DIVORCE, LEGAL SEPARATION & ANNULMENT
Most people enter into a marriage with the goal of that union lasting the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, this is often an unrealistic hope. Individuals grow apart and life circumstances change. When this happens, it is wise to contact an experienced North Shore divorce and legal separation attorney. At the Law Offices of Edward I. Stein, we understand that people change. We have more than 40 years of experience guiding clients through the most emotional and complex matters of family law. Trust us to explain the legal process and any timelines you are facing. We strive to educate clients on their options as well as the costs and benefits of each one so they can make informed decisions regarding their future.
Options for Dissolving a Marriage There are three options that couples can explore when attempting to change their marital status:
• Divorce: A dissolution of marriage “divorce” ends a legal marriage. There is a process that must be followed, including negotiation as well as court appearances. The process can be short or very long, depending on the cooperation of the parties and the complexity of the Issues that might need to be resolved pertaining to child custody, child support, spousal support and property division.
• Legal separation:Some couples decide to separate rather than divorce based on religious beliefs or medical needs. In a legal separation, parties are still married, but a judgment is entered by the court regarding spousal support, child support and child custody. If the parties agree, property division can be included in the legal separation contract. One of the main benefits of a legal separation over divorce is that both spouses stay on whatever medical insurance plan was in place during a marriage. In this situation, a spouse with a serious illness or injury does not need to find his or her own medical insurance in addition to the stress of a divorce.
• Annulment:Now called a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage, as the name would suggest, an annulment effectively erases a marriage. It is, in essence, a declaration of the invalidity of the marriage. In an annulment, the parties agree that it was an invalid marriage from the start based on the familial relationship of the spouses (first cousin or closer) or that one of the spouses was found to be underage or, in certain cases, a fraud has occurred.
MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS
In a divorce, there are typically several areas of disagreement such as custody, visitation and property division. The two parties must work through these disagreements in negotiation with their lawyers, in mediation or before a judge. Once all disputes have been settled, a marital settlement agreement is drafted. It is important to remember that a marital settlement agreement is a contract with enforceable provisions. Agreements regarding child custody, child support, visitation, property division and spousal maintenance must be followed after the conclusion of the divorce proceeding. For approximately 15 years, Mr. Stein authored the “Marital Settlement Agreements” chapter in the Family Law Handbook used by most Illinois lawyers. He has received many awards for his significant contribution to the education of the Illinois Bar from the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education. It is highly recommended for spouses in a divorce proceeding to discuss an amicable resolution and settlement of all claims. A marital settlement agreement (also known as a “property settlement agreement”) is a written agreement that provides the parties with an efficient means to resolving the issues of a divorce proceeding. Marital settlement agreements are considered to be final and binding upon the spouses and should be thoroughly discussed, negotiated and reviewed by the parties. Marital settlement agreements can also save the parties a significant amount of time and money since court proceedings are removed from the process. Any marital settlement agreement should be drafted by a skilled and experienced family law attorney and filed with the court as part of the divorce proceeding. Oftentimes, the parties may not agree to one or more issues and court proceedings are necessary.
Alimony is now called Spousal Maintenance and is financial support paid by one spouse to the other during and/or after a divorce. The courts examine a wide range of factors in the determination of spousal support amounts and durations. An experienced family law attorney can answer your questions in greater detail.
At the Northbrook Law Offices of Edward I. Stein, we have helped countless couples as they struggle through the divorce process. We are skilled mediators as well as accomplished trial lawyers, and our clients appreciate our knowledge of the law.
When either spouse seeks spousal maintenance, the court evaluates a number of factors, including:
• Income and property of each party
• Needs of each party
• Present and future earning capacity of each party
• Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance
• Time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training and employment
• Standard of living established during the marriage
• Duration of the marriage
• Age and physical and emotional condition of both parties
In Illinois, spousal maintenance can be either temporary or permanent. After the divorce judgment, and if the judgment so provides, spousal support can be modified based on the changing needs of either the payer or the payee. Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with at our office to learn more about the specifics of divorce and spousal maintenance.
