Archive for March, 2015

Seeking Unpaid Child Support

March 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

unpaid child support, child support order, Chicago Family Law AttorneysAfter a child’s parents end their relationship, the court may order that the noncustodial parent make child support payments to the custodial parent. It does not matter if the parents are divorcing or if they were never married – any parent may seek payment of child support from the child’s other legal parent. Under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, if a child’s parents are not married when he or she is born, the father must officially establish his paternity in order to seek or receive child support payments and for the child’s mother to seek such support from him.

When a child support order is in place, both parents are required to comply with it. If the supporting parent fails to meet his or her obligation, the parent receiving the support may take legal action against him or her to collect unpaid child support.

Taking Legal Action Against a Delinquent Parent

If your former partner consistently fails to make his or her child support payments and has not sought a modification for the order, you may initiate contempt proceedings before the court. With the help of an attorney, you can request that the court take any of the following steps to procure the money that your former partner owes:

  • Suspending his or her driver’s license;
  • Suspending of any vocational or professional licenses that he or she holds;
  • Obtaining a judgment which would create a lien, a public document that states he or she owes money, against his or her property; or
  • Garnishing of his or her wages.

Your former partner may also face penalties for his or her delinquency, including fines or jail time, as outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. These penalties depend on how much is owed and how long he or she has failed to make child support payments.

Child Support Attorneys in Chicago

If you have a child support order in place and your child’s other parent has missed a significant number of payments, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with an experienced Chicago family law attorney. At Anderson & Associates, P.C., our dedicated team proudly serves parents and families in the Chicago area with offices in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago. We can help you determine the best way for you to seek the money your child needs.

 

How to Talk to Your Child about Your Divorce

March 26th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

 divorce, talk to your child, Illinois Family Law AttorneyDivorce is a difficult topic to discuss with anybody, let alone your child. But if you are considering filing for divorce or you have already done so, you need to be clear with your child about the big changes that are going to occur in his or her life. Your child needs your guidance and support now more than ever, and it is your job as a parent to be truthful with him or her without overwhelming your child with unnecessary or inappropriate details.

The following guidelines can help make these discussions easier for you and your child. It is important that you take your child’s age and maturity level into consideration when you speak with him or her about your upcoming divorce – a detail that may be crucial to tell a 14-year-old might be best left out in a talk with a four-year-old, for example.

Do Not Speak Badly About Your Spouse to Your Child

It does not matter why you are divorcing or which partner is to blame. Under no circumstances should you ever insult, degrade, or otherwise speak poorly of the other parent to him or her. This extends to other adults involved as well – do not speak badly of your spouse’s new partner if one enters the picture or of any other individuals, such as your spouse’s attorney or the judge who decides your case.

Present a Unified Front

If possible, it is always best for you and your spouse to have the initial conversation with your child together about your divorce. Back up each other’s statements and allow your child to direct any specific questions he or she has to the intended parent.

Discuss Appropriate Means of Expressing Emotions

Your child may feel angry, sad, anxious, or frustrated about your divorce. He or she might not realize the depth of these feelings and lash out inappropriately. It is important that you tell your child what is and is not appropriate behavior and encourage him or her to express these emotions in healthy ways, such as talking about them with you or keeping a journal.

Take Initiative

Tell your child that you are always available to talk with him or her, and make it a point to live up to your promise. Although your child might not want to talk to you about your divorce right away, it is important that he or she knows the option is always there. Be patient with your child and assure him or her that he or she is not responsible for your divorce.

Chicago Divorce Attorneys

If you are considering filing for divorce and you are unsure about how to approach the topic with your child or want to learn more about your options, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with the skilled Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. We proudly advocate for parents and families throughout the Chicago area, with offices in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

Child Removal: Moving Out of Illinois with a Child Custody Agreement

March 25th, 2015 at 3:02 pm

child custody, moving out of state, Illinois Family Law AttorneyIf you are thinking of moving out of state due to an improvement in employment, marriage, or to be near family, and have a custody agreement with the other parent of your child, you will need to get permission before moving. If you and the other parent do not agree to you moving out of state, you will need to file a petition with the court to remove the child out of Illinois before you are actually able to move. This is not intended to limit your ability to improve your living, but rather to ensure the best interest of the child is being kept the highest priority.

Petitioning to Move

 The court will consider many different factors during the process to determine whether the move is in the child’s best interest. These factors may include, but are not limited to:

  • The specific improvement in living arrangements offered by the change;
  • Reasons why the petitioning parent wants to move;
  • Current visitation and custody agreements;
  • The effect the move will have on the child; and
  • How the relationship with the other parent will be affected.

