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geneva family law attorneyFor the past 18 months or so, the United States has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, states have begun to lift restrictions and mask mandates, including Illinois, which lifted mask mandates at the end of May. Dealing with the pandemic has raised many legal issues,  such as the rights of individuals when it comes to mask-wearing and vaccinations. As the FDA has granted one vaccine manufacturer emergency use authorization for children 12 and older, and a second is getting ready to request full licensure for children to receive their vaccine, another major legal issue may be looming: What happens when co-parents disagree on whether their child should receive the vaccine?

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Several years ago, Illinois lawmakers did a complete overhaul of the state’s family law statutes. Included in those changes was the elimination of terms like child custody and visitation. Instead, family court judges issue orders regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

The allocation of parental responsibilities addresses important decision-making on issues that affect the child. These include education, religious upbringing, healthcare, and extracurricular activities. The courts have three options when it comes to the allocation of parental responsibilities and will always choose the one that is in the child’s best interest:

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kane county child support lawyerIn Illinois, just like every state in the country, there are laws that say that each parent has a duty of support owed to their child. This duty extends to providing for the “reasonable and necessary physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child.” The Illinois statute defines a child as one who is under 18 years of age and any child 19 years or younger who is still attending high school.

When a marriage, civil union, or relationship ends, or paternity has been established, the court has the authority to order one parent to pay the other parent child support. Which parent pays child support depends on how the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time is established (formerly referred to as child custody). Unfortunately, not all parents adhere to these child support orders and either fail to pay according to the ordered payment schedule or refuse to pay any support at all.

In these circumstances, what are the legal options for the parent who is not receiving child support payments?

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Kane County appeals attorneyWhen a divorcing couple cannot reach an agreement about property distribution, child custody, spousal maintenance, or other divorce terms, the case may go to trial. During a divorce trial, each side presents arguments and evidence that support their claims. The court considers each party’s arguments, examines the evidence, and then hands down a decision about the unresolved issues. If you have received a ruling from an Illinois court regarding your divorce that you disagree with, you may be able to appeal the court’s decision.  

What Are the Grounds for Appealing a Divorce in Illinois?

You cannot successfully appeal a court’s decision simply because you do not agree with the court’s finding. If you believe that the judge was wrong, you will need to show grounds or reasons that justify an appeal. A successful appeal is possible when a court’s ruling is based on mistaken or false information. For example, if the information used by the judge when making the decision was incomplete or inaccurate, you may be able to appeal the decision. Procedural mistakes or an incorrect application of Illinois law may also justify an appeal.  

What Happens During an Appeal?

If your divorce ruling was based on flawed information or there were mistakes during the trial that justify an appeal, you must act quickly. You only have 30 days after the ruling to file an appeal. Illinois divorce appeals are heard by the Illinois Appellate Court. Three judges will review the decision handed down by the circuit court and the reasons that you are requesting an appeal. If the Appellate Court finds that there is not sufficient reason to change the lower court’s decision, the court will uphold the decision and nothing changes. However, if the Appellate Court finds that the lower court’s decision was flawed, the court may modify the decision or send the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.

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Kendall County divorce attorney

Before a divorce is finalized, the terms of the divorce must be established. Depending on your situation, you may need to address the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, the division of property and debt, possession of the marital home, spousal maintenance, and more. Spouses are encouraged to reach an agreement about these issues outside of court. You and your spouse may be able to negotiate a settlement with help from your lawyers or through an alternative resolution method. However, some divorce cases simply cannot be resolved outside of court and the case goes to trial.

When a Spouse Refuses to Be Reasonable

You deserve to have a divorce settlement that is “equitable” or fair. While most divorcing spouses aim to avoid litigation, this is not always possible. If your soon-to-be-ex refuses to cooperate or insists on unreasonable terms, you may not be able to reach an agreement without giving up your right to a fair outcome. Unfortunately, some divorcing spouses will do whatever they can to make the divorce process as difficult on the other spouse as possible. They may insist on terms that they know are unfair just to draw out discussions and settlement negotiations. In cases like these, taking your case to trial may be the best way to ensure that your right to a fair divorce settlement is protected.  

