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wheaton family law attorneyMany would-be parents face a difficult uphill struggle when trying to create the family of their dreams. Thanks to modern technology, many options are available to help those who cannot conceive on their own, and the method you choose will depend on your preferences, your budget, your health, and many other factors. 

One method that proves effective for many people is using a surrogate mother who carries a baby on their behalf. There is more than one type of surrogacy and many different agencies are available to help. However, the process can be legally complex and it is important to make sure you have an experienced Illinois attorney who can help you create an airtight surrogacy agreement. For answers to common questions about surrogacy in Illinois, read on - then contact one of the skilled family law attorneys with A. Traub & Associates. 

What Are the Different Types of Surrogacy? 

There are two types of surrogacy: Traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy, which is the less common method, is when the mother who carries the child is also the biological mother of the child. Gestational surrogacy is preferred by most Illinois parents because the surrogate carries a child that is a transferred embryo from the egg and sperm of the intended parents or their donors. Gestational surrogacy is less legally and emotionally risky because the surrogate has no biological relationship with the child. 

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chicago divorce lawyerWhen you decide to hire a mediator to help you negotiate your Illinois divorce, there are many things you should look for. Experience, education and training, reasonable rates, and professional development are all important. But equally important is the ability to trust that your mediator is truly neutral and invested in helping you negotiate a fair divorce decree. You will discuss sensitive personal issues with your mediator and spend many hours with them, so it is important to choose someone trustworthy.

However, even after the most careful selection process, it may become apparent that your mediator has a conflict of interest that prevents him or her from being truly neutral in your case. If you are worried that your divorce mediator may have a conflict of interest, read on. 

What Counts as a Conflict of Interest? 

Mediators are the party primarily responsible for determining whether there is a conflict of interest that would prevent them from mediating a given case. But spouses, as well as their attorneys, need to be aware and on the lookout for conflicts as well. Potential conflicts of interest include anything that could limit the ability of a mediator to be completely impartial, including but not limited to: 

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arlington heights divorce lawyerOne of the reasons Illinois couples in unhappy marriages often put off getting divorced is because of the fear of a high-conflict courtroom trial. While divorce trials have rightfully earned a reputation for being expensive, unpleasant, and dramatic, the truth is that very few divorces actually end up in trial anymore. Instead, couples are encouraged or sometimes even mandated to pursue mediation and work out their differences through conversation and compromise with the help of a neutral third party. However, mediation is not always successful and sometimes other factors, such as domestic abuse, can make a trial necessary. 

Divorce Trials in Illinois Family Court

Trials are hard on divorcing spouses, but they are particularly difficult for children. They also take up important time and resources from county courthouses that are often overworked and have long waiting times for trial dates. For these reasons, judges usually want to see couples exhaust other options before bringing a divorce case to trial. 

But in cases involving domestic abuse, extreme hostilities, mental illness, or dishonesty about finances, a trial may be necessary to fact-find, make decisions about marital property, and even to determine whether one parent is fit to have parental rights. Some divorcing couples only need one or two issues determined in a trial; other couples have their entire divorce decree decided by a judge. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_566473759.jpg Child support payments are an essential resource for divorced or unmarried parents in Illinois. While some people believe that a parent’s moral obligation to help his or her children may last forever, the law in Illinois says that a parent’s financial responsibility to his or her child does eventually end. Parents who are paying or receiving child support may be anxious to know when, exactly, that legal obligation runs out. As with many legal questions, the answer is, “It depends.” 

When Does a Child Become an Adult? 

The law says that children become legal adults, with all the responsibility that adulthood entails, when they are 18. However, a parent’s financial responsibility for a child does not automatically end when their child turns 18. If the child is still in high school, child support payments may continue until the child graduates from high school or turns 19. Furthermore, while some child support orders include a specific date at which child support payments will end, other parents must go to court to request a termination of payments before they can stop. 

