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naperville alimony lawyerWhen large discrepancies in income exist between former spouses, or when one spouse gave up significant employment opportunities to raise children or care for a home, spousal maintenance may be awarded. Not every Illinois divorce involves spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support), but when it is fair and appropriate, spousal maintenance must be negotiated. But how much is fair? And how are amounts and the length of payments determined? Here are three factors to consider if you are negotiating spousal maintenance in your Illinois divorce. 

What Was the Marital Standard of Living? 

Spousal maintenance is not determined simply by how much money one spouse strictly needs until he or she becomes financially independent. If spouses shared a high standard of living, then both spouses will want to continue that lifestyle after their divorce. Illinois courts would consider it unfair that, after enjoying a certain standard of living for many years, one spouse suddenly becomes much poorer while the other spouse continues the same lifestyle as they enjoyed during the marriage - especially when there are children involved. 

What, If Any, Career Sacrifices Were Made? 

Many spouses will give up aggressively pursuing an education or career in favor of raising children and caring for a home. Illinois courts respect the work involved in raising children and want to ensure that a stay-at-home parent is not financially punished in a divorce. However, there is usually a limit to how long spousal maintenance payments last. Unless a couple was married for decades, there is a formula for helping spouses determine how long maintenance payments will last while the receiving spouse gets back up on his or her feet financially. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1134923861.jpg Divorced and separated parents frequently disagree about child support. The parent who is ordered to pay often feels as though the money is not being used correctly, and the receiving parent often feels as though the payments are insufficient to meet the child’s needs. Sometimes a parent will fail to pay child support because he or she feels the amount is unfair or because it seems impossible to afford it. 

But no matter the reason, Illinois takes failure to pay child support seriously. Unpaid child support places the full financial burden of raising a child on one parent and reduces the child’s standard of living through no fault of the child. If you are a parent who should be receiving child support and your child’s other parent refuses to pay, it is important to try every method possible to enforce your child support order. An experienced DuPage County child support attorney may be able to help you recover unpaid child support more quickly. 

Try Communicating First

Before taking the issue to court, try to resolve the problem with your child’s other parent. Reasonable people can sometimes explain why they missed their payments, as well as any plans to make them up. But if they fail to respond or are uncooperative, it may be time to take legal action. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_171259886.jpgFor most divorced parents, child support payments end once their youngest son or daughter turns 18. But for some parents, child support can last many years longer, if not an entire lifetime. If you are paying child support, here are three things to be aware of that could make child support last much longer. 

High School Graduation 

If a child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, child support payments will continue until the child graduates from high school and turns 19. This ensures that one parent is not left paying for all of a child’s educational and housing needs when he or she is still essentially functioning as a minor child. Many child support orders include termination dates, but circumstances can change and parents may need to request a court-ordered modification that includes a termination date. Failure to pay child support is a serious offense in Illinois and it is unwise to assume child support is ending unless you have a confirmed termination date. 

College Expenses

Illinois child support law is unique in that it can require divorced parents (but not married parents) to pay for their child’s college expenses as they earn an undergraduate degree. The cost of college is estimated using tuition and fees from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus, so even if a child attends a private or out-of-state college, parents will not have to pay more than the cost of UICU. However, parents can be made to pay for books, tuition, and living expenses. 

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napervile divorce lawyerAttorneys are one of the most frequently criticized groups of professionals in the world. Jokes about attorneys exist in every culture, and there are many stereotypes regarding attorneys, their supposed characteristics, and alleged shortcomings. Working as an attorney is a difficult job, in large part because, contrary to popular belief, attorneys do care about the well-being of their clients and want their cases to succeed. If you are getting divorced, petitioning for a parenting time modification, or hoping to adopt in Illinois, here are some tips for ensuring you have a great relationship with your lawyer.

Help Your Lawyer Build the Strongest Case Possible

Even if your attorney believes you are completely justified in pursuing your preferred outcome, no attorney has the power to snap their fingers and bend the law. Part of engaging with the law is understanding that it is complex, sometimes vague, and often feels unfair. Your attorney’s job is to represent you and pursue the best possible outcome with your case. You can help your attorney build the strongest case possible by being forthcoming about any information that may be relevant to the case. Gathering any financial documents, relevant paperwork, and evidence like text messages can also help your lawyer develop a powerful case. 

Avoid Antagonistic or Revenge-Seeking Behavior Against the Other Party 

Whether you are getting a divorce, petitioning for sole custody of your child, adopting your stepchild, or taking on any other family law matter, it is best to be as non-antagonistic as possible. Hostility toward the other party can make the situation even more difficult to manage for both you and your attorney. Hostile actions can even lead to orders of protection or other legal consequences in extreme cases. 

