St. Charles, IL pension division lawyerFor many married couples, planning for the future includes saving money for retirement. This can include 401(k) accounts and pension plans. And just like other assets, should a couple of divorce, any retirement funds they have are often deemed part of the marital estate that must be divided equitably between the two. Unlike other assets, however, dividing pension accounts can be more complex.

Determining Pension Value

There are two things that need to be considered when determining the value of a pension in order to determine how it should be divided in the divorce. The first issue the court must decide is whether or not the pension is, in fact, marital property. In most situations, the value of the pension that was accrued during the marriage is considered marital property, while the value of any portion of the pension that was accrued prior to the marriage is considered separate property. There are situations where the judge may determine that all the pension funds have been commingled and are therefore all part of the marital estate.

The second issue the court will consider is what type of pension plan it is. One type of pension plan is referred to as a defined contribution. This is where a specific amount is deducted from the employee’s paycheck each pay period, such as a 401(k) plan or profit-sharing plan. Since these plans have a specific dollar amount, they are fairly easy to value for the purpose of dividing assets.

The second type of pension plan is referred to as defined benefit. These types of plans are funded by the employers and payouts are calculated with a formula that uses the employee’s age, salary, and how long they worked for the company. These types of plans usually require a financial professional to determine the pension’s value for the purpose of the division of assets.


Once the court has determined the value of the pension and how it will be divided between the couple, it will be necessary to submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in order to establish one spouse as an alternate payee who is entitled to receive a share of the other spouse’s pension.


St. Charles, IL asset division lawyerOne of the most common issues in divorce cases is the family home. For many couples, their home is often the largest asset of their marital estate and becomes a central focus in asset and property division. Along with the financial aspect of the family home, there are also emotional attachments that may exist that can make it harder to give up. Although a spouse may want to keep the family home as part of their share of the marital estate, there are several factors that should be considered when weighing the options.

Financial Factor

One of the main factors to consider when it comes to keeping the family home is the expense. Illinois uses the equitable distribution method for dividing assets in a divorce. This means that if one spouse is awarded the family home, they will either have to buy the other spouse out of the home or give up their share of other assets that have an equitable value as the home. Either way, the spouse who decides to keep the home is usually left with less cash on hand than the other spouse.

Without cash reserves, as well as going from a two-income household to a one-income household, the spouse keeping the home may find it difficult to keep up with all of the home’s expenses. Homeownership typically involves a mortgage, property taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities, and other assorted costs. Before making the decision of keeping the family home, it is important to consider all of these factors and how these expenses will affect your future.

Stability Factor

Many people do decide that there are other important benefits of keeping the family home that outweigh the financial factor. One of the biggest benefits is the stability that staying in the family home provides the couple’s children. Many children are emotionally overwhelmed when their parents go through a divorce and unsure of what their future will look like. Knowing they will still live in the same home, go to the same school, and be near their friends can help a child adjust to the divorce and other changes that divorce brings.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If you have decided to end your marriage, you want to make sure that whatever assets you end up with in the final divorce settlement will provide you with a solid financial foundation for your new life. A St. Charles, IL property division lawyer can evaluate your situation and provide legal guidance on what type of asset distribution will be in your best interest. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.


 Kane County parenting time lawyerWhen parents decide to divorce, part of that divorce process involves establishing allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Even if parents were never legally married, they should still petition the court to legally establish custody if they decide to end their relationship.

Unfortunately, once the court has made its final custody determination, there are parents who will not be happy with the outcome. They may feel the child should be with them for longer periods of time than the court established and even take steps to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time.

There are also parents who will attempt to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time because of some other issue. They may be angry over the breakup or because the other parent has started to date again. Some parents will also interfere with parenting time if the other parent is not meeting their court-ordered child support obligations.

Regardless of why this parental interference is occurring, it is important for all parents to understand the civil – and even potentially criminal – penalties they could face for interfering with the court’s parenting time order.

