IL divorce lawyerThe National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that one in four women and one in nine men have been the victim of violence or stalking at the hands of a romantic partner. Domestic violence affects people of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels. If you have been a victim of domestic violence or abuse at the hands of your spouse, you may be considering divorce. Leaving an abusive spouse takes a tremendous amount of courage. If you are divorcing a spouse who has abused you physically, emotionally, financially, or otherwise, you should know that you do not have to face the divorce process alone. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you with orders of protection, child custody, and child support concerns, property division, and more.

Emergency Orders of Protection

If you are worried that your spouse will react violently when you leave him or her, you may want to obtain an emergency order of protection (EOP), sometimes referred to as a “restraining order.” An EOP is a court order that instructs an abusive spouse or other family member to stay a certain distance away from you, your children, or your workplace or school. EOPs can contain many different types of directions depending on your particular needs. If the abuser violates the terms of the EOP, call the police and he or she will be arrested.

Child Custody Concerns

Child custody and visitation are called “the allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois. If you or your children have been abused by your spouse, it is crucial that you notify the court of this abuse. Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on the best interests of the child. If you believe that your children will not be safe with your spouse, you can petition the court for the sole responsibility of your child, sometimes called “sole custody.”

Getting a Fair Divorce Settlement

If your spouse tried to manipulate and control you through violence or intimidation during your marriage, it is likely that he or she will try to do so during your divorce as well. It may not be possible for you and your spouse to reach a fair agreement about the terms of your divorce by discussing these issues on your own. Mediation can sometimes help a couple reach an agreement about property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support, but the mediation process is not typically recommended for divorces involving a history of domestic violence or abuse. A lawyer will protect your rights and advocate on your behalf so you receive a fair divorce settlement.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

No one deserves to be abused by their spouse. If you are ready to divorce your abusive spouse, contact a St. Charles family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. We can assist with obtaining an emergency order of protection, petitioning the court for sole custody of your child, fighting for your rights during property division, and more. Call us at 630-584-5550 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a compassionate lawyer from our firm.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerMultiple studies show that disagreements about finances are the top predictor of divorce. Finding a way to manage money in a way that meets the needs of each spouse in a marriage can be extremely difficult. This is especially true if one spouse is more of a spendthrift and the other spouse considers saving money a greater priority. If you are getting a divorce, you may be concerned about how you and your spouse’s debts will be divided. The division of property and debt is often one of the most complicated and contentious aspects of a divorce. Finding a fair way to allocate property and debt often requires help from an experienced divorce lawyer.

Marital Debt Versus Nonmarital Debt

In Illinois, only the marital estate is divided during divorce. The marital estate includes all of the marital debt and property acquired during the course of the marriage. Property and debt which was acquired before the couple was married is typically not divided and is instead assigned to the original owner. If your spouse had incurred a great deal of credit card debt before you were married, you are not responsible for repaying the debt. However, if your spouse took out a car loan during the marriage, you may still be on the hook for this debt even if you did not drive the car. If you and your spouse had previously signed a valid prenuptial agreement that allocates debt and property in the event of divorce, the terms of this agreement are followed.

Student Loan Debt

Differentiating between marital and separate debt is not always straightforward. In the case of student loans, educational debt incurred before the marriage took place is typically considered nonmarital property. However, this is not always the case. Illinois courts consider several factors when determining whether or not educational debts are considered part of the marital estate. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • How the money was used
  • Who benefited from the money
  • At what point in the marriage the debt was acquired
  • Tax implications
  • Each spouse’s earning power

If the student loans are considered part of the marital estate, they are subject to division according to the rules of equitable distribution. This means that the debt is divided equitably, or fairly, based on each spouse’s income and assets, the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and many other factors.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Illinois courts use a property division method called equitable distribution to divide debt and property fairly. However, the courts have discretion to deviate from this method in certain circumstances. A Kane County divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C will protect your rights and advocate on your behalf during property and debt division. Call our office at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you achieve a fair divorce settlement.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerLegal separation is one way that a married couple can live apart, manage parenting issues, and isolate their finances from the other spouse without getting divorced. There are a great number of reasons that a couple may choose to get a legal separation. Separation offers many of the same benefits as divorce, but unlike divorce, separation is reversible. Only you can decide whether or not legal separation is right for you. If you do decide to separate, make sure to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding separation under Illinois law.

Why Do Married Couples Become Legally Separated?

In some cases, a couple knows that there are major problems in their marriage, so they separate for a period of time in order to work on these problems independently. Other times, a couple separates because they are not ready for the finality of divorce but they want to live apart and divide their parental responsibilities and finances until they decide if divorce is the next step. Some religions prohibit divorce, so members of those religions who do not want to live with their spouse get a separation in order to gain some of the benefits of divorce without actually ending the marriage. There also may be tax, social security, and health insurance-related advantages to remaining legally married. Legal separation can also be a great way to protect your finances from a spouse you are currently in the process of divorcing.

