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

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_119521075.jpgIn the state of Illinois, paying child support is an independent parental obligation. The state sees it as the right of a child to receive financial support from both parents. However, you may be able to adjust your child support obligation through a child support modification in Illinois. By speaking with a skilled divorce or family law attorney, you may be able to adjust your child support order. 

Factors for Child Support Modification

Every three years, child support court orders may go under review for modification. However, this process can be expedited if there are significant changes in the child or parents’ lives. The factors include:

  • Significant changes in the financial situation of the non-custodial parent (both increases and decreases to income)

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1926120011.jpgWhen getting a divorce, a very important situation to figure out is determining who will have custody of the children. Whether full custody is granted to one parent or a shared child custody arrangement is put into place amongst co-parenting adults, the ultimate decision can yield quite the grueling process. The topics of child custody and visitation become even more complex when step-parents are interested in pursuing legal access to the children as well. 

Who is Legally Defined as a Step-Parent in Illinois? 

In Illinois, the law specifies that a step-parent is an individual who is legally married to one of the parents of the child in question. While someone may consider his- or herself a parental figure to a child, if he or she is dating the child's parent, as opposed to being officially married to them in the eyes of the law, then Illinois does not recognize said individual as a step-parent. Without an official marriage license, the partner of a child's parent cannot be considered a step-parent. 

Do Step-Parents Have Visitation Rights in Illinois?

Step-parents have visitation rights in Illinois under certain conditions. A step-parent may petition for visitation rights to a child if the parent of the child has denied the step-parent any access to, communication with, or visitation with the child. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1696146232.jpgWhen two partners file for divorce, they can expect to face a lot of complicated questions and strenuous processes. One of the most complex aspects of getting a divorce is having to divide the assets that two spouses once shared. 

From bank balances and investments to vehicles and houses, there is a lot to consider when it comes time to analyze the assets and determine who will receive ownership of which assets. One very important asset that couples are often perplexed by is inheritance. 

What is Considered Marital Property in Illinois? 

There are two types of property to be aware of in an Illinois divorce: marital property and non-marital property. Marital property refers to any and all assets that were acquired at some point after the marriage was official. In other words, marital property is any property that you and your spouse acquired together while married. 

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will county child custody lawyerCreating a shared parenting agreement is often one of the most stressful parts of divorce. Often, one or both parents believe they alone know what is best for their child and will try to minimize the other parent’s parenting time or parental responsibilities. While this can be a tempting short-term strategy, in the long run, it leads to sad and confused children and angry, burnt-out parents. 

But when divorcing spouses can work together to create a parenting agreement and commit to peaceful co-parenting, it can be possible to have children share time in two households without endless conflict or stress. However, such a commitment must happen from the beginning - when the parenting agreement is being created. If you are getting divorced and want to work cooperatively with your spouse now and in the future, read on. 

Give the Benefit of the Doubt - And Then Give it Again

After divorce, spouses are often focused on the many years of preceding conflict. But relitigating arguments with your ex gets you nowhere - and makes it more difficult to focus on good parenting in the present. Even when your spouse presents behaviors that you find triggering, try to keep in mind that they might not be trying to upset you; they might just be themselves. If you can give your ex the benefit of the doubt, even when they do things that annoy you, it will be much easier to share parenting responsibilities. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_526087603.jpgThe experience of getting divorced has evolved considerably in the last few years. Although divorce is still not easy, Illinois’ laws have changed to reflect modern family arrangements and now consider both parents responsible for providing financial support and physical care for their children. Courts have also tried to move away from high-conflict divorce litigation and often require divorcing couples to seek alternative dispute resolution strategies. 

This has made it easier for parents to focus more on divorcing cooperatively rather than trying to best each other during divorce. As a result, many different professionals are now available to help divorcing couples pursue a peaceful strategy that minimizes hostility and places the needs of children first. Here are three divorce professionals who, in addition to a great divorce attorney, may be able to help you during your Kane County divorce. 

Divorce Coach

A divorce coach is someone who specializes in helping divorcing couples work through the legal, emotional, and logistical changes of the divorce process. A divorce coach can work with both spouses to help them set priorities, minimize conflict, and focus on the future. An effective divorce coach can help spouses save time and money by streamlining the divorce and keeping couples on task. 

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aurora divorce lawyerMany divorcing couples say that making the final decision to get divorced is one of the toughest decisions they have ever made. Whether a couple decides to get divorced together or only one spouse makes the decision, the impact of divorce affects everybody involved in different ways. When a couple shares children, the emotional challenges of divorce can be especially difficult. 

If you are entering the new year and trying to decide whether getting divorced is the right choice for you, here are some things you may want to consider. Remember that an experienced divorce attorney who knows Illinois law is the best person to offer customized answers to your questions. 

