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Do I Need a Guardian Ad Litem?

Posted on in Divorce

Getting a divorce in Illinois is an emotional experience that can have a profound effect on all parties involved, including of course the divorcing couple and any children that they may have together. While some parents are able to work peacefully together to determine what a time-sharing agreement will look like when the divorce is finalized, others are not, and reaching a custody decision may prove very difficult and contentious. In many cases, a guardian ad litem will be brought in – here’s what you need to know:

What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?

Also referred to simply as a GAL, a guardian ad litem is an attorney who is responsible for representing parties’ children in a divorce. Essentially, the job of the GAL is to find out as much as possible about the child’s living situation and the child’s best interests, and then make a recommendation to the court about parenting time and decision-making based on investigations. Again, the GAL is responsible for representing the child, and does not work for either parent. The biggest difference between a GAL and a child representative is that the former can be called as a witness to provide testimony.


Benefits of Mediation

Posted on in Divorce

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution that is used to help divorcing couples understand each other, and work together to reach an agreement about tough issues in a divorce. While mediation is not always effective, it can be one way to mitigate litigation, as well as the high costs, time expenses, and emotions that accompany going to court.

Mediation may be something that couples choose to engage in on their own, or it may be court ordered. Either way, there are multiple benefits of mediation, including:

Mediation Can Be Less Expensive


One of the greatest challenges of getting a divorce is unraveling the years’ worth of property entanglement that has occurred by virtue of marriage. Indeed, it can be impossible to know who owns what, as in the majority of cases, both parties have invested in or contributed to the purchase of nearly all assets in a marriage. Which leads to the question: How does property division work in a divorce? Here’s what you need to know about property division laws in Illinois:

Illinois is an Equitable Division State that Recognizes Marital Property

Unlike community property states that require that property in a divorce is divided equally–which means a 50/50 split–Illinois is an equitable division state, which means that all property must be divided in a manner that is equitable, or fair, but not necessarily equal.


Can I Get Visitation with My Pet?

Posted on in Divorce

For many people, having a pet, such as a dog or a cat, is not equivalent with just having another asset that is to be divided at the time of separation or divorce; instead, the relationship with a pet more closely resembles that with a child or close family member, and therefore losing custody of a pet can be a very emotional experience.

For those who are divorcing and who have a close relationship with their pet, asking for pet visitation may be an option. Here’s a look into what you need to know regarding getting visitation with your pet during an Illinois divorce:

Recent Change to Illinois Law Allows for Pet Custody Decision


When parents of a child are separating or filing for a divorce, they must come to an agreement regarding how time with their child will be shared. Illinois courts refer to this as “parenting time,” with 750 ILCS 5/600 distinguishing parenting time from significant decision-making responsibilities, explaining that parenting time is the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions in regards to a child. Separating parents must create a parenting plan that addresses parenting time.

Of course, you may not agree with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s proposed parenting plan and time-sharing agreement and may want to contest the proposal. You may also want to contest a court’s decision to award parenting time in a manner that you find unfit or unfair. Here’s what you need to know–

Contesting Your Spouse’s Proposed Parenting Plan


5 Ways to Avoid a Complicated Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

There is no disagreement about the fact the divorces can be complicated as well as financially and emotionally complex. However, not all divorces have to be messy and contentious; there are many things that you can do to mitigate battles and avoid catastrophe. Here are five ways to avoid a complicated divorce in Illinois

1. Don’t Take Advice from Unqualified Individuals

If you’re going through a divorce, chances are you’ve told your closest family members and friends about the divorce and may have even shared the news with other parties, ranging from your neighbors to your hairstylist and more. While these parties may all want to provide you with advice–and have good intentions in doing so–remember that these individuals are not qualified to represent you during a divorce and may not have the education or skill set to provide you with sound suggestions. Essentially, don’t act on the advice of someone unqualified.


