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Wheaton Child Custody AttorneyIf an Illinois court has granted you custody of your child, it means you are the one with legal rights to make decisions for him or her. In Illinois, those rights end when your child turns 18, at which time he or she is considered an emancipated adult.

But what if your child has a disability such that he or she can't make personal or financial decisions without your help? What if you still need legal authority to make those decisions on your child's behalf? In such cases, you may need to be appointed as your adult child's legal guardian. Adult guardianship cases are handled by Illinois probate courts. Here are 3 steps you should take if your disabled child will soon be turning 18.

April 8, 2020

Naperville Family Matter LawyerIn these uncertain times, our firm has had multiple inquiries regarding how COVID-19 is affecting the everyday process of the county court systems. Anderson & Associates, P.C. is primarily focused on Domestic Relations Division or Family Division matters and we are attempting to shine some light on the manner these specific divisions are operating at this time.

Our firm is open and operating at full capacity during this time. The restrictions that have been issued throughout the state will primarily affect cases that are already pending within the court system. Any new filings or cases can still be opened. Anderson & Associates, P.C. is able to assist you in filing a new case, issuing service against an opposing party, drafting and filing motions, issuing discovery and establishing future court dates for when these restrictions have passed. It is important to note that in many instances, the courts will use the date that a motion is filed as the effective date of the request. So if you are in a situation where you are seeking non-emergency relief, it is important to have those petitions filed as soon as possible. Waiting to file simply delays your relief and limits any awards that the Court can issue. Once your case is filed, the major issues are obtaining an actual date before the judge. Most counties are allowing attorneys to schedule video or teleconferences so having an attorney representing you is more important now than ever before.   

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Naperville Order of Protection LawyerMany Illinois courts (including Cook Count, DuPage County, Will County and others) have shut down services and re-scheduled court dates months down the road for most cases due to the Covid-19 outbreak.  There are exceptions to the shut down, and one such exception is Orders of Protection.

If you have been served with an Emergency Order of Protection, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney about your rights and the immediate next steps you need to take.  Although the coronavirus pandemic has led to many court closures, virtually all of them are still open for business to handle emergency matters, including orders of protection. They are making sure they have judges on hand to hear petitions for orders of protection, despite the general closure orders.

There are serious ramifications to having an order of protection against you. Your information (and the fact that there is an order of protection against you) will be placed in the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (L.E.A.D.S.), which is searchable by law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Illinois.  Orders of protection are filed with the court and are generally matters of public record. As such, having an order of protection against you may impact your employment or preclude you from certain future employment. 

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Wheaton Order of Protection LawyerGovernor Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order does not mean that you have to shelter-in-place with an abuser. The safety of you and your children takes precedence.

Many Illinois courts (including Cook County, DuPage County, Will County and others) have shut down services and re-scheduled court dates months down the road for most cases due to the Covid-19 outbreak.  There are exceptions to the shut down, and one such exception is Orders of Protection.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act governs orders of protection. If you or your children are being abused by a spouse or other family member, the Act gives you the right to go to court and ask a judge to issue a police-enforced order requiring your abuser to stay away from you, to stay away from your property, to leave a shared residence. You can ask a judge, by way of a written petition, to enter such a protective order on an emergency basis, without giving advance notice to the abuser.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets married, the woman often takes her husband’s last name. The tradition of married surnames dates back to the 12th century. However, many people think this is sexist, or at least outdated, since the idea was common when women were considered men’s “property.” In some cases, a wife may hyphenate her maiden name with her new married name. In same-sex marriages, each spouse may opt to keep his or her own last name, both spouses could hyphenate, or the couple could choose one of the spouse’s surname for both to use. A growing trend in marriages these days even involves a husband taking his wife’s last name. 

Regardless of which name is ultimately chosen after the wedding, important documents are typically changed to reflect the legal union, such as Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, mortgage or vehicle loans or titles, and more. So what happens to the last names when a couple gets divorced? Can a spouse change back to his or her birth name? Can a child’s last name be changed after the divorce? It is important to know that in 2020, the Illinois law regarding name changes will be slightly different than it was in the past.  

Legally Changing Names

During the divorce proceedings, it can be a fairly simple process to legally change back to your maiden name, birth name, or previous legal name with the help of an experienced attorney. However, it is also possible to change it after the final divorce decree is issued. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysMost people get married with the hope and belief that they are going to live happily ever after. However, people and circumstances change, which can ultimately lead to the demise of a relationship. According to statistics, approximately 40 to 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. When a couple has children together, this can further complicate the divorce process. Many decisions need to be made regarding the welfare of the kids. These include allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support.

The thought of parenting on your own can be overwhelming, but there are ways to embrace this next chapter. It is also critical to hire a divorce attorney who knows Illinois laws that govern divorce issues in order to protect your rights.  

