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DuPage County child custody attorneyIn Illinois family law cases, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are not referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” When divorcing parents cannot agree on an arrangement for dividing parental responsibilities and parenting time, the court may need to intervene. Custody-related legal proceedings can be stressful for both the parents and the children. If you are in a legal dispute with your child’s other parent, you may have concerns about your child’s involvement in the case. Child testimonies are sometimes, but not always, used in Illinois child custody disputes. Fortunately, Illinois courts have several methods for conducting child interviews in a way that minimizes the stress on the child.

Will My Child Be Put on the Witness Stand?

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree upon a parenting arrangement, a judge will be tasked with making a custody determination that serves the child’s best interests. You may wonder whether this means that your child will be forced to testify in court. Typically, children are not required to testify in court; however, the judge may use a child interview to gather information regarding a custody case. 

Because court hearings can be very overwhelming and frightening for children, Illinois courts do everything possible to gather children’s testimonies in a child-friendly way. Rarely are children placed on the witness stand. If the judge wishes to hear the child’s testimony in a custody case, he or she will most likely speak to the child privately in the judge's chambers. The judge may ask the child questions about his or her thoughts, feelings, and preferences. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the parents’ respective attorneys will typically be present for the child interview. A court reporter will transcribe the child’s testimony word-for-word so that this testimony can be used in future child custody hearings.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for financial restraining ordersYou may not be surprised to learn that arguments about money are one of the main sources of conflict in many marriages. While some spouses are eventually able to reach an agreement about how to handle finances, others are not able to resolve their differences and end up filing for divorce. According to one 2017 survey, about 21 percent of divorced individuals named money as the cause of their divorce. Interestingly, the higher a person’s income, the more likely they were to report financial conflict as the main reason for ending the marriage. About 33 percent of individuals with an income of $100,000 or greater said that money-related disagreements led to the split. If you are considering divorce, and you are worried about the financial actions your spouse may take before the divorce is finalized, you may want to protect yourself by obtaining a financial restraining order.

Freezing Marital Assets During Divorce

Some divorcing spouses may make extravagant purchases, use marital assets recklessly, intentionally damage marital property, or make other financial decisions that harm the other spouse. In order to protect divorcing spouses’ finances, Illinois law allows spouses to obtain a temporary court order that guards marital assets against waste or misuse until they can be equitably divided during divorce. According to Illinois law, a financial restraining order can prevent a spouse from “transferring, encumbering, concealing, or otherwise disposing of any property except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life.”

This type of restraining order may prohibit spouses from selling marital property, closing bank accounts, or changing the beneficiaries on accounts. Depending on the situation, the restraining order may also restrict spouses’ access to certain marital accounts. The provisions contained in a financial restraining order apply to both spouses, so it is important to note that you will also be subject to restrictions and rules if you choose to obtain a financial restraining order.

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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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DuPage County divorce lawyer for stalking and harassmentDivorce can sometimes bring out the worst in people. In some cases, a resentful spouse may resort to stalking or harassing their spouse in an attempt to get their attention or intimidate them into meeting divorce-related demands. Stalking can include repeatedly showing up at the spouse’s home, school, or workplace, or it may involve repeatedly contacting the spouse over the phone or via text messages, email, or social media. Whether you have been a victim of abuse, stalking, or another form of domestic violence, you should know that you have several options under Illinois law that can help keep you and your loved ones safe.  

What Constitutes Stalking?

Stalking is typically defined as knowingly and repeatedly harassing another person with the intent to cause him or her harm or fear of being harmed. This may include following the victim from place to place, remaining outside the victim’s home for long periods of time, or showing up at places that the victim is likely to be with the intent of scaring him or her. Stalking may also include contacting or monitoring someone through a smartphone, computer, GPS system, or another electronic device. This so-called “cyberstalking” can be just as emotionally distressing as physical harassment. Some stalking victims may worry that they are overreacting to their spouse’s behavior. However, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. If your spouse’s actions make you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, family members, or pets, you need to take action right away.

Obtaining an Order of Protection

Orders of protection, which are sometimes called restraining orders, are legally enforceable court orders that prohibit someone from harassing or abusing another person. An Emergency Order of Protection can often be obtained immediately if a person fears for their safety. These orders may include several different provisions, including but not limited to:

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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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