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Will County divorce attorneyIllinois couples who are considering a separation or divorce should also begin the process of evaluating their amount of consumer and other debts. When couples elect to divorce in Illinois, the partners are required to divide both their assets and debts between them. If the matter of debt and asset distribution is placed into the court system, the state’s equitable distribution guidelines will be used.

However, in most cases, these rules are not conducive to the wide variety of financial situations couples may be contending with. Also, it is important to understand that the state’s equitable distribution guidelines do not mean that all debts and assets will be divided equally. Instead, they will be divided in a manner that court deems to be fair and just based on the circumstances of the situation.

Prenuptial Agreements Often Fail to Include Provisions for Debt Accumulated While Married

In many cases, even if the couple had executed a prenuptial agreement that outlines the distribution of separate and marital assets, the issue of debt accumulated during the marriage was not included and planned for in the agreement. Many couples find that the best solution to amicably resolving the issue of debt accumulated during marriage is to work together to pay it off before beginning the divorce process. If this is not possible, each partner must be proactive about making sure that they do not take on more than their fair share of the total debt load.  

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Joliet divorce decree modification lawyersThe purpose of divorce is to separate two peoples’ lives that have been intertwined through marriage. When two people get married, they not only combine their personal lives but also their financial lives. In order to divide them again during a divorce, a judge will decide what is a reasonable amount of marital property, spousal support, and/or child support to assign each spouse. These decisions are made based on several factors such as each spouse’s income, their contributions during the marriage, and their respective parental responsibilities. But, what happens if these factors change after the divorce is finalized? In a case like this, a divorced individual may need to seek a divorce decree modification.

Verbal Agreements Are Not Enforceable

Circumstances which would necessitate a divorce modification include substantial changes in income, illnesses, relocation, or remarriage. Generally, courts do not make changes to the original property or debt division, but modifications of spousal support or alimony, child support, and parenting time are more common. Couples who wish to modify the terms of their divorce agreements by way of a verbal agreement should be warned that such verbal agreements are not enforceable by the court. Modifications must be in writing and approved by the court to be effective.  

Motion for Modification

If a former couple agrees to modify terms of the original decree, they should do so in writing and submit it to the court. Sometimes, a hearing is required to ensure that both parties consent to the new terms of the agreement. Once the court is satisfied, the agreement is signed off on by the judge and becomes a legally-binding court order. If one spouse wishes to change the terms of the divorce agreement, but the other does not, a motion for modification must be filed. The two former spouses will need to attend a hearing. The spouse asking for a modification must have evidence to show that the change in circumstances warrants the modification. In matters related to parental responsibilities and parenting time, the person seeking a modification will also need evidence to prove that the change will be in the children’s best interest.

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Joliet divorce attorneysSocial media apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and others are a ubiquitous part of everyday life. Status updates, pictures, and opinions are regularly shared, giving the world a cultivated view into people’s lives. However, during the divorce process, social media posts can receive greater scrutiny as your assets and your behavior could be factored into the final divorce settlement. It would be wise to limit or eliminate your social media presence if you are going through a divorce.

Ways Social Media Could Affect a Divorce

A preoccupation with social media can drive many couples apart. Many studies have shown a link between increased social media use and decreased marriage quality. It is even possible social media played a role in the end of your marriage, as has recently been cited in up to 20 percent of cases by divorce lawyers. You should not let a preoccupation with online posts continue into the divorce proceedings.

Here are some that the process could be impacted by social media posts:

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Joliet criminal defense attorneyIf you are charged with crimes related to heroin possession, sales, delivery, or trafficking, the results can be life-shattering. Heroin is considered a Class I drug, meaning that it has a high likelihood for abuse and has no accepted medical use. While punishments for some drugs like marijuana are slowly lifting, heroin-related offenses are still aggressively prosecuted, often resulting in severe penalties including substantial fines and prison time. Working with an experienced drug crimes defense attorney is essential.

Heroin Possession Penalties in Illinois

All heroin-related crimes are charged as a felony. Here are the potential penalties for heroin possession, which increase based on the amount of heroin found:

  • Up to 15 grams is a Class 4 felony with a minimum 1 to 3-year sentence and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Between 15-100 grams is a Class 1 felony and carries a 4 to 15-year jail sentence with a fine of up to $200,000.
  • Between 100-400 grams is charged as a Class X felony, with a minimum of 6 to 30 years in jail and a fine of up to $200,000.
  • Between 400-900 grams is a Class X felony and carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 8-40 years plus up to $200,000 in fines.
  • If you possess over 900 grams, you will be charged with a Class X felony and face a mandatory minimum prison term of between 10-50 years and a fine of up to $200,000.

