Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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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:


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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:


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),


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.


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:


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. 


Is My Child Legally My Child?

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. 


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. 


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: 


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. 


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. 


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


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


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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