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


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

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1153859659.jpgEach marriage has its own individual needs and unique dynamic, so there is no “one size fits all” solution to marital problems. While some couples decide legal separation is the right approach for their family, others believe divorce is the best decision. By understanding the difference between separation and divorce, couples can make an educated decision on what is best for them.

What is Legal Separation?

Separation refers to couples who are still married but choose to separate either geographically or financially from one another. Separation and legal separation are not the same things. When couples are legally separated, they make legally-binding agreements about child custody, property division, and other divorce matters but remain married. 

Usually, couples that are separated live in separate homes. However, this is not required. Some couples will file for legal separation but choose to remain living together to help take care of the children or other familial responsibilities.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1477782275.jpgDepending on the nature of a divorce, there are many different ways that lawyers and spouses can proceed with dissolving the marriage. Typically, an amicable divorce will stay out of the courthouse — lawyers can help manage the paperwork to file for divorce and divide each of the shared assets between partners. However, when a divorce is contested, lawyers may move to litigation in court. Despite preconceived notions on what divorce litigation may look like from television shows and movies, there are a variety of ways to litigate, or fight for a case, in court. By speaking to an experienced attorney, spouses can determine what type of divorce litigation is right for them.

Choosing to Litigate

Before diving into the types of litigation that are typical during a divorce hearing, it is important to understand why litigation is necessary for many spouses. There are two types of divorces in Illinois: uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce includes spouses who are amicable and agree upon the division of shared assets, child custody, and other divorce issues during the dissolution. This would mean that the spouses can work together and sign all of the necessary paperwork without having to defend their decisions through the help of an attorney. 

A contested divorce is when the spouses do not agree on all the elements of the divorce decree. Usually, this includes spouses who do not agree upon the amount of spousal support, child support, or child custody agreements. Contested divorces can be handled in a few ways including mediation or other alternative options that can lead to a mutual agreement. However, when the spouses are completely unable to come to a consensus, litigation may become necessary to move forward. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1465659569-1.jpgAdults over the age of 18 enjoy the privilege of making their own legal decisions. Whether this is the ability to consent, begin a line of credit or make medical and financial decisions, adult independence can feel freeing. However, there may also be a time in an adult’s life when making independent decisions is not in that person’s best interest. This can be due to illness, mental incapacity or disability. When an adult is no longer able to make significant decisions on their own, the state can appoint guardianship to a selected family member.

What is Legal Guardian?

When an adult is no longer able to make independent decisions, a family member or loved one can be appointed as a guardian to that person. Typically, guardians help make financial and medical decisions for another person. There are a few different types of guardianships in Illinois:

  • Guardian of the Person— A personal guardianship is appointed by the court when an adult is no longer able to make decisions for their own care. This guardian will be able to make medical decisions including treatment, residential placements, or any medical or social services needed. For example, the guardian can decide when to place a loved one in assisted living or  secure an at-home medical aid.. 


Posted on in Visitation

visitation lawyerMany changes occur during a divorce, including the relationships between all family members. The most common family dynamic change that is considered during a divorce is between the the spouses and children. However, divorce can also affect extended family relationships. In an effort to preserve the important bonds between children and extended family members, the state of Illinois allows visitation rights for some non-parental family members. 

Who Can Get Visitation With the Children After a Divorce?

Certain non-parents are family members that are legally recognized in Illinois as having visitation rights with children after a divorce. The state understands that other family members may spend a significant amount of time with the involved children. This can include taking care of them while the parents are at work, picking them up from school, or providing for the children's needs. If a parent is denying visitation with a non-parental figure in the child’s life, that person may be able to get visitation rights through the court. 

Individuals who may be able to seek visitation rights include:


kane county divorce lawyerTo finalize a divorce, the court will set a decree that firmly outlines the terms of the divorce. These things can include who stays in the home, who gets the family heirlooms, and who gets the majority of parenting time with the children. It is illegal for a spouse to choose not to take part in their responsibilities outlined by the divorce order. If a partner decided they no longer wanted to pay child support, they would face legal consequences such as contempt charges. Similarly, it is illegal to prevent a spouse from being able to complete their responsibilities by preventing visitation with a child.

Visitation Rights and Your Illinois Parenting Plan 

Each parent is entitled to parenting time (previously called visitation) and parental responsibilities as outlined in the divorce order. Typically, parents can come to a mutual understanding regarding a schedule that works for both of the spouses. However, if one of the spouses is deliberately sabotaging visitation time, they can be held legally responsible for violating a court order. 

Preventing visitation time for another spouse may be different for everyone. Some common ways this can occur include:


illinois annulment lawyerIt is often normal for parents to be unsure of their child’s choice in a romantic partner. However, in the state of Illinois, it may be possible to get your child’s marriage annulled if the circumstances of the marriage were illegal. A few factors can lead to marriage invalidation in Illinois. If a marriage occurred when one or both of the parties were under the age of consent or unable to consent, a parent can file for an annulment or “Judgement of Invalidation of Marriage.” 

