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Top Chicago Area Divorce Lawyers
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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

Divorce involving children brings about additional concerns. Parents will need to decide how they will make major decisions about the child, including where he or she will attend school, what types of extracurricular activities he or she will participate in, how the child’s medical care will be managed, and much more. Parents must also decide how they will divide “parenting time” or the time that a parent is directly caring for a child. Disagreements about parental responsibilities and parenting time can be difficult to overcome. Understandably, most parents have strong opinions about what they think is best for their child. Read on to learn about some of the most common child custody dispute resolution methods in Illinois divorce cases.

Negotiating an Agreement Through Your Lawyers

Divorcing parents in Illinois must make specific plans about how parenting duties will be handled after the divorce. In their “parenting plan,” the parents will describe which parent will make decisions about the child’s healthcare, education, religious upbringing, and other major concerns. They must also describe a method or schedule for dividing parenting time. The parenting plan also describes the child-related rights that parents have, including the right to know about child-related emergencies, access to the child’s school reports and medical records, and more.

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Cook County divorce attorney asset division

During a divorce, spouses are expected to disclose truthful information about their assets, liabilities, expenses, and income. However, some spouses lie about their financial situation in an attempt to gain an advantage during a divorce. If you are thinking of divorce and your spouse owns a business, it is important to know what you are entitled to in the divorce. It is also crucial that you are aware of the ways that some business owners hide assets or falsify financial information in order to manipulate property distribution.

Underreporting Business Revenue and Undervaluing Business Assets

Spouses who want to manipulate the divorce settlement may use their business to hide assets and income. Typically, this is accomplished by undervaluing the business or reporting lower-than-actual business revenue. A business owner may temporarily lower business revenue or assets by:

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DuPage County family law attorney divorce

While every divorce is bound to involve some conflict, some divorce cases are much more contentious than others. Toxic spouses may engage in behaviors that intentionally upset the other spouse, undermine progress during the divorce, and make the process of ending their marriage more difficult than it needs to be. If you suspect that your divorce will be wrought with conflict, you should know that there are steps you can take to protect your rights and avoid falling into common high-conflict divorce pitfalls.

Do Not Stoop to Your Spouse’s Level

A toxic spouse may spread lies about you, threaten to ruin you financially or even attempt to keep your children away from you. Anyone would be infuriated by this type of conduct. Unfortunately, the most important thing you can do in a high-conflict divorce is also the hardest to actually accomplish. You must avoid responding to your spouse’s manipulative and offensive behavior by counterattacking him or her. Ignore your spouse’s calls, texts, and social media posts. If needed, request an emergency order of protection to stop your spouse from harassing you.

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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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Cook County divorce attorney

The need for companionship is only human. For many, the end of marriage offers hope of a brighter future with a new romantic interest. If you are in the middle of a divorce or soon will be, you may wonder if it is okay to start dating while the divorce is still ongoing. You may even already have a boyfriend or girlfriend and you are wondering how this can influence your divorce. Only you can know if dating during divorce is right for you, but it is important to know how dating during divorce can affect your divorce proceedings.

Dating During Divorce May Have Personal and Emotional Implications

If you do decide to date during your divorce, you should know that this may increase the level of contention between you and your spouse. Divorces are already quite emotional. Dating someone new before the marriage is officially over may lead to anger and resentment. You and your spouse may have planned on an uncontested divorce, but your spouse suddenly changes his or her mind once he or she learns that you are dating someone new.

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Cook County divorce attorney child support

The average cost of raising a child through age 18 is estimated to be over $250,000. As any parent can tell you, having children is expensive. Child support is a key source of financial assistance for single parents in Illinois. Most unmarried and divorced parents rely on child support for help with housing, education, childcare, food, and other costs. These financial needs do not disappear because the parent responsible for paying child support is incarcerated in jail or prison.  

Illinois Courts May Deviate from Statutory Guidelines When a Parent is in Jail

Illinois child support payments are based on both parents’ net incomes and, if the parents have a similar amount of parenting time, each parent’s allocated parenting time. The amount that a parent pays in child support is proportional to his or her net income. The parent with the greater share of parenting time receives child support from the parent with less parenting time or “obligor.” Usually, the amount of child support that an obligor pays is determined by statutory formulas and tables. However, an incarcerated parent is usually not earning an income while in prison so courts may deviate from the statutory formulas when a parent is incarcerated.

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Cook County divorce attorney

Reaching an agreement on divorce issues like property division, child custody, and spousal maintenance is often difficult to do without help. If you are considering divorce, you may be looking for alternative dispute resolution methods including collaborative law and mediation. These methods may allow you to reach an agreement about the terms of your divorce without going through a stressful and expensive litigation process. Reaching an agreement without court intervention may also allow you to keep the divorce as amicable as possible. However, these dispute resolution methods may not be for everyone. A skilled divorce attorney can provide personalized guidance about how best to resolve disputes during divorce.

