The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

Yorkville Office By Appointment

Initial Consultations via ZOOM Available

Recent blog posts


Aurora divorce attorney - Child Tax CreditsWhen a couple with children divorces, that divorce does not end their involvement with each other. While they may no longer live under the same roof, they still need to co-parent in the most cooperative way possible. Unfortunately, there are many issues that can arise where the disagreements are so strong, the couple ends up back in family court.

One area where this often occurs is when it comes to medical decisions for the child. And now that COVID-19 vaccines are available for children 12 years of age and older, the divide between people who are for and those against the vaccine has made its way into parenting decisions.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Several years ago, Illinois lawmakers did a complete revamping of the state’s divorce and child custody laws. One of those changes even involved eliminating the term “child custody” and instead referring to it as the allocation of parental responsibilities. The scope of these parental responsibilities involves both parenting time and significant decision-making on behalf of the child. However, these two elements are treated separately.

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Aurora collaborative divorce lawyerWhen people think of a couple going through a divorce, it is not uncommon for them to imagine the two spouses bitterly fighting over custody of their children, the family home, bank accounts, and all the other items in the marital estate. While that may have historically been the scenario for many divorces, the past few years have seen a change in how some couples approach ending their marriage. Instead of a knock-down, drag-out court battle, they are turning to a collaborative approach, focusing on an amicable and negotiated divorce. If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, a Yorkville, IL divorce lawyer can explain how a collaborative divorce may benefit you.

How Does a Collaborative Divorce Work?

A collaborative divorce is centered on using a dispute-resolution process where the couple, along with their attorneys, work together and negotiate in a cooperative manner – rather than an adversarial one – in order to come up with an equitable divorce settlement. The goal is to avoid going to court and having a traditional divorce trial where a judge decides how issues like child custody, spousal support, marital assets, and marital debts will be addressed.

One of the benefits of collaborative divorce over a traditional divorce is the couple has more control over the decisions that will affect their family’s life. Cost and time are also benefits since collaborative divorce is usually less expensive and often quicker than traditional divorce because there is no need for interrogatories, depositions, and hearings.

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Aurora divorce and finances lawyerOne of the most common causes of divorce in the United States is finances. In fact, almost 40 percent of married or partnered couples say that money causes heavy stress in their relationships. While money problems can contribute to divorce, they can also be one of the reasons why unhappy couples stay together. The thought of going from a two-income household to a one-income household can be daunting, as can the thought of dividing up assets, property, and marital debt.

While divorce can result in some financial issues that an individual may need to adjust to, there are several areas where your financial situation may actually get a boost following a divorce. If you are considering a divorce but are concerned about how you will be financially impacted, a Kane County divorce attorney can help.

Financial Independence

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Aurora divorce attorney - Child Tax CreditsOn July 15, families in Illinois and around the country began receiving direct deposits or checks for advanced child tax credits for the tax year 2021. These payments are part of the American Rescue Plan. While the advanced payments are a welcome financial relief for many families, some parents are wondering how the IRS will ensure that the parent who receives the advanced tax credit funds is the same parent who claims the child as a dependent in situations where the parents are no longer together, and a parenting plan has been established.

American Rescue Plan

In March, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The plan was Washington D.C. lawmakers’ response to helping people financially recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. One provision in the plan calls for an increase in the child tax credit. For children between the ages of 6 to 17, the credit will be $3,000. For children under 6, the credit will be $3,600. The provision also calls for parents to receive advance payments of up to half the credit amount they will be entitled to for tax year 2021.

The move was lauded by both family advocates and economists who say that the increase and advanced payments will cut child poverty in half in both Illinois and throughout the country.

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Aurora divorce attorney - COVID 19The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many areas of our lives. The lockdowns people across the country had to deal with and the inability to visit and spend time with loved ones led to many people re-evaluating their lives and changing what should and should not be priorities. Initially, statistics showed that the divorce rate was dropping during the first several months of the pandemic. It was thought that the forced lockdowns were bringing many couples closer together instead of driving them apart.

Fifteen months later, however, new statistics are showing that may have been a misconception as the divorce rate begins climbing upwards again.

Initial Drop in Divorce

There are many reasons the divorce rate may have dropped during the height of the pandemic and lockdowns. While some couples may have become closer, for others, being isolated at home with a spouse during the pandemic ended up putting a keener focus on marital issues a couple had that they may have been unaware of or chose to ignore.