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dupage county visitation lawyerThe relationship between a child and his or her father can be one of the strongest bonds a person ever experiences. Unfortunately, in the past, many unmarried fathers have experienced difficulty and frustration when trying to pursue a relationship with their child. For some fathers, these challenges continue even today - but most would agree that their relationship with their child is worth the fight it sometimes takes to get there. If you are a father in Illinois and you want to seek parental rights, including parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities, read on. 

Establish Paternity

No father has a legal claim to spend time with a child with whom he does not have a legal relationship. Establishing paternity over your son or daughter is the most important first step in a lifetime of love and support. If your child’s mother rejects the possibility of your presence at birth and you cannot sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, you may need to get a court-ordered declaration of parentage. You may need to submit to a DNA paternity test to confirm the biological relationship to the child and establish paternity. Once paternity is established, you can petition the court or parenting time and parental responsibilities.  

Show You Are Responsible 

Although it may seem unfair that a father has to prove his worthiness as a parent, it is important to act responsibly - even if the outcome seems unfair at the moment. It can take time to establish parental rights, which can be frustrating. However, a court is more likely to take your claims seriously if you always pay child support, demonstrate your home is a safe and nurturing place for a child to live, and show up to your court dates looking clean and organized. 

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dupage county divorce lawyerDivorce is notoriously expensive, long, and difficult. Many couples delay what they know is an inevitable divorce because they have children, want to save money, or are simply not quite ready to make the final decision. But divorce professionals suggest that postponing divorce for some interminable future date may ultimately backfire. Rather than waiting for enough money or the children to reach a set age, experts suggest talking to your spouse openly and trying to create an amicable exit plan. 

Creating an Exit Strategy for Divorce

So you may not be ready to end the marriage - yet. But if you and your spouse already know such a separation is coming, and there are no pressing issues like domestic abuse or financial dissipation, you do not necessarily have to act with urgency. Rather than being reactive to an unpredictable process, you can create a plan for ending your marriage that leaves both spouses in a better place. Here are five steps you can take: 

  • Map out a multi-year plan - Include financial goals, parenting goals, and perhaps even agree not to date or introduce any romantic complications into the picture. 

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naperville divorce lawyer Prenuptial agreements can be excellent legal instruments for protecting newlyweds from the inevitable strife of divorce. Spouses-to-be can be flexible in addressing their needs, and a prenup can cover many things, from premarital property ownership to spousal maintenance. But though some spouses may want to sign their prenup and forget about it, for other spouses, it is better to consider the prenuptial agreement as a kind of living document that may change or be updated if necessary. Here are three common reasons couples in Illinois amend their prenuptial agreements. 

Spousal Maintenance 

If one spouse earns a substantially higher income than the other spouse, couples may wish to forego or proscribe spousal maintenance in a divorce. But if couples have been married for a long time and one couple suffers a job loss, serious illness, or, on the other hand, inherits a substantial sum of money, the balance of financial power may change. Spouses may wish to raise or lower the amount of spousal maintenance if one partner’s financial picture changes substantially. 

Children Enter the Picture

Although prenuptial agreements can never address child custody matters, spouses may wish to amend their prenup after a child is born. For example, one spouse may have owned a home before getting married, and the original prenup protects the spouse’s rights to ownership. However, once a child is born, that spouse may wish to change the prenup to state that the home’s value will be divided so that if the couple gets divorced, both parents can afford to have a decent place to live with their child. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1921584095-min.jpgWhen an adult in Illinois is sufficiently disabled such that he or she is unable to make or communicate decisions about their care, living arrangements, and finances, legal guardianship may be necessary. Illinois law provides legal protection for its adult disabled citizens and Illinois has one of the most progressive guardianship laws in the US, with helpful procedures for appointing guardians and detailing the responsibilities of guardianship. 

Serving as a guardian for a disabled adult is a major responsibility. If you are considering becoming a guardian, it is important to understand what you can expect and what will be expected of you. 

Types of Guardianships

There are two basic types of guardianships in Illinois: Guardianship of the estate and guardianship of the person. Although these can be broken down into more specific categories, these two basic types offer a helpful umbrella for understanding the different responsibilities contained within each role.

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naperville guardianship lawyerParents in Illinois who are struggling with a chronic or terminal illness may reach the point where they feel unable to care for their child properly. When this happens, or when a parent anticipates it will happen in the near future, he or she may decide to share their parental rights with someone who can better care for the child. 

A standby guardian is a person who willingly takes parental rights on behalf of a child’s custodial parent who is very sick, disabled, or deceased. Just as a parent would be, a standby guardian becomes responsible for caring for the child’s needs. If you are considering appointing or becoming a standby guardian, this blog may be helpful to you. 