Predict How Your Spouse Will React

Nobody can read someone else’s mind, but by the time couples have been married for many years, they may as well be able to. Knowing how your spouse is likely to react to a request for divorce can help you plan ahead and take any necessary precautions. Your spouse may initially resist the idea but, depending on how you handle initial discussions, come around to agree that divorce is the best option. Or not. But before you make any decisions, try to consider how your spouse is likely to respond. 

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aurora divorce lawyerMore and more couples in the United States are filing for “grey divorce,” or divorce in their 50s and beyond. The financial needs and priorities of couples divorcing in their later years are very different from younger couples. Children are usually grown and out of the house, and both spouses may be retired

One of the hardest parts of getting divorced later in life is managing the division of marital assets. Spouses may disagree about whether there should be spousal maintenance, how savings accounts should be divided, and whether to sell their home or allow one party to continue living in it. It is important to identify your current and future desires and needs when making important financial decisions during divorce so that you can be prepared to move forward with your life after divorce with stability. Here are some important things to consider. 

Is There a Mortgage on the Home? 

If at least one spouse wants to keep the home in the family and there is a mortgage on the home, he or she will have to refinance the mortgage so their spouse is no longer responsible for the loan obligation. This is usually done by buying out the other spouse’s equity and taking on all future costs associated with the home. If that proves to be too much money or work, the cost of selling the house later on will be managed by just one spouse. However, if the house is sold during the divorce process, the costs, fees, and realtor commissions will come out of the house’s proceeds and spouses will share the remainder. Tax considerations may also affect this decision. 

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aurora divorce lawyerDivorcing spouses in Illinois must equitably divide all marital property. Although in theory, this sounds straightforward, in practice, it can become quite complicated. Marital assets are often complex and expensive, and most couples rarely completely own their most valuable asset: The marital home. 

Deciding how to handle the marital home can be a point of major dispute. Should spouses sell the home and split the proceeds? Should children be forced to move through no fault of their own? Is it even possible for one spouse to keep the home on their own? All of these are important questions that should be asked and answered. If you are getting divorced and think you may want to negotiate ownership of your marital home, here are four things to consider. 

Can You Buy Out Your Spouse’s Value? 

If a couple owns their home together, one spouse may be willing to “buy out” the other spouse’s value by giving up their fair share of other marital assets like savings and retirement accounts, vehicles, and more. Spouses may also pay a cash lump sum or give up future spousal support to buy their spouse’s equity in the house. However, this strategy has its risks; giving up savings or other assets to buy a house may leave the homeowner with very little to fall back on in an emergency. 

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aurora divorce lawyerFor many couples, the marital home is their greatest source of equity. In a divorce where all marital property must be divided, the value of the marital home is of great importance to both spouses. Whether one spouse wishes to buy out the other spouse’s value of the home or not, both parties must be aware of important issues, such as how much equity they have and whether their home’s value is underwater. If you are considering divorce and need to get your home appraised, here are four tips to prepare you for the appraisal so you can get the most value out of your home. 

Know the Costs

Getting an appraisal is not free. The average cost of an appraisal is $300 to $450 for a single-family home. At a time when many American households have little or no savings, the cost of an appraisal can present a challenge. How do you find an appraiser? Who will pay for the appraisal? If the wife is filing for divorce, should she pay for the appraisal, or should both spouses split the cost? These are questions that must be anticipated before hiring an appraiser. 

Understand the Appraiser’s Job 

Regardless of who pays the appraiser, he or she does not work for one spouse in particular. Rather, an appraiser is a neutral party who has one job: Determine the value of a home. In addition to big-ticket items like the house’s size, layout, and position relative to good schools and main traffic arteries, appraisers are also looking for things that will adversely affect the home’s value: Expensive repairs, dirty carpets, a peeling roof. If you and your spouse have waited to do any upgrades or repairs, now may be the time. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1845825382-min.jpgWhen parents get divorced in Illinois and are going to share parental responsibilities and parenting time, they must create a parenting plan. In our last blog post, we talked about what a parenting plan covers and how parents can get creative when drafting a plan that benefits their whole family. In this blog post, we will review an important part of every Illinois parenting plan called “the right of first refusal.” Like many other parts of a parenting plan, when done well, the right of first refusal can enhance a child’s relationship with both parents and make the shared parenting experience work well for everyone. 

What is the Right of First Refusal? 

The right of first refusal is a provision that states whether and how parents will rely on each other for childcare, rather than using other family members or a paid sitter. This allows children to maximize the amount of time they spend with each parent, increasing their ability to have a strong and productive relationship with the two more important adults in their life.  Although the details can be flexible, the right of first refusal essentially requires parents to offer each other the opportunity to care for their child before they seek childcare from other sources. 

