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Wheaton, IL divorce litigation attorneyTV shows and movies often depict divorces as dramatic confrontations inside the courtroom. However, the vast majority of divorce cases do not go to trial. Litigation is only necessary when a divorcing couple is unable to reach agreements on issues such as property division, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and spousal maintenance. Most divorcing couples are able to resolve these issues through lawyer-facilitated negotiations, mediation, or collaborative law. If a couple cannot reach a settlement, the case may go to trial. 

What Should I Expect During a Divorce Trial?

Divorcing spouses may need to make one or more court appearances during the dissolution of their marriage, even if the couple agrees about divorce issues. However, these court appearances are not the same thing as a divorce trial. During a divorce trial, a judge hears arguments from both sides and then issues a ruling regarding the unresolved issues. Divorce trials do not involve a jury, but they are otherwise conducted similarly to other types of civil trials. 

Before the start of the trial, each spouse and his or her attorney will gather information and evidence that support their arguments. This information-gathering process is called “discovery.” Discovery may involve written interrogatories, requests for admission, depositions, and other means of obtaining information about the facts of the case.

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Wheaton family law attorney for parenting plan enforcementIn Illinois, divorcing couples with children and unmarried parents who do not live together are asked to create a “parenting plan” that addresses the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and other issues related to the couple’s children. This plan will describe each parent’s rights and responsibilities and include information about how parenting time, sometimes referred to as visitation, will be divided between the two parents. The parents may decide on the terms of their parenting plan through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law. If parents cannot reach an agreement about one or more terms, the court will order a plan that is based on the child’s best interests. Whether a parenting plan is the result of an agreement between the spouses or an allocation judgment handed down by the court, parents are expected to follow the plan.

Parents Must Comply With the Terms of the Parenting Plan

Parenting plans typically involve a number of different provisions, including those describing each parent’s responsibilities and the time that each parent will spend with the child. The plan may also include information about the child’s education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, religious or cultural upbringing, and how the child will be transported between the parents’ homes. 

One of the most common ways that parents may violate the terms of their parenting plan is by deviating from the parenting time schedule. Understandably, parents may sometimes need to make minor changes to their schedules to account for illnesses, unexpected work obligations, or other special circumstances. However, if a parent consistently fails to fulfill his or her parenting time obligations or refuses to allow the other parent to enjoy his or her parenting time, legal action may be necessary to enforce the terms of the parenting plan.

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Wheaton, IL marriage annulment attorneyAnnulments are often associated with celebrity marriages gone wrong or last-minute Las Vegas weddings. However, there are many situations that may cause a person to seek an annulment. Unlike divorce, annulling a marriage makes it as if the marriage never took place. Not every marriage is eligible for annulment, however. If you are interested in having your marriage annulled, make sure you understand the criteria for annulment in Illinois. Next, contact an experienced family law attorney for help.

What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

When a married couple wants to end their marriage, they typically file for divorce. A divorce, or Dissolution of Marriage as it is called in Illinois, terminates the legal relationship between the spouses. The couple may need to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, or spousal maintenance before the divorce can be finalized. Annulment, on the other hand, is not the termination of a marriage but instead the assertion that a marriage was never lawful to begin with. This is why annulment is referred to as a “Declaration of Invalidity” in Illinois law. In order to be granted an annulment, there must have been some issue with the marriage that made it invalid.

When Is a Marriage Considered Invalid?

There are several issues that may cause a marriage to be invalid. In Illinois, individuals may only marry if they are 18 years old or older, or, if they are 16 years old or older and have parental permission. If a spouse was under the age of 16 at the time of the marriage or was under the age of 18 and did not have the needed parental permission, the marriage is invalid. Marriages between close relatives are also prohibited by Illinois law. 

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DuPage County child support attorney special needs disabilitiesChild support payments allow unmarried or divorcing parents to share child-rearing expenses in a way that is fair and reasonable for both parties. Illinois child support payments are determined by the Income Shares model. This model takes into account each parent’s income as well as the amount of parenting time he or she will have with the child. The Income Shares child support calculation method is typically used unless there is a reason that following the Illinois child support guidelines would yield an inappropriate child support payment amount.

Child support payments typically terminate when a child becomes an independent adult, but there are some situations in which child support may be extended. If you are a parent of a disabled child, read on to learn about your options for special needs child support.

What Counts as a Disability?

Children with disabilities may need financial assistance even when they reach the age when child support would typically end. If your child has a disability, you have the option to petition the court for non-minor child support. An intellectual incapacity, mental health disorder, or physical disability may quality an adult child for non-minor support. Illinois law defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activity.” In order for the child to qualify for non-minor support, the disability must have been present before the child reached the age that child support payments would have otherwise terminated. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyer irreconcilable differences

If you are considering divorce, you may have heard about the different “grounds” or reasons that a person can give when seeking to dissolve their marriage. Traditionally, these grounds have included an identification of which spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Of course, marriages end for a wide variety of reasons, and identifying a specific cause for the failure of the relationship is not always easy. Sometimes, a couple simply grows apart or stops being in love with each other. Updates to Illinois law have now taken this reality into consideration with regard to the grounds for divorce.

Previous Illinois Grounds for Divorce

Before major changes were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), anyone wishing to get divorced in Illinois would need to identify grounds for their divorce. These grounds included several “fault” grounds which included but were not limited to:

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