IL family lawyerIn a previous blog, we discussed the many benefits that an engaged couple can gain from signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement or “prenup” protects each spouse’s financial interests and dictates how property division and other issues will be managed in the event of divorce. Many couples find that the act of creating the prenuptial agreement itself is also hugely beneficial to their marriage. When spouses understand their financial rights and responsibilities prior to marriage, they may be less likely to get into arguments about money in the future. Prenups must be written in a way that meets Illinois state guidelines. There are many problems that can cause a prenuptial agreement to be declared invalid.

Each Spouse Must Be Transparent About His or Her Finances

A prenuptial agreement must include a full account of each spouse’s property and debt. Before decisions can be made about how property should be divided in the event of divorce, the spouses must fully understand each other’s financial circumstances. If a spouse does not disclose all of his or her property and debt, the decisions made in the prenup will be based on incomplete information. If it is discovered that a spouse was not honest about finances during the creation of the prenuptial agreement, the document may be considered invalid during divorce proceedings. This is just one of many reasons it is so important to have a qualified family law attorney review any prenuptial or premarital agreement you create with a soon-to-be spouse.

What a Premarital Agreement Cannot Include

A prenuptial agreement cannot include any provisions which dictate how child custody or child support is managed. These are separate issues that are determined by Illinois statute during a divorce. Prenuptial agreements also cannot contain “unconscionable provisions.” These include provisions that are grossly unfair or unreasonable. For example, a provision that assigned all of the marital property to one spouse and left the other with nothing would likely not be enforced by the court. Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement may not be signed under duress. If a spouse was tricked, forced, or coerced into signing a prenup, the document may be thrown out entirely. Spouses must also have enough time to contemplate the terms of a prenuptial agreement. A prenup that is handed to a spouse mere hours before the wedding ceremony would almost certainly be considered invalid.

Contact a St Charles. Family Law Attorney

For help drafting a prenuptial agreement or other family law needs, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling us today at 630-584-5550.

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IL family lawyerOrders of protection, sometimes called restraining orders, are court orders designed to prevent an abusive or harassing individual from further harassing his or her victim. The directions contained in a protection order vary, but many prohibit the person named in the order, the respondent, from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the person who requested the order, called the petitioner. If you or your children are victims of domestic violence, an order of protection may give you the space you need to escape the abusive situation. An order of protection is also a critical step in creating a formal record of the respondent’s harmful actions with the court.

Emergency Orders of Protection Can Be Obtained Without a Hearing

There are three main types of protection orders available in Illinois: an emergency order of protection, interim order of protection, and plenary order of protection. An emergency order of protection (EOP) can be obtained without the respondent’s participation. This is called an 'ex parte' hearing.

To obtain an EOP, you will submit a petition for an emergency order of protection with your local county courthouse. In your petition, explain why you are seeking a protection order and describe the abusive or threatening actions the respondent has committed. An EOP lasts up to 21 days. The order can prohibit the abusive person from coming within a certain distance from or contacting you and/or your children.

The order may also require the person to surrender his or her firearms. The judge can set any other restrictions that he or she finds appropriate. When the court grants an EOP, it also sets a hearing date for a more permanent protection order called a plenary order of protection.

Interim Orders of Protection and Plenary Orders of Protection

A plenary order can last up to two years. You will need to attend a hearing in order to be granted a plenary order of protection. During the hearing, you will need to justify why you are requesting protection from the court. The respondent will have the chance to respond to the accusations leveled against him or her.

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IL family lawyerIllinois courts believe that children have a right to receive financial support from both of their parents- even if those parents are unmarried or divorced. Child support payments can help parents share child-related costs such as tuition, childcare, extracurricular fees, basic necessities, and medical care. While the costs of feeding and clothing your child will likely stay relatively stable throughout his or her childhood, medical expenses can quickly add up to excessive amounts – especially if your child requires ongoing or specialized medical care. Read on to learn about how medical costs are handled under Illinois child support laws.

