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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Posted on in Child Custody

child custody, Aurora family law attorneyEven the most congenial divorce proceedings come with their own set of challenges. These are life-changing, stressful, heartbreaking and complicated times for everyone involved. Children are often caught in middle of the legal battles, and their concerns are just as real those of their parents’. It is not unreasonable for them to have concerns about who they will stay with, whether they will stay at the same school, or continue to live near their friends.

Different States, Different Rules

Child custody laws vary from state to state, and different counties or districts within each state may also have established protocols when it comes to making decisions regarding the children. Because of the differences in custody laws in different state, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was drafted and adopted by 49 states—including Illinois—and the District of Columbia to help streamline custody rulings country.

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parenting time, DuPage County family law attorneysA divorced, separated, or unmarried parent should never feel like a stranger in the life of his or her child. For many parents, however, that was often their reality as Illinois—like many states—used to refer to their time with their children as “visitation.” A parent who is seen as a “visitor,” rather than integral part of the child’s life, could experience a variety of problems, including a lack of parental authority and the appearance of not being fully committed to his or her child’s best interests.

Last year, however, an amended law took effect which proved that Illinois lawmakers recognized the struggles of many divorced parents. The new law was an effort to “level the playing field” so to speak between parents with different levels of parental responsibilities.

Visitation Is Now Parenting Time

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tax refund, Aurora divorce attorneyIf you completed the process of divorce last year, filing your income taxes this year has probably raised a number of questions. (If you have not yet filed, the deadline for personal income tax returns is fast approaching. Presuming your divorce finalized on or before December 31, 2016, you almost certainly filed this year’s taxes as a single filer. Many single filers still end up receiving a refund for overpaid taxes, but if you have recently divorced, you may not be entitled to keep your entire refund for yourself.

A Tax Refund Is Not New Income

In an Illinois divorce proceeding, a couple’s marital property must be divided equitably between the spouses. Marital property, in general, refers to all assets and debts acquired by each spouse during the marriage, with a few limited exceptions. All other property, including that acquired before the marriage or after the divorce finalizes, is considered non-marital or separate property.

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relocation, Aurora family law attorneyFollowing a divorce, the involved parties may feel the need to change things up in order to move on and close a rather painful chapter in their lives. The parent who has primary residential responsibilities regarding a child may want to move to another state to pursue new opportunities in employment or even a new relationship. These kinds of life changes can shake up even the most amicable co-parenting situation as a non-moving parent is faced with the possibility of not seeing his or her child regularly, or having to incur the costs of going to visit the child in the new home.

While the non-moving parent may get longer periods of visitation time, such as during school breaks and other long holidays, he or she stands to lose vital, frequent interaction with the child. The child’s connections to other family members and friends may also suffer, and he or she will have to change schools after the move.

The Best Interests of the Child

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divorce, DuPage County divorce attorneyOver the last several decades, the attitudes toward marriage and divorce have evolved significantly in many parts of the country. Many states, including Illinois, have made ending an unhappy or unhealthy marriage easier than ever before, helping spouses escape what could be an ultimately damaging situation. In at least one state, however, a number of lawmakers believe that getting a divorce has become too easy and have introduced legislation that would limit the availability of no-fault divorce for its citizens.

According to recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the divorce rate in the state of Oklahoma is among the highest in the nation. An estimated one-third of all marriages in Oklahoma end in divorce and about 13.4 percent of the state’s population is currently divorced. For some in the state legislature, these types of numbers are unacceptable. Representative Travis Dunlap, R-Bartlesville, has introduced a bill that he believes will encourage married people to fight for their marriage rather than giving up with things get tough.

A Tough Sell in Modern Times

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college, Aurora family law attorneyIf you are a divorced parent, you understand how difficult it can be to fulfill all of your parental obligations while maintaining a close relationship with your child. In addition to being an involved parent and a positive influence in the child’s life, you may also be required to pay child support, at least until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. Depending on the circumstances of your situation and the terms of your divorce agreement, however, your support obligation may continue as your child heads to college, but such considerations are often much more complex.

Child Support Basics

Every child has the right to expect financial support from both parents. This idea is the basis of child support laws in every state, including Illinois. While child support payments are typically made by one parent to the other, the right such support is considered to belong to the child. A parent does not have the authority to waive that right on the child’s behalf, and a court may order child support even the parent with primary custodial responsibilities insists that he or she does not need it.

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property, DuPage County divorce attorneyWhen a couple gets divorced, one of the most contentious aspects of the process involves the identification and division of marital property. For many couples, the marital estate is a physical representation of their life together, making it very difficult for the parties to reach a reasonable resolution.

