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IL divorce lawyerNow more than ever, technology allows us to do all kinds of things online. Activities that were only possible face-to-face just ten years ago have now become ubiquitous in the online world. Among the explosion of online utilities now available is a wide variety of legal services that allow users to do anything from creating a will to getting a divorce.

These services advertise themselves as easy, less expensive alternatives to in-person legal counsel from a qualified attorney. Although in some cases this may be true, it is certainly not always wise to use online divorce technology, and doing so may end up costing you significant amounts of time and money in the long run.

Is it Ever a Good Idea to Use Illinois Divorce Websites?

There are many reasons that a “do-it-yourself” divorce may seem appealing. Low costs, faster processing time, and fewer complications all sound great - especially if you are trying to separate from a hostile spouse as soon as possible.

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IL divorce lawyerFor children who are born to married parents, establishing paternity is easy: The mother is obviously the mother, and the mother’s husband is assumed to be the father. However, when two people are not married, establishing the parentage of a child can pose some challenges.

Parents must seek to establish legal paternity for their child another way. Because Illinois law is deeply concerned with the wellbeing of a child and seeks involvement and support from both parents, courts will often issue Orders of Paternity in order to establish who is the child’s legal father. Before a court does this, however, it will need to determine who is the father; for this reason, genetic testing is often used.

What Is Genetic Testing?

We receive our genes, or genetic material, from two people: Our father and our mother. DNA testing compares the genes of a child to the genetic material of his or her parents. This DNA can be obtained in a variety of ways, including blood, hair, bone, or other body fluid samples, but the most common method of gathering DNA is through a simple cheek swab. This does not hurt a child.

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joliet criminal defense lawyerIllinois criminal law divides criminal conduct into two main categories: Crimes against property and crimes against a person. If a thief broke into a home and stole money, but nobody else was home, then the thief committed an offense against property. However, if the same thief confronted someone on the street with a gun and stole their wallet, the crime is robbery and is considered an offense against a person. 

Assault and battery are both offenses against a person. Because assault and battery are often discussed in the same context, many people believe they always happen together or are the same crime. However, assault and battery are two distinct legal offenses that describe different behaviors and carry different penalties. 

What is Battery?

The crime of battery is committed when one person, without legal authority or justification, intentionally causes bodily harm to another person or makes physical contact in a way that insults or provokes the victim. Serious physical harm does not have to take place in order for someone to be successfully prosecuted with battery. A single slap, punch, or even finger poke in the chest could be considered battery. 

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joliet divorce lawyerEven under the best of circumstances, Illinois parents getting divorced with young children at home face a number of difficult challenges. In addition to the loss of the relationship, parents must figure out how to tell the children about the divorce and attempt to help them process their emotions.

Professionals in divorce and child psychology have developed strategies for minimizing the negative impacts of divorce on children and families. With careful planning and a commitment to avoid blame and hostility, parents can help children through the transition so they may continue to have healthy, loving relationships with both adults. 

Practice the Conversation Together First

Experts suggest planning and practicing what you will share with your children ahead of time. Choosing the right words can be difficult in the heat of the moment. A practiced conversation can help parents avoid conflict and strong emotional reactions, allowing them to focus on the child’s reaction and needs. 

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will county divorce lawyerIn an ideal world, every parent would easily be able to find the perfect balance of work and family life. In reality, however, when couples decide to have children, they must make difficult decisions about paying for childcare and earning a liveable income. Many times, couples decide that one parent will stay home to care for the children while the other parent pursues a career. 

This arrangement has its benefits and drawbacks. One potential downside is that it leaves the homemaking parent with little or no personal income. If the relationship sours and the homemaker contemplates divorce, he or she may feel trapped, unable to afford the legal representation they need, and worried about future finances. However, Illinois recognizes the important contributions homemakers make to their family and society. In addition to child support, the law offers protection by providing for several kinds of spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony).

Types of Spousal Maintenance Available to Homemakers

  • Temporary maintenance is a type of spousal maintenance that is awarded during the divorce proceedings. Spouses who need this kind of support may petition the court for temporary maintenance at the same time as they file for divorce, or they may do so after the initial filing. If awarded, this kind of maintenance helps homemakers afford divorce proceedings and avoid financial disaster during the divorce.

