st. charles divorce lawyersOne of the most difficult challenges of an Illinois divorce is dividing your marital assets and debts. Any property, money, vehicles, loans, credit card debt, or other financial instrument or asset that you acquired during your marriage must be divided. While property division has to be fair, there is no guarantee that your financial situation after divorce will be easy; divorce is notoriously difficult on a person’s net worth, as well as their credit score. If you are considering divorce, here are three tips for managing your credit as you go through the divorce process. 

Get to Know Your Credit Report 

Many people do not think twice about their credit report during their marriage, especially if their spouse has good credit and manages the family finances. But this can be risky, especially if you do not have your own credit history. There are many free, easy-to-use resources available for accessing your credit report. Become familiar with every account on your credit report and start finding ways to build your individual credit. 

Begin Separating Your Finances Early

As soon as you know you are getting divorced, do what you can to close joint credit accounts and take your name off of debts. Even if you do not consent to spending money on a credit card, if your name is on it, you are still legally responsible for paying it off - even if your divorce decree says your spouse has to make payments! The sooner you can pay off and close joint credit accounts, the sooner you can prevent the risk of being held responsible for debt that you did not accrue. 

Negotiate a Divorce Decree that Separates Your Finances Completely

Divorcing couples are encouraged to create a divorce agreement with the help of a neutral mediator. Because couples divide marital debts as well as assets, sometimes a divorce decree will allow credit accounts to stay open under both spouses’ names while one spouse is responsible for paying off the debt. To protect yourself from bad debt and late payments, your best option is to negotiate a divorce decree that minimizes outstanding debt and gives you or your spouse exclusive ownership of whatever portion of the debt each of you needs to pay off. 

Contact a St. Charles, IL Divorce Lawyer

While divorce may be difficult on your finances, you can still make careful decisions and plan for the future. For help managing the challenges of divorce, put your trust in the hands of the experienced Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Sanders, P.C.. In addition to knowing the ins and outs of Illinois divorce law, we also have a wide network of professionals who can support you in other areas of divorce. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule your first meeting. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerMany people get divorced after many years or even decades of being married. Even if a marriage is unhappy, for most people there is a certain level of predictability, stability, and companionship that comes with being married. An Illinois divorce upends all of those things, even as it can free a spouse from a stifling, distant, or abusive relationship. 

In addition to the significant changes of divorce, the fear of being alone is often as compelling as the fear of remaining in an unhappy marriage forever. If you are considering divorce and wondering whether you can adjust to the single life again, know that millions of people have done so happily - and when you are ready to finalize your divorce, here are four steps that could help you. 

Actively Socialize

One of the challenges of divorce is that it breaks up family and friend groups, leaving both spouses with fewer social connections than they had during the marriage. To make up for this, you may have to take a more active role in forming new social connections than you have in many years. Divorced singles often find meaningful friendships at church, support groups, and game nights. When someone asks you over for dinner, say yes - and invite people into your home as well. 

Pick Up a New Hobby

Learning something new is a rewarding experience at any stage of life - and especially when you have a lot on your mind, doing something with your hands can be a great way to stay busy and stop yourself from obsessing over the divorce or other parts of the past. If you already have skills or hobbies, spend more time getting better at them or find a way to turn them towards the service of others. 

Focus on Your Career 

Once your divorce is finalized, you may have more free time that you can spend on enhancing your career aspirations. While a career is not a replacement for meaningful relationships, a satisfying and engaging job can make a big difference in your overall life satisfaction. If you are not satisfied with your job, perhaps now is the time to take classes so you can consider a career change. You can learn nearly anything for free now and building a great portfolio can often act as a replacement for a degree or certificate. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerUntil fairly recently, the vast majority of men and women entered into heterosexual marriages at a young age and stayed married to one person for the rest of their lives. However, with the advent of no-fault divorce, over the last 50 years and particularly over the last 20 years, societal expectations of what is considered marriage have expanded and far fewer people are even getting married to begin with. 

Although marriage rates may be declining, people are still engaging in relationships just as they always have. Yet when relationships are not formalized as marriages, leaving the relationship can get complicated because couples do not always know how to protect their interests while breaking up. Here are three non-marital relationships and how they end in Illinois. 

Civil Union

Couples can no longer enter into civil unions in Illinois. However, there are still many couples who are in civil unions who eventually decide to separate. Civil unions dissolve much the same way that marriages do; couples have property rights and must divide their marital assets and debts. Likewise, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for civil unions are enforceable as long as they are legally sound. 

