b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1200155323.jpgMaking the decision to end a marriage, especially when there are children involved, is a serious choice. Because there are so many changes, and these changes can be so stressful for everyone involved, many Illinois couples choose to get the help of a family therapist as they move through the divorce process. Family therapists can work with everybody, including the children, to process the divorce and the changes it brings. Having a neutral therapist can help with many different issues and most families who use family therapy feel as though they benefit tremendously. In this blog post, we will look at how family counseling can help a family dealing with divorce. 

What Are the Benefits of Family Therapy in an Illinois Divorce? 

Children often have a very difficult time dealing with divorce. They are often too young to understand why their parents are separating, and, if they are old enough to understand, they are usually still conflicted and angry about the loss. A family counselor can help children process their feelings about the divorce, and can also help parents communicate more clearly so the children are not caught in the crosshairs of parental conflict. 

Other topics a therapist can help a family work through include, but are not limited to: 

  • Addiction and/or substance abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Infidelity and emotional unavailability 
  • Financial conflict, including compulsive shopping behaviors 
  • Serious sibling rivalry, academic performance problems, and other child behavioral issues 
  • Abuse, abandonment, and neglect 

A family’s health insurance may cover family therapy, making it more affordable. Many therapists are specifically trained in family therapy, and parents seeking a therapist can further search for one that has experience with specific issues the family is dealing with. If substance abuse is a contributing factor in the breakdown of the parents’ relationship, it may be helpful to see a therapist who specializes in addiction and substance abuse. A family can attend therapy for as long as they need to. While a therapist does not make difficult problems go away, therapy sessions can give a family the skills they need to manage problems more effectively. 

Call a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we have helped many couples work through divorce and we understand how stressful the process can be. That is why our experienced Kane County divorce attorneys will work hard to manage the difficult parts of divorce, allowing you to focus on your family and move forward with your life. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation at 630-584-5550 and find out more about how we can help. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_292069334.pngDivorce perhaps carries an unfair share of negative connotations; while many Illinois divorces are painful, hostile, and expensive, divorce also frees people to take a path that better suits their needs. Modern divorcing couples are encouraged to work things out together and avoid the harsher methods of the past, using mediation instead of litigation whenever possible. For couples who want to get divorced amicably, here are some tips to help. 

Try to Be Emotionally Objective 

Usually by the time a couple decides to get divorced, years of pent-up hurt and frustrations can make reasonable negotiation difficult. But if you can manage to take care of your emotional wounds outside of the divorce process, a commitment to objectivity can help you pursue a reasonable compromise that suits you both. This is especially important if you have children, because while it may feel good in the moment to get the better of your spouse, you will likely have to deal with them for many years to come. 

Set Your Priorities Early

The nature of a good compromise is that everybody walks away unhappy. If you try to get everything you want out of your divorce decree, you are likely to be frustrated from the very beginning. But if you can pick a few things that are important to you, and challenge yourself to articulate their importance calmly and fairly in the divorce negotiations, you raise your chances of getting what you need. 

Stay Away From Social Media

Whether you want to vent about your ex or post a picture with your new partner, most experts agree that social media is a potential landmine for people who are still involved in the divorce process. Although it may be difficult to break the habit of sharing regular details of your life, stay off social media as much as possible until your divorce is finalized. 

Encourage Your Children to Be Neutral

Children love their parents, but divorce can make children feel as though they need to take sides. Even without doing so intentionally, parents who talk negatively about each other may make their children feel pressured to do the same. Instead, actively encourage your children to have a great relationship with their other parent. 

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st. Charles divorce lawyerAnnulments are often used in an unserious light as the fodder of many alcohol-fueled Las Vegas wedding jokes. Yet the reasons for getting an annulment are important and necessary for many couples who find that their marital arrangement is not what it seemed to be.  

To begin with, it is important to note that there is technically no such thing as “annulment” in Illinois. Rather, couples seeking to annul their marriage for specific reasons can ask an Illinois judge to declare the marriage invalid. For some couples, this is an appropriate and available step. For other couples, however, a declaration of invalidity is not an option and a divorce is necessary - even for very brief marriages. To learn more about when a declaration of invalidity of marriage is an option, read on. 

When is a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage an Option? 

