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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IL divorce lawyerMany people assume that the decision to end their marriage is the most difficult part of divorce. Unfortunately, many divorcing spouses find that reaching an agreement about the terms of their divorce is just as challenging. When divorcing spouses disagree about child custody, property and debt division, alimony, and other aspects of their divorce, they have several options. One of these options is to attend family law mediation and work with a specially-trained mediator in an effort to reach a resolution. However, mediation is not effective or even appropriate in every case.

What Happens During Mediation?

Reaching an agreement about divorce issues is often the biggest obstacle divorcing spouses must overcome. When a divorcing couple cannot reach a decision on their own, they may choose to go to mediation. Family law mediation may also be ordered by a judge. During mediation, the couple works with a neutral third party called a mediator. The mediator does not choose one spouse’s side over the other or tell the couple how to resolve their differences. The mediator’s role is instead to help guide the conversations and negotiations so that they are as productive as possible. The mediator may help the couple stay focused on the task at hand and avoid arguing about unrelated issues. The mediator may point out any common ground that the spouses share and suggest potential compromises. However, reaching an agreement is ultimately up to the spouses themselves. Many spouses find that this extra assistance is what they need to reach an out-of-court agreement and avoid divorce litigation.

Limitations of Mediation

It is very important to note that mediation is not the appropriate way to resolve divorce issues in every case. If you and your spouse own complex assets such as a business, have an especially high net worth or are in the midst of complicated financial struggles, mediation alone may be insufficient. Mediation may be inappropriate if there has been a history of domestic violence, abuse, or large power discrepancies in the relationship. It is also important to remember that a mediator is not the same thing as a lawyer. Only someone licensed to practice law can provide legal advice or represent you during a legal proceeding. However, there are some lawyers who also act as mediators.

Contact a Kane County Mediation Lawyer

If you are ready to end your marriage and you want to learn more about the best way to do so, contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law P.C. Attorney Matt Shaw has served as a mediator and a Guardian ad Litem and is qualified to assist with a wide range of family law matters. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and set up your confidential consultation today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerTypically, the more complicated a divorce, the longer it will take to resolve. If you and your spouse disagree on the division of marital property and debt, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal maintenance, or other divorce terms, it is likely that this will increase the amount of time it takes to finalize the divorce. Complex assets such a family business or certain investments may also increase the duration of the divorce. Fortunately, you may be able to receive temporary relief orders from the court that address immediate concerns during the divorce process.

Temporary Court Orders for Financial Issues and Child Custody Concerns

At the conclusion of a divorce, the divorce decree will describe the terms of the divorce. The decree may contain directions for child support, the division of debt and property, spousal maintenance, and/or child custody which the spouses are expected to follow. However, you may not have to wait until the divorce is finished to receive court orders about these issues. A temporary relief order may address which spouse lives in the marital home during the divorce process, spousal maintenance, marital property, child custody, child support, and health insurance.

When deciding temporary orders for spousal support and child support, courts consider the spouses’ assets, income, and needs and then issue an order that is reasonable based on these circumstances. Temporary orders may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances such as a major change in income. Temporary orders expire once the divorce is finalized. The orders contained in the final divorce decree may differ considerably from temporary orders.

Temporary Child Custody Orders Can Influence Final Child Custody Determinations

When married parents decide to get divorced, most decide to live apart during the divorce process. This means that the parents will need to decide how to divide parenting time while the divorce is still ongoing. A temporary order for child custody can do just this. However, it is important to note that a temporary child custody order can have a significant impact on final child custody determinations. Illinois courts are likely to keep a child’s living arrangements similar to what he or she has already become accustomed to.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be a complicated legal process that may take months or even years to resolve. If you are ready to end your marriage, let an experienced Kane County divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. help. Call 630-584-5550 today and schedule your free initial consultation.

