Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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IL divorce lawyerBecause couples are getting married later in life, divorce attorneys in Illinois have observed an increasing trend of divorcing spouses who own valuable personal property they acquired before their marriage. Unless a couple signed a clear and enforceable prenuptial agreement and was circumspect about keeping their personal and marital property separate throughout their marriage, it can be very difficult or impossible to separate personal and marital property in a divorce.

However, doing so is an important first step in the asset division process so each spouse can ensure they keep what is theirs in addition to securing their fair portion of the marital estate. To learn more about how marital and personal property can become commingled (combined) during a relationship, read on and then contact an Illinois divorce attorney for answers to your questions.

How Does Marital and Personal Property Become Commingled?

Once a marriage legally begins, everything of monetary value that either partner earns from employment is considered part of the marital estate. Any property that belonged to either spouse before the marriage, or that was inherited by or gifted to only one spouse during the marriage, remains the personal property of that spouse.

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IL family lawyerWhether during a divorce, as part of a first-time parenting plan for unmarried parents, or a dispute arising after several years of co-parenting, child custody disputes can be cases of serious contention. Determining how parenting time and parental responsibilities are allocated is often hotly contested by both parents.

Complicating things is the fact that children often develop their own opinions about how things should be, especially as they get older and have a better understanding of the difference between each parent’s home environment and parenting strategy. If either you or your child believes your child deserves a fair say in your Illinois parenting plan negotiations, read on.

When Can a Child’s Wishes Be Considered?

While young children often have strong opinions about homework, hygiene, and personal discipline, they do not have the maturity or perspective to make wise decisions that are in their own best interests. Left to their own devices, children would often gravitate towards a parent who has a more relaxed disciplinary approach to parenting just because it is easier.

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IL divorce lawyerNot every person is cut out for the responsibility and commitment that marriage and children entail. Some parents leave their families to pursue relationships with other people; some wander off because they miss living a life of spontaneity and solitude; still others leave without any explanation, leaving their family to fend for themselves.

The spouse who is left picking up the pieces generally does not want to remain married to someone who is no longer interested in shouldering their share of the family burden. But getting divorced when your spouse is missing or unwilling to participate in the divorce process presents some additional challenges. Read on for a brief overview of how you can divorce a missing spouse, and then contact an Illinois divorce attorney for customized help.

Do I Have to Try to Find My Spouse?

Sometimes the spouse who stays to care for a family is not sorry to see a cold, abusive, or neglectful spouse hit the road. If you are in this situation, you may not want to ever see or speak to your spouse again - and understandably so. But to get divorced from your spouse, you will need to prove to a judge that you have tried to contact your spouse without success. A judge will expect to see proof of significant efforts. These include:

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IL family lawyerBeing a parent can be one of the most joyous and rewarding things a person can do, but parenting is not without its challenges. Fathers often face particular challenges when they are not married to the mothers of their children and may sometimes feel as though the legal system’s hurdles are too much to overcome. Other times, a mother or a father may feel totally unequipped or unprepared to raise a child he or she did not want to bring into the world and may wonder whether relinquishing parental rights is an option. Wherever you are in your parental journey, you can get legal advice from an experienced Illinois family law attorney who can help you understand your options and assist you in making wise decisions.

When Can a Parent Voluntarily Give Up Parental Rights?

The feelings and emotions of parents are often complex and influenced by many factors, all of which are real and legitimate. Parents who are very young or who hardly know each other may be devastated by an unplanned pregnancy and understandably feel reluctant to take responsibility for a child they do not want.

However, parents do have automatic legal responsibility for their children. For example, even if a father does not want a relationship with his child and declines the opportunity to exercise parental responsibilities and parenting time, a court can still determine the child’s paternity and require the father to pay child support.

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Posted on in Divorce

Naperville Marriage Dissolution LawyerSo you have finally made up your mind to get a divorce and now you have to actually do it. While filing for divorce in and of itself is not so difficult, many couples get hung up on the bureaucratic elements of the divorce process because the forms can be confusing and it can be difficult to get answers to your questions. 

Court clerks, judges, and secretaries cannot give you legal advice, nor can they assist you in filling out the forms. If you want to file for divorce but do not feel comfortable handling the paperwork yourself, you may want to get help from an experienced Illinois divorce attorney. 

How to File for Divorce

Before you can formally start the divorce process, you will need to fill out the paperwork and pay a filing fee. It is important to fill out the paperwork carefully and include accurate information; making mistakes on court paperwork can lead to petitions being rejected and the divorce process prolonged. 

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerWhile couples usually get divorced because they no longer have the same vision for the future or have unsolvable conflict, the tension between them usually reaches new heights during the divorce. The task of resolving complex issues like property division, child custody, and alimony can seem impossible when you dislike your spouse and want to avoid talking to them if at all possible. 