My Underage Child Got Married Without My Consent

One reason to have a marriage annulled in Illinois is if a child ages 16 or 17 got married without parental consent. The age of consent in Illinois is 17 years old, however, to obtain a legally legitimate marriage, a 17-year-old must also have parental consent documented. Lacking parental or judicial consent to marry at 17 leaves the marriage prohibited. 

My Child Was Under the Age of Consent 

Another reason that a parent can file to annul their child’s marriage would be if the child was not of the age of consent. As mentioned, the age of consent in Illinois is 17 years of age. A person must be able to legally consent to engage in sexual relations to consummate the marriage for the union to be deemed legitimate. If one or both of the parties who got married were under the age of sexual consent, a parent can move to annul the union. If your child was under the legal age to sexually consent, you have exactly one year to move to annul the union. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_523810459.jpgEstablishing parentage of a child has many benefits. In the case of paternity, determining parentage can be difficult depending on the marital status between the parents and paternity allegations. Often, the best way to determine the biological father of a child is by taking a paternity DNA test. These are the four main reasons to take a paternity test in Illinois.

You Want the Alleged Father to Pay Child Support 

Even if a father is not interested in being a part of the child’s life, he is still accountable for financially supporting the child. A mother who is interested in obtaining child support from the father of her child may need to request a DNA paternity test. By requesting the alleged father take a DNA test and prove paternity, you can ensure that he is held to his legal responsibilities. 

The Father Wants Custody Rights 

Courts will allow for custody rights including parenting time based on the best interests of the child in question. Typically, this encourages both the mother and father to be an active part of their child’s life. If the paternity of a child is undetermined, a parent or the court may request a paternity DNA test to be conducted. A father-child relationship can be an important bond for both the dad and the child. By establishing paternity, a father can secure custody rights to encourage involvement in the child’s life. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_531045037.jpgAlthough divorce orders are final and upheld by the law, there are many scenarios that can allow for post-divorce modifications to be made. Many things change after a divorce is finalized, and often, people want to revise their existing divorce decree to better fit their new lives. Someone looking to make certain changes will have to submit a petition clearly showing the need for a modification. Speaking with an experienced divorce and family lawyer can help facilitate these modifications to a divorce order. 

What Modifications Can I Make?

Post-divorce order modifications can not be made simply because they upset or inconvenience one of the parties. Although many people are unhappy with the outcome of their divorce orders, that alone would not be grounds to make significant legal changes to a divorce decree. There are, however, underlying factors that warrant a judge reviewing the divorce agreement and potentially making changes. 

The factors that may allow for a divorce modification include:


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_452916241.jpg Child support usually ends when the child grows up and graduates high school. However, if a child is disabled (mentally or physically), there may be an extension of child support payments. In the state of Illinois, child support payments are determined using the Income Shares formula. The court will determine how much each parent pays in child support based on their net incomes. However, there is another factor that determines the type and amount of child support ordered: the child’s need. By working with a family law attorney, child support can be modified or extended to support a child with special needs. 

Getting Support for a Disabled Child

Child support in Illinois ends when the child turns 18 years old and graduates high school because it is assumed the child will be able to emotionally and financially support themselves. However, this is not the case when dealing with a child or adult with special needs. The non-minor child with special needs may not be able to financially support themselves into adulthood, and so the custodial parent may be required to continue providing support. In this scenario, child support from the non-custodial parent can be extended. 

What Qualifies as a Disability?

According to the Illinois General Assembly, a disability must be a permanent ailment that causes significant cognitive or motor-function loss of a person. The disability must have originated before the person turned 18 in order for him or her to qualify for non-minor support. The following disabilities may qualify an individual for non-minor support:


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1504186442.jpgInfidelity in a marriage can be one of the most painful experiences in a relationship. If your marraige ended because you or your spouse cheated, you may wonder how this will influence your divorce case. Illinois is considered a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that cheating on your spouse doesn’t necessarily affect your ability to get a divorce. However, if you or your partner was unfaithful in your marriage, the outcome of your divorce may be impacted. 

What is Considered Cheating?

Spousal infidelity is classified in Illinois as:

  • A person knowingly engaging in an extramarital, sexual affair with a partner that is not his or her spouse


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_119521075.jpgIn the state of Illinois, paying child support is an independent parental obligation. The state sees it as the right of a child to receive financial support from both parents. However, you may be able to adjust your child support obligation through a child support modification in Illinois. By speaking with a skilled divorce or family law attorney, you may be able to adjust your child support order. 

