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Arlington Heights divorce modification lawyerThe process of divorce can be a long, complex, and arduous process. It is not uncommon to feel incredibly relieved once the whole process is over. However, people's lives and needs can change drastically as the years pass. You may wonder, is it possible to change the terms of your divorce years after it took place?

In the months and years following your divorce, different situations may arise that require your divorce decree to be altered or modified. For your divorce decree to be changed, court approval must be given. If you are looking to modify your divorce decree, consult with a knowledgeable divorce attorney who understands the modification process and can assist you in making any changes you feel are necessary. 

Divorce Decree Modifications

Under Illinois law, former spouses can seek to modify their divorce terms by agreement with each other or through a court order. Notably, not all decisions made during a divorce are eligible to be changed once the divorce is completed. For example, the division of marital property is final and cannot be modified once the divorce is finalized. However, there are terms of your divorce decree that can be changed. This includes: 


Arlington Heights, IL asset division lawyerNo matter the circumstances surrounding a divorce, the process is often riddled with overwhelming feelings of heartbreak, loss, and fear of the future. In addition, divorce proceedings can be complicated if a spouse has a mental illness or is battling a substance abuse problem. In cases where one or both of these factors are at play, securing legal representation from a skilled Illinois family law attorney who understands how to navigate a rocky divorce can be invaluable in ensuring your concerns are heard and your rights are protected.

Addiction and Mental Health Issues in a Divorce

In today's society, we are becoming more cognizant of how prevalent mental health and addiction issues are for many people. Mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse issues with drugs or alcohol can, unfortunately, be significant reasons why a marriage ends up deteriorating. To get divorced, it is not required to demonstrate why the marriage failed. Under Illinois law, "irreconcilable differences" is when the court determines that attempts at reconciliation between spouses have failed and that any future attempts would also likely fail, which is a sufficient reason to divorce.



Arlington Heights asset division lawyerAs is often the case, divorce can be a long and challenging procedure riddled with heartbreak, anger, and resentment toward your estranged spouse. An area that can become highly contentious during divorce proceedings is if there are considerable assets involved. The dividing of these assets can certainly be emotionally strenuous. If high value assets are relevant to your divorce case, there are several practical and monetary concerns that both spouses will need to be aware of. Much can be at stake in a high-asset divorce, and to make sure your rights are protected, contacting a knowledgeable Illinois divorce attorney can make all the difference. 

Legal Matters in High Asset Divorces

When dividing property between spouses who are getting divorced, the state of Illinois engages in the principle of “equitable distribution.” This means the marital property does not need to be cut exactly in half between the divorcing parties. Instead, equitable distribution means that each spouse is supposed to receive a reasonable and rightful portion of the marital property owned by the couple. 

It should be noted that only marital property that either spouse attained during the marriage is subject to division. Any property obtained before the marriage or after the legal separation will remain owned by that spouse. To complicate matters, there are certain situations where the marital and non-marital property can be commingled. Deciding what is and is not marital property can be an arduous task. 


Arlington Heights parental responsibilities lawyerIf you and your partner have already decided to pursue a divorce, you have begun what can become a long, complicated, and intimidating process. It should be no surprise that things can quickly become contentious when children are involved in divorce cases, as they often are. 

Every parent wants the best for their child. But unfortunately, the truth is that divorce can often be the hardest on the children involved. To ensure that your child's best interests are kept at the forefront of all the decisions you and your ex-spouse make, consider contacting an experienced family law attorney with extensive experience in helping clients determine the proper allocation of parental responsibilities.

Illinois Law Concerning Parental Responsibility and What It Entails

Throughout a divorce case, when children are involved, they are typically highly affected by whatever decisions are made between their parents. Under Illinois law, the court will allocate parental responsibilities to correspond with whatever the child's best interests are - unless the parents can agree between themselves,  in writing, about what the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities will be. Nothing in the law states that parental decision-making will be automatically granted to each parent. 


Arlington Heights divorce mediation lawyerGetting a divorce can be an exceptionally emotional and turbulent time for all parties involved. To make matters worse, the experience of going to court to resolve your and your spouse's legal issues can be an expensive, upsetting, and intimidating experience. In addition, parties may fear that placing essential decisions in the hands of a judge may result in their needs or their family's needs not being considered. Luckily, if both parties believe they may be able to reach a compromise through a mediation process, they will be able to wield more power over the outcome of their case. 

