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IL divorce lawyerFor many divorcing individuals, their divorce case is the first time they are involved in an extensive legal proceeding. If you are getting divorced, you may have numerous questions about what you should expect. During the “discovery” step of the divorce process, the spouses’ attorneys gather information and documentation from the spouses. This information is used when negotiating divorce issues such as property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody. If your divorce case goes to trial, the information gathered during discovery becomes valuable evidence that will be used to argue your case during litigation. Depositions are one way that information is gathered during discovery.

What Happens During a Deposition?

A deposition is a formal question and answers session that takes place outside of the courtroom. The individuals present at a deposition typically include the spouses, their respective attorneys, and other professionals relevant to the case such as a Guardian Ad Litem. If you attend a divorce deposition, you will be placed under oath and then asked a series of questions aimed at gathering information about the facts of your divorce case. A court reporter will record all of the questions and answers. It is important to answer the questions carefully and truthfully. Anything you say during a deposition may be later used against you.

Tips to Keep in Mind During Your Deposition

It is essential that you are well-prepared for your deposition. The fewer surprises you encounter, the better. Your lawyer can help you understand what to expect and help you practice answering the questions you will likely be asked during the deposition. When you are asked a question, take your time and answer it thoughtfully. Do not volunteer additional information or offer answers that are mere speculation. Your own lawyer may also ask you questions during the deposition that are designed to help you share information that is beneficial to your case. It is important to remain calm and professional during a deposition. Your spouse and his or her lawyer may say things that make you upset. However, keeping your cool is the best way to ensure that you do not say something that damages your case.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois Divorce Lawyer

The experienced Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Family Law, P.C. understand that a contentious divorce can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. That is why we are committed to offering dependable legal guidance throughout the divorce process. To learn more about how our attorneys can help you, call our office at 630-584-5550. Schedule a free, confidential initial consultation today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerAs the saying goes, the only thing constant in life is change. If you are a divorced or unmarried parent subject to a child support order, changes in your life or the life of the other parent may necessitate a child support modification. However, Illinois child support orders can only be modified under certain situations. Read on to learn about when child support orders are eligible for modification and what you should do if you need to request a child support adjustment.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order Through a Modification Review

Child support orders established by a judicial proceeding may only be changed through a court order. Administrative child support orders may be modified through the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). Every three years, child support orders are eligible for a “modification review” by the DCSS. If a parent wishes to take advantage of this opportunity, they will be asked to submit documents verifying their income. This information is used to determine whether or not the parents’ financial circumstances have changed significantly enough to warrant a child support modification. The dollar amount of child support payments may remain the same, increase, or decrease. If a parent disagrees with the results of the modification review, he or she has the right to request an administrative hearing or appear in court to contest the child support order.

Changing a Child Support Based on a “Substantial Change in Circumstances”

If you are not eligible for a modification review, you may still be able to change your child support order if the current order does not adequately provide for the child’s healthcare needs or if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”

Examples of substantial changes in circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • The child’s financial needs have increased due to school or extracurricular expenses, medical issues, or another valid reason
  • Either parent’s income has considerably increased or decreased
  • Either parent has lost his or her job
  • The child has turned 18 and graduated from high school
  • There has been a change in the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Modification Lawyer

Many parents find that they run into significant obstacles, complications, or delays when trying to modify a child support order. At Shaw Family Law, P.C, we help parents with a wide range of complex family law issues. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Kane County child support attorney from our firm, call us at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerAs part of your Illinois divorce process, you and your spouse will be asked to submit a financial affidavit that lists your assets and income. This financial data is vital to obtaining a fair divorce settlement. Asset division, child support, and spousal maintenance are all contingent on divorcing spouses’ financial circumstances. If a spouse omits income sources, underreports business revenue, hides assets, or otherwise falsifies data on his or her financial affidavit, decisions about these divorce issues will be based on inaccurate information. Furthermore, lying about finances during divorce is unlawful. A process called forensic accounting is often the best way to uncover the truth about a deceitful spouse’s finances during divorce.

What Do Forensic Accountants Do?

Forensic accounting refers to an investigation into a spouse’s property, income, debts, and expenses. The more complex a spouse’s financial portfolio, the more in-depth this investigation will need to be. A forensic accountant is a financial professional who has specialized auditing, accounting, and investigative skills. He or she will work closely with your divorce attorney to thoroughly examine your spouse’s finances and discover evidence of deceit. Tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, business contracts, invoices, mortgage applications, and other documents can all provide clues about hidden assets.

Methods for Hiding Assets During an Illinois Divorce

There are many different ways that a spouse may lie about finances in order to manipulate the divorce settlement or judgment. Financial deception is often used in an attempt to pay less in child support or spousal support or keep the other spouse from receiving the property division settlement he or she deserves. A deceptive spouse may hide assets by not reporting the assets or transferring assets to an unknown bank account. Spouses may also transfer assets to friends, family members, or coworkers. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also sometimes used as a hiding place for assets. By “accidentally” overpaying the IRS, the spouse essentially loans the IRS money that is then returned to him after the divorce is finalized. Spouses may also undervalue assets, report lower than actual business revenue, or exaggerate debts and expenses in an attempt to sway a divorce settlement in their favor.

