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Wheaton Adoption LawyerDeciding to adopt is a serious matter and can be complex depending on your situation. Adopting a child can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life! Since 2000, our team at Goosetree Law Group has helped families through the process of different types of adoption in Illinois, including co-parent adoption

What is Co-Parent Adoption?

Co-parent adoption is when one biological parent of a child agrees to let another person legally adopt the child. This type of adoption is most common in cases of third-party reproduction, in which a couple uses someone other than themselves to create and bring a child into the world. If one member of the couple is the biological parent but the other is not, they can use co-parent adoption to make the other person a legal parent as well. This is also a common scenario for same-sex couples and couples who use surrogacy or donor conception.

Co-parent adoption has a similar process as other Illinois adoptions. In order to adopt, the parent wishing to adopt must file a court petition and may have to make one or more appearances in court as well. The court will, in some cases, order a social worker to visit the family's home to ensure that the home is suitable for children. 

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Naperville Family Law AttorneyAll divorcing couples are required by law to fully and frankly disclose all of their assets (and income, expenses, and debt). Sadly, though, it appears that some individuals simply cannot resist the temptation to steal or lie in order to retain at least a piece of those riches for themselves.

If you suspect hidden assets in your divorce, you may want to work with an attorney experienced in forensic accounting

Red Flags for Hidden Assets

Financial red flags might be simple to identify. There is a long list of questionable actions your spouse might take, but here are a few:

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Naperville Family Law AttorneyWhen a divorcing spouse is a doctor, accountant, attorney, or another professional with a private practice, this can heavily influence the property division process during divorce. A professional practice is often considered a marital asset, which means it would be subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. However, there are certain special considerations that must be taken into account when dividing a professional practice. It is important to seek legal counsel early on in the divorce to determine how best to protect your interests.

Spouses May Both Have a Right to a Portion of the Professional Practice’s Value

If a professional practice is considered marital property, both spouses may have a right to the value of the professional practice. This is likely to occur if the practice was opened during the marriage or if the non-owning spouse contributed to the development and growth of the practice. 

Professional practices that are considered marital property must be assessed and divided during property division, just like any other asset. Ideally, the spouses can work out an agreement regarding the division of marital assets and debts and avoid a contentious court trial.  The spouse who owns the professional practice may need to compensate the other spouse for his or her share of the practice with other marital assets. If the spouses are unable to reach a property division settlement, the court will step in and make a decision about how to equitably divide marital proeprty. 

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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyIn July 2017, substantial changes to Illinois child support laws took effect. Instead of determining child support solely on the paying parent's income, child support determinations are now based on both parents' financial circumstances. The changes were made in an effort to make child support calculations more equitable.

Child support is usually calculated using the Income Shares formula.  The Income Shares model estimates the amount of money that would have been available to the child if the family had not been divided by divorce. This approach considers both parents' net incomes to determine a child support obligation. In some cases, however, a court may deviate from the typical calculation method. 

Deviating From the Income Shares Formula

Courts can deviate from the statutory child support formula if the court feels it is in the best interests of the child. In making a determination about whether to deviate from the Income Shares calculation method, courts will consider factors such as:

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Naperville Protection Order LawyerPhysical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological manipulation, and financial exploitation are just some of the forms of domestic violence suffered by individuals in Illinois and across the country. Domestic violence is shockingly common. Sadly, many people suffer in silence because they are not aware of the resources and legal tools at their disposal.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may be wondering whether or not you should hire a lawyer. Family law attorneys experienced in domestic violence matters can help you navigate complex legal issues like protective orders, child custody, and property division during divorce. An attorney’s job is to advocate for you and ensure your rights are not violated.

Taking Legal Action After Domestic Abuse

If you are unsure of whether a lawyer can benefit your particular situation, consider the following factors:

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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyChild-related matters in a divorce are often some of the most contentious aspects of a divorce case. They are also some of the most consequential aspects of the divorce. When divorcing parents disagree about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to the case. The guardian ad litem evaluates the circumstances of the custody dispute, investigates both parties, interviews family members and caretakers, and makes an informed recommendation to the court about the case outcome. Working with a GAL can sometimes be uncomfortable. He or she may need to ask personal questions, investigate the parents’ homes, and interview teachers or other people important to the child’s life.

If a guardian ad litem was assigned in your divorce or child custody case, here are a few tips to help you make the most of the situation.