Cohabitation 

More and more couples are choosing to cohabitate rather than get married. A cohabitating couple’s commitment may be no less serious than a married couple, but, unfortunately, cohabitating couples do not share any of the property protections that married couples have. Although some couples create cohabitation agreements, there is some question about whether these agreements are enforceable, as the Illinois Supreme Court has decided that Illinois gives preference to marital contracts and can strike down workarounds like cohabitation agreements. Couples who own property together but cannot agree on how to divide it will need to address their disagreements in civil court. 

Common-Law Marriages 

While Illinois does not allow couples to enter into common-law marriages, couples who are in common-law marriages in other states can have their marriage recognized in Illinois. However, proving that you were in a legitimate common-law marriage in the state in which you were “married” can be tricky, so be sure to have an attorney help you manage your common-law marriage’s dissolution. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerAll marital property needs to be accurately valued and fairly divided before an Illinois divorce can be finalized, and while that may sound straightforward in writing, in reality it can be quite complicated. One type of property that tends to be the most complicated is that of a small business or personal practice

Professionals spend many years and countless resources obtaining an education and building their careers, and the prospect of having the fruits of those labors divided in a divorce can be devastating. If you are an attorney, doctor, accountant, or another similar professional and own your own practice or share a small business with a business partner, you likely have questions about how your divorce could change the way you do business. 

Is a Professional Practice Always Marital Property? 

Spouses often opt to protect their professional practices with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that carefully detail the treatment of said practices in the event of a divorce. But without a legally enforceable contract protecting a practice, the value of a practice that was earned during a marriage is usually marital property and subject to division. This is true whether the practice was started after a couple was already married or whether a spouse owned the practice before the marriage began. 

How is the Value of a Professional Practice Determined? 

Spouses will likely want to get the help of a professional appraiser to determine the value of a practice. Valuation methods can differ greatly depending on the type of practice; for example, a dental practice, with valuable equipment and hundreds of patients would have to be valued differently from a psychotherapist’s practice in which very little equipment and far fewer patients are involved. Whatever valuation method spouses choose, eventually spouses will have to agree on the value of the business and how to divide its value. This can be done by selling the practice and splitting the value, buying out one spouse’s value with other marital assets, or, when couples cannot decide themselves, entrusting the matter to a court to decide. 

Contact a St. Charles, IL Property Division Attorney

Determining what happens to marital property can be a complicated part of any divorce. Having an experienced St. Charles property division attorney with experience and negotiation skills is essential to ensuring your interests are protected during your divorce and well into the future. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we know how important it is to protect your personal reputation and professional practice. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free case review and learn more about how we can help. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerParents who get divorced in Illinois are frequently concerned with the potential effect the divorce could have on their children. After all, research suggests that children whose parents are divorced often struggle with many aspects of life, including their own intimate relationships later in life. However, when done carefully and thoughtfully, divorce does not need to be a traumatic experience for children. Collaborative divorce offers a cooperative, mutually respectful way for parents to separate while keeping their children’s best interests in mind. Here are three ways collaborative divorce could benefit your children. 

Less Conflict

One of the hardest parts of a divorce is the conflict. Children frequently get caught between arguing parents and may feel like they have to choose a “side.” This can be confusing and deeply disheartening for children, who naturally love and respect both of their parents. Collaborative divorce is so focused on reducing conflict that every person involved is committed to reaching a resolution - even the attorneys. In fact, if collaborative efforts are not successful, the entire process dissolves and parents must seek new attorneys. This ensures that everybody is motivated to cooperate and find the best possible solution. 

Child-Focused Professionals 

Child psychologists or therapists who specialize in divorce’s effects on children are frequently part of a collaborative divorce team. In addition to working with children to help them process their feelings about the divorce, child-focused divorce professionals can counsel the parents as they seek to create a parenting plan that has the children’s best interests in mind. They can gently remind parents to put the children’s needs first, even when it may be inconvenient or difficult for the parents, ensuring that the transition from one household to two is as smooth as possible. 

Faster Resolution

Because everyone on a collaborative divorce team is focused on achieving compromise, collaborative divorce often moves a divorce towards a final conclusion faster than other methods. This benefits children by reducing their exposure to the stress that the divorce process can put on their parents and benefits everyone by allowing life after divorce to begin as soon as possible.  