Adult Child Support

Like other states, Illinois has legal provisions requiring parents to continue paying child support into adulthood when their child is unable to provide for themselves due to a physical or intellectual disability. Non-minor child support is more flexible in its amount and duration than traditional child support, but courts take non-minor child support obligations just as seriously. Parents may be ordered to indefinitely pay for a disabled adult child’s expenses, including housing, vocational training, medical care, and more. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_619465739.jpgResearchers have spent thousands of hours with married couples, analyzing their behaviors, communication patterns, and body language to try to determine whether certain actions are predictive of divorce. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are actions that, when frequently engaged in by couples, make it easier to predict whether a marriage will eventually end. While nobody is perfect and everybody uses unhealthy communication strategies from time to time, if you recognize that the following behaviors frequently appear in your marriage, you may feel trapped and unhappy. If so, it could be time to speak with an Illinois divorce attorney. 

Criticism

Part of personal growth and development is knowing when to change your behavior. Sometimes, spouses can be helpful for gently pointing out that certain things need to change. But when your spouse regularly attacks you or your character, you will likely feel criticized and demeaned - and nobody feels good about that. For example, if your spouse does not like the way you load the dishwasher and, instead of asking you to load it differently, accuses you of always being lazy or stupid, your spouse may be overly critical. 

Defensiveness

Marital problem-solving requires spouses to take responsibility, no matter how difficult that may sometimes be. But when one spouse takes things personally or refuses to own their fair share of an issue, their defensiveness can make effective communication and problem-solving impossible. Self-victimization, whining, or otherwise trying to avoid full responsibility are also symptoms of defensiveness. 

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arlington heights divorce lawyerAll across Illinois, more and more parents are choosing to homeschool their children. In Chicago alone, nearly 25,000 fewer children were enrolled in public schools in the past two years than in previous years. While it is hard to obtain data specifically for the entirety of Cook County, Illinois does not require homeschooling families to register with the authorities and so the rates of homeschooled children are estimated to likely be even higher than the numbers suggest. 

The question of whether or not to homeschool poses a potential dilemma for parents who are divorced. The choice to homeschool one’s children often has as much to do with closely-held beliefs around religion or cultural values as it does with fundamental questions about the competency of Illinois public schools. If parents disagree about homeschooling methods or the reasons for leaving the local public school, which parent gets to decide the best path for a child’s education? 

Homeschooling and Parental Responsibilities

When married parents get divorced or unmarried parents go to court to establish a parenting schedule, they must decide how to allocate the important decision-making authority known in Illinois as parental responsibilities. Education is a critical component of parental responsibilities, and when parents share decision-making authority about a child’s education, they may come into conflict around whether homeschooling is the best choice for the child. 

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illinois family law attorneyOne of the reasons that the divorce rate among younger couples in Illinois is beginning to decline is that many people are choosing to live together long-term instead of getting married. The risks of marriage may seem too great for the potential rewards, or a couple may simply be uninterested in the hassle and formality of a wedding. 

Whatever the reason, living together still presents challenges in terms of who owns what property, especially if a couple shares financial responsibilities like home or vehicle ownership. If you are considering living together but not getting married, you will not be protected by marriage and divorce laws if you separate; you may, therefore, find a cohabitation agreement written with the help of an Illinois family lawyer useful. 

Reasons for Writing a Cohabitation Agreement 

Couples who are married receive legal protections in the form of property rights, tax benefits, and paternity assumptions about any children that are born to them. However, unmarried couples who want similar benefits need written and signed cohabitation agreements. Some reasons to create a cohabitation agreement include: 

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arlington heights divorce lawyerWhile many parts of getting divorced in Illinois are flexible, such as the exact details of how a particular couple will divide their marital property, other parts are more technical and, at the end of the day, all elements in a divorce decree must follow Illinois law. For simple divorces involving couples who have no children and no significant shared property, following the law may be easier because there are fewer complex issues to negotiate or legal statutes to interpret. 

Many versions of online divorce software have cropped up in recent years to address divorce for couples who trust their ability to follow the law and handle the divorce process themselves. Divorce is not the only legal situation for which software exists - loan agreements, prenuptial agreements, wills and trusts, and tax returns can all be set up online. While the ease and simplicity of many of these services can be beneficial and inexpensive, potential divorcees should be wary of relying on internet software to handle the entirety of their divorce. 

Mistakes Take Time and Money to Fix

Legal software is often one-size-fits-all. While it can accommodate complications to a degree, complex problems or unique situations often require professional help beyond what automatic programs can deliver. Divorce is a serious process and mistakes can be costly in terms of time and money - not only because technical errors must be addressed before the divorce can be finalized but because, if an important detail is forgotten or overlooked, the court’s future interpretation of the divorce decree can place a spouse at a significant disadvantage well into the future. 