According to Forbes, the average divorce in the United States costs $7,000. However, this number can fluctuate spectacularly depending on the case's variables. Often, spouses may choose mediation to help limit the potentiality of an expensive divorce.

What Is Mediation?

Depending on the case, mediation can be ordered by the court and a mediator appointed by a judge. In other situations, both parties may agree to solve their legal problems proactively through the assistance of a mediator. During the mediation process, parties will meet with a third-party mediator to help them pinpoint specific issues that require addressing, ensuring that everyone understands their legal obligations. It is important to remember that the mediator does not make any decisions on behalf of the divorcing parties. Instead, the mediator will help you and your spouse make decisions and compromises that, hopefully, both sides can be satisfied with in the end. 


IL divorce lawyerAs the stigma of divorce continues to lessen and people getting divorced in Illinois are thinking more consciously about how they want to get divorced, one strategy for getting divorced has become increasingly prominent. Collaborative divorce, or the use of a team of divorce experts to help a divorcing couple transition peacefully from married to divorced life, offers many benefits, especially for families with young children. Because of the inherently cooperative nature of collaborative divorce, however, it may not be suitable for people in certain high-conflict situations. To learn more about collaborative divorce, read on and then contact a knowledgeable Ilinois divorce lawyer.

What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce?

Many people who endured a hostile divorce between their parents as young children themselves want to spare their own children from exposure to such a difficult experience. Collaborative divorce offers parents an opportunity to bring experts and specialists on board who can not only help them negotiate a mutually agreeable parenting plan but can also help them understand ways to help their children through a potentially difficult transition.

Even for adults who do not have children, collaborative divorce allows each couple to bring as many professionals into the equation as they need to make the divorce happen smoothly. This includes therapists, mediators, financial professionals, and more. Couples who utilize the appropriate professionals can usually listen to each other’s needs clearly and negotiate even the most complex issues of property division.


Is DNA Paternity Testing Reliable?

Posted on September 23, 2022 in Family Law

IL family lawyerWhile most fathers are happily involved in their child’s life, not all fathers are or want to be. Furthermore, not all men who are alleged to be the father of a child actually are. Paternity can become a hotly contested issue, especially when one or both of a child’s alleged parents are involved in relationships with someone other than each other. Issues of paternity can become matters of urgent privacy, and men and women both may rightfully fear the impact of having the wrong man labeled as the child’s father.

Thanks to DNA testing, however, mistakes rarely occur when establishing paternity. More children are getting the resources and support they need because fatherhood is much easier to prove now than in the past. If you are trying to establish the paternity of your child - or trying to avoid being wrongfully labeled a child’s father - it is important to understand Illinois paternity law and have an experienced paternity lawyer representing you.

DNA Testing for Paternity

When parents of a child are married, or in a consensual relationship, they usually both sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) in the hospital immediately after the child is born. A husband in a heterosexual married couple is automatically assumed to be a child’s father.


How Are Complex Assets Valuated in a Divorce?

Posted on September 16, 2022 in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerAfter many years of marriage, a couple’s asset portfolio is often complex and made up of both personal and marital property. This is especially true if a couple was married in later adulthood when each partner owned a significant number of private assets and later inherited further assets. While some of a couple’s asset portfolio is likely protected in a prenuptial agreement, this does not typically prevent or proscribe the division of assets a couple accumulated over the course of their marriage, nor will it usually detail what to do with assets that may have become commingled over many years. To learn more about how complex and high-value assets are handled in an Illinois divorce, read this brief overview and then contact an experienced divorce attorney for help.

What Are Complex Assets?

The easiest way to define a complex asset is to define what it is not: Cash, savings accounts, and other liquid assets with a definitive value are not complex assets, even if they are of significant worth. Complex assets, instead, are assets that are made up of many parts: investment portfolios, family businesses, collections, and other assets which need to have more than one component assessed. Valuing these assets takes time and usually requires the help of a specialist.

Do I Need to Value Personal Assets in a Divorce?

