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

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kendall county parenting time lawyerThe term “parenting time” is described as the time a parent uses to look after their child after a divorc. It is recommended that both parents negotiate a parenting time agreement that is in the best interest of everyone. If they cannot agree, the court will be the one to determine what is best for the child. However, if there are safety concerns for the child spending time with one or both of their parents, then the court may order parenting time restrictions. In 2016 Illinois law changed making it more challenging to restrict parenting time. Illinois law defines a restriction of parenting time as; “any limitation or condition placed on parenting time” Illinois courts only order a parenting time restriction if unrestricted parenting time would “endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”

When Is Restricted Parenting Appropriate? 

The judge will be the ultimate decider regarding parenting restrictions. The parent who is seeking to restrict the other parent’s parenting time must be able to prove their concerns in court. Here are a few situations in which restricted parenting might be appropriate: 

  • The parent has been convicted of a violent crime, especially if the crime was directed toward a child

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aurora divorce lawyerAccording to the Illinois Collaborative Process Act (ICPA), “collaborative process” is defined as a “procedure intended to resolve a collaborative process matter without the intervention of the court.” Collaborative divorce involves two parties who are willing to work and respectfully nnegoiate all issues outside the courtroom. A collaborative divorce attorney will represent both parties. The collaborative process consists of multiple meetings in a non-adversarial environment that helps to allow both parties to see eye-to-eye on the looming issues with their divorce, such as the division of assets or parenting time. Collaborative divorce is not for everyone, especially couples who refuse to work together. But, if the parties can work together, a collaborative divorce allows both parties to focus on their needs to move forward into the future. 

What to Expect in a Collaborative Divorce

If the parties decide to go forward with a collaborative divorce, each spouse, along with theirr respective lawyers, will sign a participation agreement. This agreement means that all parties will agree to try and solve all marital issues with respectful negotiation. This process focuses purely on each party’s specific needs and interests. If any children are involved, then their best interests will also be a main focus. Once an agreement has been reached, the collaborative lawyers will draft the necessary paperwork and submit the written agreement to the court for approval. If the parties are unable to find an agreement, then the collaborative process will be terminated. 

Unlike a traditional adversarial divorce, a collaborative divorce can cost less and be settled more quickly. This will depend on how well both parties can participate and navigate their circumstances. 

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kendall county divorce lawyer Divorce is a difficult experience for everyone. You are not only grieving the separation of your family, but now you have to navigate the complicated legal process of divorce. However, if you and your spouse can converse, negotiate, and agree you might be able to work together to proceed with an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one of the fastest, easiest, and least expensive ways to get a divorce in Illinois.

What is an Uncontested Divorce? 

In Illinois, an uncontested divorce has both spouses agreeing on important issues within their divorce. These issues may be about properties, debts, alimony or ‘spousal maintenance”, child custody, child support, and parenting time. 

If you meet specific requirements, there is an even faster form of an uncontested divorce that spouses may seek out. This is a “joint simplified dissolution”, however in order to file for one, you must meet all of the following:

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illinois spousal maintenance lawyerIn the state of Illinois, alimony, or spousal support, are regular payments made to an ex-spouse from another ex-spouse. These payments are separate from those made for child support. These are meant to help financially support the receiving party who may need further education or financial support until they can gain the skills necessary to become self-sufficient. When addressing matters relating to spousal support, working with an experienced divorce attorney can help your chances of achieving a positive outcome. 

When Is Spousal Support Ordered?

In Illinois, there are two ways in which a spouse can be granted spousal support, called “spousal maintenance” in the law. Either the party can decide on a spousal maintenance arrangement through an agreement or it can be ordered by a judge. When considering a spousal support order during a divorce, a judge will consider many factors and circumstances. These things include: 

  • Each party's current and future income

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kane county divorce lawyerFormerly known as alimony, spousal maintenance is established through an agreement between the spouses or a court order. Courts do not always award maintenance. Each divorce is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A divorce attorney knowledgable in spousal maintenance laws can help you understand your potential maintenance entitlement or obligation during your divorce.

Formula to Calculate Spousal Maintenance

Illinois court utilizes a formula to calculate the amount of spousal maintenance one may be awarded: Twenty-five percent of the payee's net income is subtracted from 33.33 percent of the payer's net income to find the annual maintenance obligation. The maintenance must not surpass 40 percent of the combined income of the divorcing spouses.

The duration of spousal maintenance is usually determined by the duration of the marriage. For example, with a 10-year marriage, the petitioning spouse may be awarded maintenance for four years.