For Class X felonies, the fines may be increased to the street value of the drugs if that amount exceeds $200,000. By possessing over 1/2 gram of heroin you could also be charged with distribution and face a minimum of three years in prison. If you were found possessing or distributing heroin within 1500 feet of a park, school, or place of worship, or if you were in possession of a gun when the arrest was made, penalties can increase dramatically.

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Joliet parenting time lawyerWhen parents divorce, children will likely share time between the two parents. To avoid having the important decisions related to your children decided by a judge, you and your spouse are encouraged to work together to negotiate a parenting plan, also known as the allocation of parental responsibilities. In addition to deciding how important decisions regarding the children will be made, the plan will also include a parenting time schedule. This schedule will allocate when each parent has physical care of the children, during which time they have the sole responsibility to make routine daily decisions as well as emergency decisions about the children’s health and safety.

Parenting Time Schedule Tips for Illinois Families

When negotiating the parenting time schedule with your spouse, it can be difficult to put the difficulties of the divorce behind you and cooperate. However, it is helpful to take a step back and remember that the schedule should be set up to help your children succeed in their new living environment.

Here are a few aspects to consider when planning a parenting schedule:

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Joliet spousal support lawyersDuring an Illinois divorce, the spouses may agree on, or the court may order the payment of spousal support payments, also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, from one party to another. These payments are to ensure that the receiving party is financially secure after the divorce is finalized. The amount and length of the payments are based on several factors, including income, length of the marriage, the receiving spouse’s education and training, any impairment to their becoming self-sufficient, and other factors. However, future modifications to the payments are possible.

Changes in Income, Marital Status, and Health Could All Qualify

Once the payment amount and length are set, life goes on and changes can and will happen to both parties. There are several factors that can qualify for a modification to these payments. 

These include:

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Will County criminal defense attorneyGovernor J.B. Pritzker has signed a new bill into law that targets organized retail theft in Illinois. The law, known as the INFORM Act, will go into effect on January 1, 2023, and will allow the Illinois attorney general to charge anyone who knowingly participates in an organized retail theft of more than $300 with a Class 3 felony. Offenders who engage in organized theft from multiple establishments could be charged with a Class 2 felony.

The bill comes as a response to increasing retail theft, including by organized crime rings, and as a reversal of a movement in recent years in some jurisdictions to lower the charges of shoplifting and other retail theft crimes. The Cook County State’s Attorney has not yet commented on how the law would impact Cook County. Currently, Cook County does not charge someone with a retail theft crime for goods valued at less than $1,000.

The bill will give one state’s attorney jurisdiction when crimes by the same individual or group occur in more than one county. It will create a statewide intelligence platform to help law enforcement track organized groups and provide additional funding for attorneys and investigators. It also focuses on online third-party marketplaces, where much of the stolen merchandise ends up for sale.

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Joliet child support lawyerAfter a divorce, it can be tough for a single parent to make ends meet. If you have the bulk of parental responsibilities, you could be depending on the money that your ex-spouse has been ordered to pay in child support to provide your family with food, clothing, and other necessities. If those payments suddenly stop, you could be faced with a real financial struggle. Fortunately, you do have different options to enforce the child support order and get the payments moving again.

Three Steps to Take to Get Your Child Support Payments

There are different steps to take, whether payments are coming in sporadically or not at all, to enforce your court-ordered child support. The most common and effective ways are:

  • Reach out to your ex-spouse directly – If you are still on relatively good terms, you can reach out directly to ask about the payments. While they may try to explain why they have been late, remember, the decision to excuse payments is not yours to make since the payments are through a court order. It is best to keep a record of all communications.
  • Contact DCSS – One of the missions of the Illinois Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is to help collect payments for child support orders and collect past due payments. However, given the number of cases and a relatively small staff, this route may take a significant amount of time.
  • Call a lawyer – Speaking with an experienced child support lawyer may be your best option to ensure payments start coming in again. We can help take legal action to ensure payments are restarted and any missing payments are repaid. Parents who are not keeping up with child support payments may be subject to wage garnishment, court-ordered payment plans, and liens against their property. Additional punishments against those who have the ability to pay but are still missing court-ordered payments include a suspended driver’s license, community service, fines, and even jail time.

