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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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b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer.jpgThere are two main categories of divorce in Illinois, contested and uncontested. A contested divorce is one in which a couple cannot reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce. Because they cannot reach a settlement about property division, child custody, spousal support, or other issues, the court must make a determination on their behalf. An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses are able to reach an agreement about the relevant divorce issues without court intervention. Unlike spouses in a contested divorce, spouses in an uncontested divorce do not need legal representation during a divorce trial. However, a lawyer is still a valuable source of legal guidance, support, and assistance during an uncontested divorce.

Helping You Resolve Disputes That Arise During the Divorce

Many divorcing spouses still care about each other. They no longer wish to be married, but they still want the best for their soon-to-be ex-spouse and do not want to cause unnecessary stress or hostility for either party. Unfortunately, things rarely go as planned when it comes to divorce. You may think that you and your spouse have agreed on the terms of the divorce until you run into a disagreement. A divorce lawyer can identify all of the divorce issues that need to be settled upon and help you and your spouse reach an agreement about these issues. If a disagreement about child support, parenting time, the division of marital property and debt, or another issue does arise during the divorce process, your lawyer can help you negotiate possible solutions.

Avoiding Legal Issues After the Divorce

Your lawyer can also help you take steps to avoid legal disputes in the future. This is an especially important step in marriages involving children, significant marital property or debt, or spousal maintenance. For example, have you considered what will happen if one of the spouses moves away and wants to take the children with him or her? What happens if the spouse who promised to pay off the marital credit card debt falls behind on payments and the credit card company goes after the other spouse? Your lawyer can help you take steps to avoid future conflicts. He or she can help you determine in advance how any post-divorce modifications or concerns should be handled and formalize your decisions in the divorce decree.

Correctly Documenting Your Settlement

Most courts provide fill-in-the-blank forms that divorcing spouses can use to document their agreements about divorce issues. However, these forms typically only include the “bare bones” issues and do not go into detail about divorce concerns. Your lawyer can ensure that your settlement is documented fully and accurately. Your lawyer can also help ensure that the divorce settlement is not flawed or unreasonably one-sided.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If you are thinking about divorce and are unsure of where to start, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for a free consultation. We can identify the legal issues you will likely encounter during your divorce and advise you as to the best course of action moving forward. Call us at 630-584-5550 today and set up your free consultation with one of our experienced Kane County divorce attorneys.

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IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements are often misunderstood. Some people mistakenly assume that a prenuptial agreement is only for the extremely wealthy or for individuals who plan to get divorced. In actuality, prenuptial agreements, or “prenups” for short, are valuable legal tools that benefit both parties in a marriage. Read on to learn about the many ways that a prenuptial agreement can benefit you and your soon-to-be spouse.

Establishing Each Spouse’s Property Rights and Responsibilities

The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to decide in advance how the couple wishes to divide debts and assets should they later decide to divorce. While this may not be a very romantic possibility to consider, it is an important step to take. Keep in mind that creating a prenuptial agreement does not mean that you and your spouse intend to get divorced. However, current research shows that just over 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. Preparing for this possibility simply means that you and your partner understand that there is a chance that the marriage will not work out. Signing a prenuptial agreement is crucial if:

  • You have children from a previous marriage
  • You own complex assets such as a business, stocks, stock options, and long-term investments
  • There is a significant discrepancy between you and your partner’s income and assets
  • You or your partner have accumulated significant debt

A prenuptial agreement allows you to decide what property belongs to each spouse, which spouse should be accountable for certain debts, and whether spousal maintenance or alimony will be paid should you get divorced. A prenup can also address inheritance issues, the ownership of death benefits from life insurance policies, and several other concerns.

Opening up an Important Dialogue Regarding Finances

If you are interested in creating a prenuptial agreement but are unsure about bringing up this idea to your partner, there are a few things you should keep in mind. While a prenuptial agreement does determine how certain issues will be handled in the event of a divorce, this is not the only benefit of creating a prenup. Prenuptial agreements are also valuable in the event of a spouse’s death. Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that arguments about money is frequently cited as the top trigger for divorce. By having a frank, honest conversation about finances before getting married, you and your partner ensure that you are on the same page regarding money-related issues.

Contact a St. Charles Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer

Prenuptial agreements can address property, debt, inheritance issues, spousal maintenance, and more. However, these documents must meet certain criteria to be legally enforceable. If you are interested in creating a prenuptial agreement, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. Schedule a free initial consultation with a talented Kane County family lawyer by calling us today at 630-584-5550.