Schedule a Free Consultation with a St. Charles, IL Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., our St. Charles collaborative divorce attorneys know that every family needs a divorce strategy that takes their unique needs into consideration. If you are getting divorced and want to mindfully and peacefully separate from your spouse, call us now at 630-584-5550 to schedule your free initial consultation. Our comfortable offices are conveniently located on Randall Road. We look forward to helping you. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerParenting often requires parents to be flexible and make up or change arrangements as they go. Children frequently get sick, injure themselves, and change their minds about what they want to do, making even the best plans difficult to follow. However, when parents get divorced, their parenting time schedules are legally enforceable court orders. Although parents who get along can reasonably agree to temporarily modify their parenting agreement from time to time, a parent who consistently refuses to drop off or pick up children on time or at all can be very taxing. If you are struggling to get your ex to follow the terms of your Illinois parenting plan, read on. 

Talk To Your Ex

The first thing you need to do is try to have a conversation with your ex to find out why they are not following the terms of the parenting plan. The best way to do this is over email, where responses can be easily recorded, emotionally neutral, and used as evidence later if necessary. If your ex has a good reason for violating your parenting time schedule, such as a work problem or car issues, you may be able to work together on a short-term solution. Using a mediator may help. However, if your ex either does not respond, is hostile, or does not have a legitimate reason for modifying the parenting schedule, you may need to escalate your response. 

Petition for Rule to Show Cause

A petition for rule to show cause is a form that asks a court to require a non-compliant parent to come to court and explain their actions. You, the petitioner, will need to fill out the form with the help of your attorney and provide evidence showing that your ex is non-compliant. You will also need a copy of your parenting agreement from your divorce or modification. 

Depending on the respondent’s explanation, whether they have violated the parenting agreement before, and whether a judge believes they are acting in good faith or trying to cause problems, a judge can use a variety of punishments to try to bring someone into compliance. These often include changes to the parenting schedule that reflect the care the child is actually getting; fines; charges of contempt of court, and, in the most extreme cases, jail time. 

Documentation is important when bringing a case of parenting agreement non-compliance before a judge. Text messages, emails, photographs, and voicemails may all be helpful. Speak to your attorney before trying to use phone calls as evidence, since recording phone calls between you and someone else without their permission could be illegal. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerPensions and other retirement funds are essential aspects of many individuals’ long-term financial planning. It can take enormous sacrifices and years of hard work in the hope of a secure future, and when divorce threatens that security, the implications can be frightening. 

While pensions and other retirement funds are generally seen as marital property and are subject to division in a divorce, the good news is that there are often things you can do to help protect yourself during the property division process and having an experienced Illinois divorce attorney can help. 

Are Pensions Marital Property in Illinois? 

If a spouse began earning their pension or retirement funds before they got married, the funds earned before the marriage will usually remain private property, including any increases in value through capital gains. But any portion of a retirement that was earned during a marriage is seen as marital property, even if the pension funds are not vested or have not matured. 

How Can a Pension Plan Be Divided? 

Sometimes, spouses do not need to divide pension or retirement plans and can instead trade different marital assets for full ownership of their retirement funds. Spouses can also divide the pensions according to their own agreement, or, if they cannot agree, a court will divide the couple’s marital property. Either strategy requires the help of a financial professional who can estimate the value of a pension using common valuation methods. 

When spouses split their pension or retirement fund, they can get a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, from the court. A QDRO allows the plan administrator to split the benefits or payments according to the spouses’ divorce arrangement. This allows spouses to each receive their portion of the benefits without having to depend on each other for payments or remain in contact. It is important to note that, after a plan has been divided, the spouse who is not the policyholder cannot take advantage of the plan’s benefits until the plan actually begins to pay. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_129290474.jpgDealing with the issue of paternity is often stressful for men and women alike. Mothers need financial support from a child’s father and often struggle to get it; men, who may be unsure whether they are a child’s father or who may not want a child at all, are often resistant to submit to paternity testing. 

While both parties may believe they are equally justified in their feelings and actions, Illinois law requires both parents to financially support their children, even if they do not want to be involved in the child’s life. This means that men who are the biological father of a child can be legally compelled to submit to court-ordered paternity tests and provide child support. 

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

There are several ways to establish paternity in Illinois. If both parents agree that a man is the child’s father, they may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form (also known as a VAP). This form is often signed at a hospital after a child is born, although it can be signed later as well. 

Another way to establish paternity is through an Administrative Paternity Order. This is an order from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). HFS can require mandatory DNA testing to prove that a man is a child’s father. However, HFS can also determine paternity even without a genetic test, so a man may be deemed a child’s father and ordered to pay child support even if he tries to dodge a genetic test. 