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Aurora divorce lawyer - how to copeWhen you are going through a divorce, you may experience a wide range of emotions. One day you may be furious with your ex and the next day you may feel depressed about your family falling apart. Unfortunately, being overly emotional may cloud your judgment and cause you to make costly mistakes. 

In an Illinois divorce, divorcing spouses have the opportunity to resolve divorce issues like the division of assets and the allocation of parental responsibilities through an out-of-court agreement. If the couple cannot reach an agreement about these issues, the court may need to step in and make a decision for the spouses. Having a clear head puts you in a better position to negotiate an agreement about these divorce concerns. If your case does advance to litigation, learning how to manage your emotions can make the divorce proceedings less stressful.

Tips to Cope with Your Emotions 

It is understandable that you may feel sadness, anger, and resentment towards your ex. However, you can take steps to cope with these emotions in constructive ways and move on with your life.

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Aurora divorce attorney assisting visitation

After your divorce is finalized, it is still important for your children to have a good relationship with both parents. As such, you should try to make the best out of each visit with your kids. If you make each visit fun and productive, it will benefit everyone. Here are some dos and don'ts of visitation with your children.

Do

  • Arrive on time. While being late every once in a while is one thing, frequently arriving tardy to visits with your children is not good. Show your ex and children that you respect them by coming to your visits on time. If you know you are going to be late, let your ex know immediately.

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Aurora divorce lawyer assisting with Hidden AssetsWhen you file for divorce in Illinois, you are required to disclose all of your assets. However, some people may feel that they deserve a bigger share than their spouse, so they attempt to conceal their assets. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make during the divorce process. If you get caught, you may face legal trouble.

Different Ways Spouses Hide Assets

The division of assets is one of the most difficult battles couples face in divorce court. When people believe that they deserve more than they will actually get, they may try to conceal the assets in several different ways, such as:

  • Pursuing shady business deals - Some individuals who are getting ready to divorce may enlist the help of business partners to conceal their assets. For example, a person may ask a business partner to withhold commissions until the divorce is finalized.

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Naperville divorce lawyer parenting time

When a couple gets divorced, it can affect everyone surrounding them -- not just themselves. The effect of a divorce on the rest of the family can sometimes be the biggest thing holding an unhappy couple back from simply just pulling the trigger and filing for divorce. Fathers, in particular, face additional obstacles during a divorce that the mother does not, especially when dealing with child-related issues. If you are a father who has been contemplating or has filed for divorce, you should speak with an Illinois divorce lawyer to discuss your options.

Helping Fathers Through Divorce

Even though your role as a mother or a father should not affect your standing in the divorce, it often does. In many cases, fathers are the ones who pull the short straw during a divorce. If you are a divorcing father, here are a few things that you should keep in mind during your divorce:

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Aurora divorce Custody jurisdiction Matters

Determining child custody can be a messy experience for many families. This can be especially true when parents live in two different states, or if a parent even lives in a different country. In the first part of this two-part blog series, we looked at how jurisdiction is initially determined for child custody proceedings when parents do not live in the same state using the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA.) In most cases, the custody proceedings which determine parenting time and decision-making responsibilities will take place in the child's home state. However, there are some situations in which the child may not have a home state or another reason may exist why the home state will not hear the child’s case.

Exceptions to the Home State Rule

As previously discussed, the home state rule is typically enough for courts to determine which state has jurisdiction over a child custody case. However, circumstances may exist that make it impossible or imprudent to use the home state rule. In these cases, different rules apply when determining jurisdiction. If the home state rule does not apply, the following rules will apply in order of application:

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Aurora divorce attorney for Jurisdiction Custody MattersWhen two parents get divorced or are no longer in a romantic relationship, it is not uncommon for one or both parents to make other life changes, such as relocating. While a fresh start can be a good change for the parents, this can complicate proceedings for child custody. Any proceeding that concerns parenting time and/or decision-making responsibilities for the child must be filed with the correct court. In this series of blogs, we will discuss the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and how it is used to settle interstate child custody issues. Simply because a parent has moved does not mean that the parent’s new location is the place to file custody proceedings. In most cases that involve parents living in different states, the first thing you will have to do is determine which state has jurisdiction over your case.