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aurora divorce lawyerEstablishing an agreeable parenting plan can be complex and contentious, especially if the divorce is acrimonious. Parenting plans include the allocation of parental responsibilities, which entails essential decision-making, like the child’s education and healthcare. Parenting time, formerly known as visitation, is also included in a parenting plan. The best interest of the child is always paramount under Illinois law. A child custody attorney adept at negotiation can help draft an agreeable, surefire parenting plan.

Parenting Plan under Illinois Law

From the divorce filing date, parents have 120 days to file a projected parenting plan with the court.  If the parents are unable to provide a tentative parenting plan, they may obtain an extension through court-ordered mediation.  When an agreeable parenting plan is not reached by the court-ordered date of extension, the judge may rule on the disputed elements of the parenting plan. The status of the parenting plan then transfers into an allocation of judgment. Once an agreeable parenting plan is established, that plan will be permanent and cannot be changed for two years except in rare cases.

Common Components to Include in a Parenting Plan

  • Specify the allocation of each parent’s decision-making responsibilities.

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aurora divorce lawyerMany people assume that they will be granted a more favorable divorce settlement if their spouse cheated on them or they were otherwise wronged by their soon-to-be-ex. However, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. Divorcing spouses do not need to show proof of marital misconduct like infidelity or mental cruelty to be granted a divorce. In most cases, the reason that the marriage is ending does not matter to Illinois courts. That being said, reckless or wasteful financial decisions during the marriage can impact the outcome of the divorce.

How Illinois Courts Divide Property

Divorcing couples in Illinois may be able to reach an agreement on how to divide their shared property without the court’s involvement. However, if the couple cannot reach a settlement, the court will divide their property according to a legal doctrine called equitable distribution. Property is divided fairly based on many factors, including both spouses’ financial circumstances. Illinois law specifically states that courts will divide marital property without regard to marital misconduct. For example, courts cannot award less marital property to a spouse solely because that spouse cheated on or abused his or her partner. However, there is one major exception to this rule: If a spouse dissipated marital assets, the non-dissipating spouse may be entitled to reimbursement.  

Dissipation of Assets Claims for Wasted Assets

The term “dissipation” refers to wasteful spending or use of marital property. Specifically, Illinois law defines dissipation of assets as the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one spouse during a marital breakdown.

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kane county divorce lawyerCredit card debt is a common burden that afflicts many Americans. Out of frivolity or necessity, credit card debt can be easy to accumulate.  In fact, as of 2022, the credit card debt of American citizens has risen to $925 billion, which is a 15 percent increase from 2021. When a divorcing spouse discovers, unbeknownst to them, that their spouse has accrued debt from one credit card or multiple credit cards, the divorce can become acrimonious. The equitable division of assets can also become even more convoluted than a divorce involving financial transparency. 

Under Illinois law, most credit card debt is considered marital property as the non-offending spouse will be obligated to pay. A divorce attorney adept at identifying marital assets, which include debts, can evaluate your case and help strategize for a reasonable settlement.

Instances Where Credit Card Debt is Non-Marital

  • Legal separation – Any credit card debt accrued after a legal separation is considered non-marital. 

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kane county divorce lawyerAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020, more than 40 percent of all births were out-of-wedlock. Sometimes the paternity of the father of out-of-wedlock births is unknown. Other times, for whatever reason, a mother may purposely keep the paternity private from the father. Unless paternity is established, the mother retains all legal rights to her child. A paternity attorney with expertise in advocating for parental rights can evaluate and explain the legalities of your case and help you create an effective parenting plan

Six Benefits of Establishing Paternity

The advantages of establishing paternity can benefit both the mother and father but is most especially invaluable for the child. Some benefits of establishing paternity include the following: 

  1. Establishing paternity enables and fosters a relationship between the father and child.

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aurora divorce lawyer Dissipation of assets involves a spouse intentionally wasting marital assets or damaging marital property after the marriage is irretrievably broken. This vindictive transgression is common among contested divorces and comes in many forms. If a spouse is proven to have dissipated marital assets during divorce proceedings, they may be ordered to reimburse the marital estate. A divorce attorney with expertise in asset dissipation and equitable property division can help substantiate a spouse’s flagrant waste of marital assets and strategize an appropriate divorce settlement.

Dissipation of Assets According to Illinois Law

To allege that your spouse engaged in asset dissipation, you must submit a written notice filed 30 days after discovery or within 60 days of the divorce proceedings. The written notice must detail the assets dissipated and the marriage breakdown date. Once the dissipation is established, the court will order the offending party to compensate their ex-spouse with either money or marital property to offset the assets squandered. The court will examine the following two inquiries.

