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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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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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no-contest, Wheaton estate planning attorneysThere are a number of reasons that a will or other estate planning document may be invalid. If the testator was not of sound mind due to dementia or another health condition when he or she created the will, for example, the will may not represent the testator’s true wishes. If a testator was coerced or tricked into the provisions contained in his or her will, it is also invalid. If a loved one has reason to believe that the directions contained in a deceased person’s will should not be followed, they may contest the will in court. Unfortunately, some beneficiaries may contest a will simply because they do not like the instructions contained within the will. If you are concerned that someone may challenge the validity of your will after you pass away, you may want to consider adding a “no-contest” clause.

Basics of No-Contest Clauses

There is no way to completely prevent your will from being challenged after your death. However, you can discourage beneficiaries from challenging it. A no-contest clause is a provision in a will or trust that establishes certain “penalties” if a beneficiary challenges the validity of the will or trust. For example, perhaps you are worried that one of your children will be unhappy with his or her share of your estate. You worry that he or she will contest the validity of your will in an attempt to have the will thrown out. You could include a no-contest clause that states that if a beneficiary disputes the validity of your will and loses, he or she will lose part or all of the inheritance assigned to him or her. The possibility of losing a significant inheritance can make a beneficiary think twice before challenging your will.

Limitations of an Illinois No-Contest Clause

It is important to note that a no-contest clause cannot guarantee that your will may not be contested. A beneficiary may still choose to challenge the will even at the risk of losing his or her inheritance. If the will is found to be invalid, the directions contained within the will may be disregarded and your estate may instead be distributed according to intestate law. A no-contest clause also does not discourage people who are not named as beneficiaries from challenging the will. The best way to prevent your will from being successfully challenged is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney who can ensure the validity of your will.

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contested, DuPage County estate planning lawyersOne of the most critical reasons it is important to work with a lawyer when drafting a will is that a will can be formally challenged, or contested, if it does not meet certain criteria. If a will is successfully challenged, then some or all of the directions for property distribution contained within the will are rejected. Instead, the testator’s property is distributed according to state law. An individual cannot contest a will simply because he or she considers it to be unfair or is unhappy with his or her share of the inheritance. Read on to learn about the grounds or reasons that a person may contest a will in Illinois.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

“Testamentary capacity” refers to person’s cognitive abilities. A testator must be of sound mind in order to legally approve of the terms contained within his or her will. If a person lacked testamentary capacity when he or she agreed to the will, the will may be considered invalid. If a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another cognitive health issue and wishes to draft an estate plan, he or she should seek legal guidance from an experienced lawyer so that steps can be taken to prevent his or her will from being contested in the future.

Undue Influence

In order for a will to be valid, the testator must have freely and voluntarily agreed to the terms contained within the will. If the testator was coerced, tricked, or manipulated into agreeing to the provisions in his or her will, the will is not valid. Undue influence is often a concern when a particular person has virtually unlimited access to an aging or ill testator.

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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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