Why Do I Need a Guardian Ad Litem?

If you’re in the process of divorcing or planning for divorce, you may need a guardian ad litem. This is just a fancy way of saying that your children will have an independent professional who represents your children’s best interests.

It’s important to know what a guardian ad litem is, what he or she will do in your case, and how to manage your relationship with him or her. After all, it’s in your best interest to work with this attorney rather than make his or her job more difficult.

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My Spouse Isn’t Paying Support: What Do I Do?

Court-ordered support is peace of mind if you’re getting divorced or are divorced and rely on maintenance or child support to survive.

There’s just one problem: Any order for support is just a piece of paper, and former spouses don’t always comply.

Most people will wait a couple of weeks, or even a few months, before they decide to take action and seek out legal options. And while you don’t have to seek a remedy right away, it’s important to know your options if you have to go to court to collect.

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The Illinois Maintenance Law Changed…Again

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is undergoing many changes in recent years. Now, the most recent change coming is to maintenance law, which was last changed in July 2015.

HB 2537 was introduced In February 2017 and is designed to, amongst other things, change the threshold for statutory support and the duration of maintenance from the current formula (modifying 750 ILCS 5/504). Read on to find out how maintenance has worked in Illinois over the years, how it’s changing, and what you need to know for your own case.

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Now a Dog Can Have His Day in Court: New Pet Custody Law in Illinois is Effective January 1, 2018!

Today marks the first day where divorcing couples can now petition Illinois courts for custody of their pets! Public Act 100-0042 is effective as of January 1, 2018, which amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) to award ownership of, and responsibilities for, any companion (service animals not included) animal a couple may own.

This means that couples can fight for ownership of any animal: dogs, cats, fish, and reptiles included.

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Pensions and Divorce: How are They Divided?

Retirement assets are a significant concern for most when a divorce is pending. After all, you’ve worked hard for your pension, or are young and are planning to contribute to it for a long time for long-term security. So, when you decide to get divorced, it’s natural to wonder: how is the pension going to get divided?

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New Republican Tax Legislation and the Alimony Deduction

On November 2, 2017, the House Ways and Means Committee introduced H.R.1, also known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Several provisions within are set to impact divorce, and property settlement. And, though its passage into law is still far away, and the bill is likely to undergo several revisions and changes between now and then, understanding the changes and how they might impact your divorce is important.

Specifically, there are two provisions of concern:

  1. Section 1309, which eliminates the alimony deduction; and
  2. Section 1302, which significantly reduces the mortgage interest deductions

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How much is your property worth?

Business Valuations and Divorce: How it Works

Though there are sometimes issues when it comes to children and a parenting schedule in divorce, there are almost always more issues when it comes to property division. After all, property division – which also means placing values on everything you own and are going to divide as marital property – comes with its fair share of disputes.

Nowhere is this truer than in valuing a business. What a business is worth is often highly discretionary, even between experts. Because of this, it’s important that you work with your Naperville divorce lawyer so nothing is left to chance, especially in something as important as valuing a business.

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What is Non-Marital Property and How Does it Stay Non-Marital?

In divorce there are two types of property: Marital property and non-marital property. It’s obvious what marital property is: it’s all of the property both you and your spouse purchase or acquire together during your marriage. However, the guidelines for what makes property non-marital aren’t always as clear.

In this article, we discuss non-marital property in greater detail to help you protect what you have that is non-marital and are able to keep it after your divorce, without any claim from your spouse.

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Unallocated Support: What You Need to Know

When it comes to divorce in Illinois, most individuals know of two types of support: spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, and child support. This means that when people hear that there’s another type of support, they get confused.

In this article, we cover the basics of unallocated support and the benefits of choosing unallocated support over separate maintenance and child support in your divorce.

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Non-Parent Visitation in Divorce

Only parents have visitation rights with their children after divorce. This means that the Illinois statute that governs divorce procedure, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), only grants parents the right to see their children, provided there isn’t a compelling reason to keep a child from a parent.

Other relatives, like grandparents and siblings, can file a petition for visitation with children of a divorced couple. The burden a non-parent must show to get a petition for visitation granted can be high, making it difficult for non-parents to get as much time with their grandchildren or sisters/brothers as they want. If met, however, a non-parent can get a set visitation schedule with children, just like a parent can.