Prior to July 1, 2017, child support in Illinois was based on a percentage of the payor’s net income, the percentage dependent on the number of children to be supported. Since mid-2017, Illinois law has followed the income sharing approach that considers the net income of both parents. This has radically changed child support awards in both Illinois divorce and paternity cases. Child support can be set at a lower or higher amount (known as a deviation) and often the court may require the parent to contribute to some of the children’s health care, child care, education and extracurricular expenses.There are two approaches to determine net income under the income sharing law for child support in Illinois. The first approach uses a “standardized tax amount” and the second approach uses an “individualized tax amount.” The new law is very complex and advice from an experienced matrimonial lawyer in determining the amount of child support you will either pay or receive is essential.
At the Law Offices of Edward I. Stein, we have a great deal of experience guiding clients through all facets of divorce including child support matters. Most often, issues related to children can be the most vehemently debated. It is our goal to navigate these disagreements and come to a successful resolution in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Contact our firm today by calling (847) 480-9090 to schedule a consultation.
MODIFICATION & ENFORCEMENT
A judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation will often need to be modified at some point following a divorce. A dramatic income change that results from a job loss or job gain, a growing child or the need to relocate can all necessitate a modification to the original decree.
We have guided clients through a wide range of family law matters for more than 40 years. We understand that life events can make modifications necessary. We have the expertise required to examine the facts of your situation and design a compelling argument as to why the changes are needed.
Most commonly, we handle four areas in modification:
• Spousal maintenance
• Child custody
• Child visitation
• Child support
All requirements of a divorce judgment are enforceable. It is important to note that property settlements, while not modifiable, are certainly enforceable through the use of a petition for enforcement. A divorce judgment should include terms dealing with every factor possible such as custody, visitation and support. If one party does not comply with the order, he or she can be held in contempt of court and may be ordered to pay all or part of the petitioning party’s attorney fees. It is important to remember that there is a legal process for handling enforcement. Do not attempt to take matters into your own hands. A parent who blocks visitation until he or she receives a support payment can end up working against themself in the eyes of the court. Get in touch with our firm immediately so we can advise you on the best course of action.
If you have questions regarding post-divorce judgment modification and/or enforcement, contact the Law Offices of Edward I. Stein at (847) 480-9090 to schedule a consultation.
PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY (CHILD CUSTODY)
The most precious asset of a divorce is, of course, your children. Even though you might be angry with your spouse, you don’t want that anger to interfere with your child’s well-being. Illinois no longer uses the terms “child custody” or “visitation”. The term “parental responsibility” is used in place of child custody and the term “parenting time” is used in place of visitation.
In Illinois, there is no presumption that one parent should be awarded primary residential care. Child custody law is gender neutral. Cases involving either the issue of parental responsibility (major decisions affecting the children) or allocation of parenting time are decided based on the best interest of the child.
The term “caretaking functions” refers to decisions within each parent’s control when he or she is with a child. It is defined as, “tasks that involve interaction with a child or that direct, arrange and supervise the interaction with and care of a child provided by others, or for obtaining the resources allowing for the provision of these functions.”
Caretaking functions include:
1. Satisfying a child’s nutritional needs; managing a child’s bedtime and wake-up routines; caring for a child when the child is sick or injured; being attentive to a child’s personal hygiene needs, including washing, grooming, and dressing; playing with a child and ensuring the child attends scheduled extracurricular activities; protecting a child’s physical safety; and providing transportation for a child;
2. Directing a child’s various developmental needs, including the acquisition of motor and language skills, toilet training, self-confidence, and maturation;
3. Providing discipline, giving instruction in manners, assigning and supervising chores, and performing other tasks that attend to a child’s needs for behavioral control and self-restraint;
4. Ensuring the child attends school, including remedial and special services appropriate to the child’s needs and interests, communicating with teachers and counselors, and supervising homework;
5. Helping a child develop and maintain appropriate interpersonal relationships with peers, siblings, and other family members;
6. Ensuring the child attends medical appointments and is available for medical follow-up and meeting the medical needs of the child in the home;
7. Providing moral and ethical guidance for a child; and
8. Arranging alternative care for a child by a family member, babysitter, or other child care provider or facility, including investigating such alternatives, communicating with providers, and supervising such care.
