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Cook County family law attorney parenting time

Being a parent is a tremendous responsibility. Being a parent also affords individuals certain rights under Illinois law. For example, a parent has a right to “parenting time” or the right to spend time with his or her child. However, there are situations in which a parent’s parental rights can be terminated. Some parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights while others have their parental rights involuntarily terminated because they are found to be “unfit.”

Voluntary Relinquishment

Children can only have two parents according to Illinois law. If an individual such as a stepparent wishes to become a child’s legal parent, the other parent may need to relinquish his or her parental rights. Once a parent has relinquished his or her parental rights, he or she no longer has a right to parenting time or the right to make decisions about his or her child’s upbringing. The parent is also relieved of child support obligations. Illinois courts always make child-related determinations based on what is in the child’s best interests. Courts generally assume that a child should have financial support from two parents instead of only one. Therefore, courts typically only grant a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights if another individual is prepared to adopt the child.

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DuPage County divorce attorney mediation

When a couple divorces, they must address several difficult and complicated issues. They must reach an agreement about how to split up their assets and debt, what to do with the marital home, how child custody issues will be managed, whether a spouse will receive spousal maintenance, and more. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement, their case may go to trial. Most divorcing spouses want to avoid divorce litigation if possible. Mediation is an alternative resolution method that may help a couple reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce; however, mediation is not right in every case.

Mediation May Not Suffice When There are Complex Legal and Financial Issues

Many couples who are still on relatively good terms wish to resolve divorce issues through family law mediation so that they can avoid a contentious court battle. However, mediators are not required to have legal training or a law degree. They are not there to give you legal advice or representation but instead to facilitate productive discussions and negotiations about the divorce issues. Mediation alone may be insufficient when a couple has a high net worth, owns complex investments, owns a business, or has other unusual financial or legal situations.

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DuPage County divorce attorney asset division

Finances have a tremendous impact on divorce. Without accurate, up-to-date financial information, it is impossible to negotiate a fair divorce settlement. This is why each spouse is required to complete a financial affidavit during the first stages of the Illinois divorce process. Unfortunately, not every spouse is truthful when filling out the affidavit. Spouses may lie about their income, assets, debts, and expenses in order to sway the divorce settlement in their own favor. Doing this is not only unethical, it is also unlawful. An experienced divorce attorney can help protect your rights to marital assets.

Hiding Assets By Transferring Funds

One of the easiest ways to hide money during a divorce is to simply move the funds into a bank account that the other spouse is not aware of. A spouse who wants to artificially lower his or her net worth may transfer money from joint accounts into separate accounts. He or she may even transfer assets to a friend or relative with the understanding that the loan is temporary and that the money will be returned after the divorce. Another way spouses may try to transfer money under the radar is by getting cash back on everyday purchases like groceries. Doing this once or twice will not make a major impact, but over time, thousands of dollars may be transferred into cash this way.

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DuPage County divorce attorney

Divorce is already difficult enough. Adding the stress of being in the public eye can make the divorce process even more daunting. If you or your spouse is well-known or you simply value your privacy, you may have concerns about confidentiality during a divorce. One legal tool for protecting your privacy during your Illinois divorce is a confidentiality agreement. A confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreement is a legal contract that prohibits parties from sharing certain information. If a party breaches the contract, the non-breaching party may be entitled to damages. Confidentiality agreements are often a crucial component in protecting privacy during a high-profile divorce.

When Should A Divorcing Couple Utilize a Confidentiality Agreement?

If you are ending your marriage, you will likely be divulging financial data and other sensitive information during the divorce process. You may even participate in a psychological evaluation, medical evaluation, or home study for child custody-related purposes. Details about marital misconduct such as an affair may also come up during the divorce. If you are a business owner, you may be divulging information like business financials, practices, client information, or other proprietary information. Understandably, you may be worried about this type of information falling into the wrong hands. Information you share with your attorney is already protected under attorney-client privilege. However, any information you share with third parties such as accountants is not automatically protected. A confidentiality agreement can be used to keep confidential information from being shared with the media or other parties.

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Cook County divorce lawyers“Gray divorce” or divorce at an older age is remarkably common in the United States. More and more often, couples in their 50s, 60s, and 70s are choosing to end their marriages and pursue a happier future apart. Making the decision to divorce is difficult regardless of age. However, when a couple over age 50 gets divorced, there are often additional considerations and concerns. If you are an older adult who is thinking about filing for divorce, it is important to educate yourself about the issues you may face.