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Kendall County divorce attorney parenting time

The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s life over the past year, albeit in different ways. Although vaccines have started being distributed, there are still restrictions in place, including here in Illinois. Stores, restaurants, and bars are limited to the number of patrons they can have indoors. As a result, many employees in the service industry are working at reduced hours or may even still be furloughed. Those individuals who work in office buildings are likely still performing their jobs remotely from home and utilizing video conferencing technology in place of in-person meetings. Likewise, the majority of students are in a virtual or hybrid learning environment. The consequences of COVID-19 may also be impacting parenting time arrangements for divorced couples. As a parent, it can be challenging to co-parent with your ex-spouse regarding any child-related matter during these uncertain times. Therefore, it is important to work together and understand when a parenting time schedule may need changing in order to maintain your children’s health and well-being.   

What Is Included in a Parenting Plan?

In Illinois, divorcing spouses who have children must create a parenting plan before the divorce decree is finalized and issued. This legal document addresses certain child-related issues, such as who and how decisions will be made regarding their living arrangements, education, religion, and medical care. It is important to note that the term child custody is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois divorce law. 

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Kane County divorce attorney mediation

Even though marriage is meant to be a permanent partnership between spouses, the unfortunate reality is that many marriages do not last. In some cases, disagreements about finances, children, or other issues can lead to the breakdown of a relationship, while in others, a couple may simply grow apart and find that they would be happier apart than together. When spouses choose to end their marriage through divorce, they have a number of options for resolving the various legal, financial, and personal issues that must be addressed as they separate their lives from each other. While litigation in court may be used to resolve disputes, in many cases, it is preferable to find less combative ways to address divorce-related concerns. Mediation is one of the best ways for couples to reach a divorce settlement, and it can provide a variety of benefits for both parties, as well as their children and others who are involved in their lives.

Reasons to Use Divorce Mediation

During the mediation process, spouses work together with a neutral mediator who is trained in dispute resolution and understands the legal issues that must be addressed when dissolving a marriage. The couple will cooperate to create a divorce settlement that includes the final decisions on all outstanding issues, including the division of marital property, spousal support, and, if the couple has children, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

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Kendall County family law attorney legal separation

If you and your spouse are considering filing for divorce, it is unlikely a rash decision. Most couples will notice their relationship falling apart for months, or even years, before bringing up the idea of divorce. Couples will then typically live apart, also known as separation, for a period of time before deciding that divorce is the proper next step. Living separately for an extended period of time can be a good idea before filing for divorce, and some couples may choose to become legally separated as well. This will allow both you and your spouse to fully consider your options and truly understand what life would be like without your spouse. But what about those who cannot financially afford to move out on their own? Is separation required before filing for divorce in Illinois?

Irreconcilable Differences

Depending on the state that you live in, you may need to provide a reason or form of proof for ending your marriage, such as infidelity. Illinois only allows couples to file for divorce due to “irreconcilable differences.” In other words, you do not have to give a specific cause for your ending relationship other than stating that your marriage has broken down beyond repair. Before 2016, Illinois law required couples to live separate and apart for two years before a divorce could be an option. If the couples agreed that they faced irreconcilable differences after six months of living separately, this two-year separation term could be reduced to just those six months.

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Elgin divorce attorney property division

If you are considering divorce, you may be wondering what will happen to all the “stuff” that you and your spouse have accumulated over the years. Who will keep the house? As a non-working spouse, are you entitled to any of your cumulative savings? And, what about the condo that you purchased a few years ago? All of these questions are common for divorcees. After all, filing for divorce will change your life in more ways than just separating from your spouse. Depending on the state that you live in, the way that all of your “stuff,” also known as marital property, is divided can vary. For Illinois residents, things will be divided equitably, but not always equally.

Equitable Distribution Versus Community Property

Those filing for divorce may incorrectly believe that everything will be split 50/50 between them and their spouse, while others may be concerned that they will not get much at all during the division process. For a select few states that follow community property laws, things really are divided 50/50, and while this may seem like a more fair way to do things, some would argue that additional consideration should go into the division process. For the vast majority of the United States, Illinois included, the court follows equitable distribution laws when it comes to divorce. According to equitable distribution, a judge will consider a number of factors about the couple’s marriage, financial status, and more before making a decision about how things should be divvied up.

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Batavia family law attorney prenuptial agreement

When you hear the word “prenuptial agreement” or “prenup” you are likely picturing high-dollar celebrity divorces that you have seen splashed across the pages of magazines near the grocery store checkout line. In the past, prenups may have been reserved for the rich and famous, with the thought that the Hollywood industry would destroy their marriage and leave them with a hefty amount of combined assets to divide. This is one of many false ideations that continue to surround prenuptial agreements and drive couples away from signing one. In reality, prenuptial agreements have become commonplace over the past few decades as couples are deciding to get married at an older age with larger cumulative assets to bring to the table. With divorce statistics continuing to sit around 50 percent, it is important that couples are fully informed about prenuptial agreements and consider their legal options before saying, “I do.”

