Archive for the ‘Illinois Family Law Attorney’ tag

Family Law Updates 2016: Illinois’ “Modern Family” Bill

April 30th, 2015 at 6:36 pm

bill 57, modern family bill, Illinois Family LawyerCurrently, all issues related to marriage and divorce, including child custody, child support, and the division of a couple’s property are addressed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This Act, though comprehensive, dates to the 1970s and many feel it is insufficient for the challenges and cultural trends that twenty-first century families face. To address these issues, lawmakers drafted Bill 57 to amend the state’s existing divorce laws. The bill passed in the Illinois House, but then died in Senate with no vote in 2014. In 2015, however, the proposed law was passed by both parts of government and was officially enacted on January 1, 2016.

The main goal of the bill was to avoid creating feelings of “winners” and “losers” in child custody agreements. Rather than establishing parental roles in terms of custody, the bill allows for the “allocation of parental responsibilities” in relationship to the child. Similar to the procedures currently in place for determining child custody, responsibility for decision-making and other parental obligations would be divided between the parents according to the best interest of the child

Changes in Senate Bill 57

The most significant change to Illinois’ current custody law in Bill 57 is the elimination of the delineation between joint vs. sole custody. Under this bill, each parent is assigned specific parenting tasks. This is intended to encourage both parents to remain involved in their children’s lives and limit litigation over minor disputes between parents

Critics have pointed out that the changes included in Bill 57 do not sufficiently address the realities that dual-income families face. Although in theory, parents affected by Bill 57 will share childcare duties, the Bill still allows one parent to be given the majority of parenting time while the other pays child support to him or her. This can not only create skewed parenting schedules for children, but fail to require parents to make equal financial contributions to their child’s well being.

Another important change included in Bill 57 is the removal of the requirement that divorcing couples prove grounds for their divorce. This portion is meant to acknowledge that in many cases, marriages fail simply because of differences in personality and goals. It also eliminates the right of an individual to sue his or her former spouse or the former spouse’s lover for committing adultery and destroying the marriage.

Divorce and Family Attorneys in the Chicago Area

If you are considering divorce, you should know how the laws regarding child custody and support affect your situation. Contact Anderson & Associates, P.C. at 312-345-9999 to discuss these changes with one of the experienced Illinois family law attorneys at our firm. We proudly serve Illinois families in our five office locations in Schaumburg, Northbrook, Orland Park, Wheaton, and downtown Chicago.

Orders of Protection: An Abused Area of the Law?

April 28th, 2015 at 6:08 pm

domestic violence, orders of protection, Illinois family lawyerWhen an individual faces domestic violence from his or her intimate partner or another member of the household, he or she has the right to petition for an order of protection. An order of protection, sometimes also known as a restraining order, is a court order that prohibits an individual from engaging in specific behaviors, including physical abuse, stalking, or contacting another individual, for a specified length of time. These orders can be enforced in several ways, including by the penalties outlined in the Illinois Criminal Code, including fines and jail time.

But can orders of protection be sought frivolously and abused by vindictive individuals seeking control of their former partners? Absolutely. However, without an order in place, a victim may be at risk for further abuse, injury, and death. This is why the longest-lasting type of order of protection, a plenary order of protection, requires the opportunity for both the petitioner and his or her alleged abuser to present their case to a judge before the order may be issued – to determine whether or not the petitioner truly needs and can be helped by an order of protection against his or her former partner.

Types of Orders of Protection

Three different types of orders of protection are available to victims. They are as follows:

  • Emergency order of protection. This is an order that a petitioner may obtain if he or she was abused as defined by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. The abuser, known as the respondent, is not required to be present when the order is issued.  The emergency order of protection, however, can only last for up to 21 days;
  • Plenary order of protection. The respondent must be served with notice of the order of protection proceedings and given an opportunity to appear before the court. This type of order of protection may remain in place for up to two years;  and
  • Interim order of protection. An interim order of protection can act as a stopgap between an emergency and plenary order of protection.  A court can enter an interim order of protection if the respondent has been served with notice of the proceedings or if the petitioner proves that he or she has made a diligent effort to serve the respondent.  An interim order of protection can last for up to 30 days.