Moving on After Divorce 

Single parenting can be challenging to say the least. Starting over again after being married for many years is difficult regardless of the circumstances. This new transition can result in many different emotions, such as anger, relief, excitement, anxiety, and grief. Even if your divorce is amicable, you may be so used to making decisions as partners that you do not even know how to begin living life as a single person. Try to think of this time as an opportunity to explore, rediscover yourself, and redefine your relationship with your children.  

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Wheaton divorce lawyerA divorce under any circumstances can be difficult, but it can be especially painful when a couple has been married for a long time. The divorce rate among couples who are over 50 years old has steadily increased over the past few decades. 

Some couples wait until their kids are grown to go their separate ways, thinking their children will react to the break-up better if they are older. However, this may not always be the case. Studies show that even older kids who live on their own can be devastated by their parent’s divorce. This can translate to their own romantic relationships, making them leary of a commitment such as marriage. They can also feel stressed because they feel like they have to choose one parent over the other, especially in a high-conflict divorce. If you are concerned about how your gray divorce will affect your grown children, below are some issues to consider when helping them through the transition. 

Tips for Helping Older Kids Cope

Society often tells us that after a certain age, a child is no longer a kid and is considered a “grown-up.” That may be true in certain situations, but even adult children still need their parents from time to time. They may be in shock at the news of their parents splitting up after being together their entire childhood. What they thought was a solid family foundation is now torn apart, which may leave them feeling sad, angry, guilty, and lost. 

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Wheaton family law attorneyNo one enters into marriage expecting to get a divorce. However, it is impossible to predict the future, and unforeseen circumstances can cause a marriage to fail. Whether it is infidelity, financial problems, or addiction issues, some couples may decide to legally terminate their union. When that happens, there can be many issues to resolve and divide. In some cases, a couple may create a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage to outline how certain marital issues will be handled in case of a divorce or a legal separation. A postnuptial agreement is a similar legal document that can be drafted after marriage. This document can protect certain marital rights, such as spousal maintenance and division of property. 

Protecting Your Interests in a Postnup

A postnuptial agreement is often referred to as a postmarital agreement or a “postnup” for short. There are many reasons why a couple may want to draft a postnup. For example, if both partners have significant assets that they bring to the marriage, or if they start a business together while they are married. Settling these affairs ahead of time can distinctly define each party’s wishes, which may help prevent a contentious divorce. 

A few of the main issues that a postnuptial agreement addresses include:

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Wheaton divorce attorneysThere are many reasons why people get divorced, and one of the most common is financial issues. Arguing over money or frivolous spending can cause a couple to grow apart. In some cases, it may destroy trust and result in the end of the marriage. During the divorce proceedings, anything the spouses owned together will need to be divided between the spouses. This is referred to as the division of marital assets and property. Certain assets might be in the form of retirement accounts, pension plans, or other investments acquired by one or both spouses. However, splitting these types of assets is not as easy as tangible items such as a house, furniture, or vehicles. The process can be complicated, so it is important to understand how they will be distributed according to Illinois divorce law.   

What Is “Equitable Distribution”?

In Illinois, marital property is just about anything the couple acquired during the time they were married. This is different from non-marital property, which are items or assets that one of the spouses owned prior to the marriage. Gifts and inheritance also fall into the non-marital or separate property category. 

Under Illinois law, “equitable distribution” in a divorce means that all the marital property will be divided between the spouses in a fair or equitable way, but not necessarily completely in half. Therefore, it is important to determine what portion of the retirement savings is considered to be marital property and subject to division during the divorce.

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Wheaton family law attorneysThe holidays are upon us, which often means special family traditions. After a divorce, however, parents have to share time with their children. This often means also splitting time with extended family members or out-of-town relatives. Maintaining certain traditions or activities can become complicated. For kids who are shuttling between two houses, it is important for both parents to think about their children’s feelings and best interests. They must be willing to compromise when circumstances warrant a change to the routine. In Illinois, a parenting plan can outline a schedule for time with kids during the school year as well as summer or holiday breaks.  

Check Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a legally binding document indicating parental responsibilities (child custody), such as decision-making for a child and the parenting time (visitation) that each parent will have with the child. Most parenting plans will include provisions that address where the child will spend their holidays.

Your parenting plan could specify that your children will alternate years with each parent on major holidays. For example, your plan might indicate that your children will spend Thanksgiving with you and Christmas with the other parent this year, but next year, they will be the other parent for Thanksgiving and with you for Christmas. 

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Wheaton contested adoption lawyersAdoption can be a wonderful experience, both for the child who is given a new home, as well as the adoptive parents who want to expand their family. However, it is a major decision that should include careful consideration. In certain cases, both biological parents may not agree to giving up their parental rights. Contested adoptions most often occur with infant adoptions, when one biological parent, usually the birth mother, wishes to place a baby up for adoption, while the other biological parent, the birth father, objects to the adoption. 

