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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DuPage County allocation of parental responsibilities lawyerNow known as the allocation of parental responsibilities, child custody can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Even if you and your spouse agree on how you want to divide your property and debts, you may clash when it comes to deciding how parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities will be allocated. Although you and your spouse may never want to speak to each other again, you will always share a common bond--your child. Determining how your child will spend time with each parent and what decision-making rights each parent will have for the child can be a daunting task. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois.

How Will Decisions About Parental Responsibilities Be Made?

Illinois courts recognize the benefit of both parents agreeing on certain issues, especially child-related issues. Because of this, the courts will encourage parents to come to an agreement about parental responsibility on their own. If they are unable to come to a  resolution, the court will make these decisions for them based on what is in the best interests of the child.

What Factors Will Be Used to Determine the Best Interests of the Child?

When a judge must make any decision involving the child in a divorce case, he or she will use specific factors to determine what is in the child’s best interest. These factors can include but are not limited to:

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DuPage County high-asset divorce attorneyAll divorces have the potential to be complex, but when a couple has a high net worth, the proceedings tend to be even more complicated than normal. For couples who have an abundance of property or assets that are worth a lot of money, the divorce process will involve more decisions. Issues such as property division, spousal maintenance, and child support may be handled differently. People who have a high net worth can greatly benefit from a skilled divorce attorney who has experience dealing with high-value assets to help them figure out the best options for their situation. If you are involved in a high-net-worth divorce, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. High-Net-Worth Divorces Are Often More Contentious

When it comes to divorces that deal with high-value assets, it is much more likely for couples to be combative, especially when dealing with property division. When spouses have many assets, especially assets that are expensive, it can be even more difficult to figure out who gets what. It may be necessary to hire an appraiser to determine the value of any large assets or property such as real estate, businesses, vehicles, boats, jewelry, artwork, or other expensive items.

  1. High-Value Divorces Are More Likely to Be Long and Expensive

When divorces are contested, or there are a lot of issues to settle, it is likely that the proceedings will be long and drawn out, which can get expensive quickly. Although nobody wants a lengthy divorce, couples in high-asset divorces may also be better equipped with the funds to pay for divorces that require a lot of negotiating and help from lawyers.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for financial issuesDivorces are difficult for some families, especially when it concerns financial matters. Splitting your marital finances during your divorce can be challenging, but it can also be disastrous for a couple. With two separate households comes increased financial obligations. Some people may be prepared for the increase, while others may struggle. While divorce in itself will not lower your credit score directly, certain actions and events that take place during the divorce can affect the score in negative ways. The following are a few situations that could potentially impact your credit score when going through a divorce:

You Have to Refinance Your Home

One of the biggest assets you may have to deal with in your divorce is the family home. If one spouse is planning on keeping the marital home, it is best to make sure the home is in that person’s name only. To do this, you may have to refinance your mortgage. Refinancing means you will have to go through a comprehensive credit inquiry, which can affect your credit score.

Your Spouse Still Has Access to Your Accounts

When you are married, most of your financial accounts are probably joint accounts, meaning you and your spouse both have ownership over them. When you get divorced, the process of splitting those accounts and/or taking your spouse’s name off of them can take a while. If your spouse still has access to accounts such as your credit card account, he or she can rack up charges, which can affect your credit score in a negative way.

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DuPage County collaborative divorce attorneyIn recent years, divorcing by means of alternative dispute resolution has become rather popular. Both mediated and collaborative divorces have been the choice of many couples who are looking to get a divorce, rather than using the traditional litigation process. While each type of divorce has its advantages and disadvantages, collaborative divorce can be the answer to many people’s problems when it comes to settling issues and getting the results they want out of the divorce.

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

The idea of collaborative divorce has existed since the 1980s, although it was only practiced in Illinois beginning around 2002. The Collaborative Process Act was signed into law in Illinois in 2018, and this formally recognized the collaborative process as a means to divorce. When a couple begins the collaborative process, they agree to cooperate in order to resolve the outstanding issues in their divorce. The collaborative divorce process takes place outside of the courtroom, in multiple private meetings. Avoiding litigation is one of the main goals of this process, and a collaborative divorce will often follow several methodical steps:

  1. Make a commitment to avoid litigation. In order to proceed with a collaborative divorce, you must first find a lawyer who is certified to practice collaborative law. That attorney will answer any questions you might have and prepare you for the collaborative divorce process. Once you and your ex-spouse have each found a collaborative divorce lawyer, you will sign an agreement stating that you will do everything in your power to settle any issues outside of the courtroom. This agreement will also state that you will provide each other with a full disclosure of financial information, and you will answer any queries or requests honestly and completely. If you are unable to complete the collaborative process successfully, your respective attorneys will withdraw from representing you, and each party will need to find new counsel to represent them in court.