Legal Considerations and Financial Issues in a Gray Divorce

Divorce involving older adults is often more complicated than divorce involving younger spouses for several reasons. One of these reasons is that older spouses typically own complex assets and assets of a higher value than younger spouses. Before you and your spouse can divide marital property during divorce, a full inventory of your assets will need to be taken. You may also need to have certain assets such as small businesses and investments professionally valued. Retirement funds are an especially crucial issue in gray divorce. Generally, both spouses have a right to any retirement funds that accumulated during the course of the marriage. However, valuing retirement assets and determining how to divide retirement accounts is often more difficult than spouses expect.

It is also very possible that you or your spouse will be entitled to spousal maintenance or alimony. Maintenance if often awarded to spouses who sacrificed career advancement and educational opportunities to perform homemaking or child caretaking services. The amount of alimony a spouse may receive in Illinois is typically determined by statutory formula and calculated based on each spouse’s net income. The duration of spousal maintenance is usually based on the length of the marriage. Divorcing spouses who were married for 20 years or more may be entitled to permanent maintenance.

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Burr Ridge divorce attorney spousal maintenance

In decades past, taking care of children, cooking, cleaning, and maintaining the marital home were largely seen as the wife’s responsibility. Today, American families come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Married couples have the freedom to assign responsibilities according to each spouse’s skillset. More and more often, this means that the majority of the childcare and homemaking duties falls to a husband. If you are a stay-at-home father or “house husband” who is getting divorced, you may have questions about your rights. Fortunately, Illinois law treats men the same as women with regard to spousal maintenance, property division, and other divorce issues.  

Alimony or “Spousal Maintenance” in Illinois

If you have not worked outside the home in several years, you may be concerned about the financial implications of your impending divorce. You may be dependent on your spouse’s income and hesitant to reenter the workforce. Most of the time, when a spouse has sacrificed employment opportunities for the betterment of the marriage or family, that spouse is entitled to alimony or spousal maintenance. However, if you have already signed a prenuptial agreement waiving your right to this financial support, the court will probably uphold this agreement. In the absence of a marital agreement describing a spouse’s right to maintenance, Illinois courts make maintenance determinations based on each spouse’s present and future earning capacity, the impairment to a spouse’s earning capacity caused by his or her focus on domestic duties, the duration of the marriage, and several other factors. The amount of maintenance you may be entitled to will likely be based on Illinois statutory formula. If you and your spouse’s combined income is above $500,000 per year, the court has the discretion to set aside the statutory formula when determining the amount of spousal maintenance.  

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Cook County divorce attorney asset division

If you are like most married people, the property you owned and the property owned by your spouse merged when you got married. According to Illinois law, only marital property, or property held by the marital estate must be split during a divorce. However, telling the difference between marital property and nonmarital property is often much more difficult than it seems. Commingled assets, or assets that contain marital property and non-marital property, can change identity, making asset division much more complex. Property that was once considered marital property may be classified as non-marital property. Likewise, property classified as nonmarital property may become marital property.  

Division of Marital Assets and Debts

One of the most consequential aspects of many divorce cases is the division of assets and debts. This is often especially true in high-income divorces. If you and your spouse do not have a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement describing how to classify and divide assets, you have several options. You and your spouse may be able to reach an agreement about how to divide assets with help from your respective attorneys or through an alternative resolution method like mediation or collaborative law. If you cannot reach a decision outside of court, your case will go to trial and the court will make a decision about how to divide marital property.

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Cook County divorce attorney child custody

Deciding to divorce is a deeply emotional decision. If you are like many people, you may have assumed that the most difficult part of the divorce process would be the actual decision to walk away from the marriage. While the mental aspect of divorce is certainly challenging, legal and logistical concerns can often be just as difficult to navigate. If you are in a high-conflict divorce, you and your spouse may struggle to see eye-to-eye on anything. You may disagree about property division, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and numerous other issues. If you cannot reach a decision about the terms of your divorce, there are several things to keep in mind.

Seek Assistance from a Lawyer and Other Professionals

If you are someone who values your independence, you may be hesitant to reach out for help during your divorce. However, divorce issues are multifaceted and complex – both legally and psychologically. Getting support during a high-conflict divorce is crucial.

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Cook County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

Most people know that child support payments are used to help a divorced parent pay for child-related costs. However, fewer are aware that a similar form of support called spousal support or spousal maintenance exists. Spousal maintenance, which is commonly referred to as alimony, is financial support that a spouse pays to the other spouse during or after divorce. The amount of support that a spouse may be entitled to depends on several factors. If you are interested in pursuing spousal maintenance, an experienced divorce lawyer can help.  