Taxes and Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

When you get divorced and separate from your spouse, there are a lot of things to consider, including your financial picture. Indeed, one way that divorce can affect your financial status is by affecting your taxes. If you are filing for divorce–or have recently divorced in Illinois–make sure you understand how your divorce will affect your relationship with the IRS.

Filing Status

Getting a divorce will likely affect your filing status, as you will now be filing as “single” rather than “married.” However, remember that if you were still married during the tax year that you are filling for, you will need to file as “married.” For example, if you were married throughout 2017, your divorce was finalized in January 2018, and it’s now April and you’re getting ready to file your taxes for the previous year, you will need to file as married.


When a party to a marriage wishes to divorce, they typically initiate the process by telling their spouse they want a divorce, filing the appropriate papers with the court, and then serving their spouse the divorce summons. After the summons has been served, the receiving spouse will have an opportunity to reply to the summons, and the divorce will be officially underway.

But what does an individual do in the event that he or she cannot locate a spouse, and therefore is unable to serve the spouse with a divorce summons? Can they still seek a divorce?

Make a Good Effort to Find Your Spouse


Can I Refuse a Paternity Test?

Posted on in Paternity

Establishing paternity is important for children, fathers, and mothers alike. Indeed, not only does establishing paternity help to ensure that a mother and child get the benefits to which they are entitled (such as a child support benefits), but also that a father is able to seek custody or visitation with his child, and maintain legal parental rights.

That being said, who the father is of a given child is not always clear. When this is the case, a mother may request that an alleged father take a paternity test. For myriad reasons, the father may be in opposition to this request.

If you have been requested to submit to a paternity test, here’s a look at what you should know about your right to refuse:


If you are currently married and planning to divorce, or have recently divorced, dropping your spouse’s last name and going back to your own may be on the top of your to-do list. Depending upon your circumstances, you may also be hoping to change the last names of your children (assuming they have been given your ex-spouse’s last name). Here’s what you need to know about doing so:

Petition to Change a Child’s Name

Changing a child’s legal name is a process that requires going through the court. There are three likely forms that you may need to complete in order to petition to change your child’s name (work with an attorney to figure out which form specifically applies to your case):


Tips for a Successful Parenting Plan

Posted on in Child Custody

Parents who decide to separate and not raise a child together jointly in the same household will need to create a parenting plan, which outlines with whom the child will live, what visitation rights of the other parent will be, which parent will have legal decision-making authority, how the child will be transported between parents’ homes, and more.

Creating a parenting plan can be stressful; parents are not always in agreement regarding how a child should be raised, where the child should live, or how decisions about a child’s life will be made. As you create your parenting plan, here are some tips to keep in mind for success during the process.

Be Comprehensive


High Net Worth Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

No matter who you are or your economic level, getting divorced is complicated and emotional. For high net worth individuals, a divorce can be especially complex, as more assets to divide typically means more questions about who gets what, and potentially more contention. If you are a high net worth individual who is thinking about or in the midst of a divorce, here’s what you need to know about high net worth divorce and what to expect as you navigate the process.

What Is a High Net Worth Divorce and Why Are These Divorces More Complicated?

A high net worth divorce is a divorce in which one or both parties have multiple assets that make individual or combined net worth very high. These assets may be in a number of forms, including real estate holdings, investments, liquid cash, assets in a trust, businesses, retirement accounts, and more.


Foreclosure and Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

One thing that often pushes couples to the brink of a divorce is a financial crisis, which is why a foreclosure on a home and a divorce often go hand-in-hand. Indeed, debt can be one of the biggest stressors in a relationship, and if you are facing debt and are at risk of losing your home, and thinking about divorce, you may have a lot of questions about how each will affect you.

Dividing Debt in a Divorce

Many couples think that if they file for a divorce, they will be able to escape debt, particularly if the debt is in their spouse’s name. However, because Illinois law holds that all property obtained during the course of the marriage is marital property, there is a very good chance that you will be liable for mortgage debt if you and your spouse purchased the home during the course of your marriage. If the house was purchased by one spouse prior to the marriage, then it may be the case that spouse retains the residence and the debt.


