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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.  


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


DuPage County Family Law AttorneyBeing a parent is hard regardless of your marital status. But co-parenting kids with an ex comes with additional challenges. If you are planning to divorce or you are an unmarried parent sharing custody of your kids with an ex, you may already have experienced some of these difficulties. Parents may disagree about parenting time schedules, their child's education or participation in extracurricular activities, healthcare, and much more.

Every co-parenting relationship is bound to experience problems, but there are steps you can take to lessen co-parenting disagreements.  

Disagreements About Child-Related Issues

Parents often have strong opinions about what is best for their children. When parents disagree on what is in their child's best interests, the situation can quickly devolve into an argument.


DuPage County Protection Order AttorneyDomestic violence victims in Illinois have the option to get an order of protection to protect themselves, their children, and their property. A protection order is often the first step in leaving an abusive marriage or relationship. Protection orders can also provide legal protection if the abuse is at the hands of an ex-romantic partner, current or former household member, or family member. Unfortunately, many domestic violence victims are unaware of their rights and options under Illinois law. This leads them to suffer in silence and without the legal protection they need. Read on to learn about protection order hearings and what you can do if you are ready to get a protection order for yourself or a loved one.

Emergency Protection Orders May Be “Ex Parte” Orders

The first step in seeking legal protection against an abusive or harassing individual is an Emergency Order of Protection (EOP). In Illinois, EOPs are offered on an “ex parte” basis which means that the respondent (the subject of the order) does not need to be present. You can get an EOP from the court based solely on your testimony. The abuser’s presence is not required. Often, domestic violence victims are able to get an EOP on the same day on which they requested it.

Protection Order Hearings and Plenary Orders of Protection

When someone gets an EOP, the court enters a hearing date for a longer-lasting protection order called a Plenary Order of Protection. This hearing is more traditional. Both parties are expected to show up to the hearing. The judge will give the abuse victim and the abuser the chance to make their case. Often, the parties’ attorneys speak on their behalf during the hearing. Each side will be given the opportunity to provide testimony, call witnesses to the stand, and submit evidence to the court for consideration. After the hearing, the judge makes a decision. He or she will either grant the Plenary Order of Protection or deny the request based on the testimony and evidence presented.


DuPage County Divorce AttorneyIf you are getting divorced, there are probably a thousand questions running through your head at any moment. Divorce can have major personal and financial implications. One issue many people worry about is what happens to debts in a divorce. You or your spouse may have student loans, credit card debts, personal loans, a mortgage, and other debts. What happens to this debt when you get divorced? Who is ultimately liable for debts accumulated during a marriage? The answers to these questions vary. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand your financial rights and responsibilities during your divorce and the best way to protect your financial interests.

Is the Debt Marital Debt or Non-Marital Debt?

The first question you will need to ask yourself regarding debt is whether the debt is considered marital debt or non-marital debt. Ideally, spouses will have signed a prenuptial agreement that clearly explains which debts and assets are marital and non-marital. However, if there is no such agreement, the debt classification will be determined by Illinois law.

Per Illinois law, marital debts are those debts which were acquired during the marriage. Non-marital debt is obtained before the couple weds. However, there may be exceptions. If a debt was used exclusively for the benefit of one spouse, one could argue that it is non-marital debt even if it was accrued during the marriage.


Naperville Parenting Time LawyerWhen divorcing spouses share children together, the divorce process becomes much more complicated. In addition to financial matters like property division, the couple must also address child-related concerns like child custody and child support. Read on to learn about some of the top questions Illinois parents have about parenting time and what you can do to get personalized legal guidance during your divorce case.

How is Parenting Time Different Than Child Custody?

One of the most complicated parts of the divorce process is navigating the sea of confusing legal terms and language. Illinois law no longer uses the term child custody. Instead, child-related matters are broken down into the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parental responsibilities refer to the parents’ right to make decisions about their child’s education and other important matters. Parenting time is the time that parents spend with their children. The parents will include their parenting time schedule in their parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval.

What Can I Do to Modify Our Parenting Time Order?

Changing work schedules and other issues may require a modification to the parenting time schedule. If you want to modify your parenting time order, you will need to show that there is a substantial change in circumstances and that modification is in the child’s best interests.


Wheaton Divorce LawyerTaxes are probably the last thing on your mind if your marriage is ending. You may be more focused on the immediate financial implications of the split, the divorce’s effect on your children, ownership of the marital home, and other issues. However, divorce can have major tax implications for both spouses. Read on to learn about some of the top tax-related issues Illinois couples encounter when they divorce.

