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DuPage County family law attorneyEvery year, we publish dozens of blogs about a wide variety of topics related to divorce and family law. Our goal is to provide people with helpful information about issues that they may need to address when getting divorced, settling disputes over marital property or child custody, or handling other matters in family court. Our most popular blogs that people have read over the past year have covered many areas of the law and other issues that affect families, and we encourage you to read these articles and share them with those who may find them helpful:

  1. When You Can Extend Child Support Beyond Age 18 - We look at when divorced parents may be required to contribute to their children’s college expenses or provide other forms of financial support.

  2. Remarriage Can Affect Child Support Payments - While child support payments are typically based on parents’ incomes, in some cases, a parent’s marriage to a new spouse may affect the amount they will be required to pay.

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Naperville IL divorce lawyerWhen you get divorced, you will likely be concerned about your finances. Shifting from sharing financial resources with your spouse to supporting yourself on a single income can be a difficult adjustment, and the decisions made about how you and your spouse will divide your marital assets can also affect the resources that will be available to you. Unfortunately, these issues can become even more complicated and difficult if your spouse has spent, wasted, or destroyed your marital property or if you are worried that they plan to do so. However, with the help of a skilled attorney, you can protect against the dissipation of marital assets and make sure you will have the financial resources you need.

What Is Asset Dissipation?

If one spouse uses marital funds or property for their sole benefit and for purposes unrelated to their marriage during the period where the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown, this is considered asset dissipation. For example, a spouse could spend marital funds while pursuing an extramarital affair, such as by buying gifts for someone other than their spouse or going on trips with that person and paying for plane tickets, hotel rooms, and meals. Dissipation could also include spending money on gambling or to further a drug addiction, buying expensive items solely for one’s own benefit, or intentionally destroying property.

If one spouse has dissipated assets, the other spouse can make an asset dissipation claim during the process of dividing marital property, asking the court to address this issue by requiring the spouse to reimburse the marital estate for the dissipated assets or grant the other spouse a larger share of marital property. A dissipation claim must be made at least 60 days before a divorce trial begins or 30 days after the end of the discovery process. Dissipation must have occurred after the date that the couple’s marriage began undergoing an irretrievable breakdown, and a spouse cannot make a dissipation claim more than three years after they knew or should have known about the dissipation or for an incident more than five years before either party filed a petition for divorce.

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Naperville IL family law lawyerFollowing your divorce, it is likely that you or your ex-spouse will plan to move to a new home at some point. This is a normal activity, and a relocation may be planned for multiple reasons, such as to begin a new job, to be closer to family or a new partner, or to live in a larger, more comfortable home. However, parents should be aware that a move may require them to make changes to their parenting plan, and in certain cases, they will need to get approval from the court to complete a parental relocation.

When Is Approval Required for Parental Relocation?

A move to a new home is only considered parental relocation if a parent who has the majority of parenting time or shares equal amounts of parenting time plans to move to a new home a certain distance away from the child’s current home. For those who live in counties around the Chicago area (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, Lake, or McHenry), a move of at least 25 miles will be considered a relocation. Relocation rules will also apply to a move of 50 miles or more from another Illinois county or a move of at least 25 miles to a location outside of Illinois.

At least 60 days before moving, or at the earliest practical date within 60 days, a parent must notify the other parent and the court where their divorce case was heard. If the other parent does not object to the relocation, and a judge agrees that the move would be in the child’s best interests, the relocation will be approved. If the other parent objects, a court hearing will be held, and the judge will decide whether to grant the move based on a consideration of several factors, including the reasons for the planned move, the reasons the other parent is objecting, the ways the move is expected to affect the child, and whether changes can be made to the parenting plan that will minimize the negative effects on parent-child relationships.

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DuPage County family law attorneyDivorced parents will usually share custody of their children, and when doing so, they will follow the parenting plan that was included as part of their divorce decree or judgment. This document will address the allocation of parental responsibilities (commonly known as “legal custody”), and it will include schedules for parenting time (also referred to as “physical custody” or “visitation”). A parenting plan will provide a framework for how parents will work together to raise their children. Because parents’ and children’s lives may change in the years following a divorce or breakup, modifications to child custody arrangements may be needed. Parents should be sure to understand when these types of changes may be made and the steps they will need to take to do so.