Even if you are certain that a portion of your asset portfolio is your private property, you still need to assess its value and include it in your financial affidavit. Rarely will judges reach into an individual’s private finances during a divorce, but an individual’s overall personal financial health is often part of making child support and spousal support calculations.


IL family lawyerParents who are divorced, legally separated, or who have never been married need to create a parenting plan for shared children under age 18. Older children, who are more independent, are often easier to make flexible arrangements for. Younger children require more attention and care, but as long as they have what they need, they can transition well between their parents’ homes. For newborn babies and very young children, however, moving between houses can prove quite difficult. Although Illinois law gives no automatic preference to either parent, there is no question that newborn infants are primarily dependent upon their mother for constant care, especially when it comes to the issue of breastfeeding.

Can a Father Get Shared Custody of an Infant?

When most parents speak of “shared custody,” they mean both decision-making authority and the right to spend time with their child. In Illinois, these terms are distinct as known as “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” respectively. While parents of an infant may easily share parental responsibilities, sharing parenting time can prove trickier.

Fathers of infants may struggle to establish a strong bond with their child without being able to spend important chunks of time together. Overnight and weekend stays are important for both father and child, especially when creating an initial bond. And while judges want to see young children have a strong relationship with their fathers, they are also sensitive to the fact that breastfeeding is a task that falls exclusively on the shoulders of mothers.


IL family lawyerAs divorced parents all over Illinois prepare to send their children back to school, inflation has caused the prices of many school goods to increase substantially. When backpacks, pencils, and textbooks cost as much as 15 percent more than they did last year, even the basics can be hitting parents’ wallets hard. This might raise an awkward question: Who is responsible for paying for school supplies when parents are divorced?

Does Child Support Cover School Expenses?

During a divorce, appropriate child support payments are calculated using the Illinois income shares method. Using the incomes of both parents, the time each child spends with each parent, and each child’s legitimate needs, child support payments are set and cannot be changed without proving a substantial change in circumstances.

The everyday costs of raising a child are considered part of the child support equation. This includes clothes, food, extracurricular activities, and educational supplies. The parent who has the majority of parenting time should be receiving enough child support to cover the cost of school supplies each year.


IL family lawyerToday more than ever, families are made up of parents who were born in different countries. On top of that, the ease of international travel makes divorced parents traveling out of the United States with underage children a very common occurrence. But in the bustle of preparing for a long journey, parents often do not think about what they need to do before leaving the country with a child after divorce. To avoid any legal complications that could prevent you from leaving the country, it is essential to do these things before leaving the U.S. with your child.

Get Your Child’s Passport

Regardless of the parents’ relationship status, all children under the age of 16 must have both parents’ authorization to get a passport. This may require both parents to be present at the passport meeting, although getting a signed permission form may also be possible. If just one parent has parental responsibilities, or if one parent has had their parental right terminated, the parent with authority over the child must prove there is not another parent who needs to give their consent. Passports for children are only valid for five years, so if you already have passports, be sure to check the expiration date. Many countries will not let visitors enter if their passport expires within six months.

Get Permission to Travel Abroad

The parent wishing to travel must get written permission before leaving the country with the child unless otherwise stated in the court-ordered parenting plan. Many airlines will ask for such permission before allowing a single parent with children to board a plane abroad. Your child’s other parent may deny giving permission for many reasons, including concerns about parental kidnapping, child safety, or missing important school or family functions. While it can be difficult to get permission to leave the country from your child’s other parent, it is essential to do so. Failing to get permission before leaving the country could result in charges of kidnapping.


IL divorce lawyerWhile divorce is never pleasant, most divorces are able to proceed without extensive conflict between spouses. A couple’s assets are divided fairly, using mediation or collaborative divorce if necessary, and both spouses go on to live their separate lives. In some cases, however, a spouse will try to get the upper hand by deceiving their spouse and the court about the true value, location, or nature of their assets.

To the spouse on the receiving end of this behavior, it can feel deeply unfair and frustrating. And without knowing how to access better information about the assets, it can be difficult to bring the dishonest to a judge’s attention. Fortunately, a spouse who gets caught hiding assets during divorce can face serious consequences. An experienced divorce attorney can help you bring asset hiding to a judge’s attention, as well as search for hidden assets with the help of appropriate professionals.

