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oak brook divorce lawyerCouples enter marriage with high hopes - nobody wants or expects to get divorced in Illinois. But divorce rates are notoriously high, and many relationships ultimately come to an end. When a couple decides to get divorced, certain issues must be resolved and codified in a formal divorce decree. Asset division, parenting agreements, and child support payments are either agreed upon by both spouses or ordered by a judge and then written in the divorce order. 

It is one of those unfortunate facts of life that both spouses may not be completely satisfied with the divorce arrangements. Under very limited circumstances, a divorce order may be appealed and changed. If you feel as though your divorce judgment was made in error, it is important to understand when divorce decrees can be appealed. 

When Can a Divorce Decree Be Appealed? 

Although the right to appeal is an important part of Illinois law, individuals cannot appeal their divorce decree simply because they dislike it or disagree with the terms. Appeals can only be made within 30 days of the original judgment when there has been a potential error. Examples of errors include: 


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1011733588-min.jpg Divorce can get hostile, and spouses often resort to unusual measures to try to catch each other in the act of wrongdoing. Sometimes spouses will track each other, follow each other’s communications, and even install secret listening devices to find out information they could not get otherwise. Sometimes these actions are simply strange or unethical, but other times they are downright illegal. 

Spying on a spouse is never a good idea. In addition to the fact that illegally-obtained evidence cannot be used in court, spying often backfires because it opens up the perpetrator to the possibility of criminal charges with serious consequences. If you are getting divorced or want to get a divorce and believe your spouse may be monitoring your activities, a qualified Illinois divorce attorney with experience in high-conflict divorce may be able to help you. 

Why Would My Spouse Spy on Me? 

Even though Illinois no longer requires spouses to prove “fault” when they file for divorce, this does not eliminate the fact that spouses may feel compelled to discover or prove that their partner did something wrong. If one spouse suspects the other of lying, cheating, abusing alcohol or drugs, or wasting money behind their back, they may try to collect evidence proving the suspected behavior. Sometimes, spouses are just plain suspicious or controlling.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1660007995-min.jpgGetting divorced in Illinois is often a contentious process, but for spouses dealing with abuse, it can be especially challenging. Research shows an alarming number of Illinois residents deal with domestic violence, and - perhaps most alarming - that victims of domestic violence may be at greatest risk when they try to leave their abuser. 

For those who are afraid that filing for divorce could trigger escalated abusive behavior from their spouse, an Order of Protection may be helpful. There are several types of Orders of Protection, and although each can help protect a victim and their children, a victim’s circumstances will dictate which protection order is appropriate. A qualified Illinois divorce attorney can help you petition the court for an Order of Protection. 

Types of Orders of Protection in Illinois

There are three basic types of Orders of Protection in Illinois. They are as follows: 


oak brook divorce lawyerDivorce is never easy for anyone, but for some divorcing couples, it can turn into a high-conflict nightmare. When one or both spouses are narcissistic or have other toxic personality traits, they may deliberately try to upset or destabilize their partner and make the divorce process very difficult.

Often, spouses seeking divorce will delay discussing it with their partner or filing for divorce because they are worried that it may trigger an escalation in an already difficult relationship. However, staying in a high-conflict or abusive relationship forever is simply not a solution for most people, and at some point, it becomes time to take action. In this blog post, we will look at a few ways spouses can try to reduce anger and bitterness during divorce.

Create a Strong Team and Rely on Them

Individuals getting divorced face an enormous number of stressors. In addition to the breakdown of the relationship, they must tackle major changes with their finances, a reduction in time spent with children, and must often move to a different home. All of this becomes much easier when spouses can create a team of experts, family, and good friends to support them and help them work through the process. 


 Western Spring Divorce AttorneyThe prospect of getting divorced is never easy, but for high-profile or public-facing individuals in Illinois, divorce comes with the additional difficulty of potentially drawing the attention of the public. Public servants, media figures, and high-net-worth individuals often have journalists, photographers, and nosy neighbors who seek personal information, following them and searching for details to sell or discuss online.  

In addition to the frustration and embarrassment this may cause, having personal information go public can make the overall divorce process much more stressful. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your divorce private. An attorney with experience in high-profile divorces can help you maintain privacy while creating a divorce strategy that works to your benefit. 

