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IL divorce lawyerFor many spouses, contemplating the multitude of issues that will need to be addressed during the divorce process can be very stressful. As you consider how you and your spouse will divide your marital property, how you will share custody of your children, and other concerns related to the dissolution of your marriage, you may be preparing for a difficult and contentious battle. However, you may be able to make matters easier by determining how you can avoid conflict and cooperate with your spouse to make decisions about your divorce. Instead of resolving legal issues through a costly and time-consuming divorce trial, you can use alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is one of the most popular and beneficial methods of resolving disputes. Whether you choose this option on your own or are ordered by the court to proceed to mediation, you can realize a variety of benefits.

Reasons to Choose Divorce Mediation

During mediation, you and your spouse will work together to create a divorce settlement that will detail all of the decisions made about the outstanding issues in your case. A neutral mediator will guide you through these discussions, make sure you understand how the law applies to you, and offer suggestions on how you can resolve your differences.

There are a number of reasons why mediation can be beneficial, including:

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The decision to get divorced is never easy, but once you have made that decision, the real work begins. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse must now decide how you will divide your marital property, share the responsibilities of parenting your children, and build your respective lives after the divorce. One of you must also initiate the formal divorce process by filing the petition for divorce at your county courthouse. At our firm, we are often asked about this, and many clients are curious to know does it matter which spouse files for divorce first.

What Does the Law Saw?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage, or IMDMA, is a collection of laws that essentially govern the entire process of divorce in the state of Illinois. According to the law, a divorce is, at its most basic, a legal proceeding through which the marital contract between two parties is officially dissolved. Technically, a divorce has a plaintiff and a defendant, but the application of the terms is much less important during a divorce than in other types of legal proceedings, such as criminal or personal injury cases. As a matter of fact, the IMDMA references the parties in a divorce as the plaintiff or defendant in just a single paragraph.

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When you imagine ending your marriage, the term divorce likely pops into your mind. You may be thinking of how your marital property will be divided, where your children will live, and whether or not you will receive alimony payments from your former spouse. However, filing for divorce does not necessarily have to be your first step if you would like to end your marriage. Maybe you are not ready to divorce just yet or you have reason to believe that your marriage may be considered invalid. Regardless of the reasoning, you should know your options before taking legal action.

Legal Separation

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If you are getting divorced, you may wonder whether or not you will be able to receive spousal maintenance. Also called spousal support or alimony, spousal maintenance refers to payments that a spouse makes to the other spouse after a divorce. Although women were traditionally the recipients of maintenance, spousal support laws apply the same to men as they do women. Spousal maintenance is typically ordered when there is a significant difference in the spouses’ financial circumstances or when a spouse sacrifices career or educational opportunities for the benefit of the household.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts When Determining Spousal Support

There are two ways that a spouse may be considered eligible for spousal support. The first is when the couple have already made spousal support decisions through a prenuptial agreement. Unless there is a problem that invalidates the prenuptial agreement, the court will uphold the arrangements to which the spouses agreed.

The second way a spouse can receive spousal support is by petitioning the court for spousal support. Courts consider a range of factors when deciding whether or not spousal support is appropriate. These factors include but are not limited to:

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While the divorce rate seems to have stabilized in recent years, and may even, in fact, be falling, nearly one million American marriages are legally dissolved each year. Many individuals, however, are unwilling to give up entirely on the idea of marital happiness. According to a study conducted the Pew Research Center, fully 40 percent of all new marriages include at least one partner who has been previously married. Two in ten are marriages between partners who have both been married before. The study also indicated that nearly 60 percent of all divorced or widowed adults will remarry.

These statistics, it would seem, paint a rather optimistic picture of the American approach to marriage, despite the ever-present possibility of divorce. There are, however, a number of legal issues that may impact a remarriage more significantly than a first marriage. With the help of a qualified family law attorney, you and your spouse should be able to address these concerns and prevent them from becoming bigger problems:

  • End of Alimony: If you are receiving spousal maintenance payments from your ex-spouse, those payments will most likely end when you get remarried. In fact, cohabitation with your fiancé before your marriage could constitute grounds for terminating spousal support.
  • Child Custody and Visitation: There are no explicit provisions in Illinois law about changing your parental arrangements or parenting time arrangements when a parent gets remarried. However, many such considerations are based on the circumstances of the case and how they impact the child’s well-being. Changing circumstances can precipitate modifications to existing orders.
  • Child Support: In most situations, a remarriage alone will not impact child support agreements. The child’s parents remain responsible for the care of the child, regardless of the addition of new spouses. A parent who is required to pay support might see his or her obligation decrease if he or she were to have a child with the new spouse, but the reduction is not often significant.
  • Decisions Regarding Inheritances and Legacy Gifts: If you own property or valued possessions, you will want to decide prior to remarriage what your intentions are regarding them after your death. Will they be left to your children from your first marriage or to your new spouse? A prenuptial agreement can help you put such concerns to rest before you say “I do” again.

Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer

As with many legal situations, there may be exceptions to any general rule, so the information presented above should serve merely as a helpful reminder of things to consider and not definitive advice. For more information about the potential implications of remarriage, contact an experienced family law attorney in DuPage County. The team at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC will review your case and help you fully understand the applicable laws as you prepare for the next stage of your life. Call 630-665-2500 for an appointment.

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