Hiding Assets During Divorce Has Legal Consequences

One method that can scare a dishonest spouse into telling the truth is by calling them into a deposition, during which they are placed under oath and questioned. Dishonesty in a deposition can result in charges of contempt of court or perjury, which are both crimes that can carry separate criminal trials.


IL family lawyerAlthough being a parent can be a warm, joyful experience, it also has its frustrations. One common scenario that many Illinois parents experience is the challenge of recovering child support from a former spouse or partner who feels no obligation to ensure their child is financially cared for. Of course, not only does this place the child at a disadvantage, but it also requires the parent receiving child support to work overtime just to get what they are legally due.

Some parents who do not want to pay child support will go so far as to leave the country to avoid their responsibilities. Other parents will get deported or move and simply stop making payments. If you find yourself confronted with the necessity of chasing your child’s other parent across the globe to get child support, read on.

Are Parents in Other Countries Still Required to Pay Child Support?

Leaving the United States does not absolve a parent or his or her responsibility to pay child support. However, before any enforcement action can be taken, a legitimate child support order must be put in place by an Illinois court. Your child’s other parent does not have to be present for the order to be put in place, but without an order, the authorities cannot take action.


arlington heights divorce lawyerMaybe your spouse said something directly. Maybe it is only a hunch. Whatever your reason for suspecting divorce papers may be heading your way, it is common to feel panicked and unsure of which steps to take next. Having conflicting feelings is totally normal during the pre-divorce phase, but it is still important to strategize carefully so you do not end up at a disadvantage if your spouse does end up filing for divorce. If you are wondering whether you should file for divorce first, read on and then contact our excellent team of Cook County divorce attorneys. 

Can My Spouse File For Divorce Without Telling Me? 

While it certainly does not feel good to be surprised by a knock on the door from a sheriff serving divorce papers, your spouse can file for divorce without telling you first. As long as one of you has lived in Illinois for at least 90 days, you can file for divorce under Illinois law. Your spouse does not even have to claim that you are at fault; “irreconcilable differences” is the only reason spouses can give for getting divorced in Illinois. 

Legally speaking, there is no advantage to being the petitioner (the person filing for divorce) or the respondent (the person responding to the original divorce papers). The courts will treat both parties the same. 


wheaton divorce lawyerAlthough it may not seem romantic, marriage is a financial partnership. This is never more clear than during divorce, when a couple who has combined their incomes and assets for years now has to split them up. The end of a marriage has major financial implications for both partners and it is natural to have many questions about what happens to your money in a divorce. One of the most common questions Illinois divorce attorneys get is whether a spouse who has made more money will get to keep more of the marital estate. In community property states, assets are divided 50/50; however, Illinois does things a little differently. 

How is Property Divided in an Illinois Divorce? 

Illinois is a so-called “equitable division” divorce state, meaning that courts are more focused on determining whether an asset settlement is fair rather than exactly equal. Courts encourage couples to create asset settlements on their own, using the help of a mediator if necessary. 

However, when couples truly cannot reach an agreement (or when negotiating may be dangerous, such as in a case involving domestic violence), a court will look at several factors as it creates an asset settlement for a couple. These include, but are not limited to: 


chicago divorce lawyerMany people avoid beginning the Illinois divorce process because they have such a contentious relationship with their spouse and they only anticipate things will get worse during the divorce. Unfortunately, bitter relationships rarely end with amicable divorces, and many spouses’ worst fears are confirmed once the divorce begins. 

However, a great divorce attorney can help you get a fair divorce decree, even if your spouse is determined to hide marital assets, fight your claims for spousal maintenance, or argue over who should have custody of the kids. Here are three tips for preparing for a high-conflict divorce; read through them and then contact a divorce attorney with experience advocating for clients during contentious divorces. 

Know Your Finances

Abusive or domineering spouses are often dishonest or sneaky when it comes to finances. Your spouse may be hiding money from you, whether by stashing it away in a savings account or by lying about how much money they make. Your spouse may also be dishonest about the ownership or value of certain assets, especially ones that are easier to hide. Before you begin the divorce process and alert your spouse to the fact that your marital possessions will be under scrutiny, collect as much information as you can about your finances. 


illinois paternity lawyerSomeone contacting you to inform you that you are the father of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy can be a shocking experience. While some men are excited to learn they are going to be a father, others are understandably upset to learn that someone is trying to hold them responsible for a child they do not want or do not believe is theirs. Being a father is a tremendous responsibility, both in terms of its ethical and legal implications. If you are being asked for child support and are skeptical of the claims about the child’s paternity, contact an experienced family law attorney who can help. 