Similar to filing a petition to modify your custody agreement, as the petitioner, you will bear the burden of proof to show that the move is beneficial and in the best interest of the child. If you are the one requesting the move, you should be prepared to state the reason for the move, why the child should stay with you, and how your child will maintain a relationship with the non-custodial parent.

Ignoring the requirement to file a petition can have dire consequences. If the non-custodial parent contests the move, they may file to have the child returned to Illinois. This does not mean you are necessarily required to move back, just your child. Such a situation can be very costly, in addition to the expenses already incurred in making the move. Even if the move truly is in the best interest of the child, failure to have the move legally approved could have a negative impact on your case.

Successful Petition to Move

A successful petition to move out of Illinois with your child will involve demonstrating that the move is not due to malice or retaliation against the non-custodial parent, but rather that it will improve your child’s quality of life and health. You must also prove that you will cooperate to ensure your child maintains a relationship with the other parent.

If you have custody of your child and intend to move outside of Illinois, you need to speak with an experienced attorney who has handled removal court cases. Contact a qualified Chicago child removal attorney to discuss the best course of action. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients throughout the region from any of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Repairing Your Credit Score after a Divorce

March 24th, 2015 at 6:20 pm

credit score, divorce finances, Chicago Family Law AttorneysA divorce can certainly take a toll on a person emotionally, but it can also wreak havoc on a person’s finances. For instance, your household income may be going from two people working to just a single income. It is also often the case, especially in contentious breakups, that one spouse refuses to pay their share of the bills while the divorce is ongoing. This can result not only in your bank account taking a hit, but your credit score may also be greatly affected. Even in a “friendly” divorce, many people find their credit rating has taken a nose dive. Financial advisors say there are steps you can take which will help repair and rebuild your credit after divorce.

When it comes to repairing your credit after a divorce, the first step one should take is finding out exactly where their credit score stands. This can be done by pulling credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus. Federal law entitles you to receive a free report every year. Carefully examine the reports to find any and all accounts that are in your name, either solely or jointly. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one spouse to take out credit cards in their spouse’s name without their knowledge – especially in a troubled marriage –  and these accounts can have a negative effect on one’s credit score.

Close out accounts held jointly with your ex-spouse, and open accounts in your name only. The closing of accounts may cause your credit score to dip initially, but it will go back up again once you begin reestablishing credit in your name alone. You should also contact your current credit card companies and let them know you are now divorced. Inquire whether or not they will issue you a new credit card account in your name only. It is also important to have your name removed from accounts where you are listed as an authorized user.

When it comes to paying bills which are in your name alone, as you are trying to rebuild your credit, financial advisors recommend that you prioritize payment of your bills in the following order:

  1. Mortgage, car loans, and other installment loan debts and credit cards;
  2. Rental payments for apartment or house; and
  3. Utilities.

For bills which are still in both your name and your ex-spouse’s name, the priority should be:

  1. Payment for the vehicle you use;
  2. Mortgage or rent for the place where you live;
  3. Utilities; and
  4. Installment loans and credit cards.

During the divorce process, it is important to keep your attorney informed of any issues that surface regarding martial finances as you are going through the divorce. If your spouse is supposed to pay a share of the bills and refuses, your attorney will know what legal options you have – such as requesting a hearing where the court can order your spouse to make the payments.

If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Chicago divorce attorney to discuss your case.  Anderson & Associates, P.C. has offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Petitioning for Changes to Your Child Custody Order

March 20th, 2015 at 2:30 pm

custody modification, child custody, Chicago Child Custody AttorneyLiving and employment situations change after your divorce. A better paying job, a bigger apartment or house, or general improvements to your life overall may provide opportunities that did not exist previously. It may also be possible that you have been inspired to be a more active participant in the lives of your children. For many such cases, a petition to modify your custody agreement may be the first step in securing the new family dynamic you seek.

Modification of a Custody Agreement

Whether the other parent has sole custody of your child or a joint custody order is currently in place, you are permitted to file for a modification of your custody agreement. As the petitioner, however, it is your responsibility to prove that there have been sufficient situational changes that requires the order to be modified in the best interest of your child. Under Illinois law, a motion to modify custody will not be heard by the court unless two years have passed since the entry of the existing custody order or the child’s physical, emotional, moral, or mental well-being is seriously endangered under the current arrangement..