Individuals who wish to seek an order of protection may do so with the circuit court of the county where they live, where the respondent lives, where the alleged abuse occurred, or where the petitioner is temporarily located if he or she left to avoid further abuse.

Famlily Law Attorneys in the Chicago Area

If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact the skilled Chicago family law attorneys Anderson & Associates, P.C. at 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation in one of our firm’s five convenient office locations: downtown Chicago, Wheaton, Orland Park, Schaumburg, and Northbrook. We are here to advocate for you and your family and provide you with top-notch legal advice and representation when you need it most.

Prenuptial Agreements for Second and Third Marriages

April 24th, 2015 at 6:04 pm

prenuptial agreement, prenup, Illinois family law attorneyWhether you are entering your first marriage or your fifth, it is important to protect your assets by signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that details your plans for your assets and support in the event of a death or a divorce. In Illinois, they are governed by the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.

Prenuptial agreements are especially important for individuals entering second and subsequent marriages because they are entering into a new agreement after being previously married and divorce. In essence, a marriage is a contract and when signing a new marriage contract, one must consider the terms he or she is bound to by his or her previous divorce contract.

Without a prenuptial agreement, your new spouse may be automatically entitled to your assets. Likewise, you may be entitled to his or hers. Prenuptial agreements are recommended for any individual who is planning to enter a marriage, but especially for business owners and individuals who have significant assets. Although it can seem unromantic to ask your partner to sign a prenuptial agreement, it is a realistic, responsible way to ensure that you retain your assets in a divorce or your children from a prior relationship still receive an inheritance after you pass away. It also allows you to have a full and frank discussion with your fiancée about your priorities and finances prior to entering into the marriage

What May Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?

  • Designations about who may receive funds from your assets, such as your stocks, bonds, and financial accounts;
  • Money and property allocations to your children from a previous marriage or former spouse;
  • The beneficiaries of your retirement plan. If your current spouse opts to waive this right, you may instead name a former spouse or your child the beneficiary of your retirement plan after your death;
  • The amount of spousal support, if any, a spouse will receive in the event of a divorce;and
  • Each spouse’s responsibility to your jointly-accumulated or individually-held debts.

For a prenuptial agreement to be valid, both parties must fully disclose all of their assets and debts. If either party is later found to have withheld information or lied about his or her financial circumstances at the time the prenuptial agreement was signed, the agreement may be invalidated.

Terms that can not be legally enforced may not be included in a prenuptial agreement. These include lifestyle choices like the number of children a couple has, where they live, and how they spend their time. Only tangible issues, such as those regarding a couple’s finances and assets, may be written into a prenuptial agreement.

Divorce Attorneys in the Chicago Area

If you are considering getting married for the second, third, or subsequent time, contact Anderson & Associates, P.C. to discuss the importance of signing a prenuptial agreement. The skilled Chicago divorce attorneys at our firm understand the unique financial considerations that individuals entering second and subsequent marriages face. Do not get married again without a prenuptial agreement. Contact us today to set up your initial legal consultation in one of our firm’s five convenient locations: Schaumburg, Orland Park, Northbrook, Wheaton, and downtown Chicago.

Ways to Make a Divorce Less Stressful

April 7th, 2015 at 2:47 pm

less stressful, divorce, Chicago divorce attorneyMany people think going through a divorce is stressful and all about fighting to get what you want from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, this does not necessarily need to be the case. There are many couples who have gone through the divorce process without excessive stress or contentiousness. Some ways to make a divorce less stressful are:

Be Willing to Talk

When a petition for a divorce is filed, one party may feel betrayed and become hurt or angry. Completing a divorce, however, often requires negotiation and communication regarding a number of relevant issues. If you are not able to speak with your spouse, you can have your divorce attorney communicate with your spouse or his or her attorney to try to reach agreements during the divorce process.