Contact a Kane County Hidden Assets Lawyer

Whether your divorce case is resolved through lawyer-assisted negotiations or courtroom litigation, accurate and complete financial information from both parties is crucial. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, underreporting income, or otherwise lying about his or her finances, you need a divorce attorney who can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a consultation with a highly experienced St. Charles divorce attorney to learn how we can help you get the divorce settlement you deserve.

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_adoption_20200716-210037_1.jpgA person does not need to be a blood relative of a child in order to love and care about him or her. If you married someone who already had a child, it is very possible that you have spent a great deal of time getting to know the child and providing for his or her needs. You may even think of the child as if he or she was your own biological offspring. If this situation describes you, you may be wondering what it takes to adopt your stepchild. Stepparent adoptions can sometimes be complicated personally as well as legally. This is why it is a good idea to work with a skilled family law attorney who has experience handling stepparent adoption cases.

Stepparent Adoption Criteria

Stepparent adoption is a significantly different process than other types of adoption. In many cases, an investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services or background check is not required. In order to qualify for a stepparent adoption the following criteria must be met:

  • The stepparent is legally married to the child’s parent. Boyfriends and girlfriends cannot proceed with a stepparent adoption even if they have been heavily involved in the child’s life.
  • If the child is 14-years-old or older, he or she must agree to the adoption. Teenagers have the ability to block a stepparent adoption.
  • The parental rights of the child’s other parent have been terminated.

According to the law, a child can only have two legal parents. If your stepchild’s other parent is still alive, he or she will need to terminate his or her parental rights in order for you to be able to adopt the child.

Reasons for the Termination of Parental Rights

In some cases, a parent may voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights in order to allow a stepparent adoption. However, if the other parent does not consent to the adoption, the process becomes more complicated. If you wish to adopt your stepchild but your child’s other parent objects to the adoption, the only way you can adopt the child is by having the other parent’s parental rights involuntarily terminated. The court will terminate the parent’s rights if it determines that the parent is “unfit.”. According to Illinois law, a parent may be considered unfit if he or she:

  • Has abused the child physically, sexually, or psychologically
  • Has abandoned or severely neglected the child
  • Has failed to protect the child from danger
  • Has shown a marked disinterest in the child’s wellbeing
  • Has a major substance abuse problem
  • Has certain criminal convictions on his or her record

Once the other parent has terminated his or her parental rights and the child, if old enough, has consented to the adoption, you may file your adoption request in the county circuit court.

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IL divorce lawyerIn 2016, significant changes were made to the way Illinois law handles a parent’s ability to move with a child. Before this update, a custodial parent, meaning a parent with the majority of the parenting time, could move anywhere in the state of Illinois without the other parent’s approval or permission from the court. However, out-of-state moves required court approval even if the move was only 20 or 30 miles away. Now, parents must seek permission from the other parent and/or the court for all moves that are a significant distance away. If you are a parent who wishes to move with your child and you currently share custody with your child’s other parent, there are several requirements you should be aware of.

Defining Relocation

If a parent moves only a short distance away from his or her current residence, this is not considered a relocation. Although the parent will still need to provide written notice to the other parent including the moving date and new address, he or she will not need court approval to move. However, if a move fits the criteria for a “relocation” as set forth in Illinois law, then the parent will need to take additional steps to gain court approval. A relocation is defined as a move that involves:

  • A parent living in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County, Will County, or McHenry County who wishes to move to a new residence in Illinois that is more than 25 miles away
  • A parent living in another Illinois county who wishes to move to a new residence in the state of Illinois that is more than 50 miles away
  • A parent living in Illinois who wishes to move out of state and at least 25 miles away

Obtaining Court Approval for a Relocation

You will need to obtain court approval to move if:

  • You have the majority of parenting time or you are in a shared parenting situation in which each parent has the child for more than 146 nights a year AND
  • The move fits the definition of a “relocation,” according to Illinois law

If the other parent agrees to the relocation and the court does not see any way in which the relocation would harm the child, the court will typically approve the move. However, if the other parent objects to the move, the court will need to evaluate several factors to determine whether or not to grant the relocation. These factors include the reasons for the relocation, the other parent’s reasons for objecting to the relocation, the educational opportunities available to the child at each location, the child’s wishes, and more.

Contact an Illinois Parent Relocation Lawyer

Parents in a co-parenting relationship who have the majority or an equal amount of parenting time must seek court approval for certain moves. Whether you are the parent who wishes to relocate or you object to your child’s other parent moving away with your child, Shaw Family Law, P.C. is here to help. Schedule a free consultation with a skilled St. Charles family law attorney to discuss your concerns by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerGetting a divorce, or dissolution of marriage as it is called in Illinois, is not reversible. Some married couples who are having relationship problems may know that they want some space apart, but they are unsure of whether or not divorce is the right choice. This is just one situation in which a legal separation may be beneficial. Couples who get a legal separation are still technically married so if they choose to reconcile, they will not be required to get remarried. If they do not decide to continue the marriage, divorce is still an option. Most importantly, legal separation offers married couples a way to address issues such as property division, allocation of parenting time and responsibility, and spousal maintenance without the finality of divorce.

