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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Aurora, IL family law attorneyThere is no one definition that is used when you talk about the “best interests of the child” during divorce cases. What may be right for one child is not always right for another child. Illinois courts understand this, which is why when it comes to child-related issues, a variety of factors are used to determine the best course of action. During divorce cases, decisions must be made about parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, which are both child-centered issues. The main goal of the courts is to ensure that the child’s safety and overall well-being is placed at the top of the list of priorities.

Factors Used in Deciding the Child’s Well-Being

In many Illinois divorce cases, parents can lose sight of what is truly best for their child. This is when a judge may step in and help parents decide certain issues. Each divorce, family, situation, and child is unique. When judges are making these decisions, they base their determinations on the child’s age and needs, along with these factors:

  • The physical safety and well-being of the child, including the child’s access to food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare

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Aurora, IL parental relocation attorneyThere are many reasons why a person may want to move after a divorce. Some may want to be closer to family members, others may move for a new job or simply a fresh start. Whatever the reason, moving can be problematic for a divorced parent who wants to take his or her child with him or her.

In Illinois, moving out of state, moving more than 50 miles away from the current residence within the state, or moving more than 25 miles away if the current residence is in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County is considered relocation, and a parent will be required to obtain permission from the court. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, a person still may be able to relocate, but the issue will need to be settled within the court system.

Notice of Relocation

Illinois law states that a person wishing to relocate with his or her child must notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days prior to the intended relocation. The notice should inform the other parent of the date of relocation, the new address, and whether or not the relocation is permanent. If the other parent signs the notice, and the notice is filed with the court, then the relocation will be granted, as long as the family court judge believes that the move would be in the child's best interests. If the other parent objects to the relocation or does not sign the notice, or if the parents cannot come to an agreement on a modified parenting plan, the relocating parent must file a petition to relocate.

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DuPage County fathers' rights attorneyIn today’s world, most people would agree that a father plays just as an important role in raising a child as a mother. Many people also believe that a child deserves to have both parents present in his or her life. For some people, this can be difficult, especially if the child’s parents were not married when the child was born. In cases such as these, it is up to either the mother or father to petition to establish the paternity of the child, which can be done a few different ways. Establishing the paternity of the child creates a legal relationship between the child and his or her father. Until paternity is established, there is no legal relationship between the two, even if they are biologically related.

Presumed Paternity

In the state of Illinois, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he was married or in a civil union with the child’s mother at the time the child was born. A man is also presumed to be a child’s father if he was married to the mother at any point within 300 days before the child was born. If the parents were not married or in a civil union during either of these times, the man has no legal presumption to the paternity of the child, and either parent must go about establishing paternity through signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or through genetic testing and a court or administrative order.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

There are quite a few reasons why a mother or father would want to establish paternity for his or her child. In most cases, establishing the paternity of the child gives both the child and the father rights they would not otherwise have. Benefits of establishing paternity include:

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DuPage County, IL family law attorney prenuptial agreementAs times are changing, so are attitudes toward previously taboo topics, such as signing prenuptial agreements before marriage. Over the years, drafting a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot has become more and more popular. One possible reason for the increase in popularity is that people are waiting until later in life to get married the first time. This means more people are entering into marriage with more assets that they want to protect. Prenuptial agreements must be created carefully, or they run the risk of being invalidated if they are contested during a divorce. Here are a few ways your prenuptial agreement may be found invalid:

  1. The Agreement Was Not in the Right Format

In the state of Illinois, prenuptial agreements must be in writing. In other words, you cannot have an oral prenuptial agreement. Both you and your spouse must sign the agreement for it to become valid, and you must file it with the clerk of the circuit court so there is a record of the agreement.

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Aurora, IL family law attorneyThe divorce process is complex. It affects almost every area of your life, including your financial well-being, your emotional health, and even your living situation and retirement plans. Since divorce is such a monumental event, it is essential that you find a good divorce lawyer to guide you through the legal process. Who you hire to represent you is arguably one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your divorce. It can be confusing choosing a lawyer, but by using the following tips, you can ensure that your attorney is the best choice for your situation and circumstances.

Keep Your Goals in Mind

Before you even begin meeting with divorce attorneys, you should figure out what you want out of the divorce. What issues are most important to you? If you have a feeling that your soon-to-be ex-spouse will become contentious over the parenting time and parental responsibility arrangements, you should try to find a lawyer who is skilled in handling child-related issues. If you have reason to believe your spouse may be hiding assets from you, you will want to seek a lawyer who has experience in investigating financial matters. Attorney Matthew M. Williams has dealt with cases involving both parenting time and parenting responsibility allocation. He also has worked with forensic accountants and other financial experts in cases in which spouses are not transparent with their assets.

Ask the Right Questions

Once you have a selection of lawyers who may be good matches for you, you should begin setting up consultations to meet with them in person. This will allow you and your potential attorney to get to know each other before you commit to working with him or her. During your consultation, you will want to ask a few questions about his or her qualifications and how the firm can help your case overall. During this time, you can ask what the attorney’s opinion is on your case and how he or she would proceed with handling it. When consulting with Attorney Matthew M. Williams, his 15 years of family law experience will be apparent while you discuss your case with him.

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Aurora divorce lawyer GAL child representativeAlmost anything that happens in the Illinois legal system that has to do with children revolves around what is in the child’s best interests. In the majority of divorce cases, at least one, but sometimes both of the parents, understand what would be in the child’s best interest. In some divorce cases, parents can become so blind with hate that the best interests of the child are lost, which is when a child representative steps in. Cases involving child support, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, allocation of parenting time, relocation with the child, or even just the child’s general welfare can all be assigned representation for the child.

Types of Representation

The state of Illinois provides for three options when it comes to the representation of the child:

  • An attorney for the child

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Aurora child support enforcement attorneyIn Illinois divorces, it is not uncommon for child support or spousal support to be awarded to the appropriate parties. A support order of either type is a legally binding court order, meaning failure to pay can result in severe consequences. The state of Illinois understands that many families rely on these support payments in order to provide for themselves and their children. Because of this, failure to pay child support or spousal support is taken very seriously.

What Constitutes Failure to Support?

According to the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act, failure to support can occur in a few different ways. If a person commits any of the following actions, they can be held in contempt of court:

  • Willfully, and without any lawful excuse, refusing to provide for the support or maintenance of his or her spouse, with the knowledge that the spouse is in need of such support or maintenance.

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Aurora parenting plan divorce attorneyWith kids getting out of school and the weather warming up, June marks the unofficial start to summer. For many people, this means more time for family bonding and vacations, but for families with divorced parents, it can be a stressful time of adjustment. Having a child and being divorced means there is typically a set schedule specifying when a child will be with which parent, but that same timetable during the school year will not necessarily work over summer break. In order to make your and your child’s summer as carefree as possible, here are a few tips for successful co-parenting during the summertime months:

  1. Plan Ahead and Communicate

The key to minimal conflict is to plan your summer in advance as much as possible and keep your ex-spouse in the loop. Try to talk with your ex beforehand and come up with a plan of how you would like to split parenting time during the summer. If you decide to play it by ear, be sure to let your co-parent know of any vacations that you plan on taking or any other activities in which your child will be participating.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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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