Criminal Remedies

Abuse of allocated parenting time is considered a petty offense under Illinois law, similar to a traffic violation. In order to pursue criminal charges, the aggrieved parent would need to convince law enforcement that the other parent was interfering with their parenting time. Police would then issue a report to the State’s Attorney, who would prosecute the alleged guilty parent.


Factors in Illinois Stepparent Adoption

Posted on in Family Law

Kane County stepparent adoption lawyerYears ago, the nuclear family typically consisted of a mother, a father, and their biological children. Today’s nuclear families come in all different “shapes and sizes,” including single-parent, blended, same-sex, and extended families. Given the high rate of divorce and remarriage in the United States, it should come as no surprise that stepfamilies have become fairly common, with one or both spouses bringing children from a prior relationship into the marriage. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the biological parent of the children has either passed away or is not an active part of the children’s lives, and the stepparent essentially steps into that absent parent’s role. Many families decide to take steps to make that role a legal one.

Stepparent Adoption

Under Illinois law, there are several factors that must be met in order for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. The first factor is that the stepparent must be legally married to the child’s biological mother or father. This also applies to same-sex couples.

Another factor under Illinois law is that if the child is 14 years of age or older, they must consent to the adoption.

A third factor that applies is the state’s law that does not permit a child to have more than two legal parents. This means that if the child’s other biological parent is not deceased, they must either sign away their parental rights, have disappeared from the child’s life, or have been proven to be an unfit parent.

Adoption Process if One Parent is Missing

Even if the child’s other parent has disappeared, the law states they still have the legal right to object to the adoption. If their location is unknown and there is no way to notify them of the adoption petition by conventional means, then the courts will allow notice by publication. Service by publication is when a legal notice is published in newspapers of the area the parent was last known to have lived in. The notice is published several times and if the parent still does not respond, the courts will consider the adoption an uncontested one.


Factors in Illinois Stepparent Adoption

Posted on in Family Law


Kane County stepparent adoption lawyerYears ago, the nuclear family typically consisted of a mother, a father, and their biological children. Today’s nuclear families come in all different “shapes and sizes,” including single-parent, blended, same-sex, and extended families. Given the high rate of divorce and remarriage in the United States, it should come as no surprise that stepfamilies have become fairly common, with one or both spouses bringing children from a prior relationship into the marriage. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the biological parent of the children has either passed away or is not an active part of the children’s lives, and the stepparent essentially steps into that absent parent’s role. Many families decide to take steps to make that role a legal one.

Stepparent Adoption

Under Illinois law, there are several factors that must be met in order for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. The first factor is that the stepparent must be legally married to the child’s biological mother or father. This also applies to same-sex couples.

Another factor under Illinois law is that if the child is 14 years of age or older, they must consent to the adoption.

A third factor that applies is the state’s law that does not permit a child to have more than two legal parents. This means that if the child’s other biological parent is not deceased, they must either sign away their parental rights, have disappeared from the child’s life, or have been proven to be an unfit parent.


Unenforceable Prenup Provisions

Posted on in Family Law

St. Charles prenuptial agreement lawyerMany engaged couples now make sure that they have a prenuptial agreement on their wedding to-do list. And while most prenups are fairly standard, it is still important to have an experienced family law attorney working with you when putting it together. This is because there are certain things that Illinois law does not allow in prenuptial agreements and could declare the contract void if you ever do divorce.

A valid prenuptial agreement can include the assets and debts that each spouse has, what will be considered marital property and what will be considered separate property, how marital expenses will be paid, how any student loan expenses will be paid, and whether there will be any spousal support should the parties divorce in the future. There should also be a provision regarding any arbitration or mediation requirements. The following are some of these items that are unenforceable.

Prenup Made Under Involuntary Circumstances

The first issue a court will look at to determine the validity of a prenup is whether or not it was made voluntarily by both parties. The agreement can be ruled void if any of the following applied when the contract was signed:

  • Failure to provide full disclosure of assets
  • Fraud
  • Duress to sign the agreement (or undue influence)
  • Unfair or unconscionable provisions

Child Custody and Support Provisions

Illinois law has specific laws when it comes to child custody and child support. Child custody – called allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time under the current state statute – is determined using the “best interest of the child” doctrine. This means that the court will have the final say in matters related to child custody. Couples cannot have provisions in a prenuptial agreement that state how custody should be divided in the event they break up.

