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St. Charles parental relocation attorneysWhether you are accepting a position with a new employer, can no longer afford your current residence, or need to be closer to extended family or friends, the decision to relocate in the midst of divorce is not an easy one to make. When you share a child with the other parent, planning a move after the separation can be especially challenging, yet circumstances can arise that leave you little choice in the matter. Whatever your situation, if you have children and find yourself planning to relocate during the divorce process, Illinois law will require you to adhere to specific guidelines as you begin putting your relocation plans into motion.

Relocation Guidelines for Divorced Parents

The state of Illinois considers the relocation of a parent after divorce to be a significant change in the lives of any children involved and for the family as a whole. As the state recognizes the impact a move can have on children of divorce, laws have been put into place to govern how the relocation process should be handled. 

Here are some basic guidelines that you will be expected to follow:

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Kane County family law attorneyWhether you are about to be a parent or have just recently experienced the birth of a newborn, the issue of paternity is a critical part of protecting not only your relationship with your child but also protecting your child’s best interests. Paternity is a term that defines the legal relationship between a father and his child. In the state of Illinois, an unmarried man is only considered the legal father of a child when his name is placed on the birth certificate, regardless of whether or not he lives with the mother or is engaged to marry. 

Why Paternity Is Necessary

There are many reasons why establishing paternity is crucial for both parents and for the child, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding the family situation. Here are some major points every parent should consider when it comes to making parental status official:

  • Your child’s security depends on it. By establishing paternity, your child will have the opportunity for financial security now and in the future. For example, they will have the right to social security benefits in the event that a parent passes away or becomes disabled, as well as the right to receive potential inheritances or veterans benefits, if applicable. Additionally, they will have the right to receive any health or life insurance benefits due to them.
  • Your child may need access to medical history records. When paternity is officially established, a child also has the chance to obtain important medical information about their parents, which can be useful throughout the course of their lifetime.
  • An unmarried father’s rights are limited without it. If an unwed father wishes to ask for any rights that allow him involvement in his child’s life—anything from visitation to custody, or a say in educational decisions—then  he must be recognized as the child’s legal parent.

How to Go About Establishing Paternity

Once you have explored the various advantages of establishing paternity and are ready to get started, you can proceed in any of the following ways:

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St. Charles family law attorneyDuring a divorce, parents may develop  a parenting plan that is beneficial for both themselves and their children. Although these plans are often created with much thought and detail, changes can occur that may require a modification. Updated schedules, unexpected relocations, and the children's education or extracurricular activities could cause issues to arise. Depending on the reasons behind the potential adjustment, as well as the agreement of both parents, a court may approve a modification request. Ultimately, the court will make a decision that is in the best interest of the involved children.

What Should Parents Consider Before Deciding Responsibilities?

Aspects of a person's life may change significantly after a divorce is final. For parents that are getting divorced, it is important to reach mutual agreements on key factors that will affect your future and that of your children. For example, the distance between each parent’s residences is a topic that may lead to significant difficulties if either parent wishes to find a new place to live. Although a new residence may work better for one parent, it might not be compatible with the children's school schedule. Furthermore, children may have difficulties adjusting to a new community. The wishes of each parent and the child (as appropriate) should be considered before a parenting plan is finalized.    

Modification Limitations

For children going through a divorce, having a relationship with both parents could be in their best interest. Creating a stable environment for children can help foster their growth and development. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Marriage Act, unless the children's well-being is at risk, an adjustment will not usually be made within the first two years of the original agreement.

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St. Charles family law attorneysA postnuptial agreement, or postnup, is a legally binding contract that can be executed after a couple finalizes their marriage. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a postnup can help two individuals identify marital and non-marital assets following a divorce. Although the introduction of this topic might upset a spouse, a legally binding document may be beneficial for both parties. If a dissolution of marriage were to take place, having an agreement in place could expedite the process and better prepare each individual for the future. 

Why Should I Establish a Postnuptial Agreement?

When the thought of a postnuptial agreement goes through an individual's head, a preconceived notion of a failed marriage can quickly resonate. Although it may be simple to make that connection, it is oftentimes not true. Before a marriage is enacted or if situations start to change, the idea of planning for your future could be favorable for both members. 

