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 parenting time lawyer,When you get a divorce and you have children, chances are there will be some sort of child support involved. In Illinois, child support ends when the child turns 18 or until the child graduates from high school -- whichever comes later. Even though your child has graduated from high school, that does not mean that your support for the child has ended. If your child decides to pursue some type of post-secondary education, you are responsible for contributing to their education. This type of support is considered to be “non-minor support” and lasts until the child turns 23. It is best if you and your spouse come to an agreement as to how college expenses will be handled, but a judge can allocate college expenses if need be.

Covered Expenses

The main thing most people think about when discussing college expenses is tuition. While that is typically the most expensive expense, it is not the only expense that is covered under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Other expenses that you may be responsible for include:

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Posted on in Divorce
Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer,When you are going through a divorce, it can be a confusing process, especially because of all the words and legal terms that are used in divorce proceedings and paperwork. Understanding all of the legal jargon that is used during this process is crucial to you reaching a divorce settlement that you are satisfied with. Even some words that have normal meanings can have different meanings when used in a legal setting, which is why it is important that you educate yourself on specific words and phrases used in Illinois divorce proceedings. Marital Property: The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that marital property is all property, including debts, that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage.

Non-Marital Property: The Act also states that there are exceptions to marital property, which is called non-marital property. Examples of non-marital property include:

  • Property acquired by gift, legacy or descent;
  • Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage;
  • Anything acquired by either spouse after a legal separation; and
  • Property excluded in a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement.
Parenting Responsibilities: In Illinois, the term “custody” is no longer used. Instead, parenting responsibilities means both parenting time and important decision-making responsibilities when it comes to a child. Parenting Time: This refers to the time when a parent is responsible for taking care of the child and making non-significant decisions regarding the child.

Parenting Plan: This is a written agreement between parents that allocates and specifies certain things concerning their child. Things that can be covered in a parenting plan include:

  • Parenting time;
  • Decision-making responsibilities;
  • Living arrangements;
  • Schooling; and
  • Child support, if applicable.
Relocation: The term relocation is used when a parent moves a child from their current residence to a new residence. Spousal Maintenance: In Illinois, the term “alimony” has been replaced with spousal maintenance. This is the term used for any sort of payment that is paid from one spouse to another after a divorce depending on each spouse’s financial situation and needs. Get Representation from a Kendall County Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be confusing, but it does not have to be. With the help of a well-versed Aurora divorce attorney, you can understand and be fully involved in your divorce. When you choose to be represented by an attorney from the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., you can rest easy knowing your divorce case is in good hands. Call the office at 630-409-8184 to set up a consultation.

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custody, DuPage County family law attorneyA popular—albeit rather infamous—YouTube personality who goes by the username “DaddyOFive” has lost custody of two of his children. The kids are currently staying with their biological mother. The father gained notoriety on the video sharing site when he started posting videos of interactions between himself, his current wife, and children. The videos contain a number of “pranks” played on the children—acts which many viewers and commenters found to be cruel and even abusive.

Pushing Things Too Far

In one controversial video, a smiling woman appears and explains that her stepson had previously gotten in trouble for spilling ink on the carpet. She tells the camera that she is going to act like the child did it again. The woman sprays disappearing ink onto the carpet, then she and the child’s father call the son into the room. What follows is disturbing to many viewers: The two adults verbally berate the child for the spilled ink, screaming and cursing loudly at him. The child begins crying as he desperately tries to explain that he did not spill the ink. The verbal abuse goes on for an agonizing three full minutes before the parents laughingly tell the child that it was “just a prank.”

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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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decision making, Aurora family law attorneyIf you are a parent going through a divorce, you have probably given thought to how the process and its aftermath with affect your relationship with your children. You may have heard horror stories from friends and family members who never get to see their children or those whose children rarely spend time with their other parent. It is possible, however, for you and your spouse to develop a plan that provides for your child’s best interests while allowing your child to maintain a healthy relationship with both of you.

