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


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

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Geneva family law attorney paternity

When a child is born to parents who are unmarried, the father does not yet have any legal rights to the child, unlike the mother. Many parents, especially fathers, do not realize that there are certain steps that they must take to gain their legal parental rights and to ensure the paternity of their child is established. Until the paternity of a child is established, no orders pertaining to parenting time, decision-making responsibilities, or child support will be entered. Paternity can be established in a variety of ways, but the situation is not always as easy as just completing paperwork. A knowledgeable paternity lawyer will be able to help make the process a little easier.

Uncontested Declaration of Paternity

Before a father can establish his legal rights, he must first ensure that his paternity is established over his child. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but the easiest way to establish paternity is by using a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. This form can be filled out right in the hospital after the child is born and only requires both the mother's and the father’s signatures to be valid. Once you sign the VAP, you are able to have the father’s name put on the child’s birth certificate.


Batavia divorce attorney debt asset division

When you and your spouse begin to divide your assets during your divorce, issues can often arise over who gets to keep what. During the excitement of determining what happens to your assets, many couples forget the other part of the division process -- figuring out what happens to your debts. Any debt that you or your spouse took on while you were married is considered marital debt, meaning both you and your spouse are responsible for repaying it, even after a divorce. While the idea of figuring out which debts you will be responsible for may seem unappealing, it is a crucial and required step in the property division process.  

Marital Assets and Debts Are Divided Equitably

In the state of Illinois, any asset that is declared to be marital property is divided in an “equitable” manner, rather than simply just splitting it in half. The same idea is applied to marital debts; any debt that you and your spouse may have incurred during the marriage will be subject to equitable division. Some of the most common debts that married couples have include things such as mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, student loans, and credit card debt. To ensure assets and debts are actually distributed in an equitable manner, there are a variety of factors that a judge looks at prior to making the determination, which can include a spouse’s current income and earning capacity, and whether one spouse sacrificed being in the workforce to stay home to run the household and take care of the children.


DuPage County family contested divorce attorney

Going through any type of divorce can be exhausting, both emotionally and financially. When a divorce is contested, meaning you and your spouse do not agree on the issues pertaining to your divorce, it can greatly add to the stress of the divorce. Even though it is important for anyone going through a divorce to practice self-care, it is especially important for those going through a contentious divorce to take time to manage their stress so it does not take a toll on their health. If you are going through a contentious divorce, there are certain things you can do to prepare yourself and help make the divorce process go smoother. Here are a few tips to help you cope with the stress of a contentious divorce:

  • Try to find common ground. Your divorce process will be much easier if you and your spouse can find at least one goal in common. Finding a common goal can help you and your spouse stay on track when negotiating and working together to find solutions to your issues.


Geneva divorce attorney hidden assets

When you are subject to an order from the court, you are legally required to abide by the rules of that order. If you do not abide by those rules, you could be considered to be in contempt of court. According to Illinois law, contempt of court comes in two forms -- civil contempt and criminal contempt. Both are very similar and could arise from a divorce or child support case in some situations. Both child support and spousal maintenance exist for a reason -- to help pay for each one’s living expenses. It can be frustrating when a spouse does not pay their court-ordered support, especially when you depend on that income to live. If your ex-spouse does not pay their court-ordered child or spousal support, they could be held in criminal contempt and subject to various penalties, the most common of which is wage garnishment.

How Does Wage Garnishment Work?

If your ex-spouse is not complying with the terms of your child support or spousal support order and is behind on payments, you have the right to petition the court to garnish their wages for the unpaid amount. If the court agrees to do this, you must then notify your ex’s employer of the garnishment order, how much should be withheld from each paycheck for current support and past support, the total amount that must be withheld, and any other pertinent information, such as payment requirements for healthcare enrollment. Up to 50 percent of your ex’s net wages can be garnished to satisfy support orders, but in some cases, that amount could be up to 60 percent.


Batavia divorce attorney asset division

One of the most valuable assets in many divorces is retirement accounts. In many cases, these accounts can be worth tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, making them a point of contention for some spouses, especially those who are close to retirement. The process of going through a divorce can be difficult emotionally, but it can also be hard on the wallet, too. For couples who are over the age of 50 or who are nearing divorce, your retirement plans can be of particular importance when it comes to how your divorce will affect your finances. In most cases, there are things that you can do to protect your retirement plans from being compromised.

