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

st-charles-il-alimony-lawyer.jpgFor some people, meeting a new partner with whom they feel more compatible is a compelling reason to end an unhappy or unfulfilling relationship and try for something better. For couples who got married very young or who have been in a miserable marriage for many years, the light at the end of the tunnel of divorce can make it easy to ignore the fact that having a new partner before your divorce is finalized can have some unintended consequences. 

One of the areas that a new partner can impact is that of spousal support, also known as alimony. If you are thinking about initiating an Illinois divorce and are wondering whether you should ask for spousal support or how spousal support payments are determined, read on and then contact a skilled Kane County attorney who can help. 

When is Spousal Support Awarded? 

Spousal support is not available to every divorcee and, even when it is available, certain circumstances can end it right away. Spouses are encouraged to work together to agree to a mutually acceptable divorce decree, including spousal support payments. When you already have a new partner or your marriage is high-conflict for other reasons, your spouse may be unwilling to negotiate a spousal support agreement that feels fair. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_oswego-divorce-attorney.jpgDivorce presents a complex set of challenges to couples, especially when they have been married for a long time. While spouses usually have their own friends, a couple’s social network is often made up of other couples, church communities, neighborhood friends, and parents of children who are friends with a couple’s children. Dividing these social groups in a divorce may feel inevitable and the loss of friendships can feel like a twisted knife in an already deep wound. If you are going through an Illinois divorce and are looking for strategies to help you maintain important shared friendships, here are three ideas that may help. 

Remember That Your Divorce is Hard For Friends, Too 

In addition to the inherent awkwardness of reconfiguring relationships without your spouse around, your divorce may cause your friends to feel grief and confusion as well. While that may seem unfair, social support groups are intimately connected and friends often rely on each other’s relationships to support their own. Be willing to hear your friends’ perspectives on your situation; it may give you a chance to step away from your own feelings, which can be a relief. 

Avoid Making Your Mutual Friends Your Therapist

If you have a great girl or guy friend whom you trust to keep your secrets confidential, feel free to speak to him or her about your divorce. But for friends you share with your spouse, it is best to avoid getting into the dirty details of your relationship. It puts pressure on friends to take sides and issue judgment against one spouse, which can make them feel uncomfortable and retreat from friendship with either of you. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_kendall-county-divorce-lawyer.jpgWhile couples who get divorced later in life may avoid many of the challenges related to children and divorce, they still face a challenging set of issues that must be resolved before the divorce can be finalized. The question foremost on the minds of many “gray” adults is whether dividing several decades’ of finances will leave both spouses able to live on their own for the rest of their lives. If you are considering divorce and are nearing or past retirement age, here are three financial considerations to keep in mind as you plan your divorce. 

Retirement Accounts Must Be Divided

Any value in a retirement account that was accumulated during a marriage will need to be divided in a divorce. Some spouses do divide their retirement accounts using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, but other spouses avoid literally dividing the account by negotiating the value of other assets. For example, one spouse may wish to keep the entire value of a marital home and live on their Social Security payments while the other spouse wishes to keep the entire value of a substantial retirement fund. As long as both spouses agree to the terms and the division is fair, an Illinois judge will approve the terms of a couple’s asset division agreement. 

Estate Plans Must Be Rewritten

Because a couple’s estate plan is a carefully written instrument intended to pass on a family legacy to children, rewriting an estate plan after divorce can be a difficult or sad experience. However, it is crucial not to delay or avoid rewriting your estate plan as part of your overall divorce process. Failing to promptly address your will could have serious consequences for your estate and can place an undue burden on your executor and beneficiaries. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_geneva-il-divorce-lawyer_20220615-150350_1.jpgThousands of people get divorced in Illinois every year and the vast majority of these divorces are resolved without pursuing traditional courtroom litigation. Because litigation is increasingly seen as unnecessarily combative, expensive, and time-consuming (to say nothing of its harmful effects on any minor children involved), judges order most divorcing couples to seek mediation to resolve their differences outside of court. 

However, mediation, collaborative divorce, and other cooperative divorce efforts are not always safe or possible. For some couples, a judge’s supervision and expertise are necessary to ensure that spouses who are victims of domestic violence or financial abuse are treated safely and fairly throughout the divorce process. In situations like these, litigation can become very hostile and contested. When spouses disagree about issues of fact, expert witnesses may be necessary to argue the case of one or both spouses. 

Why Would an Expert Witness Be Necessary? 

