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

630-409-8184

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

Yorkville Office By Appointment

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DuPage County divorce lawyerFor many couples going through a divorce, their biggest worry is how it will affect their children. Most people think that the only children who will be affected by divorce are those who are still young and living with their parents. In reality, children of all ages can still feel the effects of their parents’ divorce, even when they are adults. When parents who have adult children get a divorce, it can be particularly difficult for the whole family, because these marriages have typically lasted for years, if not decades. If you have older children, and you are going through a divorce, it is important to be sensitive to their feelings and needs. Here are a few tips to follow to help your adult children during this family transition:

Tell All Your Children at the Same Time

Once you and your spouse have made the decision to end your marriage, it is usually best to tell all of your kids at the same time. You should schedule a specific time and place to inform your children together in a family meeting. It is never a good idea to confide in only one child first because it would be unfair to expect him or her to keep that secret until you are ready to tell everyone.

Acknowledge and Validate Their Feelings

One of the most important things you can do for your adult children during your divorce is to acknowledge their feelings and let them know that their emotions and thoughts are valid. In many cases, the way older children react to a divorce can be overlooked or deemed not as important as younger kids’ reactions.

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DuPage County parenting plan lawyerChange can be hard for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. When it comes to divorce, children will typically experience a lot of change in a short period of time. Their living arrangements will change dramatically, they will not be spending as much time with either parent anymore, and in some situations, they may even have to adapt to new routines. All of this change can be hard on children, because they depend on stability and routine so much. This is a known fact, which is why the state of Illinois requires every divorcing couple who has children to create a parenting plan before they can finalize their divorce.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a legal agreement that contains information about how two parents will take care of their children once they are separated. In Illinois, a parenting plan will contain information about how parenting time is divided, along with how parental responsibilities are allocated. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains the basic elements that all parenting plans must include in order to be approved.

Elements of a Parenting Plan

The courts encourage spouses to come to an agreement on the parenting plan. Most of the time, if couples agree on the parenting plan, they are more likely to be satisfied with the contents of the plan and actually follow the agreement. If they cannot agree, they must submit their own parenting plans to the court, and a judge will make the final determinations about the parenting plan. At a minimum, every parenting plan should contain the following:

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DuPage County divorce child issues lawyerIf you think your divorce is stressful for you, it can be even more taxing on your children. For kids, their parents' divorce is a very confusing and tumultuous time. While it is completely normal for children to be sad, uncertain, or even angry when their parents are going through a divorce, it is important for you to understand that there are things you can do to make the change somewhat easier. Divorce is a process, not only for you but also for your children. Your job as a parent is to help your children through this process so they are able to come out on the other side stronger and more well-rounded individuals.

Breaking the News

Many parents do not know how to talk to their children about divorce, much less how to break the news to them. The way you first tell your kids about your divorce can set the tone for the entire healing process. You should tailor your conversation to your children; if they are younger, it is best to keep the message simple and sweet. If you have older children, you can provide a little more detail, but it is still important to only share the information they need to know.

Helping Them Grieve

For children, a divorce can be a big emotional loss. Your job as a parent is to help your children work through their emotions and go through the grieving process. You should listen to what your children have to say and the worries that they share with you. Acknowledge and validate their feelings by letting them be open and honest with you. Reassure your kids that you and their other parent still love them and will always be there for them, even though you are no longer together as a couple.

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DuPage County collaborative divorce lawyerMaking the decision to get a divorce is never easy. For many people, it takes months or even years to come to the conclusion that a divorce is their best option. Once a couple has accepted the idea of ending their union, they do not want to regress by going through a contentious and drawn-out divorce. For some couples, a collaborative divorce is a solution that works best for them. A collaborative divorce is a dispute resolution process that takes place in conference rooms or lawyers’ offices, rather than in the courtroom. The collaborative divorce process offers many benefits that the traditional divorce process cannot offer, including:

Less Hostility

One of the benefits that a collaborative divorce offers is the possibility of a more civil, less hostile divorce process. In a litigated divorce, you and your spouse are likely to have much more contention and may not be able to come to an agreement on issues. This does not mean that you and your spouse will not disagree with one another or that the negotiations will be simple in the collaborative process. However, you and your spouse are working together to create solutions that will benefit everyone in a collaborative divorce.

Better Support System

In a traditional litigated divorce, the only people involved in the divorce process are typically you, your spouse, and each of your attorneys. In a collaborative divorce, you may have a more rounded and complete team of professionals who are there to guide you and your spouse through the proceedings. In addition to your attorneys and based on the needs of your family, you can also have assistance from specialists like a forensic accountant, a property appraiser, an estate planning individual, a divorce coach, a family wellness counselor, or a child psychologist.