Who Can I Appoint as a Standby Guardian? 

A parent can appoint anyone who is eligible to become a legal guardian in Illinois and who is willing to take on the parental rights and responsibilities for a child. Depending on the situation, a standby guardian may be the child’s other parent, a grandparent, the parent or child’s sibling (if over the age of 18), or even a good friend. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1095300188-min.jpgParents getting divorced in Illinois frequently struggle to resolve issues related to the children. Determining child support, dividing parenting time, and allocating parental responsibilities can be very difficult for parents who are locked in conflict and unable to cooperate. Although most parents can prioritize their children’s best interests even during divorce, some cases require court intervention. In cases like this, a court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to determine a child’s best interests. If you have had a guardian ad litem assigned to your case and want to know more about what to expect, read on. 

What is a Guardian ad Litem’s Role? 

Guardians ad litem are responsible for investigating all aspects of a case wherein there are questions about which parent should have parenting time or parental responsibilities. To do this, GALs will interview the child and both parents and may also speak with the child’s teachers, neighbors, and religious leaders - anyone who can provide appropriate and helpful information. GALs often investigate a child’s past academic performance and medical history. They will also check both parents’ criminal histories and follow up on any allegations of abuse. 

Once their investigation is complete, GALs write a report and submit it to the court. The report contains the findings of the GALs investigation and often contains recommendations for resolving issues in the child’s best interests. GALs try to provide the child with an arrangement that allows for a meaningful relationship with both parents, but only if it is safe or healthy to do so. 

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dupage county guardianship lawyerLife is complicated and unpredictable, and sometimes unexpected events cause a parent to be incapable of caring for their child. Whether due to mental illness, substance abuse, child abuse or neglect, or death, children in Illinois sometimes need care from an adult who is not their parent. If no family members are available to care for a child, the child may have to enter a foster home. But if a family member like a sibling or a grandparent is available, they may be able to get legal guardianship of the child. 

Legal Guardianship

Children moving into the care of the Illinois foster system have often been essentially taking care of themselves for many years, and many have the help of an older sibling. However, unless the older sibling is an adult and applies successfully for legal guardianship, they do not have the legal authority to fully care for the child once the state intervenes. 

Obtaining legal guardianship allows an adult to take legal responsibility for the care of a child, making important decisions and taking on the responsibility for providing the child with what they need. This includes day-to-day care, like a child’s hygiene and nutritional needs, as well as long-term needs like their education and medical care. If an older sibling, grandparent, or even uncle or aunt are already caring for a child in these ways, they can continue doing so if they are appointed the child’s legal guardian. 

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Divorce Law DuPage County

Financial conflict is one of the most common reasons for divorce in Illinois. Whether one spouse is a spendthrift, is chronically unemployed, or the stress of managing a household’s finances is simply too great, couples frequently get divorced because of money issues. 

Sometimes a couple’s financial problems are so great that they find themselves considering bankruptcy at the same time that they are ending their marriage. In Illinois, the law allows spouses to get divorced and file for bankruptcy simultaneously, but doing so is not necessarily a good idea. In this blog post, we will examine common strategies for combining bankruptcy and divorce, but it is important to speak to a qualified attorney about your questions. 

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Divorce Law Warrenville, IL

Individuals getting divorced in Illinois are often very private about the intimate details of the divorce process and final judgment. This is especially true of high net worth individuals, who frequently have the added concern that their divorce may be of some interest to the public. Whether a couple has a public profile and wants to keep celebrity reporters out of their business, or a private couple wants to avoid a busybody neighbor with a history of spreading rumors, there are many legitimate reasons for wanting to avoid public exposure after divorce.

Unfortunately, fear of embarrassment is usually not a sufficient reason for sealing divorce records. Understanding how these issues are handled and what your options may be is essential to protecting your privacy during a divorce. 

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IL divorce lawyer Warrenville, IL

Getting divorced touches nearly every part of someone’s life: their finances, their relationships, and their children. It is natural for individuals in Illinois who are considering divorce, especially at a later age, to feel nervous about what could happen to their retirement prospects if they get divorced. Will everything I ever worked for be divided? Does this mean I will never be able to retire? 

Although many retirement benefits, such as pension plans and 401(k) accounts will need to be part of the asset division process, social security benefits are uniquely protected by federal law. Illinois divorce courts do not have the authority to handle social security payments. Fortunately, the federal government has clear and established provisions concerning social security benefits following a divorce. 

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IL divorce lawyer for dividing assetsHigh net worth couples getting divorced in Illinois face a particularly challenging marital asset division process. In addition to determining what is and is not considered a marital asset, unique or high-value assets must be valued and divided. One asset, in particular, can be difficult to value and divide: Stock options. Understanding how stock options are typically handled by Illinois law will make it easier for spouses to ensure they get an equitable share of their marital assets. 