Protecting Your Retirement Plans During Divorce

There are many decisions that you must make during your divorce. Many of these decisions have the capacity to alter your plans that you may already have in place for your retirement, which is why it is extremely important to give all of your decisions careful consideration during your divorce. Here are a few things you can do to protect your retirement plans:


Geneva gray divorce attorney

There are a number of well-touted statistics that are commonly thrown around when it comes to divorce. As we all know, around half of all marriages will end in divorce. Even though the divorce rate is decreasing, the divorce rate of those who are over the age of 50 is actually rising and has been since the 1990s. The Pew Research Center reports that the divorce rate for adults over the age of 50 has nearly doubled since the ‘90s, while the divorce rate for adults over the age of 65 has nearly tripled. Many people are aware of the impact that a divorce can have on a child when they live in a household with parents going through a divorce. What many people do not realize is that many of the older couples who are getting these divorces have adult children who are greatly affected by their parents’ divorces. 

Tips to Help Your Adult Child Through Your Divorce

Many times -- both parent and child -- think that handling a divorce will be much easier on the child when they are an adult. But just because a person is an adult does not mean they cannot be affected if their parents decide to split up. This can be just as distressing to a person as an adult as when they were a child. As a parent, it can be heartbreaking to see your child in the kind of emotional distress that comes with watching your parents split up, but there are things you can do to help. Here are a few things you can do to help your child cope with your divorce:


Kane County Divorce and Family Law attorney

Even though social media has not been around for a very long time, it has found a significant place in our society. For many people, social media plays a significant role in their lives, allowing them to communicate with friends and family members in ways that they may not have been able to otherwise. However, social media can also be detrimental to relationships and can cause other issues if you decide to get a divorce. A skilled divorce lawyer will be able to guide you throughout your divorce and can keep you informed about your social media use.

Your Actions on Social Media Can Affect Nearly Every Area of Your Divorce

Your social media use can have a big impact on your divorce proceedings as a whole. A plethora of issues can be affected by what you and others post on social media, including issues such as spousal support, asset division, parenting time, and child custody. For example, a spousal support and asset division order could be affected by a photo posted of extravagant purchases that a spouse made after they made claims that they did not have the funds to do so.


Kendall County Prenuptial Agreement AttorneyWhen you finally get engaged to the person of your dreams, it can feel like you are living in a fairytale. The last thing you would want to think about is what would happen if you and your spouse were to call it quits, but the time during your engagement is the perfect time to do just that. Many spouses come to the conclusion that a prenuptial agreement is a good and fair option to allow both spouses to protect their assets coming into the marriage. While a prenuptial agreement will not eliminate conflict from a divorce entirely, it can greatly reduce the amount of tension and disagreement surrounding certain issues. Here are a few reasons why you should consider getting a prenuptial agreement before you get married:

  1. You Can Designate How Specific Assets Will Be Handled

The main and most basic feature of a prenuptial agreement is your ability to state how you want your assets and debts to be distributed during your divorce. If you and your spouse take your divorce to court, the judge is going to follow Illinois law and use the factors outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) and distribute your assets and debts in an “equitable manner.” In your prenuptial agreement, you can choose how you want to distribute your debts and assets. You can also clearly state which property is marital property and which property is nonmarital property and not subject to division.

  1. You Can Protect Your Business

If you own a business before you get married, getting a prenuptial agreement can be extremely beneficial. While Illinois law states that your business would be considered nonmarital property if you owned it prior to the marriage, any profit you make from the business, or income you earn from the business and contribute to the household becomes marital property. A prenuptial agreement can ensure your business and its growth are protected from the asset division process.


Kendall, County Family Law Divorce AttorneyFor many people, going through a divorce is a bittersweet experience. However, going through a divorce is also an experience that requires a good deal of level-headed decision-making, which does not always go hand-in-hand with times of stress. While there are many ways to get a divorce, one of the biggest decisions you will have to make is whether or not you hire a lawyer to assist you with your divorce process. Some people are attracted to the extremely low price tag of a “do-it-yourself” or “DIY” divorce, as the only fees you pay are filing fees and court costs. However, getting a divorce is a very complex process and the decisions you make can end up affecting nearly every part of your life.

Pertinent Reasons to Work With a Divorce Attorney

Technically, you are not required to have a lawyer when you file for divorce. It is completely legal for you to fill the forms out yourselves, file them, and appear before the judge in the final prove-up just the two of you. However, doing so could result in one of the biggest mistakes of your life. Hiring an attorney when you get a divorce is a smart move in protecting your rights and ensuring the process is done correctly. Here are a few other benefits to having the support of an attorney during your divorce:

  • They are intimately familiar with family law and can help you protect your rights during the divorce process.