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Hidden Assets and Divorce: How Will You Know?

Property division is a major focus in any divorce. And, while some property is obvious – like the marital residence, vehicles, and other, personal property – some isn’t. After all, it’s significantly more difficult to “see” bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other assets.

With this comes a problem: how do you know if your spouse is truly disclosing all of his or her assets during a divorce?

The divorce procedure in Illinois is set up to ensure that your spouse doesn’t hide any assets. Or, if they do, it’s designed to uncover them to ensure that you receive the equitable split of property you’re supposed to.

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Divorce Q&A: What is the Right of First Refusal?

If you have minor children, you’re going to have a parenting plan as part of your divorce. Typically, this parenting plan is called a Joint Parenting Judgment or, more commonly, an Allocation of Parental Responsibility Judgment.

The Right of First Refusal is going to be part of your parenting plan as part of Illinois law. This gives you the right to spend more time with your children if your soon-to-be former spouse, or former spouse, can’t.

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Wage Garnishment and Support: How it Works

You’re getting divorced and your soon-to-be former spouse is ordered to pay either child support or maintenance, or perhaps both as separate or unallocated support! This alone might cause some to worry. After all, who’s to say that your spouse will pay the support he or she was ordered to pay?

Wage garnishment is the answer to this problem.

When you’re entitled to receive maintenance, child support, or both, you have two options:

  1. Collect the payment directly from your spouse; or
  2. Establish an income withholding order

Typically, wage garnishment is used as a remedy if you aren’t being paid by your spouse, which is more likely to occur if you’ve agreed to accept payment directly and are no longer receiving it. However, there are other situations this might occur, all of which you can discuss with your Naperville divorce lawyer.

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Why Marital Asset Valuation Matters

Property division is typically the most complicated issue in a divorce. And, while it can be relatively straightforward to place a value on vehicles, a home, and other assets, it can be difficult to value others. And, without a fair valuation, you might agree to a settlement that isn’t fair, especially when you consider the long-term implications of your financial situation following divorce.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • How marital property is divided in Illinois;
  • How to determine the value of complex assets; and
  • Other important considerations in marital asset valuation

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What’s in a Parenting Plan?

If you have minor children, you’re going to have a parenting plan as part of your divorce. However, not all parents understand what a parenting plan is going into their divorce. And, more importantly, not all parents understand what to expect as parenting plans are drafted, finalized, and implemented.

In this article, we explore the basics of all parenting plans, and what you can expect to find in them.

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Don’t Let Short-Term Thinking Impact Your Retirement After Divorce

When you first begin the divorce process, it’s difficult to think about the long-term implications of your decisions. You may want to litigate certain issues, or fight with your spouse over items or issues that, in the future, are inconsequential.

However, divorce is about more than just the money you have sitting in your bank account right now. In fact, your Illinois divorce will affect the money you have not only now, but in the future as well. Nowhere is this more apparent than in your retirement accounts.

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How to Make Modifications After Your Divorce

Your divorce is over and the judgment is entered. So, now what?

Now, you go about living your new life, until something happens. Perhaps you get a new job. Perhaps your ex-spouse gets a new job. Or, maybe one of your children’s needs change. And when any of these events happen, or any, relevant others, you need to return to court.

Making modifications after your divorce aren’t difficult, but you do need a good reason to make them. In this article, we explore some of the primary reasons why you’ll return to court to make modifications, as almost every couple will, and how the process works.

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So, What’s the Income Shares Model?

If you were divorced before July 1, 2017 or are still in the process of getting divorced, the income shares model of child support will apply to your case. And, while some are uncertain about the change, Illinois is the 40th state to adopt this model. As such, you can have confidence knowing that this model is in the best interest of both you, and your family.

In this article, we’ll give a basic overview of what the income shares model is about, how it works, and adjustments made to the model based on parenting time.

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My Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Papers – Now What?

There are complications that arise throughout divorce cases. However, few complications arise well before the case even starts. But in a select few cases, there are spouses who refuse to accept the divorce and try to refuse, even if the case appeared to be an uncontested divorce.

Don’t fret: Your spouse’s refusal to sign the papers doesn’t mean your case won’t proceed. Instead, you should focus on strategies both you and your Naperville divorce attorney can use to keep your case on track and without the speed bump your spouse can add to the process by refusing to sign.

