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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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer, attorney fees,You have probably been thinking about this event since the day your child was born. High school graduation is a mark in a child’s life that symbolizes their path to adulthood. They might be going off to college and your life might be changing forever. What you may not have thought about was the fact that you are divorced now. If you have gone through a rather troublesome divorce, attending events like these can be stressful for all involved--but they do not have to be. Here are some tips on how to behave civilly during your child’s special day:

Plan Ahead

Oftentimes, events such as graduations limit the number of tickets that each family is allotted to attend the event. If this is the case, you should plan ahead and make sure that you and your spouse have an equal number of tickets to allow all of your family members to attend the event. If need be, you should try to find additional tickets if you or your spouse have more family members than tickets.

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cheating, illinois divorce, Aurora divorce lawyerWith divorce laws set to change next year in Illinois, including the elimination of at-fault divorce, adultery will no longer be legally considered grounds for divorce. That, of course, is not to suggest that cheating cannot destroy a marriage; it simply means that the divorce itself must be based upon irreconcilable differences, which may certainly result from the actions of an unfaithful spouse. Any act of infidelity, whether within the context of marriage or not, raises questions regarding the motive behind the act of cheating. Is the unfaithful partner unhappy in the relationship or is it something deeper and more primal?

Could Cheating Be Genetic?

A relatively small-scale study from Texas Tech University and the University of Nevada recently looked to find a relationship between parents who cheat and the future infidelity of their children. The survey asked approximately 300 students if they had ever cheated on a partner, and about one third said they had. Roughly the same percentage of respondents indicated that at least one their parents had been unfaithful at some point. Interestingly, though, cheating students were found to be twice as likely to have cheating parents as students who remained faithful.

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money, divorce costs, DuPage County Family Law AttorneyIt finally happened. After months of battling with yourself over making the decision, you have, at last, filed a petition for divorce. You are an intelligent person, so you knew that divorce was going to incur expenses, and a few may even be substantial, but you understood there was little you could do to avoid some costs. In fact, you even took the precautionary step of retaining a divorce attorney, an investment you believe to be well worth the expense. Now, the divorce proceeding are officially underway and how you handle the next few months can have a significant impact on your personal ledger sheet.

For a very large number of couples, the financial considerations of divorce represent a very reasonable concern. Many couples live essentially paycheck to paycheck and may be overwhelmed at the thought of adding additional financial obligations, despite their desire to end the marriage. While it is certainly true that every divorce situation will incur some level of expense, there are a number of common situations that can result in unnecessary increases in the cost of divorce.

1. Be Unprepared

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moving, out of state move, Illinois family law attorneyResponsible parents are always looking for ways to better their children’s lives. For some, this may mean working two jobs to provide extra income or returning to school. For others, it may mean moving into a bigger house or a better neighborhood. Sometimes, such efforts will lead a parent to consider moving to another state. While an out-of-state move may be a fairly easy decision in many cases, a parent who is subject to a child custody agreement may face additional challenges.

Petitioning for an Out-of-State Move

Before removing the child from Illinois on a permanent basis, a custodial parent must obtain the consent of the non-custodial parent. The other parent’s consent may have been included in the original custody or parenting agreement. If the other parent agrees to the move, the process is relatively simple, but the court must still be included. A court order acknowledging the desire to move and the granted consent of the other parent can help prevent future problem.

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child support calculations, Illinois family law attorney, child support guidelines,If you are going through a divorce and have children, and decide that one parent will be custodial and the other non-custodial, the non-custodial parent will be obligated to pay child support. If you are the custodial parent, ensuring that you and your child will be financially taken care of after the divorce is essential to starting your new life on the right track. The most important assurance that you can get regarding child support will come from working with a family law attorney. Only with the assistance of a qualified lawyer will you be able to sort the complicated legalese of child support agreement that will be held up in a court of law.