Illinois Separation Process

It is important to note that there is a difference between a physical separation and a legal separation. A married couple is not legally separated until they are granted a separation through the court. In order to be granted a legal separation in Illinois, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days and the spouses must be living apart. If a spouse wishes to file for separation, he or she will need to file a petition for legal separation and a summons with their county’s Circuit Court. The petition and summons is then served to the other spouse and a date for a hearing is set. If the spouses have already resolved issues such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, division of assets, and spousal maintenance through a separation agreement, the judge will likely grant the separation after this initial hearing. If the parties have not reached an agreement about one or more of these issues, they may need to attend an additional hearing. The authority of Illinois courts to divide assets and liabilities during a separation is much more limited than it is during a divorce. The court can only include asset division in the order for legal separation if the spouses have reached an agreement regarding how their assets and debts should be divided.

Benefits of Legal Separation

There are many different reasons that a couple may choose to get a separation instead of a divorce. Some couples are simply not sure whether or not they are ready to divorce. Other spouses get a legal separation in lieu of a divorce because divorce is prohibited by their religious or cultural beliefs. A spouse may also choose to stay married and obtain a separation so that he or she can still receive benefits such as social security, health insurance, or pension benefits. A legal separation is an effective way for a married couple to separate their finances and resolve issues such as child custody without ending the marriage. If you are interested in learning more about the legal separation process in Illinois, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

Legal separation does not end a marriage. However, it does allow spouses to resolve issues including property division, child custody, spousal maintenance, and more. To discuss whether or not a legal separation is right for your unique situation, contact Shaw Family Law. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free, confidential consultation with a seasoned St. Charles divorce lawyer.

 

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IL custody lawyerThere are several ways that parental rights can be terminated in Illinois. For example, a father may lose his parental rights if the court finds that he is not the true biological or adoptive father of the child. The involuntary termination of parental rights may be a result of a parent being deemed “unfit” due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or another issue. However, there are also circumstances in which a parent may choose to give up his or her parental rights. Voluntary termination of parental rights is often an important step in the adoption process. For help with issues related to the relinquishment of parental rights in Illinois, contact an experienced family law attorney.

Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights Requires Court Approval

A parent who has terminated his or her parental rights loses the right to spend time with his or her child or have any decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing. Additionally, the parent will no longer be required to pay child support. However, a parent cannot simply give up his or her parental rights to avoid a child support obligation. Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. Therefore, courts usually only grant a voluntary termination of parental rights if there is another individual, such as a stepparent, who wants to adopt the child. If there is not an adoptive parent who is prepared to take on parenting responsibilities, a hearing must be held to determine whether or not the termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests.

Relinquishment of Parental Rights For the Purpose of Adoption

Children can only have a maximum of two parents according to Illinois law. A parent may be asked to terminate his or her parental rights so that another parent can adopt the child. If the biological parent agrees to the adoption, he or she will fill out a Consent to Adoption form as well as an affidavit asserting that:

  • He or she is, in fact, the child’s biological parent
  • He or she understands that the child is being considered for adoption
  • He or she agrees to the adoption

A voluntary termination of parental rights may be eligible for reversal if the termination was the result of duress or fraud. The decision may also be reversed if the Department of Family Services files a motion to restore parental rights based on the best interests of the child.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

Parents automatically have certain rights and responsibilities under Illinois law. However, these parental rights may be voluntarily or involuntarily terminated in certain circumstances. If you want to learn more about adoption or the termination of parental rights, contact a seasoned Illinois family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs.

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IL family lawyerTypically, the more complex a divorcing couple's assets, the more complex the property division process will be. Dividing bank accounts and personal property like vehicles and household furniture is often much more straightforward than dividing a small business. First, the business must be classified as either marital or nonmarital property. Next, the business must be properly valued. Divorces involving businesses are often complicated, so getting guidance from an experienced divorce lawyer is crucial.

Is The Business Considered Part of the Marital Estate?

You and your spouse have the option to design your own property division arrangement during divorce. You may be able to negotiate property distribution concerns with help from your prospective attorneys or you may be able to reach an arrangement during family law mediation. If you cannot reach an agreement, the court will intervene and make property division decisions on your behalf. In Illinois, courts make property division decisions based on the theory of “equitable distribution.” Marital property, meaning property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, is divided in an equitable, or fair manner. Nonmarital property includes property acquired before the marriage, gifts, and inheritance. Nonmarital property is not divided and is instead assigned to the spouse who owns the property. If you acquired your business during the marriage, it will most likely be treated as a marital asset. If your business was inherited, received as a gift, or was obtained before you got married, it will likely be classified as nonmarital property.

