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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerEvery marriage has its ups and downs. Communication differences, differences in life goals and lifestyle needs, infidelity, addiction, and financial distress can all challenge a couple to the point of making them consider divorce. In many of these cases, the couple does divorce. In others, the couple chooses to remain together, sometimes in a miserable relationship and in other cases, happily and successfully after making an effort to resolve the conflicts that drove them apart.

Couples who successfully recover from marital distress do so by employing effective conflict resolution strategies. The most effective way for you and your spouse to learn more about these strategies and how to employ them in your life is to work with an experienced marital counselor.

Actions that Will Not Fix Your Marriage

Some couples attempt to fix their marriages with significant life changes like moving to a new state or having a baby. In most cases, these are not effective ways to resolve marital difficulties because they do not address the couple’s existing conflicts, they only mask them. Additionally, certain life-changing actions like having a new baby only increase a couple’s stress level, pushing their marriage closer to divorce instead of strengthening it.

Actions that Can Fix Your Marriage

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Illinois divorce attorneyIn a divorce, the couple’s marital assets are not the only thing that has to be divided. Their marital debts, too, must be divided according to the doctrine of equitable distribution. Just like marital assets, most debts accrued during a couple’s marriage are considered to be property of both parties. In a divorce, the court consider a variety of factors, such as each partner’s income and contributions to the marriage, to determine an appropriate way to divide these debts.

Examples of Marital Debts

Marital debt can include:

  • The outstanding mortgage on the couple’s home;
  • Debt owed on joint credit cards;
  • Student debt for education pursued during the marriage;
  • Medical debt; and
  • Outstanding debt on financed vehicles.

Dividing Debt According to Equitable Distribution

Even if a specific debt was accrued primarily for one partner’s benefit, such as medical bills for one spouse’s treatment or student debt for his or her degree, both partners are liable for it during and after their divorce.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerIn the wake of recent political upheavals, it is becoming common to encounter instances when family law questions and concerns acquire an immigration element. Many U.S. citizens hold dual citizenship or are married to foreign nationals. Their children may also be dual citizens. Given that many issues seem to be unsettled, in terms of the new administration’s policies, it is important to be able to react to ensure your family is protected.

Immigrant Status and Family Law

In theory, immigration law is meant to promote the idea of family unity, but in practice, U.S. immigration law can often separate families of different citizenship. Federal immigration law controls where it exists, but there are many loopholes most often filled by imperfect or inexact state laws that are applied unevenly. For example, a battered spouse may apply under immigration laws to obtain a U visa or status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but it is state family courts and family law that govern domestic violence cases.

One does not necessarily have to prove citizenship in any country in order to avail oneself of the courts in Illinois; however, one must prove state residency to be able to dispute certain issues such as parenting time or spousal support. Without proof of state residency, Illinois courts have no jurisdiction to enforce orders regarding these issues. Marriage may also be a question, especially in the context of VAWA claims or allegations of fraud.

Divorce and Child Issues

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyOver the years, an array of opinions has surfaced over the subject of legal separation before divorce. For most people, the term “separation” on its own sends off immediate warning signs that something must be wrong in the marriage. While the fact that separation clearly implies conflict in a marriage, the reality is legal separation is pursued by many different couples for various reasons, and the intent is not always to end the marriage. Many couples pursue legal separation with the hopes of saving the marriage and do succeed, eventually reconciling due to the time spent apart.

Motivations Behind Legal Separation

Others are simply unable to reconcile, however. In this case, the damage is done, the separation has only further clarified that the marriage is, in fact, over, and divorce naturally becomes the next step on the agenda. Most couples fall somewhere in the middle when they choose to legally separate. For example, married partners commonly separate because they are uncertain if divorce is the right choice for them and for their family, or they would like to try counseling and want time to attempt to repair the relationship before calling it quits.

Potential Benefits of Spending Time Apart

Whatever your personal circumstances, if you find that you are in a similar place, it may be worth it in your case to consider the benefits of legal separation before resorting to divorce. Here are three common reasons some couples opt for legal separation instead of divorce, and some points for you to consider as you weigh which option best suits your situation:

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Posted on in Mediation

Illinois mediation attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerThe decision to attend mediation to settle your divorce matters is a beneficial one. Couples have the option to discuss their post-divorce arrangements and come to settlement agreements in the presence of a professional mediator, who is trained to minimize conflict and help produce positive results for the entire family. Before you begin the negotiation process, though, it is important to address core issues that will be discussed during mediation. This will help ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible and that you are not caught off-guard when it is time to reach an agreement.

Here are some key areas every couple should discuss in preparation of the mediation process:

Joint Accounts

Whether you share regular checking and savings accounts, vacation funds, or credit cards, it is important to take inventory of all your joint accounts and make sure you have copies of everything. This includes mortgage statements, wills, and trusts. If you are able to civilly discuss money matters with your soon-to-be ex-spouse before mediation, it is helpful to do so, but if that is not an option, gather the financial records for yourself and wait to tackle the subject until your mediation conference.

Other Assets 

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois divorce lawsAlthough partners may always choose to live apart without legally separating, the formal arrangement of legal separation has its advantages for spouses looking to protect their best interests when a divorce is imminent. Not only does official legal separation help define lifestyle and financial boundaries for a separating couple, it also gives the couple space to spend some time apart and consider whether or not divorce is the best solution.

If you or your spouse are not yet committed to filing for divorce, legal separation is a temporary, alternative avenue that allows you to explore your options and set the parameters for your split. To file for legal separation in Illinois, you will need to keep the following requirements in mind:

  • You and your spouse must be separated and already living apart when the court action is initiated;
  • If you are the one seeking the legal separation, you must provide a statement that you are not the one at fault for the separation;
  • You may not marry anyone else during a legal separation until the dissolution or marriage or divorce is resolved and final;
  • You may not claim any rights to property or possessions at a later divorce hearing, after the date of the judgment of legal separation has passed; and
  • To begin the legal separation procedure, you must start by filing a petition with the Clerk of the Circuit Court

Once you file the petition with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and declare that you are not at fault for the separation, you are required to wait for a sheriff’s deputy to deliver a summons to your spouse. Your spouse will then have the opportunity to respond and at that point, the case is brought before a judge. The judge will decide whether or not all issues between you can be resolved, and if so, help set the groundwork for your agreements.

Acquainting yourself with the general requirements for a legal separation is the first step in filing and beginning the process. Should you have more questions as you consider legal separation, you can benefit from having an experienced, professional Kane County family law attorney by your side to help direct and guide you to ensure your case is handled both thoroughly and efficiently. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 today for a free consultation.

 

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Posted on in Family Law

new illinois family law 2016, kane county divorce lawyer

New Divorce, Parentage and Family Law statutes become effective on January 1, 2016. The changes are immense and reflect the most significant shift in family law since the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was instituted in 1977. As news reports of the new laws hit the internet, there is both information and confusion. Clients are beginning to ask: how will this affect my case? Former clients who have been divorced for years or are having their alimony or support amounts reviewed are asking: will this change the amount I pay or receive?

Our firm is studying the new laws, strategizing about how to best help our clients, and implementing changes for the first of the year. Our office will be closed on Thursday, November 5, 2015, as all of our attorneys will be attending an all-day seminar on the new laws.

I had served on committees which drafted proposed legislative changes, and testified before the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on the custody law changes. Our firm will incorporate that knowledge in advising clients on the new allocation of rights and responsibility laws which replace our former custody laws.

The new maintenance and child support laws provide for complex calculations in determining how much each side will pay or receive.

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