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chicago guardianship lawyerWhen most people turn 18, the dawn of adulthood, it is generally assumed that individuals of this age accept the responsibilities and rights of legal adulthood. However, for adults with disabilities, turning 18 often presents new challenges, as they may be unable to control their own property, assets, and affairs. 

In other cases, an adult becomes disabled later in life due to Alzheimer’s disease or another serious medical condition. Adults with disabilities may be appointed a guardian to protect their best interests. 

The process of obtaining an adult guardianship can be complicated, as many difficult but necessary questions must be answered, like whether a guardian is even required, who is best suited to become a guardian, and what type of responsibility the guardian should have. This blog will delve deeper into adult guardianships in Illinois. 

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cook county divorce lawyer for older couplesThere is no question that divorce is rarely ever easy, regardless of how long you and your spouse have been married. However, if you and your spouse have been married for a long time, the drastic changes that come with divorce and the long list of things that must be sorted out will likely be more complex and burdensome than a married couple divorcing after just a year or two of marriage. Sometimes, a marriage may drag on for years or even decades because neither partner wants to deal with the divorce and all the issues that a divorce will entail. 

There tend to be additional divorce concerns for older adults who are leaving their marriages. In this blog, we will take a closer look at what some of those concerns may be. Notably, contacting a knowledgeable divorce attorney can make all the difference in the world if you are interested in pursuing a divorce. While nothing will make the process easy per-say, having a lawyer by your side to advocate for you and your best interests will likely make the process smoother overall. 

What to Consider When Leaving a Long Marriage

If you are in a long-term marriage, you likely have settled into a routine that is years, maybe even decades, in the making. Divorce will upend this routine entirely, which you need to be ready for. Additional special considerations for people leaving long-term marriages include the following:

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Benefits of a Postnuptial Agreement

Posted on in Family Law

cook county divorce lawyerUnlike a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement is a binding agreement spouses enter into after they are already married. Postnuptial agreements have the potential to resolve a great many issues in a divorce before they can become issues. Postnuptial agreements can address property concerns, spousal maintenance, and other matters. It is important retain legal counsel when considering a postnuptial agreement so you can be confident you are entering into a favorable agreement.

Postnuptial Agreements in Illinois

Postnuptial agreements are often used to differentiate marital property from non-marital property. In a divorce, marital property is divided between the spouses and non-marital property is assigned to the spouse who originally owned the property. Classifying property in preparation for division during divorce can be complicated and often leads to disagreements. A postnuptial agreement can be used to classify property before a marriage breaks down so there is no question as to whether an asset is marital or non-marital. 

Postnuptial agreements are also often used to describe spousal maintenance terms. When one spouse gives up career advancement to be a homemaker or stay-at-home parent, they may worry about how they will make ends meet if the marriage breaks down. A postnuptial agreement can define spousal maintenance terms in advance. 

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chicago family law attorneyA Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed by the court in a case involving children such as a divorce or child custody dispute. The GAL’s role is to investigate the circumstances of the dispute and determine what he or she believes to be the child’s best interests.. A judge’s decision to assign a GAL depends on numerous factors. Often, a GAL is appointed when the judge wants further information and professional insight in a case. Either party in a child custody case or divorce may request a GAL. 

A GAL is often assigned in contested cases involving allocation of parenting time and responsibility. The GAL conducts their own investigation into what is going on with a child, interviewing parents, children, and possibly third parties.

A GAL’s Role in a Child-Related Case 

It is important to note that while GAL stands for Guardian Ad Litem, the GAL will not be a guardian. Guardians have legal authority over minors or wards, but GALs do not. 

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Cook County, IL asset division lawyerIt is far from uncommon for either spouse in a divorce to try and hide certain assets while both parties are still in the middle of determining their property’s value. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that assets in a divorce are split equitably, which might not necessarily mean equally.

The size of assets being hidden can vary, but it can be a good idea to take a closer look if you believe your spouse could be hiding assets. A further of an examination of certain factors can occasionally lead to a surprising finding.

Ways Spouses Hide Assets

Every divorce is different, but some of the more common ways in which spouses may try to hide assets can include:

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Cook County legal separation lawyerWhen a married couple knows their relationship is on its way out, divorce often seems like the only logical option. Legal separation is another type of separation you can file in court to recognize that you will now be living apart, but it does not have quite the same final effect as a divorce.

Legal separation can be particularly helpful for married couples who have important health insurance benefits dependent upon the couple remaining married. It can also benefit people who may belong to a religion forbidding divorce or who are just not sure whether divorce is quite right yet.

