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Wheaton, IL alimony lawyerAlimony, spousal support, and spousal maintenance are all terms that are used to describe money that one spouse pays to the other after a divorce or legal separation. In Illinois, spousal maintenance may be agreed upon by the spouses, or the court may order one spouse to pay maintenance to the other. If you are getting divorced, you may have questions about whether you will be required to pay alimony. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the length of your marriage, the incomes of both spouses, and the contributions each spouse made to the marriage.

Negotiated Spousal Maintenance Settlements

Like other elements of a divorce, spouses may be able to negotiate the terms of spousal maintenance through a marital agreement or during their divorce. If the spouses had previously made an agreement regarding maintenance in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the court will typically uphold that agreement during divorce.

If the spouses do not have any previous agreements, they may be able to reach an agreement about the amount and duration of spousal maintenance during the divorce process.

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DuPage County, IL child relocation lawyerWhen parents divorce, there are many different child custody issues that can lead to conflicts and disagreements. One of the most emotional issues is that of relocation, or when one parent wants to move away with the children. If you and your spouse are having trouble agreeing on whether or not your ex should be allowed to move away with the kids, it’s important to understand what your rights are under Illinois law.

Illinois Parental Relocation Laws

In Illinois, if a parent moves a certain distance away, it may classify as a "relocation." All parental relocations must be approved by the court. If the parents agree to the relocation and the relocation is in the child's best interests, then the process of getting approved is relatively straightforward. However, the process is more complex if one parent contests, or disagrees with, the relocation.

The main question the court will consider when it comes to a proposed relocation is whether the relocation is in the child's best interests.  If the court decides that it is not in the child's best interests, the court can deny permission for the relocation. The court may consider a number of different factors when making this determination, including:

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DuPage County child support lawyerChild support payments are used to cover the cost of a child's housing, food, education, and other needs. However, if one parent is not truthful about his or her income, the child may not receive the full support they need. Illinois child support orders are calculated using the Income Shares method, which takes both parents' earnings into account. Parents who lie about how much money they make inevitably skew the calculations, resulting in an unfair child support arrangement.

Illinois Child Support Calculations

Prior to 2017, Illinois based a parent's child support obligation on the paying parent's income and how many children needed support. For example, if the paying parent (obligor) had two children, 28 percent of his or her income was earmarked for child support.

Recognizing the limitations of this method, Illinois switched to the Income Shares approach in July 2017. The new method seeks to more accurately reflect the amount of financial support a child would have if both parents were still together and sharing costs. Both of the parents' net incomes are added together and then the combined income is compared to the Income Shares schedule, which provides the basic support obligation (BSO). The BSO is the total amount of money that an average family would use to pay for child-related needs. The BSO is divided between the parents based on each parent’s percentage of the combined income. For example, If a father's earnings represent 70 percent of the parents' combined income, he pays 70 percent of the BSO.

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DuPage County prenuptial agreement lawyerPrenuptial agreements are rising in popularity. More and more couples are signing prenuptial agreements before they say "I do." Modern couples are realistic. Drafting a prenuptial agreement is not exactly romantic, but it is one of the most responsible decisions you could make before getting married. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, here are five reasons to get one.

To Protect Your Assets

If you have significant assets, a prenuptial agreement can help protect them in the event of a divorce. When people get married, their finances inevitably become mixed. Any property or money that a spouse earns while they are married is added to the marital estate. If the couple divorces, any property contained in the marital estate is divided between the spouses. With a prenuptial agreement, you can keep your assets separate. This means that in the event of a divorce, your assets will not be considered part of the marital estate and will not be subject to division. You can also use a prenuptial agreement to protect inherited property or gifts from family members.

Some married couples prefer to keep their finances separate. Instead of mixing property and debts, they use a prenuptial agreement to classify their assets and debts as non-marital. This means that in the event of a divorce, each spouse will keep their own property and debts.

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DuPage County legal separation lawyerA legal separation does not end a marriage. However, it does allow spouses to make legally binding decisions about child custody, property division, and other issues typically decided on during a divorce. There are several reasons a married couple may choose to seek a legal separation rather than a divorce, including religious beliefs or personal preferences. In some cases, couples may also use legal separation as a way to test whether they want to end their marriage,

If your marriage is experiencing turmoil, make sure you understand the advantages and limitations of legal separation before making a decision.

Basics of Legal Separation in Illinois

When a couple gets divorced, they are no longer married in the eyes of the law. This means that they can remarry if they choose to do so. A legal separation does not end your marriage, but it does allow you to create a separation agreement - a document similar to a divorce decree. Your separation agreement may contain determinations regarding:

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DuPage County asset division lawyerAccording to the most recent estimates, there are approximately 5.5 million family businesses currently operating in the United States. Running a family business can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a challenging one. If you and your spouse co-own a business together and are considering ending your marriage, there are some important things to keep in mind. You will need to plan your divorce carefully to protect your business interests and avoid any potential disputes down the road.

Valuing the Business is Often the First Step

If you and your spouse co-own a business, the first thing you need to do is determine how you will value the business for the purpose of property division. This can be a complex process, as businesses are often worth much more than their physical assets.  You will need to consider the value of the business's goodwill, any intellectual property it may have, and its current and future earning potential.

There are multiple ways to appraise a family business, including: 

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DuPage County divorce lawyerContested divorce cases often become contentious. Disputes may arise regarding the division of property and debt, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal maintenance, child support, and other issues. In some situations, depositions are used to gather information and evidence relevant to the disputed issues. If you are getting divorced, it is important for you to understand how and when depositions may be used in your case.

What is a Deposition?

Depositions are interviews that take place under oath. In a divorce deposition, each spouse and his or her respective attorney answer questions pertinent to the divorce case. Most depositions are conducted in person, but some take place over phone or video conferencing.

Spouses may be asked to answer questions such as:

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Wheaton, IL child support lawyerChild support obligations in Illinois are based on both parents’ net incomes. For many payers, or “obligors,” child support payments represent a major monthly expense. If someone is already making child support payments to an ex, he or she may worry about how he or she will afford additional child support payments. People in this situation are usually filled with questions. If a parent has children with multiple partners, does he or she pay child support to every partner? How much does he or she pay? These questions can cause great concern for both payers and recipients of child support in Illinois.

Read on to learn how Illinois courts handle child support when someone has multiple families and what you can do if you need help establishing, changing, or enforcing a child support order.

How is Child Support Usually Calculated?

As of July 1, 2017, Illinois uses the Income Shares formula to calculate child support. The parent with less parenting time is responsible for paying child support to the parent with more parenting time. The amount he or she pays is determined by a formula that uses both parents’ net incomes. The basic steps of the Income Shares calculation are as follows:

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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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