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 payment-DuPage CountyA new Illinois law signed last year that affects the way child support payments are calculated took effect earlier this summer. The new formula takes into account a number of variables previously not considered when divorcing couples and their attorneys negotiated child support payments to be paid by the noncustodial parent.

Details of the New Formula

Under the old law, child support was based only on the income of the noncustodial parent. Proponents of the change maintain the calculation now takes into account the actual cost of raising a child, and how those costs are divided between the custodial and noncustodial parent. The new model also places a greater emphasis on the amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren).

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collaborative divorce, DuPage County family law attorneySupermarket tabloids and social media feeds are frequently full of divorce horror stories—usually involving celebrities—in which the proceedings drag on for months because the parties cannot see eye-to-eye on virtually anything. You probably even know someone personally whose spouse refused to cooperate, leading to expensive delays and long-term uncertainty. In addition to the added costs, the emotional strain on a family in such a situation can be tremendous, and in some case, almost unbearable. There is, however, no reason to subject yourself and your family to the dangers of that type of divorce, especially when a collaborative divorce may be an option.

The Collaborative Process

A collaborative divorce is a team-oriented approach to ending a marriage that looks to avoid taking the matter into the courtroom. In fact, as part of the agreement to collaborate, the attorneys for you and your spouse contractually agree to withdraw as your representation should you decide that collaborative divorce is not working, and litigation is necessary. This creates an incentive of sorts to reach a resolution without spending additional money on new lawyers.

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce rate, profession, Illinois divorce attorneyAny time researchers try to find trends in the divorce rate, there is always a certain “which comes first” debate that takes place. For example, when looking at professions or occupations that are more prone to divorce, the question must be asked, “Does this profession increase the likelihood of divorce or is the type of person more prone to divorce, for whatever reason, more inclined to work in this field?” Whatever the case may be, there is little question that divorce is more common among those who work in particular industries or jobs, and many such occupations have very similar stresses and pressures.

Police, Firefighters, and Military Personnel

While it is difficult to imagine modern life without individuals who have committed themselves to public safety and national defense, these jobs are not without their downsides. Police officers and fire fighters often work long shifts, with a great deal of stress added to the equation. Servicemen and women spend months at a time away from their spouses and families, frequently leading to communication issues and deteriorating relationships

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financial professional, planner, Aurora divorce attorneyHave you ever consulted with an accountant, analyst, or financial planner? For many people, working with a financial professional is something that only the wealthy need to worry about. Of course, there are those who would suggest that it is through working with financial advisors that many are able to become wealthy, but that is a topic for another day. Regardless of your income or tax bracket, however, divorce can be one of the most economically complex processes that you will ever be forced to navigate, and to get through it, the help of a financial professional may prove to be absolutely necessary.

Division of Assets

Allocating marital property is among the most challenging concerns for a large number of divorcing couples. It can be nearly impossible to determine what is fair and equitable if both spouses do not have a clear of understanding of the value of each part of the estate. A real estate appraiser, for example, can provide an accurate valuation of your home, while a retirement professional can help you analyze the current and expected value of pensions, 401(k) plans, and other investments. These considerations must be made before you and your spouse can split your assets, and doing so can allow you both to feel that you have been treated fairly.

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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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change your beneficiaries, divorce, Illinois Divorce AttorneyAfter months of negotiation and a seemingly endless wait for the court, you finally have been granted your divorce. Your divorce decree most likely represents an opportunity to start fresh and to pursue a happy life, following a less than ideal marriage. In the days and weeks following your divorce, you will probably have a list of details to address such as possibly changing your name—if you changed it when you married—or opening new, individual accounts. One of the most important things you will need to do—and one that is frequently overlooked—is to change your beneficiaries on existing investment plans, life insurance policies, and estate planning documents like wills and trusts.

Binding Contracts

When you created your retirement account or purchased your life insurance policy, you were probably asked to designate beneficiaries. For a retirement plan, your plan administrator keeps beneficiary information on file will disburse your investments to those individuals in the event of your death.  Similarly, the whole purpose of your life insurance policy is to pay benefits to your designated beneficiaries when you die. These agreements are binding contracts which are not necessarily broken by the existence of a divorce decree.

