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

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

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collaborative law, DuPage County divorce lawyerFor most people, the word divorce brings to mind images of a husband and wife waging war against each other, fighting over who will get custody of the children, the house, and even the family dog. Divorce, however, does not always have to be so acrimonious, as many couples who decided to go the route of collaborative law instead of traditional litigation have found.

In collaborative law, a couple will work together to mutually decide how all issues will be settled within the parameters of a dispute resolution process. The couple, along with a team of professionals, have complete control over how their marriage will end and all of the inherent considerations. They make the final decisions regarding child custody (parental responsibilities), asset and property divisions, and whatever other issues each individual couple may have to settle.

Reestablishing Important Skills

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Posted on in Visitation

parenting time, visitation, DuPage County family law attorneyFor many years in Illinois, the parental right to reasonable visitation has been fiercely protected by law. While a court could restrict or limit visitation to protect the child, it would take an extremely serious set of circumstances to completely terminate such rights of a parent. Thanks to a measure passed in Illinois this past year, parents will no longer be considered to have so-called “visitation” with their children. Instead the term to be used will be “parenting time,” more accurately representing the inherent responsibilities.

Changes in Child Custody Laws

The shift from visitation to parenting time is part of an overall larger transformation of the state’s child custody provisions. Concepts of sole and joint custody are being eliminated in favor of a much more cooperative idea of allocated parenting responsibilities. Child custody, as it currently exists, was often a major point of contention for divorcing, separated, or unmarried parents, as many seemed fixated on “winning” or “losing” a custody battle. By focusing on actual parenting responsibilities rather than titles or statuses like custodial and non-custodial parent, the well-being of the child is more likely to remain the top priority.

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Posted on in Division of Property

pets, divorce, illinois divorce attorneyThere is no question that we Americans love our pets. According to the ASPCA, as many as 80 million dogs and 96 million cats are owned throughout the country, with many households owning more than one. With so many pet-owners, it is inevitable that many dogs and cats will be caught in the middle of a divorce situation, leaving spouses to wonder what will happen to their furry friends.

Illinois Law Regarding Pets

While the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Acts contains specific provisions for the division of marital property and the care of a couple’s children, the law makes no reference at all to companion animals. While dogs and cats may be treated as full-fledged members of the family, the law officially considers them property, with no more rights than an end table or a piece of artwork. This means that, when left to the court to decide, the court must allocate responsibility for the pet based upon a calculated monetary value and the rest of the marital estate.

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Posted on in Visitation

drug abuse, parenting responsibilities, DuPage County family law attorneyAs you may be already aware, beginning in 2016, the excessive use and abuse of drugs and alcohol will no longer be separately recognized as grounds for divorce. The dissolution process itself must be based on irreconcilable differences, essentially making every divorce officially a no-fault situation. However, even without making drug abuse the basis for the divorce, a large number of couples, and parents, in particular, are affected by the destructive, chemical-related behavior of one party. It is important to understand that drug abuse can and will continue to impact, arrangements regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Following a divorce or the break-up of unmarried parents, you and the other parent will be expected to reach a workable agreement regarding the parental responsibilities for your child. Before it will be approved, however, the court must examine the terms of the agreement and determine that they are reflective of the child’s overall best interests. If the agreement is not approved, or if you and the other parent cannot develop one together, the court will decide how parental responsibilities will be decided. In doing so, the court must take into account the various factors at work in the relationship and establish an arrangement that will meet the child’s needs.

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prenuptial agreement, remarriage, Illinois family law attorneyAs the age at which Americans enter their first marriages continues to rise, each partner is likely to bring more personal history and property to the marriage than those of previous generations. Individuals spend more time as single adults than ever before, often starting careers, buying homes, and investing in various business interests. For many entering marriage for the first time, a prenuptial agreement may be appropriate to help establish what belongs to whom in the event the marriage does not succeed. For those entering a subsequent marriage, however, a prenuptial agreement may be virtually necessary to account for even more complex personal situations.

