Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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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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naperville guardianship lawyerAs the population of Illinois ages, many of us are facing difficult choices where our parents are becoming less mentally capable of making important decisions in their lives. One of the common ways to handle this situation is to seek guardianship from the courts. If granted this guardianship, you would be able to manage their affairs such as their finances, living arrangements, and medical treatment.

But there are also a number of potential drawbacks to consider. First, these wards (those being cared for) can feel extremely limited and frustrated by this loss of independence and reduced control over their lives. Plus, to protect their interests, you as the guardian will also be closely monitored by the courts. This can add up to a large time commitment, as well as substantial legal fees for both the guardian and the ward. There will be regular reporting requirements as well as public court appearances regarding personal decisions, which can prove embarrassing.

Four Common Alternatives to Consider

To avoid these legal strictures, costs, and expenditures of time, you may want to consider these four less restrictive alternatives:

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naperville domestic violence lawyerLiving with domestic violence can be confusing. Just when a bad temper or action actually crosses the line may not always be so easy to determine. In our state, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act gives you and your children the right to feel safe in your own home. That means beyond the reach of unwanted contact, physical violence, or even verbal harassment. The law spells out which acts are illegal to carry out in which types of relationships. And if it becomes necessary, it gives you the right to get an order of protection from a court to maintain that safety. So how do you know exactly where you stand?

“Domestic Violence” Means Certain Acts Against Certain People

“Domestic violence” is an actual crime where one member of a household or family abuses another. Among the acts of abuse are:

  • Physical abuse (pushing, hitting, strangling, forced sex, preventing you from leaving),

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_471791351.jpgWhen you or your spouse own or have an interest in a business, these holdings could become a major source of contention during divorce. Often, each spouse will have their own ideas about the valuation of the business and how it should be divided. Over the past two decades, Calabrese Associates, P.C. has helped numerous business owners protect their rights and investments in even the most complex circumstances. Here are some of the issues you may encounter:

Business Valuation

The first step after determining which business holdings may be considered marital property is to conduct a thorough and detailed business valuation. Some key issues that may arise are how much each of you has contributed to the business, either directly or indirectly, or how much you have maintained the home during any extended business trips the other partner may have taken.

Professional Practice or Closely Held Business

Dividing a professional practice such as a medical or legal office, or a family-owned business, can present unique challenges to asset division—whether or not your spouse participates in operating it. A full and accurate accounting is the first step, but creative negotiation and professional assistance will go a long way toward helping you preserve your practice and reach an equitable settlement.

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naperville divorce lawyerThe division of assets and debts is a crucial aspect of any divorce case. Unfortunately, with the breakdown of trust in a marriage, one spouse may feel entitl​​ed to the lion’s share of assets in a divorce—and may even begin concealing some property to protect it from division. Obviously, the better picture you have of those assets, the better your chances of a fair and equitable property distribution. These three strategies will help you get what you are entitled to in your divorce.

Get Professional Legal Help

If discovering hidden marital property seems like an impossible task, you may be right—if you attempt it on your own. This is absolutely the time to call in the professionals, starting with an experienced divorce attorney. From there, specialists like a forensic accountant, private investigator, and business evaluation expert can assist your attorney in recovering marital assets that have been fraudulently hidden, sold, or transferred. Therefore, once you have documented what you can, leave the heavy lifting to your team.

Start Building an Asset Roadmap

There is a lot you can do to begin documenting evidence, even before the forensic team starts rolling. (And preferably before you confront your spouse, or accuse them of hiding assets.) It may be a good idea to:

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DuPage County Marital Agreement LawyerGetting a prenuptial agreement does not mean that you are preparing for divorce–far from it. Couples who are able to successfully negotiate a prenuptial agreement show excellent communication and compromise skills, which are both indicative of a strong couple. Prenuptial agreements can actually cover more than just divorce terms, and can also help couples who do make it until death do they part. However, there is always a chance that you will one day decide to split up, in which case your prenuptial agreement can protect both of you. There are also legal safeguards in place to prevent a drastically unfair agreement from being enforced, so the risk level might be lower than you think. It is always a good idea to be represented by your own attorney while entering a prenuptial agreement. 

