Archive for the ‘Illinois family law attorneys’ tag

Understanding Illinois Visitation Rights

April 2nd, 2015 at 2:59 pm

visitation, visitation rights, Illinois Family Law Attorneys

Every custody arrangement is unique. In some cases, the court elects to award joint custody to both parents. This means that both parents are expected to cooperatively make decisions related to the child’s upbringing, including his or her education, religious training, and other considerations. The court may require parents with joint custody to draft a joint parenting agreement outlining each of their respective responsibilities and establishing an arrangement regarding the child’s time with each parent.

In other cases, the court recognizes that granting one parent sole custody is in the child’s best interest. The custodial parent is responsible for making the important decisions related to the child, and retains primary physical custody. Under Illinois law, the non-custodial parent is granted the reasonable right to visitation with the child.

In some cases, a relative other than a child’s parent may receive visitation rights. This can include the child’s grandparent or sibling if the court determines that such a visitation agreement is in the child’s best interest. Otherwise, this right is generally reserved for the child’s parents. Another relative will be granted visitation rights with a child only if the parents are unreasonable in denying visitation and specific familial circumstances exists, such as where one of the child’s parents is deceased or missing for at least three months.

Restrictions on Visitation Rights

If necessary, the court may impose restrictions on a parent’s visitation rights with his or her child in order to ensure the child’s safety. These restrictions may include:

  • Prohibiting the parent from using drugs or alcohol while in the child’s presence;
  • Requiring that the visits occur in the custodial parent’s home;
  • Prohibiting the visits from occurring in the non-custodial parent’s home;
  • Prohibiting overnight visits; and
  • Requiring that the visits be supervised by a third party.

These restrictions are put in place to protect the child. If a parent violates these restrictions, the court may modify or suspend his or her visitation rights entirely. Examples of reasons why a parent’s visitation rights may be suspended include:

  • If the parent has a history of harming the child. This can be physical harm, emotional harm, neglect, or psychological harm;
  • If the parent is found guilty of a crime against a child; and
  • If the parent is currently suffering from any type of substance addiction.

Chicago Family Attorneys

Call 312-345-9999 to speak with one of the experienced family attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. about your child custody case. We are here to serve you in one of our five convenient office locations in the Chicago area: Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, downtown Chicago, and Schaumburg. Child custody cases can be sensitive and create friction within families. Contact our firm for expert legal advice and representation on this and other difficult family law matters. We will give your case the dedication and attention to detail it deserves.

 

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.

Divorce, Legal Separation, or Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage

March 10th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

invalidity of marriage, legal separation, divorce, Chicago Divorce LawyerUnhappily married couples that wish to separate have three specific options under the law: divorce, declaration of invalidity of marriage, and legal separation. A declaration of invalidity of marriage, often referred to as an annulment, ultimately voids the marriage and is not appropriate for every situation. It has strict requirements and must be pursued within a certain period of time. A legal separation permits couples to establish child support and maintenance obligations and make custody arrangements while remaining legally married. A divorce also permits couples to establish support obligations, as well as divide marital assets and establish custody. Unlike a legal separation, divorce dissolves the marriage.

Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage

When a marriage is declared invalid, it is treated as if the marriage never took place. This is an extreme remedy and the law provides only four situations in which a court will enter a declaration of invalidity of marriage:

  1. One or both parties were unable to consent to the marriage. For example, a person with a mental illness or under the influence of a controlled substance may be determined to lack the ability to appropriately consent.

  2. A party cannot physically consummate the marriage. However, a marriage may only be annulled for this reason if the other party was unaware of such incapacity prior to the marriage.

  3. One or both parties were under 18 years old and did obtain parental consent or judicial approval to marry.

  4. The marriage is prohibited by law. Polygamy, for example, is illegal in Illinois. Therefore, a second marriage while still legally married to another would be declared invalid under this provision.

Legal Separation

In some cases, a married couple may no longer wish to live together, but personal or financial reasons prevent them from petitioning for divorce. Such a couple may elect to petition for legal separation. The couple will remain legally married, but the court may, among other considerations, establish a child custody arrangement, define visitation rights, and determine obligations for child and/or spousal support. Opting to legally separate does not prohibit a couple from filing for divorce in the future; divorce remains a viable option.

Divorce

A decree of divorce officially ends a marriage, but the process can be long and contentious. The first step is filing a petition, which must include specific grounds for divorce. The other party may contest those grounds, but the court will likely grant the petition. The grounds include:

  • Adultery;
  • Habitual drunkenness;
  • Impotence (this is also grounds for annulment, but there is no delineated time-frame associated with divorce);
  • Physical or emotional abuse; or
  • Substance abuse.

Most often, couples cite irreconcilable differences, which is a much more general grounds for divorce. However, in order to obtain a divorce under irreconcilable differences, the couple must be separate for two years. This requirement, however, can be waived by agreement.

If you are unhappily married and would like to know more about your options regarding a declaration of invalidity of marriage, legal separation or divorce, contact one of our Chicago divorce attorneys today. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Collaborative Law vs. Mediation

March 10th, 2015 at 11:53 am

collaborative law, mediation, Chicago Family Law AttorneysMediation has become a widely used and familiar part of the divorce process. Collaborative law is a lesser known form of alternative dispute resolution commonly used now in Illinois divorce cases. Many are still unfamiliar with what collaborative divorce really means. Often times, people assume that collaborative divorce and mediation are the same thing and these terms can be used interchangeably. However, there are several differences that are important to understand before deciding whether either process is right for you.

Collaborative Law

The main goal of collaborative law is similar to that of mediation in divorce cases: to resolve important family matters efficiently outside of the courthouse. The benefits are similar to mediation as well: saving the parties time and money, while sparing them the frustrations of the court process. The procedure, however, is quite different. In collaborative law, each party hires his or her own attorney, and then all of them work together to negotiate settlements on key issues. The parties will also retain a parenting specialist, financial specialist, and divorce coaches to assist them in developing communication and facilitate a final agreement. In the event that the parties are unable to come to an agreement using the collaborative process, and the case goes to traditional litigation, the attorneys originally hired to represent each party must withdraw and each party must hire new counsel.

Mediation

Mediation in a divorce case is the process by which both spouses go to a neutral third party, or mediator, with the hopes of compromising on certain key issues in the divorce.  While the mediator must be trained in alternative dispute resolution, he or she is not required to be a licensed attorney. Both parties may have their attorneys present at the mediation, though it is not mandatory.  However, it is important to remember that the mediator is neutral and not advocating for the rights of either party as an attorney would.  In complex situations, particularly those involving financial concerns, each spouse may want his or her attorney to be present in order to make sure their individual interests are being protected. Separate counsel for each party can help ensure that any resulting agreement is not only equitable, but legally sound and sustainable.

Similarities

As discussed a bit above, both processes have a common goal and many similar benefits, including saving time and money and avoiding the unpredictability of the judicial process. Both collaborative law and mediation are also commonly used when the parties agree at the outset of the divorce to keep the conflict and the costs low.

Because mediation and collaborative law require mutual respect to succeed, it is imperative that both parties do their best to work together throughout the entire process. Both methods allow the divorcing spouses to decide upon the terms of their own divorce, as opposed to leaving it up to the discretion of a judge.  

If you are  considering filing for divorce and think that collaborative law, mediation, or another alternative dispute resolution technique may work for your family, contact our office today to discuss your options. Our team of experienced Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help determine what the best method will be for your divorce. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.