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arlington heights divorce lawyer Divorce in Illinois is often a long process made up of many different parts that can each have their own confusing legal terms. Even for couples who try their best to work together and communicate clearly, divorce can feel stuffy and complicated and couples may feel frustrated that their private information suddenly feels very public.

One of the areas people commonly have questions about is the process of discovery, which is one of the most notorious elements of courtroom dramas. Fortunately, divorce discovery tends to be much more boring and straightforward than it might seem on TV. If you are getting divorced and have questions about the divorce process, an experienced divorce attorney can help you get answers to your questions. 

What is the Purpose of Discovery? 

For couples who do not agree on factual issues in their divorce, the discovery process allows attorneys to trade information back and forth to facilitate compromise between the spouses or prepare for courtroom litigation. Many couples never even need to use the discovery process because they can resolve disputes in mediation or between each other without professional help. But for couples who deal with issues like hidden income or assets, domestic violence, or when one parent alleges their spouse is unfit to be a parent, discovery is useful and necessary because it allows each spouse’s attorney to gather information they can then use to present an argument before a judge. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1180120867.jpgWhile divorce is rarely an easy or simple experience, for parents of young children who are disabled or have special needs, divorce can be a complex balancing act of competing priorities. Children with disabilities often require significant time and energy to be dedicated to their care and parents need to address certain elements of the divorce, like parenting schedules and child support, specifically according to the disabled child’s needs. If you are a parent of a special needs child, here are some things you may want to keep in mind. 

Child Support for Disabled Children Can Be Flexible

Child support is usually determined according to the Income Shares formula, which determines child support payments using both parents’ incomes and the amount of time they spend with each child. But when a child has special educational, developmental, or medical needs, child support can be adjusted to ensure that the financial cost of these needs is fairly divided between the parents. 

If a child’s financial needs will require significant deviation from the child support Income Shares formula, parents should be sure to take into account current expenses as well as likely future expenses, and collect evidence (such as medical bills or appointment schedules) that support the request for increased child support. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1061312264.jpg Child support is an issue that, for many parents, is fraught with complications and tension. Even if a parent intends to fully meet their legal obligation to financially provide for their child, the laws can be hard to understand, and the consequences for not following the laws can be severe. Job loss, economic downturns, and unexpected expenses can make paying child support difficult, and sometimes parents have to make hard choices. 

Here is a brief overview of the consequences of not paying child support in Illinois. The best way to avoid the negative impacts of missing child support payments is to ensure you understand Illinois child support laws and have the support of an experienced child support attorney from whom you can get help. 

Consequences For Not Paying Child Support in Illinois

The punishment for failing to make court-ordered child support payments can vary depending on why the child support is late, how long payments have been missed, and how much money is owed. Some common consequences of not paying child support include: 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1909339975.jpgAlso known as alimony or spousal maintenance, “spousal support” is technically the term used in Illinois for payments made from one former spouse to another after a divorce has been finalized. While not every divorce decree contains an order for spousal support, when it is ordered, it is legally enforceable and failing to make payments carries legal consequences. 

The recipient of spousal support is often dependent on the funds for essentials like housing, food, and clothing. While spousal support is meant for the spouse, it often also contributes to the expenses associated with raising children. If spousal support payments do not come on time or at all, it can have a seriously detrimental effect on both a parent and child. If you should be receiving spousal support and your ex has decided not to pay for any reason, an experienced Illinois family law attorney may be able to help. 

Do I Need to Go to Court to Enforce Alimony? 

Most experts recommend that the first course of action is to have a conversation with your ex. Everyone falls on hard times and there may be a legitimate reason that he or she is unable to make payments. In that case, you may be able to agree together about what to do until things get back to normal. However, even if you do decide to create an agreement outside of court, it is best to have it in writing with both spouses’ signatures. That way, if a spouse still fails to abide by your informal agreement, you have proof that he or she agreed to it. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_566796565.jpgThanks to the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges supreme court case, same-sex families in Illinois can get married. Along with an increase in LGBT marriage has come an increase in couples who want to adopt or have children through methods such as egg donation and gestational surrogacy. While these methods are wonderful for building families, they do have legal complications and it is important to understand how Illinois law handles cases where one or both parents do not have a biological relationship with the child. 