  1. Acquiescence – Did the petitioning spouse know of and agree to the dissipation?

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aurora child custody lawyerChild custody battles can sometimes be traumatic, stressful, and agonizing; however, when one parent suffers from addiction problems, the custody battle can be even more contentious and chaotic. Addiction comes in many forms, and a parent's addiction can have lasting and damaging mental and emotional effects on a child's well-being through adulthood. For instance, a child of an abusive alcoholic father could grow up with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or develop co-dependency. The consequences of the dysfunction caused by an addicted parent are severe, as many children can feel shame, embarrassment, abandonment, and anger.

Addiction can devastate a family's welfare, finances, and mental health and can lead to domestic violence and child abuse. According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, roughly one in eight children reside with at least one parent with a substance abuse addiction. If an addictive parent cannot provide their child with basic needs, safety, and protection, that parent might be forced to forfeit their parenting rights. The best interest of the child is at the forefront of every case in Illinois court. So, the provisions of an offending parent's parenting plan may be restricted if needed. A trustworthy child custody attorney can help you navigate this difficult situation. 

Common Addictions that Incite Divorce and Custody Disputes  

Divorce is sometimes imminent when an addictive spouse is unable to curtail their habits and actions or if they refuse to seek rehabilitation. If addiction continues after a divorce, a parenting plan is subject to being restricted.  The many types of physical and behavioral addiction that can afflict a divorcing parent could include but are not limited to the following. 

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kendall county guardianship lawyerGuardianship of a minor child is a serious responsibility, complete with a host of complexities to consider, including the child’s psychological well-being. When a child is orphaned or neglected, they need a suitable guardian; without one, the child becomes the ward of the state. According to Children’s Home + Aid, over 4,000 children enter the Illinois foster care system annually. Currently, there are more than 16,000 children in Illinois’s foster care system.   A guardianship lawyer can provide legal aid for those who wish to establish guardianship over a minor.

What is Guardianship of a Minor?

The court appoints legal guardians if a child’s parents are deceased, detained, infirm, or unwilling to care for the child. Legal guardianship authorizes an adult to the decision-making and care of a child who is not their own. A child’s guardian does not need to be a blood relative of the child and could include the following.   

  • A willing, suitable adult at least 18 years old, who is of sound mind and not disabled

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aurora divorce lawyerUnder Illinois law, divorcing or separating parents of minor children are mandated to complete a court-approved parent education class. Even if the divorce is uncontested, parents are required to pay for and finish a parenting course. Sometimes parenting classes are court-ordered for parents accused of child abuse or neglect. These courses teach parents how to cope with frustrations, providing them with essential techniques to care for their children safely.  

What is a Parenting Class?

Parenting classes are educational courses intended to enhance family dynamics by promoting a positive and nurturing relationship between the divorcing or separating parents and the child. The many benefits of parenting classes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Teaches parents vital skills to help with the child’s transition from traveling between a two-parent household to a single-parent one

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kendall county guardianship lawyerLife circumstances can change in an instant. Catastrophic accidents or diseases may debilitate an adult to the point that they need a guardian to help manage their finances and healthcare. A family law attorney proficient in the decision-making responsibilities of guardians can assist with setting up a guardianship and help you prepare for the unexpected. 

Types of Adult Guardianships in Illinois

A guardian, which only the court can appoint, is authorized with the legal responsibility to care for a disabled or incapacitated adult, also known as a "ward."

  •  Guardian of the estate – The guardian manages all of the ward's finances, including bills, banking, taxes, and real estate.

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aurora child custody lawyerSocial media is a valuable tool that enables people to market their businesses, promote their support groups, advocate for causes, and provide a sense of connection among family and friends who may live long distances. It also provides loved ones with accessibility to the social media user’s lifestyle, opinions, and emotions. During the COVID-19 quarantine, many depended on social media as an outlet to maintain relationships and human interaction. According to one source, as of 2021, 82 percent of the US population has a social media profile, which accounts for 223 million Americans. But with all the benefits, social media has a sordid underbelly.   

Aside from cybercrimes like doxing, hacking, and identity theft, online predators peruse the Internet to commit child sex exploitation. Posting a personal photograph of your young child in the bathtub or in a bathing suit might be an endearing snapshot to share with the child’s grandparents, but such publicly viewed photos could entice online predators like pedophiles and cyber kidnappers. It is common for many to post pictures of their children on social media. However, some parents oppose this oversharing.    

Legal action may be warranted if an ex-spouse refuses to comply with a concerned parent’s privacy wishes. A child custody attorney with knowledge about the pitfalls of social media can assist with enforcing or modifying the parenting plan.