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The 3 Biggest Financial Mistakes in Divorce

Most couples encounter two major issues in a divorce: parenting time and financials. Typically, parenting time is resolved well before the end of a case, leaving the property and debt division center stage.

There’s just one problem: the financial issues are what push many cases from settlement to litigation. In fact, the most significant mistakes couples make in negotiating a divorce are almost all related to financial issues. And, when pushed to the limit, financial issues can leave both you and your soon-to-be former spouse in a tough position once your divorce is over.

Read on to learn 3 of the most significant financial mistakes in divorce and what you can do to avoid making the same in your case.

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Divorce and the Discovery Process: What to Know

When you’re getting divorced, you need to know everything about your spouse. This includes assets, liabilities, and other, vital information that’s necessary to divide property like bank accounts, the marital residence, and more.

This is where a process called discovery comes in.

The discovery process typically begins soon after the divorce is filed. Below, we’ll discuss the various types of discovery that may be filed in your case, what you’re expected to provide, and other details you should know.

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Wage Garnishment and Child Support: What You Should Know

Child support is common in most Illinois divorces. If you are going to receive child support, there are two ways to do so:

  1. You can arrange for your spouse to pay you directly; or
  2. You can enter an order garnishing your former spouse’s wages and be paid through the state disbursement unit.

As you can imagine, wage garnishment is the most popular option because most couples who are divorced don’t get along or don’t want to coordinate to exchange child support payments each month. In this article, we discuss wage garnishment in greater detail to get you familiar with how it will work in your divorce case.

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5 Tips for Testifying at Your Hearing

It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll have to testify at some point in your divorce proceedings.

Most often, this occurs at your final court date, or “prove up.” During this court date, both you and your significant other will stand before the judge and testify to certain facts in your Judgment and Marital Settlement Agreement. Your attorney will ask you questions and, in most instances, you’ll answer either “yes” or “no.”

You may also be required to testify during discovery at a meeting called a deposition or before the judge if there is a hearing in your case on an issue during the divorce proceedings, such as child support or maintenance.

The issue with testifying isn’t that it’s difficult. In fact, the only problem is that most individuals don’t know how to testify because what they know comes from television or other, unrealistic sources.

Read on to learn what testifying in court actually requires and 5 tips to help you relax when it’s your turn to step up to the bench!

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I Don’t Like My Case Outcome: Now What?

Like any case in court, a divorce can be risky. If you don’t settle – meaning you don’t come to an agreement with the other side about issues in the case before trial – you’re leaving it entirely to the judge to decide your fate. And, while a pre-trial conference can give your DuPage County divorce attorney insight as to what a judge will decide on your case, you will never know what can or will happen at trial.

Luckily, you have options following the close of your case to appeal or otherwise try and change a judge’s ruling on certain issues in your case. Unfortunately, not all decisions can be challenged or changed. However, you can file an appeal or a petition to reconsider on a handful of topics.

In this article, we discuss both appeals and other options in greater detail so you know your options following the end of your divorce.

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What Terminates Spousal Support in Illinois?

In almost any divorce, spousal support isn’t designed to last forever. In fact, it’s designed to provide temporary relief to an individual who needs it after a divorce. The key word here is temporary.

Maintenance in Illinois is calculated according to a statutory formula. The formula directs attorneys to take 30 percent of the paying spouse’s gross income and subtract 20 percent of the receiving spouse’s gross income. This total is the amount the paying spouse must provide yearly.

But, what puts an end to maintenance?

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New Income Shares Model Changes Child Support Calculations in Illinois

July 1 is quickly approaching and when it hits, child support calculations in Illinois will be based on an income shares model rather than the current, net income model. There are multiple reasons for this switch, all of which are beneficial not only for both parents, but children as well.

In this article, we’ll discuss how the current child support calculations work, what income shares are, how income share calculations work, and what you need to know about this new law if you’re planning on getting divorced.

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The Dangers of Dissipation and Divorce

Divorce involves the division of joint accounts, joint property, and other assets. This process almost always involves one spouse believing they’re entitled to more than they’re going to receive as part of their final judgment. This often opens the door to something called dissipation.

