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


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

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois parenting time and responsibilities lawyer,There was a time in the United State’s history when most families comprised of a mother, a father and their biological children. Now, the “typical” American family has become somewhat of a thing of the past. With more Americans remarrying and same-sex marriage being legalized throughout the country, the “typical” American family is not so predictable anymore. According to the United States Census Bureau, more than half of American families were divorced and remarried or recoupled in 2010. The Bureau also reported that nearly four million children were living in a blended family or stepfamily in 2010.

Blended families face their own unique challenges and can prove to be difficult for some children to adjust to. Here are a few tips you can use to help ensure the success of your blended family:

Plan Your New Family


Posted on in Prenuptial Agreement

prenupPlanning a wedding requires a great deal of organization and patience. You probably have a checklist of items that you need to get done before the big day, which may or may not include finalizing your prenuptial agreement. If you and your fiance have chosen to create and sign a prenuptial agreement, you will soon figure out that it comes with its own checklist of things to consider, which can become overwhelming when you are trying to plan a wedding. Having a solid prenuptial agreement that has examined all of the necessary factors is important to the successful implementation of the agreement in the event that you do get divorced.

Premarital Assets and Debts

Things that you bring into the marriage - whether they are assets or debts - are considered premarital assets and debts and are typically not subject to division during a divorce. In order to safeguard that property, putting it into the prenuptial agreement is a good idea. You can also stipulate what happens to the property if it is used to purchase other things during the marriage.

Marital Property

This is all assets and debts that you and your spouse accumulate during the time you are married. You can choose to either stick with Illinois law, which is to divide the property equitably in the event of a divorce, or you can create your own arrangement. You can go so far as to stipulate what specific items you will keep and what items you will give up.


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer,Traditionally, divorce has been frowned upon, especially if a couple has children. It was thought that children were better off growing up in a family where their parents were married. But staying in an unhappy marriage can mean a life of misery for you and can actually be detrimental to your children. Though “staying together for the kids” was once seen as an act of decency, it is now seen as an act of ignorance because children pick up on familial tension far more than some adults realize. That tension can manifest itself in many different ways in children, none of them being favorable. Here are four ways staying in a bad marriage could affect your children:

Chronic Stress

Sure, your kids might not know exactly why you and your spouse are fighting, but they can pick up on the tension that the fighting creates, which can lead to stress. Children look up to both of their parents and when they are both fighting constantly, they feel tense around them, rather than relaxed. Chronic stress can lead to problems such as depression and chronic fatigue.

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer, attorney fees,For most pet owners, their pets are a part of the family. When a couple gets divorced, one of the issues that may arise is who gets to keep the pet. Prior to 2018, the state of Illinois treated pets like any other piece of property--it was awarded to one of the spouses during the allocation of the couple’s other assets. A new law that was put into place at the beginning of 2018 allows a judge to decide which spouse is the best owner for the pet. A Change in the Law Before the beginning of the year, pets were considered an asset in a marital estate. Usually, the spouse that paid for the animal or had the best financial situation for the animal was allocated the pet in the divorce. This led to some animals losing the pet parent that loved them the most and sometimes a spouse would even fight over the pet out of spite and end up with an animal they did not care about. The new law gives judges the ability to look at the situation and decide what is in the best interest of the pet’s wellbeing. This means that one spouse may end up with full ownership of the pet or both spouses could end up in a joint ownership situation, meaning the arrangement would function similar to a child custody arrangement and the time spent with the pet would be split between both spouses. Deciding Factors

The only animals that the law does not apply to are service animals. Though service animals are companion animals, they provide their owner with assistance and it is important for the animal to stay with the spouse that needs them. For all other animals, judges will look at which spouse provides the necessary elements for the pet’s wellbeing. This can include the judge looking at who:

  • Has bonded with the animal;
  • Has taken the animal to the veterinarian;
  • Takes care of the pet’s day-to-day needs, such as walking or feeding;
  • Trained the animal; and
  • Has financially provided for the pet.
In addition, the judge can look at factors such as the age of the animal, whether there are other animals or children in the household that the pet has become accustomed to, and whether or not there are breed-specific rules in a different jurisdiction if a relocation is a possibility. Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

If you are a pet owner, you understand the emotional complexities that an animal has. Going into litigation over a pet can be nerve-racking, but with the help of a skilled Aurora divorce attorney, you can ensure that the judge will see that you are the best option for the pet. Contact the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. to see how they can help you protect your most precious asset. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.