Valuing a Business During Divorce

If a business is considered a marital asset, the court will use the value of the business during property division decisions. There are several ways to determine the fair market value of a business. The “income approach” to valuing a business involves calculating the present value of the estimated future income from the business. In an “asset approach,” the total value of the business’s assets is divided by the business’s liabilities. Another method for determining the value of your business is the “market approach” which estimates the approximate value by comparing the business to similar businesses that have recently sold. The value of the business will be used to determine how marital property is divided. If one spouse retains ownership of the business, the other spouse will likely be assigned marital property of similar value. Divorcing spouses may also decide to sell the business and then split the proceeds. In some cases, a divorcing couple may even decide to retain joint ownership of the business after divorce.

Contact a Kane County Business Valuation Lawyer

Deciding how to handle a business during divorce can be quite challenging. You may be unsure of what the best option is for your unique situation. For dependable legal guidance regarding property division, business valuation, and more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a consultation with a skilled St. Charles divorce attorney.

 

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IL family lawyerWhen a couple with children divorces, child support is often ordered to ensure that the child receives financial support from both of his or her parents. Child support can be a major expense in the paying parent’s life as well as a valuable resource for the recipient parent. If you are a divorcing parent who already has a child support obligation from a previous relationship, you may be concerned about how any additional child support requests will be handled. Read on to learn about how child support is calculated in Illinois when the parent has multiple obligations.

Income Shares Method for Calculating Child Support

Illinois child support orders entered after July 1, 2017 are calculated based on the Income Shares model. Instead of child support being based entirely on the payor parent’s income, this calculation method takes into account both of the parent’s incomes. In order to determine the amount of child support that a parent pays, the court combines both parent’s net income and then uses a statutory formula to determines the total amount of support for which both parents are collectively responsible. This total is called the “basic child support obligation.” The basic child support obligation is then divided between the parents based on each parent’s income. If each parent has the child for at least 146 nights a year, this is called a shared parenting arrangement. Because both of the parents are responsible for a large percentage of the total parenting time, the child support obligation is reduced in cases involving shared parenting. The courts may deviate from the Income Shares formula if doing so is in the child’s best interests.

What is Included in a Parent’s Net Income?

The income that is used for child support calculations is the parents’ net income. This means that the income is calculated by subtracting taxes and other expenses from the parent’s gross income. Any previous child support obligations or spousal support obligations are also deducted from the gross income. For example, if a father has a monthly net income of $4,500 and he currently pays $1,000 in child support, any new child support obligations would be calculated using an estimated net income of $3,500.

Contact a Kane County, Illinois Child Support Attorney

Juggling multiple child support obligations can be challenging. For help establishing, enforcing, or modifying child support in Illinois, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Whether you are the payor of child support or the recipient, our St. Charles family law attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a consultation.

 

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IL family lawyerDivorcing and unmarried couples with children often struggle to reach an agreement about child custody and visitation, called “the allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” in Illinois. Divorcing parents are asked to create a “parenting plan” that addresses how the parents intend to share child-related duties. The plan contains information about which parent the child will spend time with and when, how parents will make major decisions about the child’s upbringing, transportation arrangements, and more. When parents cannot agree on one or more elements of a parenting plan, one option that may help them reach a resolution is family law mediation.

Parents May Be More Likely to Comply with Parenting Plans They Helped Create

During child custody litigation, the court considers arguments from each party and then decides on a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interests. During family law mediation, parents are encouraged to negotiate the unresolved issues and find solutions that both parents can agree to. This means that if the parents are successful in creating a parenting plan during mediation, the plan will contain input from both parents. It is much more likely that a parent will comply with a parenting plan that he or she helped create than a plan that was decided by the court.

Mediation Can Help Encourage a Positive Co-Parenting Relationship

Courtroom litigation can create an atmosphere of “us versus them” that may increase the level of bitterness and resentment between parents. On the other hand, mediation is designed to be a cooperative, respectful process in which both parents have the opportunity to voice their opinions. Parents who learn how to work out parenting issues during mediation build a strong foundation for amicably resolving co-parenting disagreements in the future. In the end, the people who often end up benefiting the most from family law mediation are the children.

Mediation is a Confidential, Cost-Effective Process

Statements made during litigation are a matter of public record. However, anything said during mediation is confidential – save for certain statements involving abuse or illegal activity. Parents can speak freely without worrying that private information will be shared with the public or that their statements will be used against them in court. Furthermore, family law mediation tends to be much less expensive than litigation.

Contact a Kane County Mediation Lawyer

For many parents, mediation is a great way to resolve child custody disagreements cooperatively and without the need for litigation. If you are considering mediation for your child-related legal dispute, Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help you determine whether mediation is the best choice for your unique situation, choose a quality mediator, and understand your rights during mediation. Call our office at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation with a St. Charles family law attorney to discuss your needs.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is not only a romantic separation; it is also a financial separation. Determining how assets and debts should be distributed to divorcing spouses is often one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Division of assets is made even more problematic when a spouse is not willing to be transparent about his or her financial circumstances. Spouses may attempt to conceal assets, understate income, overstate debts, or use other strategies to gain an unfair advantage during property division. If you are planning to divorce and you have reason to believe that your spouse may be hiding assets or otherwise lying about financial resources, an experienced divorce lawyer can help.

