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chicago divorce lawyerAll couples fight - in fact, relationship experts say that couples who do not fight may be in deeper trouble than those who fight frequently. However, what is key for a healthy relationship is that a couple fights fairly and that they can come back together after facing conflict. 

When you are in a relationship, especially one that involves a lot of conflict, it can be difficult to know just how much conflict - and what kind of conflict - is normal. This is especially true if you grew up in a home with high-conflict parents. If you feel unhappy or unsafe in your marriage, it is important to accurately assess whether you are dealing with marital abuse. Here, we offer some tips from relationship experts to help you determine whether your marital conflict is normal. If you feel it is not, consider scheduling a consultation with an Illinois divorce attorney. 

Normal Marital Conflict vs. Abuse

Equality and fairness are essential in a marriage or domestic partnership. You deserve to feel valued by your partner. While everybody sometimes says things they do not mean in a fight, if your partner regularly makes you feel belittled or devalued, this may be a sign of relationship abuse. 

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chicago divorce lawyerAn Illinois divorce has several important issues that must be resolved. If there are minor children, child support and custody schedules need to be decided. The question of whether spousal support should be paid needs to be answered. Finally, couples need to divide the assets and money they have accumulated during their marriage according to Illinois law. 

While some states require spouses to divide their marital estate equally, Illinois requires asset division to be fair, leaving neither spouse with a disproportionate amount of marital assets or marital debt. This means each couple will have a different outcome in their asset division; what worked for your friend or family member may not work for you. Fortunately, most couples find that with respectful negotiation, they can make it through the asset division process and come to an agreement that works for both partners.

Dividing Bank Accounts

Bank accounts are usually among the easiest assets to divide because their value is easily known. If both partners contributed equally to a couple’s savings, regardless of their income, it makes sense to split a savings account equally. If one spouse earned more and contributed more to the savings account, that spouse may be able to negotiate for a greater portion of the funds. 

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chicago divorce lawyer for abuse victimsDomestic abuse victims frequently stay with their abusers because they fear an increase in dangerous violence if they try to leave. Unfortunately, research supports the idea that abusers often do become more dangerous when their victims end the relationship. But that does not mean that you should stay trapped in a terrible marriage forever. Whether you are heterosexual or part of the LGBTQ community, there are protections for victims of domestic violence in Illinois. Having a skilled divorce attorney in your corner can help you prepare for divorce when you have a violent spouse. 

Emergency Orders of Protection

One of the most valuable resources for victims of domestic violence who want to leave their abuser is an Emergency Order of Protection, or EOP. EOPs can be issued with the testimony of only one spouse and last for up to 21 days. While you will need to appear in court again during the hearing that extends an EOP into a long-term Plenary Order of Protection, if you have evidence to prove your spouse is abusive, you should not fear being in court with your ex-spouse. Let your attorney know about your concerns so they can inform the court, which can provide additional protection in the courtroom.

Once you have an EOP and have delivered the divorce papers to your spouse (things can be organized so the timing of these two processes aligns), you may need to get somewhere safe. Whether this is the residence of a friend or family, an undisclosed hotel, or a battered spouse’s shelter, you may need to hide from your spouse until he or she cools down. If you believe your spouse will respect an EOP, you may be able to simply remain in your home. If your spouse violates an EOP, you can call the police and immediately have your spouse arrested. 

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chicago child custody lawyerDuring divorce, legal separation, or the establishment of a first-time custody arrangement for non-married parents, there can be a number of legal requirements that might seem overwhelming at first. Creating a plan for child custody, which is divided into “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois, can seem like an insurmountable amount of work. An experienced family law attorney can walk you through the process step-by-step. 

In our last blog, we discussed a broad overview of what a parenting plan needs to contain to get approved by an Illinois family law judge. Today, we will look at a specific element of a parenting plan that many parents utilize to help them maximize their time with each child: The right of first refusal. 

Using the Right of First Refusal to Your Advantage

The right of first refusal is a clause that describes when parents are obligated to give each other the first opportunity to provide supplementary childcare. Parents will need to agree on how long they must be gone before giving each other the chance to take the kids. 

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chicago child custody lawyerWhen parents of minor children get divorced in Illinois, they need to submit something called a “parenting plan” to a judge for approval. In the best-case scenario, parents will have already created a parenting plan together and can simply submit it to the court as part of an uncontested divorce. When this is not possible, however, parents can still work together using the help of a mediator or collaborative divorce team to negotiate a parenting plan. If absolutely necessary, a judge can intervene and make custody decisions on behalf of a couple who cannot negotiate the terms of their parenting plan themselves. However you eventually get to your final parenting plan, it is important to understand what it is and what it needs to address. 

What is a Parenting Plan? 

Parenting plans, otherwise known as child custody agreements, are legally binding agreements that detail exactly how a divorced couple will manage their underage children. Once a parenting plan has been approved by a judge and entered as part of a divorce decree or divorce order modification, parents must follow the parenting plan or face legal consequences. 

A parenting plan will address the two major parts of child custody in Illinois: The allocation of parental responsibilities, which is the right to make important decisions on behalf of a child, and parenting time, which is the right to spend time with a child.

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