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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.


How to Get Out of An Abusive Marriage

Posted on in Family Law

Wheaton Abusive Marriage LawyerSadly, what is supposed to be a loving relationship can sometimes turn into a relationship based on threats, manipulation, and violence. Domestic violence is shockingly common across the United States. Each minute, approximately 20 people are physically abused by a spouse or romantic partner.

If you are in an abusive marriage, you are not alone. Read on to learn about some of the strategies that may help you protect yourself and your children during the divorce process.

Remember That the Abuse is Not Your Fault

Victim-blaming is a tactic that many abusive people use to try and manipulate their victims. Your abuser may tell you that his or her behavior is justified because you did something to provoke him or her. Sadly, some abuse victims start to believe this. If you are being physically, mentally, or emotionally abused, it is not your fault. You deserve to be treated with respect.


DuPage County Divorce LawyerWhether you are divorced or unmarried, raising a child with an ex can be challenging. Understandably, parents want what is best for their children. When two parents disagree about what is in a child’s best interests, the situation can quickly escalate. Building a parenting plan is the best way to ensure that you and your child’s other parent are on the same page. Parenting plans are also required for parents getting divorced in Illinois.

Required Elements for Illinois Parenting Agreements

Parents who file for divorce in Illinois are asked to submit a parenting plan to the court. If the parents cannot agree on the terms of the parenting plan, the court will have them each submit their own plan separately. Often, parents who disagree about child custody issues are required to attend family law mediation to discuss the issues and work out an agreement. If mediation fails, the case may advance to litigation.

The two main factors in an Illinois parenting plan are:


DuPage County Family Law AttorneyA crucial part of the divorce process involves dividing the spouses’ assets and debts. Depending on your particular situation, you may need to address real estate, vehicles, art and collectibles, business interests, and many other assets. You may also have credit cards, loans, and other debt to deal with during the property division portion of your divorce. One issue that can make the division of assets even more complicated is asset “dissipation.” The word dissipation refers to waste, misuse, or destruction of property. In some cases, divorcing spouses may recoup the value of dissipated assets through a dissipation of assets claim.

What Counts as Dissipation of Assets?

Illinois law states that dissipation occurs when marital property is sold, destroyed, or used for a purpose unrelated to the marriage and in a way that only benefits one of the spouses. The waste of assets must occur during the marriage’s “breakdown” to count as dissipation. The marital breakdown is usually defined as the point at which the couple stops trying to salvage the marriage. For example, if you and your spouse decided to divorce and then he or she destroyed your shared property in revenge, you may have a valid dissipation of assets claim.

Other examples of dissipative acts may include:


naperville divorce lawyerFor many people, the beginning of a new year presents an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. While new year’s resolutions do not always last more than a few months, they can help you take stock of your life, identify potential areas of improvement, and begin taking steps toward a more positive future. For those who are going through a divorce or who have recently ended their marriage, resolutions can be especially beneficial. A divorce will require you to make major changes, and the new year can be a good opportunity to take a positive approach to these changes and determine the best ways to move forward into the next phase of your life.

Resolutions That Can Benefit You Following Your Divorce

While everybody’s situation is different, there are some common factors to every divorce. After being used to sharing your life with a partner, you will need to get used to living on your own. Some new year’s resolutions that may benefit you as you reorient your life include:

  • Take control of your finances - As you determine how you will be able to support yourself on a single income, you may need to make some adjustments. By resolving to manage your finances effectively in the new year, you can make sure you will be able to meet your ongoing needs. You can get started by taking the time to fully understand your income and expenses. This will allow you to create a workable budget that will ensure that you can live comfortably. You can also determine the best ways to save money and plan for any major purchases you plan to make in the future. By maintaining control of your finances, you can alleviate stress about your ability to provide for yourself and your family.


