Category Archives: Family Law

IL family lawyerEveryone wishes divorce could go smoother and without the headaches and expenses that so often come with the territory. For most, however, the process simply is unpleasant. Nevertheless, there are a number of things that divorcing couples can do well in advance of court to ensure the best chance of a quick and relatively smooth transition. One of the first steps should always be to schedule an appointment with a local Hinsdale family law attorney to weigh your options and get early advice. Beyond that, here are four tips for planning a successful divorce.

#1 Gather Your Paperwork

Long before either party files a petition for dissolution of marriage and far prior to any court hearing, you should consider how difficult it may be later to obtain copies of things like:

  • Your spouse’s paystubs
  • Your spouse’s bank statements
  • Investment documents
  • Retirement statements
  • Printouts showing the value of assets

Once a couple is in the midst of a divorce, it can be tempting to not share private information, especially finances. This later leads to complicated discovery – the process through which attorneys obtain this information from each side. This is often the most expensive and challenging part of the case. So, the best way to avoid this is to gather the documents while you are still on speaking terms and long before the divorce has begun.

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IL custody lawyerOnce upon a time in Illinois, courts mainly called it custody. Other states have different terms, as well. However, in recent years, Illinois law has changed on the subject, and the prevailing concept is to divide parenting time and responsibilities. If you are going through a divorce and have concerns about who will have the majority of the decision-making responsibilities or where the children will spend most of their time, take a deep breath and understand that no two divorce or child custody disputes are the same. Your unique situation may not be as bad as you think. Often, just a half-hour meeting with an experienced Hinsdale family law attorney can ease many of the fears and concerns you have. It is important to understand the difference between how courts now look at it, compared to the previous way.

Custody in the Past

In 2016, Section 5/600 of the Family Code was added, thereby creating something known as parenting allocation. Prior to that time, Illinois law treated the matter as custody. The overall view was that someone had to be named the custodial parent with whom the children would reside for the majority of their time. Then the other parent would be assigned visitation with their children. Unfortunately, although this method was practical, there was a distinct alienating effect to it. After all, who wants to “visit” their children? In the majority of cases where both parents are fit to care for children, this necessarily created a power imbalance or inequality in parenting roles.

Parenting Allocation Explained

Today, Illinois has taken a progressive approach to shared parenting responsibilities. Instead of treating one parent as the primary guardian and the other as a mere visitor, during a divorce or separation, the parties will have to come up with a parenting allocation agreement. If they cannot agree, the court will decide for them and generate a parenting allocation order. This sets forth what responsibilities each party will have, including which responsibilities will be shared. To the extent that parents can agree on how to share time with children and share decision-making, allocation can be quite flexible.

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IL divorce lawyerIndividuals who suffer serious injuries are sometimes awarded compensation through lawsuits, personal injury settlements, disability, or workers’ compensation. It may come as a shock to learn that all of these types of compensation can be divided during an Illinois divorce if they were awarded during the course of the marriage. Whether you are the injured spouse or the non-injured spouse, an experienced Hinsdale divorce attorney can help you determine what is and what is not a marital asset, and how those assets should be divided or kept separate.

Equitable Division of Property

Illinois follows the doctrine of equitable division of property, which most other states also do. As such, marital property is divided equitably, or ‘fairly,’ though not necessarily equally. Marital property includes all assets and debt acquired during the course of the marriage except for gifts, inheritance, and other assets specifically given to one spouse and not the other. Pre and postnuptial agreements can also determine what is and what is not marital property.

Is Dividing Injury Compensation Fair?

Victims of serious injuries suffer pain and suffering, lost mobility, cognitive disorders, mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD, loss of quality of life, and much more. A study found that for each day of bed rest in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), patients had decreased muscle strength by three to 11 percent for up to two years. According to the study, “Even a single day of bed rest in the ICU has a lasting impact on weakness, which impacts patients’ physical functioning and quality of life.” As such, how do courts justify divvying up the compensation from a workers’ compensation, personal injury settlement, or disability award when the other spouse has not suffered in the same way? After all, according to the IWCC workers’ compensation maximum weekly benefits top out at just a little over $1,500—not enough for many people to survive without selling their home and making huge sacrifices.

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IL divorce lawyerGetting your finances in order goes a long way in divorce preparation. A Hinsdale divorce and high asset property division attorney can help you get your legal and financial documents in line to ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

Create an Inventory of Your Assets and Debt

Division of marital assets is one of the most hotly contested aspects of divorce. Marital assets include everything acquired during the course of the marriage, while non-marital assets are everything else. Divide assets and debt by marital and nonmarital. Assets include everything from real property, bank accounts, 401(k) accounts, and pension plans, to jewelry, furniture, automobiles, and other tangible belongings. Debt acquired during the marriage is also marital property so long as both spouses signed their names to the mortgage, loan, or credit card.

Compile Documents

Having your financial documents in order saves time and hassle down the road. You probably will not be able to gather every necessary document before you talk to an attorney, but a good start includes locating the following:

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Il divorce lawyerFour out of 10 marriages end in divorce, with the average marriage that ends in divorce lasting seven years. As such, it is not uncommon for a married couple to come to the conclusion that their differences are irreparable, and that divorce is the best option. However, some divorces come as a surprise to one of the spouses, previously having assumed that everything was either fine, or the conflict within the marriage was manageable and possible to work through. Whether you were caught completely off guard or you suspected that divorce would be the inevitable conclusion of your marriage, an experienced divorce attorney can help you through the complex and stressful process of divorce, and protect your interests along the way.

The First Step of Divorce: Filing a Petition to Terminate the Marriage

Chances are that your spouse will file a petition for divorce (Petition for Dissolution of Marriage) with the court since he or she was the initiator of the divorce. In order to get a divorce in Illinois, at least one of the parties must have resided in Illinois for at least 90 days before filing, and if you and your spouse have children together, they must have lived in Illinois for at least six months, according to 750 ILCS 5/ Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Temporary Orders

The next step of divorce is requesting temporary orders, if necessary. Spouses often need to figure out different living arrangements and parenting responsibilities during the six months or more that it takes a divorce to finalize. A temporary order may involve creating a parenting plan, child support, or spousal support for temporary maintenance.

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