One way many divorcing spouses handle the stress of divorce is by venting about it on social media. While this behavior is common, it can be a huge mistake–once something is on the internet, the record of it may exist forever, even if the person who posted it tries to delete it. Practicing minimal social media use may be difficult during divorce, but it pays off in the long run. 

Do Not Delete Old Posts, Profiles, or Photos

The first thing many people getting a divorce want to do is distance themselves from their spouse. It may seem like the easiest way to publicly do this is by deleting every shred of evidence you were ever together. However, deleting things off social media may not be a good idea. 

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DuPage County Divorce AttorneyJust as no divorce is easy, no divorce is quite the same. Individual spouses (and many cooperative couples) have to decide the tenor they want their divorce to have, as well as the strategy they are going to pursue. Some spouses opt for a scorched-earth approach after a long and bitter marriage, while others decide from the get-go that they want to cooperate as much as possible. Each potential strategy has advantages and an attorney can help you settle on the right choice for you. Here are the three most common divorce strategies in Illinois. 

Litigated Divorce

A litigated divorce is the old-school, in-the-courtroom, showing-evidence and calling-witnesses style of doing things. Today, even in highly complex or acrimonious separations, litigated divorce is far less common than it was even twenty years ago. Judges can now order spouses to pursue mediation and only allow a divorce to proceed to trial if mediation fails. Allegations of spousal or child abuse or financial misconduct may also result in a divorce going to trial. 

Mediation

Divorcing couples are increasingly conscious about separating carefully, especially when minor children are involved. To that end, even before a judge orders a couple to seek mediation, they may choose to pursue it on their own. If a couple hires a private mediator before filing for divorce, they can seek assistance from a mediator of their choice for as long as it takes to resolve all their issues. Once a couple has reached an agreement, they can file for an uncontested divorce, which moves much faster and costs less than a contested divorce. 

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyWhile every child deserves to have loving parents, the unfortunate reality is that many children do not get the love and care they deserve at home. When one or both parents have died or are out of the picture because they are in jail or have lost their parental rights, a court may need to appoint a guardian. If a deceased parent left a will designating someone to be a child’s guardian, a court will usually follow the parent’s wishes. But if the designated guardian is also deceased or is unfit or unwilling to be a guardian, a court may pursue other options. 

One potential option is having a child’s older sibling become their guardian. If you live in Illinois and are wondering whether you can become your younger brother or sister’s guardian, read on. 

Who Can Become a Legal Guardian? 

When a child’s parents are no longer able to care for her, the foster system may seem like the next best option. But the foster system has serious shortcomings and an older sibling may rightly worry whether he would be better equipped to care for the child, rather than entrusting her to a stranger.  

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyerWith the prevalence of television, movies, and sensationalized media, it can be hard to know what information regarding divorce is true. The process can be complicated, and there are many misunderstandings about the law. Some people who consider divorcing their spouse first seek advice from others, who while well-meaning, are often not trained in family law matters or informed about recent changes to the law. The following are some of the most persistent divorce myths that are simply not true.

Myth: Half of All Marriages End in Divorce

Reality: This myth is quite complicated but a myth nonetheless. There are many different ways of analyzing data regarding divorce rates. According to the National Marriage Project, the divorce rate in the United States is between 40-50 percent. Other sources show that the divorce rate is between 42 and 45 percent. Divorce rates are different for different demographics. For example, people with a college degree have lower divorce rates than those without a degree.

Myth: Divorce Is Becoming More and More Likely

Reality: There are many people who believe that the institution of marriage is nearly meaningless nowadays. However, there are several reasons to believe that divorce will become less and less common over time. While it is true that the U.S divorce rate now is nearly twice what it was in 1960, that rate has been declining since the early 1980s. Experts believe that if current divorce trends continue, that nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce.

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DuPage County divorce lawyersA personal jewelry collection is accumulated over many years and is often made up of gifts, inheritances, and collectible pieces bought during travels to faraway places or in locations of great personal significance. When an Illinois couple is facing a divorce, a spouse who has a significant jewelry collection may justifiably feel sorrow and frustration at the idea that their personal collection may be considered part of the marital estate and subject to a claim from the other spouse, whether all or in part. 

Nevertheless, all assets must be accounted for during a divorce. Determining whether a piece of jewelry is personal or marital property is not always easy and, because of this and other complications, having the help of an experienced asset division attorney can be very helpful when managing the division of marital assets. 

Is Jewelry Personal Property in an Illinois Divorce? 

Certain types of property are exempt from the asset division process. Gifts and inheritances, including property purchased with inherited funds, generally are not considered marital property and remain in the exclusive possession of the person who inherited or was given them. 