North Aurora Family Law Attorney

Many couples who are having marital issues often turn to divorce as a solution. However, divorce is a process that should only be used after a couple has given it plenty of thought and they feel as if they have exhausted all of their other options. In some cases, couples may not even realize that there are options other than filing for divorce right away. The state of Illinois also allows couples to file for legal separation instead of divorce if they wish. Many people are unaware of the process and benefits that a legal separation can have, especially for couples who are not yet ready to make the permanent step into divorce. It can be confusing for many couples to determine whether or not they should file for a legal separation. Here are some of the most common questions that couples have about legal separation in Illinois:

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

In many ways, legal separation and divorce are very similar. Both processes require spouses to come to agreements about various issues, such as property and debt division and child custody if there are minor children from the marriage. Other important issues, such as spousal maintenance and child support are also addressed during a legal separation, just as they are during a divorce. The main difference between a legal separation and a divorce is the outcome of the process. At the end of a legal separation, you and your spouse will still be married, even if you are separated. At the end of the divorce process, you and your spouse will no longer be legally tied to one another.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Legal Separation?

Though it is not a requirement that you retain an attorney to get a legal separation, it is highly recommended that you do so. Creating a marital separation agreement can be just as complicated and time-consuming as creating a divorce agreement, which is why it can be easier with assistance from a lawyer.

Are There Benefits to Getting a Legal Separation?

For some couples, getting a legal separation can have great benefits, especially when compared to getting a divorce. For many couples, a legal separation is a useful stepping stone to divorce, especially if they are unsure that a divorce is what they truly want. A legal separation can be a way for some people to gain the clarity that they need to make informed decisions about their marriage. Other couples may see a legal separation as a good alternative to divorce for other reasons, such as being able to stay on a spouse’s health insurance plan or to get full Social Security benefits.


Batavia divorce attorney asset division

One of the biggest areas of concern for couples during a divorce is the asset division process. Many people have questions about how their property will be divided upon divorce, especially as it pertains to expensive assets such as a home or a small business. Like most states, Illinois only considers the property that each spouse acquired during the marriage to be the property that is subject to division during divorce. In most cases, determining what is marital and nonmarital property is fairly cut-and-dried; however, there are situations in which nonmarital property can lose its individual identity. 

Distinguishing Between Marital and Nonmarital Property

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that only marital property is subject to division during divorce. Marital property includes any assets or debts that either spouse acquired during the marriage, with a few exceptions. These exceptions include:


North Aurora family law attorney child custody

Even under the best of circumstances, divorce is difficult and stressful. While it is true that going through a divorce with an agreeable spouse can be much less taxing, both emotionally and financially, any divorce has the potential to become a high-conflict divorce. This is especially true when domestic violence is involved in a divorce, which is, unfortunately, not all that uncommon. Exposure to domestic violence and abusive behaviors have been proven to negatively impact children and even increase the chances that the children will exhibit abusive behaviors in adulthood. Because of this, Illinois takes accusations of domestic violence very seriously, especially as the situation pertains to child-related issues such as parenting time.

Determining Parenting Time With an Abusive Spouse 

Every decision a judge makes in Illinois is done after carefully considering all factors pertaining to the child’s best interest. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the judge assigned to a case will make decisions about parenting time based on the presumption that spending time with both parents is in the child’s best interest. If there is abuse or domestic violence present in the household, you need to be sure to bring that to the judge’s attention so the court can address the issue appropriately.


North Aurora divorce attorney

In many divorces, there is some level of contention or resistance between the spouses. In some cases, this can manifest in the form of simple disagreements during negotiations. In other cases, this contention stems from a combative and in some cases, potentially even narcissistic spouse. High-conflict divorces are not only stressful for the entire family, but they also turn into legal marathons that require a lot of time and can end up costing quite a bit of money. If you are contemplating divorce and you suspect your spouse may be difficult during the divorce process, there are things that you can do to try to keep your divorce as amicable as possible.

Is Your Spouse a High-Conflict Person?

Before you even begin the divorce process, you should have a good idea of whether or not your spouse is going to be agreeable during the divorce. In most cases, the spouses who act the worst during divorce already have underlying personality or mood disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder. Classic signs and symptoms of a high-conflict personality include:


DuPage County family law attorney divorce

Getting a divorce can feel like you are running a marathon with hurdles and other obstacles in your way the entire time. Even those who are the most prepared going into a divorce can come out on the other side feeling drained in nearly every way -- emotionally, financially, and physically. It can come as a sigh of relief once the judge finally signs on the dotted line of your divorce decree, but that does not mean that your work is done. Now that you and your spouse are legally divorced, the work of ensuring that the terms of the divorce judgment go into effect begins. 

Update Documents if Your Name Has Changed

For many people, women especially, taking their partner’s last name is a symbolic way to show the creation of their family and their commitment to their spouse. However, many people choose to change their last name back to what it was prior to the marriage after their divorce. If you have changed your name, you should be sure to update all of your important documents and request official copies of them, such as your driver’s license, credit cards, medical insurance, and more.


