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

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

Spousal Maintenance and Child Support

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

Extensive Negotiations

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

Privacy Concerns

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


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

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

Common High-Value Assets

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

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

Mistakes and Irregularities in Asset Valuation and Division

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

Consult with a Kane County Property Division Attorney

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


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

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

Parental Responsibilities

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

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

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

Parenting Time

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


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

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

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

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

What are Common “Right of First Refusal” Arrangements?

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

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


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

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

Enforcing a Parenting Order

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

Document Violations

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

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


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

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

Living Arrangements and Schedules

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

Holidays and Vacations

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

Healthcare and Education

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


Posted on in Property Division

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

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

Why Get a Postnuptial Agreement if We Are Already Married?

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

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

What Can a Postnuptial Agreement Include?

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

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

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


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

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

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

Lack of Financial Transparency

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

Manipulation or Duress

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Why Do Spouses Try to Hide Assets?

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

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

How Do Spouses Hide Assets in Divorce?

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


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

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

Facts for Deployed Military Parents in Illinois

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

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

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


IL divorce lawyerToo many people getting a divorce in Illinois fail to consider how Social Security benefits are handled until after the divorce is over. Because Social Security law is complex and not subject to division as part of the asset division process, it is easy to overlook.

However, many people are entitled to Social Security benefits according to their former spouse’s work history. If you are getting divorced, you will likely want to understand how federal law provides for situations in which divorcees can obtain Social Security benefits so you do not miss out on money to which you are entitled.

When Can a Divorcee Qualify for Spousal Social Security Benefits?

Because spousal benefits are not automatically given to former spouses, you must apply to receive benefits through the Social Security Administration. No matter which state you live in, Social Security benefits are decided according to federal law. The federal government considers several factors when determining benefit eligibility for divorcees:

  • Your Personal Benefits - It is impossible to collect federal benefits for two people at the same time. Instead, the government will look at your age-based or disability benefits and your spouse's benefits and allow you to collect the greater of the two.
  • Age - You and your former spouse must be at least 62, even if they are not collecting their benefits yet. Collecting benefits through your former spouse does not affect their benefits or obligate them to begin collecting their own.
  • Marriage and Relationship Status - In order to collect your former spouse’s benefits, your marriage with your former spouse must have lasted ten years or more. As of the time you filed for benefits, you must have been divorced from your spouse for at least two years, and you may not be married while collecting.

How Large Will My Social Security Payments Be?

Your benefit amount will depend on the following factors:

  • If your former spouse is alive, your payments will depend on the amount of their benefits. For example, if you are at full retirement age, you can receive half the benefit amount your former spouse receives.
  • If your former spouse has died, you are also entitled to half of their benefits but you may begin collecting at age 60, rather than waiting to be at full retirement age.
  • If you marry someone else before age 60, you may not receive benefits from your former spouse at any time. If you get married after 60, you may.
  • If you begin taking payments before full retirement age, your benefits will be permanently reduced.

Speak with a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Understanding the monetary implications of divorce is a crucial part of your long-term financial well-being. The Kane County divorce attorneys with Shaw Sanders, P.C., have experience helping people like you understand their options under state and federal law. We will advocate for your interests throughout the divorce process and help you plan for life after divorce. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation.


IL divorce lawyerSpousal support is often a contentious issue in an Illinois divorce, but it is of crucial importance to the receiving spouse. Often, one spouse will have sacrificed their career options for many years in order to do the majority of the child care and housekeeping. Even if there are no children involved, the income disparity between spouses can be so extreme that the quality of life a couple has built together is entirely compromised by the divorce. In cases like this, judges are likely to award spousal support payments (previously called “alimony”) to one spouse.

Which Factors Determine Whether Someone Must Pay Spousal Support?

Illinois courts consider many factors when making decisions regarding spousal support payments. The goal is never to punish one spouse and reward the other, but rather to attempt an equitable arrangement at the end of a marriage. The court may consider, but is not limited to, the following factors:

  • Any existing valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
  • The current income of both spouses, as well as their likely future income
  • Any factors which may impact employability, such as a disability
  • The educational attainment of both spouses, as well as their potential to obtain future education or training
  • The contributions each spouse made to the marital estate
  • The quality of life the couple enjoyed while together

How Long Do Spousal Support Payments Last?

Spousal support is generally intended to be rehabilitative, meaning that the payments are ordered to last as long as the recipient needs to become financially independent. In situations like these, the payments will end as soon as the court order expires. However, in situations where a couple was married for twenty years or more, a judge may award spousal support payments for as long as the marriage lasted.