A marriage can only be declared invalid when it was entered into under false pretenses. Spouses who get married and then quickly find out they are not compatible are usually not eligible for a declaration of invalidity and must instead get a divorce. Invalidity of marriage may be declared only for the following four reasons: 

  • One spouse is unable to consummate the marriage, knew this, and hid it from the other spouse before the wedding.
  • One spouse was not yet 18 and did not obtain consent from their parents, legal guardians, or an Illinois court.
  • One spouse was under the influence of mind-altering substances, had a mental disability, or was subject to fraud or coercion and therefore could not consent to the marriage .
  • The marriage was illegal for any other reason, such as bigamy (when a spouse is already married to someone else) or a close biological relationship (such as first cousins under the age of 50).

Seek a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage Quickly

If you meet one of the above circumstances, getting your marriage declared invalid must be done within certain time limits. The time limits are dependent on the reason for the declaration. For example, if a spouse could not consent to the marriage, the petition for a declaration of invalidity must be done within 90 days. If a spouse is incapable of having sex, the declaration of invalidity must be filed within a year. Your individual circumstances will help you determine how you should act and when, and a skilled divorce lawyer can help. 

Meet with a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Even when couples enter into marriage with the highest hopes, marriage does not always work out once the rubber hits the road. If you need to end your recent marriage as quickly and cleanly as possible, call an experienced St. Charles, IL divorce attorney. You can schedule a free consultation today and learn more about your options over the phone or in person by calling us at 630-584-5550

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IL divorce lawyerEducation is a crucial part of a young child’s life and an education that is well-managed early on can benefit a child for the rest of their lives. Although divorce can be disruptive in many areas of a child’s life, it does not have to interfere with a quality education. An important part of getting divorced is creating well-planned child support and parenting agreements. Doing so allows parents a great opportunity to make plans for managing a child’s education and to provide a smooth transition into separate households.

Consider Child Support Deviations

Illinois uses standard formulas when determining child support payments, but a child’s unique academic circumstances can allow for deviation from the norm. Child support typically includes school expenses, like books, supplies, and uniforms, as well as field trips or special events. However, if a child needs more support - like tutoring, one-on-one classroom accommodations, or test prep courses - these can raise monthly child support payments. Parents may also decide to send a child to private school, meaning the cost of a child’s education could be substantially higher, but this must be agreed upon in the divorce decree.

Use a Parenting Plan to Address Academic Goals and Needs

The child support agreement decides how a child’s education will be paid for - but what about deciding what the education will look like on a day-to-day basis? First, parents must consider a variety of factors during and immediately after divorce. These include:

  • If parents plan on moving out of the marital home, whether a child’s education will be disrupted or provide the child better academic opportunities
  • Whether the benefits of changing schools outweigh any potential disruption to the child’s routine
  • Each parent’s availability to be present and helpful with academic matters
  • The child’s educational preferences, if age-appropriate
  • How a child’s school schedule would mesh with a proposed parenting time arrangement

This can be complicated by the fact that one parent may have exclusive parental rights over the child’s education, meaning one parent is making all of the decisions. If parents can agree to share educational responsibilities, they may be able to provide a child with better support and more opportunities. A parenting agreement can detail each parent’s obligation about any educational matters, and may include:

  • How much time a child will spend on extracurricular activities such as sports or musical instruments
  • Which parent is responsible for overseeing homework on which days
  • Agreed-upon limits for screen time, especially if other responsibilities are not taken care of first
  • A regular bedtime so one parent is not totally relaxed about scheduling while a stricter parent is left dealing with frequent weekend schedule “hangovers”

Fortunately, a parenting agreement can be incredibly flexible but should primarily work with the child’s best interests in mind.

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IK divorce lawyerChoosing a spouse is one of the most important decisions we ever make. Unfortunately, however, many people get married when they are young or do not yet understand their values and priorities and end up choosing a life partner they later regret. Sometimes, people realize this only after meeting someone who is aligned with their vision of the future.

If you are planning to get divorced so you can be with someone who is a better fit for you, you are not alone - but there are some important things to consider as you navigate the divorce process. Having an experienced, compassionate Illinois attorney who understands your situation can help ease the transition and help you make smart choices.

Risks of Asset Dissipation Claims

Although Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning couples do not formally give a reason for divorce beyond “irreconcilable differences,” certain behaviors before and during divorce can influence the overall outcome. One important area where this may matter is the division of marital assets. For example, if a husband spends a lot of money on a new partner while the marriage is irretrievably breaking down, the wife may be able to successfully file a claim of dissipation. When the marital estate is divided, that money that was spent on the new partner can be awarded to the wife, diminishing the overall share of the marital estate that the husband receives.