Illinois Egg Donors Do Not Have Parental Rights 

When an egg donor helps an individual or couple conceive through assisted reproductive techniques, the donor completely gives up their legal parental rights to any children that result from their donation. Because an egg donor does not have parental rights, both members of a same-sex couple may have parental rights for a child conceived through egg donation.

The most common form of egg donation agreement is completely anonymous, meaning that after the parents select the donor from a list of possible candidates, the donor and the parents do not know anything further about each other and do not remain in contact after the donor completes the fertility cycle in which eggs are retrieved. While intended parents may choose to share more personal details with a donor, such as the fact that they are a same-sex couple, anonymous donation agreements still allow the intended parents to have full legal rights over the child. 

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Arlington heights divorce lawyerMost couples do everything they can to reconcile their differences before resorting to divorce, especially when there are children involved. While couple’s therapy, family counseling, and renewed efforts to revive a relationship may work for some people, for other couples, divorce is inevitable. 

Some couples agree that divorce is the best option, but it is common for one spouse to be confident about the decision to divorce while the other spouse still hopes or wishes to reconcile. A spouse who is determined to exhaust all possible options cannot ultimately prevent a divorce from happening, but he or she can slow things down and make it more difficult for a divorce to proceed. One way this might happen is through trying to convince a court that reconciliation may still be possible and asking for a conciliation conference. 

What is a Conciliation Conference? 

Couples in Illinois no longer have to prove fault in a divorce case. In the past, abandonment, infidelity, and abuse could be difficult to prove and were not necessarily present in marriages that spouses wished to end. Today, fortunately, couples in Illinois need only list “irreconcilable differences” as their cause for divorce. 

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chicago divorce lawyerWhile divorce is difficult for everyone involved, it often presents a different set of challenges to men and women. Women are more likely to become depressed than men and the divorce process is littered with complications that can rattle the confidence of even the most self-assured woman. Women also tend to earn less than men and are nearly always the primary child caregivers, meaning that their financial, physical, and mental burdens are often increased substantially during divorce. If you are a woman considering divorce in Illinois, here are five things that you should know. 

It is Normal to Feel Emotional

Many women resist feeling the full extent of their emotions because they need to think clearly. But emotions are powerful and useful, and they can have a place in making wise decisions. It is perfectly normal to feel angry, hurt, frightened, confused, and even happy during the divorce process. Whether or not you allow these feelings to drive your decision-making process is ultimately up to you, but you should never feel shame for allowing your emotions to run strong during this period of major upheaval. 

Seek Social Support

An important part of working through your emotions during divorce is having a great support system. Unfortunately, divorce tends to divide extended families, friend groups, and other social circles. This can make getting social support challenging. Yet good friends often show their colors during our most challenging periods; pay attention to people who remain close to you and leverage the help they offer. 

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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_522146809_20220131-150636_1.jpgOn January 1, 2019, a new federal law called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changed the way that divorced spouses could deduct taxes from spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support). Because tax deductions are under the purview of federal law, this law applied to all states, including Illinois. While each state could still set their own guidelines for how spousal maintenance payments would be calculated, the tax implications of these payments changed. Naturally, many people may have questions about what this means for their divorce or spousal maintenance renegotiation. 

Which Spouse is Responsible for Taxes on Spousal Maintenance?  

Before 2019, the spouse making spousal maintenance payments could deduct those payments from his or her taxable income. The spouse receiving payments would pay taxes on the spousal maintenance as if it were income. With the TCJA, the spouse making payments now cannot deduct them from his or her taxable income and the spouse receiving payments does not pay taxes on them. This means that the spouse who makes payments is also responsible for paying taxes on that amount. 

Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law Changes

2019 also brought changes to the way spousal maintenance payments themselves are calculated in Illinois. Before 2019, spousal maintenance payments were generally calculated by taking 30% of the paying spouse’s gross income and subtracting 20% of the receiving spouse’s gross income. Now, those percentages have changed to 33.33% and 25%, respectively, of each spouse’s net income. The 2019 changes to Illinois’ spousal maintenance law also reduced the length of spousal maintenance payments for many spouses. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_386724640.jpgPets of all kinds are often loved and cared for as another member of the family. Children who grow up with a dog or cat in the home may have known that animal their entire lives and feel very attached to it. So when a couple decides to get divorced, the issue of how to manage the family pet can become quite contentious. Spouses often want to know who will get to keep the pet, how such a decision will be made, and who will pay for the expenses of caring for the pet in the future. If you are getting divorced and wondering what will happen to Fido, read on. 

Does Illinois Have Pet “Custody” Laws? 

Illinois law recognizes that people love their pets and want to give them the best possible life, even after divorce. Although pets are technically still considered property under Illinois law, a pet cannot be “divided” the same way another asset, like a bank account, could be divided. 

Pet parents cannot enter into pet custody proceedings quite the same way as they can for children, but the law does distinguish between a dog or cat and a piece of jewelry or a car. If a pet-mom owned Fido before getting married, Fido will likely be considered personal property and will go with her after the divorce. If a couple got Fido during their marriage, he will likely be considered a marital asset and Illinois courts can consider the well-being of Fido when making decisions about who he will belong to or spend time with. However, there are exceptions to these general rules.For example, if one spouse has been responsible for caring for Fido and has a stronger relationship with him than the other spouse, that spouse who cares for Fido will likely get ownership. Pictures, videos, and receipts can all illustrate which spouse cared for a pet and may be useful if a spouse is seeking full ownership. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1091909501.pngEvery day, men and women all over Illinois deal with domestic violence. Fear of an intimate partner or relative can have serious negative consequences on a victim’s mental health, to say nothing of the physical dangers of living with a violent person. Sometimes, victims want to leave their situation but fear their abuser will pursue them wherever they go - even if they leave the state. 

Fortunately, Illinois law recognizes the importance of protecting victims of domestic violence and offers Orders of Protection for men and women who want legal help. If you are living in fear of your abuser, you have options. There are many organizations that help domestic violence victims escape dangerous situations and an experienced Illinois attorney can help you file for an Order of Protection when necessary. To learn more about Orders of Protection and how they work across state lines, read on. 

The Violence Against Women Act

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. Although the law specifically mentions women, protection under the VAWA includes protection for all genders, as well as homosexual and transgender victims of domestic violence. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1724156191.jpgOne of the most damaging parts of divorce is the impact it can have on a family’s finances. Even for two adults without children, splitting a household can cause enormous financial upheaval. While getting divorced does not directly affect things like your credit score or your salary, your financial situation following a divorce is likely to be affected in some surprising ways. Here are four things to watch out for. 

Your Car Insurance Rates May Go Up

Just as getting married can indicate stability and lower your car insurance rates, getting divorced indicates a person with a greater risk profile, leading car insurance companies to raise premiums for divorcees. Although the difference is not likely major, factor this in as you plan your post-divorce finances. 

Your Credit May Suffer Even if You Make Timely Payments 

Whether debt is in your name, your spouse’s name, or both, when it comes time for divorce, creditors will still want their money. As long as a loan was taken out during a marriage and benefited the relationship, it will likely be joint debt and both parties can be given responsibility for paying it off. But beware - if your spouse is supposed to make payments on a joint credit card and does not, your credit score can suffer even if you make your share of the payments on time. 

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chicago divorce lawyerAlthough many divorcing spouses look forward to the finalization of the Illinois divorce process in the hope that they will start a new life and things will be easier, the difficult truth is that for many people, finalizing a divorce is the beginning of challenges – albeit a different set of them. But that does not mean that life after divorce cannot be meaningful and healing. If you are in the final stages of your divorce and are looking to start the near year on a positive note, here are some helpful tips to help you move forward.

Do Not View Your Marriage, Or Yourself, as a Failure

Many divorcees view their marriage as a failure, but there are many things throughout life that do not work out. Rather than beating yourself up, try to understand that divorce happens to many, many people and remember your marriage as one part of a long life.

Ask Yourself What You Learned

Rarely is the breakdown of the relationship the complete responsibility of just one spouse. Even if your spouse engaged in egregious behavior like infidelity or substance abuse, chances are you could still learn a thing or two – even if it is just keeping your eyes wide open for red flags in the future.

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