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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 divorce lawyerSeparation is typically seen as the step taken before divorce; however, this is not always the case. Some use separation as a trial period to see a life without their spouse in it while others see separation as a substitute for divorce. Many that are considering separation have already experienced a mental or emotional gap without physical distance coming between them and their spouse. There are three types of separation, each of which gets progressively more serious.

Types of Separation

The following are the three types of separation available to married couples:

  1. Trial Separation: A trial separation can be the “trial period” that couples are looking for when they are having difficulties in their marriage. This form of separation does not require any legal paperwork and is not considered a legal process. Trial separation has the two spouses living apart with the potential to get back together. This form of separation often helps couples decide if their marriage is still meant to be or if divorce is on the horizon.

  2. Permanent Separation: This type of separation occurs when couples decide that they no longer want to be together but do not wish to have legal processes involved. Some choose permanent separation to continue to have financial benefits of a legal marriage. The division of property can become difficult in this form of separation without third-party assistance. Property purchased or debts incurred after the separation but without a divorce present is typically considered separate unless the debts are formed to care for children or the marital home.

  3. Legal Separation: This form is closest to a divorce. Legal processes are involved to officially divide assets, make child custody decisions, and to request financial support. Much like permanent separation, legal separation can be an alternative to divorce; however, legal separation is often the first step towards divorce for unhappy couples. Without a legal divorce, it is impossible to remarry since you legally never ended things.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen a couple realizes their marriage is coming to an end, many spouses decide to separate for a period of time before filing for divorce. This has become a social norm and many couples do not even think about getting their marriage annulled. Not only does an annulment mark the end of a marriage, but it also states that the legal union never existed. Annulments are most commonly sought out for religious reasons. For instance, the Catholic church views divorce in a negative light thus requiring its members to obtain an annulment before they are allowed to remarry in the “eyes of the church”. Annulments may be most common for spiritual individuals; however, some decide an annulment is best based on the benefits it provides each former spouse. Continue reading to learn about the details and benefits of annulments.

Eligibility for an Annulment

A couple must meet the following requirements to qualify for an annulment:

  • The marriage was forced on one or both of the spouses.
  • One or both of the spouses were unable to make a clear decision because of the consumption of alcohol, drug use, or mental disability.
  • One or both of the spouses were already married at the time of the wedding or the relationship was incestuous.
  • The spouse(s) was underage at the time of the marriage.
  • Either spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage.
  • Information was withheld from either spouse such as children from a previous marriage, an unwillingness to have children, legal/criminal problems.

Benefits of an Annulment

There are various benefits of an annulment that extend past religious acceptance.

  • Avoiding financial support: One of the typical requirements of a divorce is one spouse providing the other with financial support. This is often unavoidable, especially when one spouse works and the other does not. These payments can include child support, alimony, or spousal support. Those who decide to have their marriage annulled will no longer be required to help their former spouse financially since the marriage no longer exists in the eyes of the court.
  • Debt is determined and divided: Most couples will accumulate some form of debt throughout their marriage. In the case of an annulment, this debt is divided equally between both parties. Any debt that was incurred before the marriage is given back to the spouse that accumulated it.
  • Assets assignments: Property assets are typically split in half during divorce proceedings, but annulments are different. The property is given back to the party who originally purchased it.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney for Help

Whether a couple is filing for an annulment for religious reasons or for personal reasons, it is crucial that you seek out an attorney who is experienced in this particular area of family law. Divorce and annulments are two very different legal processes that should be dealt with as such. If you would like to get your marriage annulled, contact our St. Charles, Illinois family law attorneys at 630-584-5550 for assistance.

 

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Illinois family lawyerWhen the court enters an order, all parties named in the order are required to comply with its terms. Your divorce settlement likely included a few orders, such as a parenting plan, a property division order, a child support order, and a spousal maintenance order. Willfully refusing to comply with one or more of these orders is an act of contempt of court. It is important to note that in order for an action to be contempt of court, the offender must willfully, knowingly violate his or her court order. Failure to comply with a court order for reasons beyond the individual’s control is not contempt of court.

Any refusal to comply with a court order is contempt of court. Following a divorce, the following actions may be deemed contempt of court. Penalties for refusing to comply with a court order include fines, wage garnishment, and the suspension of your driver’s license.

Failing to Make Required Payments

If you are required to pay child support or spousal maintenance, you must pay the amount that your order requires you to pay when you are required to pay it. If you feel your former partner or your child’s lifestyle has changed to the point that your original support amount is no longer necessary, discuss the possibility of having your order modified with an experienced lawyer. This is also what you should do if you can no longer afford to make your required payments.

