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


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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? 


Common Issues in Illinois High Asset Divorces

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Oswego high asset divorce attorney

When you are planning for a divorce and know that you own substantial assets with your spouse, it is important to have an experienced Aurora high-asset divorce attorney on your side who can advocate for your rights from start to finish of your divorce case. To be sure, high asset divorces often give rise to certain complications that do not come up in divorces where the spouses own assets worth significantly less money, or in divorce cases where the spouses earn relatively ordinary incomes. Below are some of the most common issues that arise in Illinois high asset divorces. 

Valuing and Appraising Complex Assets

High value assets in a divorce can be notoriously difficult to value, particularly when the assets are complex or unique. For example, if you and your spouse own an art collection and all or part of the collection will be classified as marital property and subject to division, the market value of the collection likely will shift over time (and potentially significantly), and it may be difficult to determine the market value at the time of the divorce. In such cases, it may be necessary to work with an expert appraiser who can properly assess the market value.


Geneva divorce attorney hidden assets

When you get a divorce, you and your spouse are tasked with the job of determining how your assets will be distributed between the two of you. In the state of Illinois, the law says that you must distribute any and all marital assets in an equitable manner, which may not always equate to an equal manner. There are a variety of factors that are taken into consideration when making decisions as to how property and debts are allocated, with the main goal to give each spouse the fair amount of the marital estate with all things considered. Unfortunately, this can lead some people to seek drastic measures to keep certain assets from their spouse’s possession. The most common way this is done during a contested divorce is by attempting to conceal these assets during the discovery process.

Taking a Closer Look at Your Finances

When your spouse is hiding assets from you, the allocation of your marital assets and debts is not nearly as equitable as it should be. Some people may not even know or have any suspicion that their spouse is hiding anything from them. For others, they may know of a certain asset that is not being reported or notice something else suspicious in the financial records. Here are the most common ways people attempt to hide their assets:


DuPage County divorce attorney

In most cases, you might assume that there is really no moment to decide between an amicable divorce and a contested divorce when you and your spouse are ending your marriage. If you are amicable with one another, it will be uncontested; if you are argumentative with one another, it will be contested. However, it may not be that simple if you and your spouse choose to weigh your options and compromise to decide what is best. For instance, if you are following through with a contested divorce, the divorce process can be complicated, complex, and challenging, not to mention expensive. However, amicable divorces are not always perfect either since their uncontested nature might leave major issues unaddressed that could be troublesome later on down the road, whether it involves child custody, property division, or other issues. In that sense, you and your spouse must be very thoughtful and deliberative in your decisions regarding a divorce. Below are some tips for how to approach this important decision.

3 Things to Consider When Determining the Type of Divorce in Illinois

For many people, it will be obvious as to whether an uncontested or contested divorce is the proper pathway to dissolving the marriage, but other couples might find it advantageous to discuss the two options further with each other, reaching a compromise of sorts prior to their Illinois divorce. Here is why:


North Aurora divorce attorney

Divorce is a difficult subject, no matter your age. Whether you are 3 or 23, watching your parents go through a divorce can be a stressful experience. Many parents tough it out for years or even decades in unhappy marriages for this very reason, thinking they are saving their children from heartache if they wait to get divorced until they are older. Unfortunately, in many situations, staying together for the sake of the children actually tends to do more harm than good. 

Negative Impact of Putting off the Inevitable 

Even though it may seem as if it would be better for your children to grow up with both parents living in the household, the conflict between parents can be more detrimental than splitting time between parents. If you are contemplating getting a separation or divorce and you have children, here are a few of the long-term consequences that staying together for the kids can have:


North Aurora divorce attorney visitation

When a couple has made the decision that it is time to divorce, it can be a difficult process for the entire family. There are many things that the couple will need to adjust to, but there are also many things that the family members will need to adapt to as well. One of the biggest changes that is often difficult for many families is dealing with change in the day-to-day life of the child. Child custody, now referred to as parenting time, is allocated to each parent, typically in an equal or near-equal manner. In some cases, though not always, individuals other than the child’s parents are able to petition for visitation rights with the child.

Individuals Permitted to File a Petition for Visitation

Not everyone is legally entitled to visitation rights with a child. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), there are only specific people who are able to submit a petition for visitation. These people can include step-parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or siblings of the child. Visitation will only be given to non-parents if the petitioner can successfully argue that the child’s well-being has been negatively affected by the denial of the visitation and that the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health has suffered because of it. A non-parent can file for visitation if the child’s parent unreasonably denies visitation and at least one of the following situations is true:


Kane County divorce attorney child support

Just as the famous saying states, “It takes two to tango,” it takes two people to create a child, so it is only fair that those two people are also responsible for financially providing for that child for the next 18 years. The formula that is used to calculate monthly child support payments takes into account a variety of factors, including both parents’ incomes, how much parenting time each parent has, and whether or not either parent has any other spousal support or child support obligations. Monthly child support payments are typically paid from the person with the smaller share of parenting time to the person with the larger share of parenting time and are used to help pay for basic living expenses in raising the child. However, most divorced or unmarried parents know that typical child support payments do not cover all of the expenses that a child can incur each month. 

Expenses Not Included In Monthly Child Support

In Illinois, the parents of a minor child are required to financially provide for the child and ensure he or she has clothing, food, toys, and everything else needed to be healthy and happy. The monthly child support order helps to partially provide these basic necessities, but there are other expenses above and beyond typical support that should be addressed in your support order and parenting plan. These can include but are not limited to the following:


Oswego divorce attorney

Across the United States, hundreds of thousands of couples get divorced each year, with more than 20,000 divorces being granted to couples who are residents of the state of Illinois. Most of these divorces are not settled in a courtroom, but rather through negotiations between the individuals themselves or their attorneys. However, there are always certain situations in which avoiding the courtroom is impossible for one reason or another. Litigated divorces can become quite contentious and intense, especially if you and your partner disagree on important issues such as child-related concerns and financial matters. If you and your partner end up in front of a judge, you may find that testimony from an expert witness is an effective way of strengthening your case. 

Expert Witnesses and Divorce Litigation

The role of an expert witness in any trial is to help the judge and the jury understand specific information that they otherwise would not be able to understand without a specialized education and/or background. In family law cases, expert testimony is not always needed and is not always permitted, either. If the judge determines that an expert witness is not necessary, he or she will not permit the witness’ testimony to be entered as evidence.

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


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

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