If your ex-spouse’s financial circumstances have changed due to a lost job or drop in wages, they may try to file for a child support modification request to lower the payments they are responsible for. However, this is handled through a separate request and does not excuse any late or missed payments under the current court order.

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Joliet uncontested divorce lawyerFor some couples who are ending their marriage on mutual terms, the divorce process can proceed in a more collaborative manner. You both may agree that it is time to end your marriage, and largely agree on how to divide your assets and responsibilities. This is certainly not the case in many divorces, but for those couples who do, an uncontested divorce may be an option.

Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce

Even in an uncontested divorce, a couple must come to a resolution on many key issues, including dividing their marital property and whether one spouse will provide spousal support or alimony to the other. Marital property commonly divided in a divorce can include large assets including retirement savings and the marital home. If the couple has children, they additionally must address the allocation of parental responsibilities, how parenting time will be divided, and how child support payments will be made and at what amount. These do not all have to be decided before you start the process, but it helps when there are no major points of contention.

Here are some benefits to an uncontested divorce:

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Will County family law attorneyLosing your job or having your salary cut can present you with several financial challenges. If you have been through a divorce and are providing child support, you may be wondering how you will keep your required payments going. When tough times hit, you do have the option to modify your monthly payments to keep providing for your children while adjusting to your new situation. Working with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you through the modification process is helpful.

Child Support Payment Calculations in Illinois

After a divorce, both parents are responsible for providing for their children. This includes their basic needs like food, housing, health, clothing, and education. During the divorce process, formulas are used to calculate how much each spouse should be providing for child support. The level for each parent is determined by combining their total net income and allocating an equitable share to each parent. While they are primarily based on each spouse’s income at the time, they also consider the allocation of parental responsibilities, the number of children, the previous standard of living before the divorce, and the needs of the children. The parent who spends more time and money caring for the children, known as the custodial parent, will typically receive monthly payments from the non-custodial parent.

Seeking a Child Support Modification

Illinois law allows child support payments to be modified when either spouse has a significant change in income. This includes the loss of a job or an involuntary reduction in salary. You will have to certify your new income, including unemployment benefits and your monthly expenses, with the court. Based on the new calculations, the court may grant a reduction in your required monthly payments. The new payments can also be applied retroactively based on the date you applied for the modification. However, you must continue making payments at the current level until the modification is approved or risk being fined.

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Will County criminal defense attorneysIt probably comes as no surprise that retail theft is taken seriously by retailers and law enforcement in Illinois. To protect merchandise at stores and retailers, Illinois has some of the strictest penalties for shoplifting in the country. While you may commonly think of shoplifting as sneaking an item out of a store in a pocket or under a coat, Illinois law specifies a number of actions that constitute retail theft or shoplifting.

Retail Theft in Illinois

Under Illinois law, the following actions constitute shoplifting or retail theft:

  • Sneaking merchandise out of a store without paying for it. This is a classic example of shoplifting.
  • Changing the price tag or label of an item to make it appear to cost less than it should.
  • Hiding merchandise in other merchandise in order to sneak it out of the store.
  • Under-ringing an item at a register. This charge had been more commonly used against store employees when buying items for themselves or for their friends or acquaintances. However, it is also becoming more common with the advent of self-checkout lines in grocery stores and other retailers
  • Removing a shopping cart from the property of a store and not returning it.
  • Knowingly deceiving a store about the ownership of merchandise. This can include claiming you’ve already purchased an item if it has in fact not been paid for.
  • Using or possessing a theft detection shielding device or a tool to remove theft detection devices. These can include a laminated or coated bag or another device used to shield merchandise from being detected by a store’s theft sensors.
  • Not returning a leased item to a store within the agreed-upon lease term and not paying the full price for taking possession of the item.

Most minor retail theft charges, typically those under $300, are prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor. More serious charges, up to a Class 3 felony can be charged under certain circumstances. These include previous convictions for shoplifting or other crimes, use of an emergency exit during the shoplifting, or shoplifting a total value of merchandise of over $300 or motor fuel of over $150. The value of items taken can quickly add up, meaning that felony charges are more likely than you might think.