The same applies to child support provisions. Because of the laws of the state govern how much a parent should pay based on the income shares model, this is another area where a child support clause in a prenup would be ruled null.


St. Charles, IL child custody lawyerThe issues that need to be decided between a divorcing couple can be difficult. One of the most difficult is deciding how custody of children will be shared. In Illinois, child custody is divided between the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parents must agree – or the court will decide for them – which parent will be responsible for major decisions in a child's life, including their education, medical treatments, and religion, as well as how parents will divide the children’s time between them. 

One of the most difficult parts of parenting time scheduling is the emotional burden, as well as the physical burden, it puts on children. They go from one parent’s house to the other, with a bedroom, different clothes, and toys in each home, and it can be exhausting for them. This is why many parents are turning to “bird’s nest” custody where the children live in the same home all the time, and it is the parents who take turns living there.

How Is Bird’s Nest Custody Handled?

Under a bird’s nest custody plan, the marital home becomes the “nest.” A child lives in the home full-time. The parents will have come up with a parenting time schedule, but it is the parents who stay with the child at the “nest” during their parenting time and leave when the other parent arrives for their parenting time.

Bird’s nest custody can work for parents who have equal parenting time or even in parenting schedules where one parent may only have parenting time every other weekend. No matter what the parenting time schedule is, the most important component this arrangement brings is consistency for the child who sleeps in the same bed every night. This also allows them to go to the same school, play with the same neighbors and friends, and participate in their regular extra-curricular activities with no interruptions because they have to be at the other parent’s home, which may not even be in the same town.

What Are the Downsides to Bird’s Nest Custody?

While there are many benefits to this type of arrangement, there are some factors that parents need to consider carefully before agreeing to it. For one thing, instead of maintaining two separate residences, the parents would be maintaining three – the marital home where the child lives and then their own homes where they stay during their non-parenting times.


St. Charles divorce lawyerWhen a married couple decides to end their marriage, one of the decisions that will have to be made is how their assets and property will be divided. Illinois is an equitable division state, which means that all the couple’s assets will be distributed equitably and fairly, which may not necessarily mean equal. In order to successfully and fairly negotiate a divorce settlement, it is important to understand the different types of assets and property you and your spouse may have.

Separate Property

Separate property is that which one spouse owns as an individual. In an Illinois divorce, the courts do not include separate property in any assets or property that needs to be divided as long as those assets or property remain separate during the marriage. Generally, separate property can include:

  • Any assets or property the spouse had prior to the marriage
  • Any income or profits that the spouse gains from separate property – i.e., rent
  • Any property that the spouse purchased with their separate assets
  • Any gifts or inheritances from third parties received by the spouse during the marriage

Marital Property

Marital property is that which the spouses acquired during the marriage. These are the assets that are included in the final divorce settlement and generally include:

  • Property purchased by either spouse paid for with funds earned during the marriage
  • Wages earned by both spouses during the marriage
  • Businesses started by either spouse during the marriage
  • Contributions made to either spouse’s pension plan during the marriage

Commingled Assets

While separate property and marital property may seem fairly cut and dry, there are many situations where the lines blur – especially if the couple has commingled assets, which essentially means a combining of assets.

For example, in a situation where one spouse owned a home prior to marriage and that is where the couple lived during the marriage, there is a high chance of commingling assets if marital funds were used to pay the mortgage, make improvements, and pay other expenses that all result in an increase in the value of the home. Although the home itself would remain the owner spouse’s property in a divorce, the other spouse could be entitled to a share of the increased equity that has built up in the property during the marriage.


Kane County divorce mediator lawyersA mediator does not have to be a lawyer. In the state of Illinois, a mediator is not legally required to have any type of license or certification. But do you want to trust your divorce to someone who is not familiar with the law or the legal process?   

