st. charles divorce lawyerParents who get divorced in Illinois are frequently concerned with the potential effect the divorce could have on their children. After all, research suggests that children whose parents are divorced often struggle with many aspects of life, including their own intimate relationships later in life. However, when done carefully and thoughtfully, divorce does not need to be a traumatic experience for children. Collaborative divorce offers a cooperative, mutually respectful way for parents to separate while keeping their children’s best interests in mind. Here are three ways collaborative divorce could benefit your children. 

Less Conflict

One of the hardest parts of a divorce is the conflict. Children frequently get caught between arguing parents and may feel like they have to choose a “side.” This can be confusing and deeply disheartening for children, who naturally love and respect both of their parents. Collaborative divorce is so focused on reducing conflict that every person involved is committed to reaching a resolution - even the attorneys. In fact, if collaborative efforts are not successful, the entire process dissolves and parents must seek new attorneys. This ensures that everybody is motivated to cooperate and find the best possible solution. 

Child-Focused Professionals 

Child psychologists or therapists who specialize in divorce’s effects on children are frequently part of a collaborative divorce team. In addition to working with children to help them process their feelings about the divorce, child-focused divorce professionals can counsel the parents as they seek to create a parenting plan that has the children’s best interests in mind. They can gently remind parents to put the children’s needs first, even when it may be inconvenient or difficult for the parents, ensuring that the transition from one household to two is as smooth as possible. 

Faster Resolution

Because everyone on a collaborative divorce team is focused on achieving compromise, collaborative divorce often moves a divorce towards a final conclusion faster than other methods. This benefits children by reducing their exposure to the stress that the divorce process can put on their parents and benefits everyone by allowing life after divorce to begin as soon as possible.  

Schedule a Free Consultation with a St. Charles, IL Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., our St. Charles collaborative divorce attorneys know that every family needs a divorce strategy that takes their unique needs into consideration. If you are getting divorced and want to mindfully and peacefully separate from your spouse, call us now at 630-584-5550 to schedule your free initial consultation. Our comfortable offices are conveniently located on Randall Road. We look forward to helping you. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerParenting often requires parents to be flexible and make up or change arrangements as they go. Children frequently get sick, injure themselves, and change their minds about what they want to do, making even the best plans difficult to follow. However, when parents get divorced, their parenting time schedules are legally enforceable court orders. Although parents who get along can reasonably agree to temporarily modify their parenting agreement from time to time, a parent who consistently refuses to drop off or pick up children on time or at all can be very taxing. If you are struggling to get your ex to follow the terms of your Illinois parenting plan, read on. 

Talk To Your Ex

The first thing you need to do is try to have a conversation with your ex to find out why they are not following the terms of the parenting plan. The best way to do this is over email, where responses can be easily recorded, emotionally neutral, and used as evidence later if necessary. If your ex has a good reason for violating your parenting time schedule, such as a work problem or car issues, you may be able to work together on a short-term solution. Using a mediator may help. However, if your ex either does not respond, is hostile, or does not have a legitimate reason for modifying the parenting schedule, you may need to escalate your response. 

Petition for Rule to Show Cause

A petition for rule to show cause is a form that asks a court to require a non-compliant parent to come to court and explain their actions. You, the petitioner, will need to fill out the form with the help of your attorney and provide evidence showing that your ex is non-compliant. You will also need a copy of your parenting agreement from your divorce or modification. 

Depending on the respondent’s explanation, whether they have violated the parenting agreement before, and whether a judge believes they are acting in good faith or trying to cause problems, a judge can use a variety of punishments to try to bring someone into compliance. These often include changes to the parenting schedule that reflect the care the child is actually getting; fines; charges of contempt of court, and, in the most extreme cases, jail time. 

Documentation is important when bringing a case of parenting agreement non-compliance before a judge. Text messages, emails, photographs, and voicemails may all be helpful. Speak to your attorney before trying to use phone calls as evidence, since recording phone calls between you and someone else without their permission could be illegal. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerPensions and other retirement funds are essential aspects of many individuals’ long-term financial planning. It can take enormous sacrifices and years of hard work in the hope of a secure future, and when divorce threatens that security, the implications can be frightening. 

While pensions and other retirement funds are generally seen as marital property and are subject to division in a divorce, the good news is that there are often things you can do to help protect yourself during the property division process and having an experienced Illinois divorce attorney can help. 

Are Pensions Marital Property in Illinois? 

If a spouse began earning their pension or retirement funds before they got married, the funds earned before the marriage will usually remain private property, including any increases in value through capital gains. But any portion of a retirement that was earned during a marriage is seen as marital property, even if the pension funds are not vested or have not matured. 

How Can a Pension Plan Be Divided? 