st charles divorce lawyerThe holiday season can be stressful for anyone. Buying gifts for loved ones and coordinating holiday celebrations and family get-togethers can take up a great deal of time and energy. These issues can be even more difficult to deal with for those who have recently ended their marriage or are in the midst of the divorce process. If you are a divorced or unmarried parent who shares custody of your children, you may need to make major changes to your normal holiday plans, and both you and your children may experience emotional struggles as you adjust to new arrangements. Fortunately, there are some positive steps that you can take to make sure you will be able to enjoy the holidays with your children. These include:

  • Set expectations - It is important to make sure everyone understands the holiday parenting time schedule well in advance. You can communicate with the other parent to determine when children will be staying with each of you and when children will be picked up or dropped off, while also addressing any other issues related to the time children will spend in each of your homes during their winter break from school. You will also want to discuss these plans with your children and answer any questions they may have about the holiday schedule or other related concerns.

  • Help children maintain positive family relationships - To ensure that your children will be able to enjoy the holidays, you can help them purchase or make gifts for the other parent and encourage them to make the most of the time they spend in each parent’s home. You can also help them connect with extended family members, including making sure they maintain communication with your ex’s side of the family whenever possible.


st charles divorce lawyerThere are multiple situations where family members may need to address legal issues. These disputes can become very contentious, especially when parents or other parties disagree about what is best for children. In some cases, divorcing spouses, parents who need to address issues related to child custody, or other family members involved in children’s lives may become concerned about children’s safety, physical and mental health, and overall well-being. To ensure that children will be protected from harm or to address other concerns about the safety of family members, psychological evaluations may be performed.

Reasons for a Psychological Evaluation

In family law cases involving children, the court’s primary focus will be to protect children’s best interests. While parents are generally presumed to be fit to care for their children, there are some situations where a parent or other family members may be concerned that children will be at risk of physical or emotional harm when in a parent’s care. One or more parties involved in a case may request a psychological evaluation of either or both parents, and children may also be evaluated to gain a better understanding of their relationships with their parents and any issues that may affect their well-being. A judge may also order psychological evaluations if they believe that they need additional information to help them make decisions about child custody.

Psychological evaluations may be appropriate in situations involving:


4 Ways to Prepare for a Divorce in Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

st charles divorce lawyerThe decision to pursue a divorce is usually not an easy one. However, if your relationship with your spouse has broken down, ending your marriage may be the best option for you, your children, and your family. Rather than living in a tension-filled home and dealing with the stress of regular arguments or disagreements over finances and child-related issues, you can make plans to leave this situation and live a happier, more fulfilling life. As you get ready to end your marriage, you can make the process easier by taking steps to prepare for the divorce process and ensure that you will be ready to address the legal and financial issues involved in ending your marriage.

1. Start Saving Money

Your divorce itself will involve a number of expenses, including legal fees, court costs, and money that will be paid to the attorney you hire to represent you. As you prepare to make changes to your living arrangements, you may also encounter a variety of other expenses. You may need to address moving costs and put money toward rent or mortgage payments, utilities, purchasing new furniture or appliances, and other household expenses. To ensure that you will have the financial resources you need, you can begin saving money ahead of time. However, it is important to understand that the money you save will be considered marital property, and you may be required to divide these funds with your spouse along with other assets that the two of you own together.

2. Gather Financial Information

Separating your finances from your spouse can be a complex process, so you will want to gain a full understanding of your assets and debts, as well as the income that you each earn. Compiling information such as bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, credit card statements, retirement account statements, and other financial documents will provide you with important details about your family’s finances. This will ensure that you will be prepared to make decisions about the division of assets and debts during the divorce process.