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Joliet divorce lawyerDisagreements over finances are one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. Animosity can only grow if the couple is heading down the road to divorce and one spouse is intentionally spending the couple’s assets wastefully. This practice, known as dissipation, can be considered by the court during the divorce process and impact the final order from the judge.

Dissipation in Illinois Divorce Cases

Illinois is an equitable distribution state for dividing marital assets during a divorce. Rather than splitting a couple’s assets evenly, each spouse will receive the amount that the court decides is fair based on a number of factors. When a spouse is accused of dissipation, they may be trying to waste a portion of the existing marital assets before the division has been finalized in order to deprive the other spouse of that asset. The action does not need to occur during the divorce process but during the time when the marriage has undergone “an irretrievable breakdown.” While it is difficult to stop such spiteful behavior before it occurs, the court can consider those actions when making their final divorce order.

Common Types of Dissipation

Some of the most common ways that a spouse might dissipate marital assets include, but are not limited to:

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joliet divorce lawyerAs divorce after the age of 50 becomes more common, it is becoming clear that the issues facing couples who split later in life may be different from those whose divorce occurs in their twenties, thirties, or forties. Child custody and child support are less likely to be issues, unlike if you had divorced when your kids were younger. However, new challenges on how to divide marital assets, handle spousal support, and plan for retirement savings and social security are more common.

Three Common Issues When Couples Divorce Near Retirement

  • Spousal maintenance or alimony – While alimony itself is not an uncommon issue to tackle during a divorce, there are additional challenges for older individuals. If one of the spouses has limited or no recent work experience, it can be more difficult to get the opportunities to learn new skills or receive training to start or restart a career. This has a bigger influence on the calculation of spousal maintenance.

  • Division of marital property – Like spousal maintenance, dividing marital property in a gray divorce. While you may have accumulated more assets by this stage in your life, you also have less time to save more for the future. This puts more emphasis on how existing property is divided.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1586442568.jpgA major part of the decision-making process of any divorce involves the division of marital property. While savings, retirement accounts, and other assets may have significant value, the marital home is often the largest single asset any divorcing couple owns. As such, it can become a major point of contention during the divorce process. Depending on your situation and preferences, our experienced divorce attorneys can help you retain your house after a divorce or receive a fair settlement , either through its sale or a settlement during the divorce process. 

Options for Dealing with Your Home

Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning each spouse receives a fair, not equal share of the marital estate, a home can often pose a problem during the process. Depending on the length of the marriage, how much equity the couple has in the house, and the value of their other assets, the house may have a greater value than the rest of their assets combined. Therefore, there are different solutions to consider on how to equitably handle the house and its value during the division of marital property. These options include:

  • The house can be sold, with the proceeds being equitably divided between the spouses

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_356898968-1.jpgIn Illinois, individuals accused of endangering a spouse, family member, or domestic partner may be served with an order of protection. The purpose of the protection order is to keep them away from the alleged victim and prevent the subject from contacting the victim. If you have been served by an order of protection, it is important that you comply with the order and that you understand your rights and responsibilities. 

Orders of Protection in Illinois 

There are three different types of Order of Protection under Illinois law:

  • Emergency Order of Protection - The first step is usually for an emergency order to be sought by petitioning a judge. The accused individual does not need to be present for this hearing. This order will last for 14 to 21 days, after which a hearing will be held and a judge will determine if the order should be extended. 
  • Interim Order of Protection - This order can be used to extend the order of protection for an additional 30 days until a hearing is held.
  • Plenary Order of Protection - This final step may be ordered by a judge after a hearing where both parties are present. This order can last up to two years. 

Depending on the circumstances, the initial order may prevent you from contacting your spouse or your children. While you may want to plead your case immediately, it is important to abide by the order and not attempt any contact until a subsequent hearing can be held. This includes contact by phone call, text message, email, or sending a message through another person. Any violation of an order of protection is a Class A misdemeanor and you could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. 

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joliet divorce lawyerIf you are considering a divorce in Illinois, you may be facing challenging decisions on the division of marital property. During an Illinois divorce, each spouse is entitled to a fair share, not necessarily an equal share, of the couple’s marital property. Before the division occurs, there are ways to keep certain non-marital assets out of this process. Non-marital assets are those that each spouse entered into the marriage with or was acquired as a gift or inheritance during the marriage. You can use three strategies, starting even before getting married, to protect your individual assets in a divorce case.

Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement 

Created before marriage, a prenuptial agreement can specify which assets will remain as non-marital property. A prenuptial agreement can be used by an individual spouse if they own their own business or have substantially more assets. Prenups may also be useful if both spouses bring significant assets into the marriage.  Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement defines spouses’ financial rights and responsibilities, but the agreement is entered into after the couple is married. 

Separate Financial Accounts 

By creating or maintaining separate bank accounts or investment accounts, you can keep assets that you consider non-marital assets separate from joint marital accounts. A different account can also be used to deposit proceeds if you sell individual assets during the marriage. If the proceeds from such a sale are deposited into a joint account, they could later be considered common marital assets.

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IL defense lawyerStatutory rape is a common term used for behavior that meets the technical definition of criminal sexual abuse in Illinois. The legal age of consent for sexual activity of any kind is 17 years old. Anyone younger than that cannot legally consent to sex, even if the minor voluntarily engaged in the act and even if the minor’s sexual partner is also under 17 years old. Contrary to how “consent” is often used in common parlance, for legal purposes, someone simply cannot legally consent to sexual activity in Illinois under age 17.

This can cause some confusion for individuals who are caught engaging in sexual activity with their underage boyfriend or girlfriend. Despite what may seem like enthusiastic participation from both parties, such behavior is illegal and can carry serious criminal penalties. If you are being investigated for or have been charged with criminal sexual abuse, get an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney right away.

Can I Be Charged with a Sex Crime for Having Sex with My Underage Girlfriend?

Although minors under age 17 are rarely prosecuted for engaging in sexual acts together, Illinois law does prohibit such behavior. Neither partner is capable of legally consenting, and both partners could be charged with a sex crime.

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IL divorce lawyerSubstance abuse is a serious problem in many Illinois marriages. Although divorcing couples can no longer cite substance abuse as a cause for divorce, the fact remains that one parent’s substance abuse issues can not only contribute to the breakdown of a marriage, but may also intervene with that parent’s access to their child. Drug and alcohol abuse can affect the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time in Illinois.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Couples who share children must create a parenting plan whether they were married or not. Both parents are expected to work together to design an agreement that is in the best interests of a child. An Illinois court must approve a parenting plan, and parents who have a difficult time agreeing may be required to attend mediation.

Substance abuse can interfere with every step of the parenting plan process. Parents who struggle to manage their time, money, and wellbeing because of substance abuse may be unable to attend meetings or negotiate responsibly. When this happens, a court may intervene and decide how to allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time.

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IL family lawyerBecoming a father is one of the most impactful things that can happen to a man. Fatherhood allows a man to further his legacy, knowledge, and wisdom to future generations through a deeply meaningful relationship with a child, giving both the child and the father an opportunity to grow and learn. Some men are understandably concerned with ensuring that a child is truly theirs before investing so much time and effort into raising him or her.

It can be devastating to discover that a child you thought was yours actually belongs to someone else. When paternity is uncertain, or when you can prove you are not a child’s father, you may want to disestablish paternity and sever your legal obligations to the child. If you are in this situation and want to know more, read on.

What if I Am Married to the Child’s Mother?

When a couple is married and the wife gives birth, the husband is automatically assumed to be the child’s legal father, and disestablishing paternity can be a challenge. If a married father discovers through a DNA test that a child is not his own, he may be able to ask a judge to grant him disestablishment.

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IL divorce lawyerNot so long ago, divorce laws in virtually every state enshrined the belief that children really only needed their mothers after divorce. Too many fathers lost their ability to create and maintain crucial relationships with their children, and many of those children suffered because of the loss of their father in their lives.

Fortunately, things are a little different today. Illinois’ divorce laws now recognize the importance of both parents in a child’s life and the law gives preference to having both parents legally involved whenever it would be in the best interests of the child. This does not mean that fathers never have to aggressively advocate for their parenting rights, but the work it takes to protect a relationship with a child is well worth it. Here are some tips for fathers who are hoping to increase their chances of getting parenting time (visitation) and parental responsibilities (custody) in Illinois.

Create a Child-Friendly Home

There are certain things all parents can do to make their house a comfortable and appropriate environment for children. Make sure the children’s physical needs are met, that they are fed healthy food and that you are present and available for them when they are with you. Courts do take children’s preferences into account when they are old enough, and you can increase your chances of your children wanting to be with you by giving them a happy home.

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