Category Archives: Family Law


Couples deciding to get divorced in Illinois have generally thought through the impact that separation will have on their own lives. But it is also important to carefully consider how divorce will impact your children, who do not have the maturity to understand why parents separate and what these changes mean. While all divorcing parents must create a parenting agreement that describes parental responsibilities and parenting time, attention must also be given to helping children make the major adjustment to visiting parents in different homes. Here are a few tips that can help. 

Treat Your Co-Parent With Respect 

You may resent your ex and even hate them, but this is not your children’s fault and it should not be their burden to bear. Parents who cannot respect each other in front of their children leave the children feeling guilty, confused, and sad. Even when it is hard, treat your co-parent with respect and avoid badmouthing them to other adults when your children are present. 

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Some Illinois couples get divorced because of financial disagreements; other couples get divorced because of differences in how they want to raise their children. Still more couples get divorced because of abuse, adultery, or neglect. These issues can make pursuing a divorce a fairly straightforward, if difficult, decision to make. 

However, some people find they absolutely cannot stand their spouse - but for reasons they might feel embarrassed or nervous to share with friends and family. If the way your spouse eats, blows their nose, breathes, fidgets, or snores in their sleep makes you want to tear your marriage certificate in half, you may have a condition known as misophonia. 

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerWhen a couple who shares children and owns property wants to get an Illinois divorce, they will need to draft a marital settlement agreement (MSA) before the divorce can be finalized. A marital settlement agreement, or divorce agreement, is the contract that details exactly how a married couple will divide their marital assets and debt and handle child-related issues. Once the MSA is drafted, a judge can approve it and include it in the Judgment of Dissolution, which is handed down when the marriage ends. So, do you need an MSA? And, if so, what does an MSA need to contain? Read on to find out. 

Do We Need a Marital Settlement Agreement? 

Not every couple needs an MSA. Couples who share no children and have no significant or complex assets or debts do not usually need a marital settlement agreement to allocate a few possessions, waive alimony, and end the marriage. Spouses who have been married for a very short time often do not need an MSA. 

What Should a Marital Settlement Agreement Include? 

While each couple’s MSA can vary depending on the relevant issues that must be addressed, MSAs can include: 

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerCouples in Illinois often live together for many years without considering or pursuing marriage. Cohabitation without marriage may be preferable for many different reasons, including partners who come from very difficult cultures, couples who want to save the money and hassle of planning a wedding, or people for whom marriage is just not a priority. Although these reasons are legitimate, the truth is that marriage in Illinois gives partners rights and protections during divorce that do not exist for cohabitating couples, no matter how long they have been living together. 

Partners who have owned property and shared a home for many years may suddenly find themselves surprised when they end the relationship and find they have no property rights. If you are in this situation, you may be wondering if there is such a thing as “common law marriage” in Illinois or any other way to prove you were in a serious enough relationship to protect your financial interests. 

Illinois Does Not Have Common Law Marriage, But Other States Do

Most states, including Illinois, do not have common law marriage laws, but a handful of states do. If you were in a common law marriage in a state that does recognize these types of relationships, Illinois will recognize it. However, the definition of what is considered a common law marriage varies from state to state and you will need to prove you were in one. Consult with an attorney for help doing this. 

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Hinsdale Divorce LawyerSpouses getting divorced in Illinois must manage the negotiation of their marital assets, including determining which assets are marital property and which are personally owned. While this sounds straightforward, in practice it can be a very difficult and contentious process. This is especially true for couples with a high net worth and complex assets, but even spouses who have inherited relatively small amounts may struggle with determining what is marital property and personal property. 

Fortunately, there is a process called asset tracing that can help spouses determine how much of an asset is marital property. Asset tracing can also help find hidden property and reveal the dishonest actions of a spouse who is trying to unfairly increase their chances of securing asset ownership after a divorce. If you know you will be dealing with certain complex financial issues, such as commingled inheritance funds offshore bank accounts, consider working with a divorce attorney who is well-connected to financial professionals skilled in the practice of asset tracing. 

How Does Asset Tracing Work? 

Asset tracing is a process, usually performed by a professional forensic accountant or private investigator, in which the value and history of an asset are thoroughly investigated and documented. Using bank statements, subpoenas, and whatever other methods are necessary, the investigator will learn as much as possible about an asset so it can be determined to be marital or personal property and then, if it is marital property, fairly divided. 

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