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IL family lawyerExpanding your family through adoption can be one of the most rewarding choices you ever make. However, it is important to remember that adoption is a complex legal procedure. This is why individuals wishing to adopt are highly encouraged to work with an experienced adoption lawyer. Your lawyer can explain what is expected of you and can help you avoid obstacles that will hinder the adoption process. The type of adoption you are pursuing will determine the specific steps you will need to take in order to add a child into your family, however, there are some aspects of adoption that are the same for all Illinois adoptions.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to adopt a child in the state of Illinois, you must meet certain criteria. Typically, you must be 18 years old or older to adopt. The court may make exceptions to this requirement in some cases. Unless you are planning to adopt a relative, you must also have lived in Illinois for at least six months. The residency requirement is reduced to 90 days for those in the military. If you are pursuing any type of adoption other than a relative adoption, you will also need to pass a criminal background check.

Options for Adopting a Non-Relative

There are several avenues for adopting a child in Illinois. The most common is through a public or private adoption agency. You may also adopt a child through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Many of the children available for adoption through the DCFS have been removed from their original homes because of abuse or neglect. You also have the option of adopting a child directly from the birth parent(s) through a private adoption.

Steps Involved in Adopting a Child in Illinois

The first step in the legal adoption process is filing a petition or request to adopt with your local circuit court. Next, a guardian ad litem is appointed. This individual represents the child’s best interests and will oversee much of the adoption process. Adoptive parents seeking a non-relative adoption will be subject to a home study and background check. During the home study, an investigator will visit your home and ensure that it is a safe environment for children. The investigator may ask you questions about your reasons for seeking adoption, your thoughts and feelings about the potential adoption, and your finances. The investigator may also interview other household members. If the child’s biological parents still have their parental rights, the court will need to hold a hearing to determine if the biological parents’ rights should be terminated. You may be granted temporary custody of the child until the adoption is finalized. If the court finds that adoption is in the child’s best interests, the court will enter a judgment in your favor and grant the adoption.

Contact a St. Charles Adoption Lawyer

If you are interested in adoption, contact an experienced Kane County adoption attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. We can assist with relative adoptions, agency adoptions, private adoptions, and adoptions through the DCFS. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and set up a free consultation to learn more.

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IL divorce lawyerWe cannot control when we meet the man or woman of our dreams. Sometimes, a married individual meets someone else and decides to leave his or her spouse for their new partner. If you are planning to divorce your spouse and begin a new relationship with someone else, you may wonder how this situation will influence your divorce proceedings. There are several ways that a new romantic partner can affect your divorce – legally and personally – so obtaining legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney is highly recommended in this situation.

Dissipation of Assets

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. This means that there are not fault-based grounds for divorce. Marital infidelity does not automatically influence an individual’s divorce settlement. However, there are ways that your extramarital relationship can significantly impact your divorce. Dissipation of assets occurs when a married person uses funds or property on a purpose not related to the marriage while the marriage is undergoing a “breakdown.” If you spent a substantial amount of money on your new boyfriend or girlfriend at the end of your marriage, your spouse may file a dissipation claim against you and you may be required to reimburse him or her for the funds you spent on your new partner.

Spousal Support and Child Support

If you choose to get remarried to your new partner after your divorce, you should know that this can affect child support or spousal maintenance. Illinois spousal support automatically ends when the recipient gets remarried. Spousal support or “alimony” is eligible for termination if the recipient is cohabitating with a romantic partner. Your new partner’s financial support may also influence your child support order. If you receive child support, your partner’s income could result in you having more disposable income. This means that your ex-spouse could request a child support modification and may be eligible for a reduced child support obligation.

Personal Implications

Divorce is never easy, but it is often especially dramatic when someone leaves their spouse for a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Your spouse may be heartbroken or angry about the split. He or she may take this out on you by refusing to agree to a divorce settlement or unnecessarily dragging out the divorce proceedings. The best way to handle this complicated situation is to speak with a divorce attorney early in the process. Your attorney can help you prepare for divorce and help the split go as smoothly as possible.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are ready to end your marriage, contact a skilled St. Charles, IL divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Our team understands that your situation is complicated and we are ready to help. Call 630-584-5550 and schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

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IL divorce lawyerArguments about finances are common among married couples. However, there are some situations in which money becomes a tool that an abusive spouse uses to control and manipulate the other spouse. Financial abuse is not discussed as frequently as physical abuse, but the consequences of financial abuse can be just severe as physical violence. If you have been a victim of financial abuse and are planning to end your marriage, you should know about the ways that financial abuse can impact your divorce.