This provision is required to be in every Illinois parenting plan, but the terms can be adjusted to suit a family’s particular needs. For example, if parents get along fairly well, have flexible jobs, and live a short distance from each other, they may want to require the right of first refusal whenever they need to be away from their child for more than three hours. If dropping off and picking up a child causes little or no tension, parents have an easy and affordable caregiver. 

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aurora divorce lawyerParenting after a divorce is challenging. Fortunately, there are many things parents in Illinois can do to make the transition to life after marriage easier. The most important piece of parenting cooperatively after divorce is creating a great parenting plan that places the child’s best interests first and respects the needs and wishes of both parents. 

Strategies like mediation can help parents navigate their differences while resolving issues like parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities. When spouses and their attorneys work together, they can create a parenting plan that both parents are more likely to appreciate and follow. If you are getting divorced and want an amicable and effective parenting plan, here are some tips to get you started. 

Creating an Amicable Parenting Plan

Although everyone’s situation is unique, there are time-tested strategies that generally yield good results. These include: 

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aurora divorce lawyerThe first batch of major holidays during or after your divorce can be tough. Children are still adjusting to all of the changes - a new home, perhaps a new school, less time with both parents, shifting schedules - and between helping the children and trying to manage your own emotions about the divorce, you likely have a lot on your plate. 

Relationship experts say that feeling a heightened sense of sadness around the holidays is normal following divorce. If you are about to experience the holidays as a single adult for the first time in many years, here are some suggestions from psychological professionals to help you adjust and heal during this challenging period. 

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Trying to convince yourself that everything is okay and that the holidays are not a difficult time may make you feel even worse. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and give yourself the freedom to feel what you feel. Try to keep a positive perspective. This may be very difficult, but it will not last forever. 

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aurora divorce lawyerAlthough getting divorced is never an easy experience, the divorce process can seem impossibly complex for individuals who deal with reckless or wasteful spending by their spouses. In addition to the often shocking breach of trust caused by dissipative behaviors, the stress of trying to recover dissipated assets is a tremendous burden - to say nothing of the financial burden imposed by such spending. 

Although proving a charge of dissipation can be challenging, it is not impossible. In this blog post, we will give an overview of what dissipation of assets is and how it can be proven. A qualified Illinois divorce attorney can help you file a dissipation claim during your divorce. 

What is Dissipation of Assets? 

Before you can prove that dissipation occurred, it is important to know exactly what dissipation is. Dissipation of assets, as defined by Illinois law, is the use of marital property (which is generally any assets acquired after the marriage began, including cash and real estate) for a purpose unrelated to the marriage for the sole benefit of one spouse. The wasteful spending must have occurred when the marriage was experiencing an irretrievable break down, Determining what constitutes an irretrievable breakdown can be tricky. 

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kane county family law attorneyIllinois formerly considered any court-sanctioned time spent with a child as “visitation,” even if it was time with the child’s parents. Now, the time that parents spend with their children is called “parenting time,” and the term “visitation” is only used when a non-parent obtains a court order allowing them to spend time with a child. 

Generally, parents have total discretion when deciding who gets to visit their children and spend time with them. However, after parents get divorced, grandparents who previously played a large role in a child’s life may find themselves suddenly shut out. When this happens, it is possible to petition the court for the right to visit that child, but only when certain circumstances are met. 

Who Can Petition For a Right to Visit a Child in Illinois? 

Grandparents are not the only non-parental figures who can petition for the right to visit the child. Great-grandparents, step-parents, and siblings can also request the right to spend time with a child. Any person who is requesting visitation must prove the following: 

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aurora divorce lawyerWhen one or both members of a married couple decide to get a divorce, many issues must be resolved before the divorce can be finalized. How couples resolve these issues depends on their circumstances and their ability to get along. In the best of circumstances, couples will agree on most or all of the divorce issues and file for an uncontested divorce or even a joint simplified dissolution if there are no children involved. Couples who disagree on certain issues can pursue mediation or collaborative divorce, which generally has a very high success rate of helping spouses resolve their differences and agree to a divorce decree that is, if not perfect for everyone, at least mutually tolerable. When all else fails, or there are certain high-risk situations such as domestic violence, couples may need to pursue divorce litigation in court. A qualified Illinois divorce attorney can help determine which method makes the most sense for your situation and then help you create a roadmap for resolving divorce matters. 

What Do Spouses Need to Agree On Before the Divorce is Final? 

Although each couple’s circumstances will vary from case to case, certain issues must always be resolved. If couples do not have children, they will need to reach an agreement on the following matters: 

  • The division of debt and property - If couples signed an enforceable prenuptial agreement that addressed personal property or spousal maintenance before getting married, this will supersede state law when it comes to asset division. However, assets and debt accumulated during the marriage will still need to be divided in a way that is fair. 