Second and Third Marriages

If you are considering remarriage, one of two things have already happened: you have been widowed by the death of a spouse or you have been through the process of divorce. Therefore, you probably have a pretty good understanding of many of the complexities that can present themselves. A prenuptial agreement, as you probably realize, can help remove a great deal of uncertainty through cooperation while the spirit of togetherness is alive and well between you and your soon-to-be spouse. Drafting a prenuptial agreement is not betting against your marriage any more than a life insurance policy equals betting against your life. At some point, your marriage will end, either by divorce or death, and a prenuptial can address both realities.

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right attorney, lawyers, Illinois family law attorneyWhen you are preparing for a divorce, child custody proceeding, or any other matter of family law, the attorney you choose can absolutely affect the outcome of your case. You need a lawyer who is not only knowledgeable and well-versed in the law, but also shares your values and who can incorporate them in advocating on your behalf. To find the right attorney, you will need to consider a number of factors. Before making a final decision, interview several potential candidates and do not be afraid to ask lots of questions such as:

What is your experience?

Does the attorney practice primarily family law or is he or she a personal injury lawyer that sometimes handles divorce cases? The level of commitment you can expect is often evident in the answer to this question.

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guardian ad litem, children, DuPage County Child Custody AttorneyWhen you are involved in a dispute over child custody or other concerns related to your children, it can be difficult to maintain objectivity, especially if the relationship between you and the other party is not ideal. Divorce situations are especially prone to acrimony and contentiousness, and unfortunately, the best interests of the child can be somewhat lost among the myriad of other considerations. A court-appointed attorney known as a guardian ad litem, however, can help refocus the proceedings on the child’s well-being, thanks to provisions contained in Illinois law.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Unlike other types of guardianship, such as those covered by the Illinois Probate Act, which provide far-reaching authority over another person’s interests for an indefinite period of time, the guardian ad litem, or GAL, is appointed for a specified proceeding. In fact, the Latin phrase “ad litem” translates to English as “for the suit.” While GALs may serve similar purposes in other areas of law, they are most commonly utilized in family law situations on behalf of a child’s interests. In Illinois, a GAL is required to be a licensed attorney, properly trained and qualified to serve in such a capacity.

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parental relocation, Illinois law, Aurora Family LawyerThe State of Illinois is geographically larger than many entire nations. Covering an area of nearly 58,000 square miles, Illinois is roughly the same size as the countries of Tunisia and Nepal, and about 15 percent bigger than Greece. As a state, Illinois ranks 25th in geographic area, placing it squarely in the middle of the pack. Despite its expanse, current laws regarding child custody make it completely legal for a custodial parent to move a child from one side of the state to the other without approval, while making a short move across state lines illegal. Beginning in 2016, however, this is set to change as a law signed last month will completely revamp relocation guidelines for parents subject to a custody order.

Current Requirements

Under the current law, a parent with primary residential or physical custody of a child is permitted to move anywhere within the state of Illinois without approval from the court or the other parent. While such a move could certainly create logistical difficulties and, most likely, strain the relationship between the parents, there is no statutory measure in place prevent it. This means a parent could move with the child from Evanston to Carbondale—about five and half hours and 350 miles away—without approval.

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reasons to divorce, divorce, Aurora Divorce LawyerThere are hundreds of reasons people tend to stay in bad marriages long after they should be dissolved. This is one of the most toxic behaviors in which otherwise healthy adults engage—regardless of circumstances bad marriages are a bad idea. Less obvious is the thought that this is true whether or not you have children—sometimes staying in a bad marriage can actually be detrimental to the kids. Many kids who live in a household in which parents constantly fight experience more severe problems later in life than children of divorce whose parents were able to amicably move on with separate lives.

