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dupage county divorce lawyerThe overwhelming majority of divorce cases end in a settlement. This means that the couple is able to come to an agreement about various divorce issues without having to go to trial. However, court involvement may be necessary if spouses cannot reach an agreement. If the case does end up going to court, the couple will no longer have the final say over the decisions made -- a judge will. The judge will make determinations that are in line with the law, but before they can do that, they have to understand all of the facts of the case. This is typically done by each spouse’s attorney presenting evidence, but in some cases, expert witnesses can also be called to the stand to give testimony about certain issues. A consulting expert may provide insight and help your attorney build a strong claim before the case advances to trial.  

Property Division Issues

During the property division process, the judge will use a variety of factors to determine how the couple’s marital property will be distributed amongst the two of them. These factors include things such as each spouse’s income and earning potential, how long the marriage lasted, what the potential tax consequences of distribution may be, and the age and health of each spouse. In order to provide the judge with accurate information, your attorney may put an expert witness on the stand to allow them to give their opinion on your situation. Many times, expert witnesses are forensic accountants or financial analysts who can speak about issues relating to property division, such as asset valuation and developing a basis for the couple’s standard of living during the marriage. 

Child-Related Issues

Experts can also be useful in cases involving child custody disputes. In many cases, these experts are child psychologists, parenting coordinators, family counselors, or even child custody evaluators. These expert witnesses can help paint the picture that you want to convey to the judge by providing their opinion on child-related issues, such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities.

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for child issuesThe silver lining of a separation or divorce is the possibility of meeting someone new. If you have found love after a failed marriage, you are probably eager to start your new life with this person. If you are a parent, this may include introducing your new partner to your children. The introduction of a new romantic interest after a separation can sometimes be difficult for children to handle, so it is important to be intentional about this event.

Wait Until You Are Divorced

For many people, a marriage is over long before the couple actually finalizes their divorce. If you are separated or soon will be, you and your spouse may have been sleeping in separate bedrooms and living separate lives for months or even years. You may understandably be eager to start dating someone new. However, dating before your divorce is complete can exacerbate the stress, confusion, and uncertainty that your children experience during the divorce process. It can also have potential consequences on the outcome of your divorce. For example, if you spend money on gifts or vacations with your new partner, your spouse may accuse you of dissipating assets, which can affect property division during divorce.

Go Slowly and Do Not Force a Relationship

You are probably excited for your children to develop a relationship with your new partner. However, trying to rush a relationship can backfire. Sometimes, children may resent a new romantic interest in their parent’s life. They may feel threatened or assume that the new partner is trying to replace the other parent. Give your kids time to adjust to the new partner slowly. You may want to introduce the partner at a group gathering so there is less pressure on the children.

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DuPage County parenting plan attorneyIf you are getting divorced in Illinois, and you share children with your spouse, you will be required to create a parenting agreement or parenting plan. This agreement is a detailed description of how you and your spouse will share parenting duties after your divorce, and it will ultimately become a legally binding court order. The plan also contains important information about the parents’ rights and responsibilities. Forming a parenting plan that both parents agree to is often one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce involving children. If you are a parent who is getting divorced, reach out to a skilled child custody lawyer for help with your parenting plan.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Parental responsibilities refer to what was once called “legal custody” in Illinois. Major decisions about the child’s life, including decisions related to school, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and religion, fall under the umbrella of parental responsibilities. A parenting plan will need to describe which parent is in charge of these decisions. One parent may take on some or all of the decision-making responsibilities, or the parents may share these responsibilities.

Parenting Time Schedules

The time that a parent is directly responsible for the child’s daily needs is called “parenting time.” Parents are free to divide parenting time in a way that works for their unique needs. For example, one parent may take the child on the weekends, while the other parent takes the child during the week. Per Illinois law, the parenting plan must contain either a detailed schedule of how parenting time is allotted between the parents or a method for determining parenting time that is detailed enough to be legally enforceable.  Parents will also need to address how they plan to share parenting time on holidays, school vacations, and in other atypical circumstances.

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Wheaton, IL parenting plan modification attorney for parental relocationIf you are unmarried or divorced, and you have children, you may share parental responsibilities and parenting time with your child’s other parent. In situations like this, parents are subject to certain rules and procedures when they move. The laws in Illinois regarding parental relocation changed significantly in 2016. Now, if a parent wants to move, and the move meets certain criteria, they may need to get court approval. Whether you are unmarried, divorced, or plan to end your marriage soon, it is important to be aware of parental relocation laws.

Defining “Relocation” According to Illinois Law

Before the changes to Illinois family law, the parent who was the “primary residential parent” could move anywhere in the state without getting permission from the other parent or the court. However, if they wished to move outside of Illinois – even if the move was only a few miles away – they needed to take certain legal steps.

Illinois law has since been updated to be more consistent. Moving a short distance away does not require approval. However, when a move is significant, this is called a “relocation.” A relocation occurs when a parent with the majority of parenting time or an equal amount of parenting time:

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Wheaton divorce attorney for sole child custodyIn Illinois law, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are no longer used. Parenting duties now consist of parental responsibilities and parenting time. This change was made in large part to present parenting tasks as a spectrum as opposed to one parent being the “custodial parent” and the other parent as merely “visiting” the child. However, there are still cases in which it may be in the child’s best interests for one parent to have most – if not all – of the parental responsibilities and parenting time.  

The Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

The term “parental responsibilities” refers to how parents will make significant decisions about the child’s life. Per Illinois law, significant decisions are decisions pertaining to:

  • Education

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