Working With a Mediator to Negotiate Divorce Issues

During divorce mediation, divorcing spouses work with a mediator to discuss the unresolved divorce issues and, ideally, reach a mutually agreeable solution to those issues. The mediator helps the couple find common ground, explore possibilities, and negotiate the issues constructively. Mediation has worked for countless couples, however, there are limits to mediation. A mediator cannot give you legal advice and cannot represent you in court should your case end up going to litigation. Mediation may not be appropriate if a spouse has a history of abuse or if there is a major power imbalance between the spouses.

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Western Springs family law attorney prenuptial agreement

Public opinion about prenuptial agreements has been shifting in the last several decades. Prenuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular among younger generations. While there is still a significant amount of misinformation circulating about prenuptial agreements, more and more people are realizing the benefits of creating a “prenup.” If you are thinking about signing a prenuptial agreement before getting married, it is essential that you understand the standards these documents must meet. Mistakes made during the creation or signing of a prenuptial agreement may invalidate part or all of the contract.

Inaccurate or Incomplete Financial Disclosure

A prenuptial agreement can address many important issues that will arise if the couple divorces or if a spouse passes away. Property and debt division, spousal maintenance or alimony, and other financial issues may be decided upon in advance through a prenuptial agreement. In order for an engaged couple to reach an agreement about the terms of the prenuptial agreement, both spouses must provide a full inventory of their assets, debts, and income. If a spouse forgets to include important financial information or lies about finances, the agreements made in the prenup will be based on inaccurate information. This means that the document may be invalid and will not be accepted by the court.

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Western Springs divorce lawyer

More and more older couples are getting divorced. Recent trends show that individuals in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s are choosing to leave their marriages and pursue a happier post-divorce future. Going through a divorce after a long marriage and getting divorced at an older age both come with certain complications and obstacles. If you are over age 50 and thinking about divorce, educating yourself about your rights and responsibilities is one way to avoid costly mistakes.

Remaining Ignorant of Your Finances

Ending a marriage is as much a financial separation as it is a personal separation. Typically, the longer a couple has been married, the more assets and debt they have accumulated. You and your spouse may own complex assets, investments, and retirement accounts that will need to be properly valued during a divorce. The lines between separate property, which legally belongs to only one spouse, and marital property, which belongs to both spouses, may have been blurred considerably. One way to prepare for divorce is to start inventorying your assets. Gather copies of tax returns, bank statements, credit card information, pay stubs, loan documents, retirement account information, life insurance paperwork, and other important financial documents. When you know exactly what you and your spouse own, you are in a much better position to negotiate a fair property division settlement.

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Western Spring divorce attorney child support

Divorce brings about a number of financial implications. If you are a parent planning to divorce, one of the most pressing financial concerns you may be facing is your child’s college education. Public and private university tuition has skyrocketed in the last several decades. While you were married, you probably assumed that you and your spouse would finance your child’s college education together. Now that your Illinois marriage is ending, you may be unsure of how to deal with college-related costs for your son or daughter.

Child Support May Extend into College Years

When most people think about child support, they assume that a recipient parent is only entitled to support while the child is still a minor. However, an Illinois child support obligation may extend past the child’s 18th birthday if he or she is still in school. Illinois law gives courts the authority to allocate college-related expenses to unmarried or divorced parents. These expenses typically include tuition, textbook rental, course fees, housing, and healthcare. In many cases, a divorced couple’s marital settlement agreement addresses how college expenses should be handled.

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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 attorney parenting time

If you are a parent who is planning to divorce, you may be unsure of how you and your spouse will share parental responsibilities and parenting time. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may not see eye to eye about parenting roles or what is best for your child and you are worried about how this will affect your ability to share custody. Fortunately, you and your spouse have the ability to design your own custody arrangement that takes your complicated relationship into consideration. There are two main strategies when it comes to sharing parental responsibilities and parenting time: co-parenting and parallel parenting.  

Co-Parenting Involves Collaboration and Teamwork

The term co-parenting is typically used to refer to situations in which divorced or unmarried parents work together to raise their children. They may communicate about the children regularly and keep each other up to date about what happened during their parenting time. The co-parenting relationship is often complex in nature. Each parent can still have some residual anger or resentment toward the other. They may also sometimes disagree with the parenting decisions that the other parent makes. However, both parents strive to be amicable and cooperative.

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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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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

Several years ago, Illinois enacted considerable changes to the way child custody is allocated to divorced or unmarried parents. The terms child custody and visitation have been replaced by “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” respectively. This change is intended to represent parenting authority as a spectrum instead of an either-or situation in which one parent is the custodial parent and the other parent only receives visitation. If you are planning to divorce, you and your spouse may design whatever type of parenting arrangement you see fit. However, if you cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will determine a plan for you. In order to do so, the court will consider the best interests of the child.  

What Does “Best Interests” Mean?

If there is a dispute about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, Illinois courts use a series of factors called “best interest factors” to determine what type of parenting arrangement would be best for the child. The best interest factors the court considers when allocating decision-making authority include but are not limited to:

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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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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.

630-575-8585

2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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