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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IL family lawyerWhen a couple gets divorced, one of the parties may be subject to a child support or spousal support order. These court orders are legally-binding and must be obeyed. However, there are situations that can change child support and spousal support orders. One of these situations is the remarriage of either spouse. If you are divorced and your or your spouse is getting remarried, it is important to know how the remarriage could affect child support and spousal maintenance.

Spousal Maintenance Terminates Upon the Recipient’s Remarriage

Spousal maintenance, also referred to as spousal support or alimony, is intended to provide financial aid to a spouse who suffers financial harm due to divorce. Some spousal maintenance obligations are temporary while others are indefinite. If the recipient of spousal support gets remarried, his or her entitlement to maintenance payments automatically terminates. If the paying spouse made payments after the remarriage, he or she is entitled to reimbursement for those payments.

If the payor of spousal support gets remarried, there is no automatic impact on his or her spousal maintenance obligation. However, it is possible that the payor’s remarriage could influence spousal maintenance modifications.

Child Support and Remarriage of Either Spouse

Although child support payments are made to the child’s parent, the money is intended to support the child. Because of this, a child support recipient’s remarriage does not necessarily influence the paying spouse’s child support obligation. A stepparent is not required to help support his or her stepchild. However, there have been cases in which a parent’s child support obligation was affected by the recipient’s remarriage. In one case, the Illinois Appellate Court stated that trial courts may consider the income of a parent’s spouse when determining an appropriate child support award. This means that a recipient spouse’s remarriage could potentially influence the paying spouse’s obligation. If the paying spouse or “obligor” gets remarried, this is unlikely to have an impact on his or her child support obligation.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

The way that Illinois laws are interpreted is constantly changing. If you have questions or concerns about divorce, child support, spousal maintenance, or other family law issues, it is important to work with an attorney who is familiar with the ever-changing landscape of Illinois family law. For dependable legal support regarding a range of family law matters, contact an accomplished Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen most couples get married, they are thinking about the personal and romantic significance of their commitment. They are much less concerned with the financial implications of marriage. However, when spouses enter into a marriage, they merge many of their assets and debts. Undoing this financial entanglement during divorce becomes especially complicated if spouses have a high income or own high-value assets. If you or your spouse have greater than average wealth, you should know about the ways that your wealth may influence your divorce case.

Complex Assets and Hard-To-Value Property

The division of marital property is often one of the most challenging aspects of divorce. Complex assets, hard-to-value assets, and assets with fluctuating value are often especially difficult to account for during divorce. Special attention must be paid to assets such as:

  • Businesses and business investments
  • Stocks and stock options
  • Securities and investment accounts
  • Deferred compensation and bonuses
  • Overseas investments and tax shelters
  • Real estate and investment properties
  • Retirement accounts, 401(k) accounts, and pensions
  • Bitcoin and other digital currency

Child Support Deviations

Typically, child support payments are determined by statutory formulas established by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The parents’ net incomes are added together to find their combined net income and then this information is compared to an “income shares schedule” to find their basic support obligation. The basic support obligation is the amount of money that both parents are expected to contribute to their child’s upbringing. The basic support obligation is divided between the parents based on their respective net incomes. The parent with less parenting time makes his or her contribution in the form of child support.

The tables and formulas used to calculate a parent’s child support obligation are based on statistics and averages. If your financial situation is not typical of the average Illinois family, calculating child support using the statutory formulas may be inappropriate. Instead, the court may deviate from the typical method of determining child support and instead make a determination based on your unique circumstances.

Hidden Assets and Financial Fraud

Financial transparency is a crucial element in any divorce case but it is especially vital in high-income divorce cases. Some spouses may attempt to manipulate their divorce settlement by hiding assets, undervaluing assets, transferring funds, or falsifying financial information. They may use businesses to conceal assets or even intentionally overpay the IRS to create the illusion of a lower net worth. If you suspect that your spouse will lie about finances during divorce, speak to a divorce lawyer right away. A skilled attorney with experience handling complex divorce cases can help you uncover hidden assets and get the divorce settlement you deserve.

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IL custody lawyerIn Illinois, parents who divorce must create a “parenting plan” that describes each parent’s rights and responsibilities. If the parents cannot reach an agreement about the provisions in the parenting plan, the court will hear arguments from both sides and then issue a parenting plan based on what the court thinks is in the child’s best interests. If your ex is not following your parenting plan, you may be frustrated and annoyed. You may wonder what you can do to make your spouse comply with the terms set forth in the plan.

Do the Other Parent’s Actions Constitute a Violation of the Parenting Plan?

Divorced couples who share custody of children have the unenviable responsibility of remaining in each other’s lives for the sake of their children. Your ex may forget about responsibilities, drop off children late, or make other mistakes that lead to unnecessary frustrations in your life. While this can certainly be annoying, not every mistake is considered a violation of the parenting plan. Recently, COVID-19 lockdowns have caused many parents to be unable to carry out some of the responsibilities contained in their parenting agreement. If a parent makes an honest mistake regarding the parenting time schedule or unintentionally disobeys the parenting plan, the best way to deal with the situation may be to talk with him or her about potential solutions. You may consider requesting a modification to your parenting plan and changing the plan so that works better for your unique situation.