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Oswego family law attorneyStaying in a marriage where physical or emotional violence is present eventually becomes unsustainable, and domestic violence is the primary cause for many divorces in Illinois. Because Illinois only allows “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce, rather than allocating fault to one spouse or the other, domestic violence cannot be grounds for divorce

However, that does not mean that the presence of domestic violence does not affect a divorce’s proceedings or its outcome. If you are experiencing domestic violence and are considering leaving your marriage, it is important to work with an Illinois divorce attorney who can help. 

Gathering Evidence

It is important to collect any information that proves domestic violence happened or continues to happen. This can be difficult and scary, and it is important to keep evidence safe where an abuser cannot find or destroy it. Police reports, text messages, videos, and voicemails may all be potential proof of domestic violence. An attorney can help you with evidence of domestic violence in your divorce case. 

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aurora divorce lawyerAlthough divorce trials make for great courtroom dramas, the truth is that very few divorces in Illinois go to trial. This is due to a concerted effort on the part of Illinois courts and judges who recognize that spouses and especially children are not benefited by the time, conflict, and expense involved in trial litigation. Many couples are ordered to exhaust other options, including pursuing mediation or collaborative divorce, for resolving their differences before a divorce case can move forward to a trial. 

However, it is not always possible for couples to agree. Furthermore, issues such as domestic violence can make conflict-resolution strategies impractical or even dangerous. In cases such as these, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, property division, and spousal maintenance may be resolved by a judge. 

What Happens During Divorce Litigation? 

One of the first steps in a divorce case is a process known as “discovery.” Discovery is a period during which attorneys gather and request facts and evidence, including documents and depositions, from both spouses in preparation for the trial. Depending on the complexity of a divorce, discovery can be the longest part of the divorce case. Attorneys must share materials obtained during discovery with each other so each spouse can make a strong case. 

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aurora divorce lawyer Collaborative divorce and mediation are two alternative dispute resolution strategies that help divorcing couples work through all the issues that must be resolved in a divorce. Marital asset division, spousal maintenance, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and more can all be handled in a way that allows couples to stay focused on finding solutions. 

When both spouses are invested in obtaining a successful outcome, mediation and collaborative divorce can make divorce faster, less expensive, and more peaceful. Although they have similarities, these two strategies are not the same. Understanding the difference can help you choose an approach that is right for you. 

What is Mediation? 

Mediation is conducted by a specially trained, unbiased third-party mediator who is often an attorney. Both parties generally pay for mediators, but they do not represent either spouse. They cannot give legal advice, and their focus is on keeping parties moving towards an agreement. Mediators help couples brainstorm different options, navigate compromises, make priorities, and eventually come to an agreement. 

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aurora divorce lawyerRecognizing the harmful effects of hostile divorce litigation on families and children, Illinois courts and judges now encourage divorcing couples to use alternative dispute resolution techniques whenever possible. Mediation is one such technique, and thousands of couples all over the state have used it to help them reach important compromises during divorce negotiations. 

There are many common myths and misunderstandings about mediation, and in this blog post we will explore a few of these so Illinois residents can make educated decisions about their divorce. Keep in mind that mediation is not right for everyone and a qualified divorce attorney is the best person to answer your questions. 

Mediation is Only For “Easy” Divorces

Although simple divorces may be easier to resolve, mediation is perhaps even more helpful to couples whose relationships are complex. Complex asset and debt division, spousal support, and child-related issues can all be addressed during mediation, helping couples navigate these difficult scenarios while reducing conflict and encouraging compromise. 

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aurora divorce lawyer Divorce is never easy, but it does not have to be a nightmare. With the help of your attorney, having a third-party mediator to help you and your spouse navigate potentially contentious issues of divorce can make the entire process go faster and more smoothly. Mediation is still a lot of work, but the positive outcome is usually well worth the effort. Our last blog post gave an overview of the mediation process. Here, we offer five great tips for preparing for mediation. 

Be Flexible

Anticipate that unexpected problems, feelings, and requests will arise. If you approach mediation with rigid expectations about how it “should” go, you will ultimately find yourself frustrated and disappointed. Being flexible can apply to your own feelings about the situation, too - you may find that your priorities can shift during mediation, and that is okay. 

Get Ready to Listen 

Mediation can only work if both parties are invested in working together and can give each other the benefit of the doubt. You may think you already know everything that is important to your spouse, but people are often surprised at what they learn when they can really listen with the help of a mediator. Assume your spouse is telling the truth and act as if what they say is important. Doing so creates goodwill that can benefit you when it is your turn to express yourself. 

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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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