Keep the GAL’s Intention in Mind

A guardian ad litem is expected to investigate the parties in a child-related legal dispute and determine what is best for the child. Although it can be awkward having someone investigating your personal life and home environment, it is important to keep the GAL’s intentions in mind. He or she is ultimately here for your child.

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerIf you are like many people, you are not familiar with the term “divorce coach.”  Divorce coaching is a relatively new service that is becoming more and more popular. Ending a marriage can take a massive toll on a person. Divorce can be so overwhelming that some divorcing individuals make mistakes or agree to unfair divorce terms just to get the process over with. A divorce coach provides emotional support and practical guidance to divorcing spouses and helps them navigate the major life changes that accompany divorce. If you are getting divorced, here are five reasons to consider working with a divorce coach.

You Need Help to Get Through this Stressful Life Experience

The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory is a scientific tool first published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research that is used to predict stress-induced health problems. Divorce is listed as the second-most stressful life event on the inventory, just beneath death of a spouse. If you are going through a divorce, you need someone to help you manage this stress.

Your Coach Can Help You Break Down the Divorce Step-By Step

Many people greatly underestimate just how involved the divorce process is until they embark upon it. Valuing and dividing marital assets like real estate and investments, dealing with joint debt, determining a child custody arrangement, and dealing with other divorce issues can be so overwhelming it is paralyzing. An experienced divorce coach will know how to break down divorce obligations and concerns into small, achievable steps.

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Naperville Spousal Support AttorneyThe American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy reports that about 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men admit to extramarital affairs. An even higher percentage admit to non-sexual “emotional affairs.” While some marriages can survive adultery, an affair often spells the end of a marriage. If you are getting divorced because you or your spouse cheated, it is important to understand how this can affect the divorce.

Illinois Laws Regarding Marital Infidelity and Divorce

Each state has its own divorce laws. As of 2016, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning there are no fault-based grounds for divorce. When you fill out your divorce paperwork, you will cite “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for the split. Infidelity does not automatically influence the court’s decisions regarding the division of marital property, spousal support, child custody, or other divorce issues. However, there are certain situations in which an affair can impact the divorce outcome.

Four Ways an Affair Can Potentially Affect Your Divorce Case

When a marriage ends because a spouse had an affair, it is important for both spouses to know how this may influence their divorce. An extramarital affair may lead to:

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Naperville Stepparent Legal Adoption LawyerStepparents often play a crucial role in a child’s life – especially if one of the child’s biological parents is deceased or not heavily involved in the child’s life. While being a stepparent is not always easy, many stepparents come to love their stepchildren as if they were blood relatives.

Many stepparents wonder if it is possible to legally adopt their stepchild. Adoption can have a multitude of benefits for the parents and the child. However, stepparent adoption is only possible in certain situations.

Children May Only Have Two Parents Under Illinois Law

Stepparents often play the role of a biological parent. They take their stepchildren to soccer practice, offer a listening ear when the child has a bad day, prepare meals, and offer invaluable parental guidance. As a stepparent, it can be unnerving to know that, should your marriage end, your right to see your stepchild may be gone in an instant.

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Naperville Paternity LawyerWhen a mother gives birth to a baby, there is no dispute as to the woman’s motherhood. However, determining paternity is not as simple. There are many different reasons that paternity may be unclear. Sometimes, a woman unexpectedly gets pregnant and is unsure of who the father is. Other times, an extramarital affair leads to confusion about paternity. A father may claim that he is the child’s father even if the mother knows this is untrue. Alternatively, a mother may believe that one man is the father of her child but he denies paternity.

If you are involved in a paternity dispute, you may understandably be filled with questions. Among these questions may be the question of whether DNA testing will be used to establish paternity.

Genetic Testing to Determine Who a Child’s Father Is

When paternity is unknown or disputed, one of the only ways to find out for sure is to conduct genetic testing. By evaluating the child’s DNA and comparing it to the presumed father’s DNA, paternity can be confirmed or denied with a negligible margin of error. According to the Cleveland Clinic, DNA paternity tests are 99.9 percent accurate.

