1776 S. Naperville Road
Building B, Suite 202
Wheaton, IL 60189
630-462-9500630-462-9500
New client after hours number: 630-690-6077
Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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Recent blog posts

Illinois divorce planning attorneysThe financial implications of divorce are well-known and, for some, highly feared. In fact, studies indicate that it takes an average of five years to financially recover. Still, it is not just a couple’s immediate funds that are affected; retirement accounts, which are often considered a part of the marital estate in divorce, may also be affected. Learn how you can mitigate against the damage with help from the following information.

Beware of Short-Term Thinking

If you are divorcing during your working years and still have time until retirement, it may be tempting to discount the impact that divorce may have on your retirement. Unfortunately, this mindset could cause you to be caught off-guard during the negotiation process. You may even be tempted to take a settlement that is not in your best interest, perhaps for an asset that does not hold the same long-term value or benefits. An attorney can examine your situation, advise you of your options, and help you understand the possible consequences of your decisions.

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Illinois domestic violence lawyersDomestic violence is a pervasive issue in America. In fact, it seems there is a news story almost daily on the death or injury of a domestic violence victim. Often, the reported violence is connected to a victim trying to leave, either through separation or divorce. It is, by far, the most dangerous time for them. Learn how to protect yourself and your children during a divorce with help from the following information, and the aid of an experienced attorney.

Leaving is the Most Dangerous Time for Abuse Victims

Abusers who are losing control of their victim can become unpredictable and exceedingly violent. Some may even resort to showing up at the victim’s place of employment or home. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate against this type of behavior. Victims can seek help with an order of protection, which bars the abuser from coming within a certain distance from the victim. Divorcing victims can also let their attorney handle all communications between themselves and their spouse, which can limit any opportunity for an argument. Above all, remember to contact the authorities if you fear you are in immediate danger.

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Posted by on in Family Law

Illinois prenuptial agreement lawyersPrenuptial agreements are making a comeback, which means more couples have a clear understanding of their financial obligations in marriage and are better prepared for divorce. Unfortunately, there are a few mistakes that couples often make when drafting their agreements. Learn how to avoid them with help from the following information.

Avoiding the Topic Altogether

Perhaps the biggest and most common prenuptial agreement mistake that couples make is simply not discussing it. True, it is not a very romantic topic, and it is easy to overlook when you are in love, but many couples end up regretting their decision. Some may even find themselves in complex and contentious situations, should they ever divorce. If you are apprehensive because the topic lacks romance, or you are sure you will not need one, at least be willing to approach and discuss the matter. It could save you from a headache and perhaps even a hefty attorney bill in the years to come.

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Illinois divorce attorneysObesity is a pandemic issue that costs Americans billions in healthcare costs each year. It can also increase one’s risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related conditions. In short, is a killer and a thief. Thankfully, things have slowly started to turn around; people are becoming more aware of what they eat and how often they exercise. They are taking back control over their health.

Still, there are things that can increase a person’s risk for developing obesity. For example, a recent study found that children of divorce may be more likely to experience obesity as an adult than children whose parents stayed together. Learn more about this risk, including how you may be able to mitigate against it, in the following.

More on the Obesity Study

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Illinois divorce lawyersRecent changes in America’s health care system has many citizens on edge, particularly when it comes to their health insurance coverage. The issue is so concerning, in fact, that some couples are delaying divorce. Thankfully, there may be other options. The following information explains these options, and it provides some tips on ensuring that your rights are well protected during an Illinois divorce.

Examining the Concerns of Divorcing Couples

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made insurance easier to obtain and keep for many people in the United States – particularly those with pre-existing health conditions and individuals going through divorce – citizens were not as happy with it as the government had expected. Part of that was due to the rising costs of health insurance, which have been on a steep incline for years (as in, long before the ACA was initiated), but there were other factors behind America’s dissatisfaction with the ACA. Now lawmakers are trying to repeal it, but finding a suitable replacement has been anything but easy.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysAlthough mediation is ultimately about compromising with your spouse, you can (and should) attempt to tilt the scales in your favor as much as humanly possible. After all, the odds are that your spouse will attempt to do the very same thing. Learn more about the strategies that you can use your divorce mediation with help from the following information.

Why Choose Mediation?

Mediation may not be the most favorable option for every divorce, but it can be highly beneficial for some. For example, spouses that have minor children may find that mediation offers a more amicable approach than a litigated divorce. Couples with a high net worth may also prefer mediation since it can drastically reduce costs and improve their settlement. Mediation can also lead to a faster conclusion of your case if you and your spouse are willing to compromise. Still, if you have questions about whether mediation may be appropriate for you, it is wise to discuss your options with an experienced divorce lawyer before moving forward.