Prenuptial Agreements Are Only for the Wealthy

As described above, many still believe that prenups are reserved for the rich and famous. In today’s world, this is far from the truth for a number of reasons. Because couples in the past got married at a much younger age, many of these individuals came into their marriages with hardly any savings or assets. Now that many couples are waiting to tie the knot at a more mature age, they are bringing significantly more debts and assets into the marriage than ever before. Signing a prenuptial agreement is a way to protect both yourself from losing your lifelong savings and your spouse from being saddled with your debt in the instance of divorce. Another reason that divorce rates have risen, and thus the need for a valid prenuptial agreement, is an increase in gender equality. In the past, when women lacked the social ability to earn a liveable wage and support themselves independently, divorce was not a valid option. Now that society has modernized and equality between men and women in the workplace has improved, women are more able and willing to file for divorce if necessary. This increased possibility for divorce is yet another reason why prenups have become more common.

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Kendall County divorce attorney

Making the decision to file for divorce as a parent can be a difficult call to make. You may be worried about the number of ways that this decision will impact your child. Will your child resent you for this choice? Will this damage your child’s relationship with you or his or her other parent? When will I see my child and how will this be determined? These and other types of questions are likely running through your head and may even be holding you back from choosing your own happiness. It is important to remember that all legal decisions regarding your child are made in the child’s best interest, but how is this “best interest” truly determined?

In the Best Interest of the Child

If you and your spouse decide to create your divorce agreement through divorce mediation or collaborative proceedings, you will both get to determine how things will be handled moving forward. This includes designating the primary custodial parent, outlining your parenting plan, and laying out your parenting schedule. After the court reviews and approves your decisions, you will begin to follow the plan that you selected for your child. 

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Geneva family law attorney paternity

Legally recognizing your child’s father is important to everyone involved. The father deserves to know that he has a child, the child has a right to know his or her father, and the mother is warranted financial support that the father can provide her. The process of legally recognizing who is your child’s biological father is known as establishing paternity. In some cases, it can be difficult for a single mother to want to legally recognize paternity since it can also give the father parental rights. However, the financial benefits that the child is owed from his or her father can often outweigh this concern. For men who mothers believe may be the alleged father of their child can also be wary of finding out their biological connection to this child. Luckily, there are a few ways that one can prove paternity, and even if the man does not want to cooperate with your requests, you can enforce your petition to establish paternity.

Ways to Prove Paternity

There are three ways that a person can prove paternity according to Illinois law. The easiest, most common way to prove paternity is through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP). If both the mother and alleged father recognize that he is the child’s biological father, both parents can complete and sign a VAP form witnessed and filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). 

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Elgin divorce lawyer mediation

There is no “one size fits all” way to handle your divorce. In order to appeal to the varying relationships of divorcing couples, there are a couple of ways that you can handle your divorce proceedings. Some couples may have a dark, tumultuous history where their interactions are contentious and purposely limited, while others have simply grown apart over the years and wish to move on from their marriage. The two most common options for those seeking a divorce are litigation and mediation. Before deciding upon their means of a divorce, spouses should consider the quality of their relationship and compare these two popular options.

Sticking to Court

The tried-and-true divorce option that most are familiar with is known as divorce litigation. The term “litigation” means “carrying out a lawsuit,” although this does not mean that every divorce will find its way into a courtroom. The reason divorce may be considered a lawsuit is because in many cases, the decision to file for divorce is not mutual. In many cases, one spouse would like to divorce while the other wishes to remain married. Since this becomes an adversarial situation, with one spouse battling the other, the divorce case becomes a little more tricky, requiring litigation and sometimes time spent in court.

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Elburn parental relocation attorney

It is common for recently divorced individuals to want to start over in a new location. Living in the home that you built with your former spouse can make it difficult to escape your old life and move on to a new chapter. Relocating may finally seem obtainable now that you are free from your marriage, but unfortunately, if you have children, you are never fully independent of your former spouse. With parenting agreements that outline how much you will receive in child support, when each parent will spend time with the kids, and who has the most parenting responsibilities, it can seem difficult to get the space you desired when you filed for divorce. Moving away with your kids may appear to be the solution to a fresh start, but restrictions on relocation may keep you from doing so.

What Is Considered Relocation?