When Control Over Money Crosses the Line

Many people like to keep track of their income and expenses, stick to a budget, and have tight control over their finances. However, there are times when control over finances becomes abusive. Financial abuse is typically defined as controlling a person’s ability to obtain, use, or save money or property. It may also involve stealing or withholding funds or property from the rightful owner. Some signs that you may be a victim of financial abuse at the hand of your spouse include:

  • Your spouse spends money you have earned without your consent
  • Your spouse insists on having your bank passwords and other financial data
  • Your spouse demands that you turn over your paychecks to him or her
  • Your spouse requires you to ask permission to spend even a small amount of money or gives you an “allowance”
  • Your spouse does not allow you to work or make your own money
  • Your spouse makes all of the financial decisions without your input
  • Your spouse uses threats, intimidation, or violence in order to access or control your money
  • Your spouse sabotages your efforts to become more financially independent

Divorce Involving a History of Financial Exploitation or Manipulation

If you are planning to divorce and you have been a victim of financial abuse, you need to take steps to protect your rights during divorce. If it is safe to do so, gather copies of important financial documents like tax returns and credit card statements. Consult with a divorce lawyer experienced in handling cases involving financial intimidation or domestic abuse. Your lawyer can provide legal support throughout your divorce. He or she will protect your rights and make sure that you are not tricked into a divorce settlement that is lower than what you deserve.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are planning to divorce and you have been a victim of financial abuse, you need a strong advocate on your side. Contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. for dependable legal guidance at every step in the divorce process. Our team can help with property and debt division, child custody, child support, and much more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free 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 family lawyerIf you are currently divorced or soon will be, you probably have questions about the financial implications of your divorce. One issue that many divorced parents are concerned about is their child’s college expenses. The average tuition for an Illinois public college is just under $5,500 a year. For out of state schools, tuition can be upwards of $20,000 a year. The average cost for a private college education in Illinois is almost $30,000 a year. Understandably, most parents experience “sticker shock” when they realize how expensive their child’s college education will likely be. They may also wonder how this cost will be divided between them and their child’s other parent.

Allocation of College Tuition for Unmarried and Divorced Parents

As with many other child-related matters, divorced or unmarried parents in Illinois have the opportunity to determine their own arrangements for financing their child’s college education. If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court may intervene. Parents’ financial responsibility for their child after he or she has turned 18 and graduated high school is referred to as “non-minor support.” Typically, parents are only responsible for non-minor support during the child’s undergraduate degree.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

Illinois judges have the authority to allocate college expenses between parents who are unmarried or divorced. These expenses may include costs related to tuition and fees, on-campus or off-campus housing, textbooks, and healthcare. If a child is living with one of his or her parents while he or she attends college, the parents may still be jointly responsible for costs related to transportation, food, and utilities. Unlike child support, there is no statutory formula for determining college expenses in Illinois. The amount each parent must contribute to the child’s college tuition and living expenses is at the judge’s discretion. Courts consider the following factors when determining how to allocate college costs:

  • Each parent’s financial resources
  • The child’s financial resources
  • The standard of living the child would have experienced if the parents were married
  • The child’s academic performance

Illinois law uses the present costs of tuition, fees, and housing at the University of Illinois, Champaign / Urbana to set the maximum amount of money a parent can be required to contribute to their child’s college education. The parents’ obligation terminates if the child does not maintain at least a “C” average or turns 23 years old. Upon good cause, such as the child’s medical problems or military service, the parent’s obligation may be extended until the child’s 25th birthday.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

If you are unmarried, divorced, or considering divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help with issues related to child support, the allocation of college expenses, and much more. Schedule a cost-free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce can sometimes make individuals much more stubborn and argumentative than they would normally be. If you are considering divorce, you may have concerns about how you and your spouse will reach an agreement about how to divide your property, share custody of your children, or how to handle other divorce issues. Family law mediation is a process during which a divorcing couple meets with a mediator to discuss unresolved divorce issues. If you are thinking about mediation, you may have many questions about what the process entails or how the mediator will actually help.