A Two-Pronged Approach

While there are many considerations that must be made in creating a workable parenting plan, there are two primary areas of focus according to Illinois law. The first concern is determining each parent’s responsibilities for significant decision making while the second addresses each party’s parenting time with the child.

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domestic violence, DuPage County family law attorneyFalse accusations of domestic violence are, sadly, all too common in family law cases. Such allegations are problematic for a number of reasons. First, they undermine legitimate efforts by organizations throughout the country to prevent and eliminate the very real problem of domestic abuse that occurs in many families. Of course, false accusations also create serious issues for the person who has been accused. If that person is you, it is important to understand what you can do in family court to defend yourself.

Protective Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders

Victims and purported victims of domestic violence in Illinois are able to apply for an emergency protective order or a temporary restraining order without any advance notice to the alleged abuser. If the court finds that the victim is currently in danger and immediate action is required to keep him or her safe, an order of protection will be issued. Once the order is issued, a law enforcement officer will serve a copy of the order on the alleged abuser.

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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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alcohol, DuPage County family law attorneyMany marriages are gravely damaged or even destroyed by substance use every year. Addiction to drugs and alcohol puts additional stress on a relationship, builds resentment between spouses, execrates financial hardship, and can sometimes contribute to infidelity.

Troubling Numbers Regarding Drinking and Divorce

A study published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs gives numerical data to this correlation.  Researchers from the University of Michigan studied more than 17,100 individuals in order to compare divorce rates involving people with a serious alcohol-use problem and with that of those that did not. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the divorce rate of those couples which included an alcoholic spouse was higher than the divorce rate of those couples which did not report an issue with alcohol. Specifically, 48.3 percent of individuals with an alcohol-use problem were divorced at some point in their lives while only 30 percent of individuals without an alcohol-use disorder were ever divorced.

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family law, DuPage County family law attorneyIn an effort to stay current and updated with regards to the family laws, in early 2016 the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) was updated to reflect some slight, yet useful, changes that are helpful to note.

Previously, the main responsibility of caring for the child was referred to as “custody” of the child. As of January 1, 2016, we now refer to child custody as the “allocation of parenting responsibilities”. With the change in terminology, the state also took the common parenting responsibilities and separated them in order to allocate each responsibility to one or both parents. Another common term, “legal custody” was removed with this update and replaced with “decision-making responsibilities”. This particular term is in reference to religion, education, health, and extracurricular activities.

In this day and age, there are more and more fathers who feel that the laws and regulations surrounding allocation of parenting responsibilities (aka “custody”) and visitation lean heavily in the mother’s favor regardless of which parent would best benefit the child. However, particular aspects regarding these family law changes may take away some concern you have when entering in the decision to battle for visitation and / or custody of your child.

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Posted on in Child Custody

evaluator, Aurora family law attorneyWhen you are involved in a dispute regarding parental responsibilities or parenting time, it can difficult for the court to determine an ideal resolution. While judges and attorneys are well-versed in the law, they may not have such a clear picture of your family’s unique situation. The documents and evidence that you and the other parent present during the proceedings can provide a glimpse into your life, but are often not enough, especially if one or both of you are not being totally honest. In such cases, the court may order a professional evaluator to review your family’s circumstances.

What Will an Evaluator Do?

An appointed custody evaluator may be utilized to help the court develop an understanding of how each of you is equipped to provide for your child. The evaluator may visit interview each parent and the child, visit each parent’s home, and gather information that will help the court in making a decision regarding the child’s best interests. He or she is required by law to prepare a comprehensive report documenting the data collected as well as his or her conclusions and recommendations about how the court should decide.

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parenting time, Aurora family law attorneyIf you are divorced or separated from your child’s other parent, you may face a number of challenges related to exercising your parental rights. It is often difficult for couples who have gone their separate ways to see eye-to-eye regarding their children, but that does not mean one parent is any less important than the other. Under Illinois law, you have a number of legal rights involving your child that cannot be taken from you without due process.

