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Wheaton family law attorney for divorce judgment appealsCouples in Illinois who choose to legally dissolve their marriage have the option of determining the terms of their divorce. Decisions about issues like property division and child custody are largely left up to the spouses. While some couples are able to negotiate a settlement, others are unable to reach an agreement about one or more issues. If a divorcing couple cannot reach an agreement outside of court, the case goes to litigation. A judge evaluates the evidence and arguments presented by the parties and then issues a judgment. Parties have the opportunity to appeal the judge’s decision; however, a successful appeal is only possible in certain circumstances.

What if I Disagree With the Court’s Decision?

The outcome of a divorce is likely to have a significant impact on the parties’ lives. Your divorce decree may influence everything from how often you see your children to where you live. If your divorce does not turn out the way that you had hoped, you may wonder if you can file an appeal. It is possible to appeal a divorce judgment, but only under certain circumstances. In most cases, disagreeing with the court’s decision or thinking that the decision is unfair is not a valid reason for an appeal.

Appeals Must Be Based on an Alleged Error

While it is not possible to successfully appeal a divorce judgment simply on the basis of being unhappy with the decision, there are circumstances when a successful divorce appeal is possible. Divorces and other court judgments can only be appealed if the ruling stemmed from a misinterpretation of the law. For example, if you disagree with the judge’s decision about child support because you believe that your ex-spouse should pay more, this disagreement alone does not justify an appeal. However, if the judge failed to follow Illinois law when calculating child support, you may have grounds for an appeal.

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Wheaton business asset division attorneyWhen a married couple divorces, the spouses divide their property and debt. When most people think about asset division during divorce, they think about dividing physical property such as furniture or vehicles. However, a business is an asset just like any other piece of property. If your business was purchased or established during your marriage, both spouses have a right to the business according to Illinois law. If you are a business owner who is considering divorce, it is crucial that you understand how businesses may be valued and divided in an Illinois divorce.

Does My Spouse Have a Right to My Business?

If you are solely responsible for managing your business, you may assume that you are entitled to keep the business upon divorce. However, this is not always the case. Illinois law considers any property acquired during the marriage to be part of the marital estate. Property that was acquired before the marriage is classified as “separate property” and assigned to the spouse who originally acquired the asset. However, even if you founded or acquired a business before you got married, an increase in the value of the business during your marriage may be considered marital property. This is especially true if your spouse contributed to the increased value of the business, and in these cases, you may be required to reimburse your spouse for their contributions.

The Business Must Be Valued Before it Can Be Divided

Having your business accurately valued is a crucial step when you are getting divorced. The most commonly used business valuation methods include an asset approach, earnings value approach, and a market value approach. An accountant or business valuation expert can work with you and your attorney to help you determine the best way to value your business. Once you have determined how much your business is worth, you must decide how to account for the business’s value during asset division. You may choose to “buy out” your spouse’s share of the business by assigning him or her marital assets of an equivalent value. You may also decide to sell the business and divide the proceeds between you and your spouse.  Your attorney can help you and your spouse negotiate a property division arrangement that takes the value of your business into account.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for infidelity and asset dissipationCheating and affairs in a marriage often lead to divorce. In some cases, spouses file for divorce immediately after the affair comes to light. In other cases, a couple may try to salvage their marriage after an affair, but they may ultimately decide that too much damage to the relationship has occurred. If you have found yourself in this situation, you may be unsure of what to do. Whether the unfaithful partner was you or your spouse, you probably have questions about how marital infidelity can influence an Illinois divorce. Regardless of the exact circumstances, infidelity can lead to additional contention and confusion in a divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer can help.  

Grounds for Divorce

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. The state’s laws previously included fault-based “grounds” or reasons for divorce, such as abandonment, cruelty, and infidelity. However, Illinois has since eliminated these grounds. Now, the only grounds available when filing for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” Infidelity or other reasons for ending their marriage will not be included in a spouse’s petition for divorce.

Financial Implications of an Affair

Although there are no longer fault-based grounds for divorce in Illinois, a spouse’s infidelity can still impact the divorce. If a spouse used marital funds or property to finance their affair, the other spouse may file a “dissipation of assets” claim against him or her. According to Illinois case law, dissipation occurs when a spouse uses marital property on a purpose not related to the marriage while the marriage is undergoing an irreversible breakdown. Funds spent on gifts or vacations with an affair partner may be considered dissipated assets. During the divorce process, the spouse who dissipated the assets may be required to reimburse the marital estate for the value of those assets.

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DuPage County high conflict divorce attorneyDivorce can bring out the worst in people. If you are contemplating divorce or have already decided to end your marriage, you may have concerns about your ex making false accusations against you. Some people make up lies about their spouse during divorce out of bitterness and spite. Even if the accusations are not founded in reality, they have the potential to cause significant problems for the accused spouse. If your spouse has accused you of abuse, violence, hiding assets, or other forms of wrongdoing, it is important to work with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Keep a Detailed Record of Your Actions and the Accusations

One of the best ways to help your lawyer prove that your soon-to-be ex-spouse is lying about your alleged abuse or other misconduct is to gather evidence. Keep records of any text messages, voicemails, or emails that your spouse sends you. Make sure to also log or write down your own actions. You may be able to use this information to prove that your spouse’s claims are untrue. For example, if your spouse accuses you of harming him or her on a certain date, you may be able to produce evidence that shows that you were out of town on this particular date. Demonstrating inconsistencies in your spouse’s claims will weaken his or her credibility and help you defend yourself against the false accusations.

Do Not Confront Your Spouse, and Comply With Any Protection Orders

One of the worst things you can do when you are being accused of abuse or harassment is to confront your accuser. Your spouse may use this confrontation as an excuse to make claims of further harassment, intimidation, or abuse, or they may attempt to bait you into a heated argument and claim that this shows that you are violent or unstable. 

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for appealsMost divorcing spouses hope to avoid going to trial. They may attempt to reach an agreement about unresolved divorce issues through their attorneys, with help from a third-party mediator, or through the collaborative law process. Unfortunately, not every couple is able to reach a settlement outside of court. During divorce litigation, a judge hears arguments and evidence from both sides and then issues a judgment. If your divorce judgment did not turn out the way you had hoped, you may wonder what your options are for appealing the court’s decision.

When Should I Seek an Appeal?

Many people assume that they can file an appeal if they disagree with the terms of their divorce judgment. However, successfully appealing a divorce judgment is a complex legal pursuit that is only possible under certain conditions. A person cannot appeal a divorce simply because he or she is unhappy with the outcome of the case. Circuit court decisions, including divorce judgments, may only be appealed if there is a possibility that the decision resulted from errors of law. Examples of situations in which an appeal may be justified include:

  • The judge made his or her decision based on incomplete or false information
  • There was a procedural mistake that influenced the outcome of the case
  • The decision was based on the judge’s incorrect interpretation or application of the law
  • Evidence was used which was inadmissible or insufficient

What Does the Appeals Process Involve?

If there are reasons to warrant an appeal of your divorce judgment, it is important to act quickly. Appeals must be filed with the Illinois appellate court within 30 days of the final judgment. The appealing party must explain the grounds for the appeal and what the alleged mistakes are. The appellate court’s function is to examine what happened during the trial court proceedings and determine whether legal errors occurred. Illinois appeals are heard by three judges. They will evaluate the evidence, hear arguments, and then make their decisions. The judges may uphold the circuit court’s original decision, amend the divorce judgment to correct the mistake, or vacate the judgment and send the case back to the circuit court.

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