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joliet asset division lawyerOne of the most contentious issues in an Illinois divorce is the division of assets. Assets are considered either marital or nonmarital, but it is not always easy to determine which category an asset falls into. What if you owned a home before getting married and the mortgage was always in your name, but your spouse helped you make payments on it throughout the marriage? What if you inherited $10,000 from your grandfather, but placed it into a bank account that you shared with your spouse? 

In this blog post, we will examine the difference between marital and nonmarital assets and the factors that can help a judge determine how assets are categorized. The terms “assets” and “property” mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. Keep in mind that this article is not meant to be legal advice and that the best way to obtain a satisfactory asset division in your divorce is to hire an experienced divorce attorney. 

What is Considered Marital Property in Illinois? 

Generally, marital property is any asset, whether liquid (such as a savings account) or illiquid (such as a home) that was acquired during the marriage. Whether one spouse had his or her name on the title is not usually important if spouses acquired, jointly used, or jointly paid for the asset during the marriage. Common examples of marital property include:

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Joliet Family Law AttorneyIf you are a parent getting divorced in Illinois, you likely have questions about child custody. Many parents understandably worry about how a divorce will impact the amount of time they spend with their children. Some parents have additional concerns about how the other parent’s ability to care for the child appropriately. Regardless of your particular situation, if you are getting divorced in Illinois, it is important to understand Illinois laws regarding child custody and parenting time.

How is Parenting Time Decided in an Illinois Divorce?

Although we still use the term “child custody” to refer to general parenting duties after a divorce, this term is technically outdated. Illinois law now uses the term “allocation of parental responsibilities” to refer to parents’ decision-making authority and “parenting time” to refer to the time parents spend caring for their children.

Parents may design whatever parenting time schedule works best for their particular situation. If the parents can agree on a parenting time arrangement, they can submit the agreement to the court for approval as part of their parenting plan. Unless there is a reason that the parenting time agreement would not be in the child’s best interests, the court will approve the agreement and formalize it into a legally binding court order.

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Will County Criminal Defense AttorneyIllinois is known for its attention to the juvenile justice system. It was the first state in the country to create a separate justice system for those under the age of majority. This has been extremely important, as the juvenile court system often serves as a means for rehabilitating young people who are on the wrong path. This is different from adult criminal court in that there is a belief that children have more of an opportunity for change. However, there are still some instances in which a juvenile may be tried in adult criminal court. If you or a loved one were charged with a criminal offense in Illinois, it is important to understand what you may be up against. 

Juveniles Facing Charges in Adult Criminal Court

It’s important to note that there is never a time when a juvenile is required to be transferred to adult criminal court.

Juveniles who are over 13 years of age can only be transferred to adult criminal court if the prosecution can demonstrate that doing so would be in the best interest of the juvenile or of public safety as a whole. When coming to this determination, there are a variety of factors that the judge may consider:

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joliet property division lawyerMany financial issues will need to be settled during a divorce case, and determining how to divide marital assets and debts will often be one of the primary concerns that spouses will need to address. In some cases, the property division process may be fairly straightforward, but it can become more complex when a couple owns multiple types of financial assets. Retirement benefits are one form of property that can complicate divorce proceedings, and spouses will want to understand their rights regarding these assets and the methods they can use to avoid financial penalties.

Dividing Retirement Assets

Spouses may save money in multiple types of retirement accounts, including employer-provided plans such as a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA) that they have set up on their own. Even though these accounts may be in one spouse’s name, they will usually be considered marital assets if contributions were made to the account during a couple’s marriage. Fortunately, determining the value of these assets can be fairly simple, and the balance of an account may be divided between spouses during the divorce process.

Pension benefits that one spouse is eligible to receive will also be considered marital assets, as long as the spouse was married while working in the job where these benefits were earned. However, determining the value of these benefits is not always easy, especially if the spouse does not expect to retire until many years or decades in the future. The best way to deal with these assets is to agree that a certain percentage of the benefits will be paid to the person’s ex-spouse. Usually, this percentage will be based on the number of years the couple was married compared to the total number of years they worked in the pension-eligible position throughout their career.

