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DuPage County Divorce AttorneysWith the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted society, it is understandable for you to wonder whether the courts are available to hear cases on divorce and other areas of family law. The good news is that courthouses in Illinois are open and operating—but with new rules that prioritize the safety of everyone attending. Courts are also taking advantage of video conferencing to limit the number of in-person meetings while still moving forward with cases. The 18th Judicial Circuit Court of DuPage County began hearing all cases again on June 8 with new guidelines that it will use for the foreseeable future.

Will I Have to Attend Court?

Most cases in DuPage County’s domestic relations court are being heard remotely rather than in person. The exceptions are for hearings involving orders of protection, extended trials, and cases that the court deems to be exigent. The court will judge whether a domestic relations case is urgent based on factors such as:

  • How long the case has been pending and the reason for the delay
  • Whether the case involves a dispute about parenting time
  • Whether there is an immediate risk of danger to minors
  • Whether there is an immediate risk of irreparable harm to the marital estate
  • Whether the case involves misconduct by one of the parties

What If I Am Required to Attend in Person?

The DuPage County Courthouse has strict requirements for those who enter to attend a hearing:

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Can I Become My Sibling’s Legal Guardian in Illinois?Unfortunately, not all children have two parents who love and properly care for them. Some children must endure the tragedy of losing one or both parents at a young age, while others have their parents stripped from them as decided by the court system. In most cases, these difficult decisions being made by the court are in the best interests of the child, even if the child is too young to see it that way. If family members are unable to care for the adolescent, they will be entered into the foster care system to be taken care of by volunteer foster families. However, for those who have siblings age 18 or older, they may have an alternative option: legal guardianship.

What Is Legal Guardianship?

Many children who are on the brink of joining the foster care system have spent much of their lives caring for themselves or have been lucky enough to have an older sibling who has taken on a parental role in their lives. However, without legal guardianship rights, the child will not be able to remain in their care. Illinois law allows all adolescents to have at least one legal guardian, and in the absence of their parents, a close family member may take on this role. Children over the age of 14 can grant consent to guardianship requests, but those under this age must rely on the court’s decision. In Illinois, anyone who is age 18 or older, is of “sound mind,” has not been convicted of a serious crime, and is deemed acceptable by the court can apply to be the person’s guardian. The qualifications may seem somewhat minor, but the court’s impression of the guardianship applicant can make or break your case.

What Does the Court Look For?

As is the case with all Illinois legal proceedings involving children, the court’s main purpose is to make a decision in the best interests of the child. There are a few considerations that the court will keep in mind when hearing a guardianship case:

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What Makes a High Asset Divorce More Complicated?Every divorce has a complex array of marital properties that must be divided between the spouses, but high asset divorces take that complexity to a different level. People going through high asset divorces often need to work with multiple financial professionals, such as appraisers and forensic accountants. These professionals are worth the expense because a mistake in a high asset divorce could cost you a significant amount of money. Here are four reasons why a high asset divorce can be more complicated than an average divorce:

  1. It Can Be Difficult to Track Down All of Your Assets: A high asset divorce often has a variety of properties, such as real estate, businesses, investments, and collectibles. The properties may be spread out into accounts and locations in different states or countries. You need to be thorough in searching for marital properties so they are all accounted for in the divorce. It is possible that your spouse may be hiding assets in order to protect them.
  2. Asset Valuations May Require Multiple Appraisers: Besides identifying your marital assets, it is also important to determine the value of the assets. You may need an appraiser with a specialized area of knowledge for some properties in a high asset divorce. For instance, a fine art appraiser will give you the most accurate valuation of an art collection. Other properties, such as a business, may require extensive research to determine their true values.
  3. Spousal Maintenance May Be More Crucial: If one spouse makes a majority of the income in a high asset marriage, the other spouse will be more reliant on receiving spousal maintenance after a divorce. The recipient spouse can reasonably expect to maintain a similar living standard following the divorce, which may not be possible on their own. The amount of maintenance that the recipient needs may be more than what the payor wants, which can make negotiations difficult.
  4. Both Sides Are More Likely to Contest the Divorce Agreement: There can be millions of dollars at stake in a high asset divorce, which neither party wants to give up. Your spouse may fight you on the value of the assets and how they should be divided. If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, you may need to take your dispute to court, where a judge will decide how the divorce agreement should be constructed.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

If you are about to go through a high asset divorce, you need a lawyer who is experienced with finding hidden assets and conducting complex property valuations. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will make sure you receive your fair share of the property in your divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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How to Encourage Your Fiance to Enter Into a Prenuptial AgreementThere are situations where creating a prenuptial agreement is both prudent and necessary. For instance, you may have significant premarital assets that could potentially become entangled with your marital assets. A prenuptial agreement would clearly identify the properties that belong to you in the event of a divorce. However, asking your fiance for a prenup can be uncomfortable. If you ask in the wrong way, you risk damaging your relationship and possibly endangering your marriage. To avoid a negative reaction, you should discuss getting a prenuptial agreement in a way that allows your fiance to feel comfortable and in control of the process.