Determining Spousal Maintenance in the Absence of a Marital Agreement

If you and your spouse do not have a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement that addresses spousal maintenance, or, your agreement is considered invalid, the court will make a decision about your entitlement to maintenance. When deciding whether or not to award maintenance to a spouse, the court will consider many factors, including:

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Burr Ridge divorce attorney child support

Child support is an important source of financial support for divorced and unmarried parents. It can also be significant financial responsibility on the part of the paying parent or “obligor.” If you have a high income and are planning to divorce, you may have questions about how your financial status may affect your child support order. Illinois uses the “Income Shares” model to determine child support. The amount an obligor pays in child support is mostly based on the discrepancy between the two parents’ net incomes, but other factors may also play a role in child support calculations.  

Statutory Guidelines for Child Support Payments

Considerable modifications and updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) went into effect in 2017. Child support payments in Illinois used to be based solely on the obligor parent’s income and the number of children requiring support. Illinois now uses a child support calculation method that takes both parents’ net incomes into account. The parent with the majority of parenting time, previously called the custodial parent, receives child support while the parent with less parenting time is the payor. Child support payment amounts based on statutory guidelines are determined by the following main steps:

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Oak Brook divorce attorney hidden assets

When we hear the word “addiction,” most of us assume the addiction is a substance abuse problem. However, many people suffer from addictions that are not related to drugs and alcohol in any way. A shopping addiction, also called compulsive shopping or compulsive buying, can be a major problem that has significant implications on a person’s life as well as the lives of family members. If your spouse is a compulsive shopper or simply spends too much money on unneeded items, you may have concerns about how this excessive spending will influence your divorce.

Protecting Your Financial Future

Most individuals with a shopping addiction are not simply greedy or consumeristic. Many use shopping as a means of coping with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, or other personal struggles. Although their excessive spending may not be malicious, it can have devastating effects on a couple’s finances. If you are planning to divorce your spouse and he or she has a problem with overspending, there are several steps that may help you protect your financial future:

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Burr Ridge divorce attorney spousal maintenance

Spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, can be a valuable source of financial support following a divorce. However, the order for spousal maintenance may become inappropriate if either party’s financial circumstances change dramatically. If you are currently paying spousal support to your ex-spouse or you are the recipient of maintenance payments, you may have questions about how and when a spousal maintenance order can be changed. Illinois courts only grant spousal support modifications if certain qualifying criteria are met.  

Alimony May Be Modified if There is a Substantial Change in Circumstances  

A spousal maintenance obligation typically terminates if the party receiving maintenance remarries or if either party passes away. If the receiving party is cohabitating with a romantic partner in a marriage-like relationship, the paying party may petition the court to have his or her maintenance obligation terminated. Illinois courts may modify the amount or duration of spousal maintenance if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” When determining whether or not to grant a spousal maintenance modification, courts will consider factors such as:

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Western Springs divorce attorney business valuation

Illinois is an equitable distribution state when it comes to the division of assets in a divorce. This means that marital assets are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, based on the spouse’s financial circumstances, employability, health, and more. Whether a couple is determining their own asset and property division arrangement or the court is issuing a property division judgment, a complete and accurate inventory of the couple's assets must be taken. If a spouse owns complex assets such as a business, the value of those assets must be determined before the property can be equitably distributed.

A Forensic Accountant Is Often Necessary

If you and your spouse agree to do so, you have the option to figure out the business’s value on your own. However, most people do not have the skills needed to accurately value a business. Mistakes made during the valuation of your business can lead to arguments between you and your spouse, an unfair divorce settlement, and unnecessary headaches during an already stressful time. Hiring a business valuator may be the best way to ensure that the estimated value of your business is as accurate as possible. If a more in-depth analysis of the business’s finances is necessary, you may want to hire a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant has special investigative and auditing skills, which he or she can use to thoroughly examine the business. The forensic accountant, if he or she is not also qualified to conduct business valuations, will provide vital information to the valuation professional. If you suspect that your spouse may be lying about business revenue or assets, a forensic accountant is essential to make sure you receive your fair share of the marital estate.

