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Wheaton, IL 60189
Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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dupage county child custody lawyerResearch suggests that getting divorced can be one of the most difficult and disruptive life events for everyone involved. A divorcing couple has often built up years of resentments, and it can be hard to remember that they ever saw anything good in each other. One potential consequence of this hostility is that parents will often try to get sole custody of their child. They may try to convince the court that the other parent is so unfit that they should not have any say in important decisions regarding the child. Sometimes, this is based on the sincere belief that sole custody is in the child’s best interests. Sometimes it is done, unconsciously or otherwise, out of a desire to hurt the other spouse. 

The truth is that being the only parent to have all the parental responsibilities may have benefits, but it may also have drawbacks. Parents should make a sincere effort to consider their child’s best interests and whether they would be served by a sole custody arrangement.

What Does “Sole Custody” Mean? 

Illinois law no longer contains the phrases “child custody” and “visitation.” However, the term “custodial parent” is still informally used to refer to a parent who has all of the parental responsibilities. Parental responsibilities allocated in a parenting plan include decision-making authority for the child’s healthcare, schooling, extracurricular activities, and more. Parenting time refers to the time a parent spends with the child. During a parent’s “parenting time,” the parent is responsible for daily caregiving responsibilities like feeding and bathing the child.  

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wheaton child custody lawyerUnfortunately, some divorces are so fractious and bitter that parents cannot decide upon a parenting plan that works for everyone. Sometimes, both parents are struggling with personal issues that get in the way of their parenting capabilities. Perhaps one parent will make accusations about another parent’s behavior, and a judge is unsure whether the accusing parent is telling the truth. 

These are just a few examples of situations in which a court may decide to appoint a custody evaluator. Formally, these situations are known under Illinois law as “604b Evaluations” – when the court asks an outside representative to investigate and make a report or recommendation regarding how parental responsibilities should be allocated. 

What is a Custody Evaluator? 

A custody evaluator is almost always a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They complete an extensive investigation into a child’s environment to create a report about what they believe to be in the best interests of the child. Custody evaluators can be very expensive, and parents are often required to pay for the services of the custody evaluator themselves. 

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wheaton divorce lawyerPeople who sustain serious injuries at work often depend on the monetary compensation they receive from workers’ compensation or a personal injury settlement. The money victims receive is necessary for medical costs, which can be exorbitant, and to make up for the wages lost due to the injury. You may believe that, in the event of a divorce, your settlement money will remain yours alone, since you are the one who is affected by the injury. However, Illinois law defines marital property as all assets acquired during a marriage – and money acquired because of workers’ compensation and personal injury settlements may be classified as a marital asset. 

What is Non-Marital Property? 

Illinois law clearly enumerates the kinds of assets that are considered non-marital property, and anything that falls outside of non-marital property is generally considered marital property. Non-marital properties must have been:

  • Obtained before a marriage

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illinois child support lawyerWhen a divorce is finalized, the divorce decree will describe property division, spousal support, allocation of parental responsibilities, and how much child support must be paid. However, circumstances can justify modifying a divorce order so that the amount of child support due reflects a parent’s current situation. In order to understand how a job change or other circumstance may affect child support payments, it is important to first understand how child support is determined in Illinois. 

What Factors Does a Court Consider When Determining Child Support?

Hourly wages or salary are not the only factors a court will consider when making decisions regarding child support. Child support is calculated using both parents’ net income. The following factors may influence the amount a parent pays in child support: 

  • Spousal support or child support orders from a previous relationship

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wheaton divorce lawyerDivorce is commonplace in 2021, and many couples may be tempted to handle the filing, negotiating, and property settlement for themselves. When a couple is separating amicably, it may seem that the divorce process is fairly straightforward and they believe they will be able to come to a mutual resolution without help from a divorce attorney. Couples may also believe they can save themselves significant time and expense by handling the divorce themselves. 

Regardless of how legitimate the reasons for wanting to avoid hiring a lawyer may be, the truth is that handling the divorce process yourself can actually end up costing you more time and money. Divorce law is complex, and it is easy to make mistakes that are very costly in the short and long term. Clerks and judges are not permitted to give you legal advice. If you decide not to hire an attorney, you are truly on your own. 

Why Hire a Professional Divorce Attorney? 

  • Avoid Financial Mistakes – Divorce, no matter how simple it may seem, causes substantial changes to your overall financial picture. Shared bank accounts, credit cards, and major debt like car loans and mortgages will all play a role in your divorce. Likewise, retirement accounts or Social Security benefits can complicate a couple’s financial picture. You do not want to be surprised with unexpected loss from investment accounts or find yourself shelling out big bucks to avoid selling your home. A good divorce attorney will help you avoid common financial pitfalls while simultaneously helping you make financial decisions that will benefit you in the long run. 

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