Illinois custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,It was an issue first reviewed by the Illinois Supreme Court more than 35 years ago, and the justices ruled then that common law marriages would not be recognized in this state. This meant non-married, cohabiting partners, regardless of the length of their relationship, could not claim rights to property owned by the other person. This ruling was upheld earlier this month when the Illinois high court decided that unmarried domestic couples had no rights to a partner’s property when the relationship ends.

Marriage and Cohabitation Not the Same, When a Relationship Ends

Many couples do not believe marriage is the right way to affirm their relationship. In fact, there are many couples who live together for long periods of time, even outlasting their married counterparts. However, the end of a relationship not licensed by the state through marriage can provide for some drama when it ends if one feels they are entitled to part of the property and assets amassed during their time together. However, in its most recent ruling, the state’s high court again confirmed that division of certain property and assets held by unmarried couples was not subject to the same laws as those impacting married couples going through a divorce.
  • When first considered, the Illinois Supreme Court reasoned the issue as a way to uphold a policy that discouraged cohabitation of unmarried partners, and any children resulting from the relationship.
  • Despite a change in societal norms, the state only recognizes a partner’s rights when part of a legally licensed marriage.
  • The laws in Illinois pertaining to unmarried couples apply to both those in same-sex relationships, as well as straight couples.

Financial Tips for Unmarried Couples

Here are few things cohabiting couples should consider to avoid unpleasantness should the relationship end.
  1. Create a plan for paying shared obligations, such as rent or utilities.
  2. Schedule bill payments with a plan that prevents unnecessary debt or late balances.
  3. Alternate purchasing expensive items.
  4. Owned real estate, rather than rentals, can complicate matters. If you are helping with mortgage payments make sure your name is on the title.

Seek the Help of a Knowledgeable Illinois Divorce and Property Division Lawyer


Posted on in Life After Divorce

Illinois custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,After going through the stress and expense of a divorce, the last thing on the mind of many adults is getting into a new relationship. However, for some divorced spouses, the desire to find a new partner is high on their list of things to do after getting out of a failed marriage. Just as no two divorces are alike, the reasons for getting into or avoiding a new relationship are just as varied.

Avoid Making the Same Mistakes

If you are intent on getting into a new relationship following your divorce, it may be important to take stock of the things that ended your marriage and strive to prevent those same issues from damaging future relationships. Other pitfalls to avoid include:


Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois child custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,Throughout the divorce process, much of the stress and anxiety weighs on the adults, as well as their children. It is a very difficult time for everyone involved. However, when a divorce involves children, often times members of the extended family are affected. This is especially true for grandparents who have built a deep and loving relationship with their grandchildren.

Grandparents’ Rights in Illinois

As with many legal matters, laws pertaining to visitation vary from state to state, and the issue of Grandparents’ rights to spend time with their grandchildren is no different. Here is a summary of some key facts relative to visitation of grandchildren during divorce. A court may grant visitation if:


Posted on in Child Custody

child custody, Aurora family law attorneyEven the most congenial divorce proceedings come with their own set of challenges. These are life-changing, stressful, heartbreaking and complicated times for everyone involved. Children are often caught in middle of the legal battles, and their concerns are just as real those of their parents’. It is not unreasonable for them to have concerns about who they will stay with, whether they will stay at the same school, or continue to live near their friends.

Different States, Different Rules

Child custody laws vary from state to state, and different counties or districts within each state may also have established protocols when it comes to making decisions regarding the children. Because of the differences in custody laws in different state, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was drafted and adopted by 49 states—including Illinois—and the District of Columbia to help streamline custody rulings country.


move, Aurora family law attorneyIn today’s digitally-connected world, it has never been easier to find employment and educational opportunities. Sometimes, of course, these opportunities may be far from your current home. If you are single and have no children, taking a new job in another state could seem like an exciting adventure. If, however, you are a parent who shares parental responsibilities with a former partner, doing so is often much more complex.

Moving Out of State

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains provisions that apply to parents who wish to move out of Illinois with their children when they are subject to a parenting plan or court-issued custody order. If you wish to move out of state and have at least half of the parenting time with your child or more, you must notify the other parent of your intent to move. Notification is not required if your move will be less than 25 miles from your current home.


child support, DuPage County child support lawyersVery few parents would argue that they do not have a responsibility to provide financially for their children—at least to a certain extent. Raising a child costs real money, and generating that money should be the concern of both parents, regardless of their relationship with one another. Under the law in Illinois, a family court may order child support payments from either or both parent to ensure that the child’s needs are properly met. How such payments are calculated, however, has become a subject of controversy in recent years, which we will address in this post and at least one other upcoming post.