Courts can also issue a Judicial Paternity Order, which comes directly from a judge. Judges can also require a man to take a DNA test. Such an order is not optional - if a man tries to avoid the court order, he can be held in contempt of court and may be subject to fines and other punishments that can become progressively more serious the longer he avoids taking the test.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_228470305.jpgIssues of child custody are often among the most strongly disputed in Illinois divorces. Both parents, loving their children and believing they know what is best, may be at loggerheads about parenting time arrangements or who should have the power to make important decisions for the children. Courts may also be unsure whether either parent is capable or safe in their parenting abilities. If there are concerns about how parenting time and parental responsibilities should be allocated, a court may order a custody evaluation, or a 604.10(b) evaluation. 

When Can a Court Order a Custody Evaluation? 

Courts can request a comprehensive custody evaluation any time a judge has questions about the facts or circumstances of a child’s home environment, including when there are concerns about: 

  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Absent or neglectful parenting 
  • Mental illness
  • A child with special medical, educational, developmental, or other needs 

A custody evaluation can also be ordered when: 

  • One or both parents request a custody evaluation 
  • A child representative, such as a guardian ad litem, requests a custody evaluation

Even if a parent requests and pays for a custody evaluator, he or she is still a neutral party whose responsibility is to find and report on the facts. Whether the parents or a court request the evaluator, the responsibility for paying for the evaluator will be allocated to the parents. 

What Happens During a Custody Evaluation? 

Depending on the complexity of the case, the distance between parents’ homes, and the schedule of the evaluator, custody evaluations can take months to complete. While the needs of each evaluation will vary depending on the family and their particular concerns, most evaluators will complete the following tasks: 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1188557530.jpgGone are the days when divorcing spouses had to publicly drag each other through the mud, revealing personal details about things like infidelity and abandonment to try to prove fault and get a divorce. While this is undoubtedly a change for the better, divorces in Illinois are still not completely private. Certain divorce details are part of the public record, yet spouses, especially those with public profiles, may have good reasons for wanting to keep them private. If you are hoping to keep your Illinois divorce details as private as possible, read on. 

What Details Are Always Private? 

Certain personal details are never part of the public record. Social security numbers, driver’s licenses, bank accounts, and other such details cannot be revealed in their entirety in public divorce records. Details of this nature can compromise your identity and you do not have to worry about these being public. But your divorce record, and even the process of discovery, can reveal a lot about your personal and family finances that you may want to keep private. 

Request Protective Orders During Discovery

During the discovery phase, spouses and their attorneys are passing highly detailed information to each other, including things like full account numbers, business secrets, asset assessments, and more. One spouse may justifiably fear that their partner will be careless with these details, or - worse - deliberately share the information with third parties. Because divorcing spouses are often not on their best behavior, you may want to request a protective order from the court that prohibits sharing certain information during the discovery process. 

Ask a Court to Seal Your Records

Illinois law presumes that the general public has a stronger interest in being able to access divorce records than the average divorcee has an interest in keeping them private. Therefore, if you want certain embarrassing or personal details to be left out of the public record, you will need to request that the judge seal all or part of a file. Judges will typically not seal a file unless there is a good reason, and it is more common only for parts of a divorce record to be sealed. 

Refer to Certain Agreements by Reference Only

Once spouses reach an agreement about parenting arrangements and property distribution, they can refer to these agreements in the final prove-up by reference only, rather than including the agreements themselves in the public record. Spouses who do this may run the risk of record-keeping issues, so if they need to modify their parenting agreement in the future, they should preserve these files carefully to ensure they have the full text of the agreement available to them. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1809323122.jpgEven after they have cohabitated for years, raised children, and owned property, for one reason or another, many couples in Illinois decide never to get married. When couples who are traditionally married get divorced, one partner may be ordered by the court to pay alimony, or, as it is known in Illinois, “spousal support.” But do Kane County couples who were never married deal with spousal support when they break up? 

Unmarried Partners Do Not Pay Alimony When They Break Up

The only partners eligible for spousal support are those who were legally married - and even then, courts do not automatically grant spousal support, but instead examine a couple’s situation and determine whether spousal support would be appropriate. Spousal support payments are more common after longer marriages in which one partner made significantly more than the other, or when one partner gave up educational or economic prospects to raise children. 