Factors for Child Support Modification

Every three years, child support court orders may go under review for modification. However, this process can be expedited if there are significant changes in the child or parents’ lives. The factors include:

  • Significant changes in the financial situation of the non-custodial parent (both increases and decreases to income)


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1926120011.jpgWhen getting a divorce, a very important situation to figure out is determining who will have custody of the children. Whether full custody is granted to one parent or a shared child custody arrangement is put into place amongst co-parenting adults, the ultimate decision can yield quite the grueling process. The topics of child custody and visitation become even more complex when step-parents are interested in pursuing legal access to the children as well. 

Who is Legally Defined as a Step-Parent in Illinois? 

In Illinois, the law specifies that a step-parent is an individual who is legally married to one of the parents of the child in question. While someone may consider his- or herself a parental figure to a child, if he or she is dating the child's parent, as opposed to being officially married to them in the eyes of the law, then Illinois does not recognize said individual as a step-parent. Without an official marriage license, the partner of a child's parent cannot be considered a step-parent. 

Do Step-Parents Have Visitation Rights in Illinois?

Step-parents have visitation rights in Illinois under certain conditions. A step-parent may petition for visitation rights to a child if the parent of the child has denied the step-parent any access to, communication with, or visitation with the child. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1696146232.jpgWhen two partners file for divorce, they can expect to face a lot of complicated questions and strenuous processes. One of the most complex aspects of getting a divorce is having to divide the assets that two spouses once shared. 

From bank balances and investments to vehicles and houses, there is a lot to consider when it comes time to analyze the assets and determine who will receive ownership of which assets. One very important asset that couples are often perplexed by is inheritance. 

What is Considered Marital Property in Illinois? 

There are two types of property to be aware of in an Illinois divorce: marital property and non-marital property. Marital property refers to any and all assets that were acquired at some point after the marriage was official. In other words, marital property is any property that you and your spouse acquired together while married. 


will county child custody lawyerCreating a shared parenting agreement is often one of the most stressful parts of divorce. Often, one or both parents believe they alone know what is best for their child and will try to minimize the other parent’s parenting time or parental responsibilities. While this can be a tempting short-term strategy, in the long run, it leads to sad and confused children and angry, burnt-out parents. 

But when divorcing spouses can work together to create a parenting agreement and commit to peaceful co-parenting, it can be possible to have children share time in two households without endless conflict or stress. However, such a commitment must happen from the beginning - when the parenting agreement is being created. If you are getting divorced and want to work cooperatively with your spouse now and in the future, read on. 

Give the Benefit of the Doubt - And Then Give it Again

After divorce, spouses are often focused on the many years of preceding conflict. But relitigating arguments with your ex gets you nowhere - and makes it more difficult to focus on good parenting in the present. Even when your spouse presents behaviors that you find triggering, try to keep in mind that they might not be trying to upset you; they might just be themselves. If you can give your ex the benefit of the doubt, even when they do things that annoy you, it will be much easier to share parenting responsibilities. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_526087603.jpgThe experience of getting divorced has evolved considerably in the last few years. Although divorce is still not easy, Illinois’ laws have changed to reflect modern family arrangements and now consider both parents responsible for providing financial support and physical care for their children. Courts have also tried to move away from high-conflict divorce litigation and often require divorcing couples to seek alternative dispute resolution strategies. 

This has made it easier for parents to focus more on divorcing cooperatively rather than trying to best each other during divorce. As a result, many different professionals are now available to help divorcing couples pursue a peaceful strategy that minimizes hostility and places the needs of children first. Here are three divorce professionals who, in addition to a great divorce attorney, may be able to help you during your Kane County divorce. 

Divorce Coach

A divorce coach is someone who specializes in helping divorcing couples work through the legal, emotional, and logistical changes of the divorce process. A divorce coach can work with both spouses to help them set priorities, minimize conflict, and focus on the future. An effective divorce coach can help spouses save time and money by streamlining the divorce and keeping couples on task. 


aurora divorce lawyerMany divorcing couples say that making the final decision to get divorced is one of the toughest decisions they have ever made. Whether a couple decides to get divorced together or only one spouse makes the decision, the impact of divorce affects everybody involved in different ways. When a couple shares children, the emotional challenges of divorce can be especially difficult. 

If you are entering the new year and trying to decide whether getting divorced is the right choice for you, here are some things you may want to consider. Remember that an experienced divorce attorney who knows Illinois law is the best person to offer customized answers to your questions. 