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joliet divorce lawyerThere are many reasons why married couples choose to divorce, including disagreements about finances or how children should be raised. However, many of the most contentious divorce cases involve infidelity. When one spouse has been unfaithful, the other spouse may experience betrayal, anger, and sadness, making it more difficult to reach agreements during the divorce process. Because infidelity can be an important part of why a marriage may be ending, spouses will want to understand whether this issue will play a role in their divorce proceedings.

Divorce and Marital Misconduct

Infidelity will be a highly consequential issue in a couple’s relationship, and because of this, spouses may expect that they will need to raise this issue during their divorce. However, there are only a few situations where this type of behavior may influence the decisions made during the divorce process. As difficult as it may be to ignore this issue, pointing out that a spouse who has cheated usually will not benefit the other spouse.

While infidelity may be a primary reason for the end of a couple’s marriage, there will be no need to mention this when filing for divorce. Illinois only recognizes “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for divorce, so a divorce petition will only state that the couple’s marriage has broken down beyond repair. Similarly, Illinois law states that “marital misconduct” is not a factor that should be considered when dividing marital property or determining whether one party should pay spousal support to the other.

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Will County criminal defense attorney order of protection

Domestic abuse is a serious criminal offense in many states. According to the Illinois Domestic Violence law, any person who hits, kicks, chokes, harasses, threatens, or interferes with the personal liberty of a family or household member has broken the law. In many cases, a spouse may accuse his or her partner of abuse during their marriage. If the alleged victim fears for his or her safety, he or she can obtain an order of protection. This is a legal document that restricts the alleged abuser from doing certain things. For example, contacting the alleged victim via phone or coming within a certain distance of his or her home or work. Any violation of a protective order can result in serious penalties in Illinois. 

Types of Protective Orders

Often called a “restraining order,” an order of protection may be issued against someone who is accused of domestic violence. Basically, these types of orders prohibit an alleged abuser from continuing to threaten or abuse the person who obtained the order. Besides physical abuse, this may also include intimidation, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation. 

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Joliet criminal defense lawyer, arrested in Joliet,  police arrests, unlawful arrest, Illinois criminal caseNo one likes being arrested—not in Joliet and not anywhere else in the country. It can be an upsetting and frightening experience for you and for any family or friends who witness a police officer placing cuffs on you.

In light of recent police arrests across the country that have resulted in serious injury or death to the suspect being arrested, you may wonder what you should and should not do in such a situation.

Tips for a “Successful” Arrest Encounter

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Along with a criminal defendant’s right to remain silent, the right to have one’s case tried to a jury of “one’s peers” is one of the most important constitutional protections available for criminal defendants. This protection exists to help guarantee that a person is not convicted of a criminal offense through government overreach, but instead only upon evidence and testimony that convinces 12 individuals from the community of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Juries are Supposed to Represent a Cross-Section of the Local Community

In theory, the 12 people who decide a particular Illinois criminal case are supposed to represent a “cross-section” of the community. That is, the individuals who sit on a jury to hear a particular case should represent the races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and education levels (amongst others) of average citizens in the community. If the community has a predominantly minority population, one would expect that a jury would be comprised of predominately minority individuals. This does not always happen, however.

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Joliet criminal defense attorney, restitution, property damageIt has long been a criticism of the criminal justice system that criminals are afforded greater protections and rights than the accused defendant. (This emphasis on the defendant’s rights is understandable when one considers that victims are not in jeopardy of being wrongly convicted and having their freedom and/or property wrongly taken.)

This criticism is not entirely unfounded: victims cannot choose whether the accused should accept a plea agreement, they cannot compel the accused to testify at trial and answer questions, and ultimately they cannot determine what sentence the accused should receive.

What is Restitution and Its Purpose?

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Joliet criminal defense lawyer, sexual assaultCharges of sexual misconduct, such as sexual assault, are some of the most serious criminal charges that can be levied against you. In addition to the possibility of prolonged periods of incarceration, sexual assault charges can damage your reputation and standing in your community (sometimes even if no conviction actually results). For this reason, prompt and decisive action should be taken as soon as possible to address any charges of sexual assault or misconduct.