Sometimes, spouses do not need to divide pension or retirement plans and can instead trade different marital assets for full ownership of their retirement funds. Spouses can also divide the pensions according to their own agreement, or, if they cannot agree, a court will divide the couple’s marital property. Either strategy requires the help of a financial professional who can estimate the value of a pension using common valuation methods. 

When spouses split their pension or retirement fund, they can get a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, from the court. A QDRO allows the plan administrator to split the benefits or payments according to the spouses’ divorce arrangement. This allows spouses to each receive their portion of the benefits without having to depend on each other for payments or remain in contact. It is important to note that, after a plan has been divided, the spouse who is not the policyholder cannot take advantage of the plan’s benefits until the plan actually begins to pay. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_129290474.jpgDealing with the issue of paternity is often stressful for men and women alike. Mothers need financial support from a child’s father and often struggle to get it; men, who may be unsure whether they are a child’s father or who may not want a child at all, are often resistant to submit to paternity testing. 

While both parties may believe they are equally justified in their feelings and actions, Illinois law requires both parents to financially support their children, even if they do not want to be involved in the child’s life. This means that men who are the biological father of a child can be legally compelled to submit to court-ordered paternity tests and provide child support. 

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

There are several ways to establish paternity in Illinois. If both parents agree that a man is the child’s father, they may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form (also known as a VAP). This form is often signed at a hospital after a child is born, although it can be signed later as well. 

Another way to establish paternity is through an Administrative Paternity Order. This is an order from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). HFS can require mandatory DNA testing to prove that a man is a child’s father. However, HFS can also determine paternity even without a genetic test, so a man may be deemed a child’s father and ordered to pay child support even if he tries to dodge a genetic test. 

Courts can also issue a Judicial Paternity Order, which comes directly from a judge. Judges can also require a man to take a DNA test. Such an order is not optional - if a man tries to avoid the court order, he can be held in contempt of court and may be subject to fines and other punishments that can become progressively more serious the longer he avoids taking the test.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_228470305.jpgIssues of child custody are often among the most strongly disputed in Illinois divorces. Both parents, loving their children and believing they know what is best, may be at loggerheads about parenting time arrangements or who should have the power to make important decisions for the children. Courts may also be unsure whether either parent is capable or safe in their parenting abilities. If there are concerns about how parenting time and parental responsibilities should be allocated, a court may order a custody evaluation, or a 604.10(b) evaluation. 

When Can a Court Order a Custody Evaluation? 

Courts can request a comprehensive custody evaluation any time a judge has questions about the facts or circumstances of a child’s home environment, including when there are concerns about: 

  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Absent or neglectful parenting 
  • Mental illness
  • A child with special medical, educational, developmental, or other needs 

A custody evaluation can also be ordered when: 

  • One or both parents request a custody evaluation 
  • A child representative, such as a guardian ad litem, requests a custody evaluation

Even if a parent requests and pays for a custody evaluator, he or she is still a neutral party whose responsibility is to find and report on the facts. Whether the parents or a court request the evaluator, the responsibility for paying for the evaluator will be allocated to the parents. 

What Happens During a Custody Evaluation? 

Depending on the complexity of the case, the distance between parents’ homes, and the schedule of the evaluator, custody evaluations can take months to complete. While the needs of each evaluation will vary depending on the family and their particular concerns, most evaluators will complete the following tasks: 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1188557530.jpgGone are the days when divorcing spouses had to publicly drag each other through the mud, revealing personal details about things like infidelity and abandonment to try to prove fault and get a divorce. While this is undoubtedly a change for the better, divorces in Illinois are still not completely private. Certain divorce details are part of the public record, yet spouses, especially those with public profiles, may have good reasons for wanting to keep them private. If you are hoping to keep your Illinois divorce details as private as possible, read on. 

What Details Are Always Private? 

Certain personal details are never part of the public record. Social security numbers, driver’s licenses, bank accounts, and other such details cannot be revealed in their entirety in public divorce records. Details of this nature can compromise your identity and you do not have to worry about these being public. But your divorce record, and even the process of discovery, can reveal a lot about your personal and family finances that you may want to keep private. 

Request Protective Orders During Discovery

During the discovery phase, spouses and their attorneys are passing highly detailed information to each other, including things like full account numbers, business secrets, asset assessments, and more. One spouse may justifiably fear that their partner will be careless with these details, or - worse - deliberately share the information with third parties. Because divorcing spouses are often not on their best behavior, you may want to request a protective order from the court that prohibits sharing certain information during the discovery process. 

Ask a Court to Seal Your Records

Illinois law presumes that the general public has a stronger interest in being able to access divorce records than the average divorcee has an interest in keeping them private. Therefore, if you want certain embarrassing or personal details to be left out of the public record, you will need to request that the judge seal all or part of a file. Judges will typically not seal a file unless there is a good reason, and it is more common only for parts of a divorce record to be sealed. 

