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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child support, Aurora family law attorneyAn order for child support is often arranged as part of a divorce, marital separation, dissolution of marriage, or annulment and may be used to supplement alimony (spousal support) arrangements.

Mechanics of Child Support

Child support is an financial contribution made by a parent to provide for the needs of his or her child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Support payments are paid by a the supporting parent, or obligor, to the recipient parent, or obligee for the care of a child of a relationship that has been terminated or, perhaps, never existed. In most cases, the supporting parent has less parental responsibilities and parenting time than the recipient, while the obligee is typically the parent with primary residential responsibilities, other caregiver, a legal guardian, or the state.

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collaborative law, Illinois divorce, Aurora Family Law AttorneyGoing through a divorce can be a long, sometimes ugly, process, and, while most cases are eventually settled, the process can often add unnecessary expenses and negatively affect family members, particularly young children. In recent years, many divorcing couples, attorneys, and courts have begun popularizing a resolution method known as “collaborative law,” which focuses intently on cooperative negotiation.

Potential Advantages

Collaborative law attorneys look to offer a civilized alternative to litigation; produce solutions that address the needs of both parties; reduce costs; and increase their clients control over the proceedings. Privacy and confidentiality are also concerns that are better able to be addressed in collaborative law situations. In collaborative law, both parties retain qualified lawyers who exclusively focus on negotiation from the outset of the case. Under a written agreement, all involved parties and legal counsel expressly commit to avoiding litigation. The required personal investment in the process often leads better compliance with and enforcement of the resulting agreement.

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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, marriage, divorce laws,In the wake of a heated argument, one spouse may decide to leave the other for a short period of time. Although it is not uncommon for married couples to argue or want to spend time apart, certain behaviors may constitute spousal abandonment according to Illinois law, and this may be grounds for divorce.

What Constitutes Abandonment?

In most cases, it is best for divorcing spouses not to change the living arrangement by relocating. The exception is when there are factors that put either spouse or any children in danger.

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 parenting plan, Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois child custody lawyer, One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is determining child custody and visitation. If you are considering divorce and have children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it is a good idea to begin to lay the groundwork for your parenting plan as soon as you begin discussing marital dissolution. Knowing what you want from a parenting plan before you go to court is crucial, as is working with a family law attorney. You and your ex will have different attorneys, and having a grasp on what you want to achieve in negotiation, especially when it comes to children, will only help to make the divorce process go as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

Sharing parenting duties, or developing a co-parenting plan is almost always preferable if possible. The DuPage County Family Center states that it always advocates for co-parenting, as it believes that it is very important for a child to have a relationship with both parents when possible. Sometimes this may require more than merely dropping the child off, however. In some cases, a parent may not be allowed, legally, to visit with the child on his or her own. This could happen if the parent is a drug addict, for example, or abusive; but even in such cases, the parent maintains visitation rights. Supervised parenting time services usually are required to submit documentation of the visit to the Court to ensure the safety and welfare of both the child and the custodial spouse.

Other considerations to make include the transportation of the child. According to the Southern Illinois University School of Law, the custodial parent is not legally obligated to bring the child to the non-custodial parent for visitation. Who transports the child is not legally regulated. If the custodial parent is denying appropriate visitation time with the child, however, he or she can be held legally accountable. In this case, a visitation enforcement order may be necessary. This is more common after divorces that were particularly nasty—if one parent has a vested interest in cultivating a negative view of the other.

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child custody, child support, divorce and children, divorce and communication, DuPage County, DuPage County divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois family lawyer, parental rightsWith nearly 50 percent of American marriages ending in divorce each year, divorce is a common part of the American experience. Regardless, it can be devastating for the family of the divorcing couple—especially if the couple in question has children. This can oftentimes be true not only for the couple’s immediate family, but for the extended family as well. Grandparents on the child’s non-custodial side of the family may have to fight to see the children harder than the parent, and other extended family can sometimes be left out in the cold. Still, divorce is, of course, the most difficult for the children who are faced with their parents’ split.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), parents continue to be the most important presence in their children’s lives during and after divorce. Parents may be relieved after a divorce (especially if the marriage was particularly sour), but children “are invariably frightened and confused by the threat to their security,” reports the AACAP. In some cases, a parent may even seek solace from his or her children, which can exacerbate feelings of insecurity and emotional instability. If the parents were on exceptionally bad terms leading up to the divorce and argued often, the child may even feel as if it was his or her fault.