Separated Unmarried Parents Do Pay Child Support 

A parent’s legal obligation to financially provide for their child does not end simply because a relationship ends. Separated domestic partners should make sure that they obtain a legally enforceable court order for child support. Otherwise, they put themselves and their children at risk of not getting the money they need. While some couples may prefer to avoid court altogether and stick with a verbal child support agreement, if the paying parent stops making payments for any reason, the verbal agreement is not enforceable. 

Consider a Cohabitation Agreement

Couples who do not want to get married, but who still plan on co-owning property and raising children together, would be wise to create a cohabitation agreement. This is a contract between a couple that lays out the financial rights and obligations of each partner if the relationship ends because of a breakup or the death of one partner. Cohabitation agreements usually deal primarily with financial issues, but can also discuss parental roles. If the relationship ends, however, a court-ordered parenting agreement trumps any parenting issues mentioned in the cohabitation agreement. 

Talk to a Kane County Alimony Lawyer

Understanding when spousal support may be ordered is important for planning the end of your relationship. If you need help with family law matters, an experienced Kane County family law attorney with Shaw Sanders, P.C. can help you get answers to your questions and represent you in court. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free initial case review today. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerAlong with infidelity, conflict, and financial disagreements, substance abuse is one of the top contributors to divorce in Illinois. Overdose deaths in the United States surged past the 100,000 mark in 202 and heavy drinking is responsible for another nearly 100,000 premature deaths in the U.S. every year. 

Whether because of alcohol or drug use, there is no question that substance abuse can interfere with a marriage to the point that the marriage irretrievably breaks down. This can have a profound effect on spouses during a marriage, but children are perhaps the most affected by a parent with a substance use disorder. If you are getting divorced in Illinois and you or your spouse is struggling with substance abuse, here are three areas of your divorce that may be affected. 

Asset Division

Because substance abuse is often so deeply intertwined with poor financial decisions, spouses often secretly use savings, loans, or other sources of income to finance their addiction and leave a marriage in dire financial straits. If a spouse has depleted a couple’s finances to purchase drugs or alcohol, a judge may allocate a greater amount of marital assets to the other spouse to make up for the irresponsible behavior. 

Parenting Arrangements 

A parent who is regularly under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unlikely to be able to care properly for a child. They may be an active danger to the child’s well-being, especially if a parent has a tendency to drive under the influence. Without active participation in rehabilitation programs and a clear move towards improvement, a parent who struggles with substance use disorders may only get supervised parenting time or no parenting time at all. This can have a long-term impact on the quality of the parent-child relationship and parents with substance abuse issues should weigh carefully how their behavior could affect their child. 

Spousal and Child Support

Substance abuse and the problems that come with it do not excuse someone from making their court-ordered spousal and child support payments. If substance abuse interferes with a spouse’s ability to get or keep a job and they fail to pay child support, they may find court sanctions, fines, and jail time added to their list of existing problems. Illinois takes the wellbeing of children seriously and can implement far-reaching punishments when a parent will not meet their financial obligations to their child. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1783364246-1.jpgMany divorcing parents in Illinois find themselves locked in a seemingly intractable dispute about issues related to their children. Maintaining objectivity during divorce can be very difficult, and hostility between parents can spill over into the children’s lives, negatively affecting them and making it very difficult to compromise about parenting time and parental responsibilities. 

In the most contentious divorces, it may not be immediately obvious to a judge which custody arrangement would most benefit a child and so he or she may appoint a professional known as a guardian ad litem. If you are getting divorced or modifying a parenting agreement and have had a guardian ad litem assigned to your case, read on. 

The Role of a Guardian ad Litem in Illinois

A guardian ad litem’s job is, essentially, to determine the best interests of a child during a very specific period of time - usually, during a divorce or custody dispute. Guardians ad litem in Illinois are licensed attorneys with special training that prepares them to do the appropriate investigation, fact-finding, and data collection necessary to determine a child’s best interests. 

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do? 

While one or both parents are usually ordered to pay for the guardian ad litem, he or she acts as an extension of the court. A guardian ad litem is objective, neutral, and is not interested in helping one party get more parenting time or parental responsibilities. Instead, he or she has the primary goal of undertaking any activities which would inform the court as to the child’s best interests. These can include: 

  • Interviewing the child and his or her siblings
  • Interviewing neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, and anyone else who may have knowledge of the child’s situation
  • Visiting the child at each parent’s home
  • Interviewing both parents
  • Ordering a psychological evaluation of both parents 
  • Reviewing relevant data, including a child’s grades, health history, police reports, and any other necessary documents 

Based on her investigation, the guardian ad litem creates a report for the judge, detailing her findings and making a recommendation for the outcome of the case. The guardian ad litem’s recommendation is considered expert testimony, and a judge may call a guardian ad litem to the stand to testify. Each parent’s attorneys are permitted to cross-examine the guardian ad litem and dispute any findings which may cast them in a negative light. 

