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DuPage County collaborative divorce attorneyIf you are getting divorced in Illinois, you and your spouse must resolve several issues before your marriage can be legally dissolved. Depending on your situation, you may need to reach an agreement about how to divide marital property and debt, how to allocate parental responsibilities, whether a spouse will receive spousal maintenance or alimony, and more. If you are unable to reach an agreement about one or more of these issues, your case could go to trial. Divorce litigation is often a stressful, expensive, and combative process. One alternative to divorce litigation that has helped many couples reach an out-of-court settlement is collaborative divorce.

Working With an Attorney Without Being Adversarial

Thanks in large part to movies and TV shows, many people assume that involving lawyers in a divorce automatically means that the case will lead to a contentious courtroom battle. This is not the case with collaborative divorce. As the name implies, a collaborative divorce is rooted in cooperation and respect. Collaborative divorce may be right for you if you want to have legal guidance and support from a lawyer, but you want to avoid a highly adversarial litigation process.

Participants in a Collaborative Divorce Focus on Solutions, Not “Winning”  

During a collaborative divorce, each spouse, each spouse’s attorney, and all other participants sign an agreement called a “participation agreement” or “collaborative agreement.” In the agreement, they promise to negotiate the unresolved divorce issues in good faith, freely exchange the necessary documents and information, and keep discussions and negotiations confidential. Perhaps even more importantly, the participants agree to keep the case out of court. In most collaborative divorces, the attorneys are prohibited from representing the spouses during litigation if the spouses cannot reach a settlement through the collaborative process. The goal of a collaborative divorce is to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution so that the spouses can finish the divorce and move on with their lives.

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DuPage County divorce attorney for temporary reliefThe legal process of ending a marriage is not always easy. Delays and complications may cause a divorce to take up to a year or more. Spouses may need to address how divorce issues such as property division, child custody, and child support should be handled while the divorce is ongoing. In Illinois, spouses may address these concerns by petitioning the court for “temporary relief” or temporary orders.

Temporary Relief Orders Can Protect Assets and Address Possession of the Marital Home

Just like the final divorce decree, temporary orders are legally-binding court orders that spouses are required to follow. Unlike the final decree, temporary orders are only intended to last until the divorce is finalized. Many temporary court orders address financial issues. A temporary financial restraining order may freeze bank accounts, prohibit spouses from disposing of marital property, or identify which spouse will have exclusive possession of the marital home. Divorcing spouses may even ask for a temporary order to address possession of and responsibility for pets.

Other types of temporary orders may address issues such as child support and spousal maintenance. The need for these temporary orders will be based on the spouses’ financial affidavits. Records such as bank statements, pay stubs, and tax returns and decisions about the allocation of parenting time may be used to determine an appropriate temporary child support or spousal support order. It is important to note that the final orders may differ significantly from temporary orders in an Illinois divorce.

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for asserting your rightsNarcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental health condition found in several highly-regarded mental health guidebooks, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The disorder is characterized by an excessive need for praise and attention, unstable interpersonal relationships, lack of empathy, and an inflated ego. The term “narcissist” is also commonly used colloquially to describe an individual who is arrogant, unsympathetic, and easily angered. Divorcing a narcissist can be an extremely frustrating and complicated endeavor. If your spouse is a narcissist, you may encounter some or all of the following issues:

You May Be Unable to Negotiate an Agreement on Your Own

Whether your spouse has been formally diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or not, divorcing someone with an inflated sense of self and a lack of empathy will be an arduous experience. In order to resolve your divorce and move on with your life, you and your spouse will need to reach an agreement about the terms of the divorce. Depending on your situation, this may mean addressing property division, debt division, child custody, child support, and/or spousal maintenance. Reaching an agreement about divorce issues with a spouse who is unwilling or unable to compromise may be nearly impossible. An attorney may be able to help you negotiate a settlement, or your case may go to trial.  

You May Need to Assert Your Rights

When there is a major power imbalance in a divorce, it is highly recommended for the spouse at a disadvantage to retain a qualified attorney. You have the right to an equitable division of the marital estate as well as a fair resolution to other divorce issues. It is important to assert these rights during your divorce. Letting your spouse walk all over you will do nothing to improve your situation. Some spouses hope that if they approach the divorce amicably, their spouse will show them the same kindness. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case when divorcing a narcissist.

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DuPage County asset dissipation attorney for infidelityMost people know of at least one relationship that has ended due to infidelity. Statistics about the prevalence of cheating vary, but various studies suggest that about 25 percent of marriages involve extramarital sexual infidelity. If your marriage is coming to an end because of an affair, it is important to know how this may impact your divorce. Although Illinois no longer recognizes adultery as a grounds for divorce, there are still several ways in which cheating or infidelity can influence a divorce case.

Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

Although we rarely think about it in these terms, when you get divorced, you are essentially asking the state to terminate your marriage. In the past, many states required an allegation of fault in order to grant a divorce. Fault-based grounds included issues like adultery, impotence, or abuse. However, every U.S. state now has the option for no-fault divorce. In Illinois, fault-based grounds for divorce have been eliminated entirely. The only grounds for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” While you will not list infidelity as the reason for your marriage ending, an extramarital affair can still greatly affect your divorce.

Financial Issues and Affairs

Asset dissipation occurs when a spouse uses funds or property for something not related to the marriage while the marriage is experiencing a “breakdown.” If a spouse buys an affair partner expensive gifts or sells property to finance a vacation with him or her, the spouse may be guilty of dissipating assets. The dissipating spouse may be required to reimburse the marital estate for the funds which were wasted. This is typically accomplished by awarding a proportionally greater share of marital property to the wronged spouse. Originally, dissipation only referred to misused marital assets. Case law has since established that dissipation may involve the misuse of marital or nonmarital property.

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for orders of protectionOne of the biggest questions many couples face during divorce is which spouse will stay in the marital home, and which spouse will move out. Reaching an agreement about where each spouse will live during and after the divorce can be difficult, and sometimes it may seem nearly impossible. In some cases, a spouse may simply refuse to leave, and situations like these can become even more problematic if a spouse has a history of domestic violence. If you are planning to divorce, you may wonder if there is a way to force your spouse to move out. An order of protection and a motion for exclusive possession of the marital home are two legal avenues that may allow you to have your spouse removed from your shared home during your divorce.

Order of Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence

No one should have to live in fear in their own home. An order of protection (commonly known as a restraining order) is a legal court order that may require a spouse or other abusive individual to move out of a shared home. Protective orders in Illinois may also include provisions requiring the subject of the order, called the respondent, to stay a certain distance away from their spouse and/or their children, surrender firearms, cease communication with their spouse, and more. In order to get an order of protection in Illinois, you will typically be required to show that the respondent has abused you or another household member or caused you to fear for the safety of yourself, your children, or other family members. Abuse is defined in Illinois law as:

  • Physical abuse, such as hitting or threatening someone with a weapon

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