Financial Deception During Divorce

In order for a divorcing couple to fairly divide marital assets during divorce, each spouse must be honest and forthcoming about his or her financial resources. However, some spouses purposely lie about their financial circumstances in an attempt to manipulate property division, child support, or spousal maintenance determinations. Typically, the more complicated a spouse’s financial circumstances are, the easier it is for him or her to hide assets during divorce. If a person owns multiple bank and brokerage accounts, trusts, rental properties, vacation homes, stock options, deferred compensation, retirement plans, a business or professional practice, or other complex assets, there are many opportunities for him or her to be deceptive. However, spouses with simple financial portfolios may also lie in order to gain a financial advantage during divorce.

A spouse who is attempting to sway the divorce settlement through hiding assets may fail to report assets or revenue streams, claim that certain assets were lost, or transfer assets to a third party. He or she may:

  • Underreport income on tax returns
  • Purchase expensive items and then undervalue or “forget” about these items
  • Transfer stock to friends or business partners
  • Transfer personal assets to a “dummy” company, or a company that exists only on paper
  • Withdraw cash and hide it somewhere or “loan” cash to friends and family members
  • Intentionally overpay the Internal Revenue Service so that money is hidden during divorce and then refunded after the divorce is finalized
  • Postpone salary increases, new contracts, bonuses, or commissions until after the divorce

These are only some of the ways that a spouse may hide assets during divorce. Hiding assets is not only unethical, but it is also against the law. If a divorcing spouse is caught hiding assets, the court has the authority to assign a greater share of the marital assets to the innocent spouse. The spouse who hid assets may also face steep fines and other serious consequences.

Contact a St. Charles Hidden Assets Lawyer

If you believe that your spouse may lie about financial resources during divorce, you need an attorney who can help you uncover the truth. At Shaw Family Law, our experienced Illinois divorce attorneys collaborate with forensic accountants and other financial experts to expose financial deception and get clients the divorce settlement they deserve. To learn more about how we can help you, call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerIllinois child support payment amounts are typically based on the “Income Shares” model. This model uses each parent’s net income, the amount of parenting time each parent is responsible for, and a specially designed formula to determine how much child support an obligor parent must pay. However, this child support calculation method may not be reasonable or appropriate in certain circumstances. Illinois law gives courts the option to deviate from the Income Shares guidelines if the court finds that a deviation is in the best interests of the child.

Child Support Calculations

By law, Illinois courts must follow the Income Shares guidelines for determining child support unless the court finds that a deviation would be more beneficial to the child. Courts consider the following factors when determining whether or not to deviate from the guidelines:

  • The child’s financial resources
  • The child’s physical and emotional wellbeing
  • The needs of the child including his or her educational needs
  • The parents’ income, assets, and financial needs
  • The standard of living the child would most likely have experienced if his or her parents were married

If you or your child’s other parent has a very high income or other special circumstances that may necessitate a deviation from the Income Shares child support calculation method, contact an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer can help you petition the court to disregard the usual calculation method and instead make a child support determination that takes into consideration your unique situation.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order

Life is constantly changing and sometimes parents need to adjust their child support order to reflect those changes. In Illinois, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services gives parents the right to request a child support modification review every three years. During the modification review, the court evaluates the parents’ financial circumstances and other information in order to determine whether or not the child support order should be adjusted. Parents may also be granted a child support modification if a “substantial change in circumstances” necessitates the modification or if the child support order deviates from the Income Shares guidelines by more than 20 percent.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

Child support issues can be especially complex when one or both parents have a high income or other extenuating circumstances. For help establishing child support, enforcing a current child support order, modifying child support, and more, contact Shaw Family Law. Set up a free initial consultation with an accomplished St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen divorcing spouses share children together, the divorce process is often much more involved than divorces not involving children. This is especially true if the spouses are not able to reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. In some divorce cases involving child-related disputes, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed to act as a child representative. The judge may assign a GAL to the case or a spouse may request for a GAL to be assigned. The opinion of a guardian ad litem can have a major impact on the outcome of a child custody case.

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

Unfortunately, in many custody disputes, one or both parents are more interested in “winning” the case than working toward a custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. During a contentious divorce case, the wishes and needs of the children can become obscured. A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who represents the child’s best interests. He or she is tasked with investigating the facts of the case and eventually developing an opinion about what type of child custody arrangement is best for the child. This may be accomplished through evaluating the child’s residence as well as interviewing parents, siblings, teachers, daycare workers, and other people involved in the child’s life. The GAL will also look for evidence that suggests a living environment may be unsafe for the child. He or she may analyze criminal records, health records, school records, and any past or present Child Protective Services cases. The GAL then shares his or her findings and overall opinion with the judge. Although the judge is not required to follow the GAL’s recommendation, this recommendation will most likely carry substantial weight.