Divorces frequently involve contested personal matters that are often difficult to prove beyond the personal testimony each spouse offers. But when the contested matters involve questions of fact, expert witnesses can provide specific information and evidence to strengthen a spouse’s case before a judge. Usually, these matters involve children and finances. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_yorkville-il-domestic-violence-lawyer.jpgMany people in Illinois remain trapped in unhappy or abusive marriages because they are afraid to leave. Unfortunately, the research on domestic violence suggests that people who remain in relationships out of fear of abuse may be onto something - the rate of serious physical abuse often becomes far worse when a victim tries to leave his or her abuser. 

However, victims of domestic violence are not condemned to stay in unhealthy marriages forever. Orders of protection are powerful legal instruments designed to act as a safety measure for people who are afraid that they or their children may be at risk, and an Illinois family law attorney can help you get one as part of your divorce strategy. 

How Does an Order of Protection Help? 

While an order of protection cannot take your abuser off the streets and put him or her in jail, it can create a strong incentive for your abuser to stay away from you. This is because orders of protection are ordered by the court and enforceable by law - meaning, if your abuser violates the order of protection, you can call the police and they can be subject to arrest, fines, jail time, and other penalties. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_batavia-il-divorce-attorney.jpgAddictive and compulsive behaviors are frequent causes of divorce in Illinois. Substance abuse issues make it very difficult to sustain a safe, stable family life while shopping and gambling addictions can make it impossible to live within a family’s means. Unfortunately, these behaviors can also complicate the divorce process, potentially making it very stressful. If you are pursuing an Illinois divorce from a spouse with addictive behaviors, here are four tips that may be helpful. 

Put Your Children’s Needs First

You do not need to be married to a spouse with addiction issues for long to understand how emotionally draining trying to help them can be. Trying to make ends meet, ensuring everybody is safe, and managing your day-to-day activities can be nearly impossible when you are essentially single-parenting and dealing with your spouse as well. But now that you have decided to get divorced, shift your focus to yourself and your children. Make sure they have what they need and try to minimize the difficulties they experience as you separate from your spouse. If necessary, pursue sole parental rights so you can keep them safe. And while you are at it, remember to take care of yourself, too. 

Collect Evidence

Addictive personalities tend to leave a trail of destruction in their wake. While this is exhausting to deal with, it can make it easy to document certain behaviors. Overdrawn bank accounts, photos of physical abuse, and arrest records may all play an important role in showing a judge that your spouse is unsafe or unpredictable. Depending on your spouse’s addiction, you may want to consider getting a financial restraining order to prevent them from wasting money before the divorce is finalized. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_kane-county-divorce-lawyer.jpgAt least one in ten American adults currently owns cryptocurrency and that number is only expected to rise. Making payments using cryptocurrency is easy, inexpensive, and difficult to track - making cryptocurrency an ideal payment method for a variety of reasons. 

Because cryptocurrency ownership is on the rise and divorce rates are still hovering around 50 percent, an increasing number of Illinois divorces will handle cryptocurrency as part of the marital asset division process. Like any other marital property, cryptocurrency must be divided fairly; however, the volatility of the cryptocurrency market and the ease with which cryptocurrency can be hidden can introduce significant challenges to the division process. 

How Do I Know My Spouse is Telling the Truth About Our Cryptocurrency’s Value? 

Spouses commonly divide household chores and when one spouse handles all or most of a family’s financial affairs, the other spouse may not be aware of the full value of their marital property. Although each spouse must create a financial affidavit under oath that discloses their full financial picture, people are not always completely honest. 

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Most spouses pursuing a divorce in Illinois have questions about spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support). Will you pay it? Will you receive it? Who decides? Traditionally, men were the ones asking these questions - but as women increasingly outperform men in college and many income brackets, women are frequently wondering whether they may be paying alimony as well. Illinois law does not distinguish between men and women when it comes to determining alimony payments, but it does provide very specific ground rules to take the guesswork out of determining the duration and amount of the payments.

What is Alimony? 

Divorce is expensive - that is no secret. When one spouse is the primary breadwinner for a family, divorce can have an outsized impact on the spouse who earns less, especially if that spouse gave up educational or career ambitions to stay home and raise children. Spousal maintenance is intended to recognize the non-financial contributions a spouse can make to a marriage and prevent that spouse from becoming impoverished immediately after divorce. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_geneva-il-divorce-lawyer.jpgHundreds of men and women all over Illinois get married every year and make lasting commitments to honor and help each other in all things until death - or at least, so they think at the time they get married. But as everyone knows, a lifetime of marriage is no guarantee when almost 50 percent of relationships end in divorce

While most divorcing couples agree that separating is the right choice for their future, what about those couples in which one spouse wants a divorce and the other spouse does not? If your spouse has asked you for a divorce in Illinois and you are hoping to stay married, read this blog post and then contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney for advice. 

