Experienced Divorce Attorneys Serving Naperville
Divorce is a life-changing experience that can affect an entire family, not just the divorcing spouses. Unfortunately, sometimes tensions flare and unresolved legal issues place further stress on the family. One of the best things you can do to safeguard your family from the nuances of the law is to seek the help of a qualified lawyer to guide you through the divorce process.
Regardless of whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, a divorce lawyer is an invaluable asset. Contested and uncontested divorces are very different in nature, but an experienced family lawyer can help you make certain that all your bases are covered.
Common Divorce Considerations
As a couple proceeds with divorce, several issues arise that demand planning and consideration. A few issues commonly related to Illinois divorce include:
- Child custody (allocation of parental responsibilities)
- Child support
- Visitation (parenting time)
- Spousal maintenance or spousal support
- Property division
- Legal separation
- Fathers’ rights
- Mothers’ rights
Regardless of your unique needs as you proceed with a divorce, Fay, Farrow & Associates P.C. can help you with every aspect of your divorce.
Why Is Advocating For Parents’ Rights Important In Child Custody Cases?
Regardless of what type of divorce you are going through or the difficulties and the challenges you might encounter, one thing remains absolutely certain: Your children require the best love and care that is available to them. Our children are the most important parts of our lives, and we must do everything in our power to ensure their safety.
What Are The Factors That Influence Parental Responsibility?
The determination of child custody in Illinois is based on the best interest of the child standard. The court considers relevant factors, including but not limited to:
- Both the parents’ and child’s wishes
- The family dynamic, including relationships with siblings and extended family
- The child’s home, school and community
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- Any history of physical violence in the home or by the parents
- Any history of abuse
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
Illinois courts use the term “parenting time” to describe how unmarried or divorced parents can share the joys and responsibilities of caring for a child. We can advocate for a parenting plan that suits your needs as well as the needs of your child.
Providing Clear Child Support Counsel And Representation
Divorce can be a stressful process because it causes change and fear of the unknown. A multitude of details need to be ironed out before a divorce is finalized, and a Chicago-area attorney with a practice concentrated in family law and divorce will help ensure that everything is in order. If you are proceeding with a divorce, seeking the help of an experienced attorney is paramount to ensuring that you receive child support to adequately care for your children.
How Do Illinois Courts Determine Child Support?
Illinois child support is determined based upon statutory percentages, commonly referred to as “guideline” support. The amount the supporting parent owes for child support is determined by two factors :
1) The number of children that need support
2) The quantity of the supporting parent’s income
The more children that need to be supported, the higher percentage of income the supporting parent will owe. The statutory amount is capped at 50% of income for six or more children. In cases where the supporting parent’s income is constantly changing, the supporting parent’s income may be determined by finding an average of past incomes.
In addition to child support payments, parents may be obligated to contribute to health needs not covered by insurance, child care, education and extracurricular activities.
An experienced attorney can advise you on how various custody or allocation of parenting time arrangements, spousal support or incomes over $250,000 might impact “guideline” child support.
Seek Comprehensive Protection During Legal Separation
When married couples experience tension in their marriage, they sometimes opt for a trial separation period. During this time they remain legally married and experiment with the idea of living apart to test the waters before they proceed with a divorce. However, this can leave them vulnerable to many risks. For example, they are still legally bound to their spouse’s finances and debts.
What Is Legal Separation?
With a court order, you may become legally separated. Your marriage will still be intact legally, but you physically separate from your spouse and your obligations to each other are defined by the Court. With a court order, a couple may become legally separated.
Typically, legal separation is resolved by an agreement which covers similar issues as divorce settlement agreements such as child support, child custody and parenting time. You may also determine property and spousal maintenance for the future. Legal separation can be beneficial but only under rare circumstances. An experienced attorney can advise you if a legal separation or a divorce is more beneficial to you.
Advocating For Fair Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
As a couple experiences the divorce process, both parties encounter many unknowns due to the inherent nature of change. The divorce process itself can be emotionally challenging, but additional stress is often placed on both parties because of financial issues.