Income Guidelines

The first thing that you need to know about child support calculations in Illinois is that a family court is guided by a formula and considerations listed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The IMDMA provides a fairly straightforward method for calculating child support payments that relies primarily on just two factors: the number of children being supported and the paying parent’s net income. A parent supporting one child can expect to pay 20 percent of his or her net income as support, 28 percent for two children, 32 percent for three children, and so on, up to 50 percent for six or more children.


relocation, DuPage County family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, if you are subject to a parenting plan or child custody order and you wish to move to a new city or state with your child, you will probably need the permission of the other parent to do so. If the other parent does not consent to your move, you have the option of asking the court to override his or her objections. When the court takes up a relocation case, it must give consideration to a number of factors to determine if the relocation will ultimately serve the child’s best interest.

Relocation Defined

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that a relocation is more than just a simple move. You are permitted to move with your child within a certain radius of current home without needing anyone’s approval. If your move exceeds that radius, however, it is considered a relocation by law. A parent with the majority of the parenting time or equal parenting time must seek the other parent’s consent—or that of the court—for a move with the child that is:


parenting, DuPage County family law attorneyAre you subject to an agreement regarding parental responsibilities with a former partner due to a divorce or a breakup? If so, it is important to understand what type of responsibilities you have what your rights may be as far as your child is concerned. Too often, parents make assumptions about the law that are not correct, leading to confusion and misunderstandings about their roles in the lives of their children.

Separate Considerations

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that a parenting plan for divorced or unmarried parents should address two primary areas of concern. If the parents cannot reach an agreement on such a plan, one will developed by the court based on the best interests of the child. The two basic considerations are significant decision-making authority and parenting time. While they may be related to a minor extent, the law allows each consideration to be made separately.


child support, DuPage County child support attorneyAre you a divorced parent who struggles with the limited amount of parenting time that you have been allocated with your child? Such a situation is understandably frustrating for anyone. Even parents who are fortunate enough to share parenting time equally often do not feel that it is enough. These parents are not being selfish; rather, they truly believe that the time they spend with their children offers substantial benefits for everyone involved. There is, however, another frustrating element of shared parenting time that effects many parents: child support. It can be very disheartening to assume responsibility for your child half of the time or more but still be required to make child support payments.

No Current Correlation

As the law in Illinois exists today, there is no statutory relationship between child support requirements and parenting time or parental responsibilities for divorced or unmarried parents. The considerations for each are completely independent of one another, at least as far as the letter of the law is concerned.


parenting plan, DuPage County family law attorneysIf you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, holidays can present a number of rather unique challenges. In most families, holidays are a time for getting together with loved ones, many of whom who have not seen one another in some time—possibly since the same holiday last year. Of course, parents want their children to be part of the festivities and to visit with family members who may have traveled a great distance for the occasion. If you are subject to a shared parenting agreement, however, it may take some negotiation to figure out where your children will be spending the holidays.

Do Not Wait

While November may have only just started, Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away. This means that you and your child’s other parent should not delay in making plans regarding your holiday parenting time. The first thing you should do, however, is to check your existing parenting plan document, as many such plans contain a holiday parenting time schedule created years in advance to reduce confusion. If your plan does not include a holiday schedule or provides that you will negotiate a reasonable agreement each year, it is time to start preparing for winter holidays.


confessing, Aurora family law attorneyAs most people are aware, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of all marriages today will eventually end in divorce. While this number has declined in recent years, a 60-70 percent success rate for marriage is still not all that encouraging. Marriages can break down for any number of reasons, and, in most cases, divorce is the result of a combination of many factors, some within the spouses’ control and some not.

A Challenging Journey

The process of divorce, however, can be extremely difficult with many decisions to be made and arrangements to be negotiated. This does not even take into account the emotional and psychological struggle that many divorcing individuals go through as the process goes along. The cumulative effect of all of the difficulties can be overwhelming at times, but some experts suggest that there may be a way to ease your mind a little and to provide emotional relief to your spouse at the same time. Confessing, or taking responsibility for wrongs you may have committed, can go a long way in making the divorce process much smoother for the both of you.


alcohol, DuPage County family law attorneyMany marriages are gravely damaged or even destroyed by substance use every year. Addiction to drugs and alcohol puts additional stress on a relationship, builds resentment between spouses, execrates financial hardship, and can sometimes contribute to infidelity.