Initial Jurisdiction in Illinois

When parents live in two different states, it may not be clear-cut as to which state has jurisdiction over the case. Thankfully, the UCCJEA exists to help clear up any confusion that may exist and to provide guidelines as to how to determine jurisdictional appropriateness. Before a court can make any decisions pertaining to a custody case, they must first determine if the case is being heard in the right jurisdiction. The UCCJEA states that the case can only be heard in Illinois if:

  • Illinois is the home state of the child, meaning the child lived in Illinois for six months immediately prior to the proceedings

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Aurora divorce attorney assisting with Financial AffidavitWhen a couple cannot come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce, the first step is to attend mediation services. If they are also unable to come to an agreement through mediation or if mediation did not make sense for the situation, then the case is usually sent to be heard before a judge who will make the final decisions. One of the first pieces of information that the judge will require from both spouses is a financial affidavit. These documents will enable the judge to have a better understanding of the couple’s financial situation before he or she makes any decisions about property division, spousal support, or even child support.

What Information is in a Financial Affidavit?

A financial affidavit is a document that details nearly every aspect of a person’s finances. The affidavit will contain information such as how much each spouse makes, how much they spend each month, what assets they own, and what debts they have. In the state of Illinois, information included in the affidavit includes:

  • Personal contact information

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Collaborative divorce law attorney Kendall CountyMany people who go into a divorce do so thinking that it will be a difficult and stressful process. While it is true that divorce has the potential for stress, it does not have to be as troublesome as people are led to believe. In Illinois, any couple has the option to choose what type of process they use to end their marriage. In recent years, collaborative divorce has risen in popularity. As the name suggests, a collaborative divorce is one in which both spouses work together to achieve the type of divorce resolution that they want. Instead of having a “me versus them” type of attitude, a collaborative divorce encourages spouses to be cooperative so they can both be content with the outcome.

Common Professionals in Collaborative Divorce

One of the ways in which a collaborative divorce is unique is the presence of more than just your attorneys. A collaborative divorce utilizes various professionals from an array of fields to provide advice and guidance on certain issues. Some of the most common specialists that couples hire are:

  • Financial Planners: Financial issues are some of the biggest challenges in a divorce. A financial planner can help you understand the long-term consequences of decisions that you make during the divorce, as well as helping you understand what type of resources you will need to be financially comfortable after your divorce is completed.

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DuPage County attorney for high asset divorce

No two divorces are alike. Each family has their own unique situation that may come with unique challenges. However, couples who have a high net worth may face more challenges than the average divorcing couple. High net worth divorces have a higher tendency to involve some sort of disagreement between the spouses, especially when it comes to the couple’s finances. In some cases, one spouse may not even know much about the family’s finances, making the situation even more daunting. High net worth divorces involving children can also be highly contested, which is why retaining an attorney who has experience with high-value assets and couples with high net worth is essential to a successful divorce.

Avoid These Things During Divorce

Divorce can be confusing and nerve-wracking for anyone, but things can be especially difficult with a high net worth divorce. To avoid the stress and confusion that can often come along with divorce, here are a few things to avoid when going through your high net worth divorce:

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North Aurora Parental Rights Attorney

When a child is born to parents in Illinois, the mother automatically receives her parental rights. The father, however, is a different story if the parents were not married when the child was born. Paternity must be established for a child if the father wants parental rights. This can be done in a variety of ways, though the most common way is for a couple to fill out a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP) form in the hospital. In some cases, however, a parent may wish to relinquish their parental rights to a child. In other cases, a parent may wish to terminate the other parent’s parental rights. Either way, this can be done under certain circumstances in Illinois.

Proving the Parent to Be Unfit

In order to proceed with petitioning the court to terminate a parent’s parental rights, you must first have proof that the parent is indeed unfit. During the hearing, which is bound to happen, the judge will determine whether or not there is enough evidence pointing toward the parent that would declare him unfit. According to Illinois law, a parent can be considered unfit if:

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Naperville divorce attorney for asset division

Financial planning is always a smart decision, but during a divorce, financial planning can become critical. Developing a financial plan can become an extremely important piece of ensuring your financial health after the divorce. You have likely heard of the old adage that “knowledge is power,” but that is especially true when it comes to a divorce. 