Remain Civil

Especially if you have children, staying polite with your spouse can make the process considerably less stressful. It can also help during negotiations and while speaking in front of the court. Avoiding negativity and angry or harsh words with your soon-to-be ex-spouse may help you keep a better relationship with your children. It also demonstrates to your children that you do not wish for them to be caught in the middle.

Consider Mediation or Collaborative Law

If you are able to negotiate with your spouse, speaking with a certified mediator or collaborative law attorney may be the way to save some time and money in your divorce process. Mediation takes place with help of a neutral third party mediator, with lawyers present only if necessary or appropriate. Collaborative law generally requires parties to have an attorney, but is a lower stress alternative to courtroom litigation. Both options look to save the parties time and money while helping them to reach agreements with each other. It also allows both parties more control over the eventual divorce agreement rather than leaving it up to a judge.

Know What You Have and Its Worth

Whether it is real estate, physical property, or other assets, be aware of what you have and its value. It is also helpful to know exactly what debts you owe individually and with your spouse. In some cases, one party may have hidden assets, not necessarily because one party did not inform the other of the purchase, but because some assets are undervalued. You will want to make a list of all assets you had before the marriage and what was acquired during the marriage. This will make the division of property, assets, and debt much easier. Illinois is an “equitable-distribution” state, meaning that marital property, assets, and debt are not divided equally, but rather fairly as determined by the court. Staying organized and knowing what you own,how much it is worth, and how much debt you have will help make this process less stressful.

Help In Making Your Divorce Less Stressful

An estimated 33,000 marriages come to an end in Illinois every year,  and not all of the couples went through a long, stressful divorce. Many people were able to keep the divorce-related stress to a minimum by speaking with an experienced divorce attorney they trusted to work in their best interest.

If you are considering filing for divorce or your spouse has already filed for divorce, you should contact a skilled Chicago family law attorney. The lawyers at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you understand the divorce process, help you understand your divorce options, and will work with you to achieve your goals. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Which Party Pays for Day Care Expenses in an Illinois Divorce?

April 3rd, 2015 at 5:49 pm

day care expenses, child care costs, Illinois Family Law AttorneyAre you going through a divorce and have young children in day care? Day care expenses are the largest household expense for most parents, according to CNN Money. With the growing number of children in day care, an important topic to discuss with your child support attorney is the responsibility for day care expenses.

Are Child Care Expenses included in Child Support?

report issued by Child Care Aware of America stated average expenses for day care can rival expenses for housing, transportation, and even tuition and fees for college. With the number of children in day care growing, so are the prices of day care. After a divorce, the thought of the expense of day care can be overwhelming, but equally overwhelming can be the idea of having to quit or cut back hours at your job to avoid the expense.

Quitting or cutting back hours at your job is not an option for most parents, especially when you are going through a divorce and your income is being divided. In Illinois, the court will determine what is in the best interest of your child or children. This will include child support, visitation rights, and custody. Day care expenses are awarded above and beyond basic child support. Child support is intended to be used for food, clothing, and the other basic needs of the child.

Who Pays Day Care Expenses?

The judge will determine how much each parent will pay of the day care costs. In most cases, the court will take into account the  cost of the day care, child support, income and financial circumstances of each parent, and if one or both parents are attending school. Costs beyond child support may be split in any proportion depending on the judge’s findings after consideration of the specific facts of the case.

Both parents are typically responsible for paying for day care expenses, but sometimes circumstances change. If you are going through a divorce or want to modify your divorce decree, you need to speak with a Chicago family law attorney. At Anderson & Associates, P.C. our family law attorneys specialize in both divorce and post decree modifications. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

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.

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.

 

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.