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


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DuPage County family law attorney, remarriage, remarrying after divorce, subsequent marriages fail, rebound marriage, Illinois family law attorney, divorce rate“If at first you do not succeed, try, try again.”

While this may be good advice for most things in life, it does not seem to be good advice for those who divorce. The divorce rate for second and third marriages is even more dismal than it is for first marriages. In fact, 67 percent of second marriages fail, and for those that go onto a third marriage, 75 percent can expect to make another trip to divorce court.

There are several theories why subsequent marriages fail. One theory is family dynamics. Often both spouses have children from prior relationships and suddenly there is one big blended family of stepparents and stepchildren. Personality differences and different parenting styles can lead to all types of conflicts. The sense of “family” that often holds first marriages together just does not exist in second and third marriages. Some psychologists also believe that it is easier for couples who have already gone through the breakup of a marriage to walk away from another marriage if they are not happy. They know they can “survive” a divorce, and therefore are not willing to stay in a marriage that is not working for them. One of the most popular theories why subsequent marriages fail is that people get remarried when they still have not completely recovered from their prior marriage. They do not allow themselves to heal or really think about what they want in the future. This is referred to as the “rebound marriage” phenomenon. Conducted research shows that people who marry within one year of a divorce have a very low chance of a lasting new marriage. For someone considering remarriage, there are a few key questions to ask. These include the following:
  1. Have you allowed yourself enough time to “grieve” your last marriage?


Aurora family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorney, no-fault divorce, irreconcilable differences, marriage breakdown, Illinois no-fault divorce

In Illinois, according to the Illinois General Assembly, various grounds for divorce include: adultery; the absence of one spouse for at least one year, willfully; habitual drunkenness (or drug use) for at least two consecutive years; being convicted of a felony or other “infamous crime”; attempted murder; bigamy; and impotence.

Illinois, however, is also a no-fault divorce state. This means that a couple can still be legally divorced, even if neither spouse is necessarily found at fault.


Aurora family law attorney, Chicago divorce, child custody, children of divorce ,DuPage County family law attorney, family law, father’s visitation rights, Illinois family law attorney, visitation, visitation rightsIf you have children and are considering a divorce, the process will be all the more complicated. Not only will you need to resolve matters of property division, alimony, and the dissolution or separation of a shared business, you will have to determine child custody, visitation rights, and child support payments. It is often assumed that mothers automatically receive full custody, but this is not the case in Illinois. All parents in Illinois are given visitation rights unless it is deemed not in the best interest of the child.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, any parent not awarded custody has a right to see the child as long as the Court does not determine “that visitation would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.” Visitation does not necessarily include electronic communication—this is considered separately from actual visitation. Visitation refers to in-person time spent with the child. Electronic communication refers to Skype or other forms of video chatting, electronic mail, or telephone time.

If the non-custodial parent does not take advantage of his or her visitation rights within at least three months, the other parent can petition to deny or limit future visitation rights, according to the Illinois General Assembly. This is also the case if the non-custodial parent has been in jail or prison “during the three-month period preceding the filing of the petition.”


child obesity, divorce and child obesity, Illinois family law attorney, cohabitating stepparent family, cohabitating parents, traditional families, family structure, overweight children, divorce influencesDoes the dissolution of a family have a negative physical impact on children, leading to unhealthy weight gain and health risk? Research from Rice University and the University of Houston indicates that children in households with married parents are less likely to be overweight.

The study, "Family Structure and Obesity Among U.S. Children," noted in the Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, indicates that children in a “traditional two-parent married household are less likely to be obese (17 percent obesity rate) than children living with cohabitating parents, who have a 31 percent obesity rate.”

Childhood obesity is a concerning issue in the United States. Rachel Kimbro, the study co-author and associate professor of sociology at Rice University, reports that close to one-third of children between the ages of two and 17 are obese or overweight. In fact, 31 percent of children who live with cohabitating parents are obese. Twenty-nine percent of kids who live with adult relatives are obese, and those living with a single mom or a “cohabitating stepparent family” have a 23 percent obesity rate. Surprisingly, however, single fathers and married stepparent households show a much lower obesity rate in children at 15 percent. Kimbro explains that these households have an increase in socioeconomic resources, and are thus less likely to suffer from obesity.