Other factors affecting the length of spousal support payments are remarriage or cohabitation on the part of the receiving spouse or a change in circumstances on the part of the paying spouse. In each case, it is the responsibility of the paying spouse to petition the court for a change in support payments.

Contact a St. Charles, IL Spousal Support Attorney

The attorneys with Shaw Sanders, P.C. recognize that spousal support is often crucial for spouses who may have given up personal career ambitions in order to support their family at home. We will aggressively advocate on your behalf to ensure you get the spousal support to which you are entitled. Contact a Kane County spousal support attorney with Shaw Sanders, P.C. Call us today at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.


IL divorce lawyerA divorce can be a very difficult experience for a stay-at-home parent. If you dedicate the majority of your time to caring for your children and the family home, the end of your marriage can upend your entire life. Many stay-at-home parents are understandably concerned about the financial implications of divorce, like their ability to provide for themselves and their children on their own. However, parenting time can also be a major concern, especially when you are used to seeing your children all the time.

Parenting Time Agreements for Stay-At-Home Parents

There are many reasons why a person may choose to be a stay-at-home parent, but chances are, you and your spouse had some sort of agreement during your marriage that it was best for the family for one of you to stay home. Perhaps this was because one parent was better equipped to provide for the children’s regular care, or because the other parent needed to work outside of the home to provide financially for the family. When you are getting the divorce, these reasons may still hold true, and you and your spouse may be able to negotiate a parenting time schedule in which the stay-at-home parent maintains a greater share of parenting time.

One thing, to keep in mind, however, is that a stay-at-home parent will likely eventually need to find a steady source of income, even if the divorce resolution includes spousal support for a time. When negotiating a parenting time agreement, a stay-at-home parent may want to include some time away from the children during which they can further their education or pursue employment.

Court-Ordered Parenting Time

When parents are unable to reach an agreement on a parenting time schedule, the court will make a decision based on the child’s best interests. Illinois law does not expressly favor one parent over the other; for example, a mother does not have a blanket advantage over a father. However, some of the factors that the court will consider do tend to favor stay-at-home parents. The court will try to prioritize an arrangement that interferes with a child’s routine as little as possible, and will also consider prior caretaking arrangements between the parents and the amount of time that each parent has recently spent caring for the child. This does not mean that a working parent will be granted no parenting time, but it is common for a stay-at-home parent to be granted a larger amount.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

If you are a stay-at-home parent, it is important to consider how you can best protect your interests throughout the divorce process. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we can advise and represent you in negotiations and disputes over parenting time, spousal maintenance, and the division of marital assets. Call us today at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation with a St. Charles parenting time lawyer.


IL divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets married, they make what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment to each other. Unfortunately, things do not always turn out that way, and many marriages last for much shorter timespans. In fact, recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth show that more than 20 percent of first marriages result in divorce or separation before reaching the five-year mark. Marriages can fail in the early years for a number of reasons, and you could find yourself facing the prospect of divorce much sooner than expected.

Contributing Factors in Early Divorces

It may be hard to imagine how a marriage would fail so soon after it begins, but the truth is that there are many serious issues that can come to the surface in the early years of married life. Some examples include:

  • Financial conflicts - For many couples, marriage marks the beginning of sharing financial responsibilities and decision-making. If a couple has not discussed finances before getting married, they may find that they have incompatible priorities, or even that one spouse has been hiding financial troubles from the other.
  • Conflicts related to living together - Many couples also wait until after getting married to move in together, and this can be a difficult adjustment period. Spouses may feel that they have lost their personal time and space, or a spouse may become frustrated with their partner’s lack of contribution to household responsibilities.
  • Lack of communication - A marital relationship can soon fail if spouses do not commit to regular, open communication with each other. Problems may start to arise when one or both spouses hold back from expressing their needs for fear of starting conflict, or when a spouse fails to share important information with their partner.
  • Unmet expectations - Sometimes, a person will decide to get married thinking that it will help them solve existing problems in their relationship, or that their partner will “change their ways” after the marriage, which can result in disappointment when this does not turn out to be the case. Other times, a person may simply realize that their spouse is not who they thought they were before the marriage.
  • Infidelity - When a person cheats on their spouse in the early years of marriage, this can create an obstacle that may be impossible to overcome. Dishonesty about other things can also quickly destroy the trust necessary to sustain a marriage.

What to Expect from the Divorce Process

If your marriage does fail early on, your divorce may be less complicated than a divorce that occurs after many years of marriage. In Illinois, you may even be eligible for an option known as a joint simplified dissolution of marriage if you have few assets and you do not have any children. However, it is still a good idea to consult with an attorney who can help you protect your interests and resolve any difficult challenges you may face.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we know that a divorce is a difficult experience no matter how long you have been married. We take the time to understand the issues you are facing so that we can provide legal representation that meets your needs throughout the divorce process. For a free consultation with a St. Charles, IL divorce lawyer, contact us today at 630-584-5550.