In Illinois State Law, child support falls under the same regulation as alimony, or spousal support. Calculating how much child support will be due is a task in and of itself. In Illinois, according to the governor’s Child Support Services, child support is factored as a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income. The more children that the non-custodial parent has, the higher the percentage of his or her income will be allocated for child support. There are some instances in which the following chart would not apply, including the financial needs or resources of either the child or custodial parent, the standard of living the children would have enjoyed had the divorce not occurred, the physical and emotional well-being of the child or custodial parent, and educational resources. Regardless, the basic statutory guidelines for child support in the state of Illinois are as follows:

Number of Children             Percent of Non-Custodial Income

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divorce risk, Illinois divorce lawyer, DuPage County family law attorney, Conventional wisdom dictates that there is a strict correlation between educational attainment and divorce. According to a 2013 report released in the Monthly Labor Review, a publication of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both men and women with a college education tend to marry later than their non-college-educated counterparts. Marrying later in life could be one reason that people with college degrees are also less likely to divorce than those without any higher education. The average age among those who had not completed high school to be married was 22.8, while the average age among those with a college degree was 24.9. The BLS found that approximately 50 percent of marriages end in divorce among those who did not complete high school. Comparatively, roughly 30 percent of marriages among those with a college degree end in divorce.

It used to be that marriages in which the woman was better educated than the man were more likely to end in divorce. This could have been due to social stigmas associated with women outperforming their husbands, but according to a 2014 study this is changing. The report, published in the American Sociological Review, “suggests that not only are men marrying women with higher education levels than them in greater numbers,” but also that these marriages have a comparable divorce rate to marriages in which both partners have the same education or in which the men have more higher education.

Divorce among marriages in which women were more educated than men hit a peak in the 1950s and 1970s. This association began to decline in the 1980s as society and women’s roles in the workforce continued to change, but this decade is the first in which the association was entirely comparable to the general divorce rate. One of the study's authors says that more research needs to be done into the correlation between women out-earning their husbands. While American women are statistically earning more degrees than men, “they are still making less money from those degrees.” Because of this, it is difficult to study the effect of earning as a result of higher education on marriages.

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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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spouse filed, Chicago divorce, division of assets, division of property, filed for divorce, grounds for divorce, Illinois family lawyer, no-fault divorceGetting the notification that your spouse filed for divorce can wreak havoc on your emotions and cause you to panic about your next step. That does not have to be the case, however. You can elect to consult with and hire an Illinois family law professional.

In order to get divorced in Illinois, your spouse must have some kind of “grounds” for the divorce unless he or she files a petition of irreconcilable differences.

There are several varying types of grounds that can be alleged in order to obtain a divorce within the state. These include:
  • Bigamy;
  • Adultery;
  • Willful desertion (typically a period of one year is required for this to apply);
  • Habitual drunkenness;
  • Conviction of a felony;
  • Excessive drug use (typically a period of two years is required for this to apply);
  • Infection of a sexually transmitted disease from the spouse;
  • Impotence; and
  • An attempt is made to kill the spouse.
If your spouse has already filed for divorce, whether on fault grounds or through a petition of irreconcilable differences, you need representation, too. You should not attempt to go through a divorce on your own, particularly if your spouse has already hired an attorney to start the process. If this applies in your case, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney immediately.

Selecting an attorney with a background in family law and divorce issues is critical, because it will allow you to get the ball rolling quickly in response to a divorce filing from your spouse. Make sure you ask critical questions about division of property, child custody, and spousal support during your initial attorney consultation if those concerns are a part of your case. Knowing what to expect can go a long way towards preparing you and easing your nerves. Contact a Chicago divorce attorney today at 630-409-8184.

 Aurora family law attorney, child attorney, child custody ethics, child development, custody determination, guardian, guardian ad litem, Illinois divorce proceedings, Illinois family lawyerIn divorce proceedings, parents may agree completely on the custody and treatment of dependent children. Yet when this is not possible, the court may appoint an individual to aid in the process. This individual will fill one of three roles: a child representative; a guardian ad litem (GAL); or a child attorney. It is essential to make yourself aware of their duties, qualifications, and impact on custody.

In the case of an older child, a child’s attorney may be appointed to represent the best interests of the parties’ child/children in exactly the same role as would an adult be counseled. However, with younger children, either a child representative or guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed. The difference between the two is that only the GAL may be summoned to testify in court; as the very need for the involvement of such an official stems from disagreement. The likelihood of the divorcing parties wishing to contest or examine the findings of a third party will more often dictate the appointee being a guardian ad litem.

Qualifications and Duties of a Guardian ad Litem

As an attorney for the child(ren) a guardian ad litem is required to investigate the facts of the case and interview children and parents. The GAL is also required to report to the court – either in testimony or in writing – the recommendations in accordance with the best interests of the child(ren).

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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.

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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.

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.