Aurora family law attorney, contested divorce, fiancée, Illinois family law attorney, prenups, prenuptial agreement, prenuptial arrangement, prenuptials, Suze Orman, protecting romanceDuring a couple's engagement, the consideration and discussion of a prenuptial agreement with a potential spouse may be considered "unromantic." However, many divorcees express the wish that they had executed one, as it can be a strong tool in avoiding a contested divorce proceeding.

Yet with that said, agreeing to a prenuptial agreement may show your fiancée that you are not in it for the money, but that you are committed to the relationship and are thus protecting the romance.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love” puts it plainly: “Marriage is not just a private love story but also a social and economic contract of the strictest order...if it weren’t, there wouldn’t be thousands of municipal, state and federal laws pertaining to our matrimonial union.”

Chicago divorce attorney, Doctor John Gottman, DuPage County divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorney, judging your spouse, signs of divorce, divorce and disrespect, high anxietyDoctor John Gottman has been studying married couples for 30 years. He uses a "Love Lab" at the University of Washington to monitor couples for a period of 24 hours. Gottman is from the Gottman Institute in Seattle. The research performed by Gottman has led to the creation of four signs that a couple is headed for divorce.

Criticism in a Relationship

One of the most common signs of a divorce, according to Gottman, is the presence of criticism in your relationship. There is nothing wrong with spouses complaining to each other about certain things within the relationship, but criticism is a different monster. Criticism involves critically judging your spouse or making critical comments, which should not be present in a relationship.

Presence of Defensiveness


child custody consideration, child custody process, Illinois family law attorney, joint custody, Illinois child custody, Illinois child custody law, custody trends, shared custodyIf you ask most parents who have been through a divorce with children, they will likely tell you that the most stressful part of the ordeal was the decision over child custody. Judges reviewing child custody are ordered to consider the “best interests of the child," and this is leading to more joint custody agreements around the country.

New research out of the University of Wisconsin Madison shows that over time a decrease in the number of mothers getting sole custody, while shared custody final agreements are on the rise. This shows, according to researchers, a major shift in the living situations for children of divorce when compared with the past. More than 9,000 divorce cases were reviewed in order to arrive at these findings. In those cases, shared custody increased from five to 27 percent between 1986 and 2008. Another interesting finding from the study was that high income families were more likely to have shared custody agreements.

This is good news for parents who are concerned about maintaining their relationship with children post-divorce. Divorce can be a challenging time emotionally for the entire family, but keeping some sense of stability is critical for helping children sort through the issues. As a parent, it is critical to remain involved in their lives and to work together with the other parent if awarded shared custody.

One of the best things you can do for yourself when anticipating divorce is to hire an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about both the divorce and the child custody processes. This will help to alleviate a great deal of your anxiety and concerns, and it will provide you with a window into what you can expect as your case unfolds. To learn more about the process of child custody consideration and joint custody, contact an Illinois family law attorney today.

divorce etiquette, divorce of friends, DuPage County divorce lawyer, friends and divorce, Illinois family law, Illinois family law attorney, marital problemsWhat should you do when you are a married couple and have friends who recently divorced? How do you handle such an issue? When divorce occurs, it can create a ripple effect throughout a family or a group of friends. However, there are ways to avoid this ripple effect, or to handle it as best as possible.

Emotional Reactions Run Rampant

When a married couple sees their friends divorce, it can lead to emotional reactions within their own marriage. Married friends may think or say, “If it happened to them, why can’t it happen to us?” Yet remember, your marriage is your own. And even though you may have thought all was well with your friends, you cannot be certain what was going on behind closed doors. Your marriage may be completely different than that of your divorcing friends. Be confident in what you have with your spouse.

Also, when you are friends with a divorced couple, do your best to not choose sides after the divorce becomes final. Choosing sides will alienate one of the divorcees, and could cause them to lose some of their best friends in life. Research shows that divorced women may even lose 40 percent of their friends. Consider divorce etiquette and try to remain neutral.


divorce and illness, Dr. Nina Silverberg, Illinois family law attorney, illness, illness in your marriage, legal advice, life-threatening illnesses, National Institute of AgingA new study from the University of Michigan Population Studies Center reports women over 50 are doubly vulnerable to divorce in the event of illness.

The Health and Retirement Study, just presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, tracked over 2,700 couples – healthy at the program’s start – between 1992 and 2010. The study examined the effect of four life-threatening illnesses: heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke.

The results revealed that 47 percent of the individuals studied experienced such an illness. By 2010, 31 percent of those couples had divorced, and a husband’s death had left 24 percent in widowhood.