Understanding the “In Spouse” and “Out Spouse”

In many cohabiting couples, there is usually a spouse who is more financially savvy and knowledgeable about the household’s finances than the other. This spouse is typically referred to as the “in spouse” because they are the ones who are in the financial loop. The other spouse, referred to as the “out spouse,” usually has little to no knowledge of how the household’s finances are handled. The “in spouse” may handle every aspect of the finances, such as paying the bills every month, keeping track of bank accounts, making investments, and creating and maintaining a budget. Naturally, the “in spouse” would have a bit of an advantage over the “out spouse,” who has not really been involved in the monetary aspect of the divorce. In some cases, the “in spouse” may be controlling or secretive about the family’s finances, making it difficult for the “out spouse” to get an accurate understanding of what they are working with. 

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Geneva family law attorney paternity

When a child is born to parents who are unmarried, the father does not yet have any legal rights to the child, unlike the mother. Many parents, especially fathers, do not realize that there are certain steps that they must take to gain their legal parental rights and to ensure the paternity of their child is established. Until the paternity of a child is established, no orders pertaining to parenting time, decision-making responsibilities, or child support will be entered. Paternity can be established in a variety of ways, but the situation is not always as easy as just completing paperwork. A knowledgeable paternity lawyer will be able to help make the process a little easier.

Uncontested Declaration of Paternity

Before a father can establish his legal rights, he must first ensure that his paternity is established over his child. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but the easiest way to establish paternity is by using a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. This form can be filled out right in the hospital after the child is born and only requires both the mother's and the father’s signatures to be valid. Once you sign the VAP, you are able to have the father’s name put on the child’s birth certificate.

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Batavia divorce attorney debt asset division

When you and your spouse begin to divide your assets during your divorce, issues can often arise over who gets to keep what. During the excitement of determining what happens to your assets, many couples forget the other part of the division process -- figuring out what happens to your debts. Any debt that you or your spouse took on while you were married is considered marital debt, meaning both you and your spouse are responsible for repaying it, even after a divorce. While the idea of figuring out which debts you will be responsible for may seem unappealing, it is a crucial and required step in the property division process.  

Marital Assets and Debts Are Divided Equitably

In the state of Illinois, any asset that is declared to be marital property is divided in an “equitable” manner, rather than simply just splitting it in half. The same idea is applied to marital debts; any debt that you and your spouse may have incurred during the marriage will be subject to equitable division. Some of the most common debts that married couples have include things such as mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, student loans, and credit card debt. To ensure assets and debts are actually distributed in an equitable manner, there are a variety of factors that a judge looks at prior to making the determination, which can include a spouse’s current income and earning capacity, and whether one spouse sacrificed being in the workforce to stay home to run the household and take care of the children.

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DuPage County family contested divorce attorney

Going through any type of divorce can be exhausting, both emotionally and financially. When a divorce is contested, meaning you and your spouse do not agree on the issues pertaining to your divorce, it can greatly add to the stress of the divorce. Even though it is important for anyone going through a divorce to practice self-care, it is especially important for those going through a contentious divorce to take time to manage their stress so it does not take a toll on their health. If you are going through a contentious divorce, there are certain things you can do to prepare yourself and help make the divorce process go smoother. Here are a few tips to help you cope with the stress of a contentious divorce:

  • Try to find common ground. Your divorce process will be much easier if you and your spouse can find at least one goal in common. Finding a common goal can help you and your spouse stay on track when negotiating and working together to find solutions to your issues.

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Geneva divorce attorney hidden assets

When you are subject to an order from the court, you are legally required to abide by the rules of that order. If you do not abide by those rules, you could be considered to be in contempt of court. According to Illinois law, contempt of court comes in two forms -- civil contempt and criminal contempt. Both are very similar and could arise from a divorce or child support case in some situations. Both child support and spousal maintenance exist for a reason -- to help pay for each one’s living expenses. It can be frustrating when a spouse does not pay their court-ordered support, especially when you depend on that income to live. If your ex-spouse does not pay their court-ordered child or spousal support, they could be held in criminal contempt and subject to various penalties, the most common of which is wage garnishment.

How Does Wage Garnishment Work?

If your ex-spouse is not complying with the terms of your child support or spousal support order and is behind on payments, you have the right to petition the court to garnish their wages for the unpaid amount. If the court agrees to do this, you must then notify your ex’s employer of the garnishment order, how much should be withheld from each paycheck for current support and past support, the total amount that must be withheld, and any other pertinent information, such as payment requirements for healthcare enrollment. Up to 50 percent of your ex’s net wages can be garnished to satisfy support orders, but in some cases, that amount could be up to 60 percent.

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The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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