To modify your custody agreement, you will need to present to the court all pertinent evidence demonstrating that your situation has improved and/or the other parent’s situation has deteriorated. You must also be able to prove that any requested change to your child’s living arrangements will better address the child’s needs and best interest. Such evidence may include financial or legal documents, statements from teachers or counselors, and photographs. All evidence provided must be new or have been unknown during initial or previous custody proceedings to be considered in the modification hearing.

In cases of serious endangerment to the child, the court is permitted to act in advance of the normal two-year requirement. Serious endangerment may include variety of issues, especially if your child begins to show serious signs of physical or emotional distress. Severe negative changes in school performance, evidence or justifiable suspicion of abuse in the home, or concerns that your child is being intentionally prevented from communication or visitation with you may all be examples of such endangerment. Additionally, if your child’s other parent is marrying or living with a sex offender, you can petition to have your child removed from the custodial parent’s custody based on the best interest of the child.

Modification Judgment

As with any custody petition, the judge will consider the best interest of the child in light of all of the evidence presented to decide whether modification is warranted. The court’s decision will be based on careful consideration of all available information and, if determined to be appropriate, any modifications to the custody order will typically go into effect immediately upon being entered. In the event that either parent objects to the ultimate determination, the court is required to enter the specific findings of fact on which its decision was based.

If you feel the best interests of your child are not being met, you need to speak with qualified child custody lawyer. Illinois takes child custody very seriously and you want an advocate on your side that will fight for the rights of both you and your child. Contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney today and Anderson & Associates, P.C. We have offices conveniently located in downtown Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park to better serve clients throughout the region.

 

Child Support: Modifying an Order to Meet Evolving Needs

March 19th, 2015 at 3:00 pm

support order modification, child support, Chicago family lawyersFor many couples, and especially those with children, a divorce is more than a legal process used to finalize the dissolution of their marriage. Instead, it represents the starting point for a new family dynamic extending many years into the future. While many of the negotiations and arrangements inherent to divorce proceeding are permanent, such as the division of marital property, others must be drafted with the current situation in mind, and may be adjusted as the family’s circumstances change. A child support order represents a prime example of such an arrangement. 

Establishment of a Child Support Order

At the time of a divorce, or other appropriate point prescribed by law, if a support order is appropriate, the court is expected to follow established guidelines to determine the amount of support must be paid. The non-custodial parent is typically required to pay support based on his or her net income, the number of supported children, and relevant circumstantial factors. Once the order has been entered, the supporting party must continue to meet his or her obligations or risk enforcement action and prosecution.

Changes in Needs or Resources

An order for child support is expected to address the current and reasonably anticipated needs of the child, while taking into account the income and resources of the supporting parent. However, it is very likely that either or both will change over time, potentially resulting in a situation that it is not appropriately being matched by the existing support order. For this reason, the state of Illinois not only permits support orders to be modified, but encourages that they be kept as current as reasonably possible.

The court may consider the modification of a child support order in the following situations:

  • The needs of the child have significantly changed. In addition to normal growth and development, other considerations may impact the amount of financial support required by the child. Examples may include the diagnosis of a serious medical condition, the legal marriage of the child, and acceptance into an elite educational program. The impact to the support order could range from a substantial increase to the complete termination of support.
  • The supporting party experienced a significant change in income. Situations may arise in which the paying parent loses employment or suffers a debilitating injury which negatively affects his or her earning capacity. Conversely, a new position or increased business opportunities may drastically increase his or her income. Depending on the case, ordered support may be increased or decreased.

Recalculation of Support

Once the court determines that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, the modification of a child support order is handled by the court in the same manner as establishing the original order. The same considerations must be made, and with more current income and circumstantial information available, the modified order will be better suited to meet the family’s needs.

If you are subject to a child support order in Illinois and believe the order should be modified for any reason, contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney today. The qualified lawyers at Anderson & Associates, P.C., can help you understand your options and provide you the best in professional legal services. We have offices conveniently located in Wheaton, Schaumburg, Orland Park, Northbrook, and downtown Chicago.

Non-Minor Support for College Expenses

March 18th, 2015 at 3:00 pm

college expenses, child support, Illinois Family Law AttorneysAs a parent with a child support agreement, you know you have to financially provide for your child until he or she reaches adulthood. But when does adulthood truly begin? Today, many young men and women remain financially dependent on their parents well after their eighteenth birthdays, sometimes for another decade or longer. One of the main reasons behind this is the trend of young adults choosing to attend college after completing high school. College can be expensive and in many cases, parents help their children by footing some, or even all, of the bill.

But can the court require you to pay for your child’s college education? In Illinois, the answer is yes. This is known as non-minor support and you may be required to pay it at the judge’s discretion.