Special Needs and Extraordinary Medical Costs

Typically, when parents receive a child support order from the court, the order will dictate how routine medical care such as yearly physicals, dental cleanings, and doctor’s visits for minor medical issues are handled. “Extraordinary” medical expenses include out-of-pocket or uninsured medical costs like co-pays, deductibles, or costs associated with major medical interventions like surgery. These costs may not be covered by the child support order you originally received from the court.

If your child has a medical condition that requires medical care above and beyond what is accounted for in your current child support order, you have a few options. One option is to revisit your child support order through a child support modification. Illinois law states that parents are permitted to request a child support modification when there is a major change in either the child’s needs or the parents’ income.

If you are overwhelmed by child-related medical costs, you may be able to request that these additional expenses are included in your child support order. A judge may also require parents to pay medical costs in addition to the child support order. For example, if your child requires treatment for cancer, the judge may require parents to share this cost in addition to the existing child support order. Generally, the court divides extraordinary medical costs between parents proportionately and based on each parent’s income.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

When a child’s financial needs increase dramatically due to a medical condition, managing child support can become very complicated. For sound legal guidance regarding child support modifications and other family law matters, contact an accomplished Kane County family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. We can help you explore your options and decide on a course of action which is in your child’s best interests. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.

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Posted on in Paternity

IL family lawyerWhen a woman gives birth to a child, she automatically becomes the child’s legal mother. Similarly, when a married woman gives birth, her husband is presumed to be the child’s father. The father will not need to take any additional steps to become the legal parent of his or her child. However, the same is not true for unmarried fathers. An unmarried father must formally establish paternity in order to be the official parent of his child. There are several ways that parents can establish paternity in Illinois.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

The easiest and most straightforward way to establish paternity in Illinois is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). A VAP form is typically available at the hospital after the baby is born. You can also obtain a VAP through the county clerk's office, local registrar of vital records, local Department of Human Services office, or child support services office. A VAP must be signed by both parents, so this option may not work in some situations. If your child’s father does not acknowledge his parentage, he will likely refuse to sign a VAP. In this case, you will need to pursue other avenues for establishing paternity.

Administrative Paternity Order

If your child’s father contests that he is the biological father of your child, you may need to pursue an administrative paternity order. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) will first act as a liaison and attempt to establish paternity without the need for legal intervention. If the biological relationship between the alleged father and child is in question, the DHFS will schedule DNA testing and require the father to attend an interview. If the father does not show up to the interview, the DHFS can declare him to be the child’s legal father by default.

Court Intervention

In some situations, paternity cannot be established outside of court. If court intervention is necessary, the DHFS is represented by the State’s Attorney’s Office during the paternity hearing. Both parents are required to attend the court hearing. If the father is not present at the paternity hearing, the judge can establish paternity in his absence.

After paternity is established, the father will be subject to Illinois laws regarding child support. However, establishing paternity does not automatically establish child support. You will need to obtain a child support order through the family courts in order to start receiving child support.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerAlthough we generally think of divorce as the main way to end a marriage, there is technically another means of “undoing” a marriage in Illinois. Annulment is a legal process through which an individual’s invalid marriage is canceled. Unlike a divorce, an annulment makes it as if a person was never married. In Illinois, annulment is referred to as a Declaration of Invalidity. Not just anyone is eligible for a Declaration of Invalidity. You must meet certain criteria in order to have your marriage annulled in Illinois.

Why Do People Get Their Marriages Annulled?

There are a wide variety of reasons that a person may wish to get their marriage annulled. A person may decide to get married on a whim and then later realize that getting married was a mistake. Sometimes, spouses seek an annulment because they learn information about their partner which makes their marriage unreasonable or legally unenforceable. Other times, a person seeks an annulment because they could not legally consent to the marriage in the first place. Many people also seek annulments for religious reasons. However, it is important to note that an annulment through a church or other religious institution is not the same as a legal annulment through the courts.