Divorce Issues During Legal Separation

A person begins a legal separation by submitting a petition establishing that they are living separate and apart from their spouse and supplying information similar to a dissolution of marriage petition. The person will be required to file for legal separation in the county where either their spouse resides, they both resided as husband and wife, or if a spouse cannot be located in Illinois, the county in which the person petitioning for legal separation resides.

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Park Ridge, IL asset division lawyerRetirement funds and pensions can be some of the most valuable assets owned by a married couple, and ownership of these assets will need to be addressed during a divorce. In Illinois, these assets are subject to equitable distribution. This means that they will be divided fairly, but not necessarily exactly equally, between the divorcing spouses. When making decisions about these assets and taking steps to transfer or allocate funds between spouses, it is important to follow the correct procedures. A qualified family law attorney can provide invaluable guidance and ensure that a person's rights and financial interests will be protected during the divorce process.

Evaluating and Dividing Retirement Accounts

In Illinois, all property and assets acquired during a marriage are considered “marital property” and are subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. This includes retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs.

The first step in dividing retirement accounts is determining their value. This can be done by using account statements or other documentation to calculate the current balance of each account. Once the value of the accounts has been determined, they can be divided between the divorcing spouses either through negotiation or by court order.

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Chicago child custody lawyerIf you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you will be tasked with creating a child custody agreement that will work for both of you as well as for your child. You will want to make sure that you have a solid parenting plan in place so that there are stability and routine for your child during this time of transition. One issue that you may have to consider is whether the right of first refusal should be included in your child custody agreement.

The right of first refusal is the right of one parent to be given the opportunity to care for their child before anyone else. This means that if the other parent is unable to care for the child for any reason, the parent with the right of first refusal would be contacted first to see if they are available to fill in. This may mean that grandparents or other family members would only handle care for children if the other parent is unavailable.

There are a number of reasons that the right of first refusal may benefit you, your spouse, and your child. However, there are some downsides to consider as well. By evaluating the circumstances of your specific situation, the needs of all parties involved, and the best ways to avoid potential conflict, you can determine how to handle issues related to the right of first refusal as you determine how to handle child custody during your divorce.

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Cook County high conflict divorce lawyerIn the past, most spouses resolved their divorces in court through litigation. It was frequently a strenuous process, even for those in less contentious relationships. Today, divorce techniques involving compromise and negoiation provide an effective alternative to divorce litigation. While amiability can be helpful in reaching a satisfactory compromise on each issue, it is not necessary. Even warring spouses can avoid the stress and cost of litigation by using alternative dispute resolution methods that do not require them to work together directly. Attorney-facilitated negotiation and certain styles of mediation can work well for those who cannot hold a civil conversation or tolerate being in close proximity to their spouse. Resolving a divorce out of court is often in each party’s mutual interests, so it is often possible for spouses to come to an agreement. If you are interested in resolving your high-conflict divorce out of court, it is important to hire an attorney who is a skilled negotiator. 

Tips for Resolving a Contentious Divorce Out of Court 

Taking your case to litigation to spite one another is not likely to leave you in a more advantageous position than an uncontested divorce would unless your spouse truly will not participate in good faith. Tips for succeeding in reaching an agreement despite a high level of conflict include: 

  • Stay apart - Often, bringing spouses face to face raises the level of conflict and makes it less likely that a resolution will be reached. It may be wiser to pursue a method of mediation or negotiation that does not involve being in the presence of your spouse or speaking with them directly. 

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Divorce Concerns for Long-Married Spouses

Posted on in Divorce

Cook County divorce lawyerWhen you have been married for a very long time, divorce can be a drastic change for you and your entire family. It can be challenging to go from being partnered to living solo after a long-lasting marriage. Yet for many spouses who divorce after decades of marriage, the divorce has been a long time coming. You may have felt that your marriage was no longer working out years ago, but delayed your divorce for a number of reasons. Some spouses wait until their children have flown the coop, or spend years separated without actually ending the marriage. 

There are specialized divorce concerns for older adults leaving long-term marriages. Everything from working out alimony to dividing substantial marital assets and untangling complex financial situations can be a little different. It is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney when you are seeking to end a lengthy marriage. 

Things to Think About When You Are Ending a Long Marriage

In a long-term marriage, you and your spouse likely settled into a pattern of life that is now changing. Some special concerns you should be aware of include: 

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Chicago divorce lawyerIt has become a common trope in movies and music to portray a wealthy person who gets married and subsequently divorced losing half of his—usually the subject is a man—property to his ex-spouse, regardless of the fact that he owned most of the same assets at the time of the marriage. While such a cliché situation is technically possible under the law in some states, the reality in Illinois is generally much different.

Fair Does Not Always Mean Equal

Property division following a divorce in Illinois can be rather complicated, as the law requires marital assets to be divided according to what is equitable and just. While this could result in a clean 50/50 split, there is no guarantee. Rather, the specific circumstances of the marriage, divorce, and expected post-divorce realities must be taken into account to determine the appropriate allocation of assets.

