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Recent Blog Posts

Senate Bill 57: Changes to Divorce Law in Illinois

 Posted on August 07, 2015 in Divorce

changes to Illinois divorce law, DuPage County divorce lawyersOn January 1, 2016, changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), which governs marriage, divorce, custody, and support in Illinois, will take effect. Major changes of the IMDMA update include grounds for divorce and the length of time parties need to wait before obtaining a divorce.

Grounds for Divorce

Senate Bill 57 eliminates all fault-based grounds for divorce. Parties will no longer be able to file for divorce based on impotence or infertility, adultery, desertion or willful absence, bigamy, drunkenness, drug addiction, extreme physical or mental cruelty, felony conviction, or transmission of a sexually transmitted disease. Beginning next year, only no-fault divorce is available.

While no-fault divorce had been identified as constituting the existence of "irreconcilable differences," the new law has reframed the no-fault ground as an "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage." Current law (which expires at the end of 2015) required parties to show that they were living separate and apart for at least two years, irreconcilable differences, efforts at reconciliation have failed, and further attempts to reconcile would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.

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What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

 Posted on August 05, 2015 in Family Law

There are many exciting aspects of planning for a marriage. After getting engaged, many people throw parties - such as engagement parties or bridal showers, and focus on planning their wedding. They shop for dresses, meet with vendors, choose a venue, register for gifts and plan their honeymoon. Those who are not already living together before the wedding make plans to move-sometimes to a new home-for after the wedding. However, one thing that many couples avoid including in their planning is a prenuptial agreement.

Defining a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made between two parties before marriage that sets out the couple's rights and obligations should the marriage end by separation or divorce. The agreement can also include testamentary provisions - and spell out how property and assets should be distributed upon one or both parties' death.

parties or bridal showers, and focus on planning their wedding. They shop for dresses, meet with vendors, choose a venue, register for gifts and plan their honeymoon. Those who are not already living together before the wedding make plans to move-sometimes to a new home-for after the wedding. However, one thing that many couples avoid including in their planning is a prenuptial agreement.

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Significant Changes to Family Law in Illinois

 Posted on July 31, 2015 in Family Law

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), which governs marriage, divorce, custody, and support in Illinois, is undergoing a major overhaul. Senate Bill 57, which was passed on May 31 and approved by the governor on July 21 of this year, will go into effect on January 1, 2016 and has major implications for many aspects of Illinois family law.

"Heart Balm" Action Implications

Senate Bill 57 eliminates a category of civil actions known as "heart balm" actions, due to the idea that the person bringing the lawsuit is doing so due to a broken heart. Plaintiffs will no longer be able to bring actions for alienation of affection (an action against a third party, such as a spouse's lover or family member, for causing the breakdown of the marriage), breach of promise to marry (an action against a former partner for a broken engagement), or "criminal conversion" (an action for adultery). The Illinois Bar Law Journal noted in their findings that the general assembly pointed to heart balm action as based on antiquated notions of gender roles, and used to harass rather than to mend broken hearts.

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Moving with Children After Divorce

 Posted on July 29, 2015 in Child Custody

After a divorce, one's life changes in many ways. In addition to learning a new dynamic with an ex-spouse, it often requires learning a new dynamic with children. For many people, part of adjusting to these changes is relocating. Sometimes people relocate to be closer to family or to begin a new career. Sometimes relocation helps to "start over" or seek new opportunities in a new place, and sometimes those new opportunities are out-of-state. Those looking to relocate out of state with children have a hurdle between themselves and a big move-they are required to get an order of removal.

What Is an Order of Removal?

An order of removal is a court order that provides permission for a parent to remove his or her child from Illinois. An order of removal is not required for short trips, such as vacations, so long as the other parent agrees. It is also not required for relocation within the state; however, if a relocation within the state disrupts the custody and visitation arrangements, a judge may not allow the child to relocate.

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Custody and Visitation Across State Lines

 Posted on July 24, 2015 in Child Custody

custody and removal in Illinois, DuPage County custody lawyerGoing through a divorce and dealing with custody and visitation can be challenging. Parents are navigating a new family dynamic, which includes learning to co-parent with their former spouse and learning to adapt to splitting time with their children. Those challenges become even more complex when a parent and child relocate to a different state.

Custody Determinations and Modification

When custody determinations are being made after a parent has already relocated-for the first time or during a modification of existing arrangements-jurisdiction is generally determined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA has been adopted by 49 states (including Illinois) and the District of Columbia, and is intended to standardize the way that states make and modify custody and visitation orders in order to reduce interstate conflict.