File for a Protective Order During Discovery

Spouses can file for protective orders during the discovery process when spouses and their attorneys are requesting and passing information back and forth. Protective orders prohibit spouses from sharing private information such as bank statements or business contracts from anyone besides their attorneys. Judges can grant protective orders even if the only reason is to prevent unreasonable annoyance or disadvantages to one spouse. This prevents spouses from going public with the personal details of the other spouse, under threat of being held in contempt of court. 


Posted on in Divorce

Western Springs Family Law AttorneyCreating a parenting plan during divorce is particularly challenging for parents who are so hostile towards each other that even the most minimal communication elicits an argument. Of course, this has a negative impact on the emotional and psychological well-being of parents, but the primary victims of this hostility are children who get exposed to conflict. 

In cases like this, Illinois parents may pursue a strategy called “parallel parenting.” Parallel parenting is an explicit acknowledgment that the children will be better off if the parents communicate as little as possible. 

Prevent Conflict with a Parallel Parenting Plan

Many couples can share the allocation of parental responsibilities, even if they do not get along all the time. But for parents who need to practice parallel parenting, parental responsibilities will not be shared at all - even if each parent has equal parenting time with the children. This is done by addressing issues as specifically as possible within a parenting plan so there is no question as to which parent is responsible for which issue. 


DuPage County Divorce AttorneyWhen two people get married, any assets either spouse owned before the marriage generally remain under the exclusive ownership of the original owner. Many couples sign a prenuptial agreement before getting married to ensure assets that are personally owned remain that way if a couple gets divorced

However, sometimes both spouses use their personal property and money in a way that causes something called “commingling,” or the mixing of individual and marital assets. When a couple decides to get divorced, commingled assets can make it difficult to determine which parts of an asset or bank account belongs to which spouse during the asset division process. This can cause conflict when, for example, a spouse who shared his or her inheritance acted with generosity and now faces having to split the entire amount.

Illinois has strict laws when determining how commingled assets are handled, giving legal preference to a commingled asset over the process of “tracing” the source and use of an asset back far enough to prove individual ownership (or lack thereof, if you are the spouse claiming the previously personal asset is now marital). However, many individuals have successfully protected their premarital assets in divorce despite commingling them during the marriage. 


Burr Ridge Divorce Mediation AttorneysAmerican tabloids love to cover the sultry details of high-profile divorce trials. Consumers may love to read about other people’s divorces, but for those going through a divorce trial, it can be a nightmare. Long wait times between court dates, hostile disputes with former partners, and the expense of a protracted trial -- to say nothing of the public exposure -- are all strong incentives to avoid the trial process altogether. 

Fortunately, Illinois courts encourage divorcing couples to do exactly that. Using mediation, collaborative divorce, or a similar alternative dispute resolution process, even the most high conflict spouses can usually prevent divorce litigation. Although certain issues must be approved by a court before a divorce can be finalized, couples can spare themselves from the stress and expense of a lengthy divorce trial by working towards a mutually agreeable compromise using alternative dispute resolution. 


Mediation is a popular method that is often mandated by Illinois divorce courts before a case can go to trial. The reason is simple: Mediation is really quite effective. Mediators are usually attorneys and are always trained in conflict resolution. They help spouses work out their differences by minimizing conflict and helping everyone stay focused on the relevant issues. 


oak brook child custody lawyerThe “best interests” of a child are the primary concern of Illinois courts and judges when making decisions about a parent’s ability to spend time with and make decisions for their child. But reasonable people can and often do disagree about what is best for a child - parents getting divorced being a prime example - so how does anyone make decisions about what is truly best for a child? 

How Are a Child’s “Best Interests” Determined? 

In a divorce or parenting time modification, Illinois judges encourage parents to work together closely to try to create an arrangement for the children outside of court. When parents are able to cooperate, both parents generally find that, while the parenting plan may not be exactly what they hoped for, they are more satisfied than if a judge made all the decisions on their behalf. 