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Naperville Parenting Time LawyerWhen parents divorce, they must contend with many difficult issues. If the parents want to share custody, they just decide how to divide parenting duties. In Illinois, the time a parent spends caring for his or her child is called parenting time. A parent’s right to make decisions about his or her child’s education, medical care, and other important matters is referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities. Divorcing parents who want to share parenting time must decide which days each parent will care for the child. They will also need to determine how to handle parenting time arrangements for birthdays, holidays, school vacations, and other special occasions.

Considerations for Shared Custody in Illinois

If you and your child’s other parent can agree on a parenting time schedule, you can design whatever schedule works best for you and your child. As you make your parenting time schedule make sure to consider:

  • How your child wil bel transported to and from each parent’s home

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerWhether it is a house, condominium, townhouse, or apartment, your home is more than just a living space and deciding how to handle ownership of the marital home during divorce is no easy task. Your home may have great personal and financial value to you and your family. As you explore your options in preparation for divorce, consider the following factors regarding the marital home.

How to Handle the Marital Home in Your Illinois Divorce

Real estate properties are classified as either marital or non-marital. Most of the time, the family home is a marital asset. However, if one spouse owned the home before getting married or inherited the home, it may be classified as non-marital property.

If your home is a marital asset, both spouses have a right to a share of the home’s value. In this case, you have a few different options:

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyWhen people think of abuse or domestic violence, they may picture a battered individual with visible injuries. Although physical abuse is one type of domestic violence, it is not the only type of abuse men and women may be subjected to. Threats, intimidation, scare tactics, stalking, and harassment are just some of the ways an abuser may hurt someone without physically injuring them.

Fortunately, Illinois law reflects the fact that abuse does not always involve punching or kicking. Other forms of psychological and emotional torment also fall under the category of abuse. Victims have the right to seek legal protection against abuse through an order of protection. In many cases, getting an order of protection is the best way to prevent further abuse, harassment, and violence from escalating.

Understanding The Timeline of Abuse

Abusive relationships often follow a pattern. At first, the relationship is pleasant and respectful. However, over time, the abuser becomes more and more controlling and violent. The abuser starts using verbal abuse like insults and yelling to destroy the victim’s self-esteem. He or she isolates the victim from friends and family, uses gaslighting and other psychological tactics to confuse the victim, or purposefully embarrasses the victim. These types of emotional and mental abuse tactics are often the precursor to physical violence. If you or a loved one are currently suffering from this type of non-physical abuse, do not wait until the situation escalates to take action.

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Wheaton Divorce AttorneyOnly a few short decades ago, telephones were landlines physically wired to a person’s home. Phones were used for making phone calls and little else. Nowadays, we use smartphones for calls, text messages, social media, searching the internet, shopping, and even paying our bills. Most people’s cell phones contain a shocking amount of personal information. Consequently, many divorcing spouses wonder how and when cell phone information can be used in divorce proceedings.

Gathering Text Message and Call Logs in a Divorce Case

The portion of the divorce in which both parties gather information is called discovery. Discovery often involves depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and other formal requests for information. Accessing evidence like tax documents or bank account statements is usually easier than gathering cell phone records. Unless a spouse willingly hands over cell phone data, which is unlikely in a contentious divorce, the most common way to get cell phone records is through a subpoena.

A subpoena is a request for information that must be followed by law. Some subpoenas require a third party to physically show up in court and present evidence or testimony. Others require a party to provide some type of evidence such as documents, records, or information. Divorce lawyers may issue subpoenas to cellular carrier companies like Verizon or T-Mobile requiring the companies to hand over cell phone data. However, cell phone companies can usually only provide records of when phone calls were made, who the calls were made to, and the duration of the call. The number and frequency of text messages may also be provided by the carrier, but a federal law prohibits cell phone carriers from divulging the actual content of the text messages in most cases.  

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerAs high-income individuals getting divorced can attest, having money does not solve all of your problems in life. In fact, affluence can make divorce much more complex – especially if a spouse is not honest about income, assets, and debts. Forensic accounting is a process used in high-asset divorce cases to uncover hidden assets and other forms of fraud.

If you are getting divorced and suspect your spouse is transferring funds, concealing assets, misrepresenting income, or otherwise lying about money, forensic accounting may be useful in your divorce case.