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Wheaton family law attorneysChildren tend to do their best when they are supported and loved by both parents – that includes emotional, mental, physical, developmental, and financial assistance. The support system is typically built in when born to parents who are married; the child usually spends time with each parent, and even if a divorce occurs, the child will likely continue to have the support they need. What happens, though, when the parents are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth? How, then, is paternity established, and how does the state of Illinois ensure the child is receiving the support they need?

The truth is, things can become a little more complicated. There may be questions as to whether the alleged father is, in fact, the child’s biological parent. Until there is an answer, the child may lack the support that they need from one or even both parents. How can you keep this from happening to your child? First, you can ensure that you have worked to establish paternity. Second, you can seek child support, parenting time, and an allocation of parental responsibilities. Learn more about this process, including how the state of Illinois establishes paternity, with help from the following information.

Establishing Paternity – The Basics

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce is rarely easy, and it is not typically something that people want to endure. Still, it is sometimes necessary to ensure the happiness of both parties. So, while some spouses may experience initial resistance when they ask for a divorce, the matter is typically resolved with time. What happens, though, when the issue does not resolve, and a spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers? Are you then stuck in your marriage, or are there other strategies you can employ? Rest assured: divorce may still be an option; it may just look a little different than you expected.

Why Some Spouses Refuse to Sign

There are many reasons why a spouse might refuse to sign divorce papers. Some strongly believe in the sanctity of marriage, either because of religion or how they were raised. Others may fear judgment from their family, friends, or professional and social circles. Then there are some who refuse to sign because they are struggling to come to terms with the end of their marriage, and they may even experience so much anger and bitterness that they use their refusal as a form of retaliation. Still, there are some who have a history of emotional, physical, mental, financial, or sexual abuse and they may refuse to sign so they can maintain control over the victim.

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Posted by on in Alimony

Illinois alimony defense lawyersSeveral matters can create contention in divorce, but few can spark as much fear and emotion as spousal maintenance. On the one hand, you have a spouse that feels they are entitled to support. On the other, you have a spouse that feels they either should not or cannot pay the amount of support requested. Who is correct, and how does a judge decide? The following explains, and it provides details on how you can contest a request for spousal maintenance.

Spousal Maintenance Basics

Despite the common misconception, alimony is not automatically awarded in divorce. Instead, it is determined by a judge. In making that decision, the judge may weigh and consider a variety of factors, including:

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Wheaton high net worth divorce attorneysWhen facing a high net-worth divorce, parties may question the “best” possible path. Should they go through mediation and settle? Is litigation the answer? Deciding is not always easy. Each case is unique, and the exact details do have a significant influence on the more appropriate path. Still, some considerations can help you in weighing the pros and cons of each option. The following information offers some guidance, and it explains where and why you should seek assistance before making a final decision.

Domestic Violence, Intimidation, and Coercion

Statistics indicate that one in four women experience physical abuse in an intimate relationship. Abuse rates for men, which are thought to be underreported, are about one in seven. When you add in those that are emotionally or financially abused, the rates are much higher.

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Illinois family law attorneysWhile divorce is stressful for everyone involved, it is children who are at the greatest risk for serious mental and emotional complications. Knowing this, parents are encouraged to do everything they can to monitor and protect their children. Learn how to recognize stress in your child, understand your options for dealing with it, and know where to seek support.

Signs That Suggest Your Child is Stressed

Indications of stress in children can vary greatly, depending on the age of the child. For example, younger children may display regressive behavior, such as bedwetting, baby talk, and temper tantrums. School-aged children may exhibit hyperactive behavior, nightmares, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating on school work or homework, and they may overreact to minor problems. Older children may begin to withdraw from family and friends, may also overreact to minor issues, and could be at risk for depression, sleeping disorders, or eating disorders.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersFamily dynamics have changed significantly over the last few decades, but there are still areas where women remain at a disadvantaged. One prime example is when they embark on divorce. Thankfully, women can mitigate against their risks in divorce. The key is to know what the most common mistakes are, and how to avoid them. The following explains further and provides some details on where to find assistance.

Understanding the Potential Risks

Women have become fully integrated into the workforce, but there are still some that choose to remain home. Some do so to care for children. Others do so because they have no need to work. Still, others simply may not have the education or skills to secure gainful employment. Whatever the reason for not being employed outside the home, these women are at a serious risk for financial disadvantages after the divorce.