Reasons for Contesting

There are many different scenarios regarding adoption. Many infant adoptions involve a young, single mother who wants to give up her baby to a couple who are prepared financially and emotionally to raise a child. Older children who were in foster care can also be adopted through Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Illinois. 

A biological father may contest adoption for several reasons, such as in the following instances: 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysMaking the decision to legally terminate a marriage is a big step. For some people, it might be daunting to think of being single again, especially if they have been married for a long time. There are options that a couple can take if they are not ready to split up permanently. A trial separation is an informal agreement between two spouses that they will live apart for a period of time. Unlike a legal separation, a trial separation is not a legally binding contract, but in both situations, the pair is technically still married in the eyes of the law. In some instances, the married couple may choose to seek counseling to work out their problems during the separation. They may even reconcile and move back in with each other. However, some couples may decide to get a divorce after they are separated. 

Factors to Consider During a Separation

A trial separation begins as soon as one of the spouses moves out of the marital home. This means he or she will have to find a new place to live, whether it be temporary or long term. A couple can decide on the terms of their agreement, which can be flexible since it is not an official legal arrangement. This allows both partners to explore options regarding child-related and marital issues in the event of a divorce later on. 

Some of the important factors to consider in the short and long term following a separation include the following:

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Wheaton family law attorneysThese days, it is not uncommon for couples to live together without getting married. Depending on the circumstances, they may not be ready for the long-term legal commitment of marriage. Some romantic partners may also want to “test the waters” to see how they get along under the same roof before legalizing their union. However, there are legal steps a couple can take to protect their rights in case they break up. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement is a contract that can outline how specific issues will be handled similar to when a married couple gets a divorce.   

Who Needs a Cohabitation Agreement? 

“Common law” marriages are not legally recognized in the state of Illinois. This means that an unmarried couple is not entitled to the same rights as their married counterparts. When these couples buy property, vehicles, and furniture together, it can become a complex task to divide these assets in the event of a breakup. 

Although it would be nice, no one knows what the future holds. A couple may live together blissfully for many years, but then find they have grown apart or one act of infidelity causes one partner to leave. Those who might  benefit from drafting a prenuptial agreement as a way of protecting themselves and their interests or investments include but are not limited to:  

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DuPage County adoption lawyers Adoption provides a child in need with a safe and permanent home. The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is a government agency that responds to reports of child abuse or neglect. DCFS also protects minors by placing them in foster homes. In many cases, the foster parents wish to legally adopt their foster kids. Children who need adopting can come from all over, and they are all ages and from different backgrounds. Many have siblings who also need a loving home life. DCFS also offers support to help families adopt children with medical conditions or other special needs.

Who Can Adopt?

In Illinois, the first step in adopting a child through DCFS is becoming a licensed foster parent so that children can be placed in your home. An initial screening will involve a visit to your home. The process of receiving a license usually takes one to two months. DCFS works as quickly as possible to match a child (and possibly siblings) to an appropriate family. Those people who wish to adopt can participate in a 27-hour training to become fully licensed foster families. After the placement, a family can request to adopt the child. The request is generally approved by the department and the court after a six-month period.

The state does not have specific qualifications to adopt, but people who can provide an adequate and loving home are typically eligible to adopt. A few of the characteristics of an adoptive parent include: 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysThere is no doubt the price of a college education has skyrocketed in the past decade. Tuition at public and private universities can be a huge expense for a family. When parents decide to divorce, their financial situation changes. The thought of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for even one child’s post-high school education can be daunting. This is especially true for a spouse who was a stay-at-home parent and did not work outside the home during the marriage.

Most states allow parents who are divorcing to work out an agreement for college costs and payment details. According to Illinois divorce law, in some cases, the cost for child-related expenses such as college can be determined by a judge if a couple cannot come to an arrangement. Illinois is one of the few states where payment for college or vocational expenses can be ordered without an agreement between the parents.     

Who Can Be Ordered to Pay?

In Illinois, child support usually ends when a son or daughter turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. It generally stops at age 19 even if the child is still in high school. The support issues that were originally addressed under the child support law then fall under the “college expenses” portion of the law. The college cost law applies to “non-minor children” or those who are over 18 years old. 

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Wheaton order of protection attorneysOctober is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The harmful effects of domestic violence are significant, sabotaging the safety of many men, women, and children regardless of social class. Once considered a private issue between two partners, domestic violence issues slowly gained the public’s attention and are now at the forefront of national campaigns. According to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV), one in three women, and one in seven men have been or will be victims of domestic violence. However, there are instances where a person can be unfairly accused of such behavior. If you have been wrongly accused of domestic abuse and served with an order of protection (OOP), it is important to understand the best way to address these false accusations.  

