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DuPage County emergency order of protection lawyerThere is no doubt that COVID-19 has touched every aspect of our lives. School children attend classes remotely, businesses are shut down or forced to operate via video conferencing, and many people are unable to visit relatives in hospitals and nursing homes. One way in which the coronavirus may also be impacting Americans is through an increase in domestic violence. Unfortunately, many victims have stayed silent about the mistreatment they have suffered because they are ashamed, they fear retaliation, or they do not know the legal options that are available to them. If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, read on to learn about the legal protections available to you in Illinois.

Quarantine May Make it Harder for Victims to Get Help

Physical, emotional, mental, sexual, and financial abuse often takes place behind closed doors. Abusers frequently use control and manipulation to prevent their victims from leaving or reporting the abuse. When victims and abusers are quarantined in the same home together, the abuse and control may escalate. TIME Magazine reports that police departments are seeing increases in domestic violence cases across the country. In one hospital, wounds that were related to domestic violence from March 11 to May 3 of 2020 exceeded the number of domestic violence wounds from the same time period in the previous two years combined.

Getting Legal Protection Through an Order of Protection

If you or a loved one have suffered physical abuse, harassment, threats, or other forms of domestic violence, you should know that Illinois has laws in place to protect you. You can get an Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) without your abuser’s knowledge. An EOP is available based on your testimony alone. The EOP may require the abuser to move out of your shared home, surrender his or her firearms, stay away from you and your children, stop contacting you, and more. If he or she violates the protection order, he or she may immediately be arrested and face criminal charges.

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Wheaton, IL child support enforcement attorneyAs any parent can tell you, children are expensive. Between education and childcare, housing, groceries, healthcare, and other child-related costs, raising a child without financial assistance from the child’s other parent can be a major struggle. Parents have a moral responsibility and a legal obligation to provide for their child’s needs. Unfortunately, some parents try to evade this responsibility. If you are a single parent, and your child’s other parent is not paying child support, there are steps you can take to get the financial assistance you and your child deserve.   

Establishing a Child Support Order in Illinois

If you and your ex have casually agreed on a child support arrangement, unfortunately, there is not much that the courts can do to enforce this arrangement. That is why it is important for any divorced or unmarried parent to get an official child support order from the court. If your child’s father is not paying child support, but he never signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or otherwise established his legal relationship with your child, you will need to establish paternity before you can get a child support order.

Enforcing an Existing Child Support Order

If you already have a child support order, but your child’s other parent is not abiding by the order, there are several things you can do to assert your right to receive child support. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is the agency that enforces child support orders in Illinois. You may also be able to enforce the order through the court system. Parents who do not pay child support can face several significant consequences including:

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DuPage County property division lawyer for asset dissipationDivorce can make some people act in irrational or even malicious ways. One example of this is when a spouse purposely destroys the other spouse’s property. A resentful spouse may set fire to the other’s belongings, throw out important documents, or sell valuables for cash. If your spouse has destroyed your property or wasted assets during or immediately prior to your divorce, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and your property. It is also important to educate yourself about your legal options moving forward. You may be able to recoup the value of the destroyed property through a dissipation claim.

Get a Financial Restraining Order to Protect Your Assets During Divorce

If your spouse is intent on seeking vengeance through selling your property, destroying your assets, or emptying joint bank accounts, you need to take immediate action to protect your finances. One option is to request a temporary financial restraining order. This is a court order that prevents both you and your spouse from making unusual financial transactions or significant purchases. A financial restraining order freezes joint accounts and protects marital assets. The order also prevents the spouses from spending, transferring, selling, or hiding funds or property.

A Dissipation Claim May Allow You to Recover the Value of Wasted Assets

If your spouse has already misused, wasted, or destroyed assets, you may still be able to reclaim the value of these assets. Per Illinois law, “dissipation of assets” occurs when a spouse wastes assets during the end of the marriage. More specifically, dissipation involves using assets in a way that only benefits one spouse while the marriage is experiencing an “irretrievable breakdown.” Case law has established that dissipation may involve wasting marital or non-marital assets. A marriage is considered to be in an irretrievable breakdown when the end of the marriage is inevitable, and the spouses have stopped trying to salvage the marriage. Through a successful dissipation claim, you may be awarded a proportionally greater share of the marital estate to compensate you for the wasted or destroyed assets.

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Wheaton, IL parenting plan modification attorney for parental relocationIf you are unmarried or divorced, and you have children, you may share parental responsibilities and parenting time with your child’s other parent. In situations like this, parents are subject to certain rules and procedures when they move. The laws in Illinois regarding parental relocation changed significantly in 2016. Now, if a parent wants to move, and the move meets certain criteria, they may need to get court approval. Whether you are unmarried, divorced, or plan to end your marriage soon, it is important to be aware of parental relocation laws.

Defining “Relocation” According to Illinois Law

Before the changes to Illinois family law, the parent who was the “primary residential parent” could move anywhere in the state without getting permission from the other parent or the court. However, if they wished to move outside of Illinois – even if the move was only a few miles away – they needed to take certain legal steps.

Illinois law has since been updated to be more consistent. Moving a short distance away does not require approval. However, when a move is significant, this is called a “relocation.” A relocation occurs when a parent with the majority of parenting time or an equal amount of parenting time:

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Elmhurst petition for divorce attorneySometimes, when a couple decides to get a divorce, both spouses are on the same page. In other situations, a spouse may be caught totally off guard when he or she is served with divorce papers. Regardless of what led up to this moment, once you have been served with a divorce petition, you need to take several important actions. You may understandably be very upset about what has happened, and you may be tempted to ignore the petition or even throw it away. However, doing so will only worsen your situation.

Read the Petition Entirely

The first step you should take after receiving a petition for the dissolution of marriage is to actually read the document. This may seem obvious, but many people jump to conclusions without reading the entire petition. The document will explain that your spouse is requesting a divorce. It will likely include statements and requests about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal maintenance, property division, and other divorce-related issues. Once you understand what your spouse is asking for, you can respond appropriately.

Retain an Experienced Attorney

An attorney is not required to get divorced in Illinois. However, your attorney can help you interpret the petition and understand what your spouse is requesting. Your attorney can also provide legal support throughout the duration of your divorce case. Hiring an attorney does not mean that you intend to take your case to trial or make the situation any more contentious than it already is. It simply means that you now have a legal advocate on your side who can explain your legal rights and options and help you take the steps needed to resolve your divorce.

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