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kendall county divorce lawyerAsset division during divorce can sometimes exacerbate acrimony between the parties, especially if the dispute involves inherited assets. Under Illinois law, inheritance is considered non-marital property. However, ascertaining whether the inherited property ever shifted into marital property can be complicated. Once inherited assets are commingled with marital property, the inherited property can become marital.

A divorce attorney proficient in inheritance matters can help identify whether inherited assets are marital or non-marital. Additionally, a divorce attorney can help draft or modify marital agreements that protect your inheritance or your rights to an inheritance.          

Means of Inheritance Protection

If a married person wishes to ensure that their inherited assets remain non-marital property, there are several ways to do so.

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aurora divorce lawyerChild support in Illinois terminates at age 18 or high school graduation. Since January 1, 2016, codified in Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, divorced parents have been obligated to contribute to their non-minor child’s education and living expenses. However, these agreed-upon contributions, stated in the divorce decree, can be modified. For instance, a modification is likely if one parent is incapable of contributing payment because of unemployment or illness. If a financially able parent default on payment, then that parent can be held in contempt of court.          

Negotiating the tuition and living expenses of a non-minor child can be acrimonious. A family law attorney who understands the complexities of child support can help draft a modification or enforce a prearranged tuition agreement in the divorce decree.

Seven Terms of Section 513 of the Illinois Law

  1. The funds from a 529 account, which appropriates money for higher education, can help with payment for tuition and living expenses.

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aurora divorce lawyerIn the United States, pets are often treated and considered family members. Their devotion is clear, as nearly $70 billion is spent annually on pets, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). The 85 million families who own at least one pet, which accounts for 67 percent of American households, demonstrates how massive the pet industry is to the economy. The bond between some owners and their pets is intense.  

According to a Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) study, 79 percent of pet owners confirm their pets reduce stress. Owning a pet could also minimize cardiovascular disease and depression. So, when divorcing spouses dispute the custody of their family pet, it is sometimes as stressful and hostile as a child custody battle. Deciphering the ownership and visitation rights of a pet can be complex. A family law attorney skilled in both child and pet custody disputes can help strategize and determine pet ownership and responsibilities.

The Best Interest of the Pet 

If both spouses purchased the family pet together while married, the court might assess the following aspects and potential circumstances to determine the pet’s best interest. 

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kane county divorce lawyerChild custody battles can be contentious, acrimonious, traumatic, and costly. A reliable child custody attorney can help with dispute resolution to facilitate an amicable outcome. However, when dispute resolution, like mediation, fails, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL), a child representative, or a custody evaluator to help determine what is in the child's best interests. These investigations can be intrusive, nerve-racking, and embarrassing, making some feel unfairly judged. A child custody attorney skilled in collaborative law can also help you prepare for the evaluations of court-appointed, third-party investigators. 

What is a Guardian Ad Litem, a Child Representative, and a Custody Evaluator?

Guardian ad litem (GAL) -- GALs, who are certified and trained through the Department of Children and Family Services, advocate and protect a child's best interest during custody battles. Working on behalf of a child, a GAL is typically court-appointed and can serve as a witness. After a thorough investigation, GALs provide recommendations to the judge. A GAL's fees are billed to the child's parents or guardians.

Child representative – As an attorney for the child and trained in child advocacy, a child representative is bound by attorney-client privilege and cannot be called as a witness. A child representative, like a GAL, advocates for the best interest of the child and serves as the child’s voice. After evaluating the case and interviewing the child, a child representative can file motions regarding parental responsibilities. The child’s parents or guardians also pay the child representative's legal fees.

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kane county child custody lawyerAcrimonious divorce and custody battles can be traumatic for the child in the short term and, if unresolved, in the long term. If a parent starts to date shortly after the divorce, this can wreak havoc on the child’s psyche as they try to adjust to their new circumstances. The child’s confusion and animosity regarding the divorce will likely intensify if a parent dates a person from an adulterous affair that was the catalyst for the divorce. Introducing a child to a new partner may instigate the child’s feelings of abandonment and heighten friction between the other parent. 

If not stipulated in the divorce decree or parenting plan, a parent has the legal right to introduce their child to a new partner. However, this does not necessarily render the disputing parent without legal recourse. A divorce attorney can help negotiate an agreeable solution and implement a post-decree modification.

Potential Issues That May Necessitate a Modification  

Modifications to a parenting plan depend on the child's best interests.  A disputing parent can only prevent an ex-spouse from introducing a child to a new partner if they can prove the new partner is a threat to the child’s welfare.  If the child has already spent time with the parent’s new partner, the court could take action if jeopardizing occurrences are proven, such as, but not limited to, the following.

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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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