Naperville guardian ad litem lawyer

Originally published: June 12, 2019 -- Updated: November 30, 2021

UPDATE: If a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your divorce or child custody case, you will not only need to understand the procedures they will follow as described below, but you will need to prepare for how you will work with the GAL to address your children’s needs and best interests. When answering a GAL’s questions or responding to their requests, it is important to do the following:


wheaton child custody lawyerWhen a child’s parents are no longer together, they will need to determine how issues related to child custody will be handled going forward. Married parents who choose to divorce or unmarried parents who are separated will need to create a parenting agreement that details how they will make decisions related to their children and a schedule for the parenting time that children will spend with each parent. In some cases, a parent may be concerned about their children’s health and safety when they are in the care of the other parent, and they may believe that restrictions on parenting time may be appropriate, including supervised parenting time.

Situations Where Supervision May Be Needed During Visitation

While Illinois law presumes that parents are fit to care for their children and that they have the right to reasonable amounts of parenting time, there are some situations where a parent may believe that certain restrictions should be placed on the other parent. These restrictions must generally be based on evidence that a parent’s actions may place children at risk of suffering physical or emotional harm. Examples of cases where parenting time restrictions may be needed include:

  • A parent has a history of domestic violence or has been arrested or convicted of domestic abuse in the past.


DuPage County divorce lawyer

When a couple gets married, they usually expect to stay together for the rest of their lives. However, things do not always go as planned, and divorce may become a possibility. In some cases, a couple may plan for the eventuality of divorce by creating a prenuptial agreement before they get married. For those who had not created a prenup, a postnuptial agreement can be created at any time during the couple’s marriage, and it can make decisions about how certain matters will be handled in a potential divorce, including issues related to the division of property or spousal maintenance. By understanding when this type of agreement can be beneficial, spouses can determine how best to protect their rights and ensure that they will be prepared to address legal issues if they decide to end their marriage in the future.

Reasons to Create a Postnuptial Agreement

There are multiple situations where a postnup may be a good idea, including:


DuPage County divorce lawyer

Of the various issues that must be addressed during a divorce, matters related to a couple’s property and finances are often among the most complex. When negotiating a settlement that fully details the division of marital property, spouses will need to make sure they fully understand the different assets they own, the value of their property, and how dividing these assets will affect each spouse’s finances both immediately and in the future. These determinations can be especially complicated in cases where one or both spouses are business owners, and a business valuation will usually need to be performed to ensure that the spouses fully understand the value of business assets and the ways these assets may be divided fairly and equitably.

Business Valuation Methods

The approach taken to determine the value of business assets will depend on a variety of factors, including how the spouses expect ownership of the business to be handled, whether they plan to sell the business, and whether the business may increase in value in the future. Spouses will usually need to consult with financial experts when performing a valuation, and these experts may use one or more of the following methods:


IL divorce lawyerIf you are getting divorced, you may understandably have concerns about the divorce’s impact on your finances. Illinois law allows courts to award spousal maintenance, also referred to as alimony or spousal support, to help offset the negative financial impact of a divorce. However, spousal maintenance is only available in certain circumstances. Many people misunderstand how and when maintenance is available in an Illinois divorce. Read on to learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions about spousal maintenance.

How Can You Get Alimony?

Alimony or spousal maintenance is not automatically awarded to a spouse in Illinois. There are three main ways that you may receive spousal maintenance:

Mutual agreement between the spouses – You and your spouse may be able to agree to spousal maintenance terms through your respective attorneys or during the mediation process.


IL divorce lawyerDomestic abuse can take many forms. Some victims suffer physical abuse including punching and kicking. Others are psychologically manipulated and isolated from their loved ones. Some aggressors show up at the victims’ homes, schools, and workplaces or use threats and intimidations to maintain control over their victims. If you have been stalked, threatened, or abused, you should know that there are legal protections available to you in the form of protection orders.

Emergency Order of Protection

Domestic violence or domestic abuse involves abuse between family members, past or current romantic partners, or household members. If you have been the victim of domestic violence, consider obtaining an Emergency Order of Protection (EOP). An EOP is a court order that prohibits the abusive person from contacting you or coming near you. Depending on your particular needs, the EOP may require the abusive person to temporarily move out of your shared home, surrender his or her Firearm Owner Identification Card, and stay away from your work or school. You can get an EOP on an “ex parte” basis which means that the subject of the order does not need to be present. Often, EOPs are issued by the court on the same day on which they are requested. An EOP is a legally binding court order. Violating any provision within an EOP is a criminal offense.