Spousal and Child Support

After a couple gets divorced, it is common for one spouse to pay the other spousal support. But if a partner is receiving spousal support and he or she gets remarried or moves in with a new partner, the spousal support payments stop. Similarly, getting remarried may improve the overall financial situation of someone who is paying child support to their former spouse, allowing for increased child support payments.

Impact on the Relationship Between Former Spouses

Although divorce is never easy, it can become particularly acrimonious when one spouse leaves the other for a new partner. Spouses who feel wronged during divorce may make the negotiation process more about exacting revenge than about collaboratively resolving issues. Parents may also be more likely to speak ill of each other, damaging the relationship between parents and children. It could be beneficial to try to make the process easier for your current spouse by breaking the news gently and being considerate of their feelings so they do not retaliate against you during divorce.

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IL divorce lawyerMost people getting divorced in Illinois agree on factual matters: How much assets are worth, how much money each spouse makes, how much they have saved for retirement. Although there may be conflict around how to divide assets and allocate parental responsibilities, few spouses disagree about the facts.

However, some spouses do disagree about important facts, especially if one spouse is suspected of being dishonest about finances. When this happens, a judge must hear the arguments from spouses, their attorneys, and even third parties, and then determine what is true. Although spouses can use documents such as employment contracts and bank statements to support their position, divorce attorneys still need to obtain testimony to authenticate or rebut such documents. To avoid having their clients give testimony for the first time in court, attorneys can gather testimony under oath using something called a “deposition.”

What is a Deposition in an Illinois Divorce?

Depositions are an important part of the discovery phase of divorce. During discovery, each spouse’s attorney gathers information from each other and their own clients. The information obtained during the discovery phase is used to negotiate or litigate divorce cases, so the attorney taking the deposition will try to entice the person getting questioned (the “deponent”) to offer as much information as possible.

Most divorce depositions are discovery depositions, meaning that the attorney taking the deposition can ask questions to try to obtain discoverable information. Then, if there is a difference between a deposition and evidence from another source (such as if a spouse says they are making $250,000 a year when their employment contract shows they are making $450,000 a year), the difference can be used to discredit the spouse in a trial or even find the spouse guilty of perjury (lying under oath).

How Can I Prepare for a Deposition?

A great attorney will always prepare their client for a deposition by doing practice depositions and anticipating the other party’s questions. However, there are some important things to remember during a deposition:

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IL divorce lawyerAlthough most parents have their child’s best interest at heart, child support can nevertheless be a source of great contention during divorce. For most divorcing parents in Illinois, child support is calculated using a predetermined formula that uses both parents’ incomes to determine payment amounts, giving parents some measure of predictability.

But for high-income parents whose earnings deviate from the standard formulas for calculating child support, the child support process can be somewhat unpredictable because judges have substantial leeway in setting payment amounts. If you are a wealthy, high-income, or high-net-worth parent in Illinois and expect to be paying child support in the future, understanding how Illinois family law courts tend to treat high-income child support cases may make the process more straightforward.

Illinois Courts Can Deviate From State Child Support Guidelines

Illinois uses a model known as the “income shares” method when calculating child support payments. The income shares model uses both parents’ incomes and how much time they spend with the child to determine which parent makes payments and how much payments will be. For most parents, this is a fairly straightforward process of plugging in numbers and then making allowances for any extra expenses a child may have.

But when one or both parents have large incomes, adhering to the income shares formula may produce payments far in excess of a child’s reasonable needs. In cases like this, judges can deviate from the income shares guidelines to make payments more reasonable. Judges are primarily concerned with making sure a child’s needs are met and will consider the following factors when setting payments:

  • Each parent’s income, as well as other financial resources like bonuses and savings
  • Each parent’s financial needs
  • Whether following the income shares method would generate a financial “windfall” for the parent with majority parenting time (since the intention is to support a child, not to provide additional money for the other parent)
  • The child’s needs, including any supplemental medical or educational resources he or she requires
  • The standard of living the child would have experienced if the parents had stayed together

Speak with a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

Calculating child support payments with high-net-worth parents can be a complex endeavor, but having the help of an experienced Kane County child support attorney with Shaw Sanders, P.C. may make the process easier. We will advocate passionately for the best interests of your child and ensure you get the maximum payments to which you are entitled. Call our offices today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about how we can help you. Contact us at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerNobody gets married in Illinois anticipating an eventual divorce, but the unfortunate reality is that couples must sometimes end unhealthy or unhappy relationships. Divorce requires many complex issues to be resolved, and one of the most difficult among these is the issue of spousal maintenance (also known as spousal support or alimony). When a spouse or a couple has a high net worth, spousal support means a lot of money could be at stake for both parties. Understanding how spousal support works in Illinois is essential for ensuring your divorce is handled fairly.