A Mediator Helps Facilitate Productive Conversation

Mediators receive special training in conflict resolution and family law. They know how to help couples discuss issues without getting caught up in arguments, irrelevant details, or off-topic conversations. The purpose of a mediator is not to tell you how to handle your divorce or to favor one spouse over the other. The mediator will simply guide the conversation, help ensure that both spouses are given the opportunity to speak and facilitate productive negotiations. He or she may point out common ground and help the spouses find solutions that they can both agree to. If the conversation begins to get heated, the mediator may suggest a quick break or change of subject until the spouses cool down and are able to discuss the issues with a clear head. Many couples find that mediation allows them to reach a resolution about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, division of assets and debts, and other divorce concerns without needing to go to trial.

Mediators are Bound to Confidentiality

Many people are hesitant to reach out to a mediator for help resolving their divorce issues because they are worried about confidentiality. After all, it is likely that you will be discussing private financial information and matters that are very personal in nature. You may worry that the mediator will share this private information with others or that what you say will be used against you if the case does end up going to litigation. Fortunately, mediation is a confidential process. The mediator does not share what is said during mediation – even if you are unable to reach a resolution about divorce issues and the case goes to trial. The only exceptions to the confidentiality requirement occur when a parent makes a serious allegation of child abuse or threatens to commit a crime.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Mediation may help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, property division, and more. However, mediation is not appropriate in every divorce case. If you would like to learn more about mediation, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Illinois divorce lawyer Matt Shaw is also qualified to serve as a mediator and has helped many couples successfully negotiate divorce issues. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL divorce lawyerMost people assume that once a divorce has been finalized, the spouses’ actions can no longer influence the terms of the divorce. However, this is not the case when it comes to issues such as child support and spousal support. If you plan to remarry, you should know that your remarriage could influence the terms of your divorce decree. However, the ways in which remarriage impact divorce issues can vary case by case.

Spousal Support Terminates Upon Remarriage

If you are receiving spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, you will most likely no longer receive payments once you have remarried. As per Illinois law, a spousal maintenance recipient’s remarriage results in an immediate termination of the other spouse’s maintenance obligation. You should also know that a paying spouse may file a motion to terminate spousal support if the recipient spouse is living with a romantic partner on a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” This means that you may lose your spousal support if you are living with a boyfriend or girlfriend – even if you decide not to formalize the relationship through marriage. The only exception to these rules is if you and your ex-spouse had agreed to a different spousal maintenance arrangement in a valid marital agreement such as a prenuptial agreement.

Child Support Payments May Be Impacted by Remarriage

The way remarriage affects child support is not as straightforward as the way remarriage typically affects spousal maintenance. The Illinois Appellate Court has stated that courts may “equitably consider the income of a parent's current spouse” when deciding an appropriate child support order. If you are currently receiving child support from your ex-spouse it is very possible that your new spouse’s income will influence the amount you receive in child support. Child support obligations in Illinois are calculated using each parent’s net income. Although your new spouse’s income is not directly included during child support calculations, it is likely that your spouse’s financial support will impact your overall financial situation. For example, you and your new spouse may decide to share responsibility for monthly bills like rent, utilities, and groceries. This means that your expenses will likely be lower once you remarry than they were before you had this support. Consequently, you may be entitled to less in child support.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

Family law concerns like child support and spousal maintenance can often be complex. For help, contact a skilled Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation.

 

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are a parent who has decided to end your marriage, announcing the divorce to your children may be the most dreaded part of the entire ordeal. You may be worried about how your children will react to the news or afraid that you will not have the answers to their many questions. You may also be concerned that your children will think that the split is somehow their fault. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding this important discussion. On the bright side, a tremendous amount of research has been conducted about how to help children cope with divorce. There are several things experts say you can do to make the divorce announcement go as smoothly as possible.

Include Both Parents in the Conversation

Understandably, you and your spouse may not be on the best terms right now. However, psychologists and other experts suggest telling the children about divorce together, if possible. When one parent announces the divorce in the other parent’s absence it can sometimes make the children feel as if they have to choose sides. Having the conversation as a whole family can help your children feel more secure. Explain that even though you and your spouse will no longer be living together, you will still love and care for the children just the same.