Yours, Mine, or Ours?

The other major point that television portrayals of divorce get tend to get wrong involves what property should and should not be subject to division. In Illinois, only assets that are considered to be part of the marital estate are to be included in the process, not absolutely everything owned by either spouse. The law provides that marital property is any property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage with very limited exceptions for gifts and inheritances. Generally, this also means that any property that a spouse owned prior to the marriage is not part of the marital estate. There are ways that separate property may become marital property, and such situations can be very complex.

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Chicago family lawyerAs a divorced or single parent, you understand how challenging it can be to provide all the things your child needs to thrive. In an ideal situation, your child’s other parent would also be committed to helping, both financially and as an active participant in the child’s life. But what happens when you want to pursue opportunities that would force you to relocate to a new city or state with your child? Do you have the right to simply pick up and move? As with most issues of family law and co-parenting, the answer depends on the circumstances of your particular situation.

Evolving Laws

For many years, the laws in Illinois were fairly subjective about moving with your child. While there was no specific prohibition or distance limitations for an in-state move, if the move presented major obstacles to an existing custody or visitation order, it could potentially be challenged in court. An out-of-state move with a child subject to a custody or visitation order statutorily required the other parent’s consent or an overriding court order.

Thanks to changes in the law that were made a few years ago, the expectations and restrictions on moving with a child are now much clearer. As part of the update that transformed child custody into the allocation of parental responsibilities, lawmakers made the entire statute far easier to understand for all parties involved.

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chicago child custody lawyerParenting time” is the term used to describe the time that a parent looks after his or her child. During a divorce or child custody case, the parents are encouraged to reach an agreement about how to divide parenting time. If the parents cannot agree, the court will make a determination based on the child’s best interests.

Illinois courts generally assume that it is best for children to spend time with both of their parents. However, when there are safety concerns, the court may order a parenting time restriction. Supervised visitation is one of the most well-known parenting time restrictions, but it is just one of many different restrictions the court may enforce.   

When is Restricted Parenting Time Appropriate?

Every child custody decision made by an Illinois court prioritizes one factor above all else: the child’s best interests. Parenting time may be restricted if the court finds that unrestricted parenting time would seriously jeopardize the child’s physical, mental, or moral health or development. The court will hold a hearing in which the parents can explain their reasons for or against parenting time restrictions. Often, a guardian ad litem provides professional insight about what is in the child’s best interests during the hearing.

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shutterstock_1407722624.jpgIn many family law cases, one of the most important issues that will need to be addressed is how parents will share the costs of raising their children. To ensure that children’s needs will be met, child support orders will usually be created as part of a divorce or child custody case. Children have the right to receive financial support from both parents, and child support orders will ensure that the parent who provides the majority of the child care will be able to cover various child-related expenses. By understanding how the laws in Illinois address these matters, parents can ensure that child support payments will be calculated correctly.

Calculating Child Support Obligations Based on Shared Income

Illinois law provides guidelines for how child support obligations will be calculated, and these instructions will usually be followed by family court judges. There may be some situations where a judge may choose to deviate from the guidelines based on extraordinary circumstances, such as when children have special needs that require parents to share the costs of medical care or other forms of treatment. However, the guidelines will apply in most cases, and the method used to calculate child support is as follows:

  1. Each parent’s net income is determined by taking the gross income they earn and deducting allowable expenses, including taxes, spousal maintenance (alimony) payments, and child support for children from a previous relationship.

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Chicago divorce lawyer for marriage problemsWhile every marriage is different, and the paths that couples take will vary, experts have identified five signs that can show that a divorce may be likely. For many, it can be hard to see some of these signs without taking a step back to reflect. If you are considering a divorce but are unsure if the time has truly come, see if any of these red flags are appearing in your marriage.

Look for These Signs, Then Decide on Your Next Steps

It may be one or both partners who are causing marital strife, but the following challenges to any marriage may be difficult to overcome. Here are some warning signs to look for in your marriage:

  • You no longer express appreciation – The small acts of kindness may be the first to go in a relationship that is headed for an end. If a couple no longer shows appreciation or gratitude toward each other, this may be a sign that the relationship is slipping away.

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north shore divorce lawyerMoney and financial disagreements are common causes of marital discord. It is natural for these disagreements to carry over even once a divorce is inevitable. However, until the divorce decree is final, both spouses must refrain from frivolous spending that only benefits themselves and negatively impacts the joint marital assets that are to be equitably divided. You may have found out that your spouse bought an expensive new car or took a trip with the person they have been having an extramarital affair with. This type of wasteful spending is known as dissipation, and it can have repercussions during the divorce process.

