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Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.
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DuPage County spousal support lawyerIllinois courts award spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) when a divorcing spouse requires monetary assistance based on his or her financial and employment circumstances. There are many different factors that determine whether a spouse receives support and the amount of support he or she is entitled to. If a couple has signed a valid marital agreement dictating the terms of spousal maintenance, Illinois courts will typically uphold the terms contained in the agreement. Otherwise, if a spouse wishes to receive spousal maintenance, he or she must petition the court and explain his or her need for support.  

Alimony May Be Temporary, Fixed, Reviewable, or Indefinite

The type, amount, and duration of spousal maintenance is based on the needs of the spouse seeking support, the financial resources of both spouses, and the amount of time the couple was married. There are four main categories of spousal maintenance in Illinois:

  • Temporary maintenance: Temporary maintenance is awarded to a spouse when he or she needs financial support during the divorce proceedings. An order for temporary maintenance terminates when the divorce is finalized. Spouses requiring this type of support can include a petition for temporary maintenance when they file for divorce, or they can submit a petition for temporary relief after the initial filing.

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Wheaton asset division attorney for vehiclesIf you are like many people, your car, truck, or other vehicle is an essential component of your everyday life. You may have also spent a great deal of time, effort, and money making payments on your vehicle and keeping it maintained. It is therefore understandable to have concerns about who will retain ownership of your vehicle after divorce. You may question whether your spouse has the right to keep a car that is only titled in your name or worry that you will be forced to sell the vehicle and split the proceeds. Understanding the laws that govern asset distribution during divorce is key to reaching a fair divorce settlement.

Illinois Laws Regarding Ownership of Vehicles and Divorce

You and your spouse may be able to resolve property division concerns such as vehicle ownership through negotiations, mediation, or collaborative law. However, not every divorcing couple is able to reach a property distribution arrangement without court intervention. If your divorce case is litigated, a legal doctrine called “equitable distribution” will be used to determine which spouse gets what assets. Separate property, meaning property acquired by a party before getting married, is typically assigned to the original owner of the property. Property received in an inheritance is also usually classified as separate property. Assets that are acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital property. If you purchased your vehicle after you got married, it is part of the marital estate and subject to division. This means that even if your vehicle is titled in your name alone, your spouse will have the same rights to the vehicle as you do.

Factors Considered by the Court During Division of Motor Vehicles

There are a few different ways that vehicles may be handed during the property division process. The vehicle may be sold and the profits split between the spouses, or one spouse may keep the car, while the other spouse keeps assets of similar value. When determining who will own a vehicle after divorce, Illinois courts may consider a number of different factors. The amount of money that each spouse contributed to the acquisition of the vehicle is one consideration. Each spouse’s income and employment circumstances as well as the spouses’ transportation needs are also considered. Parental responsibilities and parenting time arrangements may also influence who gets a vehicle, since a parent may need a larger vehicle to transport children to school or activities.

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DuPage County private adoption attorneyChoosing to adopt a child can be a wonderful, life-changing decision. However, the adoption process can be full of legal complications and potential pitfalls. If you are considering adoption, it is important to educate yourself about the obstacles that you may encounter. It is also important to work with an adoption attorney who has experience successfully addressing these issues.

Relative Adoptions

One of the most common types of adoption in Illinois is relative adoption. Adopting a stepchild or other relative is often more straightforward than other types of adoption, but it can also involve many legal challenges. A child can only have two parents, so in some cases, the child’s biological parent or parents may need to relinquish their parental rights before the adoption can occur. However, many parents are unwilling to do so, or they may choose to contest the adoption in court. If parents do not voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, they may lose their parental rights after being deemed “unfit” by the court. Neglect, abuse, abandonment, severe drug addiction, and other issues that may lead a court to terminate a parent’s parental rights.

Private Adoptions

In a private adoption, the adoptive parents adopt a child directly from the biological parents. In most cases, no adoption agencies or outside organizations are involved. Unfortunately, private adoption scams and fraud are not uncommon. Birth mothers may misrepresent themselves, take money from adoptive parents with no intention of ever following through with the adoption, or even pretend to be pregnant for financial gain. Birth mothers may also change their minds about the adoption after giving birth. It is absolutely essential to work with an adoption attorney if you plan to pursue a private adoption.

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Wheaton property divison attorney for pet custodyWhether you have a dog, cat, horse, bird, or other type of animal, you probably love and cherish your pet as if he or she was part of the family. One concern many divorcing spouses have is who will keep the family pet after their marriage ends. Arguments about “pet custody” can often become heated. One spouse may even try to maintain ownership of the pet simply to spite the other spouse. If you are planning to end your marriage, make sure to educate yourself about how Illinois’ property division laws address pet ownership after divorce.

Pet Custody Laws in Illinois

Although you most likely do not think of your pet as simply another piece of property, pets are treated similarly to other assets during divorce. There are not proceedings for “pet custody” the way there are for child custody. The pet is considered a marital asset if it was acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. If the pet was acquired by a spouse before the marriage, that spouse will typically remain the owner after divorce. However, there are some exceptions to this.

Providing for the Pet’s Well-Being

Fortunately, a new law went into effect in 2018 that differentiates pets from property like vehicles and jewelry. If the pet is a marital asset, the court now considers the well-being of the pet when deciding how to allocate ownership. If one spouse has traditionally been responsible for feeding, exercising, grooming, and caring for the pet’s health needs, the court will be much more likely to award ownership to that spouse. If you wish to maintain ownership of your pet after the divorce, start collecting evidence that proves your involvement in the pet’s life, such as photos, videos, receipts, and veterinary bills. 

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DuPage County child support attorney for college expensesThe average cost of a 4-year public college education is just over $45,000. If the student attends a private or out-of-state school, that number can rise to $100,000-$150,000, or even more. Understandably, paying for children’s college tuition and fees is a major concern for many parents. The question of how to finance a child’s college education becomes even more pressing if the parents are unmarried or divorced. If you plan to end your marriage or were never married to your child’s other parent, it is essential that you understand your rights and obligations regarding non-minor support for college expenses.

How Much Money Are Parents Required to Contribute to Their Child’s College Education?

Illinois courts have the authority to require parents who are unmarried or divorced to contribute toward their children’s college expenses. These expenses may include tuition, housing, textbooks and fees, living expenses, medical insurance, and medical expenses. Courts may order parents’ financial contributions to be paid to the child, the university or college, or to either parent. 

There is no statutory formula for calculating the amount that each parent must pay toward the child’s education. However, there is a cap on the amount of money that a parent can be ordered to contribute. According to Illinois law, the amount that a parent is required to contribute cannot surpass the current cost of in-state tuition and fees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Parents’ obligations end if the student fails to maintain a “C” average, turns 23, receives his or her bachelor’s degree, or gets married. Parents are not typically ordered to contribute to their child’s master’s degree or other advanced education. In special circumstances, a court may make an exception to these rules.  

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