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

Initial Consultations via ZOOM Available

Recent blog posts

kane county family law attorneyIllinois formerly considered any court-sanctioned time spent with a child as “visitation,” even if it was time with the child’s parents. Now, the time that parents spend with their children is called “parenting time,” and the term “visitation” is only used when a non-parent obtains a court order allowing them to spend time with a child. 

Generally, parents have total discretion when deciding who gets to visit their children and spend time with them. However, after parents get divorced, grandparents who previously played a large role in a child’s life may find themselves suddenly shut out. When this happens, it is possible to petition the court for the right to visit that child, but only when certain circumstances are met. 

Who Can Petition For a Right to Visit a Child in Illinois? 

Grandparents are not the only non-parental figures who can petition for the right to visit the child. Great-grandparents, step-parents, and siblings can also request the right to spend time with a child. Any person who is requesting visitation must prove the following: 

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aurora divorce lawyerWhen one or both members of a married couple decide to get a divorce, many issues must be resolved before the divorce can be finalized. How couples resolve these issues depends on their circumstances and their ability to get along. In the best of circumstances, couples will agree on most or all of the divorce issues and file for an uncontested divorce or even a joint simplified dissolution if there are no children involved. Couples who disagree on certain issues can pursue mediation or collaborative divorce, which generally has a very high success rate of helping spouses resolve their differences and agree to a divorce decree that is, if not perfect for everyone, at least mutually tolerable. When all else fails, or there are certain high-risk situations such as domestic violence, couples may need to pursue divorce litigation in court. A qualified Illinois divorce attorney can help determine which method makes the most sense for your situation and then help you create a roadmap for resolving divorce matters. 

What Do Spouses Need to Agree On Before the Divorce is Final? 

Although each couple’s circumstances will vary from case to case, certain issues must always be resolved. If couples do not have children, they will need to reach an agreement on the following matters: 

  • The division of debt and property - If couples signed an enforceable prenuptial agreement that addressed personal property or spousal maintenance before getting married, this will supersede state law when it comes to asset division. However, assets and debt accumulated during the marriage will still need to be divided in a way that is fair. 

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Oswego family law attorneyStaying in a marriage where physical or emotional violence is present eventually becomes unsustainable, and domestic violence is the primary cause for many divorces in Illinois. Because Illinois only allows “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce, rather than allocating fault to one spouse or the other, domestic violence cannot be grounds for divorce

However, that does not mean that the presence of domestic violence does not affect a divorce’s proceedings or its outcome. If you are experiencing domestic violence and are considering leaving your marriage, it is important to work with an Illinois divorce attorney who can help. 

Gathering Evidence

It is important to collect any information that proves domestic violence happened or continues to happen. This can be difficult and scary, and it is important to keep evidence safe where an abuser cannot find or destroy it. Police reports, text messages, videos, and voicemails may all be potential proof of domestic violence. An attorney can help you with evidence of domestic violence in your divorce case. 

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aurora divorce lawyerAlthough divorce trials make for great courtroom dramas, the truth is that very few divorces in Illinois go to trial. This is due to a concerted effort on the part of Illinois courts and judges who recognize that spouses and especially children are not benefited by the time, conflict, and expense involved in trial litigation. Many couples are ordered to exhaust other options, including pursuing mediation or collaborative divorce, for resolving their differences before a divorce case can move forward to a trial. 

However, it is not always possible for couples to agree. Furthermore, issues such as domestic violence can make conflict-resolution strategies impractical or even dangerous. In cases such as these, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, property division, and spousal maintenance may be resolved by a judge. 

What Happens During Divorce Litigation? 

One of the first steps in a divorce case is a process known as “discovery.” Discovery is a period during which attorneys gather and request facts and evidence, including documents and depositions, from both spouses in preparation for the trial. Depending on the complexity of a divorce, discovery can be the longest part of the divorce case. Attorneys must share materials obtained during discovery with each other so each spouse can make a strong case. 

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aurora divorce lawyer Collaborative divorce and mediation are two alternative dispute resolution strategies that help divorcing couples work through all the issues that must be resolved in a divorce. Marital asset division, spousal maintenance, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and more can all be handled in a way that allows couples to stay focused on finding solutions. 

When both spouses are invested in obtaining a successful outcome, mediation and collaborative divorce can make divorce faster, less expensive, and more peaceful. Although they have similarities, these two strategies are not the same. Understanding the difference can help you choose an approach that is right for you. 