Can I Insist We Get Therapy Before Divorce? 

Illinois wants to support and encourage healthy marriages and the law generally prefers married couples to stay that way. Although you cannot force an unwilling spouse to attend therapy, once divorce proceedings begin, you can request the judge to order a conciliation conference. If he or she believes there is still hope to save the marriage, the judge may also order a conciliation conference even if neither spouse requests it. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_aurora-il-divorce-attorney.jpgMental illness and outlier psychological conditions have become better understood and less stigmatized in recent years, making it easier to get treatment and therapy. However, even under the best circumstances, certain psychological conditions can place an enormous amount of strain on a relationship. One of the most difficult conditions to manage is narcissism. 

Narcissism is often easily disguised early in a relationship as the narcissist attempts to “love bomb” their partner - acting incredibly sweet, caring, and giving as the relationship begins to progress. However, once a narcissist feels comfortable or is triggered by a certain behavior or incident, their negative personality traits can manifest. Unfortunately, just as it is difficult to be in a productive relationship with a narcissist, it is also particularly difficult to divorce a narcissist. 

How Do I Know Whether My Spouse is a Narcissist? 

In an age of prolific social media sites and rampant selfies, it might be easy to look around and suspect everyone of narcissism. But true narcissism is much more serious and pervasive than being unable to draw your eyes away from your own face during a video conferencing call. Pathological narcissism - or a narcissistic personality disorder so severe that it causes interference with daily functioning - is estimated to affect only one percent of the population. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_kendall-county-divorce-attorney.jpgWhen you are at your wit’s end in your relationship, the temptation to leave can be overwhelming. Getting divorced might seem like a panacea that will solve all your problems - you no longer would have to live with the sloppy, selfish jerk who does not mind asking you to make dinner but otherwise scarcely notices you. But the negative consequences of an Illinois divorce can be real and lasting, and surprisingly, many couples who are unhappy at significant points in their marriage often end up being quite happy many years later. However, others remain stubbornly miserable. Therefore, deciding whether or not to get divorced is a major crossroads with the potential to significantly affect the outcome of your future. Knowing what research on the topic says may help you reach a decision. 

Will I Be Happier if I Get Divorced? 

It is easy to fantasize about how the future will be different when you feel like you cannot stand one more night listening to your partner’s snoring. However, nearly 70 percent of couples who were very unhappy when they had their first child reported being happy ten years later. Other studies suggest similar results; that about two-thirds of adults in unhappy marriages were happy five years later if they stayed together. Studies also suggest that, on average, people who get divorced are not happier than those who stay married. 

When Does Divorce Make Sense? 

Happiness is a subjective measurement and may not accurately reflect the health or well-being of a person in a relationship. For example, parents may decide to stay together for their children and put simmering resentments away until the children are older. However, children of parents who are distant and unhappy can often tell that something is wrong. Later on, parents may end up getting divorced anyway when the children are out of the home. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_dupage-county-martial-property-lawyer.jpgDeveloping a small business and making it successful is no easy feat, especially after the Covid pandemic caused so many small businesses to shutter permanently. After years of sleepless nights, endless work, and countless stresses, many small business owners are therefore rightly nervous about the prospect of dividing their marital property in an Illinois divorce. Unfortunately, handling a small business in a divorce can be nearly as complex as getting it up and running. If you own a company and are considering separating from your spouse, here are some things you should know. 

Is My Small Business Marital Property? 

As with most issues in the law, the answer is, “It depends.” Usually, however, if a business was created or developed over the course of a marriage, at least part of it is probably marital property. Well-written prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can protect a business from becoming marital property, but without such a written agreement, a business’s income, assets, and overall value that accrued during a marriage are likely not personal property, even if the business is in only one spouse’s name. 

How Can We Divide Our Share of the Business? 

Every couple’s situation is a little different, but there are some common patterns in how couples divide their share of a small business that is marital property: 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_aurora-il-divorce-lawyer.jpgCouples who get divorced in Illinois have sometimes been separated and have lived in different homes for a long time before finally filing for divorce. Once it becomes clear that the relationship has irreparably fallen apart, it becomes natural to want to move on and begin establishing a life separate from one’s spouse, including finding a new home to live in or purchase. But because marital property must be assessed and divided during divorce, purchasing a home or making any other major financial decisions can impact the marital asset division process. If you are getting divorced or know that eventually you will get divorced, seek advice from an Illinois divorce attorney before you buy a home. 