While many people customarily make resolutions for life changes every January, a bad marital situation pays no attention to the calendar. The present is is always a good time to reevaluate your situation and make necessary changes. “If you’ve been contemplating the idea of divorcing your spouse, but keep coming up with new excuses to put it off because you are afraid of the messy repercussions, then this is the year you need to let go and move on,” advises Corri Fetman, attorney, author and contributor to the Huffington Post. There is no shortage of reasons why divorce may be the best option, and when you are ready to take the next step, contact an Aurora family law attorney.

Longer marriages, even unhappy ones, tend to accumulate more assets and property as time passes. Not only do people headed for divorce oftentimes waste years trying to decide if dissolution is the best option, many end up putting more and more money away into savings or shared pension accounts. These assets are then sometimes lost, depending on your perspective, during property distribution. The time you spend deciding whether to divorce can have a significant financial impact on your future.

Reasons to initiate divorce if you have been contemplating it are not all tangible—a divorce can offer health benefits as well. An unhappy, unfulfilling marriage is not only uncomfortable for the spouses involved, it can also lead to depression and other problems, including, as recent studies have suggested, heart disease. Every person deserves affectionate, enthusiastic, and uplifting love. Divorce also forces people to reevaluate important things in life. This, of course, opens new doors both psychologically and physically.

When you are contemplating reasons to divorce, it is important to realize that an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney is available to answer your questions. Contact the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. to schedule a consultation today. Our team is committed helping you find the path toward a more happy, productive future. Call 630-409-8184 for an appointment.

custody, visitation, Illinois Family Lawyer Child custody and visitation plans can be some of the most challenging and potentially contentious aspects of a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Additionally, the composition of the modern, blended family can present additional challenges when there are stepparents involved in or impacted by custody agreements.

Visitation and Custody Agreements in Illinois for Natural Parents

In Illinois divorce cases involving children, it is typical that one parent is designated as the primary or residential parent of the child(ren). This is to ensure continuity for administration of a legal mailing address and school district qualifications.

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collaborative law, divorce, Illinois family lawyerNot every divorce is decided in the courtroom. Some couples instead choose to complete their divorces privately, either through mediation or a collaborative law divorce. Each of these options are a type of alternative dispute resolution and each has its own benefits and drawbacks for divorcing couples.

In a collaborative law divorce, a couple maintains the highest amount of control over the proceedings. The couple and their attorneys work together to draft a fair divorce settlement that meets all involved parties' needs. This type of divorce is best suited to couples with amicable relationships who are not divorcing because of adultery, domestic violence, or other volatile grounds.

Talk to your attorney about the possibility of divorcing through collaboration. He or she can give you legal advice tailored to your unique situation to help you decide the best course of action for your divorce. Remember, although collaborative divorce can be a great option, it is not always the best option. Speak to your attorney about reasons why collaborative divorce might or might not be right for you.

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temporary custody, Illinois law, DuPage County Family Law AttorneyWhen a couple with children divorces, developing a custody arrangement for the children is generally a part of their divorce process. The court does its best to ensure that following a divorce, the children have regular contact with both parents and can develop nurturing relationships with each of them.

Before a couple's divorce is complete, however, their children may be in a precarious position. One parent might move out of the family home or be facing an order of protection from the other. In any case, the children need to have a legal order in place to ensure that they have a stable home and schedule while their parents work through their divorce. This is where a temporary custody order can help. This type of custody order, as its name implies, is meant as an interim measure to serve the needs of the children. Once the couple determines a permanent custody arrangement and their divorce is finalized, the temporary order is replaced with a long-term custody plan.

While a temporary custody order is in place, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights. Talk to your attorney about all possibilities that may stem from your temporary custody order during and after your divorce. Pros and Cons of Temporary Custody Orders

Temporary custody orders are often a necessity for parents working through divorce. During a divorce, the child's safety and well being should always remain a top priority. Having a temporary custody order in place is one of the best way to protect the child. However, they are not without their drawbacks.

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delinquent, child support, DuPage County Family LawyerHas the court ordered your children’s other parent to pay child support, but you are not receiving it? There are ways for you to rectify the situation and have the non-paying parent pay delinquent child support payments. No child should be negatively affected due to refusal to pay child support. Child support lawyers can assist you through the legal process of petitioning to have the non-paying parent pay child support through wage garnishment or other legal means.