If you are proceeding with a divorce, you need to understand your rights regarding spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony. The best thing you can do for yourself is to find a trusted local attorney who has years of experience with maintenance cases to defend your rights.
What Is Maintenance?
Maintenance is the obligation of a spouse to provide financial support for a former spouse, on a temporary or permanent basis. Maintenance may be appropriate in family situations where one spouse’s income is greater than the other spouse’s income.
In determining whether maintenance is appropriate, several factors are considered including, but not limited to:
- The income and property of each party
- The needs of each party
- The present and future earning capacity of each party
- Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having foregone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities due to the marriage
- The time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training and employment; the standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage; and the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties
In cases where the court determines that maintenance is appropriate, the statute sets forth guidelines for setting maintenance amounts and durations for families earning $250,000 or less. Under some circumstances, a deviation from the guidelines may be appropriate.
A Family Law Firm With Experience You Can Trust To Protect Your Assets
One of the largest concerns is how property will be distributed in the divorce. There are many rules that govern how this is determined. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, but this does not necessarily mean that everything will be divided equally. Keep in mind that certain assets cannot simply be sliced in half to give each person a fair share.
Having an experienced divorce attorney is beneficial in obtaining an equitable property division. Our firm is glad to assist clients with significant or modest assets.
What Is Marital Vs. Nonmarital Property?
There are two types of property in a divorce: marital property and nonmarital property. Most property that was acquired during a marriage is classified as marital property. The determination of marital property is independent of the name on a title or a deed, and both parties typically have an interest in the asset if it was acquired during the marriage. Marital property is subject to property division.
The court does not have the authority to divide nonmarital property. There are many types of nonmarital property, but some common types include:
- Gifts and inheritances
- Property obtained before a marriage
- Property obtained from a former spouse post-divorce
Often times, clients with high-asset holdings, multiple real estate holdings or retirement and investment accounts require additional attention. Our firm is experienced in the complicated and sensitive issues associated with high-asset divorce. We are equipped to help you manage your property division in a way that supports your long-term financial health.
How Are Debts Divided In Divorce?
After a divorce, most people want to begin a new life with no strings attached. Many couples considering divorce immediately think about dividing their property. However, the division of debt is equally important. Unless you take adequate measures to protect yourself, such as seeking an experienced local divorce attorney, it can be difficult to escape jointly incurred debt such as credit cards, mortgages and loans. In fact, you may leave yourself vulnerable to paying more than your fair share of the debt.
Understanding Debt Division
Experienced attorneys understand that prioritizing your financial health should come first during property division procedures. This includes creating a comprehensive plan for debt division. You may be able to divide your debt strategically by:
- Negotiating for certain assets in exchange for also avoiding debt
- Examining debt to ensure only marital debt is divided
- Leveraging debt when negotiating spousal maintenance (alimony)
As attentive and effective attorneys, we focus on your future.
Creating A Positive Environment For Your Child
Most child psychologists agree that stability and positive parental interactions are key to your child’s healthy mental and intellectual development. A predictable visitation plan can help provide the best possible environment for your child. We help you protect your rights as a parent and establish a productive arrangement that protects your child.
How Do I Decide My Parenting Time Schedule
There are many factors that influence your ability to spend time with your children during and after a divorce. Both parents have reasonable visitation or parenting time rights with their children. This is true for both mothers and fathers, with few exceptions. If you do not have the majority of parenting time allocated to you (also known as primary residential custody), you need to seek the help of a family law expert to ensure that your rights of visitation or parenting time are protected.
The only acceptable visitation or parenting time schedule is one that is in the children’s best interests. Family lawyers can help you to maximize the time that the children spend with each parent. For some families, a more traditional schedule works best, including every other weekend, an evening or two per week, alternating holidays and vacation time during school breaks. For other families, a 50/50 or shared parenting time arrangement might be appropriate.
What Are The Exceptions To Visitation/Parenting Time Rights?