Moving from one house to another does not necessarily classify as relocation. Illinois law outlines how far is “too far” and provides information about how to gain permission to relocate, even if your children’s other parent is not on board. According to Illinois legislation, those who live in DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will, Lake, or McHenry counties and move their children 25 miles from their previous residence are considered to be “relocating.” If you do not live in one of these counties, you have a 50-mile radius to stay within in order to avoid needing permission to move. For those looking to move outside of Illinois, anything further than 25 miles from their previous residence is considered relocating.

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Posted on in Family Law

Elgin, IL Child Support Attorney

Illinois now uses the income shares model to determine child support. Income shares uses a formula that takes into account both parents’ incomes, the number of children in the family and parenting time with the child/ren. Child support set by incomes shares is based on the typical cost of raising a child or children in a family with the same combined income and same number of children. The amount families spend raising their child/ren was determined by an independent statistical study.

Unlike the previous statute, child support is now directly linked to parenting time. While this is great in many ways as it accounts for parties with a more shared parenting schedule  – it can also result in more litigation. Parents used to litigate over who was the primary residential parent (or recipient of child support), now parents litigate over the exact amount of days they have during a year with their children. But with any law, there are always pros and cons.

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DuPage County Alimony AttorneyMaintenance (formally known as alimony) is financial support for an ex-spouse. This can be ordered by the court during the divorce as temporary support and/or after the final Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is entered. Maintenance only applies if the parties were married.

As of January 1, 2019, Illinois changed the way maintenance is calculated. Maintenance is now calculated by taking 33% of the payer’s net income – 25% of the receiver’s net income. Additionally, Illinois places a cap on the amount of maintenance (excluding temporary maintenance) one can receive, which cannot be more than 40% of the couple’s total combined income.

For example:

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Posted on in Divorce

Kendall County Divorce AttorneyThere have been many memes passed around (at least in my industry) that joke about a baby boom and an increased demand for divorce due to the stay at home order. Behaviors that people used to ignore because they could escape to work or the gym or a restaurant with friends, are gnawing at the psyche of isolated COVID-19 couples. Like that little habit he has of chewing with his mouth open. Or how she hums Merry Christmas every time she washes her hands.

This is even more exaggerated when parents must juggle homeschooling kids and working remotely from home. Arguments about who is teaching science today result in simmering resentment and passive aggressive loud typing on one’s laptop.

Although this is unchartered territory, we do know that the stay at home order will someday end. It must end, for all of our sakes. But until then, choosing whether to divorce your spouse needs to be made with great care. Divorcing your spouse is not easy, emotionally or financially. Before you go down the path of hiring an attorney and filing your petition for dissolution, try these tactics to keep the peace:

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Kendall County family law attorney legal separation

Many couples decide to separate before they fully commit to a divorce. However, simply moving out of one's shared household is not enough to make a separation official. In many cases, couples in Illinois will want to take steps to protect their rights by filing for a legal separation. This will allow them to consider many of the issues that will be addressed during divorce, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal support, and property division, but they will continue to be legally married after the separation. Although this may sometimes be the first step on the road to divorce, some partners will decide to remain separated rather than get divorced due to the financial benefits a legal separation can offer them and their children.

Can a Legal Separation Save Me Money?

One of the main reasons why couples will decide to remain separated rather than divorced is the financial benefits that come along with remaining legally married. Reaping the benefits while separated may not be a long-term plan, but it can help you save up for a divorce in the future if you do not have the funds at the moment. Here are a few advantages to obtaining a legal separation instead of a divorce:

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Kendall County Divorce AttorneyEmily Rapp is a new appointee to the ISBA’s Women and the Law Committee. Her main areas of practice are Family Law and serving as a Guardian ad Litem in Kane, Kendall and DuPage Counties.

Emily was a teenager when bitten by the legal bug. She read Silent Spring, a book by Rachel Carson that discussed the effects of herbicides and pesticides on the environment and decided right then that she wanted to be an environmental lawyer. Then she took environmental law. She is a family law practitioner.

Emily is a 2011 graduate from Loyola University School of Law. During her law school years, she was a 711-licensed clerk at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and clerked for the CTA. In law school, after determining environmental law was not her forte, she had dreams of becoming a Cook County prosecutor. Cook County did not share Emily’s dream. Resourceful Emily had a back-up plan, family law. She used her connections to find her first job out of law school at Peskind Law Firm in St. Charles. She credits that firm and Steve Peskind with teaching her a lot about family law and dealing with clients. From there she went to work for Weiler & Lengle. Rory Weiler continues to mentor her to this day. In April of this year, she opened her own practice, MagnusonRapp Law, in downtown Geneva.

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