IL divorce lawyerThe division of marital assets in an Illinois divorce is a stressful process under any circumstances, and it can be made worse by a spouse who recklessly or intentionally wastes assets, or uses them for self-serving purposes before the divorce is finalized. The legal term for this behavior is “dissipation,” and there are remedies available to a spouse who has been wronged by it. However, it is important to understand what actually qualifies as dissipation to make sure you have grounds to file a claim against your spouse.

Uncovering Signs of Asset Dissipation

Before you can go about claiming dissipation, you need to be aware that it is happening. In some cases, a spouse’s wasting of marital assets may be open and obvious, especially if they are doing it out of spite or a desire to hurt the other spouse. However, it is more common for a spouse to try to hide their dissipation. You may be able to find signs of dissipation on your own by carefully reviewing your joint bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial documents. You can also enlist the services of a forensic accountant to find signs that you may have missed.

What Qualifies as Dissipation in Illinois?

You may have questions and concerns about your spouse’s spending behavior in a variety of circumstances, but only certain kinds of behaviors qualify as dissipation from a legal standpoint. You can better determine whether your spouse is dissipating assets by asking yourself the following questions about their behavior:

  • Did you approve of your spouse’s use of the assets? If you knew of your spouse’s spending behavior and agreed to it at the time, it will be difficult to make a case for dissipation even if you later decide that the behavior was inappropriate. On the other hand, use of assets without your knowledge or consent may qualify as dissipation.
  • Did you benefit from your spouse’s use of the assets? Even if you did not know in advance of your spouse’s intention to use assets, it will be difficult to claim dissipation if you benefited from their behavior in some way, like using a car that they bought or going on a trip that they paid for. However, if your spouse used the assets for entirely selfish purposes, like gambling, paying for a solo trip, or buying gifts for an extramarital affair, a claim of dissipation may be more successful.
  • Did the behavior occur after your marriage had failed? Only behavior that took place after the start of an “irretrievable breakdown” in your marriage qualifies as dissipation. You may be able to demonstrate such a breakdown if you were already living apart if you were aware of your spouse’s affair, or one of you had already filed for divorce, for example.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If you believe your spouse has dissipated marital assets, the St. Charles divorce lawyers at Shaw Sanders, P.C. can help you file a claim for reimbursement. With our help, you can better protect your interests throughout the division of marital property. Call us today for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.



IL family lawyerWhen a baby is born to unmarried parents in Illinois, the father is usually not automatically recognized as the child’s legal parent. Establishing legal paternity requires further action through either the Illinois court system or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Though it may seem daunting to attempt to resolve a legal matter, establishing paternity can actually be quite simple, and it can offer significant benefits for everyone involved.

Benefits for the Child

The most important reason to establish legal paternity is to better provide for the child’s needs. A man who has been recognized as a child’s legal father is required to contribute his fair share to child support, including for basic childcare expenses and any extraordinary needs that the child may have. A child may also be entitled to many other benefits through their legal father, including military and veteran’s benefits, Social Security benefits, health insurance benefits, and inheritance benefits.

Benefits for the Father

While establishing paternity comes with financial responsibility for the father, it also provides crucial benefits for fathers who want to protect their relationships with their children. Without establishing parentage, a father has no standing to pursue parental responsibilities or parenting time. However, upon being recognized as the child’s legal parent, a man can petition for these parental rights. An unmarried father can even be granted sole or primary custody if the court determines that doing so is in the child’s best interests.

Benefits for the Mother

For the child’s mother, establishing a man’s paternity can not only provide peace of mind that the child will be provided for, but it can also help the mother secure valuable assistance. A mother with limited financial means may depend on a father’s child support contributions to provide for the child’s needs. If the mother and father can agree to an arrangement for sharing parenting time and parental responsibilities, the father can also support the mother in their mutual duty to raise the child and provide emotional support.

Options for Establishing Paternity in Illinois

The most straightforward way to secure all of the benefits of legal paternity is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital when the child is born. If this is not possible, either parent can petition the court for adjudication of paternity, either for the purposes of securing child support or grounds to pursue parental rights.


IL Divorce lawyerWhen a couple is preparing for divorce and considering their options, many will find that mediation is a much better alternative to a protracted, hostile divorce court battle. Mediation allows couples to have greater control over the entire process, and to settle their differences with a more satisfactory compromise than they might if a judge makes the decisions for them.