Modifying a Parenting Plan Because of Changed Circumstances

Illinois law states that changes to the allocation of parental responsibilities cannot be made within the first two years following the issuance of a divorce decree or child custody order, although exceptions may be made if the court determines that a child would be at risk of physical or emotional harm in their present environment. Parenting time, on the other hand, can be modified at any time, either by an agreement between the parents or because of a “significant change in circumstances.” After the first two years, legal custody modifications may also be made based on changed circumstances.

Significant changes in circumstances may include any issues that affect either the parents or the children and require changes to how parents make decisions about the children or adjustments to the time the children spend in each parent’s care. For example, one parent may begin a new job that will require them to work during their scheduled parenting time, and they may ask that the schedule be changed to ensure that they can continue to spend the same amount of time with their children. Legal custody may be modified if children experience changes that affect the parents’ ability to make decisions. For instance, a child may experience a serious illness or health condition, and the parent who primarily provides care to the child may ask for the sole authority to make the necessary decisions about the medical care the child will receive.

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DuPage County child custody lawyerDuring a divorce, child custody is often one of the most important concerns that a couple will need to address, but it can also be one of the most divisive issues. When the relationship between parents has broken down, they will be unlikely to agree about what is best for their children, and each parent may believe that they should be granted sole or primary custody. Those who are going through a divorce will need to understand how the law applies to their situation, and by working with an attorney, they can ensure that their parental rights will be protected while also arguing for what is in their children’s best interests.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Child custody consists of two separate, but related, issues. Legal custody, which is known in Illinois as the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” addresses the decisions parents make about their children’s lives, including their education, the medical care they will receive, religious practices or training, and the extracurricular activities they will participate in. Physical custody, which is known as “parenting time,” is the time children will spend in the care of each parent. During their parenting time, each parent will have sole responsibility regarding the routine decisions about children’s day-to-day lives, as well as the right to make emergency decisions about children’s health and safety.

While it is possible for one parent to be granted sole legal custody, courts usually believe that it is in children’s best interests for both parents to be involved in children’s lives, and parents will usually share parental responsibilities. However, different areas of responsibility may be allocated solely or primarily to one parent in some cases. For example, if only one parent had been involved in the children’s education during their marriage, such as by helping with homework and attending parent-teacher conferences and school events, that parent may be allocated sole responsibility in this area.

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Naperville IL divorce business assets attorneyIn most situations, the divorce process will involve multiple different financial issues that will need to be addressed. When determining how to divide marital property, spouses will need to consider their physical belongings, financial accounts, real estate property, retirement savings and benefits, and debts. Business interests owned by spouses, either together or separately, will be a major factor in these considerations, especially for those who own professional practices. For doctors, dentists, therapists, chiropractors, accountants, or other professionals, a business will not only represent a significant investment of time, money, and effort, but it may also be a primary source of income. Because of this, professionals will usually want to determine how they can continue owning and operating their practice after their divorce is complete.

Addressing Ownership of Professional Practices

Family-owned businesses are treated the same as other types of property, and a professional practice that was founded during a couple’s marriage will be considered a marital asset, while a practice that was owned by one spouse before getting married will usually be considered non-marital property. However, in situations where a spouse contributed money or work that helped a business owned by the other spouse grow or increase in value, the spouse who owns the business may be required to reimburse the other spouse for their contributions.

During the divorce process, a business valuation will need to be performed to determine the full monetary value of a professional practice. Different approaches may be taken during this valuation, including looking at the business’s assets and liabilities, the amount that could be received if the business was sold, or the business’s projected earnings over the next several years. Personal goodwill is another factor that may need to be considered when addressing professional practices. For example, a doctor may have built up a good reputation among their patients, and the value of their practice may be based on their ability to continue to provide medical care to clients.