What Are Stock Options? 

Stock options are sophisticated financial instruments that give an investor the right to buy or sell a stock at an agreed-upon price and date. Stock options are often given to employees as part of their overall compensation package. This allows the employee to buy stock in their company after a set period of time, incentivizing employees to remain at a particular company longer and help the company become successful. 

 

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IL divorce lawyerNobody knows the value of hard work like an Illinois business owner. Businesses require so much investment of time, money, and personal sacrifice that the prospect of dividing your business in a divorce can be gut-wrenching.

Unfortunately, most business owners face the complications of addressing their business in divorce including assessing its value and determining whether it is necessary or even possible to “buy out” their spouse’s share. Here we will try to answer some of the most common questions by small business owners in divorce. It is important to remember that a qualified Illinois divorce attorney is the best source for information about your divorce.

How Do I Know How Much My Business Is Worth?

Valuing a business is one of the trickiest parts of the divorce process. There are three common methods that are used to determine a business’s value, and a business valuation specialist can help you determine which method is best suited to your situation.

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IL divorce lawyerEven under the best of circumstances, asset division is one of the most difficult and complex aspects of the Illinois divorce process. This is especially true when a couple has a high net worth and has money invested in complex assets that may be difficult to value. Sometimes, one spouse will take advantage of this and hide marital property in an effort to reduce their spousal maintenance or child support payments and to reduce the amount of marital property they have to split during the asset division process. This is unethical and illegal.

Fortunately, there are effective measures available for discovering hidden marital property. Financial experts such as forensic accountants can assist an experienced divorce attorney in the process of finding and valuing marital assets so the asset division process can be done equitably. If you believe your spouse may be trying to hide assets, here are some things you can do.

Hire Professional Help

In addition to your divorce attorney, there are experts who specialize in tracing hidden assets. Private investigators, forensic accountants, and business evaluation experts are commonly involved in helping spouses recover marital assets that have been fraudulently transferred, sold, or otherwise hidden. Let your team of professionals do the hard work of finding assets so you can focus on other things.

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IL family laywerIllinois courts and judges are very concerned with the well-being of children, and Illinois family law reflects that fact. Recent changes have been made to the law to encourage both parents to have an equal role in their relationship with their child whenever possible. As a result, it is rare for a court to decide to terminate a parent’s rights to see, care for, and have a relationship with their child.

However, termination of parental rights can happen when courts find it is in the best interest of the child. Termination happens when a parent is deemed unfit by the state and/or when another adult, such as a grandparent or stepparent, seeks to adopt a child.

When Is a Parent Considered Unfit?

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is the governmental division responsible for overseeing the wellbeing of children who have problems at home serious enough to require state intervention. There are three primary reasons that DCFS may consider a parent unfit for parental rights:

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IL divorce lawyerHandling inheritance is often a contentious issue for divorcing couples in Illinois. Although the events that allow for an inheritance to occur can be tragic, the truth is that inheritances often provide much-needed financial security. A couple may have counted on receiving an inheritance during periods of their relationship when they got along and were planning for the future.

But once a couple begins talking about divorce, they may be unsure how an inheritance is handled. Does it belong to one spouse or both spouses? What if the funds from the inheritance were placed in a joint bank account and spent on household expenses? In this article, we will address some common questions about how inheritances are handled in an Illinois divorce.

Marital Vs. Non-Marital Property

During the asset division process, all assets must be analyzed to determine whether they are marital or non-marital. This process can be quite complicated, but generally, assets that either spouse acquired during the marriage are considered part of the marital estate and will be subject to division.

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IL divorce lawyerFor many couples, using mediation during their divorce saves them time, money, and stress. In traditional divorce court litigation, spouses must present their arguments to a judge and then rely on him or her to decide crucial things such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, child support, and spousal support. In contrast, mediation allows spouses to directly negotiate the terms of their divorce agreement, resulting in an outcome that is far more likely to be mutually satisfying.

Although mediation has its advantages, it is not right for every couple. In this article, we will dispel some common myths about divorce mediation so readers can have a clearer picture of whether mediation is likely to be helpful. Keep in mind that this article is not meant to replace the valuable advice of an Illinois divorce attorney.

Divorce Mediation Myths

Mediation Is Just Like Couples’ Therapy - Although a skilled mediator will try to develop and encourage communication between spouses, he or she will not attempt to reconcile the spouses and save the marriage. The goal of mediation is to negotiate important issues about which spouses disagree. Childcare responsibilities, finances, and asset division can all be part of the mediation process, but airing personal grievances and trying to rectify them is not.

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