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no-fault divorce, grounds for divorce, Illinois Divorce AttorneyTo many in modern Western culture, the option of divorce is one that is fairly-well taken for granted. While some may be opposed to the idea of widespread divorce for moral or religious reasons, they recognize it as a legal recourse to dissolve a civil agreement. In previous generations, however, divorce could often be much more complicated that it is today, as it required providing evidence of wrongdoing or fault on the part of one spouse. Throughout America, that is no longer the case, as each state has enacted its own provisions for completing a no-fault divorce.

No-Fault and Irreconcilable Differences

It is still very possible under Illinois law to pursue a divorce on fault grounds. These often represent serious allegations of actions committed by a spouse, including but not limited:

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finances, divorce, Illinois divorce attorney Divorce involves more than the dissolution of a marriage. It is a complex legal process, and many couples will experience financial hurdles on their way out of the relationship.

Deciding to divorce is a serious consideration, and protecting your financial interests requires careful planning. One of your first steps should be calling a divorce attorney for advice. Your lawyer will likely look to find out:

  •         Whether or not there was a prenuptial agreement;
  •         If you and your spouse have children; and
  •         The income, assets, and deb of you and your spouse make.

Under Illinois law, these factors—and many others—may affect your strategy for securing your financial future. Because this is such an intricate process, hiring a divorce attorney may ultimately save you money over the long term.

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special needs, collaborative law, DuPage County Divorce AttorneyThe divorce process is challenging for any couple, and especially so for parents. However, parents of special needs children face even more complicated issues during divorce, as the impact to their child can be particular upsetting and stressful. Many parents with special needs children may often it preferable to keep divorce proceedings free from contentiousness and acrimony as much as possible by turning to collaborative law in an effort to negotiate the end to the marriage.

Countless articles and research papers have been written on the current divorce rate in the United States. While many suggest the rate is actually lower than the commonly accepted “half of all marriages end in divorce,” it is fairly difficult to establish for sure. Married parents of children with special needs, however, are far more likely to divorce. According to some estimates, couples with special needs children may face divorce rates of up to 90 percent.

Collaborative Law Can Help

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gray divorceMarital dissolution can be daunting for anyone, but if you have been married for several decades, the idea can be even more terrifying. Not only are there emotional issues to resolve that come with the idea of splitting with a spouse who has inevitably become an extension of oneself, there are also more practical issues such as finances, living arrangements, and issues of long-term care during the aging process. According to the Huffington Post, while addressing these issues is crucial for finding peace of mind after divorce that follows a multi-decade marriage, divorce may still be the best option. If you are not happy in your marriage, the best bet is to separate, regardless of how old you are or how long you have been married.

The first major issue to resolve in a long-term marriage divorce is that of finances. When you begin divorce talks, not only will you need to discuss the issues of property division, but also those surrounding pensions, Social Security, and insurance coverage. If you will be required to pay spousal maintenance, this is also an important issue to consider, especially if you are nearing retirement age. Seeking the counsel of a legal professional who has experience with later-in-life divorce is crucial, as finances are likely more limited nearing retirement age than they were in years past.

While in most cases of marital dissolution selling the marital home is a good idea, it could leave both parties worse for ware in a long-term marriage divorce. If selling the home does not make financial sense, determining which spouse will remain in the house can be difficult for both parties. In some cases, especially those in which you have several years left on the mortgage, it could make more sense to hold on to the house.

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spousal maintenanceAlimony, or spousal maintenance, as it is called in Illinois, is a court-mandated support payment paid from one spouse to the other in a divorce. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAMA), there are three types of maintenance that may be ordered by the court for one spouse to pay after a divorce. The first is temporary, which is paid until the divorce is finalized. Rehabilitative maintenance is awarded in the event that the supported spouse is capable for finding work or another source of income, until he or she is able to do so. Reviewable maintenance is awarded to the supported spouse and reviewed after a court-mandated period of time to determine if the maintenance is still necessary to be paid the supported spouse.