In some cases, it is inappropriate for a parent to have full visitation/parenting time rights. Visitation/parenting time rights will be restricted if it can be proven that a parent threatens “serious endangerment” to the children. Some of the factors that affect the determination of “serious endangerment” include:
- A history of substance abuse (drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.)
- A history of violent tendencies
- A history of physical abuse
- A history of sexual assault
While these qualities negatively impact a visitation/parenting time agreement, it does not necessarily mean that a parent will never be able to visit their children. There are several ways to restrict and monitor visitation, including:
- Third-party supervision during parenting time
- Denying overnight parenting time
- Restricting parenting time to the custodial parent’s premises
The court’s primary concern will always be the child’s best interest. Our firm ensures you have a say in what that future looks like.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce In Illinois
Divorce is, unquestionably, one of the most important and most difficult decisions a person can make. Important decisions, like a possible divorce, often prompt prudent reflection that produces serious questions.
As part of our comprehensive counsel, we take the time to answer your questions. Below are just some of the questions we often hear from our clients during an initial consultation.
How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced In Illinois?
The duration of divorce proceedings from start to finish depends on the nature and complexity of issues, and the willingness of the parties to take reasonable positions. Typically, on the quicker end are divorces with no children and limited assets. In certain circumstances, divorces can be completed within a month.
Even divorces involving children and assets can be resolved quickly if both parties agree on most issues from the outset. Those divorces might be resolved in two to six months.
However, divorces involving a disagreement regarding parenting decisions and parenting time, or divorces involving businesses and other complex assets, may take longer to resolve. A divorce that goes to trial will last significantly longer than a divorce resolved by agreement. These divorces can be expected to take a year, if not longer.
How Is Property Divided In Illinois?
Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means that the division of marital property must be divided in an equitable fashion between both spouses. It is critical to note that equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Depending on the situation, a split that is not 50-50 may be the most equitable option.
If one spouse owns any nonmarital property, those assets are separate from the marital property. Therefore, they are not included in the property division process.
Am I A Candidate For A Mediated Divorce?
Generally speaking, most divorces involve some level of collaboration and negotiation with both sides to reach a resolution. Divorce often involves settlement conferences with both parties and both counsel in attendance to try to finalize a settlement. Settlement conferences such as these provide parties with the confidence in having counsel present when they are trying to resolve their issues.
In some circumstances, mediation is appropriate in a divorce. For instance, spouses who do not reach an agreement on parenting issues may be ordered by the court to attend mediation. Typically, the mediation is only between the spouses without their counsel present alongside a trained mediator. In some cases, parties participate in financial mediation to resolve those issues.
Spouses who are the best candidates for mediation are those who are willing to work with each other to resolve the divorce in as amicable a manner as possible. If you think you and your spouse can cooperate, mediation may be a quicker and more cost-effective option to resolve issues in your divorce. Fay, Farrow & Associates P.C. provides mediation services for parenting and financial issues.
Can I Get Divorced If The Courthouses Are Closed?
In rare circumstances, Illinois courthouses may be closed for most proceedings except for emergencies. The courts are adapting to abnormal situations to allow family law attorneys to conduct hearings and pre-trial proceedings virtually. It can even be possible to finalize a case without going to court by submitting settlement documents electronically.
Our attorneys are able to complete most of the work on a divorce or family law case outside of the courtroom. This approach means we can work toward the resolution of your case during courthouse closures and move forward quickly when courtrooms reopen if we need to be physically present in court.
Discuss Your Divorce Case With A Committed Lawyer
To ensure that you are in the best possible shape to begin a journey down a different life path, it is critical that you seek the help of Fay, Farrow & Associates P.C. Our attorneys have significant experience concentrating in Illinois family law for clients in DuPage, Will and the surrounding counties.
We are dedicated to our work and will advocate vigorously for your interests and the interests of your family. We are conveniently located in Naperville, and we do not charge for an initial consultation. Give us a call at 630-230-1468 to learn how we can protect your family.