Grounds for Annulment in Illinois

You must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for an annulment in Illinois. You may be able to have your marriage annulled if:

  • The marriage is prohibited by law because you and your spouse are close relatives.
  • The marriage is bigamous because one of the spouses is still legally married to another person.
  • You or your spouse cannot physically engage in sexual intercourse and the other spouse was unaware of this inability at the time of the marriage.
  • You or your spouse were under age 16 when you got married or were aged 16 or 17 and did not have the required parental permission to marry.
  • You or your spouse were unable to consent to the marriage because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or were otherwise incapacitated at the time of the marriage.
  • The marriage was entered into through fraud. For example, someone who gets married for the sole purpose of avoiding deportation is in a fraudulent marriage.
  • You or your spouse entered into the marriage through force or coercion.

There are certain statutes of limitations that restrict when a person can get an annulment in Illinois. If you are seeking an annulment due to mental incapacity, fraud, duress, force, or intoxication, you must file a petition for annulment within 90 days of learning of the issue. If the marriage is invalid because the spouses are underage, the spouses have until they are 18 years old to seek an annulment.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

If you want to learn more about declaring your marriage invalid, contact a qualified Kane County divorce lawyer from Shaw Family Law, P.C. today. We can help you determine whether or not your marriage qualifies for annulment and explore all of your legal options for ending your marriage. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling us at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements, also called premarital agreements or “prenups,” are some of the most misunderstood legal documents in all of family law. The media often presents prenuptial agreements in a negative light. Television shows and movies can also add to the confusion and misinformation surrounding prenuptial agreements. The truth is that a prenuptial agreement can benefit both members of a marriage in a wide variety of ways.

Prenups Protect the Financial Interests of Both Spouses

The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to determine in advance how property and debt would be divided if the couple gets a divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, assets are divided according to equitable distribution rules in Illinois. It is very possible that one or both spouses will not end up with the property that they wanted when the court makes property division decisions on behalf of the spouses.

  • A prenuptial agreement is especially important if:
  • There is a large difference in the spouses’ income or assets.
  • Either spouse has substantial debt.
  • The spouses have a blended family.
  • One of the spouses owns their own business.
  • One of the spouses has or plans to have long-term investments, vesting opportunities, or stock options from their employer.

In addition to financial protections, many couples find that the process of creating a prenuptial agreement itself is hugely beneficial. As part of drafting a prenup, you and your partner will need to list your assets and debts as well as make decisions about how finances will be managed during the marriage. Having an open dialogue about finances before the marriage can help reduce marital conflict in the future.

Getting a Prenuptial Agreement Does Not Mean You Believe the Marriage Will Fail

The number one falsehood about prenuptial agreements is that signing one means you have doubts about the success of the marriage. Some people falsely assume that a person would only get a premarital agreement if they do not trust their partner. This is simply not true. Just as getting car insurance does not increase your chances of getting into a car accident, getting a prenuptial agreement does not increase your chances of getting a divorce. Most couples enter into a prenuptial agreement because they take their financial responsibilities seriously and understand that all marriages have a possibility of ending. It is better to have a prenuptial agreement in place and not ever need it than to need one and not have it.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

To learn more about how a prenuptial agreement can benefit you and your partner or for other family law needs, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles family lawyer by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen two people marry, many of their possessions change from “yours” and “mine” into “ours.” Couples may share a home, vehicles, property, bank accounts, and more. When a married couple gets divorced, deciding which spouse should retain which assets can be quite difficult. There are many factors that can complicate the already complex process of property division. If you are planning to divorce and need help with asset division, contact an experienced family law attorney.

Complex Assets

Illinois couples have the option to make their own decisions regarding the division of the marital estate. However, couples who disagree about asset division may require court intervention. If a couple owns complex or high-value assets, it is likely that the process of property division will be much more involved. Assets which can complicate the property division process include but are not limited to:

  • Family businesses
  • Trusts
  • Stocks, bonds, and other investments
  • inheritances or gifts
  • Real estate
  • Pensions and 401ks
  • Deferred compensation
  • Royalties
  • Executive bonuses
  • Offshore accounts

Duration of Marriage and Age of Spouses

You may be surprised to learn that the divorce rate for people over 50 years of age has doubled since 1990. More and more older Americans are getting divorced. Many individuals over the age of 50 have accumulated a significant amount of money in a term life insurance, 401k plan, or retirement account. They may also be receiving Social Security benefits. The duration of a marriage can influence several aspects of divorce as well including asset division, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and more. When a marriage of 20 years or more ends, the process of untangling the spouses’ intertwined financial lives can be especially difficult.