Avoid Oversharing Details About the Reasons for the Split

Children are naturally inquisitive. While it is important to remind children that their actions did not cause the divorce, be careful not to divulge too much information about why you have decided to split up. Talking about the reasons for the divorce can quickly lead to blame and accusations between the adults. Even if the divorce was largely caused by one spouse’s infidelity or other harmful behavior, telling the children too much adult information will only burden them.

Remind Children That Their Feelings Are Normal

Children can have a wide variety of reactions to the news of divorce. Some will pretend that everything is fine and act like they did not even hear what you said. Others will break down and cry or become angry and non-communicative. Some children, especially those who have been exposed to numerous parental arguments, may even feel a sense of relief. Remind your children that their feelings are valid. Answer their questions to the best of your ability and remind them that you are available if they want to talk or ask other questions in the future.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

The practiced St. Charles family law attorneys at Shaw Family Law know just how difficult divorce with children can be. We are here to help you with all aspects of your divorce including child custody matters, child support, property division, and more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs today.

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IL child support lawyerMany people are struggling financially during these challenging times. If you are a parent with a child support obligation, you may sometimes have trouble making your payments. However, it is important to never simply stop making child support payments. Not only is child support nonpayment heavily penalized in Illinois, child support is also an important source of income for your child’s other parent. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, it is possible that you may be eligible for a reduced payment through a child support modification.

Penalties for Child Support Nonpayment in Illinois

If you have been ordered by the court to pay a certain amount in child support every month, these payments are not optional. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you do not pay, you could face major administrative or even criminal penalties. You may be subject to:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Property liens
  • Tax refund interception
  • Driver’s license revocation

Because not paying child support is in violation of a court order, it is also possible that you could be held in contempt of court or even charged with a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense. If you are struggling to make your support payments on time and in full, simply stopping payments is never the answer. Instead, petition the court for relief through a child support modification request.

Requesting a Child Support Modification

The amount a parent pays in child support is based on both parents' net incomes. Payment amounts are designed to be fair and reasonable while still providing the child the financial support he or she needs. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, you may be able to receive a reduced obligation through a child support modification. There are three main ways that a parent can be granted a child support modification:

  • You or the other parent have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. This change could be the loss of your job, a considerable reduction in your income, a considerable increase in the other parent’s income, or another major change.
  • The current child support order significantly deviates from the child support guidelines set forth by Illinois law and this deviation was not the court’s intention.
  • The current child support order does not account for the child’s healthcare needs.

If the reason you cannot pay your child support is that you were laid off at work or have experienced an income reduction, your child support obligation may go down. However, you will be expected to find suitable employment and show evidence of your attempts to do so.

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are considering divorce, you may have considerable concerns about how the split will affect your finances. One issue that many divorcing couples have questions about is how retirement accounts are handled during divorce. Even if retirement is still several years away, it is important to ensure that you will have access to the funds you need when the time comes. Depending on the type of retirement account in question and the length of your marriage, it is possible that retirement funds will play a significant role in the division of marital assets during divorce.

Which Retirement Funds Are Considered Part of the Marital Estate?

Marital property includes assets that were acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Non-marital property includes assets that were acquired before the marriage. Retirement funds that accrued while you and your spouse were married are usually considered marital property while funds accumulated before the marriage are non-marital property. Therefore, it is possible that a portion of the retirement funds will be considered subject to division during divorce while another portion of the accounts are not subject to division. Accurately valuing and dividing pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s, during divorce can be a complex task – especially if the retirement funds include stocks or other assets that may fluctuate in value. The tax consequences of retirement fund distribution is also a major factor to consider when deciding how to handle retirement accounts.

Designing Your Own Property Division Arrangement

A divorce lawyer experienced in property distribution concerns can help you negotiate a divorce settlement that minimizes the negative tax consequences associated with paying out a retirement account. Depending on your unique situation, it may be best to assign one spouse the retirement funds and assign the other spouse marital assets of an approximately equal value. This is referred to as the “immediate offset method.” In other cases, it makes sense to actually divide the retirement funds between the spouses. If you plan to divide retirement funds, you will likely need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This is a court order that instructs the retirement plan administrator to implement the division. Retirement funds divided via a QDRO may be immediately distributed as a lump sum or the funds may be released to the spouses upon retirement. Fortunately, retirement funds withdrawn through a QDRO are not subject to the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

For trustworthy legal advice regarding division of assets during divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Kane County divorce attorneys.