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st charles divorce lawyerCertain jobs correlate with divorce so frequently that they create a bit of a chicken-or-egg question. Which came first - the job or the likelihood of divorce? Does a person who is more likely to get divorced pursue certain professions, or do some jobs really interfere with a marriage? Although each marriage is unique, research suggests that some jobs are correlated with much higher rates of divorce. And while financial stability and life satisfaction influence marital happiness, a higher salary is not necessarily correlated with lower divorce rates. Here are some of the jobs in Illinois with the highest divorce rates. 

Casino Managers and Bartenders

Almost tied at roughly 52 percent, casino managers and bartenders are in a line of work that exposes them to late hours, alcohol consumption, and fresh new faces on a regular basis. Add to that an unpredictable income, holiday work schedules, and a relentless people-pleasing personality, and you might have a combination for marital trouble. 

Flight Attendants 

Flight attendants check in with divorce rates just over 50 percent. With two large airports and several smaller municipal airports, Illinois has an abundance of flight attendants coming in and out of town every day. Similar to bartenders, flight attendants have irregular schedules, frequent exposure to new places and people, and, although they are not permitted to work intoxicated, notoriously high levels of substance abuse. 

Textiles Industry Employees

People who work with extruding, pressing, compacting, or forming machines have stressful, dangerous jobs. Long-term exposure to metals and plastics may further endanger their health, and the necessity of working with small pieces in tight spaces could put anyone under pressure. Divorce rates in production and textiles industries hovers just under 50 percent.   

Which Occupations Have the Lowest Rates of Divorce? 

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, religious clergy and other religious leadership have among the lowest occupational rates of divorce. Approximately one in five employees working in religious services gets divorced. This is roughly matched by rates of divorce among surgeons, engineers, software developers, and physical therapists. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_578251576.jpgThe prospect of getting divorced can be understandably frightening and overwhelming. So many things need to be dealt with and it can be difficult to know where to start. The fear of the unknown keeps many couples from planning around their divorce, but this is a mistake; meeting your divorce challenges head-on and creating a plan can help your divorce go much more smoothly. Here are four important things to consider as you create your pre-divorce planning checklist. 

Collect Documents and Keep Track of Everything

From the moment you decide to get divorced, start collecting financial, medical, and educational documents for you, your spouse, and your children. Bank statements, deeds, health insurance information, and grade report cards will all be necessary for your divorce. Sometimes, spouses will drag their feet when providing information; if you can manage to get the information yourself, you can save a lot of time. 

Consider Where You Will Live

So much of the divorce planning process is logistical. Start planning early so you can begin estimating your cost of living after divorce. Consider which areas you will be able to afford to live in, estimate the cost of moving and buying new household items, and think about whether you have family or friends you can temporarily stay with as you make arrangements for the future. 

Set Up a Post Office Box Address

If you are going to move out of the marital home, it is important to get all of your mail - especially if your spouse is vindictive and may be likely to hide important information. Setting up a P.O. box right away will make sure you get all your mail and do not miss any legal correspondence.

Think About How to Tell Your Children

In a perfect world, divorcing parents could have a conversation together with their children about why the divorce is happening and what changes will occur in the future. Although children should not know the intimate details of a marital breakdown, giving general reasons is okay. If you do not think your spouse will cooperate in discussing the divorce, consider when and how you want to tell your children, prioritizing their emotional wellbeing.  

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1200155323.jpgMaking the decision to end a marriage, especially when there are children involved, is a serious choice. Because there are so many changes, and these changes can be so stressful for everyone involved, many Illinois couples choose to get the help of a family therapist as they move through the divorce process. Family therapists can work with everybody, including the children, to process the divorce and the changes it brings. Having a neutral therapist can help with many different issues and most families who use family therapy feel as though they benefit tremendously. In this blog post, we will look at how family counseling can help a family dealing with divorce. 

What Are the Benefits of Family Therapy in an Illinois Divorce? 

Children often have a very difficult time dealing with divorce. They are often too young to understand why their parents are separating, and, if they are old enough to understand, they are usually still conflicted and angry about the loss. A family counselor can help children process their feelings about the divorce, and can also help parents communicate more clearly so the children are not caught in the crosshairs of parental conflict. 