However, mediation is still a complex and emotionally exhausting legal process, and it takes some preparation. Important decisions must be made that will have long-term effects on the couples’ lives, as well as those of any children.

Here are a few tips that will help spouses prepare for the process of mediation.

Know Your Priorities

It is not easy to advocate for yourself when you do not really know what you want. Understand that compromise is going to be a crucial part of mediation, and contemplate which things are most important to you and why. If your family has a unique Christmas tradition, then maybe spending Christmas day with your child will be much more important for you than visitation time over Easter.

It may also be helpful to anticipate the things your spouse is likely to request so you can enter mediation prepared to negotiate a solution that is beneficial to you both.


IL family attorneyIn Illinois, parental income has long been an important factor in establishing the terms of a child support order. Since 2017, this now includes the income of both parents, rather than just the paying parent. As such, changes to either parent’s income can have a significant impact on the amount to be paid. Perhaps the most dramatic change in income a parent may experience is the loss of their job. If you or your child’s other parent have recently become unemployed, you should be aware of how this can affect child support moving forward.

Unemployment and Initial Child Support Calculations

Whether a child support order is established during the divorce process or after an adjudication of paternity, the size of the payments is determined in large part by each parent’s income at the time. Obviously, when a parent is unemployed, they will not have any wages to factor into the calculation, but unemployment can still influence the calculation in other ways, depending on whether a parent is involuntarily or voluntarily unemployed.

When a parent has lost their job involuntarily, perhaps due to lay-offs, furloughs, or other forms of employment termination, they may be eligible for state unemployment insurance benefits in Illinois. These benefits typically come in the form of bi-weekly payments, with increased benefits available for parents who have a dependent child. These benefits are considered income for the purposes of calculating child support, so a parent on unemployment benefits will need to report the amount to the court.

When a parent is voluntarily unemployed, meaning they have left their job or have chosen not to pursue employment, they will usually not be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, in these cases, the court may consider the parent’s potential income when calculating child support. The court will look at evidence including the parent’s past earnings, employment history, and education, as well as job opportunities within the community. Potential income usually applies to working parents who may be attempting to reduce their child support obligation, rather than stay-at-home parents who have forgone employment to focus on caring for their children.

Modifying Child Support Due to Unemployment

In many cases, working parents become involuntarily unemployed after a child support order has been issued. A receiving parent who loses their job could need more resources to provide for their children, while a paying parent could struggle to fulfill the court-ordered payments. In these cases, either parent can petition the court for a modification of the child support order based on a substantial change in circumstances. Court approval of a modification can provide financial relief, but it is important to make every effort to follow the original order until the petition has been resolved.


IL family law attorneyIf you are preparing for a divorce, you may be familiar with the resolution method of mediation. This option is desirable for many divorcing couples, as it allows them to work through their issues peaceably and privately, maintain control over the outcome, and often save time and money. You may be surprised to learn that mediation services are available not just for divorce, but also for several other family law matters.

Family Law Mediation Services in Illinois

As long as both parties are willing to come to the table and negotiate an agreement, mediation can work to resolve many family law disputes that would otherwise have to be addressed in court. Family law mediators are well-versed in a variety of cases, and they have the skills and experience to help spouses, parents, and other parties identify common ground while remaining neutral themselves.

Family law mediation can help you address issues including:

  • Property division - Mediation often helps divorcing couples avoid having to sell or split a large part of their marital assets, and instead allows for more satisfying resolutions in which each spouse can keep certain important properties intact.
  • Spousal support - Including spousal maintenance in your resolution can also allow for a more customized division of assets. You may be able to reach a spousal support agreement through mediation even in cases when the court would not typically order it.
  • Parental responsibilities and parenting time - Mediation can help divorced and unmarried parents create a parenting plan that meets both of their needs, addressing issues including schedules, transportation, communication, and decision-making.
  • Parental relocation - When a single parent wants to move with their children, mediation can help them reach a fair agreement with the other parent rather than having to fight the issue in court.
  • Order modifications - In addition to parenting time modifications in relocation cases, mediation can also help former spouses or co-parents agree on modifications to support orders or other child custody details. If you are struggling to uphold an order, attending mediation could help you avoid enforcement actions.
  • Visitation - In some cases, mediation can help to resolve disputes between parents, grandparents, and other relatives who are seeking visitation rights regarding a child.

Though mediation is a good option in many different situations, it should not be used for cases involving domestic violence or anything else that endangers you or your children. In these cases, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you protect yourself through the court system.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Mediation Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we know the benefits of mediation in many divorce and family law cases. Our Attorney Matt Shaw is also a trained mediator, and he can help you decide whether to pursue mediation and what to expect if you do. Contact our St. Charles family law attorney today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation.


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