Can I File for an Annulment?

Posted on in Divorce

Terminating a marriage via dissolution (also called divorce) is no easy feat – indeed, getting a divorce requires going through a legal process that can be expensive, confusing, and emotional.

In some cases, however, a couple need not get a divorce in order to end a marriage. Sometimes, a declaration of invalidity of marriage may be issued. This is also called an annulment.

When Can a Person File for an Annulment?


Will I Lose Spousal Support if I Remarry?

Posted on in Divorce

When a couple divorces, one party to the marriage may be awarded spousal support, also called spousal maintenance or alimony. This type of support is designed to help a party who was financially dependent on the other in a marriage maintain their quality of life, typically up until the point that they are able to obtain the education or training necessary to secure their own job and income.

That being said, there are a number of things that can result in the early termination of spousal support – remarrying is one of them.

Spousal Support and Remarriage in Illinois


The Importance of a VAP

Posted on in Divorce

Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) is an important step in the preservation of the rights of child, father, and mother alike. The following explains what you need to know about what a VAP is, how to sign one, and why VAPs are so important.

What Is a VAP?

Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form is a way for a father to establish legal parentage–and the rights that are associated with being a parent–without going to court. While parentage is assumed when parents are married, if parents are not married, both parties must sign the VAP in order for the father to establish legal paternity.


Same-Sex Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Since the law legally went into effect in 2014, same-sex marriage has been recognized in the State of Illinois. But just like all couples, those in a same-sex marriage may find that over the years, issues arise that create a divide between them, leading to divorce.

While a party in a same-sex marriage who is seeking to dissolve the union will need to follow all of the same steps as an individual in an opposite-sex marriage would, same-sex couples may encounter unique issues in divorce.

Child Custody


Separating from one’s spouse permanently via a divorce is a very serious emotional and legal undertaking. Couples who are thinking about a divorce should treat the process as seriously as they did the act of getting married, which includes asking the right questions. In fact, as explained by a psychotherapist in Manhattan, as reported by The New York Times, even if the answers to the questions ultimately lead to a couple seeking divorce regardless, working through the questions may lay the framework for a more amicable divorce proceeding. Here are some questions to ask before filing for divorce:

1. What Are Your Concerns with the Relationship and Reasons that You Want to Divorce?

Getting a divorce isn’t something that you should do because you’re feeling down or fed up with your spouse; you should take the time to figure out exactly what the problem is. If you need help doing this, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional or therapist.


What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

When a couple is going through a divorce, the divorce is typically described in one of two ways: contested or uncontested. As with most things in life, an uncontested divorce is ideal, as this refers to a divorce in which disagreements between the couple are minimized. Whether you have recently filed for a divorce, or are considering divorce in Naperville or surrounding areas, understanding the differences between contested and uncontested divorce is important.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

As stated above, the disagreements in an uncontested divorce are limited. This is because an uncontested divorce is one in which spouses agree to all terms of the divorce, including the divorce itself and issues such as:


The First 5 Steps in Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Before a married couple can legally be recognized as separate and independent from one another, they must file for a divorce. In the state of Illinois, divorce is a multi-step process, and one that takes time, and typically the help of an experienced divorce attorney. Consider these first five steps that you should take if you are ready to get divorced in Illinois:

  1. Live Separately

In the past, couples who wanted to seek a divorce on no-fault grounds had to live separately for a period of at least two years. While the law has since been amended and parties are not required to live separately for a period of two years, living separately prior to divorce might be a good idea, depending on your circumstances. Living separately gives you time to determine whether or not a divorce is truly what you want, and in the event that the divorce is dispute, a separation period of six-months is an indisputable display of irreconcilable differences, allowing for the divorce to proceed.

  1. Hire an Attorney

If you are positive that you want a divorce, have lived separately from your spouse, and have tried all means possible of saving your marriage, such as seeing a marriage therapist, it is time to hire an attorney to assist you in proceeding with your divorce. Find an attorney who is experienced in family law, has a history of success, and whom you like.

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