Defenses Available to Defendants Charged with Sexual Assault

When you first learn that you are charged with sexual assault stemming from a sexual encounter with another, you may feel despondent and as if there is no hope. The prosecution may attempt to pressure you into accepting a plea agreement by trying to convince you that you have no defense. This is not true: depending on the facts of your case, you may have one or more defenses available to you:

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Will County criminal defense lawyer, heroin buyers, drug treatment programHeroin use and distribution is a serious problem in Illinois, and in particular Chicago and the surrounding areas. To help combat the heroin epidemic, the Chicago Police Department has developed a unique drug diversion program where the police can offer drug dealers the opportunity to enter into a drug rehabilitation program instead of facing jail time for drug-related offenses. Due to the success of the program, which has been in use since the spring of 2016, the Chicago Police Department has decided to scale up the program to see if more low-level drug offenders would be keen to the idea of seeking treatment instead of going to jail.

In March, law enforcement set up a reverse sting operation where they lured low-level heroin users to a location on the pretenses that the heroin users could buy dime bags of heroin, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The operation was the first time that the program had been extended to drug purchasers. Forty-one people who were caught as a result of the reverse sting operation elected to enroll in the drug treatment program rather than face jail time.

The idea behind the program is that if drug addicts are offered the opportunity to overcome their addiction, maybe they can be rehabilitated, which in turn would reduce the number of people who are addicted to drugs and and can reduce the number of people who commit drug-related offenses.

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Will County criminal defense attorney, felony theftIf you find yourself facing shoplifting charges, how will you know if the charges against you can be upgraded to include felony counts? While most citizens are likely to understand the basics of shoplifting, in Illinois there are laws that specifically target retail theft and are stricter than those in other states. Working with an experienced theft defense attorney is your best course of action for receiving the advice and counsel needed to face these potential challenges.

When Does Shoplifting Become a Felony?

The most basic definition of retail shoplifting is any instance when a person is alleged to take, possess, carry away, or transfer any retail merchandise; however, the intent to deprive the merchant of full value must be proven. Under this definition, a crime is said to be committed should the accused pay for the merchandise, but not pay full value—as if one were to change a price tag or “under ring” at checkout.

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Strict or Lenient? Find Out How Illinois DUI Laws RankIllinois is in the middle of the pack when it comes to which state has the strictest DUI laws. According to a study by WalletHub, Illinois ranks 19th in its survey of DUI laws across the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The five states with the strictest DUI laws are:

  1. Arizona (the most strict)
  2. Georgia
  3. Alaska
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Nebraska

The states with the five most lenient DUI laws are:

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My Spouse Can Get My Domestic Battery Charge Dropped … Right?Domestic battery charges in Illinois are a serious matter. A fight or argument that escalates and gets out of hand can easily result in law enforcement being called and you being placed in handcuffs. If criminal charges are filed against you, the first offense of domestic battery can result in a jail sentence of up to one year. If you have prior convictions for domestic battery, you may face between one and three years in prison. Because a conviction for domestic battery can result in such severe consequences, individuals charged with this offense may make every attempt to have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

The Victim’s Testimony is Important – But Not Necessarily Critical

One of the more common methods of seeking a dismissal that domestic battery defendants attempt to employ is to speak with the victim him- or herself and ask that he or she have the charges dropped. Setting aside for the moment any consideration of whether the defendant’s act of contacting the identified victim in a domestic battery case would violate the defendant’s conditions of bond, this method is not as effective as it might first appear.

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Your Miranda Rights and Your Illinois Criminal ChargesAny fan of police dramas or law enforcement reality shows should be familiar with the Miranda warnings: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you by the court.” These warnings – named after the decision in Miranda v. Arizona, which first required these warnings to be given – are a common feature in many Will County criminal cases.

When are Miranda Warnings Required?

However, law enforcement officers do not always give these Miranda warnings. While there may be some consequences to this decision, they may not necessarily be as serious as some criminal defendants might think:

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