Refer to Certain Agreements by Reference Only

Once spouses reach an agreement about parenting arrangements and property distribution, they can refer to these agreements in the final prove-up by reference only, rather than including the agreements themselves in the public record. Spouses who do this may run the risk of record-keeping issues, so if they need to modify their parenting agreement in the future, they should preserve these files carefully to ensure they have the full text of the agreement available to them. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1809323122.jpgEven after they have cohabitated for years, raised children, and owned property, for one reason or another, many couples in Illinois decide never to get married. When couples who are traditionally married get divorced, one partner may be ordered by the court to pay alimony, or, as it is known in Illinois, “spousal support.” But do Kane County couples who were never married deal with spousal support when they break up? 

Unmarried Partners Do Not Pay Alimony When They Break Up

The only partners eligible for spousal support are those who were legally married - and even then, courts do not automatically grant spousal support, but instead examine a couple’s situation and determine whether spousal support would be appropriate. Spousal support payments are more common after longer marriages in which one partner made significantly more than the other, or when one partner gave up educational or economic prospects to raise children. 

Separated Unmarried Parents Do Pay Child Support 

A parent’s legal obligation to financially provide for their child does not end simply because a relationship ends. Separated domestic partners should make sure that they obtain a legally enforceable court order for child support. Otherwise, they put themselves and their children at risk of not getting the money they need. While some couples may prefer to avoid court altogether and stick with a verbal child support agreement, if the paying parent stops making payments for any reason, the verbal agreement is not enforceable. 

Consider a Cohabitation Agreement

Couples who do not want to get married, but who still plan on co-owning property and raising children together, would be wise to create a cohabitation agreement. This is a contract between a couple that lays out the financial rights and obligations of each partner if the relationship ends because of a breakup or the death of one partner. Cohabitation agreements usually deal primarily with financial issues, but can also discuss parental roles. If the relationship ends, however, a court-ordered parenting agreement trumps any parenting issues mentioned in the cohabitation agreement. 

Talk to a Kane County Alimony Lawyer

Understanding when spousal support may be ordered is important for planning the end of your relationship. If you need help with family law matters, an experienced Kane County family law attorney with Shaw Sanders, P.C. can help you get answers to your questions and represent you in court. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free initial case review today. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerAlong with infidelity, conflict, and financial disagreements, substance abuse is one of the top contributors to divorce in Illinois. Overdose deaths in the United States surged past the 100,000 mark in 202 and heavy drinking is responsible for another nearly 100,000 premature deaths in the U.S. every year. 

Whether because of alcohol or drug use, there is no question that substance abuse can interfere with a marriage to the point that the marriage irretrievably breaks down. This can have a profound effect on spouses during a marriage, but children are perhaps the most affected by a parent with a substance use disorder. If you are getting divorced in Illinois and you or your spouse is struggling with substance abuse, here are three areas of your divorce that may be affected. 

Asset Division

Because substance abuse is often so deeply intertwined with poor financial decisions, spouses often secretly use savings, loans, or other sources of income to finance their addiction and leave a marriage in dire financial straits. If a spouse has depleted a couple’s finances to purchase drugs or alcohol, a judge may allocate a greater amount of marital assets to the other spouse to make up for the irresponsible behavior. 

Parenting Arrangements 

A parent who is regularly under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unlikely to be able to care properly for a child. They may be an active danger to the child’s well-being, especially if a parent has a tendency to drive under the influence. Without active participation in rehabilitation programs and a clear move towards improvement, a parent who struggles with substance use disorders may only get supervised parenting time or no parenting time at all. This can have a long-term impact on the quality of the parent-child relationship and parents with substance abuse issues should weigh carefully how their behavior could affect their child. 

Spousal and Child Support

Substance abuse and the problems that come with it do not excuse someone from making their court-ordered spousal and child support payments. If substance abuse interferes with a spouse’s ability to get or keep a job and they fail to pay child support, they may find court sanctions, fines, and jail time added to their list of existing problems. Illinois takes the wellbeing of children seriously and can implement far-reaching punishments when a parent will not meet their financial obligations to their child. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1783364246-1.jpgMany divorcing parents in Illinois find themselves locked in a seemingly intractable dispute about issues related to their children. Maintaining objectivity during divorce can be very difficult, and hostility between parents can spill over into the children’s lives, negatively affecting them and making it very difficult to compromise about parenting time and parental responsibilities. 

In the most contentious divorces, it may not be immediately obvious to a judge which custody arrangement would most benefit a child and so he or she may appoint a professional known as a guardian ad litem. If you are getting divorced or modifying a parenting agreement and have had a guardian ad litem assigned to your case, read on. 