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Wheaton grandparent visitation lawyersParents ultimately get to decide who their child spends time with, but there are some situations in which children are wrongfully withheld from an extended family member. Sometimes, it is out of spite. Other times, it may be due to a particularly messy divorce, separation, or breakup between the parents. In either case, the child may suffer. Thankfully, certain nonparents can seek visitation rights. The following information can help you learn more about this process, including where and why you should seek quality assistance.

Who Can Request Visitation?

While visitation may be denied to a long list of extended family members, only certain ones have the right to seek visitation. These family members include the child’s grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, or stepparents. If the grandparents or great-grandparents are on the father’s side, paternity must be established before seeking visitation. If the mother and father were married at the time of the child’s birth, paternity is already assumed.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersThe Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent a substantial overhaul in 2016, but many couples still do not fully understand what these changes mean. More specifically, the impact and implications of a “pure” no-fault divorce are often misunderstood. Learn more about no-fault divorces, including what they are and why it matters.

Dividing Legal and Emotional Aspects of Divorce

Before the changes to the IMDMA occurred, couples had to provide a reason for divorce. Moreover, the term “irreconcilable differences” only applied when it could be determined that the marriage was irretrievably broken, or that reconciliation was not in the family’s best interest. As such, divorces often brought up emotional elements that hindered the legal process, pitted one spouse against the other, and caused unnecessary contention in the courtroom.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersArguments, disagreements, or even silent troubles over money in marriage are extremely common in America. That is because most couples are not sure how to broach the subject, yet even those who attempt to work through their money issues often feel as if at least one of them always walks away from the conversation feeling angry, hurt, taken advantage of, or ignored. Unfortunately, if the issues are never resolved, the couple then becomes at an increased risk for divorce. Worse yet, the issues that plagued them in marriage may also find their way into the courtroom.

Divorce Rarely Eliminates Money Troubles

If money has been a problem in your marriage, then it is likely that it will continue to be an issue during your divorce. Part of this is due to the very nature of divorce – the way it pits one party against another – but it can also be a lingering symptom of unhealthy money habits, behaviors, and conversations. For example, if one party is a saver and the other prefers to spend, then there one spouse may need to take steps to prevent dissipation of the marital estate. Alternatively, if the couple regularly argued over the contributions that a stay-at-home parent made, their work may continue to be devalued by their spouse in the divorce proceedings.

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Illinois family law attorneysWhen making a determination for parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, the courts generally consider the best interest of a child. However, there is often an extra element of concern when the determination involves a child with special needs. Much of this is due to the increased need for supervision, medical care, and educational provisions. How might these factors impact your case? More importantly, how can you ensure that your child’s needs are met during the divorce proceedings? The following explores these questions and provides information on where to find qualified legal assistance with your case.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

The allocation of parental responsibilities is the power to make decisions about the child’s daily life (i.e. where to receive medical care, education needs, religious affiliation, etc.). It is often assumed that the parent with more parenting time will receive more of the decision-making power, but this is not always true. The child’s needs and family dynamics could lead to a nearly even split in the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as joint custody), or one parent may have more decision-making power than the other. That increased amount of decision-making power can go to either parent, regardless of the amount of awarded parenting time.

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Illinois family law attorneyAfter a divorce or separation, couples begin their own, unique journey. In many cases, the new path is a positive thing, but sometimes it can take a person further from the people they love most. If that person you are leaving is your child, but you must move to secure housing or employment, it can feel as though you are severing one limb to save another. In such situations, virtual visitation may be an option.

Using Virtual Visitation to Fill the Gap

Some parents live just an hour or two away from their children and can still visit their child on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Others live in completely different states or countries and might be lucky to see their child in person once or twice a year. Virtual visitation can fill the gap when in-person visits are not reasonable by giving children and parents a way to connect. True, it is not the same as an in-person visit, but it still fosters a healthy and consistent relationship between both parent and child. For the most favorable results, video camera visits – either through webcam or phone application – are recommended.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce is more than just severing marital ties; it is also a new start. For some, that new start could be exactly what is needed to advance a career or grow a business. However, one should be aware that there are many financial risks tied to divorce. As such, it is crucial to start building a post-divorce financial plan as soon as reasonably possible. The following information can help you get started. It also provides you with insight into the divorce process and its potential pitfalls.

