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Oak Forest uncontested divorce attorney

For most couples, making the decision to file for divorce is difficult to come to, and the process is emotionally draining. Some spouses have a hard time agreeing on different issues within the divorce, such as child custody arrangements, asset division, and spousal maintenance payments. This type of divorce is known as a contested divorce, and conflict exists between the couple throughout the proceedings. The opposite kind of divorce is referred to as an uncontested divorce. This is when couples have an amicable relationship and mutually agree that divorce is in both of their best interests. In an uncontested divorce, the proceedings are likely to be fairly simple. In some cases, a couple may be able to complete their divorce quickly by receiving a joint simplified dissolution.

What Is a Joint Simplified Dissolution?

A joint simplified dissolution of marriage is an option which may be available for some couples going through an uncontested divorce. This process allows a couple to complete their divorce quickly and easily, and in many cases, they will simply need to attend a brief court hearing. If a couple agrees on the outstanding issues involved in ending their marriage, they can sign the required legal documents and file them in court. This can help them avoid the costs of litigation and extensive court time. 

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Oak Forest child relocation lawyer

Families relocate now more than ever before. The modern improvements in technology and transportation make it easier for families to move and keep in touch after relocating. Many divorced couples will choose to do this to help themselves move on from their previous marriage. However, while adults have the right to choose when and where they move, the court has a say in all relocation cases involving children. There are three common situations in which court approval may need to be obtained for child relocation: when a parent moves at the time of the divorce, when a parent moves after the divorce, and when an unwed parent chooses to relocate. Married or not, adults who share children together must get permission from the court if their planned move could potentially affect their existing child custody and parenting time agreements or their child's relationship with the other parent.

What Factors Will the Court Review?

When a parent petitions the court for permission to relocate, or when a parent seeks to prohibit their former partner from moving with their child, the court will determine whether the planned move is in the child's best interests. In most cases, a judge will seek to protect both parents’ rights to spend time with their child. For most children, having both parents in their lives is beneficial, and this idea can affect the court’s ruling on relocation. However, if a child has been exposed to domestic abuse, or if parents continue to argue regularly, relocation may be the best thing that will allow the child to flourish in a conflict-free environment.

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Tinley Park prenuptial agreement lawyer

Prenuptial agreements have become much more common in recent years. In the past, prenups were exclusive to wealthy couples to protect their finances in the case of a future divorce. There are various explanations given for why prenups have become so popular. Some say it is because couples are getting married later and thus have acquired more wealth before marriage, while others attribute the influx to the rise of female equality in America. Regardless of the reason, many couples view prenups as a necessity, and it is important to understand what should be included in this kind of legal documentation.

What Can Be Included in My Prenup?

  • Properties: There are two types of property that exist in a marriage, separate and marital. Property that is considered separate includes everything acquired before the legal marriage. Marital property is that which is gained during the marriage. Prenups can allow you to deem some property separate and some marital before saying “I do.”

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Oak Forest child support lawyer

When parents get a divorce, they will both continue to be responsible for providing for their child financially. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act includes regulations about when and how child support must be implemented into a custody arrangement. Most often, the noncustodial parent will be legally obligated to pay the custodial parent a particular amount. However, depending on several factors, including if parents share equal or near-equal amounts of parenting time, this may not always be the case. By working with an attorney, you can ensure that all the relevant factors are taken into account when calculating child support obligations.

What Factors Are Considered When Determining Child Support?

The amount of child support that a parent has to pay is based on a formula laid out in state law. This formula determines a Basic Support Obligation that is based on the number of children and the income earned by both parents. Each parent will contribute a percentage of this obligation, depending on the amount they contribute toward their combined income and, in some cases, the number of overnights the children spend with each parent every year.

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Oak Forest estate planning attorney

While a will documents your wishes for what will happen with your belongings after your death, a living trust allows you to determine how to handle your assets both while you are alive and after you have passed. In your trust, you may be called the “grantor,” “settlor,” or “trustor,” and you will be able to designate who will get your possessions. These people are called your “beneficiaries.” You will also name someone as your “trustee,” which means that he or she will be the one to ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly.

You may be your own trustee, or you can name a survivor trustee who will take control of the trust after your death. You may also set yourself up as a beneficiary of the trust while you are living, and you can add others as beneficiaries, including a spouse, children, or a friend. A living trust can be changed as you feel necessary at any time, or you may cancel it altogether. The trust will be empty until it is funded, which means that until you have transferred your assets to the trust, it will not go into effect.