Factors a Judge May Consider to Determine Non-Minor Support

In Illinois, there is no law that requires parents to contribute financially to their children’s college education, but it can be ordered by the court in certain situations. Whether or not you are required to do so is determined by the judge upon consideration of the following:

  • Your son or daughter’s current grade point average and potential to be successful in college. A strong student has a much better chance of being awarded non-minor support than a student with a poor academic record.
  • Your financial obligations as well as those of your ex-spouse. This includes the existence of agreements or orders regarding spousal maintenance payments.
  • The effect your divorce had on your standard of living. Would your child have had approximately the same opportunity to afford college if you had not divorced?
  • Any grants or scholarships available to your child to help defray educational expenses.

Using this information, the judge will also determine how much you may be required to pay toward your child’s college education, if you are required to pay at all. The court may also stipulate that your child meet certain requirements to continue to receive your financial support. Such stipulations may include:

  • Requiring your child to maintain a certain grade point average.
  • Requiring him or her to work a specific number of hours while attending college.
  • Requiring that he or she choose a state or community college to reduce costs.
  • Requiring him or her to use grants or scholarships to defray costs as much as possible.

Talk to your child about realistic college goals and expectations before he or she finishes high school. College costs can be a significant expense which many families cannot afford without help or advanced planning.

Chicago Family Attorneys

If your child is considering attending college and you want to find out what you may be legally required to pay, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with Anderson & Associates, P.C. Our experienced Chicago divorce attorneys proudly serve parents and families in the Chicago area with offices in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

Determining Pet Custody in a Divorce

March 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

pet custody, divorce, Chicago divorce attorneysWhen a couple opts to end their marriage through divorce, the next step is to work with the court to divide their property and determine custody and support arrangements for their children if they have any. Today, however, as beloved pets are often considered to be a part of the family, many couples express concerns about custody of their companion animals following their divorces. 

Legally, pets are personal property in Illinois. Emotional attachment does not preclude domestic pets such as cats and dogs from being included in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act as items to divide during a divorce proceeding.

However, some couples choose to negotiate their own pet custody agreements. These are not necessarily enforceable in court, but can give the couple an outline to work with regarding their pet’s care after their divorce. When the spouses do not have such an amicable relationship but both want to retain custody of their pet, each partner may need to argue their fitness to keep the pet to the court.

Proving Your Fitness to Keep Your Pet

You might have to prove your fitness as a pet owner to have your pet’s custody awarded to you during your divorce. Some of the ways you can do this are:

  • Showing your financial investment in the pet through receipts for its veterinary bills, food costs, and any other pet bills like grooming services or obedience classes.
  • Demonstrating to the court that your home is better suited for a pet than your former partner’s. This may be because you have a large yard for the pet to roam or your former partner’s apartment does not allow pets.
  • Proving your bond with the pet through activities such as hunting or agility competitions.

Your attorney can help you develop a strong case for having your pet after a divorce. If you are your children’s custodial parent, this may also help your case for keeping your pet.

Sharing Pet Custody

With no law that outlines pet custody in Illinois, some couples choose to develop shared pet custody arrangements. In many cases, these arrangements are modeled on the couple’s child custody arrangement – wherever the children go, the pet goes. Talk to your spouse about this option and determine if setting up a visitation schedule could be a viable choice for your situation.

Although they can not speak or express themselves the way humans can, animals feel tension and stress during a divorce. No matter what you and your spouse decide, it is important for your pet’s health that you do all you can to minimize the stress that he or she is put through during the divorce process.

Divorce Attorneys in Chicago

If you are considering ending your marriage or you are currently working through the divorce process, contact the skilled Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. at 312-345-9999 or online for your initial legal consultation with our firm. We have five convenient offices in the Chicago area: Northbrook, Wheaton, Orland Park, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

Be Wary of Hidden Assets in Divorce

March 13th, 2015 at 8:00 am

hidden assets, division of property, Chicago family law attorneysWhen a couple has reached the end of their marriage and divorce is imminent, both spouses are not often equally prepared. Frequently, the partner with more financial control has begun to plan to for the future and, in some cases, may be taking steps to manipulate asset valuation so as to individually benefit when property is divided in the impending divorce. Although undervalued or hidden assets may be more common among wealthier divorcing couples, lower net-worth families can be affected as much or more by the deceptive and illegal practice.

Who Hides Assets?