Start the Conversation Early

You can broach the subject of getting a prenuptial agreement before you get engaged, letting your partner know that it is something you are considering. That way, your fiance should not be caught off guard when you talk about it after your engagement. Ideally, you want to negotiate and complete the agreement months before your wedding. There are several reasons why a last-minute prenup is a terrible idea:

  • Your fiance may feel like you are pressuring them if you ask for a prenuptial agreement only a few weeks before the wedding.
  • A divorce court may later find your agreement to be invalid if your spouse claims they signed it under duress.
  • Your fiance needs time to consider your request and find their own legal representation.
  • The weeks leading up to a wedding are already hectic and stressful without adding the need to negotiate a prenuptial agreement.

Make It a Collaborative Effort

Though you may have a greater interest in creating a prenuptial agreement, your fiance needs to feel like an equal partner in the process. This starts with being honest about why you want a prenup and explaining how the agreement could benefit you both. Encourage your fiance to hire their own family law attorney to make sure they have someone who is representing them throughout the process. Conduct the negotiations in a way that gives your fiance an equal voice in deciding on terms of the agreement. Creating a prenuptial agreement together can be practice for how you will collaborate when you are married.

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What Does Child Support Pay for in Illinois?Child support payments are required whenever two parents are no longer together, whether it is through divorce or separation. Unlike parental responsibilities, a parent cannot relinquish their financial obligation towards their child while the child is still a minor – and sometimes into adulthood if a parent is ordered to help pay for college. Typically, the parent with a greater share of parenting time will receive child support payments from the other parent because the court assumes that they will be the person in charge of child-related expenses. What can and should child support payments be used for?

How Child Support Should Be Spent

The total child support amount that you and your co-parent are responsible for is how much Illinois estimates it should cost to care for your children, based on the number of children you have and the standard of living you can afford on your incomes. The total is meant to cover basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. You can add other expenses to your total in order to cover healthcare, childcare, and school and extracurricular expenses. It is not a requirement that all of a child support payment be spent directly on the children because there are some expenses that are indirectly tied to the children. For instance, paying rent or a mortgage is related to the children because having children determined the size of the home you are living in.

Are There Any Restrictions on How Someone Uses Child Support?

It would go against the intention of Illinois’ child support law if a parent spent child support money on things that are unrelated to the children, such as:

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How to Lock Up Your Assets with a Financial Restraining OrderYou should be on guard against your spouse dissipating your marital assets during your divorce. Some people will transfer assets into hidden accounts or make reckless or selfish expenditures before their spouse gets a chance to divide the assets in the divorce. At one time, Illinois law would automatically freeze a couple’s marital assets at the start of the divorce, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it was overly broad and lacking due process. Instead, you can protect your marital assets by requesting a temporary financial restraining order.

What Does the Order Do?

A temporary financial restraining order prevents both you and your spouse from spending, transferring, disposing of, or concealing your assets without permission from the court during your divorce. There is an exception for the assets that you use to pay for basic living expenses, such as food, housing, and utilities. Major purchases of non-essential items or amenities would require permission from the court. A temporary order will usually last for 10 days and can be extended after a full court hearing.

How Can You Receive an Order?

The court will issue a financial restraining order if you can prove all of the following:

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What Is a Social Distancing Contract for Divorced Parents?The COVID-19 pandemic has forced divorced parents in the U.S. to adjust their parenting plans. Social distancing guidelines have changed what is necessary to protect children from harm, which may include limiting their travel between homes and making sure that they are not exposed to the virus. Some parents have gone as far as to create “social distancing contracts” that stipulate what they should be doing to protect their children from the coronavirus. Creating such a contract may seem prudent given the state of the world, but divorce professionals warn that some parents are trying to use the contracts to control their co-parents.