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Aurora, IL family law attorneyThere is no one definition that is used when you talk about the “best interests of the child” during divorce cases. What may be right for one child is not always right for another child. Illinois courts understand this, which is why when it comes to child-related issues, a variety of factors are used to determine the best course of action. During divorce cases, decisions must be made about parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, which are both child-centered issues. The main goal of the courts is to ensure that the child’s safety and overall well-being is placed at the top of the list of priorities.

Factors Used in Deciding the Child’s Well-Being

In many Illinois divorce cases, parents can lose sight of what is truly best for their child. This is when a judge may step in and help parents decide certain issues. Each divorce, family, situation, and child is unique. When judges are making these decisions, they base their determinations on the child’s age and needs, along with these factors:

  • The physical safety and well-being of the child, including the child’s access to food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare

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Aurora, IL parental relocation attorneyThere are many reasons why a person may want to move after a divorce. Some may want to be closer to family members, others may move for a new job or simply a fresh start. Whatever the reason, moving can be problematic for a divorced parent who wants to take his or her child with him or her.

In Illinois, moving out of state, moving more than 50 miles away from the current residence within the state, or moving more than 25 miles away if the current residence is in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County is considered relocation, and a parent will be required to obtain permission from the court. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, a person still may be able to relocate, but the issue will need to be settled within the court system.

Notice of Relocation

Illinois law states that a person wishing to relocate with his or her child must notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days prior to the intended relocation. The notice should inform the other parent of the date of relocation, the new address, and whether or not the relocation is permanent. If the other parent signs the notice, and the notice is filed with the court, then the relocation will be granted, as long as the family court judge believes that the move would be in the child's best interests. If the other parent objects to the relocation or does not sign the notice, or if the parents cannot come to an agreement on a modified parenting plan, the relocating parent must file a petition to relocate.

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DuPage County fathers' rights attorneyIn today’s world, most people would agree that a father plays just as an important role in raising a child as a mother. Many people also believe that a child deserves to have both parents present in his or her life. For some people, this can be difficult, especially if the child’s parents were not married when the child was born. In cases such as these, it is up to either the mother or father to petition to establish the paternity of the child, which can be done a few different ways. Establishing the paternity of the child creates a legal relationship between the child and his or her father. Until paternity is established, there is no legal relationship between the two, even if they are biologically related.

Presumed Paternity

In the state of Illinois, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he was married or in a civil union with the child’s mother at the time the child was born. A man is also presumed to be a child’s father if he was married to the mother at any point within 300 days before the child was born. If the parents were not married or in a civil union during either of these times, the man has no legal presumption to the paternity of the child, and either parent must go about establishing paternity through signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or through genetic testing and a court or administrative order.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

There are quite a few reasons why a mother or father would want to establish paternity for his or her child. In most cases, establishing the paternity of the child gives both the child and the father rights they would not otherwise have. Benefits of establishing paternity include:

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DuPage County, IL spousal support attorneyA divorce is never an easy decision, and for many, it can turn their entire lives upside down. Years ago, spousal maintenance (then known as alimony) was a rather common thing that was typically awarded to women who were getting divorced. Now, with more women in the workforce, the number of women receiving spousal maintenance has dropped, while the number of men receiving spousal maintenance has slightly increased. Spousal maintenance is still a rather common issue during Illinois divorces that must be decided before the divorce can be finalized.

Calculating the Amount of Maintenance Payments

If the judge determines that a maintenance award is, in fact, appropriate, he or she will use the maintenance guidelines to determine the amount of spousal maintenance to be paid. The Illinois maintenance guidelines apply to any couple whose combined annual income is less than $500,000 and when the payor does not have any other obligations to pay child support and/or spousal maintenance from a previous marriage.

The amount of maintenance to be paid is determined by taking a portion of the payor’s income and subtracting a portion of the receiver’s income from it. The formula for calculating the maintenance amount is as follows: 33.3% of payor’s income minus 25% of receiver’s income equals the yearly spousal maintenance amount. To determine the monthly amount for maintenance payments, you would simply take the amount for yearly maintenance payments and divide it by 12.