Tax Implications of Property Division

You and your spouse will need to value and divide your shared property in your divorce. The way you distribute property can have certain tax advantages and disadvantages. Usually, property transfers during divorce are non-taxable events. However, each case is different, and you may decide to forgo the opportunity for tax-free transfers if there is an advantage to doing so. There can also be major tax implications associated with retirement assets and liabilities like capital losses and charitable deductions.

Choosing Your Tax Filing Status  

Usually, the tax filing status you should select is fairly obvious. However, it can be confusing if you were married for part of the year and divorced for part of the year. The IRS states that a couple’s filing status should be based on their marital status on December 31. If your divorce is not finalized by the end of the year, you may need to decide whether to file jointly or separately.


Wheaton Divorce LawyerSpousal support, spousal maintenance, and alimony are all terms used to describe financial support paid by one spouse to the other after divorce. Spousal support can be a significant source of financial relief to those who receive it. However, it can also be a major expense for the paying spouse. Whether you are the primary earner in your marriage or you intend to seek spousal support for yourself, it is important to understand how spousal support works in Illinois divorce cases.  

Spousal Maintenance is Usually Ordered for a Limited Time

In most cases, spousal maintenance is temporary. The spouse receives financial assistance in the form of maintenance until he or she is able to become self-sustaining. If the marriage lasted more than 20 years, permanent maintenance might be ordered. However, spousal maintenance always terminates if the recipient gets remarried or the paying spouse dies.

Fixed-term maintenance is awarded for a specified amount of time. The court chooses a date on which maintenance payments will cease. This type of spousal maintenance is often ordered when a spouse needs financial support while he or she gets back on his or her feet after the divorce. For example, a stay-at-home parent who has not worked outside of the home in many years may need time to reenter the workforce and become financially independent. Conversely, a spouse who sacrificed higher education to help put the other spouse through school may need financial support while he or she goes to college or trade school.


Wheaton Divorce LawyerDivorce is rarely a pleasant experience, but most people expect their spouse to participate and cooperate to at least some degree. Unfortunately, some spouses make the divorce process much harder by refusing to participate. Some may leave the state or even travel out of the country to avoid divorce.

If you want to get divorced but you cannot find your spouse to serve the petition or your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, you may be feeling frustrated and lost. Illinois law recognizes that some spouses are not able to be located or refuse to participate in the divorce proceedings. In cases like these, spouses may be able to serve notice of the divorce by publication and seek a default judgment.

Seeking a Divorce by Publication Because You Cannot Locate Your Spouse  

The person who initiates the divorce is called the petitioner. It is the petitioner’s job to “serve” or deliver the divorce petition to the other spouse, called the respondent. Some divorcing spouses are able to simply hand over the paperwork to the other spouse. The spouse may send the summons through certified mail or use a designated server such as a county sheriff to deliver the divorce paperwork.


Wheaton Family Law AttorneyJohns Hopkins Medicine reports that approximately 26 percent of adults in the United States have some form of mental illness. Depression and anxiety are some of the most common psychological problems experienced by Americans.  Panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia are less common, but these illnesses still affect millions of Americans.

If you or a family member suffer from a mental illness, you may wonder how the illness can influence divorce, parentage, child custody, or other family law matters. Read on to learn more.

Mental Illness in Divorce Proceedings

There are no longer fault-based grounds for divorce in Illinois, so mental illness is not listed as a reason for the divorce. However, a spouse’s mental illness can influence a divorce case. When a spouse has a mental illness, he or she may be less capable of participating in mediation or divorce-related negotiations. The spouse may struggle with court paperwork or procedures.


Wheaton Divorce LawyerThe marital relationship can be extremely tricky to navigate. Many married couples go through rough patches but eventually work out their differences. Other couples are plagued by disagreements, infidelity, or other issues until the day they separate. It can be hard to know for sure when a marriage is over and it is time to get divorced. It is especially complicated when one spouse thinks that the marriage is over but the other spouse believes there is still a possibility of reconciliation. In situations like this, the court may require the couple to attend a conciliation conference.

One Final Chance at Reconciliation

Illinois courts have the authority to order spouses to attend a conciliation conference if there is a chance that the marriage may still work out. Either spouse can petition the court for a conciliation conference, or the court can order the conference if there is reason to believe that the couple may be able to avoid divorce. The purpose of the conference is to give the couple one last chance to resolve their differences and stay married.

What Occurs During an Illinois Conciliation Conference?