Plenary Order of Protection

Emergency protection orders are designed to be temporary. They only last up to three weeks. When you request an EOP, the court will usually enter a hearing for a Plenary Order of Protection. This protection order lasts up to two years. To get a Plenary Order of Protection, you will attend a hearing and explain why you are requesting protection. You or your attorney will present evidence of the abuse or stalking to the judge. The subject of the order of protection, called the respondent, will have an opportunity to defend himself or herself against the accusations. However, if the respondent fails to show up for the hearing, the judge will most likely grant your request and enter the Plenary Order of Protection.


IL divorce lawyerChild support is a crucial form of financial support for divorced and unmarried parents in Illinois. Both of a child’s parents are expected to contribute financially to his or her upbringing – even if they are not married to each other. Child support allows parents to share child-related expenses including housing, tuition, and other educational costs, clothing, and more. However, child support laws are often confusing and hard to interpret. Read on to learn answers to some of the top questions Illinois parents have about child support.

Which Parent Pays Child Support?

The parent with the greater amount of “parenting time” is the recipient of child support and the parent with less parenting time pays child support. Parenting time used to be called visitation. When both parents have at least 40 percent of the parenting time or 146 overnights with the children, this is a shared parenting situation. Child support payments are modified to reflect the fact that both parents have the child a similar amount of time.

How Much Are Monthly Child Support Payments?

The amount a parent must pay in child support varies from case to case. In Illinois, both parents’ income is used to determine child support. In most cases, a statutory formula is used to calculate the amount a parent pays. However, courts sometimes deviate from the formula.


What is a Divorce Coach and Do I Need One?

Posted on in Divorce

st charles divorce lawyerEnding a marriage can turn your entire world upside down. It is no wonder that divorce is considered to be one of the most stress-inducing life experiences a person can go through. Dealing with the legal, financial, practical, and emotional implications of divorce can be overwhelming for anyone.

Divorce coaches are mental health professionals who help divorcing spouses cope with the turmoil of divorce and make sound decisions during the divorce process. If you are thinking about ending your marriage, a divorce coach may help you reduce stress, avoid unnecessary contention, and work toward a favorable divorce outcome.

A Divorce Coach Can Help You Cope with Difficult Emotions

Anyone who has gotten divorced can confirm that the process is rife with emotion. Most divorcing spouses still hold anger and resentment toward each other. There are often years of built-up tension and frustration before a marriage officially ends. If this situation describes you, you may understandably have a hard time making decisions based on logic and reason instead of emotion during your divorce. A divorce coach helps you cope with these difficult feelings in a positive, non-destructive way so the emotions do not harm your chances of a favorable divorce outcome.


Wheaton divorce attorneyThe decision to end your marriage is likely one of the biggest decisions of your life. There is no “undoing” a divorce once it is finalized. Consequently, some states require married spouses to wait a certain amount of time before they can get divorced. Illinois used to have such a requirement; however, there is no longer a mandatory separation period or waiting period for divorce in Illinois. That being said, there are still certain criteria that must be met before you can divorce in Illinois.

Divorce Requirements and the Separation Period

To get divorced in Illinois, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for 90 days or longer. You may divorce in Illinois even if you were not married in the state.

Before changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, spouses also had to live apart for a certain period of time before they were eligible for divorce. In 2021, though, there is no longer a mandatory separation period. Furthermore, there are no longer fault-based grounds for divorce in Illinois. The only reason you can seek a divorce in Illinois is “irreconcilable differences.” In other words, you and your spouse simply cannot get along anymore, and you wish to terminate your marriage relationship.

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