Other topics a therapist can help a family work through include, but are not limited to: 

  • Addiction and/or substance abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Infidelity and emotional unavailability 
  • Financial conflict, including compulsive shopping behaviors 
  • Serious sibling rivalry, academic performance problems, and other child behavioral issues 
  • Abuse, abandonment, and neglect 

A family’s health insurance may cover family therapy, making it more affordable. Many therapists are specifically trained in family therapy, and parents seeking a therapist can further search for one that has experience with specific issues the family is dealing with. If substance abuse is a contributing factor in the breakdown of the parents’ relationship, it may be helpful to see a therapist who specializes in addiction and substance abuse. A family can attend therapy for as long as they need to. While a therapist does not make difficult problems go away, therapy sessions can give a family the skills they need to manage problems more effectively. 

Call a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we have helped many couples work through divorce and we understand how stressful the process can be. That is why our experienced Kane County divorce attorneys will work hard to manage the difficult parts of divorce, allowing you to focus on your family and move forward with your life. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation at 630-584-5550 and find out more about how we can help. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_292069334.pngDivorce perhaps carries an unfair share of negative connotations; while many Illinois divorces are painful, hostile, and expensive, divorce also frees people to take a path that better suits their needs. Modern divorcing couples are encouraged to work things out together and avoid the harsher methods of the past, using mediation instead of litigation whenever possible. For couples who want to get divorced amicably, here are some tips to help. 

Try to Be Emotionally Objective 

Usually by the time a couple decides to get divorced, years of pent-up hurt and frustrations can make reasonable negotiation difficult. But if you can manage to take care of your emotional wounds outside of the divorce process, a commitment to objectivity can help you pursue a reasonable compromise that suits you both. This is especially important if you have children, because while it may feel good in the moment to get the better of your spouse, you will likely have to deal with them for many years to come. 

Set Your Priorities Early

The nature of a good compromise is that everybody walks away unhappy. If you try to get everything you want out of your divorce decree, you are likely to be frustrated from the very beginning. But if you can pick a few things that are important to you, and challenge yourself to articulate their importance calmly and fairly in the divorce negotiations, you raise your chances of getting what you need. 

Stay Away From Social Media

Whether you want to vent about your ex or post a picture with your new partner, most experts agree that social media is a potential landmine for people who are still involved in the divorce process. Although it may be difficult to break the habit of sharing regular details of your life, stay off social media as much as possible until your divorce is finalized. 

Encourage Your Children to Be Neutral

Children love their parents, but divorce can make children feel as though they need to take sides. Even without doing so intentionally, parents who talk negatively about each other may make their children feel pressured to do the same. Instead, actively encourage your children to have a great relationship with their other parent. 

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st. Charles divorce lawyerAnnulments are often used in an unserious light as the fodder of many alcohol-fueled Las Vegas wedding jokes. Yet the reasons for getting an annulment are important and necessary for many couples who find that their marital arrangement is not what it seemed to be.  

To begin with, it is important to note that there is technically no such thing as “annulment” in Illinois. Rather, couples seeking to annul their marriage for specific reasons can ask an Illinois judge to declare the marriage invalid. For some couples, this is an appropriate and available step. For other couples, however, a declaration of invalidity is not an option and a divorce is necessary - even for very brief marriages. To learn more about when a declaration of invalidity of marriage is an option, read on. 

When is a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage an Option? 

A marriage can only be declared invalid when it was entered into under false pretenses. Spouses who get married and then quickly find out they are not compatible are usually not eligible for a declaration of invalidity and must instead get a divorce. Invalidity of marriage may be declared only for the following four reasons: 

  • One spouse is unable to consummate the marriage, knew this, and hid it from the other spouse before the wedding.
  • One spouse was not yet 18 and did not obtain consent from their parents, legal guardians, or an Illinois court.
  • One spouse was under the influence of mind-altering substances, had a mental disability, or was subject to fraud or coercion and therefore could not consent to the marriage .
  • The marriage was illegal for any other reason, such as bigamy (when a spouse is already married to someone else) or a close biological relationship (such as first cousins under the age of 50).

Seek a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage Quickly

If you meet one of the above circumstances, getting your marriage declared invalid must be done within certain time limits. The time limits are dependent on the reason for the declaration. For example, if a spouse could not consent to the marriage, the petition for a declaration of invalidity must be done within 90 days. If a spouse is incapable of having sex, the declaration of invalidity must be filed within a year. Your individual circumstances will help you determine how you should act and when, and a skilled divorce lawyer can help. 

