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

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child support, Aurora family law attorneyWhen you have a child, you know that you have certain responsibilities regarding his or her upbringing. When you have a child with someone to whom you are no longer married, it often becomes much more difficult to live up to those responsibilities. Orders of child support have become commonplace in Illinois and throughout the country, with most parents realizing their children deserve, at the very least, financial support from both parents, regardless of the marital situation. But do you know how courts in Illinois determine child support obligations? In most cases, the calculations are pretty straightforward.

Basic Child Support Guidelines

While either parent—and in rare cases, both parents at the same time—can be required to pay child support, the supporting parent is usually the one with less parental responsibilities or parenting time. Calculating a child support order begins with a baseline determination that is based on the supporting parent’s net income and the number of children being supported. A supporting parent is expected to pay:

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attorney, divorce attorney, DuPage County family lawyerWhen you and your spouse have decided that your marriage is over and that divorce is the best option, you may be tempted to handle the situation on your own. You are both reasonably intelligent people and the process is pretty straightforward, right?  While you and your spouse may be intelligent, such an assumption is flawed for several reasons. First, the laws surrounding divorce and related concerns are not always as clear as they may seem, and, more importantly, it is impossible to predict all of the potential obstacles and roadblocks that may arise before the divorce is finalized.

By hiring a divorce attorney, even it is only to review your pre-negotiated agreement, you can experience a number of possible benefits. Consider:

  • Ongoing training: Most family law attorneys take advantage of continuing education programs and seminars to keep abreast of the latest updates to and interpretations of the law. For example, major changes to divorce and matrimonial law were passed by the Illinois legislature this year, but a quick Google search cannot explain to you how courts will apply the new laws;
  • Objectivity: You and your spouse are in the process of ending a very intense, very personal relationship. No matter who you are, that is going to present challenges along the way. A divorce lawyer, however, is capable of stepping back and seeing the big picture without emotional entanglements. He or she can help you identify potential problems that may have been obscured by emotional influences;
  • Experience: A divorce attorney will tell you that every situation is unique, and, while that may be true, your divorce may have similarities to one or more that he or she has handled in the past. Your lawyer can potentially use this to your advantage by suggesting creative solutions and compromises that you may never have realized were possible;
  • Potential cost savings: One of the most commonly-cited reasons for not hiring a divorce attorney is the cost. Yes, a divorce lawyer costs money. In the long run, however, the legal counsel he or she provides may lead to realized savings, as making a mistake during your divorce, especially in property division or spousal maintenance considerations, could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

For more information on how hiring a divorce lawyer can be beneficial to your situation, contact an experienced DuPage family law attorney. At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., we are committed to helping divorcing couples reach an agreeable resolution quickly, and without unnecessary stress and anxiety. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation today.

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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 support guidelines, Illinois child support attorney, Illinois divorce attorney, In Illinois, the Office of the State Attorney General manages child support orders, claims, and enforcement. The office manages such issues through its Child Support Enforcement Division, which works closely with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, handling child support enforcement in every one of the 89 counties in the state.  Statistics reveal that children of divorce who receive child support are more likely to complete education or go on to college. The only way to ensure that children who deserve child support payment are receiving them is to maintain an office of child support enforcement on a state-by-state basis.

If you need help with an order of child support — as either the custodial or non-custodial parent — the first step is to contact the regional office of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services nearest you. When you arrive at the enforcement agency, you will need to bring:

  • Proof of paternity (either a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or as much proof as you have in which the birth father “has said or implied that the child is his”;
  • An order of child support;
  • Birth certificates for all children for whom you are seeking support;
  • Records of any support you have received already, if applicable; and
  • Divorce or separation decree or settlement.

While it may seem a straightforward process, there is no specific time frame in which the State can determine or enforce a child support claim. How long the process takes is dependent upon the non-custodial parent’s cooperation. It is also contingent upon the income of the non-custodial parent — if the non-custodial parent is not gainfully employed, for example, it may take much longer for the enforcement of child support orders.