Potential for Manipulation

Co-parenting can be difficult if your co-parent has a history of manipulative behavior, and the public health crisis gives them a new way to try to control you. Your co-parent may try to pressure you into signing a social distancing contract that they wrote, claiming that it is in your children’s best interest. Provisions you see in the contract may include prohibiting you from:

  • Allowing any guests into your home, including family members
  • Meeting new people outside of your home
  • Attending non-essential gatherings

Limiting these activities may be necessary to protect your children during a pandemic, but a contract lets your co-parent decide who you can see and what you can do with no room for your own judgment.

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Are You Required to Separate Before Divorcing in Illinois?Once you and your spouse have decided that you want to divorce, you likely want to start the process as soon as you are ready. Creating a divorce agreement can take months while you gather information, negotiate the terms, and wait for your court date. You may also wonder whether Illinois requires you to live separately before you can file for divorce. If you ask this question to someone who got divorced five or more years ago, they may tell you that they had to live separately for months or years before they could divorce. However, Illinois divorce law no longer requires spouses to live separately, though proving that you have already been separated can help in some cases.

How Separation Helps

Illinois practices no-fault divorce, meaning that spouses do not cite grounds such as infidelity for divorcing. Spouses will often, but not always, agree on filing for divorce. When a spouse disputes a divorce, the divorce filer only must prove that there are irreconcilable differences. Prior to 2016, Illinois required spouses who both agreed to divorce to live separately for six months before they could file. If they disagreed on getting a divorce, the separation requirement to prove irreconcilable differences was two years. However, Illinois changed its divorce law in 2016:

  • Spouses who both agree to divorce can file immediately.
  • If the spouses disagree, showing that they have lived separately for at least six months will create a presumption of irreconcilable differences.

Even without living separately, citing irreconcilable differences is fairly easy to prove to the court. Even if spouses disagree on whether their marriage can be salvaged, the court may rule that the disagreement is proof of irreconcilable differences.

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How Divorced Parents Can Create a Happy Father’s DayFather’s Day is a special celebration for all dads and their children, but the holiday may take on added significance if you are a divorced dad. Many divorced fathers must work hard to maintain a close relationship with their children. Mothers are still more likely to receive a majority of the parenting time with the children, leaving fathers with only a few days with their kids each week. Father’s Day is an excellent opportunity for children to spend quality time with their divorced dad, and mothers should encourage their children to celebrate the holiday. Both divorced parents have a role in ensuring a happy Father’s Day for their children.

Flexibility

Your normal parenting schedule may conflict with a planned Father’s Day celebration. For instance, the children may normally spend part or all of Sunday with their mother. As long as you both agree, you can be flexible with your parenting schedule to allow the father to have more time with the children. You could agree to adjust your schedule so that the mother receives more parenting time on another day in exchange for time on Father’s Day.

Creative Solutions

There are situations where it is not feasible or practical for the children to be with their dad on Father’s Day. Long-distance travel is difficult right now because of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. When faced with obstacles to a traditional Father’s Day celebration, you can come up with creative solutions, such as:

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Does Your Spouse Share Your Business Debt in Divorce?The division of properties and debts is one of the main tasks when making a divorce agreement. You may know that a business that one of you owns can be marital property if it was started during your marriage, increased in value during your marriage, or mingled with your personal assets. When a business is a marital property, does that mean that the business’s debts are also marital debts? There are situations in which a business debt could be divided between spouses in a divorce:

  1. Your Spouse Cosigned on a Loan: Your spouse clearly shares liability for a business loan if they agreed to do so by cosigning the loan agreement. Your spouse may cosign if they are a partner in your business or if you need to back the loan with your personal finances in order to qualify. As long as your spouse’s name is on the loan contract, the lender will consider them liable for the debt, regardless of whether you decide to divorce.
  2. Your Business Does Not Have Limited Liability: The sole proprietor or general partner of a business is personally liable for their business’s debts unless they form the business into a corporation or limited liability company (LLC). Business debts that you are personally liable for will qualify as marital debts in a divorce. You may be expected to take responsibility for paying your business’s debt, but it will be included when calculating how to fairly divide all of your marital debts.
  3. You Used Your Business to Receive a Loan for Personal Expenses: A business owner may use their marital assets as collateral to get a business loan. The reverse can also work if you use business assets as collateral for a loan that is meant for personal expenses. For instance, you could use real estate that your business owns as collateral in order to receive a loan to pay for a home renovation project. Though the loan may appear to be a business debt, you can argue that your spouse should share responsibility for paying it because the loan was invested into a marital property.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Whenever you mix business and personal finances, it is important to keep track of where assets came from and how they are used. Otherwise, your spouse can claim ownership rights to business assets or avoid liability for shared debts. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will work with you to protect your business interests. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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How to Know When You Need a Postnuptial AgreementCouples have the option of creating a prenuptial agreement before they get married, but some never act on it. There could be several reasons for this, such as:

