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Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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Posted on in Mediation

Dupage County family law attorney for divorce mediationIf you are ready to end your marriage, you are probably looking for ways to eliminate drama, reduce legal costs, and reach a fair divorce settlement. In many cases, divorce mediation can help couples reach a resolution about the terms of their divorce without going to court. Divorce mediation is a process during which a couple works on addressing and resolving their outstanding legal issues with the help of a specially-trained mediator. During mediation, you and your spouse may discuss the division of marital property and debts, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal maintenance, and other issues. However, it is important to understand what divorce mediation is and is not before deciding to use mediation as your primary means of reaching a resolution.

Myth: Your Mediator Will Make a Decision for You

A family law mediator is trained in conflict resolution, communication, and negotiation. He or she will help you and your spouse discuss any unresolved divorce issues and work with you to find potential solutions. A mediator does not choose one spouse’s side over the other or make any decisions on your behalf. His or her job is to ensure that divorce negotiations and discussions are as productive as possible.

Myth: Mediation Is Right for Everyone

Mediation can be an effective tool for resolving your outstanding legal issues and reaching a divorce settlement. However, mediation is not the appropriate choice for every divorce case. Mediation requires communication, transparency, and cooperation.  If a spouse is unwilling or unable to be honest about financial matters or other issues relevant to the divorce, mediation will not be effective. Mediation may also be inadequate or inappropriate for couples who own complex assets such as a family business, have a history of domestic violence, or simply cannot communicate well.

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Wheaton, IL child support attorney for past-due support obligationsChild support payments are intended to provide a parent with the financial support he or she needs to cover housing, education, and other child-related costs. Illinois has adopted the “Income Shares” model for child support calculations. The amount a parent pays in child support in Illinois is typically based on the difference between the parents’ net incomes. This calculation method is designed to ensure that payments provide for the child’s needs and are reasonably affordable for the paying parent or “obligor.” However, circumstances can change, and obligor parents may find themselves in a situation where they cannot fulfill their child support obligations. If you are a parent who has fallen behind on child support payments in Illinois, you may wonder what types of consequences you may face. You may also question whether there is anything you can do to remedy the situation.

Child Support Arrears

Past due child support, or “child support arrears,” can cause significant legal problems for an obligor parent. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you fail to comply with the order, you may face a variety of consequences, including wage garnishment, liens on your property, interception of your tax returns, suspension of your driver’s license, and more. You may even be held in contempt of court.

Options for Illinois Parents Who Owe Child Support

If you cannot afford your child support payments because you lost your job, suffered a major injury or illness, or had other financial problems, you may wonder what to do next. The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation. You should contact your child’s other parent as well as the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Child Support Services and notify them of the situation. You may be able to reduce your child support obligation through a child support modification. However, this modification will only reduce the amount you will pay in new payments. You will still need to pay back the past due child support plus interest.

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DuPage County family law attorney for holiday child custodyThis holiday season is shaping up to be like none other. If you are in the middle of a separation or divorce, your holiday season may be especially complicated. Sharing custody of children with a soon-to-be ex-spouse is hard enough, but sharing custody during the holidays can be even harder. Keep the following tips and suggestions in mind to help your holiday season go as smoothly as possible for you and your children:

Plan the Details in Advance

When a couple with children files for divorce in Illinois, they have 120 days to create and submit a “parenting plan.” This plan will describe how they will make major decisions about the child, who the child will live with on what days, how the child will be transported between homes, and much more. If you have not yet filed for divorce, or if you have not made any decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, you may only have a casual agreement about which parent the children will see on which days. This can lead to miscommunication and frustration. It is better to plan your holidays in advance. Decide where the children will stay on what days, when they will be picked up and dropped off, and other details, and then put these decisions in writing.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

There are many computer programs and smartphone applications that can help you and your ex collaborate when making decisions about parenting issues. Using email or text messages to communicate about children can help avoid in-person arguments, and this can also serve as an important record of the plans you and your spouse have made. Apps like Cozi, Coparently, and OurFamilyWizard allow you to keep track of schedules, expenses, and other child-related information.

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Wheaton, IL family law attorney for Safe Haven Law adoptionBeing a parent is one of the greatest responsibilities in the world. Parents who worry about their ability to take on this tremendous responsibility may make the decision to relinquish their parental rights and place their children for adoption. Many parents choose to do this because they realize that financial problems, addictions, or other concerns will prevent them from giving their child the life he or she deserves. However, some parents are not in a position to go through the traditional methods of adoption, and they may choose to take advantage of Illinois’ “Safe Haven Law.” If you are considering adopting a child in Illinois, you may want to learn about this law and how it can affect your adoption.  

The Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act

Making the decision to give up an infant is one of the hardest things a person can do. Parents may not only mourn the loss of their child, they may also fear retribution for giving the infant up for adoption. Sometimes, a mother chooses to relinquish her parental rights at the hospital immediately after the infant is born. Other times, a mother cannot or will not place the baby for adoption in the usual manner. 

In order to allow parents to relinquish infants safely and without fear of prosecution, Illinois passed the Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act, which is nicknamed the “Safe Haven Law.” This law allows parents to relinquish their babies at police stations, fire departments, and emergency medical facilities. The purpose of the law is to prevent infants from being dangerously abandoned in unsafe places. It allows parents to relinquish infants anonymously, without facing criminal charges for child abandonment.

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DuPage County property division lawyer for hidden assetsWhen two people join their lives in marriage, “yours” and “mine” become “ours.” According to Illinois law, spouses have the right to an equitable division of marital assets during divorce. Any property that was accumulated during the marriage by either spouse is part of the marital estate and subject to division. This property may include household items, jewelry, vehicles, and other physical property, as well as retirement accounts, investments, business interests, and other complex assets. Spouses who do not want to share the marital estate fairly may try to manipulate the asset division process during divorce by hiding assets or property. Some of the most common methods of concealing assets include:

Underreporting Income and Business Revenue

Divorcing spouses in Illinois are required to fill out a financial affidavit that lists their gross income, expenses, debts, assets, health insurance information, and other financial data. One of the easiest ways to hide assets during a divorce is for a spouse to simply lie about his or her finances. Spouses may fail to disclose bank accounts and funds or undervalue the worth of their business, investments, or other assets. Business owners may use cash transactions, omit financial transactions from business records, delay the receipt of client payments, create fake expenses and debts, pre-pay vendors, or take other actions to make a business appear less successful than it really is.

Temporarily Transferring Assets to Another Party

Some spouses may attempt to reduce their net worth prior to divorce by transferring assets to other people or organizations. For example, they may lend cash to friends or family members with the understanding that the person will return the money after the divorce is finalized. They may also use the IRS as a means of temporarily reducing their assets. A spouse may intentionally overpay his or her taxes knowing that the IRS will refund the overpayment through his or her tax return. Expensive items like art, antiques, or jewelry may also be used to artificially lower a spouse’s net worth. A spouse may buy an expensive, hard-to-value item and then report the item’s value as much lower than it actually is on their financial affidavit. After the divorce, he or she will intend to sell the item and recover the money.

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