How is Paternity Established in Illinois? 

Establishing paternity for a married couple’s child is simple: the husband is presumed to be the father. But if you are married and you suspect your wife may have conceived your child with another man, you can overcome the presumption that you are the father by requesting genetic testing that shows otherwise. Generally speaking, if there is any question about whether a man is a child’s father, genetic testing can be requested by either the mother or the presumed father or ordered by a court. 

If you are not married to the woman making a claim that you are the father of a child, paternity is established using a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, an Order of Paternity from a court, or an Administrative Paternity Order from Illinois DHFS. Cooperating with any legal suit regarding paternity is important, even if you are certain you are not the child’s father. Failing to participate in a woman’s claims about your fatherhood could result in Illinois Child Support Services determining paternity anyway. 


Arlington heights divorce lawyerEven in the most amicable divorces, the divorce process is not easy and it is normal to feel overwhelmed with emotions when the divorce is over. You may feel grief and relief at the same time, as well as periods when you vacillate between self-doubt and confidence that you made the right decision. Feeling and expressing these feelings is normal and healthy, but sometimes people get stuck in their grief and cannot process it in a healthy way. If you have recently gotten divorced or are considering divorce in Illinois, here are some tips to help you recover from the grieving period. 

What is Divorce Grief? 

People are often ashamed to admit how much grief they feel after a divorce, especially if they initiated the divorce proceedings. But divorce is a tremendous loss in many ways - your identity, your relationship with your children, your community, and even your friends may be lost or dramatically changed. And, of course, your spouse is no longer part of the picture, making the future uncertain. Grief is a natural process that allows us to work through our feelings of loss and move forward into the next stage of our lives, ideally with some room in our hearts for new experiences. 

Tips For Managing Divorce Grief

While grief is a painful experience, it is essential for grappling with loss. It is important not to avoid grief or self-medicate in the hopes that the grief will eventually go away. When you are in the middle of acute grief and need some help managing your feelings, experts have made the following suggestions: 


arlington heights divorce lawyerWhen Bill and Melinda Gates announced their intention to divorce, many people who hardly knew a thing about the couple besides their tremendous technological and philanthropic achievements were stunned. Despite the well-known statistics, people simply do not expect couples who are married for so long to get divorced. But many couples do divorce after spending two, three, and even four decades together. Experts say that changing social norms around why people stay in marriages and what reasons are acceptable for getting divorced have contributed to higher rates of divorce later in life. Here are five of the most common reasons couples get divorced after long-term marriages in Illinois. 


Many couples fight constantly about money. Because behaviors around money usually have more to do with innate character traits, conflicts around money are not easily resolved and tend to continue over time. When a couple has been married for decades, retires, and has the financial stability to separate from their partner, they may find that disagreements over money are simply too stressful to overcome any longer. 


In the past, infidelity - especially on the part of men - was often seen as inevitable. Now, however, partners are much less willing to tolerate cheating and see it as grounds for divorce. Many partners are willing to gamble on spending the remainder of their life unpartnered rather than stay in a relationship in which they feel lonely and disrespected. 


chicago divorce lawyerOnce you know you are going to get divorced, planning for the future is only natural. Scheduling activities with your kids, deciding how to divide your personal belongings, and finding a new residence can all begin happening well before an Illinois divorce is finalized. But what happens if one parent moves out of the marital home and does not want to rent? Is it possible to purchase a home before a divorce is finalized so you can make the transition to life after divorce as easy as possible? Read on to find out. 

Is it Legal to Buy a New House Before Divorce? 

There is no law against buying a second home under your own name while you are still married. However, there are several reasons why doing so may not be a good idea. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Dissipation claims - Using marital funds for reasons that do not benefit the marriage can expose you to asset dissipation claims. Even if such a claim is untrue, it can be expensive and time-consuming to argue that you did not dissipate marital assets when buying your home. 

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