Requirements for Legal Separation in Illinois

If you want to file for a legal separation in Illinois, there are a few prerequisites you should be aware of. In order to qualify for separation, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state of Illinois for at least 90 days. For the court to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, your children must have lived in Illinois for at least six months. You must also be living physically apart from your spouse in order to qualify for legal separation. It is very important to note that physical separation is different from legal separation. You may be living apart from your spouse, but you are only legally separated if you request a petition for legal separation and are granted a separation through the court. If you later decide that you want to get divorced, you can file a request with the court to convert your separation into a divorce.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Legal separation offers many of the same advantages as divorce. Legal separation allows you to divide your finances, parental responsibilities, and manage spousal maintenance issues. However, separation does not formally end a marriage the way divorce does. If you have further questions about separation or divorce, want to formulate a legal separation agreement, or have other family law needs, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a consultation with an experienced Kane County legal separation lawyer by calling us at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL family lawyerIn a previous blog, we discussed the many benefits that an engaged couple can gain from signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement or “prenup” protects each spouse’s financial interests and dictates how property division and other issues will be managed in the event of divorce. Many couples find that the act of creating the prenuptial agreement itself is also hugely beneficial to their marriage. When spouses understand their financial rights and responsibilities prior to marriage, they may be less likely to get into arguments about money in the future. Prenups must be written in a way that meets Illinois state guidelines. There are many problems that can cause a prenuptial agreement to be declared invalid.

Each Spouse Must Be Transparent About His or Her Finances

A prenuptial agreement must include a full account of each spouse’s property and debt. Before decisions can be made about how property should be divided in the event of divorce, the spouses must fully understand each other’s financial circumstances. If a spouse does not disclose all of his or her property and debt, the decisions made in the prenup will be based on incomplete information. If it is discovered that a spouse was not honest about finances during the creation of the prenuptial agreement, the document may be considered invalid during divorce proceedings. This is just one of many reasons it is so important to have a qualified family law attorney review any prenuptial or premarital agreement you create with a soon-to-be spouse.

What a Premarital Agreement Cannot Include

A prenuptial agreement cannot include any provisions which dictate how child custody or child support is managed. These are separate issues that are determined by Illinois statute during a divorce. Prenuptial agreements also cannot contain “unconscionable provisions.” These include provisions that are grossly unfair or unreasonable. For example, a provision that assigned all of the marital property to one spouse and left the other with nothing would likely not be enforced by the court. Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement may not be signed under duress. If a spouse was tricked, forced, or coerced into signing a prenup, the document may be thrown out entirely. Spouses must also have enough time to contemplate the terms of a prenuptial agreement. A prenup that is handed to a spouse mere hours before the wedding ceremony would almost certainly be considered invalid.

Contact a St Charles. Family Law Attorney

For help drafting a prenuptial agreement or other family law needs, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling us today at 630-584-5550.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerAlthough we generally think of divorce as the main way to end a marriage, there is technically another means of “undoing” a marriage in Illinois. Annulment is a legal process through which an individual’s invalid marriage is canceled. Unlike a divorce, an annulment makes it as if a person was never married. In Illinois, annulment is referred to as a Declaration of Invalidity. Not just anyone is eligible for a Declaration of Invalidity. You must meet certain criteria in order to have your marriage annulled in Illinois.

Why Do People Get Their Marriages Annulled?

There are a wide variety of reasons that a person may wish to get their marriage annulled. A person may decide to get married on a whim and then later realize that getting married was a mistake. Sometimes, spouses seek an annulment because they learn information about their partner which makes their marriage unreasonable or legally unenforceable. Other times, a person seeks an annulment because they could not legally consent to the marriage in the first place. Many people also seek annulments for religious reasons. However, it is important to note that an annulment through a church or other religious institution is not the same as a legal annulment through the courts.

Grounds for Annulment in Illinois

You must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for an annulment in Illinois. You may be able to have your marriage annulled if:

  • The marriage is prohibited by law because you and your spouse are close relatives.
  • The marriage is bigamous because one of the spouses is still legally married to another person.
  • You or your spouse cannot physically engage in sexual intercourse and the other spouse was unaware of this inability at the time of the marriage.
  • You or your spouse were under age 16 when you got married or were aged 16 or 17 and did not have the required parental permission to marry.
  • You or your spouse were unable to consent to the marriage because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or were otherwise incapacitated at the time of the marriage.
  • The marriage was entered into through fraud. For example, someone who gets married for the sole purpose of avoiding deportation is in a fraudulent marriage.
  • You or your spouse entered into the marriage through force or coercion.

There are certain statutes of limitations that restrict when a person can get an annulment in Illinois. If you are seeking an annulment due to mental incapacity, fraud, duress, force, or intoxication, you must file a petition for annulment within 90 days of learning of the issue. If the marriage is invalid because the spouses are underage, the spouses have until they are 18 years old to seek an annulment.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

If you want to learn more about declaring your marriage invalid, contact a qualified Kane County divorce lawyer from Shaw Family Law, P.C. today. We can help you determine whether or not your marriage qualifies for annulment and explore all of your legal options for ending your marriage. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling us at 630-584-5550.

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