Dissipated Assets

Property or funds which are wasted near the end of a marriage are referred to as “dissipated assets.” Examples of dissipated assets can include funds lost to gambling or drug addiction, money spent on a secret affair, and property which was destroyed by another spouse in an act of retaliation. In order to be considered dissipation, the frivolous spending must be “for the sole benefit of one spouse and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.” Furthermore, the spending must take place “when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Generally, an “irreconcilable breakdown” refers to the time when a couple stops making attempts at reconciliation. If you and your legal team can prove that your spouse dissipated significant assets, you may be given a larger share of the marital estate to compensate for the lost property or funds.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

If you are getting divorced and have questions about property division, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. to get the answers you need. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorney by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerUnderstandably, divorce can be a very emotional process. Many people getting divorced struggle to make good financial decisions and not let their emotions dictate their behavior. Some of the most common divorce mistakes stem from short-sightedness and haste regarding finances. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid adding superfluous expense to your divorce. Read on to learn about some of the ways that divorcing individuals inadvertently increase the cost of their divorce and how you can avoid these financial pitfalls.

Mediation is an Affordable Alternative to Court Intervention

Cooperating and negotiating with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse can be one of the hardest parts of the divorce process. However, working with your spouse to come to an agreement on divorce issues is much less expensive than courtroom litigation. If you find it difficult to talk to your spouse about property and debt division, child custody, spousal support, or other divorce-related concerns, mediation may be a useful option. During mediation, a specially-qualified mediator acts as a neutral third-party during negotiations. The mediator helps the divorcing couple reach agreements about divorce issues so that the couple does not need to take the matters to court.

Unhealthy and Expensive Coping Mechanisms Can Cost

Ending a marriage can be an incredibly stressful undertaking. Because of this, many people getting divorced find themselves indulging in comforts like food, alcohol, or fun activities. Experts say that some self-pampering can be beneficial during divorce but overindulging can create serious problems. One recent study found that the risk of developing alcoholism increased for both men and women following a divorce. Using drugs, alcohol, gambling, or excessive retail therapy to avoid negative emotions during divorce can quickly escalate and lead to financial disaster in the future.

Carefully Consider What to Do with Your House

If you are like most people, you have a sentimental attachment to the place you call home. During divorce, the last thing you may want is to be uprooted and forced to move into a new house or apartment. However, it is not always in your best interest to keep the house when you get divorced. Making a monthly mortgage payment and maintaining a home alone is usually much harder than it is with a spouse. For other divorcing spouses, it makes more financial sense for them to keep the home than to sell it. Make sure to consider all of the possible options when it comes to the marital home and consider the long-term consequences of selling or keeping the house.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are getting divorced, contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. to get the help you need. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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IL custody lawyerA child’s well-being should be the top priority for parents going through a divorce. They should want their child to have everything they need throughout the stages of their life. However, often one parent can be substandard in their compliance with the parenting plan agreed upon with their former partner.

After a while of trying to get a co-parent to show up for visitations, send support payments, or just call to talk to a child, they may give up and choose to have a new partner - the child’s stepparent - adopt the little one.

Stepparents adopting their stepchild is not uncommon especially when a biological parent:

  • Is abusive
  • Is an alcoholic or a drug addict
  • Does not show up to scheduled visitations
  • Does not financially support a child
  • Is convicted of a crime that will see them in prison for a long period of time
  • Abandons their child

Being married to the primary decision-maker of the child can give a step-parent some rights, but they are still limited in their own decision-making because there is no biological relationship to the child. If an adoption occurs, the stepparent can then be included in major life choices for the minor including school plans, financial responsibility, and medical procedures.

Each state has a different process when a step-parent wants to adopt a stepchild. Also, each case is sensitive to each particular family since everyone has a different situation they are living through. The state of Illinois requires a step-parent to be a resident of the state for six months before filing for adoption. This is because the adoption will go through a family court locally so no one needs to travel for any reason. After that, the process should take three months to complete.