Parental Responsibilities

The Illinois legislature recently overhauled the understanding of child custody in the state, refocusing the law on the allocation of parental responsibilities rather than statuses and titles. Parents are no longer awarded sole or joint custody, and neither party assumes the title of custodial or non-custodial parent. Instead, each parent is assigned authority for specific responsibilities, which are divided into two primary considerations. The first is significant decision-making regarding the child, which includes education, health care, religious training, and extracurricular activities. The other involves each parent’s allocated parenting time, previously called visitation.

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parental alienation, DuPage County family lawyerThe FBI believes that most of the thousands of children who go missing every year are abducted by a parent, usually a parent who has not been granted primary custodial responsibilities. In a significant number of these cases, authorities believe that the abducting parent had help from a third party.

Faye Yager, who founded Children of the Underground in 1987, freely admits that her organization is one of these third parties. During its heyday in the early 1990s, the group stole names from the birth certificates of dead people, advised runaway parents and their children to “leave everything behind,” and concealed them in one of an estimated 1,000 safe houses. These parents (mostly women) were on the run from allegedly abusive current and former partners (mostly men) and the courts that supposedly turned a blind eye to their plights. The movement lost steam in 1998, when Ms. Yager faced 60 years in prison for alleged child kidnapping and child cruelty; the charges were eventually dropped when the children at issue returned to their father.

Although the 68-year-old activist is now semi-retired, the group recently made headlines again in Minnesota, where a mother and three other people were charged with hiding two girls from their custodial father for over two years.

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decision-making, DuPage County family law attorneyIf you are in the process of getting divorced or ending a relationship with your child’s other parent, you undoubtedly realize that the road ahead is likely to be a tough one. Even in the most amicable of situations, making arrangement regarding your roles as co-parents can be extremely challenging. There are many considerations that go into developing a workable parenting plan, of course, but certain elements are generally recognized as being among the most important. The authority over such aspects of the child’s life are known under the law as significant decision-making responsibilities, and they represent a major portion of any co-parenting agreement.

Formerly Legal Custody

For many years, the state of Illinois addressed parenting roles in terms of physical and legal custody. Physical custody referred to a parent’s access to the child. In most cases, a parent would be granted at least shared physical custody of the child, meaning the child would be able to spend in the home of both parents on some type of rotating basis. Legal custody, by comparison, referred to the authority of the parents to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. This was allocated in one of a couple ways: legal custody could be granted to one parent in a sole custody arrangement, or shared between both parents in a joint custody agreement.

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order modification, review, Illinois family law attorneyAs 2015 draws to a close, now is a good time to take a fresh look at the orders in place related to your divorce. Most commonly, these include arrangements for child custody or parental responsibilities, child support, and spousal maintenance. Life moves very quickly, and it is important to be sure that your court-ordered rights and responsibilities continue to appropriately match your situation.

Order Modifications

With very few exceptions, any family law order entered by the court is subject review and modification should such changes be warranted. The laws governing order modification typically require the person seeking a modification to demonstrate the need for reconsideration due to a significant change in circumstances. This type of change may include a dramatic increase or decrease in income, a remarriage, death of a family member, and any other event that could directly impact the appropriateness of an existing order.

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Posted on in Visitation

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

Changes in Child Custody Laws

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

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Making determinations about child custody is a difficult matter for even the most training judges. That’s why, in some situations, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem, attorney for the child, or child representative to represent the interests of the child or children. If parents cannot reach an agreement with regard to child custody with one another or through their divorce attorneys, a guardian ad litem may be appointed. In other situations, the court might recommend the appointment of an attorney for the child or a child representative.

In Illinois, the guardian ad litem must be a licensed attorney per statute guidelines. The GAL is responsible for investigating the case and generating a report with all necessary information. This report is then presented to the court with a recommendation for custody. Either parent will retain the right to cross-examine the GAL and none of the communication had with a guardian ad litem in the fulfillment of his or her duties is considered privileged.

An attorney for the child is actually legal representation for the minor individual or individuals. In this scenario, the same privileges that exist in a normal attorney-client relationship are enjoyed by the child. The attorney can file pleadings and carry out other litigation-related duties, too. In most cases, an attorney for the child will be appointed when the minor child is older and may be able to better understand the difficult situation unfolding around him or her.