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Wheaton child support enforcement attorneyParenting after a divorce can be a challenging proposition. A single parent’s struggles are only made greater by an ex-spouse who has stopped paying child support. While your ex-spouse may provide excuses about why payments have stopped or are behind, obligations for child support are court-ordered and not subject to modification by the parties involved. Only the court can approve a modification, and only then with a legitimate and qualifying reason. To ensure your child support payments are made on time, the first step is to contact an experienced child support enforcement attorney.

Options for Child Support Enforcement

Child support payments serve to assist the parent with the greater allocation of parental responsibilities to provide basic needs for their children. If those payments are late, less than required, or stop altogether, it could have a serious impact on the children’s life and wellbeing.

While payments are set up based on the circumstances of both spouses at the time of the divorce, including the parents’ net income and the number of children, Illinois law recognizes that circumstances can change in the months and years that follow. Modifications to child support payments can be considered by the court, including if the payor has lost their job, has taken an involuntary cut in pay, or has become sick with a major illness that impacts their ability to make a living.

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Naperville divorce attorneyWhile as many as 40 percent of marriages end in divorce in the United States, each marriage will have its own unique relationship dynamics and combination of factors that led to the decision to split. However, it is clear that similar reasons plague many marriages. In most cases, there is not just one reason, but likely a combination of different factors that caused the divorce. If your marriage is headed for a divorce, it is time to talk to an experienced divorce attorney.

Wide-Ranging Reasons for the End of a Marriage

From traits that you just cannot stand about your partner to difficult circumstances in your relationships, there can be many contributing factors to a divorce. Family and relationship experts have compiled lists of dozens of causes for divorce, and they run the gamut from very simple to much deeper.

Here are ten of the most common reasons that divorced adults gave as the reasons their marriage fell apart.

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DuPage County domestic violence lawyersFor those in an abusive relationship, using the force of law to keep your abuser away can be the key to safety. By securing an order of protection, sometimes known as a restraining order, you can again begin to feel a level of safety in your home. At Calabrese Associates, P.C., we have been helping victims of domestic abuse for over 20 years and are ready to help you secure a restraining order to get you and your children the security you need.

Definition of Domestic Violence in Illinois

Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, an accused abuser must have a relationship with the victim. This can include current and former spouses, dating and romantic partners, family members including children and parents, and assistants to adults or children with disabilities.

Actions that are classified as acts of domestic violence include:

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DuPage County family law attorneyTo protect individual property, safeguard business assets, and various other reasons, many couples today are choosing to sign prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. While no one goes into a marriage expecting to get divorced, it can be beneficial to both parties to prepare for the possibility, since almost half of all marriages do end in divorce. By preparing a valid agreement, both parties can protect their financial interests and remove any uncertainty should a divorce come about. However, there are certain issues that can invalidate an agreement that both spouses should understand.

Issues That Can Invalidate an Agreement

Whether the agreement is signed before the couple gets married or once they are already married, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement still has the same function and can be used during the divorce to settle issues including the division of marital assets and spousal maintenance payments.

However, there are a few reasons why such an agreement may be invalid and unenforceable. These can include:

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DuPage County divorce attorneyIn the age of omnipresent social media, it is natural that some couples will take to posting on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites while they are going through a divorce. Some studies have even shown that apps such as Facebook play a role in an increasing number of divorces. But what, if anything, is appropriate to post and what recourse do you have when your spouse starts sharing negative information?

Actions to Take on Social Media During a Divorce

The best advice is for both parties to stay off social media during a divorce. Taking a step back can be healthy for your mental state and allow you to focus on your family and future. If you do choose to post, refrain from saying anything negative about your spouse or their family and friends. Don’t post updates about how your divorce is proceeding, rather keep your posts positive.

It may be a good time to search the web for any pictures or posts of yourself that you don’t want to be shown anymore. It is also a good idea to pull back from sharing too much information by increasing your privacy settings and changing or hiding your relationship status. Once the divorce is over and any hostility may have calmed down, you can always relax the settings again and update your status.

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DuPage County child support attorneyEvery parent wants to see their child grow up to be a successful adult. Post-secondary education, whether at a university, community college, or technical training, can be incredibly important for a young adult’s career and earning potential throughout their lifetime. After a divorce, you may be unclear about who is responsible for providing financial assistance for your child’s college expenses, especially since they are no longer a minor. Under Illinois law, unlike most other states, a spouse can seek financial support from their ex after a divorce, even after the child turns 18.

Educational Assistance After a Divorce

While in many divorce cases, child support payments end after the child turns 18. However, Illinois law allows a divorced parent to seek educational expenses for their child from the other parent. Many divorcing parents may come to an agreement on each’s share of postsecondary education costs, either as part of the divorce settlement or in post-divorce agreements. However, if there is disagreement on the amount of support or even whether support should be provided, the case may end up in court. A judge will decide on each parent’s share of educational expenses based on their financial situation, as well as the financial resources that the child has or could obtain through financial aid or scholarships.