Unfortunately, it is not always possible for parents to agree on some or all of the parenting arrangements. Irreconcilable disputes about who gets to make important decisions for the children (parental responsibilities) and who gets to have the children in their physical custody (parenting time) can force courts to take action. In cases like this, the court considers many factors when determining the best interests of the child. 


oak brook divorce lawyerCouples owning a million dollars or more in assets face unique challenges when getting divorced in Illinois. There is a lot at stake in a high net worth divorce, and both parties are likely to hire excellent attorneys to represent them. The proceedings can be long and protracted and often involve the assistance of outside experts. 

In this blog, we will discuss some of the most common challenges we see in our clients’ high net worth divorces. If you are considering divorce and are worried about what it might mean for your assets, business interests, or spousal maintenance obligations, contact a qualified Cook County divorce attorney for help.  

Privacy Concerns

Many high net worth couples have public profiles and want to curtail any public interest in their decision to divorce. When couples have been involved in community, business, or political leadership, maintaining privacy during divorce can be more difficult. We go beyond the standard attorney-client relationship and make every attempt to help you protect your privacy and minimize public exposure during your divorce. 


hinsdale spousal maintenance lawyerFormerly known as alimony, spousal maintenance is financial support that must be paid from one spouse to another following a divorce. The unique circumstances of each case determine which spouse is responsible for paying the maintenance and how much and for how long payments must be made. 

Spousal maintenance can be one of the most complex and high-conflict parts of a divorce. The paying spouse often feels as though they are being taken advantage of, and the receiving spouse often feels as though the time and effort they put into the marriage are not sufficiently compensated. 

Regardless of whether you are the paying or receiving spouse, spousal maintenance payments can be subject to change based on a change in your circumstances. In this article, we will address the circumstances in which payments may be modified or terminated, as well as how you can request a modification. 


 illinois parenting lawyerAn unmarried father-to-be may worry that he will have no say in the life or wellbeing of his child. After all, it is the mother who carries the child through pregnancy, and she may feel that if she wants no contact with the father, that is the end of the story. 

Fortunately for fathers, this is simply not true. Illinois law recognizes the importance of fathers and recently updated its laws regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time to reflect the necessity of both parents’ involvement in a child’s life whenever possible. If you are an unmarried father living in Illinois and seeking a relationship with your child, this blog is for you. 

Establish Paternity

Unmarried fathers now have the same rights as mothers - but first, parents have to establish paternity. When a couple is married in Illinois, the mother’s husband is assumed to be the child’s father. However, when a couple is not married, the father will need to prove paternity in order to have parenting rights. There are a few ways to establish paternity: 


IL divorce lawyer Change of Venue

The spouse who files for divorce has the right to choose where to file his or her petition. Once the petition is filed in a certain county, unless there is a change of venue, the divorce proceedings will take place in that county. 

Spouses getting divorced are not necessarily obligated to accept the initial venue. If your spouse has already filed for divorce, you have the right to file for an objection to their venue, and doing so may benefit you in a number of ways. 


IL divorce lawyer Spouses with Addictions

Substance abuse can have a devastating effect on marriages and families. Millions of Americans suffer from an addictive disorder, and the social isolation of the last year and a half has triggered a massive increase in substance use and abuse. 

Other kinds of addiction can wreak havoc on a family as well. Compulsive spending, gambling, pornography use, and even compulsive overeating can strain a couple’s relationship to the breaking point. Addiction does have an impact on the divorce process, so if you are considering divorcing a spouse struggling with addiction, protect yourself by keeping the following things in mind: 


IL PreNup lawyer

Marriage is an exciting period for couples. They often cannot imagine a time when they would not want to share everything, and so they feel as though a prenuptial agreement is not necessary. Sometimes couples avoid creating a prenuptial agreement together because they feel as though it dooms the marriage to fail. 

However, once the marriage takes place and they return to the routine of everyday life, spouses realize that marriage is often a challenging enterprise. What may have once seemed guaranteed may no longer seem so simple. When this happens - and even if it does not - it is beneficial for newly married couples to consider a postnuptial agreement


IL divorce lawyerIn a high conflict divorce, it is common for spouses to disagree about who should have parental responsibilities and parenting time. Where the child should live, who the child spends certain holidays with, and who has the right to make important decisions for the child are all issues about which parents commonly disagree.

Unfortunately, children often get caught in the crosshairs of parental hostilities. Although parents may feel entirely justified in their reasoning for wanting custody of the child, the child’s best interests are often neglected in light of the parents’ disagreements. 