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credit score, divorce, divorce finances, Illinois divorce lawyer, Chicago divorce attorneyFinances related to divorce can be challenging to figure out. Maintaining mutual financial accounts or ignoring your new obligations (like child support or alimony) can be difficult for a recently divorced individual. If you don’t take steps to establish yourself as financially independent, you might find it harder to do things such as take out loans in your name or open new accounts.

There are steps that you can take to protect your credit score and get on top of your finances, even after a divorce. Your first step is to get your credit report when you begin the divorce process. Bear in mind that having a divorce decree doesn’t free you up from any joint account debt accumulated during the marriage - and that includes car loans or mortgages. In the case where a judge orders that the other party is responsible for a particular bill, you still should follow up on the payments because it will affect your credit score.

According to Experian, you should also know that a bank or credit card issuer has the right to report negative data to credit reporting agencies if a spouse makes a late payment on one of those joint accounts. If your former spouse decides not to pay, it will affect both your credit score, and your former spouse's, unless you choose to pay. That’s why it’s so important to close joint accounts as soon as possible in a divorce. Creditors can help you navigate the process of transferring joint accounts into the sole responsibility of one party.

Finally, don’t stop paying any bills. You do not want legal action taken against you in the short term. Keep copies of all canceled checks or other proof of payment. Consult with your attorney to be sure that the court is aware of all joint accounts, too. Do not let a divorce destroy your credit by staying on top of payments. Contact an Illinois divorce attorney today for a personal evaluation.

 relationship with parents IMAGEIf you had a bad relationship with your parents as a teenager, chances are you could be headed for (or already in) a bad romantic relationship. According to a University of Alberta study headed by associate professor Matt Johnson, there is “a direct link between participants’ relationship with their parents and the quality of their current love lives,” reports the Huffington Post. The study found that participants who had positive parent-teen relationships were more likely to have “higher quality intimate relationships as adults. Teenagers who experienced rocky relationships with their parents had more romantic problems later in life,” according to the Huffington Post.

This is not to say that parents are solely responsible for their children’s bad romantic lives, of course. Yet Johnson told the Huffington Post that “people tend to compartmentalize their relationships,” meaning that they usually fail to see how one affects the other. “Understanding your contribution to the relationship with your parents would be important to recognizing any tendency to replicate behavior—positive or negative—in an intimate relationship,” Johnson told the Huffington Post.

It is not just a personal relationship with one’s parents that affects the likelihood of a bad relationship, either. A Cambridge University Press study reported upon by The Daily Beast states that “if your parents were divorced you’re at least 40 percent more likely to get divorced than if they weren’t. If your parents married others after divorcing, you are 91 percent more likely to get divorced.” Divorce Magazine publisher Dan Couvrette told The Daily Beast that this could be because “witnessing our parents’ divorces reinforces our ambivalence about commitment in a ‘disposable society.’”

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If you are headed to court to discuss child custody, you might be wondering the purpose of a guardian ad litem. This court-appointed attorney is sometimes brought into the fray to provide an additional opinion regarding the best interests of the children. The guardian ad litem in your case will craft a report with recommendations for custody, so it’s important that you understand the role this individual can play during your divorce and after you have received your decree.

guardian ad litemIllinois statutes require that guardians ad litem be able to interview the children without any impediments or limitations. This is usually done early on through an order that provides access to the child and any necessary documents that might relate to the child.

The guardian ad litem is responsible for reviewing all of the materials and making custody recommendations, typically in a report presented to the judge. The judge doesn’t necessarily have to rely on the guardian ad litem’s recommendations, but in most scenarios, this will factor into the final custody decision handed down by the court.

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Mistakes Men Making During DivorceStereotypically, it is the woman in a divorce that ends up with the short end of the stick. For years, common property distribution laws unintentionally favored men, who were more likely to have been the primary earner in a marriage. Illinois, along with most other states in the U.S., is now an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is split evenly between the couple, no matter whose name is on the official title. This is just one example of how the tables have turned. According to the Chicago Tribune, men are more likely these days to make serious blunders in their divorces that end up having devastating consequences.