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IL custody lawyerMost of the courts in Illinois require a couple to go through mediation in cases involving allocation of parental responsibilities, visitation, and relocation before going through the court system. Child support will still be determined by the family court judge, however, all other issues can be settled in mediation.

This right is also given to unmarried parents, but there is an extra step that the couple must go through before heading to mediation.

When a couple has a child without being married, paternity cannot be assumed. It must be proven either through a court-ordered paternity test or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that can be filled out and filed at the time of a child’s birth.

If a father claims the child and all the proper paperwork is filed, the couple can go through a mediator to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities including:

  • Where the child will live and with which parent
  • How much time a child can visit with their non-custodial parent
  • Where the child will attend school
  • Who will be the child’s primary decision-maker on issues of health and religion

Child Support Determination

While some states allow parents to come to an agreed-upon amount for child support payments, Illinois requires that parental partners must have their payments determined by the court system.

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IL divorce lawyerIllinois law went through a change in 2016 in regards to parents relocating with their child after going through a divorce. Prior to the law change, the parent with physical custody of the child was allowed to move within the state whenever they wished.

According to the new law, a parent must get permission from the court if their relocation is over 25 miles from the current address. In some cases, the 25 miles could take the parent and child over Illinois state limits.

What Is the Process to Petition for Relocation?

The Illinois court system likes to make sure that a child is able to see both parents after a divorce takes place. If one parent moves out of state, the other may not get as much of a chance to bond with their child and a parenting plan can become difficult to maintain.

A lot of relocation cases can be handled civilly with both parents agreeing to the relocation and signing the necessary paperwork to avoid court. However, if the non-custodial parent feels like their time with their children are in jeopardy, they can refuse to sign the paperwork. This would lead the primary parent to file a petition for relocation to family court.

The parent looking to relocate would need to bring their written petition to the court a minimum of 60 days before the planned relocation. The petition must include:

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IL custody lawyerWhen the process of a divorce is civil, there is no need for the court to order a partner or parent to stay away from the household. However, when there is domestic violence present in the relationship(s), the victim and/or parent of the victim can petition family court for an order of protection until the divorce process is concluded - or sometimes even further.

Understanding Orders of Protection

Domestic violence is a serious reason why some partners choose to split. However, if the abuser is unhappy about their partner choosing to leave, the abuse can sometimes escalate. If this happens, the victim is encouraged to file for an order of protection which will eliminate contact between victim and abuser during their divorce. This includes:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Physical proximity to each other
  • Physical proximity to the victim’s residence
  • Physical proximity to the minor victim’s school or daycare

When there are children involved, the parent may file for an order of protection that includes them so that the abuser does not have contact with the minors during the process if it is believed the children may also be at risk. In Illinois, there are three types of orders which range in duration of non-contact:

  • Emergency orders, which cover a duration of 14 to 21 days.
  • Interim orders, which cover a duration of 30 days.
  • Plenary orders, which cover a maximum of two years.

All orders are able to be extended when the coverage time comes to conclusion. This must be done through the court as well.

Penalties for Violating an Order of Protection

An abuser needs to be knowingly violating the order of protection for a punishment to be given. In this case, the offender will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If there are children involved during the violation, the charges are elevated to a Class 4 felony.

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IL custody lawyerWith summer over, the holidays are just around the corner and families are starting to make their holiday plans. Parents who have recently divorced often worry that they will not get to share in the bonding moments with their children because of custody reasons.

The state of Illinois does not restrict parental visitations unless they are not in the child’s best interest. The topic of holiday celebrations is left up to the parents’ decision which can be talked about through mediation or on their own.

There are several strategies to come to an agreement that everyone can be happy with:

  • Alternate who the child(ren) spend the holidays with from year to year - make sure to specify which holidays are in question.
  • Split the day; for example, Mom spends Christmas morning with the children and Dad spends Christmas evening with the children.
  • Celebrate each holiday twice on separate days; for example, the children spend Christmas Eve with Mom and Christmas Day with Dad.

These strategies can also be used for personal holidays such as a child’s birthday.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Illinois law does divide parenting time that is suitable for the child’s best interest. The court will assume that both parents are fit to spend time with their children unless one parent brings evidence to the family court judge to prove that the other is not fit to satisfy the child’s mental or physical needs.