Holding a Parent in Contempt of Court for Willful Noncompliance of a Parenting Plan

If your child’s other parent is intentionally disobeying the parenting plan, you may need to take more extreme legal action to correct the problem. Parenting plans are legally binding court orders. A parent may be held in contempt of court for violating a parenting plan. If you have already discussed the problem with your ex and he or she refuses to comply, you may need to file a motion for contempt or a "Parenting Time Abuse" petition. Make sure to keep a detailed record of all of your ex’s parenting plan violations as well as records of your communications with him or her. Evidence such as this will be a crucial component in building your case.

Contact a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer

If your child’s other parent is not following your parenting plan or you have other custody-related questions and concerns, contact a St. Charles family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL family lawyerWhen two people get married they merge their financial lives in such a way that dividing assets and debts prove quite difficult during divorce. Property division during divorce is further complicated when the couple owns complex assets, has a particularly high income, or when a spouse refuses to be honest about his or her finances. The spouses’ financial situations will also have a dramatic impact on child support, spousal support, and other elements of the divorce. Forensic accounting may help divorcing spouses trace marital assets and debts, reveal hidden assets and income, determine how much money is available for support payments, and much more.

How a Forensic Accountant May Help During Divorce

Divorce lawyers often utilize the expertise of a forensic accountant when complicated financial circumstances or financial deception confound the divorce process. Forensic accounting is often used when a married couple owns a business or professional practice or other complex assets like stocks and stock options, retirement funds, cryptocurrency, or real estate.

Forensic accounting may also be used as an investigative tool. Divorcing spouses are expected to fully disclose accurate information about their income, business revenue, assets, expenses, and debts. In order to sway the outcome of the divorce in their favor, some divorcing spouses conceal assets or lie about finances. A forensic accountant may help your lawyer uncover hidden accounts, secret property transfers, and other sources of deception. Accurate information about finances is needed to make a determination about many different issues during divorce including asset and debt division, alimony, and child-related issues The only way to ensure you receive a fair divorce settlement or award is to base that settlement off of verifiably accurate financial data. Forensic accountants may assist in your divorce case by:

  • Investigating a spouse’s finances and looking for inconsistencies
  • Finding hidden assets, income, and revenue streams
  • Assigning a value to items with fluctuating or hard-to-determine values
  • Inventorying valuable personal property such as art, jewelry, and collectibles
  • Evaluating the long-term financial consequences of potential divorce settlements

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Financial issues during divorce are often complicated and contentious. If you are considering divorce and you or your spouse own a business or other complex assets, forensic accounting may be an advantageous tool. Forensic accounting may also be used to find hidden assets and reveal other forms of financial fraud during divorce. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., our accomplished Kane County family law attorneys know how to work with experts such as forensic accountants to ensure our clients receive the settlement they deserve. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce can bring about complicated financial questions. One issue that many divorcing individuals have questions about is alimony. Alimony or spousal support is referred to as spousal maintenance in Illinois law. Often, spousal maintenance is used to help a spouse who is financially dependent on the other spouse transition into being financially self-supporting after a divorce. In some situations, spousal maintenance is permanent. If you earn a higher income than your spouse or your spouse does not work outside the home, it is possible that you will be required to pay maintenance.

When is Spousal Maintenance Awarded in Illinois?

If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement that requires you to pay spousal maintenance following divorce, the court will most likely uphold this requirement. However, if there are issues that invalidate the prenuptial agreement, the maintenance agreement may not be legally binding. If you have not agreed to pay maintenance through a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, the court has discretion when it comes to ordering maintenance. If your spouse files a petition for spousal maintenance, the court will consider a range of factors to determine if maintenance is appropriate. The court will look at:

  • The income, assets, expenses, employability, and future earning capacity of both spouses
  • Each spouse’s financial needs
  • The duration of the marriage and the standard of living established during the marriage
  • Any damage to the future earning capacity of the spouse seeking alimony caused by domestic or childcare duties
  • Contributions that a spouse made to the progression of the other spouse’s career or education
  • Whether the spouse requesting alimony can become self-supporting
  • The spouses’ age and health

Fighting a Request for Alimony

You are not required to pay alimony simply because you earn a higher income than your spouse. However, it is possible that your spouse will present a good argument for receiving maintenance to the court. Some spouses even exaggerate or outright lie when making a spousal maintenance request. If you suspect that your spouse will petition the court for spousal maintenance during your divorce, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who is familiar with Illinois spousal maintenance laws. Your attorney will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not forced to pay an unjustified amount of alimony.

Contact a St. Charles Alimony Lawyer

Alimony or spousal maintenance is typically awarded when a spouse is unable to support themselves financially after a divorce. For help with a range of spousal maintenance concerns, contact an Illinois divorce attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office at 630-584-5550 to set up a free consultation today.

 

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