Why Is Spousal Support Necessary?

Regardless of which spouse makes more money, married couples share their standard of living. Divorce can cause serious financial hardships for a spouse who earns less than their partner or who has left the workforce to be a homemaker; Illinois law provides spousal support in certain circumstances to mitigate the financial difficulty of divorce. Spousal support is intended to help a previously dependent spouse get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.

How Is Spousal Support Calculated?

Illinois has a specific formula that is used as a guideline for determining spousal support payments. Generally, payments are determined by subtracting 20% of the receiving party’s income from 30% of the paying party’s income. So if one spouse makes $5,000 a month and the other spouse makes $2,000, monthly payments would be around $1,000. This formula applies to spouses with a combined gross annual income of less than $500,000.

However, for spouses who make more than that, spousal support calculations are excluded from the formula. If couples cannot agree on support payments, the amount is left to the discretion of a judge. This can be unpredictable and result in very high or very low payments that one or both spouses are dissatisfied with. To avoid an unpleasant surprise, most high-net-worth couples will try to reach a compromise outside of court with the help of their attorneys.

Meet with a Kane County Spousal Support Lawyer

Getting divorced is complicated, but it is much easier when you have the support of a St. Charles, IL spousal support attorney who understands the ins and outs of Illinois divorce law. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we work hard to provide our clients with the information and representation they need to succeed after divorce. Whether you anticipate paying or receiving spousal support, we can help. Call our office at 630-584-5550 to schedule your free consultation today.

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IL divorce lawyerCouples in Illinois who are planning a wedding often want to preserve their personal financial interests and protect each other from hostile negotiations in the event of a divorce. The best way to do this is through the use of a prenuptial agreement drafted by an experienced Illinois prenuptial agreement attorney. In our last article, we looked at the factors that could cause a prenup to be invalid. In this article, we will take a closer look at what couples might consider including in their prenup.

What Should We Put in Our Prenup?

Although every prenup will be a little different because each couple has different circumstances and preferences, there are certain things that many couples will find useful. The issues that couples can address in their prenup include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Personal Property and Debt from Before the Marriage - This is one of the most common issues couples seek to address in their prenuptial agreement. What will happen to property that was owned individually by one partner before the marriage? For example, if one partner owns a car, will the other partner be allowed to use it without running into joint ownership issues? If one partner has substantial student loan debt, will the other partner help them pay it off? Answering these questions before the marriage takes place can save couples from disagreement and confusion later on.
  • Property and Debt Accrued During the Marriage - Although most property acquired even by one spouse during the marriage is considered marital property, certain things may be excluded from joint ownership with a prenuptial agreement. For example, if one spouse plans to attend a very expensive educational program and the other spouse does not wish to be saddled with massive student loans, they can address this in a prenup.
  • Marital Expenses and Responsibilities - Prenups cannot address non-financial issues like who is responsible for folding the laundry, but they can include who will pay certain bills or how much each partner will contribute to shared savings or investment accounts.
  • Children From a Previous Relationship - If one or both partners have children from previous relationships, their prenuptial agreement can address how these children will be provided for during the marriage and in the event of their parent’s death.

Speak with a Kane County Prenuptial Agreement Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we have helped hundreds of couples who want a great prenuptial agreement that meets their needs and has firm legal standing. We will work with you to understand exactly what your prenup should contain and make sure that, in the event of a divorce, your prenup will hold up in court. Work with an experienced St. Charles family law attorney whose experience you can trust. Call us today to set up your free initial consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL divorce lawyerCouples in Illinois who have assets or incomes that could categorize them as being “high net worth” are often seen by outsiders as being uniquely privileged or immune from the struggles of life. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and - at least when it comes to divorce - having a high net worth can present individuals with particularly challenging problems.