If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement regarding your property, the issue will be left to the court to decide. Such a situation leads many to assume that the court will simply divide the marital estate into equal halves, and allocate 50 percent of the marital property to one spouse and 50 percent to the other. According to Illinois law, however, this is not exactly the case.

Equitable Distribution

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Posted on in Uncategorized

prenuptial agreement, DuPage County family law attorneyA prenuptial agreement is a legal contract developed and signed by a couple before they get married. A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” can delineate how financial assets and property will be divided in the event that the couple divorces in the future. It is important to understand that a couple cannot use a prenuptial agreement to make determinations about future custody of or child support for children the couple has together.

Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements

There are a number of potential benefits to developing a prenuptial agreement. For example, a prenuptial agreement can be used to:

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child support, DuPage County family law attorneyIn a recent post on this blog, we talked at length about the current guidelines that family court use when calculating orders for child support in Illinois. We also mentioned that a new law is set to take effect next summer that will dramatically update the state’s approach to child support, bringing it more in line with the dynamics of today’s families.

A More Equitable Model

Beginning July 1, 2017, Illinois will switch over to what is known as an “income shares” model for calculating child support. Unlike the existing model, an income shares system takes into account the income of both parents and can be modified to consider the impact of shared parenting time. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DFHS) is currently developing the specific quantitative guidelines that will be used, but the basic principles have been set by the new law.

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child support, DuPage County child support lawyersVery few parents would argue that they do not have a responsibility to provide financially for their children—at least to a certain extent. Raising a child costs real money, and generating that money should be the concern of both parents, regardless of their relationship with one another. Under the law in Illinois, a family court may order child support payments from either or both parent to ensure that the child’s needs are properly met. How such payments are calculated, however, has become a subject of controversy in recent years, which we will address in this post and at least one other upcoming post.

Income Guidelines

The first thing that you need to know about child support calculations in Illinois is that a family court is guided by a formula and considerations listed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The IMDMA provides a fairly straightforward method for calculating child support payments that relies primarily on just two factors: the number of children being supported and the paying parent’s net income. A parent supporting one child can expect to pay 20 percent of his or her net income as support, 28 percent for two children, 32 percent for three children, and so on, up to 50 percent for six or more children.

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Posted on in Divorce

domestic violence, DuPage County divorce attorneyThere are many reasons why a dissolution of marriage becomes necessary. Spouses grow apart, partners fall out of love, and individuals change their life goals. Occasionally, divorce becomes necessary for safety reasons if one spouse is abusive. Although Illinois is a no-fault state and anyone can divorce, it is important to understand how domestic abuse in a marriage can affect the outcome of the divorce proceedings.

Married Without Children

Any type of abuse that occurs between romantic partners or spouses is considered domestic violence or abuse. The law defines domestic abuse as:

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relocation, DuPage County family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, if you are subject to a parenting plan or child custody order and you wish to move to a new city or state with your child, you will probably need the permission of the other parent to do so. If the other parent does not consent to your move, you have the option of asking the court to override his or her objections. When the court takes up a relocation case, it must give consideration to a number of factors to determine if the relocation will ultimately serve the child’s best interest.

Relocation Defined

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that a relocation is more than just a simple move. You are permitted to move with your child within a certain radius of current home without needing anyone’s approval. If your move exceeds that radius, however, it is considered a relocation by law. A parent with the majority of the parenting time or equal parenting time must seek the other parent’s consent—or that of the court—for a move with the child that is:

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common law marriage, Aurora In a number jurisdictions throughout the United States, a couple may be considered married without ever having the official “walk down the aisle.” Couples who wish to marry but do not want the pomp and circumstance of a large wedding and reception often file the documentation and are legally married. In a few states, there is another option known as common law marriage and skips both the paperwork and the ceremony. When such a marriage is recognized by the appropriate jurisdiction, the law regarding common law marriage offers the same rights of marriage to two individuals that have been together for a set number of years and are presenting themselves as married. Ending a recognized common law marriage is equivalent to a divorce, so it is important to know how Illinois law treats common law marriage.

Is Common Law Marriage Universally Recognized?

The answer is no. Most states—including Illinois—do not recognize common law marriage. The practice was outlawed in Illinois effective June 30, 1905. A few states that do recognize such marriages include:

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divorce, DuPage County divorce lawyerIf you have reached the point in your marriage where divorce is becoming more and more of a possibility, it is time to start gathering information about the process. Ending a marriage is going to be challenging, even in the most amicable of situations. You may be able to alleviate some of the difficult by becoming familiar with a few basic concepts that pertain to divorce in Illinois.