Family law attorneys make great mediators because they understand what can unfold in court and they are knowledgeable about the law. Electing to end your marriage is not an easy decision but an experienced divorce mediation attorney can help you focus on conflict resolution and craft an effective mediation agreement.  

Benefits of an Attorney-Mediator  

The stakes can be high in a divorce. You may be fighting for custody of your children, pets, spousal support, or property division. But rather than face expensive litigation, mediation is a process in which couples meet with an impartial third party to discuss their differences without going to court. For this process to work, there must be good faith and cooperation.   

Some benefits of a mediator who is also an attorney include:  

  • Negotiation - A certified mediator who is an attorney is a skilled negotiator who can guide the divorcing couple through this challenging process. 
  • Crafting effective agreements – A divorce mediation attorney is adept at drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that can be legally binding because they understand Illinois laws. Keep in mind that the MOU is not enforceable until it is signed by a judge, and it is entered as a court order. 
  • Couples with children - In Illinois, the allocation of parental responsibility and time-sharing must be drafted into a parenting plan. This can often be a source of conflict between both sides.  
  • Spousal support – Another potentially sensitive issue that should be incorporated into the agreement is maintenance or money for a spouse’s expenses which is based on the length of the marriage. 
  • Legal follow-up - If you hire a non-lawyer to mediate your divorce you will likely need to hire an attorney to review the agreement. It is crucial that you understand each decision made during mediation and how it will impact you legally and financially. 
  • Experience - In most counties in Illinois, the court will order mediation to help couples sort out parental responsibilities and parenting time. If you hire a divorce attorney before you see a mediator, the court will likely order mediation. In such cases, you do not choose your mediator but are assigned one from an approved court list. Mediation remains an unregulated field in which the only requirement for a court-approved mediator is taking a 40-hour class.  

Experienced Family Law Mediation   

If you are facing divorce, you may be dreading the negotiation process. You need someone empathetic and knowledgeable about the law. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., attorney Matt Shaw is both. He is a certified mediator who has resolved numerous cases outside of court. With more than three decades of extensive court and trial experience representing men, women, and children in Illinois, attorney Shaw will help you keep things amicable with your soon-to-be ex.  


Kane County divorce attorneyIn Illinois and across the nation, a divorce can have significant financial ramifications for all parties involved, depending on how both parties’ assets are divided. To gain the economic upper hand over their spouse, individuals may attempt to hide portions of their assets to keep money and other resources from being allocated to their partner during the divorce proceedings. If you believe your spouse may be hiding assets, consider hiring a knowledgeable divorce attorney with experience uncovering hidden assets.

How Can Assets Be Hidden?

In the state of Illinois, the law states that marital assets are eligible to be fairly distributed in divorce proceedings. However, this is only if the assets have not already been addressed by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. To secure a more significant percentage of the estate, a spouse may try to hide certain resources or revenue streams. The hiding of assets can take place before or during the divorce proceedings. 

A spouse can attempt to hide assets from their partner in several ways. Some of these ways include:

  • Combining personal finances into business accounts controlled by that spouse  
  • Secretly opening bank or retirement accounts to stockpile resources
  • Spending large amounts of money on items such as jewelry, art, and other luxuries they plan to resell after the divorce
  • “Gifting” high-value items to friends or family members
  • Falsifying documents to hide assets
  • Underreporting their income

How Can Hidden Assets Be Uncovered?

There are three primary options an individual can pursue to account for the assets in their marriage accurately. It is essential to remember that gaining an accurate representation of the marital assets will allow for a fairer distribution of all assets involved in the divorce. Your three options are as follows:

  1. Have your legal counsel look at the numbers - Hiring an experienced divorce attorney means they have analyzed financial statements. Depending on what your lawyer recommends, they may suggest you pursue forensic accounting, which will take an even deeper dive into the assets in the marriage.
  2. Consider hiring a forensic accountant – Forensic accountants are specialists at finding money and other assets. While this can be expensive, it is the most comprehensive option. Forensic accountants are trained in analyzing, interpreting, and summarizing complex financial matters. If your spouse is hiding financial information from you, it is more probable than not that a forensic accountant will bring this information to light.
  3. With the guidance of an attorney, look at the numbers yourself – If you are looking to save on costs, you could consider gathering all your relevant documents and analyzing them yourself. Although this is not as comprehensive an option as hiring a forensic accountant, there are online resources available to help you understand the process of tracking down assets. 