A postnuptial agreement may be beneficial if:

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Kane County divorce attorneysA marriage is a partnership that requires a give-and-take mentality. Going into a marriage, a couple may decide to designate one person as the “breadwinner” and the other as a ”stay-at-home” spouse. Children, financial status, skill sets, and personal preferences can all factor into the decisions that are made. If a divorce were to take place, a stay-at-home partner may feel that he or she is at a disadvantage, having already given up a significant amount of time in the workforce to focus on life at home. If you are a homemaker that is going through a dissolution of marriage, speaking to a knowledgeable attorney could better prepare you for life after divorce.   

Securing Financial Stability

Transitioning to a life away from your spouse can result in increased amounts of stress. Not being able to pay bills, find a place to live, or being able to purchase everyday necessities can all be results for a spouse that is coming out of a divorce. Prior agreements or mediation can resolve topics such as alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, property division, and child support. If an agreement cannot be made by the divorcing couple however, the presiding judge will make a final ruling. 

When determining whether or not to grant alimony, the court may consider the following factors:

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Kane County divorce attorneysA dissolution of marriage can be a difficult decision for a couple. Making drastic changes on your own can present more challenges than one would expect. Concerns related to your home, assets, businesses, and pensions are all worrisome topics that come to mind. Most concerning for many individuals facing a divorce, however, is the dispersion of debt between you and your ex. The state of Illinois recommends that a divorcing couple works together in order to divide their debts equally, however, decisions will be made by the judge if an agreement cannot be reached.      

Marital Debt vs. Non-Marital Debt

Illinois defines “marital debt” as any financial obligation acquired by either spouse after the marriage was finalized, and before the divorce is complete. An example of marital debt could be the amount owed on a credit card that was accrued while the marriage was intact. The court will take certain factors into account to ensure the accuracy of the determination, such as whether or not the credit card was opened prior to the marriage, or whether it is a joint or separate account. Hidden assets are commonly addressed in a divorce proceeding, as well. 

Non-marital debt, simply put, can be classified as financial obligations that are specifically assigned to the person that accumulated the debt. Non-marital debt typically happens before the marriage begins,but there are other ways for a debt to be considered non-marital. Examples of non-marital debt include:

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Kane County divorce lawyersIn a divorce, the marital home is a considered a piece of property. As with all property in a divorce, the couple must consider what will happen to the home once the marriage is officially over. Due to its value and the fact that a home cannot truly be divided, divorcing spouses will often need to be creative in deciding how the home will be accounted for in the asset distribution process.

Separate and Marital Property

Under Illinois law, property in a divorce is classified in one of two ways: separate and marital. Separate property is any asset or debt that was owned by one person prior to the marriage. These types of property are generally not subject to division in a divorce, though there may be exceptions. 

On the other hand, marital property is any property or debt acquired during the marriage by either spouse, with limited exceptions for gifts and inheritances to one spouse. In most cases, the marital home is considered marital property.

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St. Charles divorce attorneysIn Illinois, basic child support payments end when the child reaches 18 years of age or if the child earns a high school diploma (whichever comes last). During the divorce process, parents can come to an agreement in regards to their child’s continuing education costs. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can petition a family court to address the matter and possibly assign a fair amount to be divided between both parents and the child. This amount is intended to specific eligible expenses related to college, trade school, or other post-high school education programs (i.e. tuition, housing, textbooks, etc…). Pre-college expenses such as application fees and ACT/SAT test fees could be included in the parental support payment agreement.

Support can be granted for a college-level child until their 23rd birthday or their graduation (whichever comes first). For good cause shown, the court could extend the support until the child’s 25th birthday.

How Is College Expense Support Determined?

Many college students pay for tuition and other expenses on their own. Others are granted scholarships for academic or athletic ability to help with college expenses. Why then would it be necessary to order divorced parents to pay for their non-minor child’s school fees?

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St. Charles family law attorneysMany things change after a couple decides to separate. In some cases, one parent may have been a stay-at-home parent before the divorce, but now they must find a new job. When they land a job, they may need to move to be closer, and they will, of course, want to bring their children.

If it is a short distance, the parents should have no trouble relocating with their children. However, in the Chicago metropolitan area, a parent cannot move over 25 miles within Illinois or out of the state without permission from the other parent and/or the court. In other parts of Illinois, in-state moves of over 50 miles require prior permission. 

What Are Some Reasons to Want to Move?