Should I Request a GAL?

Some divorcing spouses misunderstand the purpose of a guardian ad litem. They assume that the GAL is an additional attorney who will help them argue their side during the divorce process. However, the GAL does not “work” for one spouse or the other. His or her only allegiance is to the child or children involved in the dispute. You should only request a GAL if you are prepared to be honest and fully cooperate with his or her investigation. If the GAL catches you in a lie, this could significantly reduce your credibility. Many parents request a guardian ad litem because they have concerns that the other parent is not capable of providing a safe, loving home for their child. If you want to learn more about requesting a guardian ad litem, speak to an experienced child custody attorney.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who is responsible for investigating the facts of a child-related legal dispute and presenting a recommendation to the judge. To discuss whether or not assigning a guardian ad litem to your case may be right for you, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free consultation with an accomplished Illinois family law attorney from our firm.

 

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are thinking about adopting a child, you probably have many questions about what the process entails. The steps involved in an Illinois adoption vary dramatically depending on the type of adoption being pursued. Whether you are interested in adopting a relative such as a stepchild, an infant through an adoption agency, an international child, or you are interested in another adoption avenue, getting quality legal support is essential.

Types of Adoption

Relative adoptions: In some cases, a person or a couple may want to adopt a child who is related to them. Many relative adoptions involve a stepparent who wishes to adopt his or her spouse’s child. A child can only have two parents according to the law, so some relative adoptions may require the child’s biological parent to give up his or her parental rights. If the parent is unwilling to do so, the court may involuntarily terminate the parental rights if the parent is found to be “unfit” due to abuse, abandonment, or other issues.

Agency adoptions: Many adoptions take place through private or public adoption agencies.. Public adoption agencies usually care for children who are wards of the state due to abandonment, abuse, or because they are orphans. Many private adoption agencies are managed by charities and social service organizations. Children in private adoption agencies may have been placed for adoption by their parents because the parents believed that adoption would give their child a better life than they could provide on their own.

Private adoptions: Not all non-relative adoptions involve an agency. In a private adoption, adoptive parents work directly with the biological parent. However, there are still a number of legal procedures and requirements that must be met. It is especially important to work with an experienced lawyer during a private adoption. It is also essential to note that the biological mother of a child in a private adoption may change her mind up until the baby is born and she legally signs her consent for the adoption.

International adoptions: Adopting a child from another country comes with a variety of unique legal and financial complications. You will need to be in compliance with U.S. laws as well as the adoption laws in the country you are adopting from. Parents will also need to get an immigrant visa for their child through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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IL divorce lawyerOne of the biggest concerns people have when considering divorce is how the split might affect their finances. Not only will getting a divorce result in the loss of your spouse’s income and/or nonfinancial contributions to your household, you may also be expected to pay child support or spousal support. Illinois spousal support payments are calculated using a number of factors, but the obligor’s income is typically the most influential factor. Before support payments can be calculated, the obligor’s income must be defined.

Determining Illinois Spousal Support Payment Amounts

There are a few different ways that a divorcing spouse may be obligated to pay spousal maintenance. If the spouses had previously signed a valid prenuptial agreement that dictates a spouse’s maintenance obligations, the court will typically uphold the directions contained in the agreement. Spouses may also be required to pay spousal support if there is a large discrepancy in the spouses’ income and assets. The standard of living established during the marriage, each spouse’s health and age, any impairment to the recipient spouse’s future earning capacity, and several other factors are also assessed during spousal maintenance determinations.

According to Illinois statutory guidelines, spousal maintenance is calculated by subtracting 25 percent of the recipient’s net income from 33.3 percent of the obligor’s net income. However, spousal support payments cannot exceed 40 percent of the spouses’ combined net income. It should be noted that in some cases, the court will deviate from these statutory guidelines.

What Is Considered “Net Income?”

If your financial situation is not straightforward, you have multiple sources of income, own your own business, or have other special circumstances, you may wonder exactly how income will be calculated for spousal maintenance payments. The Income Withholding for Support Act and The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act define income for the purpose of spousal support calculations. Typically, net income is calculated by taking gross income and subtracting:

  • Federal and state income tax
  • Self-employment tax
  • Social Security
  • Certain medical expenses
  • Retirement contributions required by law or as a requirement of employment‍
  • Costs associated with repayment of business debt
  • Child support payments from a previous relationship
  • Prior spousal support obligations

Other expenses may also be subtracted from gross income in order to determine net income depending on the circumstances.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerEnding a marriage is considered by many experts to be one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. Even if you were the spouse who suggested the split, the divorce process can be extremely emotionally burdensome. You may have worries about how divorce will affect your finances, your children, your career, and your lifestyle. Fortunately, there are a number of tips that mental health experts say can help you reduce the strain associated with formally ending your marriage.