What if Co-Creating a Parenting Plan is Impossible? 

One consequence of this is that spouses may struggle to compromise on a parenting plan. A parenting plan is an agreement that addresses who has decision-making authority (“parental responsibilities”) and who gets to spend time with the child (“parenting time”). Ideally, parents will be able to create a parenting plan on their own through communication and compromise, but when they fail to do so and mediation has also failed, their case will go to court. 


IL divorce lawyerRaising children is an important, difficult, time-consuming endeavor. When a couple gets married and wants to start a family, it is common for them to decide on an arrangement in which one spouse works outside the home and the other spouse stays at home with the children.

Although this arrangement may work well for some families, one common concern for homemakers is what will happen to them in the event of a divorce. The homemaking spouse has often given up many years of being in the workforce, and so has not only given up those years’ worth of income but also the time he or she would have spent building up their career.

Homemakers and Spousal Maintenance

Formerly known as “alimony,” spousal maintenance is payments made from one spouse to the other following the divorce. Spousal maintenance payments are separate from the asset division that takes place during the divorce, although they will likely be affected by the way that asset division takes place. Some of the other factors that affect spousal maintenance are:


IL divorce lawyerHigh-conflict divorces are painful experiences, and they can be made even worse when the custody of a beloved pet is contested. A couple may disagree over who should have full-time custody of the pet or whether one person should have any visitation rights at all. Coming to a resolution on these issues can be difficult and emotionally draining. Some couples have planned to avoid conflict around pet ownership by using a “petnup.”

How Are Pets Treated in Illinois Divorce?

Illinois is one of the few states that allow for animals to be treated as more than property, thanks to a 2018 amendment allowing judges to consider the animal’s best interests when making decisions regarding custody and ownership. Among the factors judges will consider is whether it is actually good for pets to move from one home to another, especially since some pets are very attached to people and places, and moving regularly can be traumatizing and cause behavioral problems.

What Is a Petnup?

One way of mitigating these issues is by using a “petnup,” which gets its name from a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup.” A petnup is a written agreement between a couple determining what will happen to a pet in the event of a divorce or separation. Without a petnup, the only way one spouse could maintain ownership of the pet in the event of a divorce is if they adopted and registered the pet in their name alone and paid for all expenses related to the pet out of their own account and not with joint funds. Even in this situation, there would be no guarantee a divorce judge would grant that spouse sole custody of the pet.


IL divorce lawyerThe cultural stereotype of asset division in divorce is that all marital debts and assets are split 50/50, but the reality is more complicated. While some states do have “community property” where marital assets are divided equally, Illinois is not one of those states.

In Illinois, divorce law requires something called “equitable division.” Equitable division is exactly what it sounds like: Marital assets and debts are divided according to what is fair, rather than right down the middle. Here, we will look at what factors judges can use when determining equity, and other issues that might contribute to the division of marital assets.

What Factors Into Equitability?

Because Illinois is a “no-fault” divorce state, spouses do not have to give a reason for divorce besides irreconcilable differences. Even if one spouse committed an act of infidelity that led to the end of the relationship, spouses cannot “fault” each other in divorce proceedings and courts will not award more marital assets to the spouse who was cheated on.


IL divorce lawyerIf you are considering divorce and feel concerned that it may be a high-conflict divorce, you may want to speak with a divorce attorney without letting your spouse know. The reasons for this are varied: Perhaps you still live with your spouse and fear retaliation or abuse, or you yourself are unsure of how serious you are about pursuing a divorce. You may want to give yourself the upper hand in preparing for the divorce and serving the papers.

Regardless of the reason, it is perfectly legal to meet with a divorce attorney without telling your spouse. You can even file for divorce without telling your spouse – they do not have to know that you are considering divorce until they are served divorce papers. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you seek a confidential meeting with a divorce attorney.

Speak with More than One Attorney

Although it may feel risky to meet with a divorce attorney without your spouse’s knowledge, you need an attorney who is going to represent your interests in a way that feels comfortable and secure. Even though every attorney-client relationship is legally protected, you may not be a good match with the first attorney you meet. Take time to find a firm that listens to your needs and is willing to advocate aggressively on your behalf. Meet in a safe, discrete manner

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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.


2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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