If We Break Up, Is Any Money I Make My Personal Property? 

While you may feel as though your relationship ended long before you even filed for divorce, under Illinois law, as long as you are married your income is considered marital property. This includes income from employment, rental properties, investments, and more. So, even if you and your spouse have lived in separate homes for years, as long as you were still married, your income is almost certainly still marital property. 

This means that anything you buy with that income is also marital property. While Illinois law requires courts to divide marital property fairly, rather than using an equal split, living separately does not automatically make property belong exclusively to you - even if the asset is only in your name. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_kane-county-divorce-attorney_20220427-164438_1.jpgThe rising cost of home and rental prices has made it difficult or impossible for many couples whose relationship has broken down to separate and live in different residences. If neither you nor your spouse has the option of moving out, you are likely wondering if you can still get divorced in Illinois. If you have small children, you may also wonder if you can continue living in the same house as your spouse for the sake of your children while formally ending the relationship.  Fortunately, the answer is yes - as long as certain requirements are met. 

Is There a Mandatory Separation Period for Divorce in Illinois? 

Until recent changes in Illinois divorce law, couples had to give a reason for divorce, such as abandonment or adultery. They had to wait for at least six months, even if they agreed to the divorce and did not allege either spouse as at fault. 

Now, however, Illinois is considered a “pure no-fault” divorce state and couples can only list irreconcilable differences as a reason for divorce. If both spouses agree to get divorced, there is no mandatory waiting period, but if one spouse does not want to get divorced, couples must still live separate and apart for at least six months to prove that the marriage has irreconcilably broken down. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_kane-county-divorce-attorney.jpgFinancial disagreements are one of the most common reasons people seek an Illinois divorce. While all couples must navigate their financial behavior patterns and some disagreement is likely, when one spouse’s behavior puts a family’s financial future at risk, divorce may be inevitable. However, this naturally raises a concern: If a spouse is spending an excessive amount of money and putting him or herself into debt, and if debt accumulated during a marriage is generally considered marital debt, who pays for this debt when a couple gets divorced? Answering this question may seem deeply unfair and unappealing, but dividing marital property and debt is an essential part of divorce that must be done before the final order can be handed down. 

What is an “Equitable” Division of Debt? 

Fortunately perhaps for the spouse who did not take on the debt, Illinois law requires marital assets and debt to be divided equitably. This means that debts will not be simply split in half, but rather that spouses will be assigned debt according to what would be the most fair. Spouses are encouraged to use mediation or other conflict-resolution services to reach an agreement about how to handle their marital debt. However, when this is unsuccessful, a judge may need to allocate the debt. Judges can use many factors when deciding how to split debt, including: 

  • How the debt was accumulated, and whether the spouse who did not spend the money knew about the actions of the spouse who did spend it

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b2ap3_thumbnail_kane-county-child-support-lawyer.jpgRaising children can be one of the most rewarding, joyful things a person ever does. However, any honest parent will also tell you that raising children can be a never-ending, thankless task. Children are always hungry, they break things they know they are not allowed to touch, and they have a knack for putting holes in new shoes and clothing - in other words, kids are expensive. If you are divorced or are co-parenting with someone you were never married to, child support payments are often a crucial source of income for your children’s ongoing needs. An ex’s failure to pay child support may not only be frustrating, but terrifying - if you cannot make rent, what will you do? Desperation can lead many parents to wonder if they can withhold parenting time from a parent who refuses to pay child support.

Child Support and Parenting Time Are Not Conditional Upon Each Other

Perhaps unfortunately for those trying to recover lost support money, parenting time may never be withheld as a consequence for unpaid child support. These are two separate issues under Illinois law, and one cannot be used as an incentive for the other. Courts will not prevent a parent from seeing their child because they have not paid child support, because to do so would punish the children for something they have no responsibility for or control over. In fact, trying to withhold parenting time can result in court sanctions against the parent who does this.

How Can I Get Unpaid Child Support? 

Just as Illinois courts view parenting time as essential to a child’s wellbeing, they also view child support in the same way - and there are ways to recover child support that do not harm a child’s relationship with their parent or put you at risk of court sanctions. The first step is to file a petition with a court to enforce child support obligations. A court can then ask the paying parent why he or she stopped making payments and use various tools - including fines, driver’s license suspension, and even jail time - to punish continued non-payment. Illinois also has a Division of Child Support Services that exists to help parents get the child support they need. An attorney can help you pursue whichever option is likely to result in the fastest, most effective recovery for your case. 