Why Should Every Couple Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

Having a prenuptial agreement in place can be extremely helpful in the event that you do get divorced, but the reasons you need one are not limited to the agreement’s helpfulness in divorce. Reasons you might want a prenuptial agreement include: 

  • Financial clarity - During the process of negotiating a prenuptial agreement, both of your complete financial situations will come to light. This can help you enter your marriage with full knowledge of each other’s finances. 

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Posted on in Paternity

DuPage County Paternity LawyerIt is simple fact that every child has a biological mother and a biological father. Whether the child was conceived through assisted reproductive technology like surrogacy, adopted, or conceived naturally, there are two biological parents. However, being a biological parent does not mean that you are your child’s legal parent as well–nor does being a child’s legal parent mean that you must be a biological parent. Parentage issues can be quite complicated, but establishing parentage may or may not be. Illinois is a rather progressive state when it comes to parentage issues. If you have concerns about establishing that you are your child’s legal parent, a family law attorney may be able to help. 

Why is Legal Parentage Important?

Legal parentage opens up a lot of doors both for the parents and for the child. A second legal parent must be established before the custodial parent can pursue child support. A person must be legally established as a child’s parent before they can pursue any type of joint custody arrangement that allows them to spend time with the child. 

Even for couples who are happily raising a child together, making sure that both are established as the child’s legal parents is the wise thing to do. Should the couple ever split, the non-established parent may have a very difficult time getting a court order that allows them to continue acting as a parent. 

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DuPage County High-Asset Divorce LawyerDivorce can be difficult and complicated for anyone. Even for spouses who do not share many assets, there can still be quite a lot of conflict during a divorce. However, if you and your spouse–or one of you alone–hold assets of significant value, the road to a final divorce decree can be even rockier. Dividing your assets is likely to be the most time-consuming and legally difficult part of your divorce. Even sorting out who actually owns what can be difficult if your marriage lasted more than a few years. You may endure more conflict throughout. It is critical that you find an attorney who is experienced with guiding people through high-asset divorce. This kind of divorce takes skill. 

What Concerns May Arise During High-Asset Divorce?

Dividing your marital assets will naturally be more difficult the more assets you own. Some assets, like stock portfolios, real estate holdings, and joint businesses, are difficult to divide. Concerns you should be aware of include:

  • Litigation likely - High-asset spouses are much more likely to litigate their divorce issues. One of the big reasons many couples try to avoid divorce litigation is that it can get expensive, making it not quite worth it. When you and your spouse have high-value assets, the value of the property at stake may far exceed the cost of litigation. This may make litigation seem worth it if you are not able to come to a reasonable agreement. 

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Naperville Family Law AttorneyWhen mediation works, it can be a great solution during a divorce. It costs less than litigation, and it often gets you a final divorce decree much faster so you can move on with your life. However, mediation requires a certain amount of cooperation from both parties. That means that mediation is not going to work for every divorcing couple. Some spouses refuse to participate in good faith or to make reasonable concessions. Attorney-facilitated negotiation can fail for the same reasons. If you suspect that your spouse will not work with you during the divorce process, it is particularly important that you find an attorney with strong courtroom skills, as the odds that your divorce will be contested are high. 

Signs That Your Divorce May End in Litigation

Any one of these factors alone can potentially result in a contested divorce. If you identify with multiple factors, it may be a good idea to start mentally preparing yourself for divorce litigation. 

Warning signs that you may need to settle your divorce in the courtroom include: 

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerThe worst nightmare of many people comes true when their spouse unexpectedly asks for a divorce. Sometimes the marriage may not be going well, but reconciliation seems likely; other times, the announcement comes completely out of the blue. It can be frightening and difficult to know what to do, and the idea of hiring a divorce attorney may seem painful and unnecessary. 

But if you have been surprised by a request for a divorce, it is important to take your spouse seriously and not put off taking practical actions. You may eventually be able to change your spouse’s mind, but if you cannot, you may put yourself at a serious disadvantage by waiting to find a divorce attorney. 

Assess the Situation Realistically 

Studies suggest that divorces can be more traumatic for many people than the death of a spouse, especially when one spouse does not want the divorce to happen. Other studies suggest that people who get divorced are often not happier later, and many regret it. But while all these things may be true, if your spouse has made up his or her mind, you need to be able to look at the situation honestly. 