Predict How Your Spouse Will React

Nobody can read someone else’s mind, but by the time couples have been married for many years, they may as well be able to. Knowing how your spouse is likely to react to a request for divorce can help you plan ahead and take any necessary precautions. Your spouse may initially resist the idea but, depending on how you handle initial discussions, come around to agree that divorce is the best option. Or not. But before you make any decisions, try to consider how your spouse is likely to respond. 


aurora divorce lawyerMore and more couples in the United States are filing for “grey divorce,” or divorce in their 50s and beyond. The financial needs and priorities of couples divorcing in their later years are very different from younger couples. Children are usually grown and out of the house, and both spouses may be retired

One of the hardest parts of getting divorced later in life is managing the division of marital assets. Spouses may disagree about whether there should be spousal maintenance, how savings accounts should be divided, and whether to sell their home or allow one party to continue living in it. It is important to identify your current and future desires and needs when making important financial decisions during divorce so that you can be prepared to move forward with your life after divorce with stability. Here are some important things to consider. 

Is There a Mortgage on the Home? 

If at least one spouse wants to keep the home in the family and there is a mortgage on the home, he or she will have to refinance the mortgage so their spouse is no longer responsible for the loan obligation. This is usually done by buying out the other spouse’s equity and taking on all future costs associated with the home. If that proves to be too much money or work, the cost of selling the house later on will be managed by just one spouse. However, if the house is sold during the divorce process, the costs, fees, and realtor commissions will come out of the house’s proceeds and spouses will share the remainder. Tax considerations may also affect this decision. 


aurora divorce lawyerDivorcing spouses in Illinois must equitably divide all marital property. Although in theory, this sounds straightforward, in practice, it can become quite complicated. Marital assets are often complex and expensive, and most couples rarely completely own their most valuable asset: The marital home. 

Deciding how to handle the marital home can be a point of major dispute. Should spouses sell the home and split the proceeds? Should children be forced to move through no fault of their own? Is it even possible for one spouse to keep the home on their own? All of these are important questions that should be asked and answered. If you are getting divorced and think you may want to negotiate ownership of your marital home, here are four things to consider. 

Can You Buy Out Your Spouse’s Value? 

If a couple owns their home together, one spouse may be willing to “buy out” the other spouse’s value by giving up their fair share of other marital assets like savings and retirement accounts, vehicles, and more. Spouses may also pay a cash lump sum or give up future spousal support to buy their spouse’s equity in the house. However, this strategy has its risks; giving up savings or other assets to buy a house may leave the homeowner with very little to fall back on in an emergency. 


aurora divorce lawyerFor many couples, the marital home is their greatest source of equity. In a divorce where all marital property must be divided, the value of the marital home is of great importance to both spouses. Whether one spouse wishes to buy out the other spouse’s value of the home or not, both parties must be aware of important issues, such as how much equity they have and whether their home’s value is underwater. If you are considering divorce and need to get your home appraised, here are four tips to prepare you for the appraisal so you can get the most value out of your home. 

Know the Costs

Getting an appraisal is not free. The average cost of an appraisal is $300 to $450 for a single-family home. At a time when many American households have little or no savings, the cost of an appraisal can present a challenge. How do you find an appraiser? Who will pay for the appraisal? If the wife is filing for divorce, should she pay for the appraisal, or should both spouses split the cost? These are questions that must be anticipated before hiring an appraiser. 

Understand the Appraiser’s Job 

Regardless of who pays the appraiser, he or she does not work for one spouse in particular. Rather, an appraiser is a neutral party who has one job: Determine the value of a home. In addition to big-ticket items like the house’s size, layout, and position relative to good schools and main traffic arteries, appraisers are also looking for things that will adversely affect the home’s value: Expensive repairs, dirty carpets, a peeling roof. If you and your spouse have waited to do any upgrades or repairs, now may be the time. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1845825382-min.jpgWhen parents get divorced in Illinois and are going to share parental responsibilities and parenting time, they must create a parenting plan. In our last blog post, we talked about what a parenting plan covers and how parents can get creative when drafting a plan that benefits their whole family. In this blog post, we will review an important part of every Illinois parenting plan called “the right of first refusal.” Like many other parts of a parenting plan, when done well, the right of first refusal can enhance a child’s relationship with both parents and make the shared parenting experience work well for everyone. 

What is the Right of First Refusal? 

The right of first refusal is a provision that states whether and how parents will rely on each other for childcare, rather than using other family members or a paid sitter. This allows children to maximize the amount of time they spend with each parent, increasing their ability to have a strong and productive relationship with the two more important adults in their life.  Although the details can be flexible, the right of first refusal essentially requires parents to offer each other the opportunity to care for their child before they seek childcare from other sources. 

This provision is required to be in every Illinois parenting plan, but the terms can be adjusted to suit a family’s particular needs. For example, if parents get along fairly well, have flexible jobs, and live a short distance from each other, they may want to require the right of first refusal whenever they need to be away from their child for more than three hours. If dropping off and picking up a child causes little or no tension, parents have an easy and affordable caregiver. 

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


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

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