Examine Your Finances and Expenses

In marriage, you and your spouse likely shared income and expenses. Post-divorce, the income you earn will be yours, but so will your expenses. As such, it is crucial that you know what money you have coming in and what you are paying out. Perhaps even more important is knowing where that money is going; knowing this can help you shave off the excess. For example, if you are the one that pays the cable bill, but you rarely watch television, you can remove it from your planned monthly expenditures.

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Illinois family law attorneysAlthough the divorce rate has fallen over the last several years, there are still many families that separate each year. When a child is at the center of that family, parents often worry if the divorce will negatively impact the mental and emotional health of their child. Countless studies suggest this could be the case, including a recent one that was supported by the National Institute for Mental Health, but there may be less to worry about than the experts let on - especially if parents know how to mitigate against the possible risks.

Examining the Possible Impact of Divorce

Society often thinks of children as “resilient” and capable of overcoming the obstacles they face early in life. On one hand, there is some truth to that. On the other hand, there is a real risk of emotional trauma. For example, children who experience parental alienation may experience long-term complications, such as disdain for the alienated parent. Alternatively, the child may have a sense that there is something wrong with them because they still love the alienated parent, despite all the “horrible” things they have allegedly done. As a result, the child may be prone to depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem.

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Illinois family law attorneysFamily violence and abuse are not a new issue in divorce cases. Many parents have had to fight to protect their children from a violent spouse. In contrast, parental alienation is a new concept in family court. However, some experts say the issue has been around as long as divorce (if not longer). Still, other psychologists believe parental alienation is nothing more than a clever defense for abusive parents – a way for them to control and punish an already beaten-down spouse. Sometimes, the latter is correct, but determining whether a case is a matter of family violence or parental alienation is rarely easy.

Parental Alienation as a Defense for Abuse

It is true that there are documented cases in which parental alienation was used as a defense strategy for an abusive parent. Retaliation and control are often the game, and the individuals who play it know how to win. They use every strategy possible. They hire bulldog attorneys that demonize an abuse victim. They propose family reunification camps that, to date, lack any evidence of efficacy. Some even issue threats to the child to encourage them to play along.

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  • DuPage County Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Rotary of Oak Brook
  • Martindale Hubbell
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
  • Top 40 Under 40
  • DCBA Law Firm of the Year
    DCBA Law Firm of the Year 2011, 2013
  • Office of the States Attorney 2006-2007
    Outstanding Service to the Office of the State's Attorney 2006-2007
  • Prosecutor 2012
    Outstanding Misdemeanor Prosecutor 2012
  • AVVO Clients Choice
    Clients' Choice
  • I would highly recommend Tony Sammarco to anyone needing a divorce lawyer. He explained all my options to me and he made sure I understood the process. I am glad I had him there to help me through this difficult time.

  • Thank you doesn’t seem enough for all that Bill Stogsdill and Brett Williamson have done not only for me, but my children as well. When I first met both of these gentlemen, each presented themselves with such self-confidence. I instantly knew...

  • The Stogsdill Law Firm and I were able to obtain sole custody of my son. I am fortunate for the outcome and I am to be a father to my son. Secondly, my ex-spouse was awarded limited portion of the marital estate. Bryan Estes is more than an excellent lawyer...

  • Whenever my opinion is asked by any of my clients, friends or family regarding what law firm someone should use for their divorce my answer is always the same –The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. The kids and I are forever indebted to Bill and his firm.

  • Bryan's ability to listen and understand my situation and then offer his advice on how we should proceed was the main reasons I hired Bryan as my attorney. That was the best decision I made, for myself and my children. Bryan helped develop action plans as well as a strategy ...

  • I wanted to thank you for your professional and respectful help with my case. Before entering your law firm, I felt as if my life might be at an end. After being greeted by your office manager, I was completely put at ease. Then after my consultation with you, I knew I was in good hands...

  • Mr. Smit has demonstrated a high degree of loyalty and trust worthiness to his work and to his associates. Justin certainly is an asset to your Law Firm, his organization skills are second to none. I have and will continue to recommend Justin ...

  • I recently made the life-altering decision of ending a 30 year marriage. While the support of family and friends was very important, I knew that choosing the right attorney was vital. In large part, my future would be determined by his legal advice and skills…

  • You've clearly established a client-focus in your office -- providing your clients with the warmth and understanding they need as they go through a very difficult time. Thank you, again, for all your help.

  • Taking that step to file for divorce was probably one of the most life changing decisions I have ever made. The process is very painful and emotionally draining. I retained Robert Boyd and Justin Smit of The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C...

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