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Wheaton, IL 60189
Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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DuPage County spousal support attorneySpousal maintenance, also called alimony or spousal support, refers to payments that an individual makes to their former spouse after a divorce. Spousal support is only ordered in certain divorce cases, and it is meant to ensure that a divorced person can maintain the lifestyle they were used to during their marriage. In some cases, maintenance payments will be ordered when a lesser-earning spouse needs financial support for a period of time until he or she can obtain the skills or education necessary for suitable employment. However, some spouses may not ever be able to become financially independent after a divorce. In these cases, permanent spousal maintenance may be ordered.

When Is Spousal Maintenance Ordered?

There are two ways that spousal support will typically be awarded in Illinois. The spouses may have decided upon a spousal maintenance arrangement through a prenuptial agreement or another type of marital agreement, or spousal support can be ordered by a judge. During a divorce or legal separation, the judge will decide whether to award maintenance based on the circumstances of the case. In order to determine whether a person is eligible to receive spousal maintenance, the judge will consider factors including but not limited to:

  • Each spouse’s income, present and future earning capacity, and overall financial circumstances

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Wheaton asset division attorneyWhen you and your spouse got married, you might have moved into a house that one of you owned already, or you might have found a new home together. Since your wedding, it is also possible that you and your spouse have upgraded and bought a house big enough to accommodate your growing family. If you find yourself facing the prospect of a divorce, however, how and when you and your spouse bought your current home could affect its status as a marital asset.

Equitable Distribution in Illinois

According to Illinois law, a divorcing couple’s marital property is to be divided equitably, or fairly, between the spouses. The law also defines marital property as assets or debts acquired by either party during the marriage, with limited exceptions for inheritances or gifts to one spouse. Property that was acquired before the marriage is considered to be non-marital and is not subject to being divided during the divorce. This includes the home where you and your spouse were living when the marriage ended.

How and When the Home Was Purchased

If the home in question was purchased and fully paid off by either you or your spouse before you got married, it is not likely to be considered a marital asset by the court. It would more likely be considered a non-marital asset and awarded to the spouse who bought it originally. However, if you bought the home together at any point during your marriage, the home would probably be considered marital property.

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DuPage County parenting plan lawyerIf you are an unmarried parent or parent going through a divorce, you may have concerns about sharing parental responsibilities and parenting time with your child’s other parent. Going from a situation in which you spend every day with your child to one in which you have to share custody can be extremely difficult. In order to maximize the amount of parenting time, or visitation, you have with your child in a shared parenting arrangement, you will want to make the most of a “right of first refusal” provision in your Illinois parenting plan.

Your Right to Spend Time with your Child

An Illinois parenting plan or parenting agreement is a required document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of divorced or unmarried parents. The plan includes directions for how parental responsibilities are allocated, how major decisions about the child will be made, a parenting time schedule or method for determining parenting time, transportation arrangements, and more. Parents are encouraged to create their own parenting plan, but if parents cannot come to an agreement on parenting time and other issues, the court will decide on behalf of the parents. One item that often gets overlooked in Illinois parenting plans is the right of first refusal. Put plainly, the right of first refusal gives you the right to care for your child if the other parent is not able to care for the child during his or her scheduled parenting time.

Elements of the Right of First Refusal

Consider this situation: you are a parent who only gets to see your child every other weekend. You miss your child on the off weekends and wish you got to see him or her more often. On one of the weekends that your child’s other parent is allotted parenting time, he or she decides to take a trip out of town. The other parent hires a babysitter to watch your child during his or her absence. Due to your limited time with your child, you will likely feel that you should be the one to care for your child rather than an outside party.

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyer for marriage annulmentAlthough they are both ways to end a marriage, annulment and divorce are two completely different legal processes. Unlike divorce, annulment effectively cancels a marriage. Annulling a marriage declares the marriage invalid and makes it as though the marriage never occurred. There are a variety of reasons that a person may seek an annulment. It is important to remember, however, that only certain marriages are eligible for an annulment.

Annulment Cancels an Invalid Marriage

In Illinois, annulment is called a Declaration of Invalidity. The purpose of annulment is not to end a valid marriage, but to “undo” a marriage that was never valid in the first place. If a marriage does not meet the criteria required by Illinois law, the marriage may be eligible for an annulment. More specifically, a marriage can be annulled if one or more of the following conditions are present:

  • A spouse did not or could not consent to the marriage. If a spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the marriage was solemnized, the marriage may be declared invalid. A marriage can also be invalidated if a spouse lacked the capacity to agree to the marriage due to mental illness or intellectual disability.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer for child support enforcement and modificationChild support is intended to help unmarried or divorced parents share the cost of raising a child. Illinois takes child support orders very seriously. When a child support order is entered by the court, the payments are not optional. If you do not pay court-ordered child support, you can face serious penalties, which may include criminal charges. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, you may be able to request a modification from the court.

Consequences of Child Support Nonpayment in Illinois

In Illinois, child support enforcement is managed by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services' (DHFS) Division of Child Support. Through the Child Support Enforcement Program, the DHFS monitors child support payments and ensures that child support orders are being followed. When a recipient parent is not receiving court-ordered child support payments, he or she may contact the DHFS for help. Once the DHFS is aware of the problem, the agency will take steps to collect the unpaid child support. If the non-paying parent is receiving public assistance, the DHFS can take funds directly from the parent’s public assistance benefits.

If you fail to pay child support, your wages may be garnished. This means money will be taken directly out of your paycheck. In addition, your tax returns may be intercepted, or your bank account may be seized. If you are more than 90 days behind on your child support, your driver’s license or any professional licenses that you have can be suspended. If you owe more than $5,000 of past-due child support, or if you have not paid in six months or more, you may even be charged with a criminal offense.

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