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Popular wisdom holds that once a child turns 18, a divorced parent no longer has to pay child support. Although in many cases this is true, in Illinois children of divorced parents may lay claim to child support that continues for several years after a child reaches legal adulthood.

Divorced parents can be required by Illinois family courts to contribute to their child’s college expenses. Illinois is something of an outlier in this regard, but the courts have consistently upheld this responsibility, even when parents have challenged it. Considering that the cost of college can be significantly more than a down payment on a home, the prospect of paying for a child’s college involuntarily can be concerning. If you are divorced or plan on getting divorced in Illinois, it is essential to understand your future financial obligations for non-minor child support. 

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Kane County Guardianship LawyerSometimes situations arise in which an individual in Illinois needs help taking care of themselves. A parentless child, an aging loved one with dementia, and a terminally ill parent are just a few examples of when legal guardianship may become necessary. In situations like these, an experienced Illinois legal guardianship attorney can facilitate careful planning and loving conversations to help ensure that people get the help and care they need. Here are some situations in which it may be necessary to appoint a legal guardian. 

Common Situations Requiring Legal Guardianship in Illinois 

  • The death or incapacitation of a parent of a minor - When one or both parents pass away or are otherwise incapacitated, children need legal guardians until they reach the age of 18. Many parents choose a godparent or place explicit instructions designating an intended guardian in their will. Other times, a parent only names a guardian after learning they have a terminal illness. While a guardian must still be appointed to the court according to a child’s best interests, the court’s presumption is that the person the parent chose to be the child’s guardian is likely the best fit. 

  • A disabled minor turning 18 - When children with long-term development or intellectual disabilities become adults, they are often unable to manage their own affairs. They may require help ranging from full-time care to part-time residential services. Whatever their needs are, a legal guardian can manage paying for them, applying for federal or local financial assistance, and making decisions about where the disabled adult lives or receives healthcare.

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aurora prenuptial agreement lawyer Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are beneficial during a divorce. Many couples will choose to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to protect their assets if the marriage does not work out. Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements can address the division of assets, spousal support, and other financial matters. Despite the usefulness of many prenuptial agreements, there are still instances that a prenuptial agreement may not be upheld in court during your divorce. 

How Can a Prenuptial Agreement Be Invalidated?

Courts usually uphold the agreements described in a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. However, there are still ways that a spouse can justifiably contest their prenup. There are a few core reasons the court could invalidate a prenuptial agreement:

  • Hidden Assets — A prenuptial agreement may be invalidated if one spouse has hidden assets. Hiding assets is deceptive and can change how other assets should be divided. If one spouse did not disclose all of their property or debt, the agreements in the prenuptial agreement will be based on incorrect information. 
  • Coercion — If a partner coerced a spouse to sign the prenuptial agreement, the document might be invalid. A legal agreement is intended to be signed by both parties of sound mind and body. If one spouse was forced into agreeing through threats or coercion, that spouse could contest the prenup in court. 
  • Lack of Proper Counsel — Another reason for invalidating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is if the original legal counsel that approved the document made a mistake. 
  • Unconscionability - Part of all of a prenuptial agreement may be nullified due to the inclusion of unconscionable terms. Unconscionable terms are terms that are extremely unfair or would leave one spouse in such financial hardship that he or she would be eligible to receive public financial assistance.

 Speak With a DuPage County Family and Divorce Attorney 

Prenuptial agreements are useful legal tools for a wide range of situations. However, prenuptial agreements must meet certain criteria to be enforceable. If a prenup is deemed invalid, some or all of the agreements the spouses made could be thrown out. This is why it is so important to work with an experienced family law attorney when drafting a prenup.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1061395643.jpgDivorces can be extremely difficult for all family members emotionally, physically, and mentally. However, divorcing a partner with a mental illness presents an entirely new hurdle for many spouses. When choosing to pursue a divorce with a mentally ill partner, there are many factors to consider, including how to approach the divorce, making custody decisions, and ensuring the safety of everyone involved. Couples in this complicated situation may hire legal counsel to help them through the divorce process . There are also other tips that individuals can follow when divorcing a partner with mental health issues. 

Most Common Mental Health Issues 

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, prevalent mental health disorders today include:

  • Depression 

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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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