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Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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DuPage County collaborative divorce attorneyWhen many people think of divorce, they imagine a tense courtroom scene involving two bitter spouses intent on “winning” the divorce. Fortunately, there are many ways to end a marriage without the need for aggressive court battles. If you are planning to get divorced, you and your spouse may understandably struggle to see eye-to-eye about certain things. You may have different opinions about who should retain ownership of the family home, how bank account balances should be divided, who should have the majority of parenting time, or other issues. Collaborative divorce offers a way for divorcing couples to work on finding a resolution to divorce issues without the hostility, expense, and stress associated with divorce litigation.

The Collaborative Divorce Process in Illinois

During a collaborative divorce, each spouse retains an attorney who has been trained in collaborative law. The spouses and their respective attorneys hold a series of meetings to identify unresolved divorce issues and work on finding solutions to these issues that both spouses agree to. Before negotiations begin, spouses and their lawyers sign a commitment called a “Participation Agreement.” In the agreement, each member of the collaborative team commits to work together cooperatively and honestly. The spouses also agree to voluntarily provide any relevant information needed during the collaborative process, such as financial documents. The collaborative team may also include experts such as child specialists, divorce coaches, and financial planners.

Working as a Team Toward a Common Goal

Unlike public courtroom proceedings, the discussions that take place in collaborative divorce meetings are confidential. The meetings take place in an informal setting that is much less intimidating than a courtroom. Parents who have disputes regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time often find collaborative divorce to be especially beneficial. Instead of parents working against each other, they work in a cooperative, productive fashion to create a parenting plan that works for both of them and provides for their children’s best interests. Once the spouses reach an agreement about the unresolved divorce issues, their lawyers write the terms of the agreement into legally binding documents. They file these documents with the court, and the spouses can then finalize their divorce during a final hearing.

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Wheaton, IL divorce lawyer default judgmentMarriages end for countless reasons. Sometimes, spouses get divorced because they both agree that the marriage is simply no longer working. In other cases, only one spouse wants to divorce, while the other spouse believes that the marriage is still salvageable. If you are ready to end your marriage, and your spouse does not want to get divorced, it is important to know that he or she cannot stop you from filing for divorce. However, when a spouse does not agree to the divorce, he or she may take actions that could delay and complicate the divorce. Fortunately, you have options if your spouse refuses to cooperate with the divorce process.  

Spouses Who Do Not Respond

The only grounds for divorce in Illinois is “irreconcilable differences,” and either spouse may name this as the reason he or she is petitioning the court for a dissolution of marriage. The person who files the Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage is called the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent. During the divorce filing process, a court hearing will be scheduled. The petitioner is responsible for making arrangements to serve notice of the petition and the hearing to the respondent. The respondent has 30 days to respond to the notice, and his or her response may state why he or she disagrees that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. If the respondent does not respond and does not show up to the hearing, the petitioner has the opportunity to request a default judgment granting his or her requests for how matters such as child custody and property division will be handled during the divorce. The court may schedule a default judgment hearing in order to give the respondent a second chance to participate. If the respondent does not attend this second-chance hearing, the court will typically grant the petitioner a default judgment.

Spouses Who Cannot Be Found

In some cases, an uncooperative spouse may hide from the petitioner or the individual serving the notice of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in an attempt to prevent the divorce. You can still be granted a divorce if your spouse is missing, but you must take certain steps. You will typically need to show that you:

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DuPage County asset division lawyer for real estateReal estate considerations are often one of the most complex parts of property division during divorce. If you and your spouse own one or more rental properties together, you may be unsure of what will happen to this property after you are divorced. You have probably put a great deal of time, effort, and money into maintaining the property, and you may rely heavily on the income generated by tenants. As with any complex property issues during divorce, it is highly recommended that divorcing spouses who own rental properties receive legal guidance from an experienced attorney.  

Options for Rental Properties During an Illinois Divorce

Divorcing spouses in Illinois have the option of working out their own agreements for property division outside of the courtroom. With help from your lawyer, you and your spouse may be able to negotiate a rental property arrangement that does not leave either of you at a major financial loss. There are several different ways that spouses may divide rental properties during divorce. Some choose to have the rental property appraised so they can sell the property and split the profits. Another option is for one spouse to retain complete ownership of the property and “buy out” the other spouse. The spouses may also agree upon a property division arrangement that assigns ownership of the rental property to one spouse while the other spouse is assigned other marital property of similar value. For example, one spouse may own the rental property, while the other spouse will own the family home. Divorcing spouses may also choose to retain joint ownership of the property and continue to share the rental income.

If spouses cannot reach an agreement regarding their rental property through negotiation or mediation, the court will have to intervene. Illinois courts divide property during divorce according to “equitable distribution.” This means that assets are divided fairly based on each of the spouse’s financial circumstances, contributions to the marital estate, and several other factors. Only marital property is divided in an Illinois divorce. Property that was acquired by either spouse before getting married is considered non-marital property that is not subject to division. Due to the complex issues involved when dividing rental properties and other marital assets, the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer is often needed.

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Wheaton family law attorney for termination of parental rightsIllinois courts presume that it is in a child’s best interests to have both parents involved in their life. However, it takes a great deal of responsibility and attention to adequately care for a child. If a parent cannot satisfactorily provide for a child’s needs, or if spending time with the parent may put the child in danger, the parent may be considered “unfit.” When a parent is declared unfit, the courts no longer presume that it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with that parent. When addressing family law issues, the parties involved will want to understand how parental fitness laws may affect the outcome of their case.

Illinois Law Regarding Parental Fitness

The issue of parental fitness is often explored during adoption. Typically, consent from both biological parents is required for an adoption to occur. However, if a parent is found to be unfit by “clear and convincing evidence,” the parent’s parental rights may be terminated. The adoption may then be permitted even without that parent’s consent. An unfit parent is typically defined as a parent who does not have the child’s best interests at heart. In Illinois, parental rights can only be terminated through a juvenile case initiated by the state or in conjunction with the Adoption Act. During a parental fitness hearing, the burden of proof is on the party claiming that the parent is unfit.

The following issues are often used as grounds to establish that a parent is unfit in Illinois:

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for social mediaUnfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in some people. If you are considering leaving your spouse, or if you have already decided to get divorced, you may have concerns about how he or she will take the breakup. Some spouses become resentful and meddlesome during the divorce process. They may attempt to gain access to their former partner’s email accounts, bank information, text messages, and more. You may need to take steps to protect your privacy during a contentious divorce, including:

Change Your Passwords

Many people mistakenly assume that if something is password-protected, no one can access it without the password. However, things become much more complicated when a couple who has shared computers, tablets, and cell phones are divorcing. For example, you may have previously logged on to your email using your spouse’s phone because your phone was out of battery. Many devices have settings that automatically remember usernames and passwords for easy future logins. Your spouse may therefore have your email password saved in his or her phone without you even knowing it. The safest bet is to change all of your passwords and security questions to something unique that your spouse will not be able to guess.  

Turn Off Location Sharing

A number of phone and computer applications and websites have location-sharing features. You may have turned on location tracking in order to share your location in the past. Double check that your spouse cannot access your whereabouts using features designed to help a person find their lost cell phone, such as “Find My iPhone” or “Android Device Manager.” You should also turn off location-sharing on social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

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