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Orland Park divorce lawyers

Divorce is stressful and it is rare that anyone walks away financially unscathed. Splitting up means leaving a combined household and having to set up two different homes and lives. It also means assets and debts will be divided, and despite the best efforts of the court, individuals often feel shortchanged. However, there are some steps a person can take in order to take less of a financial hit in a divorce. 

Know Your Assets and Debts (And Your Spouse’s)

Not every husband or wife is totally honest about what they own or what they owe. If you are faced with divorce, one of the first things to do is account for all bank accounts, investments, retirement plans, insurance policies, etc. that your spouse has. You also need to know where you stand on debt, like credit cards, taxes, and medical bills. One way to go about finding any hidden items is by getting a copy of your spouse’s credit report. If there is anything you do not recognize, you will need to dig deeper, perhaps with the help of a forensic accountant.

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Oak Forest divorce and bankruptcy lawyerNo matter how much money you have, you are almost guaranteed to take a financial hit when you get divorced. Even if it is just because you are splitting one household into two, you will likely have less money for bills, especially those that are growing due to snowballing credit card interest charges. If you and/or your spouse have spent the last few years racking up debt, even if you split it in your decree, then you may feel like there is no light at the end of the financial tunnel. Should you consider filing bankruptcy after your divorce? Everyone’s situation will be different, so it is important to understand your options.

Splitting Debts and Assets

Not all divorces are equal. If at all possible, you will want to try to work out a reasonable solution with the other party. If one of you has a higher income, that may mean they will be expected to take on more of the debt. If your spouse has run up credit cards and other debts on a joint account, it may be difficult to determine who actually made all those purchases. There are myriad scenarios when it comes to the finances involved in a divorce, especially if the marriage was a longer one. 

Besides splitting households, you will also be entering into territory that may be new to both you and your ex-spouse. You may have the added responsibility of child support and/or alimony. Therefore, if there is any way for you to go through your assets and bills together and come up with fair solutions, it is imperative that you do so. Your attorney can help you determine what solutions make sense, but you may want to consider mediation if you cannot come to an agreement in a timely manner.

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Oak Forest family law attorney guardian ad litemA Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a legally appointed attorney who is assigned by a judge in child custody cases at the request of one parent or the other (or their attorney). The GAL is supposed to act as the legal representative of the child or children. They are in a position to spend time interviewing the parents, children, and other parties involved in the case, and they will then report directly back to the judge.

Should I Request a GAL?

While you may feel that your children will be better off with a GAL involved in your case, you must understand that the GAL is not supposed to act as an advocate for either parent, and they will focus instead on the children’s needs. They are tasked with legally determining the best interests of the child. Even though you and the GAL both have your child’s best interests at heart, there may be many negatives to involving a GAL in your case.

If you are financially unstable, for example, a GAL may see that as a sign that you may have trouble providing for your children. If you report concerns to him or her that are unfounded, then the GAL may see you as overly emotional and/or acting out of anger rather than out of care for your children. The GAL may be focused on pursuing specific information that he or she knows the judge will want to know, rather than listening to the issues that you feel are important.

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Tinley Park divorce and pets lawyerIn the not-so-distant past, many people would have laughed at the idea of a pet’s custody being decided in court as part of a divorce settlement. However, last year, Illinois was the second state to pass a law stating that pet custody can indeed be determined in court, based on what the judge feels is best for the pet. Rather than still treating the pets as property, like an inanimate object or financial asset, your family pet may now be the subject of a custody case.

Proving You Are the Superior Pet Parent

Much like in a child custody agreement, judges will now have the authority and responsibility to consider the best living situation for the pets in a divorce case. If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is ready to fight for custody, you will need to be prepared to prove your worth as a pet owner. Questions such as who took the animal to the vet, who typically cares for the pet, who has the better-suited home for the pet, and more may be considered. You will want to gather evidence, as you would with any other contested part of your divorce, to prove that you are the better pet parent or that the other party cannot give your animal friend the life that he or she deserves.

Coming to an Agreement

In some cases, divorced spouses may end up having to split custody, just like they would with children. In these cases, it is also a good idea to reach a legal agreement ahead of time about who will pay for vet bills and make decisions about veterinary care, where the pet will stay when either or both spouses will be traveling, etc.