Grounds for Divorce

For many generations, a married person could seek a divorce on the basis—or grounds—that his or her spouse engaged in certain behaviors, including adultery, repeated mental and physical cruelty, patterns of substance abuse, and abandonment. Beginning in 2016, however, this is no longer the case in Illinois. Today, a divorce will only be granted on the grounds the irreconcilable differences have led to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

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parenting, DuPage County family law attorneyAre you subject to an agreement regarding parental responsibilities with a former partner due to a divorce or a breakup? If so, it is important to understand what type of responsibilities you have what your rights may be as far as your child is concerned. Too often, parents make assumptions about the law that are not correct, leading to confusion and misunderstandings about their roles in the lives of their children.

Separate Considerations

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that a parenting plan for divorced or unmarried parents should address two primary areas of concern. If the parents cannot reach an agreement on such a plan, one will developed by the court based on the best interests of the child. The two basic considerations are significant decision-making authority and parenting time. While they may be related to a minor extent, the law allows each consideration to be made separately.

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irreconcilable differences, DuPage County divorce attorneyNearly every American adult has heard the phrase “irreconcilable differences.” It is used as not only the basis for most divorces—all of them now, under Illinois law—but also as the basis for personnel moves in corporate settings and business decisions. While one might define irreconcilable differences as “agreeing to disagree” writ large, the use of the concept in divorce law is a bit more complex than most people realize.

Due, in large part, to unfamiliarity with the law, many people presume that when the time comes for a couple to cite a reason for their divorce, they simply write “irreconcilable differences” on the appropriate form or document. The reality, however, goes beyond the fact that the couple is struggling to get along, as—despite the commonplace nature of divorce—the state of Illinois still recognizes the importance of the marriage contract.

The Law

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child support, DuPage County child support attorneyAre you a divorced parent who struggles with the limited amount of parenting time that you have been allocated with your child? Such a situation is understandably frustrating for anyone. Even parents who are fortunate enough to share parenting time equally often do not feel that it is enough. These parents are not being selfish; rather, they truly believe that the time they spend with their children offers substantial benefits for everyone involved. There is, however, another frustrating element of shared parenting time that effects many parents: child support. It can be very disheartening to assume responsibility for your child half of the time or more but still be required to make child support payments.

No Current Correlation

As the law in Illinois exists today, there is no statutory relationship between child support requirements and parenting time or parental responsibilities for divorced or unmarried parents. The considerations for each are completely independent of one another, at least as far as the letter of the law is concerned.

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marital property, DuPage County divorce attorneyDuring a divorce, questions often abound regarding which of the spouses’ assets will be considered marital property and, therefore, subject to division. As with most aspects of divorce, the law itself is relatively straightforward but its real-world application is often very complex. If you are considering a divorce, you should know what the law says and how it applies to your particular case.

Legal Definitions

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains virtually all of the statutory provisions that govern the process of divorce in the state. The IMDMA specifies that, for the purposes of a divorce, marital property refers to “all property, including debts and other obligation, acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage,” with certain exceptions. These exceptions include:

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Posted on in Visitation

parenting time, DuPage County family law attorneysThere are many scenarios that could lead to you having significantly less parenting time with your child than the other parent. Perhaps you were not married when your child was born and the court granted the other parent all of the decision-making responsibilities for the child and most of the parenting time. Or, maybe at the time of your divorce, you had serious issues with anger or showed signs of alcohol abuse, leading the court to limit the danger to your child. Whatever the reason may be, if you have precious little time with your child, you want to make the most of it. If the other parent is making it difficult for you to exercise your right to parenting time, a qualified family lawyer can help.

Get Things in Writing

Being denied access to your child can incredibly frustrating, especially if it is being done out of spite or anger. A finding of danger by the court is one thing, but the unsanctioned actions of the other parent are not acceptable. The first thing you should do if your parenting time rights are being unfairly limited is to keep a record of all communication between you and the other parent. Using emails or text messages instead of phone calls or in-person conversations can provide the documentation you may need down the road. If you ask to see your child and the other parent refuses, document his or her response. Failure by the other parent to comply with your court-ordered parenting arrangement could result in serious consequences for him or her.

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Tparents, Aurora divorce attorneyhe decision to file for divorce is always a difficult one, but the challenges are often magnified when the situation involves children. While issues like marital property and spousal support are certainly important, the future of your children and your parental rights should never take a back seat to more material concerns. The judge overseeing your divorce has authority under the law to issue orders regarding your children, but the process should begin with the two people who know your children the best: you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Statutory Encouragement

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act presumes that divorcing parents will have an interest in developing a parenting plan that fits their individual circumstances and serves the best interests of their children. Therefore, divorcing parents are expected to draft and submit a proposed arrangement to the court. Each parent may draft a separate plan or the parents can work together on a single proposal. If the parents submit a jointly-drafted plan, the court must review it to be sure that it is reasonable and that the child’s interests are fully protected.

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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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