Few married couples share responsibility for the family’s finances equally. In many situations, one spouse is responsible for the household budget by paying bills, managing investments, and making all or most major financial decisions. He or she typically maintains unfettered access to all joint accounts and monetary resources. The partner with control of the family’s money is often the one with most opportunity and temptation to use the situation to his or her advantage. However, if the spouse tasked with financial responsibility is not the primary wage-earner, the spouse with the higher income may be inclined to keep assets and resources away from joint accounts, while putting money aside for the post-divorce future.

Where to Find Hidden Assets

While those who hide assets typically do so for one reason – affecting the division of property to his or own benefit – the methods used may differ greatly depending on the situation. Financial experts, however, have identified several of the most common ways a partner may attempt to hide marital assets:

  • Easily Undervalued Purchases: New artwork for her home office or parts for the classic car he is restoring may be more valuable than they seem.
  • Reporting Lower Income at Tax Time: Despite the risk of an IRS audit and subsequent penalties, only officially reported income is used in most financial analyses.
  • Paying More at Tax Time: An intentional overpayment to the IRS or other creditors may be recovered at a later date, presumably to be refunded after completion of the divorce proceedings.
  • Investment Transfers: Stock accounts may be transferred to relatives, business associates, or dummy companies, again, to be recovered later.
  • Physical Hidden Cash: Sometimes, hiding assets may be as simple as putting cash in safety deposit box or under the bed in a shoebox.

Help in Uncovering Hidden Assets

There are countless ways in which a determined individual can try to affect the outcome of property and asset division in divorce. With the rise of digital technology, it has become much more difficult, though, to keep hidden assets from being discovered by legal and financial professionals. Forensic accountants are specifically trained to identify and quantify irregularities in financial records, and in conjunction with a qualified lawyer, can provide invaluable assistance to many complex divorce situations.

If you have reason to believe your spouse has been hiding assets and a divorce seems imminent, our team is ready to go to work for you. Contact an experienced Illinois property division attorney today at Anderson & Associates, P.C. We offer convenient office locations in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.

Study Finds Lower Divorce Rate for Doctors, Medical Professionals

March 12th, 2015 at 7:00 am

divorce rate, divorce among doctors, Illinois Family Law AttorneyA career in the medical field presents a large number of both professional and personal challenges. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare administrators often spend long hours focused on the needs of the patients in their care. Considering the demanding schedule and the high-stress environment in which many medical professionals work, it is not unusual for family life to be directly affected. In fact, it would be reasonable to assume that the strain a healthcare career can place on a marriage might, overall, lead to a higher divorce rate. A new study, however, seems to suggest that such an assumption would be wrong.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Dan Ly, medical resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, released its findings last month in a report published in the journal BMJ. “It’s been speculated that doctors are more likely to be divorced than other professionals because of the long hours they keep and the stress associated with the job,” senior author of the study, Anupam Jena, M.D, said in a statement, “but no large-scale study has ever investigated whether that is true.”

Dr. Jena, a physician at Mass General and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, found that the idea that physicians are likely to divorce is prevalent even among doctors themselves. To find out, the team examined data taken from the American Community Survey, an ongoing demographic survey conducted the U.S. Census Bureau. The research looked at more than 6.5 million individuals, including a quarter million doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and healthcare executives.

Controlling for age and income, the team discovered that physicians divorce at a rate of about 24 percent, second-lowest among the studied groups. Pharmacists enjoy the lowest rate at 23 percent, while dentists have a 25 percent likelihood of divorce. Executives and nurses were slightly higher at 31 percent and 33 percent, respectively, but all of the  healthcare professionals were found less likely to divorce than non-healthcare workers, who carry a 35 percent divorce rate.

The findings also indicated that a female doctor was much more likely to divorce than a male doctor, especially if she worked more than 40 hours per week. Dr. Jena speculated the gender disparity may be rooted in the common expectations placed on women in regard to work and family balance. “Females traditionally bear more of the household and child-rearing responsibilities on average, and female physicians, if they have to do both that and maintain a job as a physician, that could lead to a lot stress and lead to higher rates of divorce,” he said.

Doctors and medical professionals, Dr. Jena concluded, should not worry about a high rate of divorce due to job-related stress. Female doctors, however, should be aware of the impact that balancing work and family life may be having on their relationships.

Whether you are a doctor, nurse, or dentist, or if your job is completely unrelated to healthcare, divorce can be a challenging process. With many decisions to make and factors to consider, a qualified divorce attorney can provide the help you deserve. Contact the experienced Illinois family law attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. today. We have offices conveniently located in downtown Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Orland, Park, and Northbrook to meet your legal needs.