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IL custody lawyerIt has been slow going, but the LGBTQ community is steadily gaining more and more equal rights as everybody else. It has been three years now since marriage between same-sex partners has been legal nationwide, but some legal issues are still more difficult for an LGBTQ couple than a heterosexual couple. In the case of divorce, the process of child custody determination is more difficult for a same-sex couple especially if the child is being shared by two fathers.

Illinois Parentage Act of 2015

When same-sex marriage became legal in 2015, the state of Illinois also passed the Parentage Act which provides a guideline when it comes to child custody. The act includes changes in language to suit same-sex marriages; now, there is a gender-neutral presumption of parentage in that a child can have a relationship with another parent other than its mother, but that adult does not have to be male.

Adoption makes the presumption of parentage a little more tricky, but for same-sex marriages that consist of two males, it is one of the only options if the pair want children. If an adoption occurs, both parents should legally adopt the child so that both can be considered parental figures in the minor’s life.

According to the Parentage Act, a person can be presumed parents of the minor if:

  • The child was born during a civil union or marriage
  • The child was born within 300 days of the end of the civil union or marriage
  • The child was born during a civil union or marriage even if the union is later considered invalid
  • After the child is born, the other person enters into marriage - even if invalid - with the minor’s mother

Any of these conditions can be rebutted as long as the attorney has sufficient evidence to fight the presumed parenthood.

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IL family lawyerIn 2017, Illinois lawmakers changed the way family courts determine child support payments. These changes followed some other significant modifications to the state's laws which redefined child custody and visitation as the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time. Divorcing parents should be sure to understand their child support obligations and the methods used to determine the amount of child support payments.

Parents’ Combined Income

Before the change in the law, child support payments were determined using a fairly simple calculation that was based on a fixed percentage of the income earned by the non-custodial parent. Under the new laws, child support payments are calculated based on the combined income of both parents. The courts will determine a child support obligation based on what a married couple who earns that combined income would typically spend to care for their child or children. Each parent will be responsible for a certain portion of that obligation based on their percentage of the combined income.

Parenting Time

In many cases, the majority of parenting time will be awarded to one parent and the other will need to make child support payments. If parenting time is split equally, or nearly so, then child support payments are not only based on the income of each parent but also the expenses of each parent in supporting the child. For example, only one parent may pay health insurance premiums. When the income and expenses of each parent are compared when they are both awarded equal parenting time, one parent may be obligated to make child support payments to the other.

Parental Responsibility

There can be many expenses when raising a child which is why it has been reported that it can cost upwards of $230,000 to provide for a child and nurture them to the age of 18. Just some of these expenses that are a large part of parental responsibility include:

  • Health insurance
  • Childcare
  • Extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs
  • School expenses such as uniforms, shoes, fees for trips, etc.

Some parents, depending on their income, are also required to pay some or all of their child’s college costs. These are calculated based on the income of the parents so long as the child is still considered dependent, which is usually until the age of 24. If a student can prove they support themselves independently of their parents, a waiver may be approved. The cost of school or schools the student is applying to is also considered.

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IL custody lawyerInstead of classifying types of child custody as “joint” - between two parents - or “sole - between one parent - the state of Illinois practices allocation of parental responsibilities. This means that during a divorce, the family court judge and the parents involved will set the terms of a parenting plan that decides who will be the main decision-maker for the children, what amount of time each parent will get with their children, and the rules for when a plan can be modified.

Generally, a parent cannot petition to modify a parenting plan for two years from the date the document was finalized. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act says that parenting plans can only be modified sooner if the child’s physical, emotional, and/or mental well-being is in danger. This can be determined through the enforcement of parental responsibilities.

How Is a Parenting Plan Enforced?

One parent can ask for a petition to check-up on the other parent if they believe the parental responsibilities are not meeting the expectations of the agreement. The parent who is accusing the other of negligence can fill out paperwork describing the evidence they have seen as to how a parenting plan is being violated.

