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Recent blog posts

DuPage County paternity attorneyIf you are an unmarried mother who is expecting a child, you probably have several questions and concerns. If your pregnancy was unexpected, or if you are no longer in a relationship with your baby’s father, you may wonder whether you should tell the father about the pregnancy or list him on your baby’s birth certificate. You may also wonder if you will be entitled to child support or if your child’s father will have a right to spend time with the child after he or she is born. The term “paternity” refers to a father’s legal relationship to his child. There are several benefits to establishing paternity in Illinois.

Paternity of a Child for an Unmarried Father

When a married woman has a child, the law presumes the woman’s husband to be the father. The couple does not need to take extra steps to establish paternity before writing the father’s name on the birth certificate. If a mother is not married, there is no presumption about the child’s father. Paternity or legal parentage must be established by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form. Paternity may also be established through the courts or via an administrative process through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Effects of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity opens several avenues for you and your child’s father. Raising a child on your own can be extremely difficult personally and financially. Once you establish paternity, you will be able to file a petition for child support. Having extra income in the form of child support can be a huge advantage to you and your child. Establishing paternity also means that the father will be entitled to visitation or “parenting time” if he chooses to petition the court and request it. 

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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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Posted on in Mediation

Dupage County family law attorney for divorce mediationIf you are ready to end your marriage, you are probably looking for ways to eliminate drama, reduce legal costs, and reach a fair divorce settlement. In many cases, divorce mediation can help couples reach a resolution about the terms of their divorce without going to court. Divorce mediation is a process during which a couple works on addressing and resolving their outstanding legal issues with the help of a specially-trained mediator. During mediation, you and your spouse may discuss the division of marital property and debts, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal maintenance, and other issues. However, it is important to understand what divorce mediation is and is not before deciding to use mediation as your primary means of reaching a resolution.

Myth: Your Mediator Will Make a Decision for You

A family law mediator is trained in conflict resolution, communication, and negotiation. He or she will help you and your spouse discuss any unresolved divorce issues and work with you to find potential solutions. A mediator does not choose one spouse’s side over the other or make any decisions on your behalf. His or her job is to ensure that divorce negotiations and discussions are as productive as possible.

Myth: Mediation Is Right for Everyone

Mediation can be an effective tool for resolving your outstanding legal issues and reaching a divorce settlement. However, mediation is not the appropriate choice for every divorce case. Mediation requires communication, transparency, and cooperation.  If a spouse is unwilling or unable to be honest about financial matters or other issues relevant to the divorce, mediation will not be effective. Mediation may also be inadequate or inappropriate for couples who own complex assets such as a family business, have a history of domestic violence, or simply cannot communicate well.

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Wheaton, IL child support attorney for past-due support obligationsChild support payments are intended to provide a parent with the financial support he or she needs to cover housing, education, and other child-related costs. Illinois has adopted the “Income Shares” model for child support calculations. The amount a parent pays in child support in Illinois is typically based on the difference between the parents’ net incomes. This calculation method is designed to ensure that payments provide for the child’s needs and are reasonably affordable for the paying parent or “obligor.” However, circumstances can change, and obligor parents may find themselves in a situation where they cannot fulfill their child support obligations. If you are a parent who has fallen behind on child support payments in Illinois, you may wonder what types of consequences you may face. You may also question whether there is anything you can do to remedy the situation.

Child Support Arrears

Past due child support, or “child support arrears,” can cause significant legal problems for an obligor parent. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you fail to comply with the order, you may face a variety of consequences, including wage garnishment, liens on your property, interception of your tax returns, suspension of your driver’s license, and more. You may even be held in contempt of court.

Options for Illinois Parents Who Owe Child Support

If you cannot afford your child support payments because you lost your job, suffered a major injury or illness, or had other financial problems, you may wonder what to do next. The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation. You should contact your child’s other parent as well as the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Child Support Services and notify them of the situation. You may be able to reduce your child support obligation through a child support modification. However, this modification will only reduce the amount you will pay in new payments. You will still need to pay back the past due child support plus interest.

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DuPage County family law attorney for holiday child custodyThis holiday season is shaping up to be like none other. If you are in the middle of a separation or divorce, your holiday season may be especially complicated. Sharing custody of children with a soon-to-be ex-spouse is hard enough, but sharing custody during the holidays can be even harder. Keep the following tips and suggestions in mind to help your holiday season go as smoothly as possible for you and your children:

Plan the Details in Advance

When a couple with children files for divorce in Illinois, they have 120 days to create and submit a “parenting plan.” This plan will describe how they will make major decisions about the child, who the child will live with on what days, how the child will be transported between homes, and much more. If you have not yet filed for divorce, or if you have not made any decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, you may only have a casual agreement about which parent the children will see on which days. This can lead to miscommunication and frustration. It is better to plan your holidays in advance. Decide where the children will stay on what days, when they will be picked up and dropped off, and other details, and then put these decisions in writing.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

There are many computer programs and smartphone applications that can help you and your ex collaborate when making decisions about parenting issues. Using email or text messages to communicate about children can help avoid in-person arguments, and this can also serve as an important record of the plans you and your spouse have made. Apps like Cozi, Coparently, and OurFamilyWizard allow you to keep track of schedules, expenses, and other child-related information.

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