Make Your Health a Priority

Many busy adults end up putting their own wellbeing quite low on their priority lists. Experts suggest that one of the best things you can do during divorce is to make a conscious effort to keep yourself healthy both mentally and physically. Exercise has shown to have remarkable benefits to both overall health as well as mood. Eating a balanced diet and avoiding the temptation to binge on junk food will also strengthen your body and help you get through this difficult time.

Do Not Fall into the Habit Of Using Drugs and Alcohol to Cope

The flood of emotions surrounding divorce can be hard for anyone to deal with. If you have decided to end your marriage, you may feel ashamed, angry, and heartbroken. Alcohol or drugs may offer a temporary, superficial numbing of these painful emotions, but the long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse will only worsen divorce stress. Furthermore, drug and alcohol use can have a significant impact on your divorce settlement - especially child custody decisions.

Get Support From Family, Friends, and Professionals

Many people feel the need to turn inward and isolate during divorce. However, experts say that this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. Spending time with family and friends can help you get the support and distraction you need. Speaking with a counselor or therapist is also a great way to vent your divorce frustrations to a professional in the safety of a confidential setting. Divorce support groups also offer the opportunity to talk about divorce issues with people who are going through the same things you are.

Consider Mediation

If you and your spouse have disagreements about property division, parental responsibilities and parenting time, or spousal maintenance, you may want to consider family law mediation. During the mediation process, you and your spouse meet with a mediator who is specially trained to help you negotiate your divorce issues. Mediation is an informal, collaborative process that takes place outside of the courtroom. Not only is mediation much less expensive than litigation, it is also significantly less stressful and combative.

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IL divorce lawyerDomestic violence is surprisingly common both in the state of Illinois as well as around the country. Sadly, many victims of abuse stay silent because they do not realize that there are programs that can help them leave an abusive relationship. In Illinois, victims of abuse and stalking have the ability to get a legal court order called an “order of protection.” Protection orders, also called restraining orders in some states, may prohibit the subject of the order from contacting certain protected individuals or going to certain locations. If you have suffered from domestic violence or you are worried that a family or household member may attempt to harm you or your children, you may want to consider obtaining an order of protection.

Emergency Orders of Protection

A protection order can be customized based on your unique needs. It may protect you, your children, anyone who lives or works in your house, adults with disabilities, and your pets. An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) can include many different types of provisions. The EOP may prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim(s) of the protection order including calling, emailing, or texting them. It may also require the abuser to stay a certain distance away from the victim(s) and their home, school, or workplace. Depending on your situation, the protection order may also result in the revocation of the abuser’s Firearm Owner Identification Card which takes away his or her legal right to possess a gun. An EOP can be obtained without the abusive person’s presence and lasts up to 21 days.

Interim Orders of Protection and Plenary Orders of Protection

When someone obtains an Emergency Order of Protection, they will typically schedule a court date for a Plenary Order of Protection hearing. During the Plenary hearing, a judge will listen to your reasons for requesting the protection order and examine evidence that supports your side of the story. Your abuser will also be notified of the hearing and given an opportunity to tell his or her side of the story. If the judge grants the Plenary Order of Protection, it can last up to two years. If you need protection between the termination of the EOP and the start of the Plenary Order of Protection, you may be able to receive an Interim Order of Protection. If an abusive person violates any of the terms of a protection order, he or she is subject to immediate arrest and a variety of criminal consequences.

Contact a Kane County Protection Order Lawyer

Leaving an abusive spouse or escaping other forms of abuse can be a very daunting endeavor. Fortunately, you do not have to face the process alone. Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help you with obtaining a protection order, represent you during the Plenary hearing, and ensure that your rights are not violated. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles family law attorney from our firm.

 

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IL divorce lawyerTypically, the greater number of high-value and complex assets a married couple has, the more complicated property division is during divorce. Property division may be an especially difficult process if the spouses do not agree on how property should be divided or are not willing to be honest and forthcoming about property and debt. A spouse who is planning to divorce may attempt to conceal income or hide assets in order to prevent these assets from being factored into the divorce settlement. If you are considering divorce and you have reason to suspect that your spouse may be hiding assets or lying about finances, an experienced divorce attorney can help you uncover the truth so that you can obtain a fair divorce settlement.

One Spouse Handles The Majority of the Financial Transactions

In many marriages, one spouse handles the finances while the other spouse manages other responsibilities. Although this division of labor works well for many married couples, it can also leave one spouse completely out of the loop when it comes to money issues. If you have traditionally allowed your spouse to pay the bills, file tax returns, and make major financial decisions without your input, this can leave you at a major disadvantage during divorce. It may be a good idea to investigate financial documents like tax returns and look for clues that reveal potential financial deception. For example, you may find that your spouse owns property that you are not aware of through an itemized deduction involving property taxes.