Dividing marital property in the form of complex financial instruments, determining unusual amounts of spousal maintenance and child support, and handling the tax implications of divorce are just a few of the problems that must be solved. Even if you do not consider yourself wealthy, if you own assets worth a million dollars are more, it may be helpful to consult with a qualified Illinois divorce attorney with experience in high net worth divorces.

Spousal Maintenance and Child Support

Establishing monthly payments for spousal maintenance (formerly alimony) and child support can be uniquely challenging when wealth is involved. Judges will likely deviate from typical child support payments, and spouses may enter protracted negotiations over what they view as fair support after the marriage ends. Although child support payments are usually determined using a pre-existing formula, when one spouse’s income far exceeds the other or when both spouses have substantial wealth, this formula may not be helpful.

Extensive Negotiations

Spouses with numerous or valuable assets must decide how to divide them. Should they be traded in exchange for other priorities, divided later on (as with retirement accounts and QDROs), or sold and the value split between spouses? Sometimes negotiations are delayed by a spouse who attempts to hide assets when time and effort must be spent on recovering them. Sometimes it takes time to value complex or unique assets like small businesses. Whatever the reason, high net worth individuals frequently face a longer and more complex negotiation process than other couples.

Privacy Concerns

Many high-net-worth individuals are in positions of high visibility or public service. Political leaders, celebrities, and business executives risk having the details of their divorce exposed to the public by journalists, busybodies, or unethical acquaintances. An attorney who understands these concerns can help spouses keep their divorce private by requesting certain records be sealed or by ensuring the details of parenting or asset division agreements are not available to the public.

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IL divorce lawyerOver the course of a marriage, couples accumulate assets that must be divided if they get divorced. Sometimes these assets, such as vehicles and savings accounts, are fairly straightforward. Other times, assets are complex or of substantial value and dividing these assets can prove more challenging.

Illinois requires marital property to be divided in a way that is fair, rather than 50/50. While this gives divorcing individuals more freedom to negotiate the asset division process, it is important to recognize common types of high-value assets and how they are handled during divorce so you can ensure you get your fair share of marital assets.

Common High-Value Assets

Although high-value assets are unique and each couple’s situation is different, certain types of these assets commonly appear during the asset division process. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal or family businesses - Businesses are often complex organizations with many debts and assets. Dividing businesses during divorce can prove very complex, as the business first must be valued and then each spouse’s share of the business determined. Unfortunately, sometimes this has such a detrimental impact on the business’s value that it may close following a divorce.
  • Retirement accounts - Retirement accounts often have significant value and are made up of complex financial portfolios that contain stocks and bonds. To divide retirement accounts, spouses may either cash out, which requires stocks to be sold and investors to face significant tax implications, or roll over their portion into a different individual account.
  • Real estate - Real estate ownership can be very difficult to divide during divorce because it often also comes with debt and management costs. Although the value of a property must be appraised and divided, people often do not want to sell the property and split the value. Instead, one spouse “buys out” their value of a property using their share of other marital assets. The other spouse keeps the property while taking on the debts and responsibilities associated with it.

Mistakes and Irregularities in Asset Valuation and Division

Spouses should be wary of the fact that the asset valuation process is often used to hide assets or their true value. Spouses may use a real estate appraiser who will give a false estimate of the value of a property, or attempt to hide funds in offshore accounts. This can place one spouse at a significant disadvantage, both in terms of asset division and in terms of the tax implications of reallocating asset ownership. If there is a concern that one spouse may be dishonest during the valuation process, financial specialists like forensic accounts may be necessary to ensure no income or assets are concealed.

Consult with a Kane County Property Division Attorney

If you are facing the prospect of divorce, you need the help of an experienced St. Charles, IL asset division attorney who will advocate passionately on your behalf. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we will work tirelessly to position you for a favorable outcome every step of the way. Contact our offices today to schedule a free initial consultation and find out why our clients consistently give us five-star reviews. Call us at 630-584-5550.

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IL family lawyerCouples with children in Illinois who are separating or getting divorced will need to create a shared parenting plan to address issues related to the children. Although this can seem like a daunting task, especially if parents find it difficult to get along, Illinois law has recently changed to make modern parenting arrangements easier to create.

When creating a parenting plan, parents must address two main areas: Parental responsibilities and parenting time. These two areas share some overlap and are both important, but it is important to understand exactly what they are and how they differ.