One of the most serious blunders a man makes during divorce is to present sloppy financial records. “You might have to pay a little more on the front end in attorney fees,” reports the Tribune, “but at the end of the day, not being attentive to these financial records can be one of the costliest mistakes” a man can make. Another serious mistake men make is to move out of the house before the divorce proceedings are initiated. If there are children involved, maintaining that daily contact with the kids will help your custody arguments down the road. Withholding compromising information is yet another mistake men are prone to make—“your lawyer needs to know anything and everything your wife might say about you to hurt you or your case,” reports the Tribune.

Men, however, still seem to fare better after the divorce is finalized than women. According to an Australian study and as reported by Jezebel, “men’s incomes go up an average of 20 percent in the four years following divorce, while women go down 2 percent.” This could have to do with child raising responsibilities—it has nothing to do with emotional response. Women, in fact, are said to fare better emotionally following divorce than men. Nearly 50 percent of divorced men reported feeling lonely a year after the divorce was finalized, compared to less than 40 percent of women.

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If you are facing divorce, it could be one of the most difficult battles in your life. Marital dissolution is more than just the end of a relationship—it’s the end of a partnership, both emotionally AND financially. Knowing what to expect going into it is invaluable for how smooth of a process it’s going to be. Whether your divorce is contested or not, there are some simple considerations to make beforehand, according to the Huffington Post. Consulting with a qualified family law attorney is, of course, invaluable, and should not be replaced with self-evaluation. Do-it-yourself divorces are never simple and often end up costing people more money in the long run than traditional legal fees. According to the Huffington Post, things to consider before divorce include financial concerns, issues of both child and spousal support, visitation and custody requirements, and what documentation will be necessary. divorce costs IMAGE

The first is to be mindful of what the divorce will cost you. Regardless whether your divorce is high-asset or not, it could get costly. At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams we work hard to keep your costs low and provide cost-effective solutions for any divorce proceeding. We will discuss with you all the possible facets of your case so that you can financially remain in control. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can keep it civil, undergoing an uncontested divorce will likely save you big.

If you are going to be providing either child support or spousal support, you need to factor it into your costs of divorce immediately. Do not wait until the proceeding is halfway through to realize that you haven’t yet laid parameters for what type of support you’ll be expected to pay. The same goes go custody and visitation arrangements. If you are going through a particularly nasty separation, there’s a good chance the custody hearing will be the first time you see your spouse during the proceeding. In Illinois, you must complete a mediation hearing before a custody battle.

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Collaborative Divorce May Be BetterNot all divorces have to be the ugly blow-up they’re stereotyped as. In many cases, even if you’re not on good terms with your soon-to-be ex spouse, it’s possible to make it through the divorce on good terms as the last amicable thing you’ll do together. If you don’t share children this is easier, but it’s possible in any circumstance. This is what’s known as a collaborative divorce. While it may seem too optimistic, many couples opt for collaborative law in an effort to stave off the extreme cost of divorce and keep things simpler and happier. After all, you managed to agree that you both wanted to split. Why not make an effort to agree on the terms of said split?

According to US News and World Report, a collaborative divorce is based on the “concept that you were partners—even if not good ones—throughout your marriage and you should be able to end it together as well.” This applies to all aspects of the divorce, including property division, division of assets, and determining child custody. “Most people can agree that litigation is a terrible process for a family to endure,” one lawyer told US News and World Report. “The collaborative process if one of the most productive ways to divorce when it works.”

Yet the publication is quick to remind readers that even a collaborative divorce doesn’t guarantee a happy one. Chances are, even if you opt for mediation, working together with your spouse in the one last process you’ll undertake together won’t be easy. This could be one reason that the number of people who opt for collaborative divorces is still low. “For instance, according to the Wisconsin Law Journal, Waukesha County had 3,862 divorces from 2010 to 2012; during that period, there were only 62 collaborative divorce cases filed,” reports US News and World Report.

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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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