The share of education expenses that the parents are responsible for covering can include tuition, room, board, books, medical insurance, other medical and dental expenses, transportation, and other reasonable living expenses. The student is responsible for maintaining at least a C average. The amount is limited to the cost of in-state tuition, fees, and on-campus housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the same year unless good cause is shown for the need for higher costs. The student, in most cases, must be no older than 23 to receive the support.

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DuPage County paternity lawyerIn most cases in which a child is born to unwed parents in Illinois, only the mother is a legal parent of the child and only her name will automatically appear on the child’s birth certificate. Actions must be taken by one or both parents to establish legal paternity for the child’s father. Even if you are no longer married or unsure of the future of your relationship, there are benefits both to the father and to the child to establishing a legal parent-child relationship.

Benefits to the Father and the Child for Establishing Paternity in Illinois

The benefits of a positive relationship between a father and a child are well established. However, there are certain legal benefits that each is entitled to with legally recognized paternity.

Benefits to the child include:

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DuPage County child support lawyerAfter a divorce, many parents take a while to get used to their new financial situations. If you have taken on more of the parental responsibility and parenting time, you may be receiving child support payments. The payments may have been ordered by the court or you and your ex-spouse may have come to an amicable resolution and worked together to negotiate an agreement that met the needs of the children and the legal requirements.

Regardless of how it was determined, the payment amount reflects the situation of both parents at the time the divorce agreement was finalized. But, situations can change as people move, get new jobs, or develop new medical conditions. Illinois law allows for modifications to child support and spousal maintenance payments based on a variety of factors.

Changes in Child Support Payments

Child support payments are largely based on the incomes of both parents and the number of children being supported. If one parent has more parental responsibility and parenting time, those differences will also be considered when determining child support payments. Other needs that your child may have that can be taken into account when negotiating child support include daycare and education tuition, medical needs, and extracurricular activities.

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DuPage County family lawyerThe Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 5.9 million people were unemployed in April of this year. If you or your child’s other parent is unemployed or underemployed, you may wonder how this can influence child support calculations. Presently, child support in Illinois is calculated via the income shares model. This calculation method uses both parents’ net incomes to determine how much a parent pays in child support. What happens if a parent’s income is very low?  

Voluntary Unemployment Versus Involuntary Unemployment  

Some people find themselves laid off due to budget cuts, the COVID-19 pandemic, or other reasons. They want to work but cannot find or keep a job. Others choose not to work or make little effort to find suitable employment. Illinois courts handle voluntary unemployment and underemployment differently than involuntary employment difficulties. A parent who is unwillingly unemployed or underemployed may be able to reduce their child support obligation through a child support modification. However, the court will have little sympathy for a parent who chooses not to work.

Child Support Calculations May Be Based on Actual or Imputed Income

If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or chooses to make less money than he or she could, the court may use the parent’s imputed income to determine child support. Imputed income or estimated income is what the court determines a parent could be making if he or she puts in the necessary effort. The parent’s work history, education, job skills, and the current job market are considered by courts when determining imputed income. The court may also impute a parent’s income if evidence suggests that a parent is hiding income by receiving payments “under the table” in cash.

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Naperville divorce attorneyA divorce is hard under the best of circumstances, especially when children are involved. Many times, disputes over parental rights and responsibilities can resemble all-out, head-to-head battles, with each parent fighting tooth and nail for their own individual interests: Maximum child custody, maximum parenting time (visitation), all at the expense of the other parent. In addition, there is frequently a large dose of resentment and ill will added in. What is all too often undervalued in this scenario is the one factor that the courts will ultimately use most to decide the final parenting plan: What is best for the children?

The Evolution of Illinois Divorce Law

Fortunately, here in Illinois, recent years have seen a great deal of evolution in divorce law to improve how parenting plans are decided and carried out in daily life. Over time, “child custody” has become the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Where questions of sole or joint custody once prevailed, present-day Illinois law now anticipates that both parents will participate in caring for the children, jointly negotiating a plan that specifies the respective rights and authority each has over their children. In particular, decisions about children’s education, medical treatment, religion, and other major facets of their lives now need to be allocated by consensus between the parents, in whatever proportions they agree to.

Likewise, what used to be called “visitation” is now known as “parenting time”—a more accurate and meaningful designation. Here again, the many components of the child’s daily life, such as their morning and nighttime routines, schooling, and homework now fall under the category of “care-taking functions.” These essential responsibilities also need to be negotiated by the parents. All of these agreements are expected to be reached with the child’s best interests as the primary consideration.

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