Parental Responsibilities

The term “parental responsibilities” refers not only to time spent with children, caring for them and ensuring their needs are met but also to the authority parents have to make important decisions for their children. Included among these issues are:

  • Education - Where a child attends school and whether that school is public, private, secular, or parochial can have a major impact on a child’s life.
  • Healthcare - Healthcare coverage, primary care doctors, when a child gets braces, and whether a child should be placed on certain medication all fall under the purview of healthcare decisions.
  • Extracurricular activities - Learning to play an instrument, playing on sports teams, or joining the school newspaper are all great ways to enrich a child’s social and emotional wellbeing. However, all activities carry costs and risks and a parent must help guide children as they develop their interests.
  • Religious involvement - Some parents feel very strongly that their children are raised in a particular religion, and clearly delineating how parents address the issue of religion can help prevent future conflict.

Parents may agree to share these decision-making responsibilities, or one parent may be in charge of healthcare and religious upbringing while the other parent handles educational decisions and extracurricular activities. What matters is that each parent understands his or her responsibilities, prioritizes the needs of the child, and abides by the terms of the parenting plan.

Parenting Time

“Parenting time” refers to the time-sharing arrangement between parents regarding the children. Although parenting time does not address important decision-making responsibilities, parents are still responsible for the important daily tasks of caring for the children when they are with them.

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IL divorce lawyerThere are many different pieces to an effective parenting plan, and something called the “right of first refusal” is one of the most important. Understanding the right of first refusal, and how it can help you spend more time with your children, is essential to creating a parenting plan that works for you. In this blog, we will answer some common questions about the right of first refusal and how it can benefit divorced parents in Illinois.

What Is the “Right of First Refusal” in Illinois?

When making decisions regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time agreements, Illinois courts and judges prioritize the wellbeing of children above all else. In recent years, an abundance of research has been done that supports the idea that children do best when both parents have an active presence in their lives. This means that, whenever it is safe and possible to do so, courts will give preference to parenting plans that allow each parent to maximize the time they spend with their child.

The right of first refusal is one effective way to do this because it requires divorced parents to ask each other to provide childcare rather than hiring a babysitter or asking another family member. Of course, this is not always possible or practical, so parents have wide leeway in creating a right of first refusal arrangement that works best for their circumstances.

What are Common “Right of First Refusal” Arrangements?

Each family’s circumstances are unique; so too will be the situations that trigger the right of first refusal. If parents live very close to each other and transferring the children between households causes little disruption to the children, then parents might agree to require the right of first refusal whenever they are gone for just a few hours.

If parents live far away from each other, or if contact between parents frequently causes arguments, a parent’s absence from the children may be longer before the right of first refusal is invoked. Other circumstances may also affect the right of first refusal. For example, if a parent must be gone for six hours and an absence of that length would generally oblige them to offer the other parent the right of first refusal, but it would be on a school night and the children could not get to school from the other parent’s house, invoking the right of first refusal would not make sense.

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IL family lawyerDivorces, and the accompanying disputes about parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities, are exhausting. Unfortunately for some parents in Illinois, the troubles do not end with the divorce. Some parents refuse to adhere to the terms of the parenting agreement, causing problems for the children and headaches for their other parent.

But parenting agreements are legally binding orders, and there are strict rules regarding their implementation. Parents cannot simply decide which parts of the agreement they will not follow. In addition to the harm done to the children and the working relationship with the other parent, violating the terms of the agreement can result in serious legal consequences.

Enforcing a Parenting Order

To bring violating parents into compliance, Illinois allows parenting order violations to be tried as a civil and a criminal offense. The first two times a parent violates the order, it is considered a minor offense. Even with a minor offense, the violating parent can face changes to the parenting schedule, fines, and even jail time. The third time a parent knowingly violates a parenting order, the violation is a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries larger fines and potential prison time.

Document Violations

Whether prosecuting violations civilly or criminally, the case must be brought before a judge. This means the parent who is bringing the case will need to prove that the violation occurred. Documenting evidence might include text messages, emails, or other communication, but it is important to remember that recording phone calls without the other party’s knowledge is generally illegal in Illinois.​​

Successfully proving a violation occurred also requires showing that the violation was “willful.” The parent bringing the case must prove the violation occurred, but the parent accused of the violation must show that it was not wilful. If the violating parent had a good enough reason for violating the order, then they may not be held in contempt.