If you are getting divorced and have shared children, there are several steps you can take to help your child through the transition. KidsHealth.org suggests that parents keep visible conflict and arguments hidden from the kids, and notes this to be the most important factor to consider. Also, it is recommended that parents minimize disruptions to daily routines. It will likely be much more work for the parent to minimize disruptions from a child’s routine, and special considerations for how to do so will have to be made.

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marital strain of autism, divorce rate, divorce trend, Illinois divorce lawyerParents helping a child cope with autism may feel the strain on their own relationship. Although much about autism is still unknown, research indicates that married couples might face higher rates of divorce when they have a child affected by autism.

A longitudinal study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was one of the first major projects to explore marital history of parents for those families with an autistic child. The study found that while parents of an autistic child don’t face a higher divorce rate while the child is young, adolescent children with autism were linked with higher numbers of divorced parents. Many of the marriages in the study ultimately did survive.

The study looked at 391 couples made up of parents of adolescent and adult children with autism, drawing data from the National Survey of Midlife in the United States. For younger children, the divorce rate for parents of autistic children was very similar to parents of disabled children, at least until the child reached the age of eight. At that point, the divorce rate for parents of disabled children starts to go down, but it actually increases for parents of autistic children.

Although many couples reported staying together throughout the challenges of raising an autistic child, the research does point to vulnerability for those marriage couples. The high demands of raising an autistic child at all ages can strain a relationship and lead to arguments. Autism is known as a condition that can vary dramatically between different individuals, meaning that many families have to adapt behaviors and strategies for helping their specific child. Little research has focused on best practices for raising autistic children, making it difficult for parents to work together and create their own approach. If you are struggling with your marriage and would like to discuss legal separation or divorce, contact an Illinois family lawyer today.

divorce rate, divorce trends, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois divorce attorney, baby boomers, cohabitationThe bulk of research dedicated to determining the prevalence of divorce in this country has discussed a downward trend since the 1980’s. New research indicates, however, that broad generalizations like that don’t get into the heart of more specific aspects of divorce.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota recently took advantage of refined U.S. Census data about divorce to determine just how reliable claims about a declining divorce rate are. According to the study authors, the divorce rate has actually remained relatively steadily since 1980. The determining factor for the divorce rate turned out to be age. When controlling for age, researchers found out that the divorce rate has actually increased by as much as 40 percent since that time.

Divorce rates across age groups are not the same, according to the findings in this study. Back in 1970, there was very little difference between divorce rates for younger and older individuals, but that quickly chances. Baby boomers account for most of the increases in divorce rates. In fact, study authors believe that baby boomers are primarily responsible for “marital instability” that occurred after 1970. This same subset of individuals had higher divorce rates in their 20s and 30s, too, but they still make up a significant portion of divorcing couples.

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divorce stigma, life after divorce, single, Illinois divorce lawyer, Aurora family law attorneyFeeling emotions that run the gamut from relieved to ashamed is perfectly normal in divorce, especially since research shows that divorce stigma is still alive and well in the 21st century. Even though prenuptial agreements and fault-free divorce are more common, there’s still a social and individual stigma about getting a divorce.

According to a new survey taken by 1,000 divorced individuals, shame and sadness are two of the most common emotions after marriage dissolution. Nearly half of the surveyed individuals felt that the stigma of divorce affected them, and women were more likely than men to feel shame post-divorce.

Nearly a third of women admitted trying to push off the breakup as long as possible because of their own individual belief that marriage should last forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, because respondents also shared that they felt their life was back on track after a few years. Like any major life change, divorce can take some time to get used to, especially if you were deeply entrenched in the routines and habits of your marriage.

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second marriage, multiple marriages, lawyer, attorney, divorce, third marriageAlthough a lot of people who have been married once have learned many lessons from that process, this doesn’t mean that most remarriages attempts are successful. In fact, according to research, nearly 70 percent of second marriages and nearly 75 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

There are many different issues that can impact a second or third marriage. To start with, anyone who has gone through a divorce might have some trepidation about the process, but likely less fear than before. Some familiarity with the process reduces anxiety about getting divorced a second or third time.

Others might enter a new marriage on the rebound or by locating someone with similar habits as their former spouse. Over time, these habits and behaviors can grow increasingly irritating, leading an individual to think about divorce. When feeling lonely is something you experience after a first divorce, be more aware of these tendencies so that you can reduce the chances of getting divorced again.

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healthy divorce, DuPage County divorce attorney, collaborative law, alternative dispute resolutionNo one thinks on their wedding day that their marriage is going to fail. Unfortunately, many marriages do fail, whether that’s in the first five years or later down the road. The end of a marriage can wreak havoc on the individuals involved, both emotionally and physically.