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Oak Brook divorce attorney division of assets

You may be surprised to learn that the divorce rate for adults over 50 has more than doubled in the last several decades. Called “gray divorce,” divorce involving older adults often presents unique challenges. One of these challenges involves the division of retirement funds. If you have been out of the workforce for many years, you may be worried about making ends meet without your spouse’s retirement benefits. If you were the main income earner during the marriage, you may have concerns about how much of your hard-earned retirement funds will be awarded to your spouse. Read on to learn about how retirement accounts are divided in an Illinois divorce and how you can obtain the legal support that you need.

Marital Assets Versus Non-Marital Assets

Only marital assets are divided in an Illinois divorce. Non-marital assets, including assets acquired by the spouses before getting married, are not divided. Before a retirement account can be divided, a determination must be made about the account’s identity. Retirement accounts are different from other types of assets because they can be classified as both marital and non-marital. Typically, the portion of the retirement account that a spouse earned before getting married is considered non-marital. The non-marital portion of the account is assigned to the original owner. However, the portion of the retirement account that was earned while the spouses were married is part of the marital estate and therefore subject to division.

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DuPage County child custody attorney

Going through a divorce when you and your spouse have a child together is often much more complicated than a divorce that does not involve a minor child. There are many questions that divorcing parents will need to address as part of the legal process of ending your marriage, including whether you will share custody of your child or assign the majority of the parental responsibilities to one parent. If you plan to have a co-parenting arrangement, you will need to determine which parent the child will spend the majority of his or her time with, how the child will be transported between households, and a number of other issues, such as parenting time during the holidays.

Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Illinois replaced the terms “child custody” and “visitation” with the terms “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in 2016 as part of a major overhaul of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Divorcing parents in Illinois must decide how they will distribute parental responsibilities and parenting time, and these decisions will be formalized in their official parenting plan or parenting agreement.

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Burr Ridge child support attorney

According to Illinois divorce laws, child support obligations are calculated using a method called the “Income Shares” model. In order to determine a child support order that is feasible and adequately provides for the child’s needs, this model takes each parent’s net income, parenting time, and other factors into consideration. Most child support orders terminate when the child turns 18 years old and graduates high school. However, sometimes a child has special needs that require non-minor child support well into adulthood.

Child Support for an Adult With a Disability

Once a child is able to become financially independent and start his or her adult life, child support payments are typically no longer necessary. However, if a child has a disability, he or she may need the financial assistance provided through child support as an adult. Either parent may petition the court for non-minor child support if a child has any type of mental, physical, or intellectual disability. When determining a child support order for a disabled adult child, the court will consider a variety of factors, including:

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Burr Ridge high-asset divorce attorney

As a general rule, the more wealth and property a married couple has, the more complicated their divorce will be. Divorces involving a family business, multiple real estate properties, 401ks, pensions, royalties, offshore accounts, deferred compensation, investments, stocks, trusts, and other complex assets are often especially hard to navigate. One issue that anyone undergoing a high asset divorce should watch out for is hidden assets. If you have reason to suspect that your spouse may be lying about financial information during divorce, speak with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Red Flags of Financial Fraud

In order for a couple to reach a fair divorce settlement, each spouse must be fully transparent regarding his or her income, property, and debt. Decisions regarding property division, child support, spousal maintenance, and other issues are heavily influenced by the spouses’ financial circumstances. When a spouse does not fully disclose his or her assets and income for the purposes of skewing the divorce settlement in his or her favor, this is considered financial fraud. A spouse engaging in financial fraud may undervalue or fail to report certain assets or revenue streams, overstate debts, or claim that his or her expenses are much higher than they actually are.

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DuPage County divorce parenting plan attorney

If you and your spouse have children together, and you are going to get divorced in Illinois, you will be required to create a parenting plan or agreement. A parenting plan outlines the way the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time will be managed after the divorce. In some cases, one parent may have all of the parenting time, often referred to as having “sole custody,” but many divorced couples have a shared parenting arrangement. Coming to an agreement about the required provisions in a parenting plan is not always easy, but with an experienced attorney’s help, you can resolve many of these issues. 

Key Elements of a Shared Parenting Arrangement

There are several issues that must be addressed in your parenting plan. You will need to list your child’s official address for school enrollment purposes as well as each parent’s address and contact information. You will need to decide which parent will have the majority of parenting time as well as how important child-related decision-making responsibilities should be divided or shared between the parents. You will also be required to create a plan for how the child will be transported between the two households. An Illinois parenting plan must also include information about how any future proposed changes to the parenting plan or future parental relocations should be handled. There are also provisions describing other parental rights and responsibilities.

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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.

630-575-8585

2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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