Contact a St. Charles Illinois Divorce Attorney

Divorce can be incredibly stressful, especially when it comes to handling marital assets. To weigh your options, contact an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer to advocate on your behalf while ensuring your rights stay protected. Call 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and private consultation at Shaw Sanders, P.C. today.


5 Tips for Divorcing a Narcissist

Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce lawyerThe term "narcissist" is used to describe someone who is excessively self-involved, lacks empathy, and has an inflated sense of self-importance. An individual with narcissistic tendencies may intentionally provoke arguments and refuse to cooperate. He or she may even use threats or intimidation to upset you.  If you are divorcing a narcissist, it's important to be prepared for these behaviors. Here are five tips for dealing with a narcissist during a divorce.

Ending Your Marriage When Your Spouse Has Narcissistic Tendencies

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) lists the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The criteria include things like grandiosity, sense of entitlement, and being unempathetic. Even if your spouse does not meet the clinical definition of narcissistic, even one or two narcissistic traits can make someone a nightmare to divorce.

If your spouse has narcissistic tendencies, consider the following tips:

  • Take the high road - Your spouse will probably do anything to get a reaction out of you.  The best way to deal with this is to take the high road. Don't stoop to his or her level by arguing or fighting. This will only give your spouse the satisfaction of knowing that he or she can still get to you.
  • Keep communication short and to the point - When you do have to communicate with your spouse, make it brief and to the point. The less you engage with him or her, the better. If your divorce is extremely hostile or there is a history of domestic violence, it may be best to communicate through your perspective attorneys.
  • Document everything - If your spouse is being difficult, make sure to document it. This will be helpful if you need to go to court.
  • Set boundaries - It's important to set boundaries with a narcissist. If he or she is constantly calling or texting you, let him or her know that this is not acceptable and you will only communicate through email or your attorneys.
  • Get support - Dealing with a narcissist can be extremely difficult. Make sure to get support from friends or family members. You may also want to consider therapy to help you deal with the stress of the divorce.

While divorcing a narcissist can be challenging, it is possible to do so without losing your sanity. By following these tips, you can protect yourself both emotionally and legally.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If your spouse has narcissistic tendencies, refuses to cooperate during the divorce process, or has been abusive, you need an aggressive Kane County divorce lawyer protecting your rights and advocating on your behalf. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.


Kane County divorce attorneyWhen parents get divorced, they are encouraged to work together to build a parenting plan that describes child custody arrangements. Parents who negotiate an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time can avoid the stress and expense of child custody litigation. If you are getting divorced and you and your spouse are struggling with custody decisions, consider working with a mediator or family law attorney who can help you negotiate an agreement.

Parenting Agreements in Illinois

There is no one-size-fits-all parenting plan, but there are certain elements that are typically included in Illinois parenting plans. These elements can help ensure that the plan is comprehensive and meets the needs of both parents and children.

A comprehensive parenting plan should address:

  • Allocation of parental responsibilities - Parental responsibilities refer to the parents' authority to make decisions about the child's education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and religious upbringing. In some cases, one parent has full authority to make any and all significant decisions about the child, such as where the child goes to school or the types of medical treatments the child receives. In other cases, parents divide or share parental responsibilities. For example, one parent may make decisions about the child's education while the other parent makes decisions about the child's healthcare.
  • Parenting time schedule - The parenting time schedule outlines when the child will be with each parent. Parents should be sure to include information about parenting time on holidays, school vacations, birthdays, and in other special circumstances.
  • The right of first refusal - The right of first refusal is a provision that allows one parent to have the first opportunity to care for the child if the other parent is unavailable. This can be helpful in situations where one parent works long hours or frequently travels for work.
  • Transportation arrangements - Parents should include detailed transportation arrangements in their parenting plan. This can help avoid conflict and confusion about who is responsible for picking up and dropping off the child.
  • Communication plan - Parents should develop a communication plan to ensure that they can easily communicate with each other about their child. This may include using a parenting app, scheduling regular phone calls, or sending emails or text messages.
  • Resolution of conflict - Parents should include a plan for how they will resolve disagreements or proposed modifications to the parenting agreement. This may involve working with a mediator or family law attorney.