  • Believing it is unnecessary given their level of personal assets
  • Feeling uncomfortable with the idea of preparing for a hypothetical divorce
  • Simply not thinking about getting a prenup or knowing what it is

Now that you have married, you still have the opportunity to create a postnuptial agreement. Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can decide how you will divide your marital properties, define which properties are separate, and determine whether one of you will owe spousal maintenance to the other. If you did not feel a need to create a prenuptial agreement, you may ask why you would want to create a postnuptial agreement. There are several financial factors that could cause you to change your mind on creating an agreement:

  1. You Have Started or Grown a Business: Many couples begin their marriages owning few valuable assets. Starting a successful business or practice means that you now own valuable property. Businesses that are created or see growth during a marriage are considered marital property. During a divorce, your spouse would have a right to an equitable share of your business. With a postnuptial agreement, you can state that you would keep complete control of the business in the event of a divorce.
  2. You Stopped Working During Your Marriage: It is common for a spouse to take time off from work in order to raise children. Even if you did not leave your job, you may have reduced your hours or passed up opportunities for career advancement, which makes you more reliant on your spouse’s income. You would be entitled to spousal maintenance if you divorced, and it may be easier to negotiate the maintenance amount now in a postnuptial agreement than during a divorce.
  3. You Received an Inheritance: People can suddenly come into possession of valuable properties, such as when they receive an inheritance from a family member. Inheritances are not marital properties when they are gifts meant for one person. However, the longer you possess the inheritance, the more likely it is that it will mingle with your marital properties. A postnuptial agreement can define which properties make up your inheritance.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Family Law Lawyer

Creating a postnuptial agreement does not have to be an awkward experience. At Calabrese Associates, P.C., we work with many couples who have decided to make a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement for practical reasons. To schedule a consultation with a DuPage County family law attorney, call 630-393-3111.

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How Your Parenting Plan Can Determine Religious UpbringingYour parenting schedule is only one part of the parenting plan that you will create during your divorce or separation. The plan also states who is allowed to make decisions regarding your children, including their religious upbringing. This means that the plan can tell you which religious beliefs and customs your children should follow, as long as they are conscionable. Parents are encouraged to come to an agreement on religious upbringing, but this can be a contentious subject if you have different religious beliefs than your co-parent. The family law court can make its own ruling on religious upbringing if you cannot reach an agreement.

Points of Contention

Your agreement on religious upbringing may include instructions on:

  • Attending regular religious services
  • Following customs at home
  • Sending your children to a religious school
  • Allowing trips out of the country to visit religious sites

You may come into conflict with your co-parent if you disagree on which religion your children should follow or how much of a role religion should have in your children’s lives. Attending religious services may also interfere with your parenting time. For instance, a parent whose time with the children is during the weekend may not want to spend their Sunday mornings attending church if they are not religious. If your co-parent shows a sudden increased interest in religion following your divorce, it is possible that they are using religion as a way to control the children and gain more parenting time.

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Improving Your Communication With Your Ex During DivorcePoor communication is one of the fundamental reasons that many couples end up divorcing. Thus, it should be no surprise if your poor communication continues during and after your divorce. Your communication will affect your ability to negotiate your divorce agreement in a timely manner, which may increase the cost of your divorce. If you have children from your marriage, you will need to communicate with your co-parent as long as you are sharing parental responsibilities. Healthy communication between divorced couples requires cooperation from both sides. You can improve your attitude and approach towards communication by following these suggestions:

  1. Know When Not to Talk: There are times when you are better off waiting before responding to your spouse, letting your divorce lawyer talk for you, or not responding at all. Avoid talking to your spouse when you are in a bad mood and feel tempted to respond emotionally. If your spouse is the one lashing out at you, do not let them draw you into an emotionally charged conversation. Your lawyer can handle sensitive conversations that are likely to cause conflict.
  2. Set Communication Boundaries: You have the right to request that your spouse not contact you except during specific situations. Receiving unexpected messages can be stressful and make you feel pressured to respond. You can tell your spouse that you want to limit your communication to your divorce negotiations and scheduled calls to discuss your children. They should not contact you outside of those times unless it is an emergency.
  3. Watch Your Tone: The way in which you talk to your spouse can determine their reaction. Your tone should always be civil, leaning towards a friendly voice. Avoid shouting, scolding, sarcasm, or other tones that may elicit an emotional response. Be careful when sending an email or text message because your spouse may interpret the tone of your message in a different way than what you intended.
  4. Stay On-Topic: Communication between divorcing spouses can break down when they talk about issues that are unrelated to settling their divorce. Discussing your grievances with each other will distract you from the work you need to complete and inject negative emotions into your negotiations. Stay focused on the present instead of reliving past arguments.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