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyGetting divorced can have a major impact on your finances. You will probably need to make a number of adjustments as you shift from managing a home using the income that you and your spouse earned together to using a single income to cover your ongoing expenses. If there is a disparity between the income you earn and the amount your spouse makes, this could introduce additional complications into your divorce proceedings. In these cases, spousal maintenance, which is sometimes referred to as spousal support or alimony, may be appropriate.

When Is a Spouse Eligible to Receive Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is not appropriate in every divorce, but it may be awarded if one spouse earns the majority of the family’s income or if the other spouse has been reliant on the wages and benefits earned by their former partner. For example, a stay-at-home parent may not currently earn any income, and their former spouse may be required to make ongoing payments to ensure that they can maintain their accustomed standard of living following the divorce.

Spouses may agree in their divorce settlement that maintenance will be paid, or the decision about whether to award maintenance may be left up to the judge in their case. This decision will be based on a number of factors, including the income each spouse earns, their ongoing needs, their ability to find work and earn suitable wages and benefits, and decisions about child custody and parenting time. A judge may also look at whether a spouse made sacrifices to their career because of the family or whether one spouse helped the other obtain education or training that helped them advance their career.

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyIf you have recently ended your marriage, or if you are currently going through a divorce, you may be dreading the holiday season. As a newly single parent, you may still be adjusting to spending less time with your kids, and the prospect of being alone during a time that had previously been focused on family may have you stressed out. When adding these concerns to the ongoing risks that everyone is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering how you will get through the coming weeks. However, by making the right preparations, you can not only survive the holidays, but you can begin the next year on the right foot.

Suggestions for the Holidays After Your Divorce

Here are some tips you can follow during this time:

  1. Plan parenting schedules in advance - You and your former spouse may have already reached an agreement on how your children will divide their time between the two of you, or you may still be hammering out the details of your parenting plan. You will want to be sure to understand which days your children will spend with each of you during the holidays, how children will be transported between your homes, and any other details, allowing you to avoid conflict with your ex. You should also share this schedule with your children so they know what to expect.

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Naperville divorce modification attorneyThere are many different important decisions made during a divorce, and in many cases, one or both parties may be unhappy with the final divorce decree or judgment. Fortunately, these decisions are not necessarily “set in stone.” If things have changed in your life or your former partner’s situation, or if you need to make adjustments to better meet your children’s needs, you may be able to pursue a post-divorce modification. However, you should be sure to understand what can and cannot be changed and the procedures that you will need to follow when doing so.

Allowed Modifications to a Divorce Order

While there are some parts of your divorce agreement or judgment that may be changed, one issue that cannot be updated after divorce is the division of marital property. Even if you believe that this division was unfair or did not take certain factors into account, you will be unable to reopen that issue and change the decisions that were made.

Other decisions, however, may be modified, but to do so, you will need to show that you, your ex-spouse, or your children have experienced or will experience a “substantial change in circumstances.” These changes could include the loss of a job or a promotion or demotion that has affected one party’s income, or it could involve significant changes in a person’s needs or abilities, such as a medical condition that would cause a parent to be unable to provide care for children. It may be possible to seek a modification of the following issues:

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyFor some couples, the idea of planning for divorce seems downright unnecessary. Not everyone sees the end of their marriage coming, even when it has been unraveling for some time. It is easy to remain in denial or to be so swept up in work, friends, and other activities that you do not realize the marriage is over until the warning signs are unmistakable. Marriages can end suddenly, and when they do, couples are often left to race around and pick up the pieces, with little to no preparation at all. 

How to Start Preparing for an Illinois Divorce

If you were not expecting your relationship to end so abruptly, you may be left with little choice but to face the music and begin chipping away at the filing process. Even the most peaceful splits entail a great deal of work from both parties. From arranging parenting plans and discussing possible spousal maintenance to dividing assets and planning for relocation, your hands will likely be full as you are thrust into the separation experience.

If you, like many spouses, feel blindsided by your suddenly imminent divorce, you can make the filing process as efficient as possible by making the following preparations:

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