 Aurora family law attorney, cohabitation, divorce reform, DuPage County divorce lawyer, Earned Income Tax Credit, Illinois family law attorney, Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act, marriage-like commitments welfare benefitsAn increased number of unwed American couples are living together these days, also known as cohabitation. As a result, marriage rates have dropped over the past several years.

And when deciding between cohabitation or a civil union, it is paramount to understand the legal landscape and benefit/cost calculations as they all continue to evolve. It is especially important when children are involved.

The Civil Union Act of 2011 allowed for all couples to create legal protections, and at the time made Illinois one of only a handful of states recognizing this as an alternative protection to marriage. Yet, some may decide against this path because of potential loss of pension, tax advantages, or Social Security benefits. Others may not wish to undertake the full range of commitments that a civil union or a marriage might entail. And a key reality may impede partners from seeking protection: the consequences of an unwed birth.


Aurora family law attorney, cohabitation, determination of support amount, Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act, lost earning potential, terminate spousal support, wage garnishment, Illinois family law attorneyA cultural shift from traditional outcomes in spousal support determination is becoming the new norm. As both parties involved in a divorce proceeding are now likely to be wage earners, as women are less dependent, and as men more become the primary parent, the traditional providing of support by the man is declining. And with that said, support from the woman is on the rise. Therefore, support is now truly “gender-neutral.” In such a changeable landscape, clear and knowledgeable counsel is of paramount importance.

When navigating through the dissolution of marriage, it is vital for any Illinois couple to have a clear understanding of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act, whether it is the determination of the support amount, the provisions for enforcing support collection, or the conditions under which it may terminate.

Legal counsel can help advise both individuals as present and future earning capacity is evaluated, and as considerations of lost earning potential are examined: education foregone, career opportunities postponed, the choice made to bear and raise children in lieu of other paths.


Drexel University, Illinois custody disputes, Illinois family law attorney, judicial custody ruling, Professor Kirk Heilbrun, Religious Freedom-Marriage Act, same-sex, same-sex custody, same-sex marriage rights, same-sex relationships, same-sex union, sexual orientationEnacted November 20, 2013, the Religious Freedom-Marriage Act takes effect on June 1st, 2014. Same-sex marriage, including marriage in other states, will be treated identically with heterosexual marriage. Divorce will be legal in Illinois, and with it, unique challenges with regards to child custody. As initial custody judgments may not be modified for two years, it is vital to work through the process with a well-qualified attorney.

According to The New York Times, a “marriage spring” is dawning nationwide, with over 50 challenges to uphold the marriage rights of gay and lesbian couples. As these changes accelerate, more and more couples with children will find themselves not only in marriage, but divorce as well.

Although numerous studies have shown the prejudice that regards same-sex couples as unfit parents has no empirical foundation, couples may face difficulties in divorce proceedings; sexual orientation may be regarded, in a judicial custody ruling, as passing the “adverse effect” test of producing harm to the child. Or, worse yet, in some jurisdictions judges may entirely disregard the need to show an “adverse effect” connection, and simply rule based on sexual orientation by itself.


divorce rate, divorce trends, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois divorce attorney, baby boomers, cohabitationThe bulk of research dedicated to determining the prevalence of divorce in this country has discussed a downward trend since the 1980’s. New research indicates, however, that broad generalizations like that don’t get into the heart of more specific aspects of divorce.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota recently took advantage of refined U.S. Census data about divorce to determine just how reliable claims about a declining divorce rate are. According to the study authors, the divorce rate has actually remained relatively steadily since 1980. The determining factor for the divorce rate turned out to be age. When controlling for age, researchers found out that the divorce rate has actually increased by as much as 40 percent since that time.

Divorce rates across age groups are not the same, according to the findings in this study. Back in 1970, there was very little difference between divorce rates for younger and older individuals, but that quickly chances. Baby boomers account for most of the increases in divorce rates. In fact, study authors believe that baby boomers are primarily responsible for “marital instability” that occurred after 1970. This same subset of individuals had higher divorce rates in their 20s and 30s, too, but they still make up a significant portion of divorcing couples.


imsis574-027More couples are choosing to live together before getting married, but that does not necessarily mean that they face a higher chance of divorce. New research out of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that there’s no correlation between cohabitation and divorce except when two individuals cohabitate at a young age.