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Illinois divorce attorneyIn today’s world, there is more than one way to do almost everything, including getting a divorce. Historically, most divorces were litigated, meaning they were settled in court by a judge, rather than between the parties themselves. These days, more and more couples are choosing mediation and alternative forms of dispute resolution when it comes to divorces. One such alternative is a collaborative divorce, which brings many benefits to the table, but this type of divorce only applies to some situations. If you are considering a collaborative divorce, here are a few things you should know:

  1. You and Your Spouse Have to Agree to Settle Outside of Court

Before you even begin the divorce process, you, your spouse, and both of your attorneys must agree to settle the divorce in a respectful, honest manner outside of the traditional court system. You will create an sign a document called a Participation Agreement, and this is a legally binding contract. If you fail to settle the divorce through collaboration, you and your spouse will both have to find new counsel and go the traditional litigated route.

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DuPage County, IL family law attorney prenuptial agreementAs times are changing, so are attitudes toward previously taboo topics, such as signing prenuptial agreements before marriage. Over the years, drafting a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot has become more and more popular. One possible reason for the increase in popularity is that people are waiting until later in life to get married the first time. This means more people are entering into marriage with more assets that they want to protect. Prenuptial agreements must be created carefully, or they run the risk of being invalidated if they are contested during a divorce. Here are a few ways your prenuptial agreement may be found invalid:

  1. The Agreement Was Not in the Right Format

In the state of Illinois, prenuptial agreements must be in writing. In other words, you cannot have an oral prenuptial agreement. Both you and your spouse must sign the agreement for it to become valid, and you must file it with the clerk of the circuit court so there is a record of the agreement.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerSocial media has been one of the defining topics of the 20th century. According to Hootsuite, a social media management platform, there were nearly 3.5 billion people around the world actively using social media at the beginning of 2019. With so many people connected on the Internet through websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, people are sharing their personal lives with each other more than ever before. While this can be a good thing, it can be detrimental if you are going through a divorce. Sharing parts of your personal life online can create evidence that can be used against you that can affect the outcome of issues such as spousal maintenance, property division, and even child-centered issues such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities.

Using Social Media Posts in Your Favor

Social media is easy to use, which allows people to post photos and comments without having to think too much about what they are doing. In some situations, these kinds of posts can leave clues for the other spouse about issues such as hidden assets or whether or not the ex-spouse has a true need for spousal maintenance. For example, your ex might be petitioning to receive spousal maintenance due to claims he or she will not be able to enjoy the same standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage. However, if he or she posts photos of a vacation with friends, you may be able to use those posts as evidence that he or she was not being completely honest about his or her financial situation.

Social Media as Evidence in Court

In the state of Illinois, using information obtained from social media is a legitimate form of evidence. This means that anything you or your spouse post on social media could be used against you in court, as long as the information was not obtained illegally or fraudulently. You cannot open fake social media accounts with the intention of posing as another person to gain information. You also cannot “hack” into your spouse’s account with the intention of gaining information. As a general rule of thumb, if the information you are using was posted publicly and available to users with an account, it is typically admissible as evidence in court.

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Aurora divorce lawyer GAL child representativeAlmost anything that happens in the Illinois legal system that has to do with children revolves around what is in the child’s best interests. In the majority of divorce cases, at least one, but sometimes both of the parents, understand what would be in the child’s best interest. In some divorce cases, parents can become so blind with hate that the best interests of the child are lost, which is when a child representative steps in. Cases involving child support, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, allocation of parenting time, relocation with the child, or even just the child’s general welfare can all be assigned representation for the child.

Types of Representation

The state of Illinois provides for three options when it comes to the representation of the child:

  • An attorney for the child

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Dupage County asset dissipation lawyerIn a perfect world, couples who decide to end their marriage would do so amicably and without any ill feelings. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and divorcing couples are often much less than amicable. In some divorces, feelings of anger, resentment, greed, and spite are driving factors in decisions made by one or both spouses. In cases such as these, it is not uncommon for one spouse to do anything he or she can to keep the other spouse from receiving his or her fair share of the marital estate. The most common way of doing this is to waste the marital assets, also known as “dissipation.”

How Is Dissipation Defined in Illinois?

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, dissipation refers to the “use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” In other words, dissipation occurs when one spouse wastes, destroys, or spends marital property during the breakdown of the marriage for the purpose of depriving the other spouse of the property.

Examples of dissipation of marital property can include:

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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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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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