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A Pennsylvania woman, whose newborn was taken from her because of an alleged failed drug test, recently settled a lawsuit against Lawrence County, PA child welfare agency and Jameson Hospital, located in New Castle, PA.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, who filed the lawsuit for Elizabeth Mort in April 2010, announced that Mort settled the suit for $143,500.

According to a report in Yahoo News, Mort had eaten a poppy seed bagel shortly before she went into labor and went to Jameson Hospital to deliver her daughter. A routine blood test administered to Mort upon being admitting showed a false positive for opiates in her system. This information was forwarded to Lawrence County child welfare agency and they showed up at Mort’s house and with an emergency protective custody order removed her three-day old infant.

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The adult children and siblings of “American Top 40” host Casey Kasem have taken to the media to share their heartache and frustration over not being allowed to visit or speak with the beloved 81 year-old radio personality.

Kasem suffers from advanced Parkinson’s Disease and according to his family, his wife, actress Jean Kasem, has shut the family completely out of their father’s life for the past three months. She won’t answer any of their phone calls and when they show up at their father’s home to visit him, Jean Kasem turns them away.

Out of frustration, the family recently staged a protest in front of the Kasem home. His three adult children, along with his brother and close friends stood in front of their father’s estate with protest signs that read, “Jean, why won’t you let me see Dad?”, “Why?”, “Casey, we are your voice now” and “Casey we love you!”

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LauraIf your divorce and child custody case involves the appointment of a guardian ad litem, it’s important to remember this is another adult appointed to represent the best interests of the children. In some situations, guardians ad litem are a critical component of how the judge structures a custody decision. Guardians ad litem are responsible for gathering evidence, reviewing the facts, and interacting with children and other parties to make a child custody recommendation. Interacting appropriately with the guardian ad litem may be important for the outcome of your child custody case, so always approach the situation with respect, regardless of how you feel about the other parent.

If either party requests the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL), judges will usually approve this request. The GAL reports to the judge what he or she believes to be in the best interests of the children, so do not take this opportunity to overwhelm the GAL with information about your case, particularly if that information involves bashing the other parent. When GALs are appointed, you will generally split the cost for their services with the other parent.

Comply with all requests for information and meetings with the GAL. Being professional and responsive can go a long way in your child custody case. Certainly, too much communication can be taken the wrong way by a GAL, and you must remember that you will pay for that person’s time to review and respond to all your information, too. Always address emails appropriately and read them out loud to ensure they sound professional.

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Child custody disputes often turn on the legal rights of parents. Parental rights are important and Illinois has a whole act dedicated to parental rights and obligations.

RigsPursuant to the Illinois Parentage Act, every child has the right to emotional, mental, physical and monetary support by his or her parents. Before such rights exist, however, the Illinois Parentage At requires the existence of a parent-child relationship, which it defines as “the legal relationship existing between a child and the natural or adoptive parents, incident to which the law confers or imposes rights, privileges, duties, and obligations. It includes the mother and child relationship and the father and child relationship.” Once established, these rights and obligations do not depend on the marital status of the parents, i.e., the parents do not have to be married to each other or anyone else, nor on the age of either parent, i.e., parents who are still minors are going to be liable for support obligations. One can establish a parent child relationship either presumptively or by express consent. For fathers, a presumption of paternity exists when: (1) he and the mother are or have been married to each other and the child is born or conceived during such marriage; (2) after the child's birth, he and the mother have married each other, and he is named, with his written consent, as the child's father on the child's birth certificate; or (3) he and the child's natural mother have signed an acknowledgment of paternity. The presumption of a parental relationship established under (1) and (2) above can only be rebutted by a showing of “clear and convincing” evidence to the contrary, which usually means an admission or DNA test stating that the man is not the natural parent. Independently of how parental relationships are created, they can impose obligations and award privileges that will follow someone for a long time to come. If your parental rights are being challenged, consult an experienced Illinois family law attorney to discuss your options.

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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