In this article, we’ll discuss what dissipation is, why you may need to continue sharing resources during the divorce, and how to protect yourself from dissipation during your own divorce.

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Who Pays for What After Divorce?

The final judgment from your divorce – specifically the marital settlement agreement – will govern how property, including debts, are divided after the marriage is over. This means that when you walk out of your prove up, which is the final court date on which you’ll actually “get divorced” from your spouse, you’ll know what you have to pay of the debts.

This begs the question: How is it decided what each spouse is supposed to pay? Below, we discuss this in more detail and what happens if one spouse doesn’t pay the debts he or she was ordered to pay.

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Summer Schedule Concerns After Divorce

Creating a parenting schedule can be difficult enough when your kids are in school. However, once summer vacation hits, it can be even more complicated, especially for parents who have recently divorced. Many parents are concerned over summer vacation for good reason: With the kids no longer in school, it’s difficult for parents to manage time, run errands, and otherwise meet the needs of shuffling the kids around from sport to sport or event to event.

But, does it have to be?

In this article, we address some of the most common summer scheduling concerns and what you can do to lessen their ill effects on your already hectic lifestyle.

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Annulment vs. Divorce in Illinois: What You Need to Know

Regardless of why you choose to end your marriage, there are several ways how to do so. Annulment and divorce are two separate options to do so legally, however both function in different ways.

In this article, we’ll explore the various similarities, and differences, between both an annulment and divorce and other legal options you have at the time of separation.

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5 Common Questions About Child Support in IL

If you’re getting divorced and have children, you may receive or have to pay child support. But, what does child support pay for and how does child support work in Illinois?

It can feel overwhelming to navigate the complexities of child support by yourself. By taking the time to understand the basic concepts underlying child support, you can have a better grasp on the topic, which is crucial to feeling comfortable and confident moving forward in your case and after your case is settled.

Below are the 5 most common questions we receive at Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. about child support. These questions will help lay a foundation for your understanding and demystify some of the intricacies of child support in Illinois.

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Does IL Require Retroactive Child Support?

Let’s start with a hypothetical situation. Assume John and Jane are married and John moves out of the house before Jane files for divorce. Months pass and John does not contribute any money to the care of the children. When Jane files for divorce, what happens to all of the months John did not pay?

In all likelihood, John will have to pay Jane retroactive child support.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What retroactive child support is;
  • When it is required; and
  • How it is calculated

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How to Work Out a Parenting Schedule

Children’s issues are front and center in any divorce. In fact, you’ll have a parenting schedule and child support in place well before your final court date. But, how does a couple decide how to share time with the children?

In most cases, it’s a collaborative effort. While there is no longer custody in Illinois, the children are likely to live with one parent – often referred to as the residential parent – and enjoy visitation with the other parent. As such, it’s important to coordinate a schedule with your soon-to-be former spouse to ensure your children have a schedule and stability.

But, how is it done?

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Why You Should Always Settle in Divorce

The word “settlement” has a bad connotation in the realm of divorce. No spouse wants to “settle” and assumingly take less than what he or she is owed or perhaps even compromise with a spouse that he or she no longer gets along with.

However, the truth of the matter is that settlement should almost always be your goal. After all, litigation is time-consuming, messy, and, more importantly expensive. In fact, most cases that are litigated and go to trial can easily cost upwards of $30,000, $40,000, or even $50,000 or more. And, when you consider those attorney’s fees are coming out of your pocket or the property you’re awarded in the divorce, settlement becomes an even more attractive option.

Money aside, why would anyone want to settle? Below, we explore three of the most common reasons to offer a different perspective on what is typically a contentious process.

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Divorce Mediation Illinois 101

There are two ways to proceed with any divorce case in Illinois:

  1. Settlement negotiations; or
  2. Litigation

Litigation is what you think of when you hear the word “divorce.” It’s where you’ll spend seemingly endless hours in court, pay a small fortune, and deal with a contentious, disagreeable negotiation for months, if not years. This makes it no surprise why most couples, when they can, choose to settle their case rather than litigate.

One of the most popular methods to reach a settlement is mediation. In this article, we’ll cover all the basics of this process, including:

  • What is mediation?
  • How the process works; and
  • Common questions individuals have about this process

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