The above are just some of the elements that can be included in an Illinois parenting plan. It is important to tailor the parenting plan to the specific needs of the parents and children involved.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

Our Kane County family law attorneys understand that creating a comprehensive parenting plan can be complicated and frustrating. We are here to help. Call 630-584-5550 to reach Shaw Sanders, P.C. and schedule a free consultation.


st. charles divorce lawyerAccording to national statistics, approximately 90 percent of businesses in the United States are family-owned. These businesses are often the heart of communities, providing jobs and revenue sources, as well as services and products. Unfortunately, with the divorce rate as high as it is, when a couple who own a business decide to end their marriage, the impact their divorce can have on the business can be a significant one. This is why it is critical to have a skilled divorce attorney representing you if a family business is part of your martial estate.

Asset Division in a Divorce

Under Illinois divorce law, when a couple divorces, their martial estate is divided in an “equitable” manner. This is different from community property states that divide a couple’s assets 50/50. With equitable division, each spouse will receive an equitable share of their estate, although the dollar amount will not necessarily be exactly the same.

When a couple owns a business, that business is often the largest asset they own, however, those assets are usually not liquid assets, which can make it more difficult to divide the business. Instead, the assets may in the form of equipment, inventory, accounts receivables, and more.

The result is that either the couple must sell the business and share the proceeds or one spouse must “buy” the other spouse’s share of the business. If this is what is decided, the first step is to determine the value of the business.

In order to “buy” the spouse’s share of the business, the couple may use the buying spouse’s share of the couple’s real estate, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts towards the price.


st. charles divorce lawyerIt is recommended that every adult have an estate plan in place, no matter what their financial status is. An estate plan stipulates what the person’s wishes are when it comes to the distribution of their assets when they die. There are different tools that can be incorporated into an estate plan, including wills and trusts. Unfortunately, one of the things that often get overlooked during and after a divorce is updating an estate plan. So what happens to these plans while the divorce is going on and once it is complete?

What Happens to the Will?

Under Illinois law, just because a spouse has filed a petition for divorce, there is no impact that filing on the estate plan while the process is playing out. This means that a spouse remains the beneficiary of a will until the court has entered a divorce decree. If a spouse was named the executor of the will, that too would remain in effect.

The last thing many people who have filed for divorce would want is their spouse to have control and/or to inherit from their estate should they die while the divorce is pending. But this is exactly what can happen if a divorce is not going to resolve quickly.

There are two legal options a person has in Illinois in this case. The first choice is for the person to change their will and remove their spouse as a beneficiary and executor.

With the second option, a divorce attorney can file what is referred to as a bifurcated divorce. In this type of divorce, the court splits the divorce into two different proceedings. One part is where the court issues an immediate divorce and the second part is where all the issues (i.e., child custody, asset division) are resolved at a later date.


st. charles divorce lawyerBy the time a couple has decided to get a divorce, the acrimony between them is often high. It is not uncommon for the contention between the two spouses to be so thick that they are even unable to have a civil conversation with each other. This can make negotiating divorce issues difficult. If the couple has children, this tension between them can make co-parenting impossible. In these situations, the court may decide to appoint a parenting coordinator.

Parenting Plan

When a divorcing couple does have children, a major part of the divorce settlement is the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time (previously referred to as child custody and visitation). In many divorces, the couple is able to civilly work through and come up with an agreeable parenting plan, usually with the help of their divorce attorneys. But if they cannot get to this point, the court will intervene.


If the couple has significant disagreements about parenting time, the court will order the parents to participate in mediation. The mediator must be on a court-approved list and meet certain requirements, including having either a law degree or an advanced degree in family relationships. The mediator must also have a minimum of two years’ experience in their profession.