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How Does Spousal Maintenance Work?

 Posted on July 22, 2015 in Divorce

A major concern of anyone who is considering divorce is how a divorce will impact their finances. In one way or another, people have shared finances during their marriage. They may wonder how they will afford their rent, car payment, or health care expenses without a second income. In some cases, if one spouse has given up educational or career opportunities, and relied on the career and income of the other spouse, he or she may wonder how they can afford to re-enter the workforce and pay their expenses to maintain their standard of living. Alimony, or spousal maintenance, can provide some financial stability in the wake of divorce.

What Is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance can be awarded by a court, or reached by agreement, and allows for an award of specified amounts of money to be paid from one spouse to the other. While maintenance is typically paid monthly, the maintenance can be paid in lump sum, at intervals for a specified period of time, or at intervals for an indefinite period of time.

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Fault-Based Divorce in Illinois

 Posted on July 16, 2015 in Divorce

Marriage is a right enjoyed by millions of Americans. Many young people look forward to the day when they will get married, and thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, the right is now available to more United States citizens than ever. Unfortunately, not all marriages remain "happily ever after," and many marriages end in divorce. In Illinois, there are a number of grounds based on which someone can petition a court to dissolve his or her marriage.

Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce

Illinois law provides for both no-fault and fault-based divorce; no-fault divorce requires the parties to be separated for at least two years prior to the divorce. Those seeking a fault-based divorce in Illinois generally do not have to be separated for two years before divorcing, but need to file based one of the statutory "grounds," or reasons, for asking the court to dissolve the marriage. According to Illinois law, there are roughly 10 grounds that can form the basis for a divorce in which one of the spouses was at-fault.

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What Do Orders of Protection Do?

 Posted on July 14, 2015 in Family Law

If someone is in a dangerous relationship or is a victim of domestic violence, their primary concern is making sure that they and their children are safe. There are many ways to achieve safety, and one option available for victims to achieve safety is through the use of an order of protection.

What is an Order of Protection?

Orders of protection are court orders that protect victims of domestic violence by placing limits on the behavior of abusers; an abuser who violates an order of protection can be arrested for the violation, as well as liable for civil contempt.

Who Can Get Orders of Protection?

It is important to note that not every person who is a victim of domestic violence can get an order of protection. The Illinois statute limits eligibility for orders of protection to family or household members, but the definition of "family or household members" is fairly broad. Family or household members include:

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Visitation and Custody Challenges

 Posted on July 09, 2015 in Child Custody

Navigating custody and visitation after divorce can be difficult. A family often needs time to get used to a new structure and a new way of interacting with each other. While it can be challenging for parents to learn how to co-parent under this new familial arrangement, it can also be challenging for children to adapt. Sometimes, children reject visitation or custody arrangements - they refuse to leave one parent or stay with the other.

Children Fight Visitation or Custody

There are many reasons why children might be unwilling to see or spend time with a parent. Children might be more comfortable staying in the family home or staying in a home that is closer to friends or other family. They might be anxious about leaving a parent that is the primary caretaker, or anxious about spending time with both parents if there has been open conflict or hostility between parents during separation and divorce.

It can be difficult to determine the reason behind a child's refusal or reluctance to spend time with a parent, and it can be a practical challenge to both parents as well. A parent with whom a child is refusing to spend time might be confused and concerned about why their child will not see them; they do not want to force their child to see them but do not want to lose the relationship either. On the other side, a parent of a child who is refusing to see the other parent is stuck between supporting their child and worrying about adhering to court orders or binding agreements.

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Property Division Without Divorce: Postnuptial Agreements

 Posted on July 07, 2015 in Family Law

Illinois postnuptial agreements, DuPage County family law attorneyWhen people consider planning for property division in advance of a separation or divorce, they generally consider prenuptial agreements. However, while The Wall Street Journal has reported an increase in prenuptial agreements since 2010, not all couples take that step before marriage. Couples who decided against a prenuptial agreement but had circumstances change or just wished that they had written down certain income or asset protections have the option of signing a postnuptial agreement.

Prenuptial Agreements vs. Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are appropriate for couples in the same circumstances: individuals with significant premarital assets, couples with significantly different net worth, individuals with business interests, and parents with children from previous relationships. The main difference between the two types of agreements is the time at which they take place. Prenuptial agreements are signed prior to marriage, while postnuptial agreements are signed after the couple has already married.

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