The Role of a Guardian ad Litem in Illinois

A guardian ad litem’s job is, essentially, to determine the best interests of a child during a very specific period of time - usually, during a divorce or custody dispute. Guardians ad litem in Illinois are licensed attorneys with special training that prepares them to do the appropriate investigation, fact-finding, and data collection necessary to determine a child’s best interests. 

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do? 

While one or both parents are usually ordered to pay for the guardian ad litem, he or she acts as an extension of the court. A guardian ad litem is objective, neutral, and is not interested in helping one party get more parenting time or parental responsibilities. Instead, he or she has the primary goal of undertaking any activities which would inform the court as to the child’s best interests. These can include: 

  • Interviewing the child and his or her siblings
  • Interviewing neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, and anyone else who may have knowledge of the child’s situation
  • Visiting the child at each parent’s home
  • Interviewing both parents
  • Ordering a psychological evaluation of both parents 
  • Reviewing relevant data, including a child’s grades, health history, police reports, and any other necessary documents 

Based on her investigation, the guardian ad litem creates a report for the judge, detailing her findings and making a recommendation for the outcome of the case. The guardian ad litem’s recommendation is considered expert testimony, and a judge may call a guardian ad litem to the stand to testify. Each parent’s attorneys are permitted to cross-examine the guardian ad litem and dispute any findings which may cast them in a negative light. 

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st charles divorce lawyerCertain jobs correlate with divorce so frequently that they create a bit of a chicken-or-egg question. Which came first - the job or the likelihood of divorce? Does a person who is more likely to get divorced pursue certain professions, or do some jobs really interfere with a marriage? Although each marriage is unique, research suggests that some jobs are correlated with much higher rates of divorce. And while financial stability and life satisfaction influence marital happiness, a higher salary is not necessarily correlated with lower divorce rates. Here are some of the jobs in Illinois with the highest divorce rates. 

Casino Managers and Bartenders

Almost tied at roughly 52 percent, casino managers and bartenders are in a line of work that exposes them to late hours, alcohol consumption, and fresh new faces on a regular basis. Add to that an unpredictable income, holiday work schedules, and a relentless people-pleasing personality, and you might have a combination for marital trouble. 

Flight Attendants 

Flight attendants check in with divorce rates just over 50 percent. With two large airports and several smaller municipal airports, Illinois has an abundance of flight attendants coming in and out of town every day. Similar to bartenders, flight attendants have irregular schedules, frequent exposure to new places and people, and, although they are not permitted to work intoxicated, notoriously high levels of substance abuse. 

Textiles Industry Employees

People who work with extruding, pressing, compacting, or forming machines have stressful, dangerous jobs. Long-term exposure to metals and plastics may further endanger their health, and the necessity of working with small pieces in tight spaces could put anyone under pressure. Divorce rates in production and textiles industries hovers just under 50 percent.   

Which Occupations Have the Lowest Rates of Divorce? 

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, religious clergy and other religious leadership have among the lowest occupational rates of divorce. Approximately one in five employees working in religious services gets divorced. This is roughly matched by rates of divorce among surgeons, engineers, software developers, and physical therapists. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_578251576.jpgThe prospect of getting divorced can be understandably frightening and overwhelming. So many things need to be dealt with and it can be difficult to know where to start. The fear of the unknown keeps many couples from planning around their divorce, but this is a mistake; meeting your divorce challenges head-on and creating a plan can help your divorce go much more smoothly. Here are four important things to consider as you create your pre-divorce planning checklist. 

Collect Documents and Keep Track of Everything

From the moment you decide to get divorced, start collecting financial, medical, and educational documents for you, your spouse, and your children. Bank statements, deeds, health insurance information, and grade report cards will all be necessary for your divorce. Sometimes, spouses will drag their feet when providing information; if you can manage to get the information yourself, you can save a lot of time. 

Consider Where You Will Live

So much of the divorce planning process is logistical. Start planning early so you can begin estimating your cost of living after divorce. Consider which areas you will be able to afford to live in, estimate the cost of moving and buying new household items, and think about whether you have family or friends you can temporarily stay with as you make arrangements for the future. 

Set Up a Post Office Box Address

If you are going to move out of the marital home, it is important to get all of your mail - especially if your spouse is vindictive and may be likely to hide important information. Setting up a P.O. box right away will make sure you get all your mail and do not miss any legal correspondence.

Think About How to Tell Your Children

In a perfect world, divorcing parents could have a conversation together with their children about why the divorce is happening and what changes will occur in the future. Although children should not know the intimate details of a marital breakdown, giving general reasons is okay. If you do not think your spouse will cooperate in discussing the divorce, consider when and how you want to tell your children, prioritizing their emotional wellbeing.  

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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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