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IL family lawyerMaking arrangements for your children during a divorce is a difficult process. It requires the understanding that, no matter what disagreements you have with your spouse, your children need both parents and that this will take some level of cooperation from you both. Tensions can run high and parents often struggle to create a mutually acceptable parenting plan.

Mediators and attorneys can help parents understand their options and negotiate a compromise. In this blog, we will discuss some of the things that parents need to include in their parenting plans. Keep in mind that this is not intended to be legal advice. Your attorney is the best source of information for any questions you may have.

Living Arrangements and Schedules

Illinois recognizes that children do best when both parents are involved in their lives. Judges and courts will encourage involvement from both parents whenever possible, so children will often be spending time between two households. When creating a parenting arrangement, parents will need to consider the distance between each other’s homes and the time and expense involved in moving children back and forth. Although spouses may be tempted to live as far away from each other as possible, this can pose significant challenges for facilitating future visits between parents.

Holidays and Vacations

The importance of holidays, and the accompanying rituals and traditions, can make dividing this time between parents very difficult. Nevertheless, it is better to decide on a holiday arrangement now that will work long-term and avoid conflict well into the future. Parents who can be creative and generous have found many different arrangements that work well with the kids and extended family members. Parents may even find they enjoy having a little time to themselves during an otherwise busy and stressful time of year.

Healthcare and Education

Children need health insurance, and their parents’ jobs will often decide which parent will be responsible for providing coverage. However, both parents will need to work together to decide who will take care of general doctor’s visits, make important medical decisions, and take time off in case a child is sick.

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Posted on in Property Division

IL divorce lawyerMany Illinois couples sign a prenuptial agreement before the wedding, but far fewer people have heard of a postnuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements are essentially the same thing as prenuptial agreements, but they are signed after a couple is already married.

Every couple’s situation is unique and an experienced Illinois postnuptial attorney is the best person to answer questions and draft a postnuptial agreement. Here are some of the most common reasons spouses in Illinois sign a postnuptial agreement, as well as the kind of issues postnuptial agreements can address.

Why Get a Postnuptial Agreement if We Are Already Married?

Couples may seek a prenuptial agreement for many reasons, but some of the most common include:

  • Wealth inequality - If one spouse owns substantially more wealth than the other, they may want to protect their assets in the event of a divorce. Postnuptial agreements can ensure that spouses retain individual ownership of their personal assets that may otherwise be included in the property division process.
  • Children from previous marriages - Spouses who were previously married and who still need to financially provide for their children often want to ensure their current marriage does not inadvertently jeopardize their children’s short- and long-term financial wellbeing. For example, because spouses typically inherit each other’s assets if one spouse dies, a postnuptial agreement can stipulate that a deceased spouse will leave their inheritance in part or in whole to their children. Likewise, a postnuptial agreement can stipulate that a portion of the parent spouse’s income will always be available for their children’s needs.
  • Business ownership - A spouse who owns a business can protect their exclusive ownership of the business with a postnuptial agreement. Assessing and dividing the value of a business is a complex and difficult part of many divorces, and a sound postnuptial agreement can prevent unnecessary conflict and hostility in the future.
  • Potential inheritance - Spouses who anticipate receiving a sizable inheritance may want to ensure that it remains their sole property in the event of a divorce. Although an inheritance is generally presumed to be the property of the inheriting spouse, certain behaviors like commingling can complicate ownership. A postnuptial agreement can simplify matters.

What Can a Postnuptial Agreement Include?

Many of the things couples choose to include in their postnuptial agreement are related to the above situations. Other possible provisions include:

  • Parameters for spousal support if the couple divorces
  • Division of debts, including student loans accumulated during the course of the marriage
  • What happens to shared assets if one spouse passes away
  • Which spouse will pay for certain expenses during the marriage
  • How much each spouse will contribute to joint savings or retirement accounts
  • Which spouse will be responsible for managing the couple’s finances

A postnuptial agreement cannot address issues related to child support and child custody. These can only be addressed during a divorce or separation with the approval of an Illinois court.

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IL family lawyerMany couples decide to create a prenuptial agreement together before they get married. Although nobody wants to think about their impending marriage ending in divorce, the period before the marriage is actually a great time to negotiate a prenup because partners have plenty of goodwill towards each other and want to look out for each other’s best interests.

Unfortunately, many people discover that the prenuptial agreement they created is not legally enforceable. Even worse, they generally find this out at the worst possible time - when the divorce proceedings have begun, and they are depending on their prenup to hold up in court.