Even after you have had some time to move on from the divorce, your feelings of sadness, lonliness and anger can creep up and catch you off guard. Recognizing these responses is normal, and it is part of the growth process that allows you to move on.

Even though there are emotional challenges with the end of any marriage, it is possible to have a healthy divorce.

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Rise in Number of Prenuptial Agreements IMAGENo one likes to think about divorce at the beginning of a marriage. Traditionally, prenuptial agreements have been thought to be important among the very rich or the very flaky, but not necessarily relevant for the average American couple. With divorce rates staying high at about 50 percent, this is changing. “According to a new survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML),” and as reported by the Huffington Post, “63 percent of divorce attorneys say they’ve seen an increase in prenuptial agreements during the past three years.” There’s a growing sense in the U.S. that marriage is as much a business arrangement as it is one for love—with the debate around same-sex marriage, financial perks (such as tax breaks) are often brought up as an objective reason for marriage equality. This same feeling could be responsible for the rise in the number of prenuptial agreements.

Alton Abramowitz, president of the AAML, told the Huffington Post that this idea of marriage as a business arrangement could be directly related to the economy. “As the financial and real estate markets continue to improve, there is a greater awareness of risk to possibly sharing these gains in a divorce,” he said. According to a survey conducted by the AAML, lawyers said that the top three items covered in most prenups include “the protection of separate property, alimony/spousal maintenance, and division of property.”

While prenuptial stereotypically initiated by men more often than women, the new research also showed that women are largely responsible for the growth in number of prenuptial agreements. Nearly 50 percent of lawyer polled “noted an increase in the number of women initiating requests for prenups,” according to the Huffington Post.

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Divorce is inevitable for many couples. With the divorce rate hovering at just about 50 percent in America, it’s no surprise that almost everyone knows someone who has been divorced. The stigma traditionally ascribed to the dissolution of a marriage is fading as divorce continues to become more commonplace. All this goes to say that many couples that might have otherwise sought a solution to their unhappy union other than divorce may instead be opting to seek the counsel of a divorce attorney. If you’re interested in saving your marriage, however, the Huffington Post has a few ideas to help.

Saving Your Marriage Before Divorce IMAGE According to the Huffington Post, the most important thing to keep a marriage healthy is to remember to say “thank you” to your spouse. This simple gesture can help keep a marriage happy because your spouse feels appreciated where he or she otherwise would not. “It doesn’t take much to authentically thank you spouse, even for little things like feeding the dog or doing the dishes,” says the Huffington Post. But the small gesture can go a long way.

Anther important tip to remember if you’re trying to avoid divorce even in an unhappy relationship is to try not to turn “a single subject disagreement into the kitchen sink of disagreements.” It’s common for married couples to hash out years of arguments and shortcomings if just one small disagreement surfaces. This, says the Huffington Post, “is unproductive and exhausting.” In the same vein, make time to work on your marriage. “Treat your marriage like a garden that must be cultivated, watered, and cared for regularly,” reports the Huffington Post. One shouldn’t be surprised if her marriage is falling apart and she’s done nothing over the years to cultivate it.

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Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision where one spouse has to provide financial support to the other spouse during a separation and/or divorce. Depending on the court’s instructions, this payment may be paid in monthly installments or payable in one lump sum. The reason for alimony payments is to help ensure against unfair economic hardships.

Unlike child support, there are no state guidelines or formulas for the courts to follow. Typically, things such as the need for alimony, the ability of the spouse to pay, how long the marriage was, earning history of both parties, future earning capacity and division of other assets in the divorce settlement are all used to determine what, if any, alimony amount will be.

But just like child support payments, there is always a risk that future events or situations can occur that could delay or even stop alimony payments from being made. Loss of job, major illness or disability and death could put a halt on those monthly payments.

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Making determinations about child custody is a difficult matter for even the most training judges. That’s why, in some situations, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem, attorney for the child, or child representative to represent the interests of the child or children. If parents cannot reach an agreement with regard to child custody with one another or through their divorce attorneys, a guardian ad litem may be appointed. In other situations, the court might recommend the appointment of an attorney for the child or a child representative.

In Illinois, the guardian ad litem must be a licensed attorney per statute guidelines. The GAL is responsible for investigating the case and generating a report with all necessary information. This report is then presented to the court with a recommendation for custody. Either parent will retain the right to cross-examine the GAL and none of the communication had with a guardian ad litem in the fulfillment of his or her duties is considered privileged.

An attorney for the child is actually legal representation for the minor individual or individuals. In this scenario, the same privileges that exist in a normal attorney-client relationship are enjoyed by the child. The attorney can file pleadings and carry out other litigation-related duties, too. In most cases, an attorney for the child will be appointed when the minor child is older and may be able to better understand the difficult situation unfolding around him or her.