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social security benefits, division of property, divorce, Oswego Marital Property Division Attorney, retirement benefits, impact of divorceAccording to economist Marcus Dillender at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, the impact of divorce on your Social Security is worth considering when planning to end your marriage. And if your marriage lasted at least ten years, spousal benefits through Social Security may be available.

If your marriage is nearing the 10-year anniversary, waiting a few months to get a divorce could lead to higher Social Security payments pending your spouse has higher earnings records than you do. However, receiving Social Security benefits after a divorce can be a confusing process, especially since the Social Security Administration has several factors they consider before awarding payments to an ex-spouse. These factors include:

  • The marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer;
  • The ex-spouse is currently unmarried;
  • The ex-spouse is at least 62 years old;
  • The applicant is entitled to Social Security disability or retirement benefits;
  • The benefit that the ex-spouse is eligible to receive, as a result of his or her own work, is lower than the benefit he or she would get based on the former spouse.
Additionally, if an individual has not yet applied for retirement benefits, and he or she qualifies for them, the ex-spouse may receive benefits on that same record if the divorce has been final for at least two years. If the former spouse decides to remarry, he or she cannot collect benefits unless that remarriage is terminated through death, annulment or divorce.

The influence on Social Security benefits is only one factor that should be evaluated when you are considering divorce. Consulting with a divorce attorney for planning purposes can be a valuable use of your time so that you are more prepared with what to expect. If you are contemplating divorce and have questions about Social Security or other issues, contact an Illinois family lawyer today.

prepaid legal services, Illinois divorce lawyer, alternative dispute resolution, Illinois divorcePrepaid legal services are becoming more popular as benefits offered to employees.  More than 70 million Americans have these prepaid legal services. In these packages, a small amount is paid each month in return for some future assistance on a legal issue. While most of the legal help available is minimal through these programs, some people are still attempting to use them for an uncontested divorce. In these situations, you are likely better off with an attorney.

Many prepaid plans cover basic services and won’t get involved in more complex legal issues, like criminal defense.

If you and your spouse don’t have much to argue over, you might consider using these services for an uncontested divorce. The way the prepaid services work is that as you make payments into the plan, supposedly the amount of “work” you’re eligible to receive from an attorney grows. Once you “max out” these plans, however, you could find that you have to pay for representation anyways.

If your uncontested divorce takes longer than you imagined, or the attorney has to spend a lot of time reviewing facts and materials, you’re going to lose out in the long run by having to hire more of that attorney’s time- at whatever rate he or she wants to charge. You end up trapped if this individual has already completed some work on your case, because you may then feel obligated to pay them to finish it.

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healthy divorce, DuPage County divorce attorney, collaborative law, alternative dispute resolutionNo one thinks on their wedding day that their marriage is going to fail. Unfortunately, many marriages do fail, whether that’s in the first five years or later down the road. The end of a marriage can wreak havoc on the individuals involved, both emotionally and physically.

Even after you have had some time to move on from the divorce, your feelings of sadness, lonliness and anger can creep up and catch you off guard. Recognizing these responses is normal, and it is part of the growth process that allows you to move on.

Even though there are emotional challenges with the end of any marriage, it is possible to have a healthy divorce.

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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.

paternity IMAGECustody disputes and arguments over parental rights are often complicated and difficult family law battles. The challenges may be particularly difficult when the child is born outside of a traditional marriage.

 Custody & Relocation

For example, a recent case involving a custody battle between Olympic Skier, Bode Miller and his short-lived girlfriend, Sara McKenna, has shed light on the rights of pregnant women to relocate outside of the jurisdiction of where the father is domiciled. After a short-term romance between Miller and McKenna, McKenna found out she was pregnant but had plans to relocate to New York to attend Columbia University. Miller, who lived in California, filed a declaration of his paternity and petitioned to establish custody rights in San Diego before the birth of their son.

 A family court referee in San Diego, California ruled that McKenna’s behavior was “reprehensible” and though she was not charged with “abducting” the child, the Court felt that McKenna had fled to New York because it was a more sympathetic jurisdiction. Miller, in a ruling by the San Diego Family Court, received physical custody of their son. This has led to an onslaught by women’s rights organizations attesting that this is an inherent restriction on pregnant women’s constitutionally-protected liberty, and a threat to pregnant women’s autonomy rights. The First Department, New York’s Appellate Division, in a five-judge ruling on November 14, 2013, agreed and reversed the previous ruling made in San Diego’s family court, citing that the ruling was a violation of McKenna’s basic rights. It also concluded that New York had jurisdiction over the proceedings. The judge who ruled in San Diego, however, has not yet relinquished jurisdiction to New York, and a jurisdiction battle has ensued between the two states.  Family Law Complexities

With many “non-traditional” households, it is becoming increasingly important for parents to legally protect themselves in the face of custody and parental disputes.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that as of 2012, 40.7 percent of births were to unmarried women.