Meet with a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Even when couples enter into marriage with the highest hopes, marriage does not always work out once the rubber hits the road. If you need to end your recent marriage as quickly and cleanly as possible, call an experienced St. Charles, IL divorce attorney. You can schedule a free consultation today and learn more about your options over the phone or in person by calling us at 630-584-5550

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IL divorce lawyerEducation is a crucial part of a young child’s life and an education that is well-managed early on can benefit a child for the rest of their lives. Although divorce can be disruptive in many areas of a child’s life, it does not have to interfere with a quality education. An important part of getting divorced is creating well-planned child support and parenting agreements. Doing so allows parents a great opportunity to make plans for managing a child’s education and to provide a smooth transition into separate households.

Consider Child Support Deviations

Illinois uses standard formulas when determining child support payments, but a child’s unique academic circumstances can allow for deviation from the norm. Child support typically includes school expenses, like books, supplies, and uniforms, as well as field trips or special events. However, if a child needs more support - like tutoring, one-on-one classroom accommodations, or test prep courses - these can raise monthly child support payments. Parents may also decide to send a child to private school, meaning the cost of a child’s education could be substantially higher, but this must be agreed upon in the divorce decree.

Use a Parenting Plan to Address Academic Goals and Needs

The child support agreement decides how a child’s education will be paid for - but what about deciding what the education will look like on a day-to-day basis? First, parents must consider a variety of factors during and immediately after divorce. These include:

  • If parents plan on moving out of the marital home, whether a child’s education will be disrupted or provide the child better academic opportunities
  • Whether the benefits of changing schools outweigh any potential disruption to the child’s routine
  • Each parent’s availability to be present and helpful with academic matters
  • The child’s educational preferences, if age-appropriate
  • How a child’s school schedule would mesh with a proposed parenting time arrangement

This can be complicated by the fact that one parent may have exclusive parental rights over the child’s education, meaning one parent is making all of the decisions. If parents can agree to share educational responsibilities, they may be able to provide a child with better support and more opportunities. A parenting agreement can detail each parent’s obligation about any educational matters, and may include:

  • How much time a child will spend on extracurricular activities such as sports or musical instruments
  • Which parent is responsible for overseeing homework on which days
  • Agreed-upon limits for screen time, especially if other responsibilities are not taken care of first
  • A regular bedtime so one parent is not totally relaxed about scheduling while a stricter parent is left dealing with frequent weekend schedule “hangovers”

Fortunately, a parenting agreement can be incredibly flexible but should primarily work with the child’s best interests in mind.

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IK divorce lawyerChoosing a spouse is one of the most important decisions we ever make. Unfortunately, however, many people get married when they are young or do not yet understand their values and priorities and end up choosing a life partner they later regret. Sometimes, people realize this only after meeting someone who is aligned with their vision of the future.

If you are planning to get divorced so you can be with someone who is a better fit for you, you are not alone - but there are some important things to consider as you navigate the divorce process. Having an experienced, compassionate Illinois attorney who understands your situation can help ease the transition and help you make smart choices.

Risks of Asset Dissipation Claims

Although Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning couples do not formally give a reason for divorce beyond “irreconcilable differences,” certain behaviors before and during divorce can influence the overall outcome. One important area where this may matter is the division of marital assets. For example, if a husband spends a lot of money on a new partner while the marriage is irretrievably breaking down, the wife may be able to successfully file a claim of dissipation. When the marital estate is divided, that money that was spent on the new partner can be awarded to the wife, diminishing the overall share of the marital estate that the husband receives.

Spousal and Child Support

After a couple gets divorced, it is common for one spouse to pay the other spousal support. But if a partner is receiving spousal support and he or she gets remarried or moves in with a new partner, the spousal support payments stop. Similarly, getting remarried may improve the overall financial situation of someone who is paying child support to their former spouse, allowing for increased child support payments.

Impact on the Relationship Between Former Spouses

Although divorce is never easy, it can become particularly acrimonious when one spouse leaves the other for a new partner. Spouses who feel wronged during divorce may make the negotiation process more about exacting revenge than about collaboratively resolving issues. Parents may also be more likely to speak ill of each other, damaging the relationship between parents and children. It could be beneficial to try to make the process easier for your current spouse by breaking the news gently and being considerate of their feelings so they do not retaliate against you during divorce.

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