If the mediation can help the couple reach an agreement on a parenting plan, that plan will be drafted into a formal parenting time agreement for the court.

Guardian Ad Litem

If the couple is unable to reach an agreement even with the assistance of a mediator, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem. This person is an attorney who is solely focused on what is in the best interests of the child. The guardian ad litem will meet with both parents and the child. In some cases, the guardian ad litem may also meet with extended family members, family friends, the child’s teachers, therapist, and any other appropriate parties.


 st. charles divorce lawyerOne of the main components of a divorce is to divide the assets and property the couple have acquired during their marriage. Under Illinois law, this is done via “equitable distribution.” This means that the court will distribute the assets between the spouses in an equitable manner. Unlike community property states, which split the marital estate 50/50, Illinois courts focus on the division being a “fair” one, not necessarily and equal one.

Marital Property

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the state defines marital property as any property that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage, excluding inheritances or gifts. Other definitions of non-martial property under the law include:

  • Any property that is acquired by a spouse after the court has entered a legal separation judgment.
  • Any property that is specifically included by a legal agreement, such as documented in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
  • Any property acquired before the marriage. This exception may not apply to any retirement plans that spouse may have.
  • Any increase in the value of non-marital property, regardless of where those contributions that result in the increases.

One other factor to consider is that the court also considers marital debt as part of the marital estate and will decide how debt should be divided between the spouses.

Other Issues That Can Impact the Equitable Distribution of the Marital Estate

The equitable distribution of the marital estate may also be affected by other factors that arise in the divorce. One of the most common issues is the comingling of marital and non-martial assets, such as one spouse depositing what would normally be considered non-marital assets into a joint bank account. In these situations, the courts will have to decide if those assets still “retains their identity” or “loses their identity.”

Another common issues is “dissipation of assets.” This occurs when one spouse “wastes” martial assets. This often comes up in divorces where one spouse is cheating on the other or has some type of addiction, like gambling or drugs. When a court determines that one spouse has committed dissipation of assets, it will likely redistribute marital assets in a way that compensates the wronged sposue.


st. charles divorce lawyerThe results of a new study released last week reveal that the number of calls to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline continues to increase each year while the number of domestic violence survivors reaching out to police for help has decreased. The study was conducted by The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. The organization gathered data from a variety of sources, including public agencies, service providers, law enforcement, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, the Department of Children and Family Services, and interviews with survivors.

Serious Statistics

According to the data collected, there were more than 32,000 calls made to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, up by 9 percent from the year before. Although there was an increase in hotline contacts, the number of domestic violence survivors reaching out to police decreased by 5 percent. The reasons cited for that decline by survivors are alarming. Many said that there is a lack of support from law enforcement, including being met with denial by police and even accused of lying.

In contrast, the support that survivors say they receive from community-based programs was cited by survivors as being beneficial, with many saying if it were not for those services, they would still be trapped in their abusive living situations.

Another alarming statistic cited in the study was the problem with access and funding in order to secure safe housing once a survivor has left their abuser. Many victims are unable to access subsidized housing and other public benefits. In fact, less than 6 percent of domestic abuse survivors who applied for housing were approved, for a total of only 86 applicants.

This lack of safe housing is also a problem when survivors seek help from domestic violence shelters. Last year, more than 4,450 survivors were turned away from shelters because there was no space available. Many of these survivors have no financial resources – more than 40 percent of survivors that received help from the state of Illinois last year had an income of less than $500 per month. Sadly, this is far too common, as a recent study in California discovered. According to that study, financial abuse occurs in more than 99 percent of gender-based violence cases.


 illinois divorce lawyerOne of the main factors the court will use when deciding child custody in a divorce is what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Over the past few decades, society’s – and the courts – have changed their understanding of what those best interest actually are. Although there is no “official” legal checklist the court checks off to meet that standard, there are elements the judge will look for when making his or her final decision.

The Age of the Child

The first thing the court will consider is the age of the child. The younger the child, the more “hands-on” care they need. In especially young children, the court may look at which parent has been the primary caretaker thus far, evaluating what type of bond has been established with each parent. In older children, the court may consider what type of arrangement the child prefers.