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Orland Park Child Support Lawyer

Financial circumstances can change dramatically from the time a couple divorces through when their children turn 18 years old. One or both parents may get new jobs or become unemployed. Either parent may get a raise or take a pay cut. Any of these factors, along with numerous others, can affect the parents’ levels of responsibility for providing support for their children. 

In addition, something may happen that changes the needs of a child and leads to their care being either more or less expensive. Child support may be modified or even eliminated completely, depending on the circumstances.

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Tinley Park bankruptcy attorneyThe word “bankruptcy” has a lot of negative connotations, but when your debts are piling up, and there is no relief in sight, bankruptcy may indeed be your best option. It can be a great stress relief to get your creditors off your back and start fresh. However, the process can also be confusing, especially for those who have never been through it before. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you decide which type of bankruptcy works for you (typically Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 for individuals) and guide you through the entire legal process.

Chapter 7

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor may end up wiping their liability slate clean. Usually, this works for those with large credit card debt or medical bills and not enough income to cover the expenses. Although part of the process includes a liquidation of the debtor’s assets, some assets can be exempt, and an attorney can help you determine which assets you may have. Often, debtors do not have anything else of significant value, so their bankruptcies fall into the “no-asset” category. 

The discharge for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy often only takes a few months, and the filer can move along without any more creditors calling them. The downside, of course, is the impact on the filer’s credit score, and the fact that the bankruptcy will remain on his or her credit report for 10 years. Still, most people can apply for and receive credit within that time period. They may be required to pay higher interest rates or have lower credit limits.

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Oak Forest estate planning lawyer power of attorneyWhen planning your estate and drafting a will, sometimes it will be necessary to create a power of attorney as well. How do you know when it is needed or whom you should choose? Although you may be doing well now, there may come a time as you get older or face unexpected medical issues that you will no longer be able to take care of your own bills and properties, and you may not be able to make decisions about your own personal care. At that time, it will be of utmost importance to have someone you trust to take care of these things for you.

What Does a Power of Attorney Do?

A power of attorney can be vital in protecting you and your assets. When you create a power of attorney agreement, you will name an agent who is authorized to make decisions for you, but your agent will only have as much power as you have laid out for him or her. In other words, you can choose for your agent to simply take care of your bills and property if you are somehow incapacitated, or you can opt for him or her to have more power, such as the authorization to give gifts or set up trusts on your behalf. 

You may also select a power of attorney to take care of your healthcare needs. Adults may create a power of attorney to name an agent who can manage their medical care and personal needs if they become incapacitated or unable to make their own healthcare decisions. As with a power of attorney for property, a power of attorney for healthcare can limit the decisions your agent can make or provide them with general authority to meet your needs.

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Posted on in Divorce

Orland Park divorce lawyersDivorce often brings intense conflict and emotional stress that most people have never experienced before in their life. When a marriage fails, the disappointment and strain that accompany the divorce process can be overwhelming. Spouses are left to ponder a future without one another amidst worries about child custody, child support, visitation, spousal maintenance, the division of marital property, and more.

This stress is compounded when spouses are unable to work together to craft a divorce agreement and instead fight over the related issues in a courtroom. While many people who go through divorce litigation have no other alternative, others – even on less than cordial terms – can avoid court through collaborative divorce.

What Does Collaborative Divorce Mean?

Similar to mediation, collaborative divorce is when spouses reach agreements on the elements that go into a divorce decree through joint cooperation. Unlike mediation, which utilizes a neutral party that works together with spouses, collaborative divorce involves the spouses and their respective attorneys. The most critical facets are addressed in four-way, face-to-face sessions, while lesser items can be negotiated through the parties via phone or email.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorneysIt can be one of the worst feelings for an unsuspecting spouse who receives notice that the person they are married to has filed for divorce. Even if you had previous suspicions that they were not engaged in your relationship like they once were, nothing truly prepares you for the day the devastating news arrives.

If you were blindsided by your spouse’s divorce filing, you might be asking yourself what you can do to preserve your marriage, and whether you can fight it in court. The hard truth is – attempting to do so would likely be a costly waste of time.

Fighting Divorce in Illinois

The bottom line is that while it takes two people to get married, it only takes one willing spouse to get a divorce. Marriage is a legal contract entered into by a couple, but both parties do not have to agree to end the agreement.