When you are uncertain of how to best communicate during your divorce, you should turn to your lawyer for advice. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can lead you through an amicable divorce process. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Should You Pay Off Your Marital Debts During Divorce?Figuring out how you will divide your marital debt is one of the many important tasks you must complete during your divorce. As part of your divorce agreement, you can determine which debts each of you will be responsible for repaying. You also have the option of repaying your debts during or even before your divorce. Getting rid of the debt would relieve a financial burden on your life after divorce. However, it is possible that repaying your debts is not feasible or the best choice in your situation. There are several questions you should answer before deciding whether to immediately repay a debt.

Is It a Marital Debt?

The simple definition of marital debt is one that you entered into while you were married, but other factors can determine who is responsible for a debt, such as:

  • Whose name is on the loan agreement
  • Who has benefited from the loan

If you and your spouse are equally liable for the debt, paying it off immediately could be a prudent decision. You should not repay your spouse’s separate debts before you start your divorce negotiations. Instead, you can save it as a bargaining chip by offering to help repay the debt in exchange for marital assets.

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Relearning Life Skills Following Your DivorceOne of the advantages of being married is having someone to share the workload when it comes to completing the responsibilities that come with adult life. Whether it is intentional or not, spouses tend to assign tasks to each other that become their sole responsibility. When you divorce, you will be responsible for completing the tasks that your spouse previously took care of. There are some tasks that you have experience doing, but you will need to adjust to being the one who does them. For instance, you may need to remind yourself which day you take the trash to the curb for pickup. There are other tasks that will require you to learn new skills. Maybe you have no experience with making meals for your children or paying your bills. Whatever the tasks may be, there are a few steps you can follow to better handle them:

  1. Make a List of Tasks: Your first step is to figure out which tasks you need to complete on a regular basis. It may help to write out these tasks in a list. Expect that you will continue to update the list as you realize additional tasks that you are responsible for.
  2. Organize Your List: Some tasks take priority over others. For instance, paying your bills on time is more urgent than regularly cleaning your home. Both tasks need to be completed, but there are immediate consequences for missing a payment. If a task has a deadline, record it on a calendar so you do not forget.
  3. Study Up on Your Skills: It is okay if there are tasks that you do not know how to perform, whether it is using a washing machine or managing your budget. Even if you have past experience with a task, the way it is done may have changed since the last time you were single. For instance, many bills are now paid electronically instead of through the mail. Use the resources at your disposal to learn more about these tasks, such as watching tutorial videos or asking friends and family for advice.
  4. Get Your Kids Involved: There may be age-appropriate chores that your children can help you with. Maybe they can take out the trash or assist with washing and drying dishes. Your children will learn life skills and the importance of taking responsibility around the house.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

Divorce will be a large adjustment to your lifestyle but is manageable with planning and effort. A DuPage County divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you prepare for life after divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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What Is a Parent’s Right of First Refusal in Illinois?The parenting time schedule that parents create during a divorce is the best estimate of what times of the week each parent will be available to care for the children. There are always special circumstances in which a parent may be unavailable during their normal parenting time. Maybe your job needs you to stay late or travel for a meeting. Your best friend may have invited you to their birthday celebration. You could become sick to the point that you temporarily cannot function as a parent. If your children are too young to care for themselves, you will be looking for another caregiver, such as a relative, friend, or babysitter. However, some parenting agreements include the right of first refusal, which requires you to offer your co-parent the chance to care for the children before anyone else.

How Do You Create the Right of First Refusal?

The right of first refusal is not implied in Illinois. Your parenting plan must state that each parent will have the right of first refusal, which you can add yourselves or a court could require. When parents cannot agree on the right of first refusal, a court may decide to include it in the parenting plan if it would be in the best interest of the children.

How Does the Right of First Refusal Work?