 

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IL custody lawyerWhen you are a parent, getting a divorce does not only affect you and your spouse, it can also have a dramatic impact on your child. If your child has an intellectual or physical disability, you may wonder how you can minimize your child’s stress during this difficult transition. You may have concerns about the emotional effects the divorce will have on your child as well as the logistical and financial issues you will need to address. Although there is no perfect way to handle divorce as a parent of a child with disabilities, there are several steps you can take that may lessen the strain experienced by the whole family.

Minimize the Contentiousness Between You and Your Spouse

Numerous studies have shown that children are very sensitive to parental tension and hostility. One of the best things you can do for your child is to make your divorce as cooperative and respectful as possible. Many parents find that family law mediation allows them to resolve divorce issues such as property division and parental responsibilities without going through a stressful and contentious court trial. During mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a skilled mediator who helps keep discussions focused on solutions rather than accusations, blame, or irrelevant subjects.

Keep Your Child’s Routines as Normal as Possible

Whether your child has a physical disability or an intellectual disability like autism, one thing you can do to lessen the negative impact of divorce on him or her is to keep established routines and schedules the same. Your child’s life is about to change in countless different ways. One way to give him or her a sense of security is to keep morning routines, bedtime, mealtimes, and household rules as consistent as possible. You may be tempted to relax the rules or spoil your child during this tumultuous period in his or her life, but experts say that doing this may actually worsen your child’s stress.

Plan for Your Child’s Financial Future

Disabled children may need specific medical equipment, physical therapy, mental health counseling, and other specialized medical care. The costs of these special needs can certainly add up and will need to be addressed during your divorce. Typically, the parent with the majority of the parenting time receives child support from the noncustodial parent until the child reaches adulthood. Fortunately, Illinois allows children with disabilities to continue receiving child support even after they have turned 18 and/or graduated high school. This financial support may go to the child, the parent with whom the child lives, the facility in which the child lives, or into a special needs trust.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Having a child with special needs can complicate the already complex process of ending a marriage. For help with questions or concerns related to child custody, child support, property division, and much more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation with one of our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys to discuss your needs.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-finances_20201014-015550_1.jpgWhen “yours” and “mine” becomes “ours” in a marriage, undoing this financial entanglement through divorce can be quite complex. If you are planning to divorce and you or your spouse have significant credit card debt, you may be wondering who will be responsible for paying this debt. Depending on the circumstances under which credit card debt was accumulated and used, it is very possible that both spouses will be responsible for repayment.

Who Pays the Credit Card Balance?

Illinois courts divide marital property equitably but not necessarily evenly. Marital property refers to the assets and debt acquired during the marriage by either spouse. Save for certain inheritances and gifts, any property or debt obtained while the spouses are married is included in the marital estate. Property accumulated before the marriage is typically classified as nonmarital property and is assigned to the original owner. This means that typically, spouses are not jointly responsible for credit cards that were opened before the marriage and are in only one spouse’s name. However, spouses may be liable for credit card debts that were accumulated during the marriage – even if only one of the spouses made the credit card purchases. A spouse may not even become aware of credit card debt until he or she begins to examine financial documents in preparation for divorce. This is one reason that taking a full inventory of your property and debts during divorce is so crucial.

How Should Joint Debt Be Dealt With?

Credit card companies do not take marital status into consideration when collecting debt repayment. This means that if your spouse is responsible for making payments and fails to do so, you could be pursued by creditors. Many experts suggest paying off debt prior to filing for divorce, however, this is not always feasible. Another option is to use marital funds to pay off marital debt during the divorce. These funds may be from a savings account, the proceeds from the sale of your home, or another source. You may also want to consider negotiating a settlement in which you take responsibility for the joint debt and are awarded other marital assets in exchange. This helps you avoid having to trust your soon-to-be ex-spouse to continue making payments on the debt after the divorce is complete.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

The division of marital property and debt can be a complicated and contentious issue during divorce. For dependable legal guidance regarding these and other divorce issues, contact Shaw Family Law. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a confidential case consultation with one of our Kane County divorce attorneys today.

 

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