 There are also complexities for unmarried men who fathered children finding themselves on the losing end of a custody battle, sometimes paying for child support without visitation rights. There is a legal presumption that married men are the father to the child that is born to their spouse; unmarried men, however, do not receive the same benefit. Unmarried men must establish paternity, either at the time of the child’s birth by filling out the baby’s birth certificate or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage or Paternity (VAP). The VAP is a consent form that acknowledges that the unmarried man is the biological father to the child. Paternity testing may be necessary in the case of an extramarital affair or any confusion as to the identity of the father. Once paternity has been established, the father may file a court order to receive custody or visitation rights. In Illinois, pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), a court, in order to evaluate the claim, must first determine if it has jurisdiction over the issue. As the Bode Miller case highlights, this may be difficult if the mother and child are not living in Illinois. Generally fathers, even if they have been legally-designated as the father, still must petition a court to establish custody rights, and are at a considerable disadvantage; unless the mother is unfit to raise the child, court judges presume that it is within the child’s best interest to remain with the mother. In most cases, legally-designated fathers should petition for joint or shared custody, or allow the mother to maintain sole custody with visitation rights. Ultimately, even if the father has not petitioned for custody or visitation rights from the Court, he is still required to pay child support. In Illinois, a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income (based on the number of children shared) must be given to the custodial parent. The extent of the rights of the unmarried man who has fathered a child depends largely on how assertive he is in petitioning for his custodial rights. Though Courts generally presume the mother to be the best custodial parent for the child, the legally designated father is not without his rights and should petition for them. Ideally, and in the best interest of the child, both the father and mother should discuss and come to an agreement about the type of family and living situation that they would like to have. This, however, does not always have an easy solution, especially when both parents do not have plans to remain geographically close to each other. An experienced DuPage Child Custody Attorney may be able to provide the support necessary to come to an amendable custody and visitation arrangement between the two parties. Please contact us today for any further information about child custody and visitation rights.

It has become a common habit to air our day-to-day successes and frustrations to the public audience on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. As users of these social media websites, we very rarely think about the long-term effect that our published words have on our readers, and more specifically, our friends and families.

 non-disparagement clause IMAGEDivorce can be an extremely difficult time for not only the couple involved, but the friends, relatives, and more importantly, the children of the couple who watch as their family unit splits. Social media networks can serve as a diary, where we let our friends and family know about our positive and negative feelings throughout the day; we find solace by discussing our hardships, and receive affirmation and support from our readers. Though social media may be a useful tool in the healing process by providing our loved ones a venue to send their support through emails, texts, and messages, it can also be a prime forum for hurt, anger, and the revelation of confidential, marital secrets. As a result, social media has the possibility to create irrevocable harm, emotional and legal, if we do not utilize great responsibility in the words that we publish, post, and reveal to the masses.  Agreeing to Be Nice

In July 2013,NBA basketball player Steve Nash’s divorce brought to light the issue of the use of non-disparagement clauses in divorce agreements and an individual’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the non-disparagement clause in the joint custody agreement between Steve Nash, and his former wife, Alejandra Amarilla Menrath, requiring that any remarks made by either Nash or Menrath must be respectful and non-disparaging.

 The purpose of the clause was to protect their three children from any mudslinging between the parents and attempt to make the divorce between Nash and Menrath as easy and constructive as possible. However, after the joint custody agreement was signed, Menrath allegedly tweeted disparaging comments made about Nash, which led to a court fight. The Maricopa County Superior Court issued an order barring either party from publishing disparaging comments on social media websites. Menrath claimed that the order violated her first Amendment rights. The Arizona Appellate Court affirmed the order, arguing that both Nash and Menrath entered into the joint custody agreement voluntarily, and therefore the non-disparagement clause was not a violation of their First Amendment rights. This noteworthy case, among others involving the use of non-disparagement clauses, reflect on whether or not these types of clauses included in a divorce settlement can have the intended positive effect or limit a spouse’s right to open and free expression regarding any aspect of the divorce.

The Benefits of Social Media During Times of Divorce

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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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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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