Repercussion of Not Paying

Failure to comply with an order for providing child support is a serious matter. It can lead to serious consequences ranging from wage garnishment up to jail time. Illinois’ Non-Support Punishment Act outlines how you can petition to receive child support from the non-paying parent.

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child support, order modification, Illinois family law attorneProperly raising a child requires years of hard work on the part of parents. Children require time, attention, and love from their parents as they grow and learn about the world around them. In addition, raising a child requires quantifiable resources as well, as any parent subject to a child support order clearly understands. However, just as a child’s needs for care and attention may change over time, his or her financial requirements may also evolve. Likewise, a parent’s ability to provide financial support may change. Such situations may require a child support order modification to ensure that the needs and abilities of all involved parties continue to be appropriately considered.

Child Support Basics

Under Illinois law, a child support order is generally calculated based on the net income of the parent required to pay support. The calculation may be affected by circumstantial factors regarding the child, each parent, and the needs and resources of everyone involved. Considerations for medical care, educations expenses, and other shared costs may also be made, and once entered, the order becomes fully enforceable by law.

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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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Aurora family law, Illinois child custody attorney, divorce effect on children, Many studies have been done that prove a negative psychological effect of divorce on children. Most of these studies do not address the physical health issues of the children. However, a recent study reveals that children of divorce may experience negative physical effects to their health when their parents split. The study found that physical struggles children of divorce may deal with include excessive weight gain, leading to more physical problems later in life.

The study, conducted among 3,000 children in Norway, found that boys whose parents divorced were especially susceptible to excessive weight gain in the wake of their parents’ split. The research team found that boys had a 63 percent increased risk of being overweight or obese than boys whose parents' marriages stayed intact.

While researchers did find an association between obese children and parents’ divorce, they cautioned that divorce was not pinpointed as an absolute cause of weight gain. It is far more likely that the lifestyle changes that accompany divorce resulted in the weight gain. The study also did not consider factors such as diet, exercise, and living arrangements.

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bad marriageDivorce may seem a financially daunting undertaking, but there is a degree of financial loss associated with a bad marriage that some couples do not take into consideration. The divorce process does carry both known and unexpected costs, but working with an experienced family law attorney can help you to get the most financially out of your divorce and begin your new life financially solvent.

There is no way to quantify the cost of a bad marriage, but the Huffington Post has some tips to watch for if you suspect that your marriage is headed toward dissolution. If you relate to any of the following aspects of your partnership, divorce may be the cheaper solution for both you and your spouse.

The first major factor that makes a bad marriage expensive, according to the Huffington Post, is a lack of coordination and communication. If you and your spouse are unable to communicate effectively, it can have a serious negative effect on your finances. An obvious example of this is that you both draw from a joint checking account at the same time, incurring overdraft fees and lack of available money for bill-paying and other household expenses. A more extreme example of this would be a failure to effectively coordinate a retirement plan or tax deductions. While marriage counseling is usually advisable to divorce at the beginning of marital problems, drawing out unproductive therapy sessions can be akin to tossing cold hard cash down the drain.

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

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

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

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cheating, divorce, divorce attorney, divorce trends, DuPage County divorce attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorney, marriage, women cheat, infidelity, reasons for cheatingA new study reported by The Huffington Post has discovered that women who cheat on their husbands are not necessarily dissatisfied with their emotional relationships. The study, conducted using data from the spousal cheating site AshleyMadison.com, observed 100 women between the ages of 35 and 45. The collected data revealed that cheating women often had little desire to end their marriages. What they were looking for, however, was sex and renewed passion.

Eric Anderson, a British professor and chief science officer at AshleyMadison.com, noted how sexual monotony is likely the reason that cheating women seek sexual satisfaction outside of their marriage. Emotions had less to do with it. “This is because we get used to and bored of the same body,” noted Anderson.

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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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