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

Protecting Yourself and Documenting the Abuse or Harassment

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

Prohibiting your Spouse from Coming Near You

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

The EOP may:

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

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

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

Use Caution When Telling the Children About the Divorce

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

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

Keep Conversations About the Divorce Out of Earshot

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

Create a Detailed Parenting Plan

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

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

When the Father Acknowledges His Parentage

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

Establishing Paternity When the Father Refuses to Sign the VAP

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

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

Contact a Kane County Paternity Lawyer

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

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

Speak to a Lawyer As Soon As Possible

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

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

Gather Financial Documents and Information

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

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

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

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

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

An Information Separation Is Not a Legal Separation

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

An Informal Separation Can Leave You Vulnerable During Divorce

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

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

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

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

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

Advantages of Reaching An Agreement on Parenting Issues Through Mediation

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

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

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

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

 

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

Grandparents Rights in Illinois

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

Petitioning the Court for Grandparent Visitation

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

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

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

Contact a Kane County Grandparents’ Rights Attorney

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

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