What is Mediation? 

Mediation is conducted by a specially trained, unbiased third-party mediator who is often an attorney. Both parties generally pay for mediators, but they do not represent either spouse. They cannot give legal advice, and their focus is on keeping parties moving towards an agreement. Mediators help couples brainstorm different options, navigate compromises, make priorities, and eventually come to an agreement. 

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aurora divorce lawyerRecognizing the harmful effects of hostile divorce litigation on families and children, Illinois courts and judges now encourage divorcing couples to use alternative dispute resolution techniques whenever possible. Mediation is one such technique, and thousands of couples all over the state have used it to help them reach important compromises during divorce negotiations. 

There are many common myths and misunderstandings about mediation, and in this blog post we will explore a few of these so Illinois residents can make educated decisions about their divorce. Keep in mind that mediation is not right for everyone and a qualified divorce attorney is the best person to answer your questions. 

Mediation is Only For “Easy” Divorces

Although simple divorces may be easier to resolve, mediation is perhaps even more helpful to couples whose relationships are complex. Complex asset and debt division, spousal support, and child-related issues can all be addressed during mediation, helping couples navigate these difficult scenarios while reducing conflict and encouraging compromise. 

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aurora divorce lawyer Divorce is never easy, but it does not have to be a nightmare. With the help of your attorney, having a third-party mediator to help you and your spouse navigate potentially contentious issues of divorce can make the entire process go faster and more smoothly. Mediation is still a lot of work, but the positive outcome is usually well worth the effort. Our last blog post gave an overview of the mediation process. Here, we offer five great tips for preparing for mediation. 

Be Flexible

Anticipate that unexpected problems, feelings, and requests will arise. If you approach mediation with rigid expectations about how it “should” go, you will ultimately find yourself frustrated and disappointed. Being flexible can apply to your own feelings about the situation, too - you may find that your priorities can shift during mediation, and that is okay. 

Get Ready to Listen 

Mediation can only work if both parties are invested in working together and can give each other the benefit of the doubt. You may think you already know everything that is important to your spouse, but people are often surprised at what they learn when they can really listen with the help of a mediator. Assume your spouse is telling the truth and act as if what they say is important. Doing so creates goodwill that can benefit you when it is your turn to express yourself. 

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aurora divorce lawyerOnce a couple has decided to get a divorce, they usually hire their own attorneys to represent them throughout the process. Important issues such as parenting time, division of marital property, and child support must be negotiated and agreed upon, and your attorney will work with you to represent your interests during this process. 

Although divorce can potentially be time-consuming, expensive, and combative, it does not have to be. Mediation is an effective alternative dispute resolution strategy that has helped many divorcing couples agree on complex issues without ever going to trial. Understanding the advantages of mediation can help you decide whether this strategy is right for you. 

What are the Benefits of Mediation? 

Mediation allows a neutral third party to work with spouses, with or without their attorneys present, to resolve issues related to divorce. Mediators are often attorneys and are always trained professionals who are adept at conflict resolution and keeping spouses focused on resolving practical matters rather than hashing out personal conflicts. 

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aurora divorce lawyerStudies on children with divorced parents can paint a dismal picture. Children of divorces often experience high levels of stress and tend not to do as well in many ways, including academics, criminal behavior, and the likelihood of substance abuse. 

However, there are ways parents can mitigate the impact of divorce on their children. Certain risk factors can impact children more than others, and these risks can be avoided with maturity and commitment from the parents. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult when parents are engaged in a high-conflict divorce. Here are some ways you can protect your child during divorce to ensure their well-being in the future. 

Avoid Fighting in Front of Your Children

Spouses who are getting divorced often have years of pent-up hostility and grudges, but the divorce is not the time to air these grievances. Children experience parental conflict as frightening and confusing and often feel pressured to take sides or defend one parent to another. 

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aurora divorce lawyerIf you are getting divorced, you probably have many questions. How long will it take? How much will it cost? Will my relationship with my children be changed forever? While getting divorced is never easy or pleasant, planning wisely and thinking ahead will allow you to avoid many common mistakes that can prolong a divorce, make it more expensive, and increase hostilities between parents that can negatively impact their relationship with their children. 

In this blog, we will look at some of the common mistakes people make in their Illinois divorce. Remember that a qualified, experienced divorce attorney is the best person to help you create a customized plan for your divorce so it will go as smoothly and quickly as possible. 