Troubling Numbers Regarding Drinking and Divorce

A study published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs gives numerical data to this correlation.  Researchers from the University of Michigan studied more than 17,100 individuals in order to compare divorce rates involving people with a serious alcohol-use problem and with that of those that did not. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the divorce rate of those couples which included an alcoholic spouse was higher than the divorce rate of those couples which did not report an issue with alcohol. Specifically, 48.3 percent of individuals with an alcohol-use problem were divorced at some point in their lives while only 30 percent of individuals without an alcohol-use disorder were ever divorced.


stepparent, Aurora family law attorneyBlended families come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Some adopt to grow or start their families. Others have divorced and now have one single parent, or two partial or complete sets of parents and stepparents. Then there are those with a stepparent who is filling a gap that was created by an absentee or deceased parent. Though not the child’s biological parent, these stepparents provide a love, acceptance, and support that completes the family. In these instances, a stepparent adoption might be appropriate. Learn how to determine if it might be right for your family, and how you can move forward with the process.

Benefits of Stepparent Adoption

When you are already an active and influential part of a child’s life, it might seem redundant to file for adoption. However, there are some key benefits to stepparent adoption – namely the ability to assert legal rights to the child you already love. This right would allow you to seek parenting time, should your current marriage in divorce. It also gives you the ability to act as legal guardian if your spouse is unable to do so. Some examples of situations in which this might be helpful could include a medical emergency or an accident that leaves your spouse incapacitated.


guidelines, Aurora divorce lawyerThroughout the state of Illinois, guidelines regarding visitation and child custody—now called parental responsibilities—have been established for divorcing parents who are in the process of making new parenting time transitions. These transitions affect the entire family. Not only do they impact the child’s lifestyle as a whole, but they also have the power to seriously alter the child’s perception of the separation. A smooth transition can mean the difference between a calm, positive experience for your child and an emotionally turbulent, traumatic one.

Your Role as Parent

As a parent undergoing a divorce, it is understandable to struggle with the many changes that come with such a big lifestyle shift. It is not uncommon for parents to experience conflict in front of their children, especially when it comes time to make parenting time (visitation) arrangements and address the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody). This is why state and county guidelines exist: to protect the well-being and the best interest of the children. The advantages of these guidelines are twofold. In addition to reducing the emotional toll on the children, parents also benefit by learning better communication and conflict resolution skills, often allowing them to mitigate much of their own stress as well.


children, Aurora family law attorneyIt is widely accepted that going through a divorce is one of the most frustrating and stressful events a person can experience. Feelings of anger, guilt, regret and annoyance are common. Children can complicate the divorce process even more.  Parents may feel threatened that they will not receive the custody agreement they want or that the other parent will try to turn the children against them. As stressful as the experience for the adults who are ending their marriage, the situation can be even more frightening and confusing for the children in the middle of it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the transition from married to not married easier for the smallest members of your family.

There Are No Winners in a Divorce

Mark Baer, collaborative law attorney and co-author of  Putting Kids First in Divorce: How to Reduce Conflict, Preserve Relationships and Protect Children During and After Divorce says that the first step is to have the right mindset about the divorce. Often, those going through a divorce have unresolved anger toward their spouse. He or she may have been cheated on or lied to, causing serious issues regarding trust. The memory of screaming matches or harsh words may still be fresh. Sometimes this means that the temptation to “get back” at a spouse can be strong.


Posted on in Divorce

divorce, Aurora divorce lawyerWe all have second thoughts about tough decisions. In fact, that is exactly what makes them tough decisions. The decision to end your marriage is probably the most difficult one you have ever had to or will have to make. Despite advertisements and promises to make your divorce easy, the reality is that divorce is a major life change that alter a person and a family forever. If you are considering taking steps in that direction, it is absolutely crucial that you give yourself time and space to consider all of your available options before making any final decisions.

What the Law Says

It is often said that half of all American marriages today will end in divorce. While there are many reasons to believe that this number is exaggerated, there is little question that divorce is common. The law in Illinois, however, seems to take the process much more seriously than the general public. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act does not promise to dissolve a marriage just because one spouse requests it. Instead, a divorce can only be granted if a court finds that irreconcilable differences have caused the marriage to break down and that “efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family. This means that you and your spouse are expected to do everything you can to save your marriage before you ask the court for a divorce.

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


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

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