Failure to Comply with Your Parenting Plan

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Illinois divorce lawyerWhat was once known as legal custody is now known as parental responsibilities. This is the right to make decisions on a child’s behalf that impact the child’s lifestyle and future. Under Illinois law, a parenting plan must touch upon all of the following subjects and state which parent is responsible for making decisions in each subject area. Both parents can be named in one or all subject areas, granting them both the right to make decisions and requiring them to work together in their child’s best interest:

  • Education;
  • Healthcare;
  • Extracurricular activities; and
  • Religious upbringing.

There are many competing philosophies on education and even among married couples, parents can disagree about the best course of action for their child’s education. If you find yourself disagreeing with your former spouse’s thoughts and choices regarding your child’s schooling, keep the following in mind:

If You Share the Responsibility to Make Choices About Your Child’s Education, You Have to Work Together

When you share parental responsibilities with a former spouse, you have to cooperate for your child’s sake. Making decisions about moving a child to a different school, keeping him or her back a year, handling behavior problems in the classroom, and discussing issues related to your child’s learning disability or need for an individualized education program (IEP) can be stressful.

Take yourself and your feelings about your former partner out of the equation and focus solely on your child’s educational needs. Use concrete facts like progress reports and report cards to guide your conversations with your former partner. Remember that sometimes, a parenting plan needs to be altered to give a child the best chance for academic success.

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Illinois divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce, the couple’s assets must be divided equitably. This is only possible when both partners are transparent about the assets they own and the assets’ values.

Sometimes, dishonest individuals use their partners’ lack of knowledge about their marital assets to try to keep the assets out of the property division process and leave the marriage with more than their fair share of these assets. If you are thinking about doing this, stop that train of thought. You should not try to hide assets from your former partner in your divorce, and this is why:

Your Former Spouse Can Find the Assets You Hide

If your spouse has a feeling you are hiding assets, he or she can uncover them through some detective work with his or her lawyer and/or a forensic accountant. There is no “safe” way to steal assets from your marital pool – whether you think you can hide assets by transferring them into a custodial account for your child, having a friend “hold” your assets in their account for you, or making cash purchases to liquidate the money in your joint accounts, your spouse can always trace your steps and find the money if he or she is willing to do so.

Your Unwillingness to Cooperate with the Court Can Haunt You Later

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Illinois divorce attorneyWhen one spouse chooses to leave the workforce to care for the couple’s home and children or takes on lower paying work than he or she would otherwise be able to perform in order to do so, that spouse may seek spousal maintenance, once known as alimony, as part of the couple’s divorce settlement. Spousal maintenance is designed to prevent a lower earning spouse from experiencing financial hardship following his or her divorce.

Permanent vs. Temporary Spousal Maintenance

In the past, it was far more common for one partner to stay home while the other provided the family’s sole income than it is today. Divorced individuals who stayed home during their marriages were also less frequently expected to reenter the workforce or enter it for the first time after their divorces. These individuals were frequently awarded permanent alimony, which ensured that they received support from their former partners until they remarried or their former partners died.

Today, dual-income households are the norm. Individuals who opt out of the workforce often do so with some years of working experience and may have vocational or college degrees. Because these individuals can support themselves after their divorces, they are generally awarded temporary spousal maintenance. This maintenance provides a “cushion” for the receiver, permitting him or her to complete an education or secure employment before having to financially support him- or herself completely.

There are some cases where permanent maintenance may still be awarded, such as marriages that lasted 20 years or longer or cases where the lesser earning spouse cannot realistically return to the workforce due to age or disability.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois alimony attorneyAmong the many questions divorcing spouses have following a separation, questions regarding alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, tend to be a big concern. This is particularly true for stay-at-home parents or spouses who are not the main earners in the household. Taking on greater financial responsibility - or in some cases, any financial responsibility at all - can be a scary thing, especially when one spouse has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and is suddenly thrust into a new routine.

Alimony’s Nationwide Evolution

As societal roles and career opportunities have changed for both men and women in recent decades, so have the expectations and allowances surrounding spousal maintenance. More women are working now more than ever, and the concept of stay-at-home fathers is far from new. According to Labor Department statistics, nearly three-quarters of women work. In the year 2010, 97 percent of the 400,000 people receiving alimony were women, and that trend has been a continual one.

These statistics have revealed an important fact about alimony and its place in today’s post-divorce world: It seems the majority of alimony recipients continue to be women, but most of those women are actively involved in the workforce during the time of the marriage or become employed following the divorce. As a result, states all throughout the country have been taking these factors into consideration when determining maintenance awards in court rulings.

Is Spousal Maintenance a Sure Thing?

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