As already stated, a new job may be a reason for the primary parent to move, but it is not the only reason a parent will elect to move. Sometimes, a move is necessary to:

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Kane County divorce attorneysToo often, children believe that a divorce is their fault and that if they had behaved better, maybe mom and dad would not be splitting up. Parents know that this is not true, but these thoughts can lead youngsters down a path of mental disturbance.

This is why having a proper parenting plan put in place is important for children whose parents are  involved in a divorce. As part of a parenting plan, both parents can decide on a schedule for visitation—now called parenting time in Illinois—after the physical separation of the family.

Keeping Parents Involved

Child development experts and mental health professionals tend to agree that is usually best for children of divorce to have both parents continue to play an active role in the children’s lives. There are exceptions, but children who grow up with only one active parent seem to be at a higher risk for:

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St. Charles family law attorneyEvery child has the right to be supported by both a mother and a father. There are some cases in which this is unable to happen due to the death of a parent. However, in cases where two parents are alive, both should be responsible for the upbringing of the minor. Unwed couples often have a more difficult time raising a child together, especially if the alleged father is denying paternity of the child. Most men deny a child because they do not want to assume the financial responsibility of raising a baby with a woman to whom he is not married.

In these cases, a mother can ask the court to order a paternity test to prove that a man is the father of her child. Once paternity is established, the mother can move on to file a petition for child support, and the couple can work on visitation rights of the father.

Why is it Important to Establish Paternity?

Unmarried parents in Illinois must establish paternity if they birth a child before marriage or else the father cannot be llsted on the child’s birth certificate. The child will suffer as well if paternity is not established because he or she might not have:

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Kane County family law attorneyChild custody is usually an issue between the two parents of the child. However, there are some cases in which a grandparent is considered for custody of the child(ren). In Illinois, custody disputes that are taken into family court are settled based on what is in the child’s best interests. If the judge finds that neither parent is suitable to take custody of a minor, he or she can allocate parental responsibilities to the grandparents.

Cases of this nature sometimes can be found in single-parent households where the sole parent is shirking—or unable to fulfill—their responsibilities for whatever reason. Some divorce cases have also ended with grandparents stepping into the parental role. It all depends on the capability of the parents.

Factors that are taken into consideration when determining child placement include:

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Kane County divorce mediation lawyersChoosing to end a marriage is a difficult decision by itself, so going through the divorce process should be as stress-free as possible. It is always best for a couple to agree to the terms of the divorce on their own, but if the two people cannot discuss things without arguing, then a mediation session is the next best thing.

When going through the court system, the couple getting the divorce have less control over the splitting of assets, allocation of parental responsibilities, and business control because the court will make the decisions. In mediation, the couple is in control so long as they can find a resolution that both can agree on and be happy to accept.

What Is Mediation?

The state of Illinois utilizes the Uniform Mediation Act which says that “mediation” is a discussion between both parties involved in a divorce—or other legal case—and a third-party, unbiased person who is called a “mediator.” This person’s job is to make sure a couple remain civil during the discussion of all aspects of a divorce. 

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St. Charles child support lawyerIllinois considers it the right of any child to receive financial support from both of his or her parents. Child support can allow a child with divorced or unmarried parents to experience the same opportunities and quality of life as he or she would with parents who are together. Illinois courts use a specific method, called “income shares,” to calculate fair and reasonable child support obligations. However, if something major changes in the life of either parent or the child, the child support order may need to be amended. It is important to learn the steps you should take to request a child support modification in Illinois.

What Should I Do If I Cannot Afford Child Support?

Child support payments can often be a substantial part of a parent’s overall expenses. If you realize that you cannot make your support payment, never simply stop paying. Child support nonpayment is taken very seriously by Illinois courts and you could face serious consequences for neglecting your obligation. Parents who fail to pay their court-ordered child support can face steep fines, wage and bank account garnishment, property liens, interception of tax returns, and more. In the most egregious cases, failure to pay child support can be considered a criminal offense punishable by jail time. If you realize that you cannot make your support payment, notify the recipient of support and your local county court house. To request a change in child support, file a Petition for Modification of Child Support with the court.

Grounds for Child Support Modification

Child support obligations cannot be changed without good reason. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Division of Child Support Services outlines the grounds on which a child support order can be changed. You can qualify for a modification review if one or more of the following circumstances exists:

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Kane County divorce lawyersWhether you have been married two years or 20 and are now going through the process of divorce, you should be aware of how that divorce will impact how you file your taxes going forward. Unfortunately, filing your taxes will not go back to the way it was before you were married, when you filed as single and only had a W-2, or maybe two of them. Much is changing and knowing what to expect the first time you file taxes after your divorce can make the process easier.

