensure that your children receive the care and attention they need to grow into successful adults. It can also put you in a difficult situation during divorce. If you are a divorcing parent who has not worked outside of the home in several years, you may be overwhelmed by the possible personal and financial implications of your impending divorce. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your rights as a stay-at-home parent and avoid mistakes that put you in an unfavorable position during divorce.

Know Your Rights Under Illinois Law

Many people are unaware of the rights that they have during divorce. They may quickly agree to terms before researching all of the possible options because they are eager to get the divorce over with. However, if you do not know your rights, you may inadvertently lose them. For example, many stay-at-home parents are entitled to spousal maintenance or alimony. The amount and duration of alimony payments depend on the financial and employment circumstances of both spouses, the duration of the marriage, and other factors. You may also be eligible for temporary spousal maintenance and/or child support payments before the divorce is finalized.

Under Illinois law, you have a right to an equitable share of the marital estate. This includes an equitable or fair share of any income or property acquired by you or your spouse during the marriage. If your home was purchased during the marriage or marital funds were used to pay the mortgage, your home is likely a marital asset. Any retirement funds that were accumulated during the marriage are also subject to division. You may even have a right to a fair share of your spouse’s business or professional practice.

Gather Important Financial Documents

Often, stay-at-home parents are not as involved in the household finances as their spouses. If have been out of the loop regarding finances, it is time to start taking inventory of your financial situation. Make copies of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage and loan documents, and other financial paperwork. The better informed you are about your financial situation, the better position you will be in to make wise financial decisions during divorce.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

As a stay-at-home parent, you are in a challenging position during divorce. A St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help you request alimony, handle child custody concerns, ensure a fair division of the marital estate, and much more. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation today.

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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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