This article examines the most common factors that cause prenups to be invalid. If you have questions about your personal prenup, an experienced family law attorney is the best person to give you advice.

Lack of Financial Transparency

Because the primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to protect spouses’ financial interests in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement must contain accurate and complete financial information from each spouse. If a spouse was not honest when the prenup was being created, then the other spouse made decisions based on invalid information - and that might make the prenup unenforceable.

Manipulation or Duress

If a spouse was truly manipulated into signing a prenup, and that fact is discoverable to a divorce court, the prenup may be unenforceable. Some conditions that may be considered duress include announcing the desire for a prenup right before the wedding and making the wedding contingent upon the prenup, or pressuring a spouse to sign when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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IL divorce lawyerEngagement - and the sparkling, expensive piece of jewelry that typically accompanies it - is the subject of many romantic movies and books. The internet is replete with articles detailing exactly how much a man can expect to spend on an engagement ring, and in a new marriage, a ring is often a couple’s most valuable asset.

Unfortunately, not all relationships end up as happy and hopeful as the moment of engagement. When an engaged couple breaks off the engagement or a married couple decides to get divorced, there are often questions about what happens to the engagement ring or other gifts couples have purchased for each other that might be considered marital property.

What Happens to the Engagement Ring if We Do Not Get Married?

The fate of an engagement ring depends on who broke off the engagement, but generally, it must be returned. Illinois law has determined that if the recipient of the ring breaks off the engagement, she must return the ring. Likewise, if a couple mutually ends the relationship, the ring must be returned.

If the person who proposed breaks off the engagement, Illinois law is less clear. The majority consensus is that the recipient may keep the ring if the giver ends the engagement.

Do I Have to Give Back the Engagement Ring if We Get Divorced?

Because a ring is a gift given in anticipation of marriage, once the marriage has taken place the ring belongs to the recipient as his or her exclusive property. This means it is usually not considered marital property and is not subject to division in the event of a divorce.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce ends a relationship between two people, but it also requires them to separate their finances. Often, resolving the latter issue is far more complicated than resolving the former. A couple who has been married for many years and who shares high net worth assets often has a complex financial picture and extensively intertwined finances.

Unfortunately, the process of asset division only becomes more complicated when one spouse attempts to hide assets or other financial resources from the other spouse. If you believe that your spouse is being dishonest about their finances, contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney right away.

Why Do Spouses Try to Hide Assets?

Spouses often try to diminish the appearance of their overall financial picture in order to reduce their portion of the divorce settlement and increase their financial resources after the divorce. Other reasons spouses may dissemble about their finances include trying to favorably manipulate their share of child support or spousal maintenance or attempting to hide unrelated financial problems that may be revealed during divorce proceedings.

Generally, the more complex someone’s financial assets are, the easier it is for them to hide or lie about assets during the divorce process. If someone has many investment and bank accounts, rental properties, residential properties, international assets, or businesses, there may be many opportunities to hide the true value of their finances.

How Do Spouses Hide Assets in Divorce?

People can become surprisingly creative when it comes to cheating their spouses out of money. Some of the most common ways spouses hide their finances include:

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IL divorce lawyerDivorced American military families face unique challenges when navigating issues regarding parenting responsibilities and parenting time. Arranging for the care of a child during deployment, ensuring the child can visit with extended family during deployment, and catching up on lost time when the parent returns are all things military parents in Illinois must manage.

Fortunately, Illinois law recognizes these challenges and allows for special accommodations. Here are five facts about military deployment and parenting time in Illinois.

Facts for Deployed Military Parents in Illinois

Military parents can request that courts allow for make-up parenting time before or after deployment. This must be in the best interests of the child, and the parents’ schedules and circumstances must allow for it. The court order will specify who must fulfill certain responsibilities. For example, if divorced parents live in different states, they will have to decide who is responsible for paying to transport the child from one state to the other.

Military parents can also request parenting time be scheduled while they are home on leave. Because service members do not always know when they will get leave, Illinois allows courts to prioritize service member cases so that deployed parents who receive leave on short notice are still able to see their children.

If the military parent is unavailable to attend court sessions during their deployment, no permanent changes to existing parenting time arrangements may be made. This prevents civilian parents from moving out of state with the child or trying to slip in other arrangements that would be unacceptable to the military parent, just because he or she is deployed. If they are able, service members are permitted to join court proceedings by phone or video call.

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