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Posted on in Divorce

Orland Park alimony attorneyA tax policy related to divorce and in place for seven decades will end at the end of this year as part of the federal tax overhaul of 2017. For divorces after Dec. 31, those who pay spousal maintenance can no longer deduct alimony payments from their taxes. Also, maintenance recipients will no longer declare alimony as taxable income. 

Because this change to the tax code is expected to reduce the amount of money divorced couples have on hand to split between them, divorce lawyers say they have seen a noticeable increase in filings as the year-end deadline approaches.

How Alimony Works with New Law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1917 that alimony was not tax deductible, a rule that changed in the 1940s. The new law will pay a small portion of the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts scheduled over the next decade, with $6.7 billion added to the U.S. Treasury.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois paternity lawyersPaternity is the legal and biological relationship between a child and a father. In Illinois, you must establish paternity for a father’s name to appear on a child’s birth certificate, and if you need to set up the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly custody), child support, and parenting time (formerly visitation) if the parents are unmarried, divorced, or not in a civil union.

To establish a child’s eligibility for health and life insurance, Social Security benefits from a disabled or deceased parent, veteran’s benefits, or an inheritance, paternity must be certified. Sometimes this is done easily, while other circumstances prove difficult. For either scenario, an experienced family law attorney can help.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

When a couple or two uninvolved individuals agree that paternity is certain, they can complete and file the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). You can get this form through your county clerk, health office, an Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services aid office, or via the IDPH website. For proper submission, the VAP must be signed in front of a witness who is age 18 or older.

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Illinois alimony lawyersIn divorce, spouses sometimes require an additional influx of income supplied by their ex-spouse as they restart on their own. In Illinois divorce cases, this was once referred to as alimony or spousal support but is now called spousal maintenance.

During the divorce process, spouses who will pay maintenance and those who will receive it often wonder what amount they can expect. Starting January 1, 2019, a change in Illinois law will impact that figure. To ensure you either receive or pay the justified amount, you need a skilled family law attorney, like those at Anderson and Associates, P.C., who can serve as your advocate throughout your divorce proceedings.

Here is a look at how spousal maintenance will be figured starting at the beginning of next year:

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois adoption attorneysThe decision to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. It can also be one of the more complicated and time-consuming processes you ever go through.

Adoption is a legal process that requires careful planning and adherence to procedure. For adoptions through the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), they require you to obtain an adoption lawyer approved by their agency, like those at Anderson and Associates, P.C. You do not have to worry about fees, as DCFS pays for the applicable attorney costs so you can focus on the new addition to your family.

How Long Does Adoption Take?

DCFS facilitates more than 1,500 adoptions a year. Following an initial screening and in-home visit, the first step in adoption is to become a licensed foster parent, so a child can legally be placed with your family. Licensure typically takes one to two months, then DCFS works to match a single child or siblings with your family. Once that placement is complete, final adoption approval by DCFS and the court usually occurs after six months.

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Posted on in Divorce

Orland Park mediation attorneysWhen divorce goes from probability to certainty for a couple, thoughts of a prolonged court battle and potential financial difficulties often come to mind. For soon-to-be-ex spouses who want to avoid those scenarios, mediation is a potential solution that can also foster a positive partnership moving forward.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a voluntary process that lets couples discuss and plan their futures in respectful joint cooperation. By using a trained divorce mediator, you can achieve a divorce settlement that benefits both parties while maintaining control throughout. It is available for married couples and domestic partners, regardless of income level or if children and custody are involved.

Intense emotions are understandable during divorce. You do not have to be 100 percent amicable to go through mediation. You simply need to enter into the process willing to negotiate in good faith. 

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

Orland Park bankruptcy lawyerWhile no one wants to declare bankruptcy, there are cases in which it can be the best choice for a family’s long-term financial well-being. Despite the stigma that is attached to bankruptcy, it can help a person or family get a fresh financial start, allowing them to escape a difficult financial situation that may have occurred through no fault of their own, but simply because of bad luck.

If money issues have created an inescapable burden, Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide relief for those who qualify. A bankruptcy attorney can tell you if either of those options might work for you, or if you should go another route.

Should I File for Bankruptcy?

Divorce, loss of employment, sizable medical bills, potential home foreclosure, and unmanageable credit card debt are common reasons why people declare bankruptcy. However, before you consider taking this step, you will likely want to exhaust all other possible avenues.

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