Expecting Adversarial Litigation

Although many people think of divorce as taking place in a courtroom where spouses fight it out in front of a judge, modern divorces rarely take this route. Illinois strongly encourages (and can even mandate) mediation for couples so they can work through their differences together and create a mutually acceptable divorce agreement. 

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aurora divorce lawyerThe marital home is often the most valuable asset a couple shares. Often, a couple lives there with their children for many years. It is in the marital home that a family experiences some of their most important moments together. 

But in a divorce, a couple’s assets must be divided and this includes the home. If you are considering a divorce, you may be wondering what happens to the home and whether one spouse will get to keep it. In this article, we will answer some of the common questions about what happens to the marital home in a divorce. Keep in mind that an experienced divorce attorney is the best source for answers to your questions. 

If I Move Out, Do I Lose Access to My House Forever? 

Ownership of the house is not permanently decided until a divorce is final. Even though one spouse will likely want to move out in order to avoid conflict during divorce proceedings, moving out will not affect a spouse’s right to their portion of the home’s value. 

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wheaton divorce lawyerNobody ever thinks their spouse will cheat on them, and yet it happens to people every day. When such a life-changing event takes place, the spouse who has been cheated on may consider divorce and wonder whether infidelity changes the divorce process in Illinois. After all, it may feel as though someone who knowingly does something that is almost sure to end a relationship should face some kind of consequence.

But regardless of whether somebody cheated, Illinois is a pure no-fault divorce state. This means fault or responsibility is never assigned to either spouse at the end of the marriage. A couple getting divorced because of cheating can only list “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for divorce, and the proceedings will not be affected. However, there are certain behaviors commonly associated with infidelity that can impact the outcome of a divorce. 

New Partners Who Present a Threat

Generally, cheating on a spouse does not affect how allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time are handled in a divorce case. But if a parent has a new partner who presents a real threat to their children, the court may curtail the time that parent gets to spend with their children. For example, if the adulterous parent’s new partner has a known history of domestic violence or is a sex offender, and there is any chance the partner could be around the children, a court could limit the time that parent can spend with their children or prohibit the new partner’s presence during parenting time. 

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oswego divorce lawyerFor some spouses who decide to get divorced, the final decision is often the hardest part - once that has been made, the divorce process is often amicable and flows fairly smoothly. Spouses who wish each other well may pursue an uncontested divorce in which they agree on all or most issues, believing that is the easiest, most fair, and least expensive of their options. 

Although an uncontested divorce is a great idea for some people, it is still a legal process and has potential pitfalls. If not done correctly, an uncontested divorce can become a drawn-out process that has major impacts on a divorcee’s life down the road. Even if you anticipate agreeing with your spouse on everything, a skilled Illinois divorce attorney is the best person to help you through any type of divorce. 

What are the Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce? 

An uncontested divorce can benefit spouses who can get along and compromise on important issues like parenting time, child support, spousal support, and asset division. It can also be a great choice for spouses who have been married for a short time and who share no children or significant assets. 

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Illinois family law attorneyDivorce is emotionally draining for everyone involved, but for children it can be especially difficult. Parents frequently disagree about how to share parental responsibilities and parenting time, and these conflicts often play out in front of children. 

Divorcing parents who struggle to compromise on issues such as where their child will live, where the child will spend holidays, and who has the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing may find themselves in divorce court litigating their disagreements in a trial. Unfortunately, when this happens, the child’s best interests may be compromised in light of the parent's conflict and the child may be more involved in the divorce proceedings than the parents had hoped. 

What Happens When Parents Cannot Resolve Custody Issues in Divorce? 

In a perfect world, all families would be able to make the divorce process smooth and amicable using mediation or collaborative divorce. In real life, however, parents who are unable to resolve their differences generally end up having a judge decide the issues for them. 

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aurora divorce lawyerGoing through a divorce in Illinois is not easy and can take a long time to complete. If you are in the final stages of the divorce process, you may want to breathe a sigh of relief. You soon will not have to attend meetings with your lawyer or court dates. However, there are still several things you may have to complete to move on with your life.

What You Should Do After Your Divorce is Finalized

The major obstacles are over in your divorce, but you still may have some finishing touches to take care of. Here are a few steps to take after your divorce is finalized.

  • Change your name. Many women go back to their maiden name after getting divorced. If this is what you want to do, you must update your driver’s license, social security card, insurance policies, and other documents that include your full name.