Impact of Dissipation on a Divorce in Illinois

For wasteful spending to be considered dissipation, it must have occurred after the marriage has undergone an “irretrievable breakdown.” Illinois law limits claims to spending which occurred five years before the claim is made and three years from when the other spouse found out about the spending.

Dissipation occurs when money is used or spent in a way that only benefits one of the spouses. If it is a purchase that you disagree with but which is generally for the benefit of the family, it is unlikely to be ruled as dissipation of marital assets. Behaviors that can qualify as dissipation include:

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chicago parenting plan lawyerDuring a divorce involving minor children, significant decisions always surround the division of rights and responsibilities of each of the parents in the children’s lives. Illinois law requires a comprehensive parenting plan during a divorce to clearly describe the detailed responsibilities of each parent. An experienced attorney can help you negotiate a parenting plan that serves your children's best interests while also meeting your needs.

Components of a Parenting Plan

Here are components that should be included in a parenting plan. While the first two are the most important, all parts of the plan are required by law and can help remove subjectivity over future decisions the parents may face.

  • Parenting time schedule – This describes how the children’s time with each parent will be divided and the specific plan for days or weeks spent at each home.

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chicago divorce lawyerFor various reasons, the rate of divorce among couples over the age of 50 continues to grow. While many divorces have specific characteristics in common, some issues become more pronounced for older couples. Child support and child custody arrangements may not be as common, but couples can face more significant challenges related to spousal support, division of marital property, retirement savings and Social Security, and complex financial situations.

Common Issues When Couples Divorce Near Retirement

With the complexities that older couples face, it is essential that you work with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with gray divorces and the issues they may face. Here are some of the more common issues to consider during your divorce.

Retirement savings and Social Security – For couples approaching retirement, assets such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions take on greater importance. The portion of the retirement funds acquired during the marriage are divided equitably during a divorce, not solely to the spouse who earned or contributed to the accounts. Divorced parties may also be entitled to Social Security benefits based on their ex’s work history. However, your marriage must have lasted for at least ten years, and the benefits are not eligible to be divided until two years after your divorce is finalized.

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Chicago postnuptial agreement lawyerYou may be familiar with prenuptial agreements and their role in keeping assets separate as a couple enters marriage. Less well-known is the postnuptial agreement. Like a prenup, it can be an excellent way to protect individual assets, including property, life insurance considerations, and financial responsibilities. For a postnuptial agreement to be enforceable, it should be something that both spouses agree on. Working with a family law attorney before entering into any postnuptial agreement is also recommended.

What Are the Benefits of a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement can:

  • Protect significant individual wealth - For partners who brought considerable wealth into a marriage, such as a business, real estate property, or retirement savings, those assets can be kept separate from the marital estate in the postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement may also be a smart move for you and your spouse if one of you has recently experienced a significant financial change, including a large inheritance or gift, or has recently acquired valuable property.
  • Protect a spouse from the risks of the other spouse’s business venture - If one spouse starts a new business during the marriage, they may want to insulate their marriage assets from any debt the new business occurs. If the company were to fail, the agreement could protect the marital assets of the couple from being put at risk.
  • Safeguard assets if you are considering divorce - For couples who are having marital difficulties but who have not yet begun the divorce process, a postnuptial agreement can be used to safeguard certain assets that were brought into the marriage by each individual. However, you cannot make arrangements for child custody or child support in the agreement. Those decisions can only be made during the legal divorce proceedings.

How Is a Postnuptial Agreement Used in an Illinois Divorce?

If your marriage does end in a divorce, the judge will use a postnuptial agreement as the basis for property division as long as it is fair and both parties entered into the agreement in good faith. Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, marital assets and property will be divided fairly, not evenly, between the spouses. Therefore, any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement will set a framework for the judge’s decision, but the final division of property is up to their discretion.

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Chicago alimony attorneyWhen a marriage is ended, some of the most far-reaching decisions revolve around finances and assets. Without a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the two parties or the judge must agree on whether alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, will be paid by one spouse to the other. There are different factors to determine whether alimony will be paid, how much the payments will be, and how long the support will continue.

Spousal support is not a required part of the divorce agreement. There are three main avenues for one spouse to receive alimony in Illinois:

  • Through a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This agreement can cover the amount of the payments, the length of payments, or simply if payments will occur.
  •  A settlement or agreement by the two parties during the divorce proceedings. This can be negotiated directly by the two parties in an uncontested divorce or by their attorneys during divorce negotiations.
  • A petition of the court by one of the parties.

Determining Whether Alimony Will be Paid

If there is no spousal support agreement in place, the following factors are taken into consideration when determining if spousal support is to be paid:

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