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A Pennsylvania woman, whose newborn was taken from her because of an alleged failed drug test, recently settled a lawsuit against Lawrence County, PA child welfare agency and Jameson Hospital, located in New Castle, PA.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, who filed the lawsuit for Elizabeth Mort in April 2010, announced that Mort settled the suit for $143,500.

According to a report in Yahoo News, Mort had eaten a poppy seed bagel shortly before she went into labor and went to Jameson Hospital to deliver her daughter. A routine blood test administered to Mort upon being admitting showed a false positive for opiates in her system. This information was forwarded to Lawrence County child welfare agency and they showed up at Mort’s house and with an emergency protective custody order removed her three-day old infant.

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The adult children and siblings of “American Top 40” host Casey Kasem have taken to the media to share their heartache and frustration over not being allowed to visit or speak with the beloved 81 year-old radio personality.

Kasem suffers from advanced Parkinson’s Disease and according to his family, his wife, actress Jean Kasem, has shut the family completely out of their father’s life for the past three months. She won’t answer any of their phone calls and when they show up at their father’s home to visit him, Jean Kasem turns them away.

Out of frustration, the family recently staged a protest in front of the Kasem home. His three adult children, along with his brother and close friends stood in front of their father’s estate with protest signs that read, “Jean, why won’t you let me see Dad?”, “Why?”, “Casey, we are your voice now” and “Casey we love you!”

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LauraAccording to a study from the University of Michigan, women in the past have been extremely vulnerable when obtaining a divorce with regard to health insurance benefits. A study found that about 115,000 women lose their private health insurance coverage during a divorce, a statistic that can be extremely troubling for older divorcing couples where neither member is old enough for Medicare. Women who relied on their husbands for health insurance coverage would face serious challenges after a divorce, but changes from the Affordable Care Act may help to close that gap.

Many women who are too young for government sponsored healthcare programs don’t have outside jobs or opportunities to obtain their own health coverage. Many times, former spouses will qualify for post-divorce health benefits through COBRA, but this insurance option is extremely expensive and limited to around 36 months. The high cost of health insurance can be extremely challenging for older women, who typically don’t have as much money in retirement savings plans as men do.

On January 1st, health insurance options for older divorcing women should become more accessible. One of the biggest changes in healthcare that will have positive results for women is that insurance companies will no longer be eligible to deny individuals as a result of pre-existing conditions. This is a major breakthrough for older women who may have suffered from any type of pre-existing or chronic condition. Previously, these women would have struggled to get health insurance coverage at all, going without it (and critical preventive care) until they reached the age for Medicare.

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LauraIf your divorce and child custody case involves the appointment of a guardian ad litem, it’s important to remember this is another adult appointed to represent the best interests of the children. In some situations, guardians ad litem are a critical component of how the judge structures a custody decision. Guardians ad litem are responsible for gathering evidence, reviewing the facts, and interacting with children and other parties to make a child custody recommendation. Interacting appropriately with the guardian ad litem may be important for the outcome of your child custody case, so always approach the situation with respect, regardless of how you feel about the other parent.

If either party requests the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL), judges will usually approve this request. The GAL reports to the judge what he or she believes to be in the best interests of the children, so do not take this opportunity to overwhelm the GAL with information about your case, particularly if that information involves bashing the other parent. When GALs are appointed, you will generally split the cost for their services with the other parent.

Comply with all requests for information and meetings with the GAL. Being professional and responsive can go a long way in your child custody case. Certainly, too much communication can be taken the wrong way by a GAL, and you must remember that you will pay for that person’s time to review and respond to all your information, too. Always address emails appropriately and read them out loud to ensure they sound professional.

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Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the custody case involving a 4-year-old Native American girl referred to as “Baby Veronica”, motions and more motions continue to be filed in state supreme courts, county courts and tribal courts.

In 2008, Christy Maldonado was briefly engaged to Dusten Brown. Brown is a member of the Cherokee nation and lives in Oklahoma. Shortly after Maldonado became pregnant, the two ended the relationship. In May 2009, a few months before Baby Veronica was born, Maldonado sent Brown a text asking if he would rather pay child support or relinquish his parental rights. He responded, via text, that he relinquished his rights.

With the help of a private adoption agency, Maldonado agreed to let a South Carolina couple adopt the baby. Matt and Melanie Capobianco were also present at the baby’s birth. When she was four months old, the Capobiancos served Brown with a notice of the pending adoption.

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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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