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Naperville Family Law AttorneyCouples engaged to be married in DuPage County may choose not to create a prenuptial agreement for several reasons. They may feel that such an agreement detracts from their commitment, or they may believe they do not have sufficient assets to justify the time and expense required to create such a contract. However, once a couple has gotten married, the benefits of a similar contract - the postnuptial agreement - may become clear. Creating a postnup does not mean you plan to get divorced; rather, it allows spouses to protect each other if a divorce does happen. Couples create postnups for many reasons, but knowing the most common reasons may help you decide whether you want to create your own. 

Common Reasons For Creating a Postnuptial Agreement

A postnup can address many of the same topics as a prenup and is bound by similar limitations. For example, a couple cannot decide how to handle child support or child custody in their postnup, but they may address other issues that usually have to do with finances. Here are some common reasons couples decide to sign a postnup in Illinois: 

  • Marital problems - Most couples get into serious arguments and question the longevity of their relationship at some point. For some spouses, however, the disagreements are serious enough to warrant a major renegotiation of the entire relationship. This may mean that a continued relationship is contingent on certain conditions being met, including a commitment to pay alimony, or to split assets or debts in certain ways in the event of a divorce. 

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerAlthough some people choose to continue living in the same house with their ex-partner or try the “birds nest” living arrangement after a divorce, couples getting divorced in Illinois nearly always relocate. Whether to be closer to family, to pursue a new job, or to try to start fresh after a painful separation, relocation with a child following divorce is common enough that some parents choose to include special provisions for relocation in the parenting plan in their divorce agreement. While Illinois laws concerning child relocation still apply, parents can agree to stricter or more personalized details in their parenting plan

Know Illinois Child Relocation Law

While parents may agree to give each other more time than necessary to consent to or negotiate over a potential relocation, it is important to know how Illinois family law sees this issue. If a parent has majority parenting time or splits parenting time 50/50, that parent requires permission from the other parent or from the court to move under the following circumstances: 

  • If the parent who wishes to move lives in Will, McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, or Cook County and wants to move within Illinois but further than 25 miles from where they currently live

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Naperville Parenting Time LawyerSince Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law in 2019, many Hoosiers have used recreational marijuana. Marijuana is widely available and some people who use it find themselves struggling to regulate their use. Likewise, although alcohol is legal, people who drink sometimes struggle with how often or how much they drink. Prescription drugs can also be misused or present a hazard when used in conjunction with important responsibilities, like driving a car or providing childcare. While the use of these intoxicants is not illegal, certain behaviors–such as drinking and driving–can get a user in serious trouble with the law. Additionally, using legal substances inappropriately may have an impact on your ability to get or keep parenting time with your children.

Can Marijuana or Alcohol Use Be Used Against Me in Family Court?

While marijuana or alcohol use in and of itself cannot be a reason for a court to restrict a parent’s access to his or her child, using legal substances in a way that might harm the child’s physical, mental, or emotional development and health can be. While this includes driving under the influence, it also includes other concerning behaviors. These include:

  • Being under the influence during parenting time

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_444637333.jpgAfter a couple’s last child moves out of the family home, the couple will often experience something known as an “empty nest syndrome.” While many parents frequently look forward to the day that they will reclaim some of their time and their space without the challenges of raising young children, the same parents are often surprised by how blue they feel once their children are actually gone. 

Without the demands of young children requiring their constant focus, many spouses begin reflecting on their lives from a new perspective. With a better understanding of the time that has passed and the time that remains to them, empty nesters will often reassess their career, their location, and even their relationship. If you are a recent empty nester, know that you are not alone. Knowing why other Illinois couples choose to get divorced during this time may help you create a plan for your own future. 

Concerns About Underage Children Keep Many Couples Together

Even if a relationship is not ideal, many couples stay together because the thought of getting divorced with young children is a major headache. Not only does it introduce factors like complicated parenting time schedules and child support payments, but spouses who are divorced must also continue dealing with each other vis a vis their children. Many couples reach the end of their child-rearing years and see divorce as a far less complex option than it was in the past. 

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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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