A conciliation conference is usually conducted by a licensed therapist, counselor, or another mental health provider. The spouses’ divorce lawyers do not attend the conference, and nothing said during the conference is admissible in the divorce proceedings unless both parties agree to it in writing.


Wheaton Family Law AttorneysIn 2016, Illinois made substantial changes to the laws regulating child custody and family law matters. Instead of using terms like “sole custody” or “visitation,” the law now describes child custody in terms of “parenting time” and “parental responsibilities.”  

One of the most frustrating aspects of a divorce, child custody case, paternity suit, or other family law case is dealing with unfamiliar legal terms. One such term you may see repeated throughout Illinois law is “a child’s best interests.” Illinois courts make every child-related decision based on what is in his or her best interests. But what does “best interests” really mean?

Understanding How Courts Determine a Child’s Best Interests

When the court makes a determination about parental responsibilities or parenting time, the court will consider many different factors to evaluate which case outcome would best serve the child.


DuPage County Divorce LawyersTypically, asking someone how much money they make is considered rude. However, in a divorce case, both spouses are expected to fully disclose their income and other financial information. Finances influence property distribution, child support, spousal maintenance, and more. Lying on your financial disclosure paperwork during divorce can lead to an unfair settlement or judgment. It is also illegal to falsify financial information during a divorce.

Underreporting Income During an Illinois Divorce

Each spouse’s net income is used to calculate child support and spousal support. Spouses should report wages, bonuses, commissions, income from investments, business income, and other sources of income. However, some “forget” about certain income sources or underreport wages in the hopes of swaying the terms of the divorce in their favor. Self-employed spouses and those with multiple income sources may find it easier to lie about money on their financial disclosure forms. However, forensic accounting and divorce discovery can uncover evidence of the deceit.

Hiding Assets Can Take Many Forms

Another way spouses try to cheat the system during a divorce is to hide assets. The most common way to hide assets is to simply fail to disclose the asset. For example, a spouse may have cryptocurrency of significant value that he or she never told his or her spouse about. The spouse may assume that he or she can avoid sharing the value of the cryptocurrency by failing to report it. However, spouses who do this are often caught.


DuPage County Child Custody LawyerAs a parent, being accused of intentionally harming your child can be shocking and deeply offensive. Sadly, some parents will do whatever it takes to gain an advantage in divorce or child custody proceedings, even if it means fabricating allegations of child abuse. If your ex is lying by saying you abused your child, you may be unsure of how to handle the situation. There is no perfect strategy, and each case is different. However, there are a few steps you should immediately take if you find yourself in this situation.

Comply With Any Orders of Protection

An Illinois Emergency Protection Order is often issued on the same day it is requested and may be based solely on the petitioner’s testimony. If your spouse got an order of protection against you, the order may require you to stay away from your spouse and children. It may even require you to move out of your own home. Even if the grounds for the protection order are false, the best thing to do is to comply with the protection order for now. Getting arrested for violating the order will only complicate your case and make it harder for the truth to come out. Although it is extremely hard not to, it is crucial that you do not confront your spouse or try to see your children in violation of the order.

Work With an Attorney Experienced in Complex Child Custody Disputes

If you were falsely accused of abuse, you need a lawyer who knows what you are going through and how to handle it. Work with an attorney who has experience representing parents in child custody disputes. Your lawyer can help you determine the next steps. You may need to attend a hearing to tell your side of the story and defend yourself. Your lawyer can represent you and advocate for you and your children during this hearing.


DuPage County Family Law AttorneyChildren are very sensitive to changes in their family. When parents divorce, children may struggle to adjust to a two-home lifestyle or become overwhelmed with emotions. They may act out at school, experience mental and physical health problems, or withdraw from their family and friends.

Because divorce and other major changes to the family unit are so hard on children, Illinois requires parents involved in family law proceedings to attend a parenting class. Read on to learn more.

Mandatory Parenting Class for Divorcing Parents in Illinois

If you are getting divorced, pursuing a paternity action, or are otherwise involved in a child-related family law dispute, you will likely be required to attend an educational course. The purpose of the course is to teach parents about how family reorganization and related changes affect kids and how to help their children cope with these changes. According to the Illinois Supreme Court, each circuit or county approves of a parenting class. The class must be at least four hours long. Unless good cause is shown, both parents are required to complete the parenting class within 60 days of the initial case management conference. The court has the authority to impose sanctions on any parent who intentionally fails to complete the parenting class. Even if your divorce is uncontested, meaning you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce, you will still be expected to complete the course.

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