Determining Your Filing Status

Your filing status will be based on your marital status as of December 31st of the filing year. If you are filing your taxes for the 2018 year, then you would file as single if your divorce was final on or before the last day of the year. 

There are other factors to consider, such as who is deemed the custodial parent. The custodial parent, because they usually have the children for a larger percentage of the time, can claim Head of Household. This filing status is helpful in many ways.

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St. Charles divorce attorneyAny divorce can come with myriad complications that can create stress not only for those going through the legal process but also for any children and other family members involved. When there is a business involved, things can become even more stressful with many factors for the court to consider. Before discussing the business valuation in a divorce with your spouse, heading into mediation hearings, or making requests of the court, you should understand how a divorce can impact your business and how a business can impact your divorce. 

Reaching a Mutual Decision

Open communication is encouraged when two parties are seeking a divorce. If you own a business, whether it is considered marital property or not, discussing the business and its assets with your ex can mean much fewer headaches in the future. Reaching an agreement concerning who owns or runs the business as well as making other vital decisions without needing the courts to decide for you will always be the best option.

Marital Property vs. Non-Marital Property

If a mediator or the family court needs to get involved in the process of separating assets, the first thing determined is whether it is marital property or non-marital property. 

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St. Charles Spousal Support Lawyer

If you are currently receiving maintenance payments, also known as spousal support or alimony, you must notify the payor if you remarry or move in with a romantic partner. Illinois law requires you to notify the payor of your intention to remarry at least 30 days prior to the wedding, unless the wedding occurs spontaneously, in which case you must notify the payor within 72 hours of the wedding. 

Unless your divorce order states otherwise, the obligation to make future maintenance payments ends on the date of your remarriage or on the date on which cohabitation began as determined by the court. If maintenance was paid to you after such date, you must reimburse the payor for those amounts. 

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St. Charles Child Support AttorneySince Illinois switched to the “income shares” method in 2016, child support payments are calculated based on the combined net income of both parents. When both parents have a job that pays a straight salary or hourly wage, the calculation of net income is fairly straightforward. The calculation can be far more complicated, however, when a parent is self-employed, retired, has a child support obligation from a previous marriage, or has some other special situation. 

The Definition of Net Income for Illinois Child Support Calculations

Illinois child support law (750 ILCS 5/505), in combination with various court rulings, defines income for the purpose of child support calculations as follows. 

Net income includes all income from all sources, broadly defined by the courts as “a gain or recurrent benefit” that “enhances a parent’s wealth and facilitates that parent’s ability to support a child.” This specifically includes:

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St. Charles Divorce Attorney

Before you finalize your Illinois divorce settlement, consider this: Will you and your children be financially protected if your ex-spouse dies prematurely? Under Illinois law, the obligation to pay spousal support, aka maintenance or alimony, terminates upon the death of either spouse unless otherwise agreed in your divorce settlement. Child support obligations, however, are not terminated by a parent’s death. The court may order a deceased parent’s estate to pay child support and college expenses

Child Support After a Parent’s Death

Per 750 ILCS 5/510(d), “the amount of [child] support or [post-secondary] educational expenses, or both, may be enforced, modified, revoked or commuted to a lump sum payment, as equity may require, and that determination may be provided for at the time of the dissolution of the marriage or thereafter.” To ensure your children’s financial security and your own peace of mind, you can ask for your child support order to specify how child support will be paid out of a parent’s estate in the event of death. Keep in mind that both parents have an obligation to support their children financially, so this determination should be made for both parents.

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St Charles Divorce Attorney

When you start thinking about divorce and dividing your assets, the division of your personal and household belongings may not be top of mind. However, when you add up the cost of replacing those items, the total can be significant. Insurance companies generally estimate the contents of your home to be worth about 50 percent of the value of the structure itself. Thus, if your home is worth $400,000, its contents may be worth as much as $200,000.

In an Illinois divorce, all marital property must be divided equitably between you and your spouse. Your marital property broadly includes all household furnishings and other belongings acquired during your marriage with the exception of items received via inheritance or personal gift. In a typical division of property, each party keeps their own clothing, jewelry, and similar personal items, although a high-value collection of watches or jewelry may be excepted from that rule. You will need to inventory everything else and decide on an equitable division of those items.

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