Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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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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IL family lawyerTwo and a half years ago, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law that changed the way marijuana is treated in Illinois. The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (ICRTA) decriminalized the use and possession of recreational marijuana and opened the door to private businesses selling it to citizens. Although marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, the ICRTA halted criminal punishment of marijuana users and even allowed Governor Pritzker to pardon thousands of previous marijuana convictions.

The ICRTA also included provisions that prevent marijuana use, by itself, to be considered as a factor when judges make decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. No employee of an Illinois court - including child representatives like guardians ad litem - may discriminate against a parent based on the fact that they use marijuana. However, this does not mean that parents in Illinois can use marijuana however they please.

Do Not Allow Marijuana Use to Interfere with Parenting

Like parents who drink alcohol, parents who use marijuana must refrain from using it in a way that interferes with their parenting abilities. Best practices for marijuana use include:

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IL divorce lawyerMarried parents can claim their child as a dependent exemption on their joint tax return. After divorce, however, only one parent can claim a child as a dependent for tax purposes. Because the ability to claim dependent exemptions can make a major difference in a parent’s finances, being able to claim your child as an exemption is often as good as money itself. Understandably, the tax implications of divorce can be a topic of contention.

Include Child Tax Exemptions in Your Divorce Decree

In the midst of divorce negotiations, who gets to claim a child as a dependent exemption is often forgotten until after the divorce is finalized. This could be a costly mistake. Illinois no longer uses the terms “custodial parent” or “child custody,” but the IRS still does. The IRS sees the parent who spends the most time with the child as the custodial parent, and unless parents specify another arrangement, the IRS default is that the custodial parent gets to claim the child as a dependent on their taxes.

However, if parents are proactive about arranging exemption claims, they can do it however they wish. They may alternate years, or, if they have multiple children, agree to split the exemptions so each parent may claim one or more children. Include the discussion about child-dependent exemptions in the broader conversation about asset division, child support, and spousal maintenance. Parents who work cooperatively can usually come to a holistic financial resolution that suits them both better than if a judge were to make the decisions for them.

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IL family lawyerThe end of the summer holidays can be bittersweet. Children are torn between sadness that school is starting again and excitement to see their friends; parents are sorry to be spending less time with their children, but relieved to get back on a regimented schedule. For parents who are recently divorced or separated, navigating the back-to-school experience can be hectic.

Deciding who will buy school supplies, who will provide after-school childcare, and who will monitor homework and attend parent-teacher conferences are all things to be considered. Each family’s situation is different, but there are some steps you can take that will make the transition easier for everyone.

  • Do your best to cooperate with your ex – Former spouses often have hard feelings towards each other, but getting your child ready for school is a crucial time to put those differences aside and work as a team. Prioritize the things that really matter, and try to let the rest go. Using shared calendars and an email address that is exclusively for child-related communication can help you and your ex avoid hostile face-to-face conversations.
  • Plan ahead with your child’s school – Talk to your child’s teacher about the recent change in your family situation. The more openly you communicate with the teacher, the easier it is for the teacher to accommodate you and your child. Make sure the school has a list of adults who are allowed to check out or pick up your child, including stepparents or grandparents. Consider attending parent-teacher conferences with your ex so you can share your concerns and make appropriate plans for your child’s academic future.
  • Be flexible about costs – Decide ahead of time who will pay for certain expenses, but be prepared for unexpected costs to pop up. After a backpack gets left in your ex’s home for the umpteenth time, you may decide to keep a spare in your home even if you have to pay for it yourself. If your child needs supplies, avoid holding them over the child’s head until your ex pays their fair share. Prioritize your child’s education, and work the details out behind the scenes.

Speak with a Naperville, IL Family Lawyer

A seasonal scheduling change does not have to mean you are facing conflict when it comes to working with your ex. At Calabrese Associates, we have experience helping clients arrange parenting plans that work for everyone. Whether you are involved in the divorce process right now or are hoping to modify an existing parenting plan, we can help. Call us today at 630-393-3111 to set up your confidential consultation with a skilled DuPage County family law attorney.

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naperville divorce lawyerWhether due to a new job or wanting to be closer to friends or family members, divorced parents may want to move away for a number of reasons. For divorced parents, however, moving with kids may not be simple. They have to get permission from the court and the other parent to move out of state. If your child’s other parent wants to relocate and you disagree with the relocation, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities. A skilled family law attorney can help you contest the relocation and assert your rights. 

Factors Courts Consider Before Letting a Parent Relocate 

Before a judge can approve a relocation with a child or Illinois, he or she has to first make sure that the move reflects the best interest of the child. Here are the different factors a judge considers before deciding to approve or deny a relocation request:

  • Why a parent wants to move

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naperville child support lawyerIllinois law requires both parents to financially contribute to their children’s needs, even if they are divorced. However, either parent may petition the court to amend the order if their circumstances have changed. If your financial or employment circumstances have recently changed or your child’s needs have changed, you may be able to ask the court for a child support modification.

When Parents Can Request Child Support Order Modification

Child support orders are eligible for a review and possible modification every three years. However, if you can prove to the court that you have had a drastic change in circumstances, you may be able to modify your order even sooner than that. Here are several situations that may make you eligible for a child support modification:

  • The child’s needs have substantially changed. For instance, if your child has been diagnosed with a health condition that requires extensive treatment, you may ask the court to require the other parent to help pay for the costs associated with the treatment.

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naperville divorce lawyerA divorce can become even more complicated and stressful if you and your spouse have a high net worth. If you are thinking about getting a divorce and you or your spouse own high-value or complex assets, it is critical to have a skilled Illinois divorce attorney on your side.

Different Ways a High Net Worth Makes Your Illinois Divorce More Difficult

If you and your spouse are wealthy, you can expect your divorce to have more complexities than a traditional divorce. Here are a few ways the process may be more complicated than a typical divorce.

  • Divorce proceedings may last longer. If you and your spouse have more assets than the average married couple, it stands to reason that it will take more time to divide them. 

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naperville child custody lawyerIf your ex has not been following the child custody order or parenting plan that is in place, you may feel angry and frustrated. You want the child custody arrangement to go as smoothly as possible, but your ex refuses to cooperate. Although this is indeed a difficult situation, you can take steps to rectify it.

Common Examples of Child Custody Violations

Sometimes parents refuse to abide by a child custody order. This can make a difficult situation even more trying. Here are a few common examples of child custody violations:

  • Refusing visitation time to the other parent

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