During each parent’s parenting time, that parent is responsible for caretaking functions and “non-significant decision making.” By creating this expansive list, it has become more difficult to restrict the authority of the parent of either parent in their day to day care of their children.
Significant decision-making responsibilities can be agreed upon between the parents or allocated by the court. They can be made by either one or to both parents. An allocation to both parents is closest to what Illinois divorce lawyers have called “joint legal custody” although that term does not appear in the current law. Under current Illinois law, significant issues include: Education; Health; Religion; and Extracurricular activities.
It should be noted that the law also provides that, “A parent shall have sole responsibility for making routine decisions with respect to the child and for emergency decisions affecting the child’s health and safety during that parent’s parenting time.”
Contact our firm today by calling (847) 480-9090 to schedule a consultation.
Grandparent Visitation with a Grandchild
There are a number of circumstances under Illinois family law in which grandparents have a right to visitation with their grandchildren. In some cases, grandparents can even be awarded custody. Generally, in Illinois, a grandparent's right to visit a grandchild exists only through their relationship with their son or daughter, the parent of their grandchild. The parent of the child controls what, if any, time the grandparents may spend with the child. It is assumed that the parent will protect the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent. If the parent cannot protect that relationship because the parent is disabled, deceased, incarcerated or legally unavailable, the grandparents can seek reasonable visitation from the other parent.
Grandparent Custody of a Grandchild
In general, grandparents do not have a right to custody of a grandchild. However, in situations where a grandparent has a history of being the primary caregiver for an extended period of time, Illinois family court judges have allowed the child to continue to reside with the grandparent(s) rather than be transferred to the parent(s).
Extended family often presents complications in a divorce or post-divorce situation. In our practice, we have encountered numerous situations of conflict between one parent and that parent's own parents or the former in-laws. One of the most typical problems is abusing the visitation time with grandparents to prevent visitation time with the non-custodial parent.
We have represented grandparents seeking visitation and/or custody as well as parents seeking to prevent or limit such visitation and/or custody. This area of law is much more complicated than determining whether or not the situation will be or will not be in the best interest of the child.
Contact our firm today by calling (847) 480-9090 to schedule a consultation.
I asked of Echo 't other day (Whose words are few and often funny), What to a novice she could say Of courtship, love, and matrimony. Quoth Echo, plainly,—“Matter-o’-money!” John Godfrey Saxe (1866)
While property division might seem like a straight forward process on its surface, it is often a hotly disputed area in most divorces. Issues such as proper valuation and marital property versus non-marital property can be debated by both parties. In these situations, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced divorce lawyer. At the Law Offices of Edward I. Stein, we understand the emotion, frustration and anger that can accompany a divorce proceeding. Even if the parties are in agreement on many aspects of the marital settlement, the division of property can put a great strain on both mediations and trial litigation. We are confident in our ability to effectively guide our clients through all phases of this process.
Property in a marriage is categorized in one of two ways:
• Marital:Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage, such as a house, vehicles or investments made in both parties’ names.
• Non-marital:Non-marital property is typically defined as assets owned before the marriage, received as a gift during the marriage or acquired through an inheritance. It is possible to keep property separate during a marriage by the use of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Our firm will go to work immediately to investigate every aspect of your property to accurately assess whether those assets will be considered marital or non-marital. We have built a network of experts whom we trust to conduct a proper business valuation, as well as the valuation of other assets such as pensions, 401(k) accounts, IRA accounts and antiques. Trust us to guide you through the process while making every effort to ensure you receive a beneficial settlement in your property division.
Contact our firm online today or by calling 847-480-9090 to schedule a consultation.