Hidden Assets and Undisclosed Income in a Divorce

Spouses may use many different tactics to falsify financial information in a divorce. For example, a spouse who wants to avoid sharing assets with the other spouse in a divorce may hide money in offshore accounts or transfer funds to a co-conspirator. Some distort the value of the marital estate by undervaluing assets of great worth like antiques or fine art. Business owners may alter business financials to make the business appear less profitable than it actually is or use business investments to hide personal assets. These types of unlawful tactics undermine the divorce process and prevent the other spouse from receiving a fair divorce settlement or award. Financial fraud may reduce the amount of money a spouse receives in child support or spousal maintenance and lead to an inequitable division of marital assets.

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Naperville Child Support LawyerIn 2022, child support is calculated based on both of the parents’ net incomes. If the parents have a relatively equal amount of parenting time, the child support obligation is modified accordingly. Read on to learn more about how child support is calculated if parents share custody 50/50.

Parenting Time and Shared Parenting Scenarios

Physical custody of a child is now referred to as parenting time in Illinois, but the term custody is still used in informal settings. Divorcing parents are permitted and encouraged to develop a parenting time schedule that works for them. For example, in some families, one parent has the children on weekends and the other on weekdays. In other families, children stay with one parent the first and third weeks of the month and the other parent on the second and forth weeks of the month.

A shared parenting arrangement occurs when both parents have the children more than 40 percent of the time. This works out to 146 overnight visits a year. If you and your child’s other parent have 50/50 or near 50/50 custody, this is considered a shared parenting arrangement. It is important for you to understand how shared parenting arrangements influence child support obligations.

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Wheaton Divorce AttorneyAs high schools finish up their spring semesters, many young people have their sights set on college. As a parent, the prospect of your child attending university can be both exciting and nerve-racking. College gets more and more expensive with each passing year. Average tuition and fees for public schools currently averages over $10,000 for in-state schools and nearly $23,000 for out-of-state schools. Private schools are even more expensive, with an average annual tuition of approximately $38,000.

If you are divorced and your child is nearing college age, it is important to understand how Illinois law handles the division of college tuition and related expenses between divorced parents.

Divorced Parents May Be Required to Contribute to College Costs

Many divorced parents in Illinois are surprised to learn that the state can require parents to contribute to their child's college education. Illinois is one of the few states with this type of law on the books. While the constitutionality of the law has been called into question several times, the law still stands.

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerIf you were recently married, but you regret it, you may be interested in getting the marriage annulled. Annulment is commonly portrayed in movies and television shows as a quick fix for couples wanting to end their marriage. However, annulment is more complicated than movies would lead you to believe. Annulments are only available in a narrow range of circumstances in Illinois. Couples who do not meet annulment criteria will need to end their marriages through divorce.

Annulment Criteria in Illinois

Many people assume that annulment is the same thing as divorce. However, these are completely different legal actions. An annulment declares a marriage invalid and makes it as if the marriage never happened. Divorce terminates a valid marriage.

Annulment is warranted under the following conditions:

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerFinances are often a key factor in divorce and family law disputes. For the court to make a determination about the division of assets and debts, child support, and other issues, the court needs accurate financial information from both parties. Unfortunately, not everyone is as forthcoming about financial information as they should be. Some people disclose only partial financial information or actively hide assets and income during family law cases to gain an unfair advantage.

If you are involved in a divorce, child support case, or another family law matter and you suspect that another party is lying about income, contact a family law attorney for help. Attorneys have various means of finding undisclosed income and hidden assets so any determination is based on factual financial information.

How People Hide Income in Family Law Cases

The simplest way to hide income in a divorce or family law case is to simply fail to disclose it. Hiding income is much easier for individuals who own businesses or are self-employed. Because there are no payroll stubs showing exactly what they made, they can easily lie about how much money they earn. Some people also get jobs “under the table” that pay cash and do not keep records of payments.

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Wheaton Divorce LawyerMarriages end for countless reasons. Some gradually break down over the course of years or decades. Other marriages end abruptly because a spouse has an affair or violates the other spouse’s trust. Sometimes, spouses simply fall out of love. If your marriage has reached the point of no return and divorce is imminent, there are things you can do now to make the divorce process easier.

Preparing for Divorce Can Help Make the Process Go More Smoothly

Divorce is a difficult process to go through, but preparing in advance can help you ready yourself to tackle divorce issues like property division, spousal maintenance, and child-related matters.

If you know that your marriage is beyond saving and you will soon divorce, here are six steps you can take to prepare yourself, your family, and your finances.

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