Handling False Accusations 

Domestic abuse refers to violent acts committed by a family or household member against another. The consequences of domestic violence accusations can result in protective orders being issued against the alleged abuser. In cases where the accused is a parent, these orders can impact child-related issues, such as allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time by limiting contact with a child.

Unfortunately, a vengeful spouse may file abuse charges against the other spouse to obtain a restraining order. This is sometimes used as a tactic in disagreements related to child custody, parenting time, or other disputed issues in the divorce. In many cases, there are no witnesses of the so-called offense other than the victim and the alleged perpetrator. When there is no evidence such as a bruise or laceration, it can be very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that domestic violence actually occurred. Photographs and medical records simply show that an injury occurred, not who did it. In addition, an attorney can discredit the accuser’s testimony by pointing out inconsistencies in his or her story.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersIn divorce law, the term “dissipation” is used to describe property which is wasted during the end of a marriage. With help from a qualified family law attorney, you may be able to be compensated for assets which your spouse dissipated before your marital property was formally divided during divorce. However, not all wasteful spending is considered dissipation. Only situations which meet certain criteria are considered dissipation, and it is important to understand what these criteria are. 

What Types of Spending Are Considered Dissipative?

Many individuals who are in the process of getting divorced have questions about their soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s financial responsibility. However, dissipation refers to a specific situation in which a spouse wastes, misuses, or destroys marital property. The Illinois Supreme Court has specified that dissipation is the “use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.”

Dissipated assets include any money or property that was used for the benefit of one of the spouses but did not benefit the other spouse or the marriage in any way. Examples of dissipation may include:

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneysThe realization that your marriage is coming to an end can oftentimes be very difficult to cope with. While this can be true for some cases, a divorce can occasionally result in the individuals coming out much happier based on the promise of a fresh start. When a couple can work together and make compromises on divisions of assets, debt, property and other marital concerns, stress and anxiety can be relieved. It is critical to remember that if children are involved, their needs are more important than anything else, which should be reflected in the agreed upon parenting plan. The divorce process can all depend on how everything is managed, and an amicable outcome can be achieved if the spouses involved can follow these tips:

Tip #1: Do Not Act Inappropriately

Understanding that a divorce affects other people can help with perspective. The actions and emotions you display can have a lasting outcome on friends, family members, children, and the opposing spouse. Saying something that you might regret later could result in your peaceful separation falling apart. 

Coinciding with this, social media may seem like a good platform to vent your frustrations and anger, however this is not recommended. Taking into account all of the relevant factors, an inappropriate post could have severe consequences. It is not uncommon for social media posts to be presented as evidence in divorce cases, often to the detriment of the spouse who posted them.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysA divorce is typically a last resort for a couple who may have tried marriage counseling or therapy in an effort to solve their problems. Illinois recognizes “irreconcilable differences” as the only grounds for divorce, meaning that the marriage is considered beyond repair. While there is no longer a requirement in Illinois for divorcing spouses to live apart, a six-month period of living separately will be taken by the court as proof that there are irreconcilable differences between the parties.

Once the decision to end a matrimonial union has been made, there are legal steps that need to be taken in order to complete the divorce process. Even if a couple works together to come to agreements on financial or child-related issues, there are still obligations each party must meet for the final divorce decree to be issued.  

Divorce Proceedings

Illinois requires residency for a minimum of 90 days before a person can file for divorce. The proceedings are initiated when one spouse (petitioner) files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in his or her county’s court. After the filing, the other spouse (respondent) is served with the petition. The respondent has 30 days to file a response to the petition. If this is not done within the appropriate time period, a judge can enter a default judgment against that spouse. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysThe prevalence of social media cannot be denied in today’s society. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are some of the most popular social media websites for people of all ages. While a lot of users like these sites as a way to communicate and share pictures with friends or family members, the use of social media can prove detrimental when going through a divorce. If one spouse is posting photos of extravagant spending, for example, this can be spun as evidence against the other spouse if the couple is disputing spousal support/maintenance, child support, or child custody issues. It is imperative to err on the side of caution when contemplating social media activity during a divorce. 

Online Evidence Can Be Used Against You

It is important to know that text messages and emails are admissible in court. If a spouse uses social media, text messages, or email to announce a new job or an upcoming bonus that has not been disclosed to the other spouse or in court, this can be used as evidence that the person is not being honest regarding his or her finances. This can affect settlements for division of property and assets. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state so marital property will be split fairly, not necessarily equally. However, a judge will take several factors into consideration when determining how to divide everything. 

On Facebook, friends might post pictures and “tag” someone else in them, which includes his or her name. Therefore, people must be careful about their actions and behavior depending on their privacy settings for social media accounts. For example, if an individual takes an expensive vacation with friends and someone in the group posts pictures of it, that might lessen his or her chances of receiving spousal support or maintenance payments after the divorce.

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