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DuPage County division of assets lawyerMany people who get a divorce state that finances were the reason or at least played some part in the breakdown of the marriage. For those couples--and many other couples--the stress of money does not stop there. Many divorces are also quite contentious and filled with anxiety over the couple’s financial issues. Most couples have their assets intermingled in some way, and when they get divorced, they have to figure out how to separate them. Below are a few common financial issues that divorcing couples face and how best to deal with them.

Assessing Your Assets

Not all assets were created equally. Before you begin to do anything involving your finances, you need to understand them. Make a list of every asset you have. These can include:

  • Cash

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DuPage County property division attorneyDuring the asset division phase of your divorce, you and your spouse will decide which marital assets you each get to keep. What you may not realize is that you will also have to figure out who will be responsible for your debts. Any debt that you and your spouse jointly incurred during your marriage is considered marital debt. This means both you and your spouse will be responsible for repaying that debt after you are divorced. When it comes to dividing what you owe, things can become contentious, since debt is one of the few things in your divorce that you will not be fighting to keep.

Try to Be Debt Free Before You File

Creditors do not care what a divorce decree says. All they care about is being reimbursed. Even if your spouse was ordered to pay back a certain debt, if your name is on that account, and your spouse does not pay, you could be held responsible. The easiest way to prevent any issues arising from your debt is by not having any debt when you file for divorce. This is not a possibility for some, though you should still try to wipe out as much marital debt as possible before you file for divorce.

Secured and Unsecured Debts

The way you handle a particular debt depends on the type of debt it is. A secured debt is any debt that is secured by an asset, such as a house or a car. Since you do not fully own the house or car until the debt is paid off, the lender can take the asset from you if you become delinquent on the loan. Unsecured debt such as credit card debt is not secured by any assets, meaning the lender does not have the right to collateral for the debt.

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Aurora property division lawyerAs much as it is an emotional process, a divorce is also a legal process that is meant to separate you and your spouse from having anything lawfully in common. Like any legal proceeding, this can take time to complete, especially when it comes to the division of your assets. This is typically a point of contention between spouses when getting a divorce. When you are married, you and your spouse may have accumulated a lot of property together, but asset division deals with much more than just physical property. You must also divide things such as retirement funds, bank accounts, life insurance, and even any debts you and your spouse owe. The state of Illinois has a specific process for doing this, and it is important that you understand how your assets will be divided in the event a judge must intervene.

Distinguishing Between Marital and Non-Marital Property

In Illinois, only marital property and marital debt are subject to division. Marital property is any property, assets, or debts that were obtained during the marriage, except for the following:

  • Property given as a gift or that was inherited

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DuPage County gray divorce attorneyDivorce statistics are often misconstrued, and it can be difficult to determine what the true divorce rate is in the United States. One of the figures that most statisticians can settle on, however, is that the general divorce rate is declining, while the rate of divorce for those who are over the age of 50 is rising--and has been for the past couple of decades. A “gray divorce” is a term that is used when two people who are over the age of 50 decide to divorce. At that point in their lives, they have typically been married for decades, and they may have many more issues that need to be addressed, especially when it comes to finances. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, and you are over the age of 50, you should be aware of some of the differences that you may face compared to your younger counterparts.

Stakes Are Higher During Asset Division

When going through the process of dividing your marital assets, earning potential is something that becomes important. For couples who are in their 20s, 30s, or 40s, they still have plenty of earning potential. Couples who are divorcing in their 50s or later are close to retirement, if they have not already retired, meaning their income will be fixed, and their assets will not grow anymore. This makes the stakes higher when it comes to figuring out who gets what in the divorce.

Retirement Funds Become Extremely Important

Another thing that becomes a priority is figuring out how your retirement funds are distributed when you divorce after 50. If you are not yet retired, you will be soon, and you will need as much money as possible to live comfortably during retirement. If you are already retired, you will have to figure out how much of each spouse's retirement funds are left and how much you and your spouse are eligible to receive. You also have to keep in mind any tax considerations when making withdrawals from retirement accounts.

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DuPage County parenting time lawyer for right of first refusalThe relationship between a child and his or her parents is something that is crucial to the healthy emotional development of the child. The majority of parents want to be there for their child’s special moments and spend as much time with them as possible during their childhood. When parents are going through a divorce, the time spent with their child often becomes a highly contested issue upon which many parents cannot easily agree. Studies show that children do best when they form a bond with both their mother and father, which is why Illinois encourages parents to have shared parenting time. Something that is known as the right of first refusal (ROFR) can be a bonus for parents who split parenting time with their ex-spouses.