Types of relevant violations include:

  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Missing appointments and tardiness in school drop-offs
  • Substance abuse
  • Deterioration of the child’s physical health and/or hygiene

If the court finds sufficient evidence to suggest that a parent is not meeting the standards of the parenting plan, they can order family counseling and physical education programs to better educate the parents. They can also decide to modify the parenting plan before the two years are complete.

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IL divorce lawyerMany people have heard of prenuptial agreements; however, few know what a postnuptial agreement is. The two are similar but have different time frames when creating them. A “prenup” is a legal document that lays out every part of your marriage and has legal guidelines in the case of divorce. In the past, prenups were reserved for those with extremely high assets, but overtime prenups have become more common. “Postnups” have also begun to rise in popularity. These legal documents are constructed after marriage rather than beforehand. To some, this may seem like a bad omen, but for many, this is reassurance for an unpredictable future.

Common Reasons People Sign a Postnup

The idea of signing an agreement after the wedding is not for everyone; however, there are many situations that warrant it. One of the primary reasons individuals sign postnups is because they did not sign a prenup in time. Prenuptial agreements must be signed three months before the wedding day to verify that both parties signed it willingly. This time sensitivity exists to avoid having wedding jitters as the motivation for the document. Waiting to sign the documents until after the wedding celebration can be a good way to ensure that a postnup is in the best interest of both parties.

Postnups can also help relieve financial stressors that may be causing issues in a marriage. High assets or a large amount of debt incurred by one spouse can quickly replace the loving emotions with those of anger and stress. Creating a postnuptial agreement can help each spouse see their assets and debts in front of them, dividing them where they see fit. Giving a spouse full responsibility for their financial habits can also be a good motivation to improve.

Questions Addressed in a Postnup

The following are common issues that are addressed within a postnuptial agreement:

  • What will you do with debts? Many couples’ biggest fear is getting bogged down by their spouse’s debt that they were never apart of. The document will label both joint and individual debt. Postnups will “assign” debt payment responsibility in the case that any is incurred.
  • How is money divided in a blended family? Most second marriages will prompt the signing of a nuptial agreement to specify “who gets what”. It can be confusing and difficult to determine how things will be divvied up with blended families. These include financial support for children from previous marriages or special needs kids.
  • What about business relations? If spouses are involved in business together, it is crucial that they have legal documentation in the case of a divorce. The postnup will address what the roles of both spouses are in the business and how the business should be divided in a divorce.

Contact a St. Charles Attorney

Being prepared for a possible future is the best way to reduce stress and truly be in the present. Formulating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is one way to put your mind at ease. At Shaw Family Law, our attorneys are experienced in drafting both types of agreements to ensure all possible scenarios are addressed. If you or your spouse are looking to protect yourselves against a possible difficult divorce in the future, contact our experienced Kane County postnuptial agreement attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerThe two areas that cause the most deliberation in divorce cases is child custody arrangements and the division of assets. Going through your finances and properties can cause ugly sides to come out of divorcing couples. Some will claim that certain assets are theirs alone while others will complain that they are not receiving enough in the division process. In Illinois, all marital assets are eligible for equal distribution between both spouses. This can seem unfair to the spouse that is the primary breadwinner of the house or can cause panic for the spouse that relies on these assets to get by after the divorce. These mix of emotions can cause spouses to make illegal attempts to conceal assets.

Common Hiding Places

Hiding assets is not typically done by putting wads of cash in the cookie jar. There are various common tactics used that can attempt to avoid a paper trail of evidence:

  • Watch Your Bank Accounts: The first place to start your search is your personal and shared bank accounts. Monitoring purchases and monetary movement may give initial proof to your suspicion.
  • Unreported Income: If your former spouse is involved in any form of cash enterprise, they may be pocketing funds without notifying the government for tax purposes. While this can be difficult to prove without professional help, comparing your spending habits to your spouse’s and looking back on your financial situation throughout your marriage can be a start.
  • Debt Payments: Some people will spontaneously owe their friends “debts” then have the friend return the money after the divorce is finalized. This will allow them to set money aside and avoid dividing it with you.
  • Shady Business: If your spouse has their own business, they could be using this to their advantage. Sometimes they will wait to charge clients for services until after the divorce. In other cases, they will pay an “employee” who does not actually exist and file the money into an account that they can access after the divorce.