Batavia family law attorney paternity

When you are not married and you have a child in Illinois, establishing the paternity of your child can be more complicated than it is for a couple who is married. When a couple is married at the time the child is born, the man to whom the mother is married is presumed to be the child’s legal father. When a couple is not married, there are extra steps that must be taken to establish the paternity of their child. For many people, establishing the paternity of their child is a sentimental act, but it also carries many legal benefits for everyone, including the mother and father. For instance, fathers in Illinois do not have any rights to parenting time or parental decision-making responsibilities unless their paternity has been established to their child. Paternity cases can become complicated, but an experienced Illinois paternity lawyer can guide you through the process.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

When you establish the paternity of a child, this change can affect not only the child but also the mother and father, too. In many cases, parents may not think of some of the benefits of making the legal connection between the child and his or her father. Here are some of the biggest benefits that establishing paternity provides:


Geneva gray divorce attorney

Of all of the situations that divorced couples are in when they finally call it quits, the circumstances in a gray divorce may be the most bittersweet. A gray divorce, also known as a late-life divorce, typically involves a couple who is over the age of 50. These couples have often been together for many years, if not decades, making the situation that much more difficult for everyone involved. However, divorce is sometimes the best choice that you can make later in life. The number of gray divorces in the United States has been on the rise in recent years and the gray divorce rate has actually doubled since 1990. There are many things that can complicate a gray divorce, but property division issues can cause some of the biggest problems during a divorce later in life.

Illinois Property Division

It is a general consensus these days that a divorce agreement that you and your spouse reach from working together is more favorable over a divorce decree that must be handed down by a judge. Sometimes, however, working with your spouse to reach an agreement may be impossible. If your case must be settled by a judge, he or she will be bound by Illinois law and will follow the property division rules set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). This means that all of your marital property, which is any property or debt that was acquired during the marriage, is subject to division and must be divided in an equitable manner.


Oswego divorce attorney child custody

Most people will agree that when it comes to a child’s best interests, his or her parents typically know what would best fit the child, better than anyone else. However, when parents get divorced, it is not always feasible to expect them to work together and come up with a parenting plan that they both agree on. Many times, marriages have deteriorated to the point that the parents are unable to effectively or respectfully communicate with one another, even for the sake of their children. As stressful and difficult as the divorce process is for you, it is just as, if not more stressful for your children. Child custody disputes are not uncommon, especially in high-conflict divorces. However, exposure to the conflict has been shown to be detrimental to children. If you anticipate difficulty from your spouse when it comes time to negotiate your parenting time and parental decision-making responsibilities, there are certain things you should try to spare your children from.

Do Not Speak Unkindly to One Another

Even though you may feel less than friendly toward your soon-to-be ex, that is still your child’s other parent. They still love both of their parents and do not want to hear either parent saying mean or negative comments about the other, as it can be hurtful to them too.


North Aurora family law attorney child support

When a child’s parents are not in a relationship with one another, it is very likely that some form of parenting agreement has been created to lay down the terms of the co-parenting relationship. In many cases, the parenting agreement will also include the terms of child support that the parent with the least amount of parenting time is required to pay to the other parent. However, not all parenting agreements contain information about child support orders. Whatever the reason for the absence of the child support order at the time the parents split, some people may not know that the state of Illinois allows parents to collect retroactive child support in some situations.

Retroactive and Back Child Support

Once entered, child support orders are enforceable by law, meaning you face consequences if you do not obey the order. If a parent does not make the required monthly payments, this means they have become delinquent on their order. They still are required to make the scheduled monthly payments, in addition to making back payments for any support payments they missed.


Oswego divorce attorney asset division

When you and your spouse were first married, you made vows to always be faithful to one another. It can be extremely difficult to learn that your spouse has been deceptive about certain things, even if they were about topics such as finances. In a previous blog, we discussed the indicators of potential hidden assets and the importance of uncovering them for the sake of the marital estate. Uncovering hidden assets can be difficult work if you are not trained in doing so, which is why you should seek help from a professional if you suspect your spouse has not been completely truthful. Forensic accountants are professionals who are trained to look for things like hidden assets when collaborating on a divorce case and can be instrumental in helping you ensure you get your fair share of the marital estate.

Your Forensic Accountant at Work

In a contested divorce, before any decisions are made about property, assets, or debts, both parties will go through what is called “discovery.” This is simply the process of exchanging information between both parties and their lawyers prior to beginning negotiations. If you have a forensic accountant on your team, he or she will take the information given to you by your spouse and look over it with a fine-toothed comb.


St. Charles parenting time attorney

Whether you are going through a divorce in DuPage County and have minor children from your marriage, or you share minor children with a partner and you have decided to separate, you will need to learn more about how Illinois law handles child custody issues. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), Illinois courts no longer award child custody to one or both parents. Further, courts no longer use the terms legal custody and physical custody to describe the relationship between a parent and a minor child. Instead, courts allocate parental responsibilities.

According to the IMDMA, there are two different types of parental responsibilities: significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. What is the difference between them, and how do courts allocate them? 

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


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

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