Unusual Behavior and Other Red Flags

A spouse may lie about finances in order to gain an unfair property division arrangement or pay less than his or her fair share of child support or spousal maintenance. He or she may overstate debts and expenses, hide or undervalue property, and report lower than actual income. However, falsifying financial data during divorce can be hard to do without leaving at least some clues behind. Red flags that may hint at financial deception include:

  • Unusual bank activity such as frequent withdrawals or transfers
  • Missing account statements and other financial documents
  • Cash or property being gifted to friends and relatives
  • Defensive and secretive behavior regarding finances
  • Increased international travel
  • Changes to computer and smartphone passwords
  • Mail being rerouted to a different address

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Uncovering financial fraud during divorce can be especially difficult if a spouse has not been kept up-to-date about finances during the marriage or if a couple owns complex or high-value assets. If you have reason to believe that your spouse may attempt to gain an unfair advantage during divorce proceedings through financial deception, contact Shaw Family Law. Our knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorneys collaborate with experienced forensic accountants and other financial experts in order to help spouses obtain a divorce settlement that is based on the truth. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

 

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IL family lawyerDivorced and unmarried parents in Illinois are required to submit a parenting plan, or parenting agreement, to the court. The plan describes how the parents will allocate parental responsibilities and share parenting time. A shared parenting arrangement can leave one parent with significantly less parenting time than he or she would prefer. If you are looking for ways to increase your parenting time, one way to do so may be through the “right of first refusal.”

Understanding Your Right to Enjoy Additional Parenting Time

The right of first refusal refers to a parent’s right to gain additional parenting time when the parent who is assigned parenting time cannot fulfill this commitment. Consider the following example: A father is assigned parenting time, formerly called visitation, every other weekend. He misses his children and wishes he could spend more time with them. On one of the weekends that the children’s mother is assigned parenting time, she must leave town for a work obligation. Because the parents included directions about the right of first refusal in their parenting plan, the mother is required to notify the father about her work trip and give him the opportunity to care for the children during her absence. If the father cannot take on the additional parenting time, then the mother is permitted to find a third-party such as a babysitter or grandparent to care for the children.

Deciding How The Right of First Refusal Will Apply

Parents will need to decide how the right of first refusal will apply to their particular situation and include this information in their parenting plan. Parents should consider:

  • How long a parent’s absence must be in order for the right of first refusal to apply
  • How much advance notice the parent who is originally assigned parenting time should give the other parent if he or she will be absent
  • The amount of time that the other parent has to accept or refuse the additional parenting time
  • Transportation arrangements for the children

It is not always easy for parents to reach an agreement about the right of first refusal or the other terms of their parenting plan. Many parents find that mediation and guidance from an experienced child custody attorney are extremely helpful during the creation of a parenting plan.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

Illinois parents who are planning to divorce will need to create a parenting plan that describes each parent’s child-related rights and responsibilities. If parents cannot reach an agreement about these issues, the court may need to intervene. For help negotiating the terms of your parenting plan and zealous representation during court proceedings, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Kane County family law attorney from our firm by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_parenting_20200302-171405_1.jpgIf you are planning to divorce and you share children with your spouse, you will be required to create a “ parenting agreement” or parenting plan as part of your divorce. The parenting agreement will include key information about how you and your child’s other parent plan to share parental responsibilities and make important decisions about your children. Many divorcing spouses disagree regarding the terms of their parenting agreement. In these cases, mediation and assistance from an experienced family law attorney can be valuable resources.

Defining Each Parent’s Rights and Responsibilities

The parenting agreement is not simply another piece of divorce paperwork. This agreement will act as the main authority regarding each parent’s child-related responsibilities, expectations, and rights after the divorce. Illinois law identifies the elements that must be addressed in the parenting plan. These elements include:

  • How the parents will make significant decisions about the children
  • Each parent's parenting time (formerly called visitation)
  • Transportation arrangements
  • Each parent’s responsibility to notify the other of child-related emergencies, medical care, travel plans, or other significant matters
  • Each parent's right to access children’s school reports, extracurricular reports, medical records, and child care records
  • Directions for mediation if a parent wants to reallocate parenting time or parental responsibilities
  • Information about any future modifications of the parenting plan
  • Requirements regarding any future parental relocations or disputes about potential relocations
  • Directions regarding parent communication with the child during the other parent's parenting time
  • Each parent’s “right of first refusal” meaning each parent’s right to gain extra parenting time when the other parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligation
  • The children's residential address for the purpose of school enrollment
  • Each parent's residential address, contact information, place of employment, and employment contact information and
  • Any other provision that addresses the children’s needs or that will help facilitate cooperative co-parenting

At a minimum, parents are required to adequately address the mandatory elements in their parenting plan. However, it may also be a good idea for parents to include additional information about how they plan to co-parent after their divorce. Voluntary elements in a parenting plan may not be legally enforceable, but this information can go a long way in helping parents avoid child-related disputes in the future.

Contact a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer

Understandably, divorcing parents may not always agree regarding child-related issues. If you are planning to divorce and you and your spouse are struggling to reach an arrangement about child custody or other child-related issues, Shaw Family Law is here to help. We have helped countless divorcing parents resolve divorce-related issues and protect the best interests of their children. Schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs with an experienced Illinois family law attorney from our firm by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

 

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