Parenting Ability

Another element the court will examine is the ability of each of the parents to meet not only the child’s physical needs – such as food, housing, clothing, etc. but also the child’s emotional needs. If a parent has issues with their emotional or physical health, the court may weigh that as well, if the issue would interfere with the parent’s ability to care for the child.


Children need consistency. Their security often depends on knowing their day-to-day routine, with no surprises, when it comes to where they live, go to school, childcare, extra-curricular activities, and more. When deciding custody, a judge will try to keep the child’s living arrangements as close to what they are used to, as long as this is in the child’s best interest. This is especially important if there is any kind of distance between where the parents’ homes.


The safety of the child is always of the utmost important to the court and judges will not hesitate to limit parenting time if there is sufficient evidence that a parent is struggling with an alcohol and/or drug issue, or if there has been a history of any family violence.   


kane county divorce lawyerIf you are thinking about ending your marriage – or have already made the decision to do so – there are likely many questions and concerns you have regarding the divorce process and what will happen during this process. For example, you may be worried about your spouse removing all the funds from any joint bank accounts you have. If you have children and the divorce is contentious, you may be concerned about your spouse making decisions about your children – such as changing their schools or even where they live – without consulting with you first.

In these situations, it is not uncommon for a judge to enter temporary orders in order to prevent either spouse from taking these types of actions without the other spouse’s knowledge.

What Types of Issues Can Temporary Orders Be Issued For?

Either party may request temporary orders – also referred to as temporary relief – regarding property or children. When the court approves a petition for temporary orders, the orders take effect immediately and remain in effect until the court either changes the orders or the divorce is finalized. It is important to remember that just because the judge issues a temporary order, this does not mean that what is in the order will be the same in the final divorce decree.

Some typical provisions include:

  • Financial restraining order – The court can issue a financial restraining order that freezes the couple’s bank accounts or prohibits either spouse from selling marital property. The court may also issue an order that determines which spouse will live in the marital home until the divorce is settled.
  • Child custody – The court will determine the temporary allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. The order can also prohibit either spouse from removing the child beyond the court’s jurisdiction.
  • Child support – If the child will be living primarily with one parent, the court may order the other parent to pay temporary child support.
  • Spousal support – A divorce can mean a significant loss of income for one spouse, especially if they were the stay-at-home parent during the marriage. Temporary spousal support may be ordered to cover home expenses, attorney fees, daycare costs, and more.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If are getting a divorce and are concerned about steps your spouse may take, a dedicated St. Charles, IL divorce lawyer can help you petition the court for the appropriate temporary orders that may apply in your case. In some cases, particularly if there is a substantiated allegation of family violence, a judge may enter temporary orders without a hearing. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.


gray divorce lawyerOne of the fastest-growing groups of people who divorce are those 50 years of age or older. Divorce involving older adults is commonly referred to as “gray divorce.” According to national statistics, since 1990, the rate of gray divorce has doubled. Currently, approximately 25 percent of all divorces that are filed each year in the U.S are by couples who fall into the gray divorce category. It is predicted that by the year 2030, there will be more than 828,000 gray divorces each year.

Impact of Gray Divorce

Unfortunately, study after study reveals that when an older person divorces, the emotional and financial impact of the marriage ending can be even more significant than for their younger counterparts. Older individuals are often left feeling they wasted their lives with the wrong spouse and fear they will end up living what is left of their life alone. Studies show that the levels of depression are higher for a person going through a gray divorce than it is for a person whose spouse has died.

But it is not just the emotional impact that can be devastating for a person going through a gray divorce. The financial impact can be brutal.

A person who goes through a divorce after the age of 50 can expect their “net worth” to drop by at least half. Unfortunately, there are very limited – if any – ways to financially recover from that decrease.

Studies also show that this financial impact hits women harder than it does men. When a woman over the age of 50 gets divorced, their standard of living plummets by 45 percent. That is double the decrease for younger women who divorce.


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