According to the AAMA, there are several factors that the court uses to determine whether or not a divorcing party qualifies for maintenance. The length of the marriage is one of the top deciding factors, as is the disparity in the earnings of the divorcing parties. Health, age, and social factors (including the ability of either party to secure income after the divorce) are also taken into consideration. To determine whether or not you will likely have to pay or be awarded spousal maintenance after a divorce, it is imperative to consult with a family law attorney.

While it may seem a good thing, according to Time, there are several things wrong with the system of spousal maintenance, regardless of what state the divorce is taking place. According to Time, maintenance is one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, and nearly 80 percent “of divorce cases involve a request for modification of alimony.”

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paternity, father, baby, dads, divorceDivorce isn’t easy for anyone, but some of the divorce mistakes commonly made by fathers can be avoided by following a few simple tips. If you or someone you know is thinking about divorce, contact an Illinois family lawyer today to ensure that your rights are represented in court.

One of the most common mistakes made by divorcing dads is to over-extend yourself financially. Trying to manage household expenses, child support, alimony, and legal fees can add up quickly and increase stress during and after your divorce. Consulting with a family attorney before initiating your divorce can be helpful for giving you an idea of your financial obligations.

Another mistake made by fathers is not making your children a priority during divorce. Some fathers are hoping for cooperation with the mother and aim to keep the peace by choosing not to argue over some custody, visitation or other parenting decisions. This might end up leaving you with very little time with your children after the divorce, which isn’t a good situation for you or for the children. Trying to compromise is a worthwhile goal, but ensure that your rights and interests are being represented, too.

Finally, some fathers are guilty of letting child support arrears collect. In certain cases, this might have been unavoidable- losing a job or another financial situation might leave you unable to pay. Getting behind on your child support can be detrimental for you, especially in situations where you might want to attempt to modify custody in the future or maximize the time you are authorized with your children. If you find yourself getting behind, contact your divorce and child custody attorney to figure out a plan to get back on track. If you’re headed into a divorce, avoid making these mistakes. Stay informed about what to expect in your divorce by contacting an Illinois divorce attorney today.

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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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court decided a case that shows just how important it is to update legal documents and financial portfolios after a divorce. In Hillman v. Maretta, a man’s ex-wife remained the beneficiary on his life insurance policy despite the fact that he had been divorced from her for over nine years and married to his second wife for roughly six. Up until that point, Virginia law held that spouses could no longer remain as beneficiaries upon divorce. The ex-wife maintained, however, that because the benefits were from a federal life insurance policy, she should remain the beneficiary despite Virginia’s law. The Supreme Court ruled in her favor. Because the ex-wife was the named beneficiary, she was entitled to the benefits.

divorce finances With this in mind, there are a number of documents that you need to remember to update after a divorce. The list below is not exhaustive, and should only serve as an example of the types of documents that need to be updated after this life-changing event. First, it is clear from Hillman that all designations of your former spouse as your beneficiary should be updated. This includes life insurance, bank accounts, and all other money saved with such designations. Second, do not forget to change your will. Although some states change your will upon divorce as a matter of law, many do not. To make sure that your former spouse does not inherit something you wish to go elsewhere, edit your will after leaving your partner. Finally, there is a litany of other documents that may cause you legal or financial trouble in the future if you are not careful, as well as systematic, about changing all of the records associated with you and your ex-husband or wife. These can include credit cards, passports, property titles, and even names that you have written down as your ‘emergency contact’ in places that you regularly visit, like your place of employment or the gym. Divorce is a complex process with many moving pieces. With emotions on both sides running high, and trying to ensure that a divorce moves as quickly as possible, sometimes things like updating legal documents can go overlooked. Experienced DuPage divorce attorneys can help sort everything out. If you are seeking a divorce, contact our law office today.We provide help to residents of Aurora, Oswego, Naperville, Yorkville, and other nearby cities.
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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