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 aurora divorce lawyerIf you want to get a divorce and your spouse earns a significantly higher salary than you, you may be able to receive alimony. Also known as spousal support, alimony is intended to help financially support a spouse until he or she has gained the necessary education or training to obtain a higher-paying job. In the majority of cases, alimony is temporary. However, permanent alimony is sometimes awarded. 

Ending Spousal Support Payments in Illinois

In Illinois, the duration of alimony is usually based on the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the longer a spouse may recieve maintenance payments. If the couple was married 20 years or longer, the recipient may be permanently entitled to maintenance. However, there are certain circumstances in which spousal maintenance terminates:

  • Cohabitation - If you move in with a romantic partner, your ex-spouse will no longer be obligated to pay you alimony. Living with someone as a platonic roommate is not sufficient enough to stop support payments. The paying spouse will have to contact the court and request a maintenance termination on the basis of cohabitation. 

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 kane county divorce lawyerA divorce does not always get settled easily. There are various factors that can complicate a divorce, such as a family business. If you and your spouse own a business together and plan to get divorced, it is important to understand how it could potentially impact proceedings.

Negotiating a Settlement With Your Spouse

Ideally, divorcing couples will come to a fair agreement on dividing their business. Once you and your spouse have determined the value of your business, try to negotiate a settlement. It is less costly and stressful than letting the process drag out in litigation. For instance, you may decide to buy out the other party or continue to run the business with your spouse after the divorce. Another option is to sell the business and divide the profits with each other. A divorce lawyer with experience handling business assets in a divorce can represent you during property division negotiations and ensure that your rights are protected. 

Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on how your business should be divided, the court will have to make the decision. The first thing a judge will look at is whether the business is marital or nonmarital property. Marital property is acquired during a couple’s marriage, while nonmarital property is acquired before a couple ties the knot. If the business was acquired before your marriage, it will typically go to the partner who owned it first. However, it is possible that a business owned before the marriage may be classified as a marital asset if joint funds were used to grow the business or the other spouse contributed to the business in any way. 

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 aurora child support lawyer Child support is designed to help pay for housing, food, education, and other necessities for children. In Illinois, how much a parent pays for child support is primarily based on the parents’ net incomes. Child support payments are calculated in such a way that parents should be able to afford their monthly payments. However, sometimes parents fall behind on their child support payments for one reason or another. If you can longer afford your child support payments, you might wonder how you should handle the situation.

Consequences for Not Paying Child Support in Illinois

Parents who willfully fail to pay child support can face legal problems in Illinois. Here are several consequences a judge may impose on them:

  • Wage garnishment- If a parent is behind on child support payments, the other parent can contact the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) and ask them to call their employer and have the payments deducted from their paychecks.

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aurora child custody lawyerSubstance abuse is a huge problem in the United States. In fact, nearly 21 million Americans suffer from addiction. Whether it is alcohol, cocaine, prescription pills, or another substance, addiction can negatively impact many areas of a person’s life, including his or her ability to care for children. If you are currently in the middle of a child custody battle and you or the other parent suffer from addiction, a child custody lawyer can help you understand how best to proceed.

Parental Responsibility Restrictions a Judge May Impose

Parents who abuse alcohol and controlled substances may have difficulty taking proper care of a child. In some cases, they may even put the child in danger. However, some parents who suffer from addiction are actively taking steps to keep the addiction under control so it does not affect their parenting. 

The court recognizes has the authority to restrict parenting time if there is evidence that the parent’s substance abuse has negatively affected the child’s physical or mental health.

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kane county child custody lawyerChild custody disputes tend to be difficult for everyone involved. Parents who disagree about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time can sometimes reach an agreement through family law mediation. Others negotiate an agreement through their lawyers. However, some parents simply cannot find a workable solution to child-related disputes. In some cases, avoiding the following mistakes can help you avoid making the situation worse than it already is.

Mistakes Parents Often Make During Child Custody Battles

When you are in the middle of a child custody battle, it is critical to think rationally and not allow your emotions to take over. Otherwise, you could make costly mistakes, like these:

  • Allowing your anger to take over - If you and your ex ended things on bad terms, you may feel a lot of anger and resentment towards him or her. While it is natural to go through these emotions, it is important not to lose your cool. If you get into a heated confrontation with your ex, it may negatively affect your child custody case. 

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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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