Seek Professional Help in St. Charles, IL

Locating hidden assets can be extremely difficult for someone who does not have experience doing so. While these may be common places to hide money, there are many others that should be looked at to ensure that you receive your equal share of finances. At Shaw Family Law, we work with an experienced forensic accountant and other financial experts to analyze all possible areas of hidden assets. If you suspect that your spouse could be hiding assets from you, contact our Kane County divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

 

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IL divorce lawyerGetting divorced is stressful on many levels. It is emotional and can be financially burdensome at the time of the divorce and in the future. Young couples filing for divorce are not often thinking about retirement; however, properly preparing for the future should be on the mind of divorcees throughout the proceedings. One of the best ways to secure your future financially is to obtain a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). This is an order that ensures the recognition of a second party in receiving a portion of the retirement benefits from their former spouse’s plan. While you may believe that you are entitled to your ex’s retirement benefits, the only legal way to secure this money is through a QDRO.

Who can receive money through a QDRO?

This legal document has limitations regarding who is considered eligible to receive financial assistance. The recipient is known as the “alternate payee” while the plan holder is known as the “participant”. Alternate payees can include spouses, former spouses, children, or other dependents of the participant.

What should be included in a QDRO?

Each retirement plan has individual requirements; however, there is certain information that must be included on every QDRO request. These include:

  1. The name and address of the participant and alternate payee
  2. The name of each plan to which the order applies
  3. The dollar amount or percentage of the benefit to be given to the alternate payee
  4. The number of payments or time period of the order

Can I get a QDRO after my divorce?

QDROs can be filed at any time. Whether you are in the middle of the divorce process or have been divorced for a decade, QDROs do not have a time limit. This is done in part because financial situations can change over time. While some may have a retirement plan with their job at the time of their divorce, they may change jobs later on and find themselves in need of financial support. QDROs can also be filed for after the former spouse’s death; however, it must be consistent with the terms of the retirement plan. QDROs can be filed for long after the divorce is finalized but it is best to obtain one and file the QDRO with the retirement plan as quickly as possible.

Obtaining a QDRO with the Help of a Kane County Attorney

All legal processes go much smoother with an experienced attorney by your side. If you are in the middle of your divorce, you should notify your attorney that you may need the financial assistance later in life. You may also need to contact the plan for information about your spouse’s plan if your spouse is not willing to provide you with that information. At Shaw Family Law, we draft QDROs during or after divorce to ensure that you receive the proper allotment of finances later in life. If you are considering divorce or need assistance drafting a QDRO from a divorce that happened years ago, contact our experienced St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerSeparation is typically seen as the step taken before divorce; however, this is not always the case. Some use separation as a trial period to see a life without their spouse in it while others see separation as a substitute for divorce. Many that are considering separation have already experienced a mental or emotional gap without physical distance coming between them and their spouse. There are three types of separation, each of which gets progressively more serious.

Types of Separation

The following are the three types of separation available to married couples:

  1. Trial Separation: A trial separation can be the “trial period” that couples are looking for when they are having difficulties in their marriage. This form of separation does not require any legal paperwork and is not considered a legal process. Trial separation has the two spouses living apart with the potential to get back together. This form of separation often helps couples decide if their marriage is still meant to be or if divorce is on the horizon.

  2. Permanent Separation: This type of separation occurs when couples decide that they no longer want to be together but do not wish to have legal processes involved. Some choose permanent separation to continue to have financial benefits of a legal marriage. The division of property can become difficult in this form of separation without third-party assistance. Property purchased or debts incurred after the separation but without a divorce present is typically considered separate unless the debts are formed to care for children or the marital home.

  3. Legal Separation: This form is closest to a divorce. Legal processes are involved to officially divide assets, make child custody decisions, and to request financial support. Much like permanent separation, legal separation can be an alternative to divorce; however, legal separation is often the first step towards divorce for unhappy couples. Without a legal divorce, it is impossible to remarry since you legally never ended things.

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