This is not surprising, because settling down at a young age has already been linked to divorce in past studies. The research considered data from thousands of women from 1995, 2002, and between 2006 and 2010, and the results were published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. Lead researcher April Kuperberg says that this is an indication that all past research connecting cohabitation and divorce was the result of incorrect measurements.

Moving in with your significant other can be a difficult adjustment period, but it can also help clue you in to whether or not the relationship should move forward. Different habits in the household can cause couples to erupt into fights. Combining finances for the ease of paying bills can also clue significant others into the spending habits of their partners. Money, in fact, can be a significant factor that influences disagreements between partners.


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.

second marriage, multiple marriages, lawyer, attorney, divorce, third marriageAlthough a lot of people who have been married once have learned many lessons from that process, this doesn’t mean that most remarriages attempts are successful. In fact, according to research, nearly 70 percent of second marriages and nearly 75 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

There are many different issues that can impact a second or third marriage. To start with, anyone who has gone through a divorce might have some trepidation about the process, but likely less fear than before. Some familiarity with the process reduces anxiety about getting divorced a second or third time.

Others might enter a new marriage on the rebound or by locating someone with similar habits as their former spouse. Over time, these habits and behaviors can grow increasingly irritating, leading an individual to think about divorce. When feeling lonely is something you experience after a first divorce, be more aware of these tendencies so that you can reduce the chances of getting divorced again.


parenting family, children, child support, child custody, children of divorceTrying to manage a busy household gets more challenging when a baby arrives. There’s nothing quite like a child to change the routines and habits of a married couple, and sometimes those challenges are simply too much for the marriage to succeed. Couples that struggle to adapt might be facing relationship problems, and could even be contemplating divorce.

Since a baby can change the landscape of a marriage so much, more mental health professionals are encouraging couples to head into pre-baby counseling to discuss some of the most pertinent issues related to having a child. Hospitals, too, are incorporating more of these relationship skills alongside basic parenting education. This is happening because professionals believe that couples spend too much time on the “fun” aspects of pre-baby arrival preparation, like decorating a nursery, and too little time on preparing for the relationship adjustments.

According to the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, nearly two-thirds of couples note that their relationship quality declines within three years after a child is born. Men and women report adjusting differently: women note the decline in their marriage right away, while it takes men several months to notice a deterioration.


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.

 fertility treatment IMAGEThere are any number of factors that might cause a couple to grow apart or to have more fights. The desire to have children and the stressful situations that can unfold when a couple struggles to conceive might lead a couple down the path to divorce. New research says that couples who are unsuccessful at conceiving a child after several years of trying are three times as likely to divorce as those couples who eventually achieve success.

Danish researchers followed women who received fertility treatments between 1990 and 2006. At the end of the study, nearly two-thirds of the women in the cohort had been able to give birth to a child. More than 40 percent of the women who had not been successful reported that the person with whom they had been living at the outset of fertility evaluation was no longer residing in the same home.

These findings support the argument that issues with infertility are some of the most serious that a couple can face, putting strain on even the best of relationships. Women who are unable to conceive even after specialized treatments may feel guilty and frustrated, and communication is critical for these couples to heal together. Some couples might not agree on appropriate next steps, especially if one party wants to consider adoption while another wants to give up entirely.


divorce rate IMAGERecent research seems to suggest that couples on the verge of breaking up might have waited until the recession cleared before moving forward with their divorce plans. A study upcoming in the Population Research and Policy Review points to the drop in divorce rates for women between 2008 and 2009 and correlates with an increase between 2010 and 2011.

Sociologists say this isn’t a new phenomenon. According to sociologist Andrew Cherlin at Johns Hopkins University, divorce rates decreased during the Great Depression despite the stress that many families were over. Once the families regained a sense of financial control, divorce rates spiked again. Researchers believe that concern over affording divorce is the main reason why couples who are contemplating it hold off until their financial situation improves.

If you are already in a marriage on the rocks, financial distress can only serve to make arguments more frequent or vicious. It can be difficult to manage a tense household on limited resources, but if you are concerned about affording a divorce, you might be thinking about waiting until your situation improves. Divorce is a complex decision to make and one that has many factors, so it’s a good step to really think through your options on your own and even to consult with an attorney about divorce planning. Knowing what to expect can remove a lot of the anxiety and questions you have surrounding the divorce process and ultimately give you peace of mind about whether moving forward is the right step for you.

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


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

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