Illinois Parenting Time

In Illinois, the court strongly encourages parents to come to an agreement on parenting time schedules on their own. When parents both draft a personalized timetable and agree to it, they are more likely to adhere to the schedule. If they are unable to come up with a parenting plan, the court will make a decision as to how parenting time is allocated. Unless there is evidence that dual parenting time would be harmful to the child, the court will award visitation time to both parents.

What Is the Right of First Refusal?

If the court allocates parenting time, it will also determine whether or not to award the right of first refusal to either parent. The right of first refusal means that if one parent cannot care for the child during his or her designated parenting time, that parent must first offer the other parent the right to care for the child during that time. This right would apply in instances when the parent would seek substitute childcare for a significant period of time.

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DuPage County prenuptial agreement attorneyThe idea of planning for your divorce before you are even married can seem counterintuitive to many, unromantic to some, and just plain wrong to others. While nobody wants to admit it, the prospect of getting divorced is a very real one. Depending on the source, the divorce rate in the United States fluctuates between 40 and 50 percent. Although prenuptial agreements may still hold a negative stigma, they are becoming more popular than ever, for a couple of reasons. For one, the average age of marriage has increased dramatically from what it was just a couple of decades ago. People who are older tend to be more established and have more assets and property that they want to protect. If you are thinking about getting a prenuptial agreement, the following are a few ways it can benefit you and your spouse:

You Get to Choose How Your Property Is Divided

In a prenuptial agreement, you can spell out which specific property is given to whom in a divorce. This means you do not necessarily have to follow state laws on property division. Illinois divides marital property on an equitable basis, which does not necessarily mean equally. Judges use a specific list of factors to determine how property and debt are divided fairly. With a prenuptial agreement, you can divide your property as you see fit, and can also guarantee that certain assets, like family heirlooms or family pets, will stay with you.

You Can Protect Your Business

Another way prenuptial agreements can be beneficial is for protecting any businesses or professional practices that you own or may own in the future. If you state that your spouse has no right to any portion of your current or future business, then you maintain sole ownership, rather than having to split it. Under Illinois law, if you start a business while you are married, your spouse has a right to a portion of that business. Likewise, if you already have a business before you are married, your spouse is entitled to a portion of the profits or growth that accumulated during the marriage.

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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 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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DuPage County divorce lawyerDivorce is stressful for many reasons. Not only do you have various emotions running through your head, but you also have to deal with the financial aspect of the divorce. It has been estimated that a typical divorce can cost anywhere from $8,500 up to $100,000. The actual cost of your divorce will depend on a variety of factors, with some of the most influential factors being where you live, whether or not you have children, and your attorney’s hourly rate. With a price tag of at least a couple thousand dollars, it is not uncommon for some couples to have sticker shock when it comes to paying for their divorce. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of your Illinois divorce.

Figure Out Which Process You Want to Use

Before you even begin, you should know which type of divorce you want to use. Contrary to what many people may believe, traditional litigation is not the only way to get a divorce. You can also choose to go with a mediated divorce or a collaborative divorce. Each method of divorce has its advantages and disadvantages, but depending on your situation, a mediated or collaborative divorce may be able to save you both time and money.

Be Prepared With Organized Financial Records

Before you meet with your attorney to begin dividing your marital property, you should be sure you have all of your financial records organized and ready to go. Make sure your records are in order so your legal team can better understand your financial picture. Organizing your records yourself before a meeting saves you precious time for more important matters.

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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 divorce attorneyA common saying is “When one door closes, another door opens.” This is true in most life events, even divorce. Although divorce is the end of a marriage, it can also be a fresh start in life, providing the opportunity to find someone new and date again. The time between those doors can differ for everyone, but most people will eventually be open to another relationship after they divorce.

Dating again can be exciting, but it can also be stressful for your children. Depending on their age and level of maturity, they may or may not be able to understand why their parent has decided to start dating. Sometimes, new relationships can put stress on a family, but following the below guidelines can help you reduce anxiety and enjoy this next chapter in your life.

Do:

  • Talk with your ex before you introduce your partner to your children. Not only is this respectful, but it can also help keep the peace between all involved. Your ex has a right to know who will be spending time with your children. Be sure your ex is comfortable with the idea of introducing your children to your new partner. Sometimes, introducing your ex and your new partner can ease some of the tension everyone may be feeling.

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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 for 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 the 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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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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