Each parenting plan has its own terms for when and how the right of first refusal will be activated, which either you or the court will define. Key factors you must define include:

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How to Become the Guardian of a Minor in IllinoisThere are situations in which a child’s parents may be unable or unavailable to perform their basic duties as a parent. If that happens, another adult can become the legal guardian of the child, either on a short-term basis or until the child becomes an adult. The guardian is authorized to make decisions about the child just as if they were the child’s parent. If you wish to become a child’s guardian, you will need to receive court approval. There are several important facts about guardianship in Illinois that you should understand.

Who Can Become a Guardian?

You do not need to be related to the child in order to be their guardian, but it is in the child’s best interest if you have some history of interaction. The basic requirements for being a guardian in Illinois are:

  • Being at least 18
  • Being of sound mind
  • Being a U.S. resident
  • Not having a legal disability
  • Not having a felony conviction related to harming or threatening children

When Is Guardianship Allowed?

Granting guardianship presumes that the parents are unable to make decisions regarding their child. Courts will not transfer parental rights to another adult unless there is a strong reason, such as if the parents:

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How Do You Divide Jewelry in a Divorce?Including jewelry in your division of marital property during your divorce is more complicated than it may seem. Normally, valuable assets obtained during a marriage are considered marital property, and that would be the case if you purchased jewelry for yourself. However, jewelry is often given as a gift, and gifts are excluded from marital property. Deciding whether jewelry is marital property could be a difference of thousands of dollars in your divorce. Thus, it is important to remember how you obtained each piece of jewelry that you own.

Was It a Personal Gift?

Whether a gift is a marital property depends on whether the gift was meant for one person or the couple together. The following questions may help you determine the intent of the gift:

  • What was the occasion for receiving the gift?
  • Who was the gift addressed to?
  • Who would have reasonably been expected to use the gift?

Wearable jewelry is often personalized and given as a gift on a special occasion, such as a birthday, anniversary or holiday. It is unlikely that a necklace or earrings were intended as a couple’s gift. If your spouse purchased the jewelry for you at a time that did not coincide with a special occasion, you can argue that they presented it to you as if it was a gift. It may help if you have saved a note that went along with the gift.

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Work Stoppage May Require Child Support ModificationsThough much of the U.S. economy has come to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, many expenses continue on as normal. For parents who have divorced or separated, child support payments are still necessary. Unfortunately, parents may have increased difficulty paying for child-related expenses if they have lost their jobs or are not receiving pay. You need to immediately talk with a divorce lawyer if your income has been reduced, whether you are the payer of child support or the recipient.

Consequences for Payers

The only way to lawfully reduce the amount of child support you pay to your co-parent is by modifying your child support order in court. Losing your job makes you immediately eligible to modify your child support payments, but the courts may be slow to act on it because they are partially shut down due to the virus outbreak. Once your case is heard, the court will likely calculate a new child support amount based on your current income. Unemployment benefits will count towards that income.

If you are already behind on making child support payments, you now have an added incentive to catch up with the payments if you can. The federal stimulus bill includes a one-time payout of $1,200 for adults who meet the income requirements. However, one of the senators who authored the bill has publicly stated that the payment may be offset in part or in full if the recipient is reported to have missed child support payments.

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How the Coronavirus Is Impacting Divorce CasesAll Illinois residents are currently experiencing some disruption in their lives because of the coronavirus epidemic. This includes people who are planning to or in the process of getting divorced. The DuPage County Courthouse has postponed hearings that it does not consider to be urgent until at least April 17. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the virus, there is no way of knowing for certain when hearings will be rescheduled and whether the courthouse will have to take other steps to protect the public. For those who have already completed their divorces, there may be urgent questions about what to do if they cannot comply with the support payments and parenting schedule in their divorce agreement.

Support Payments

Many people are currently unable to work because of businesses closing in response to the epidemic. Others may have significantly reduced hours and pay. Unfortunately, people do not know when their jobs may come back if they come back at all. Lost income affects people in many ways, including their ability to pay child support and spousal maintenance. Violating court-ordered support payments can result in fines and penalties. If you are worried that you will not be able to afford your next child support or maintenance payment, you need to contact a divorce lawyer to discuss:

  • How much you can afford pay while having enough money left to pay for your living expenses
  • Whether you need to request a reduction in your support payments because of the change in your income

You will not be able to schedule a hearing to modify your child support or maintenance payments until your local courthouse is operating at a greater capacity. However, you can still prepare and submit your petition and request that the payments be reduced retroactively.

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