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valuation, Wheaton divorce attorneysWhen you are going through a divorce, financial and property considerations are often among the most complex elements of the process. Dividing marital assets can be intensely personal, as well as extremely confusing, depending on what your marital estate includes. For example, if you and your spouse bought a particular piece of furniture, you may both have a sentimental attachment to it and deciding who should get to keep it may cause an argument. However, if you or your spouse own a business—or part of one—determining how those interests are to be handled in divorce may be much more challenging.

Proper Valuation Matters

To ensure the entire process of dividing property is completed equitably and in accordance with the law, you will need to establish the value of the business interests to be included in the marital estate. In fact, a business valuation is important even the company is non-marital, as personal assets of each spouse must be taken into account as well.

There are several commonly accepted methods of completing a business valuation. Each involves a different philosophy of business analysis, and, while none is objectively superior to the others, the approach you choose will probably be based on how you see your company:

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parenting time, DuPage County family lawyersWhen you and your child’s other parent are forced to come up with arrangements regarding for parenting time—previously known as visitation under Illinois law—it can be regrettably easy to get caught up in your own wants and needs. Some, of course, are entirely reasonable, such as building parenting time schedules around your career obligations, but many parents often forget to take their child’s wishes into account.

What the Law Says

While parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan—including arrangements for parenting time—on their own, such a plan must be reasonable and serve the best interests of the child. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, arrangements may be made by the court. In doing so, the court is required by law to take a number of factors into account, including the wishes of the child in question. The child’s wishes are not necessarily binding but should factor into the court’s ultimate decision. Your son or daughter’s opinion is just one of many factors that the court will take into account during the process.

Your Child’s Understanding

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) specifies that a child’s wishes should be considered in the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time proceedings. The law also provides, however, that the court must consider the child’s maturity and ability to understand the entire situation. A young child, for example, is likely to hold an opinion regarding which parent is more “fun,” and want to spend more time at that parent’s house. An older child, on the other hand, is more likely to understand the importance of fostering a healthy relationship with both parents and be more open to compromise.

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parenting plan, Wheaton child custody lawyerDivorcing parents in Illinois must submit a parenting plan or parenting agreement to the courts. The plan must explain how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be allocated to the parents and include other important child-related decisions. Parents are encouraged to create their own parenting plan, but parents cannot always come to an agreement about the issues addressed in the parenting plan. In these cases, the court will step in and assign a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interests, called an allocation judgment. If the parents need to make a post-decree change to their parenting plan, they will need to do so through the family court system.

Changing a Court-Ordered Parenting Schedule

Any change to the final divorce decree is called a post-decree modification. Divorced individuals cannot make a post-decree modification for just any reason. Although it is still sometimes referred to as “child custody,” Illinois uses the phrase “parental responsibilities” to refer to a parent’s decision-making authority and parenting schedule. You may request a modification to the court order allocating parental decision-making responsibilities if it has been two years after the order was established. However, the court may grant a modification before two years if there is reason to believe that the current child custody arrangements may endanger the child’s health or emotional development. Parenting time, formerly called visitation, may be revised if there is a substantial change in circumstances that requires a change to serve the best interests of the child.

A substantial change in circumstances could include a move by one parent to another city or state or either parent getting a new job. If the child or either parent suffers a severe injury or is diagnosed with a serious medical condition, this could also qualify as a substantial change in circumstances.

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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 & Asso. 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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change, Wheaton divorce lawyerAny difficult decision is bound to leave a person having second thoughts. In fact, if you did not have second thoughts, the decision was probably not very difficult in the first place. With that in mind, the decision to pursue a divorce is likely to be among the most difficult choices you will ever make. Despite billboards or websites that promise to help simplify your divorce, the fact remains that ending your marriage is a significant life event that will change you and your family forever. If you have considered the possibility of filing for divorce, it is important to allow yourself the space and time to think through all of your options before you make any decisions that cannot be undone.

Know the Law

It is commonly repeated that half of all marriages in America will eventually end through divorce. While many experts suggest that this figure is an over-exaggeration, divorce is certainly not rare. Illinois law, however, generally seems to take divorce more seriously than the average person does. The statute that governs divorce in the state—the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act—does not guarantee a quick dissolution of marriage simply because a person files a petition for divorce. Under the law, an Illinois court will only grant a divorce if it finds that the marriage has broken down beyond repair due to irreconcilable differences between the spouses. Before filing for a divorce, you need to be certain that you are making the right choice.

No Taking It Back

When you are considering the possibility of a divorce, it is important to keep in mind that once the court has entered a judgment for the dissolution of your marriage, it is too late to change your mind. If the challenges of the divorce process have made you reconsider your decision, and you want to give your relationship another chance, you need to let the court know before the final decree is issued. Changing your mind about the divorce will not be valid grounds to ask the court to vacate its judgment of divorce. By law, you would be free to remarry your ex-spouse, but the provisions of your divorce decree would still apply.

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