Reeder & Brown, P.C.


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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:


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:


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. 

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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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:


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.


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


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


IL defense lawyerAlthough people frequently think of “burglars” as people who break into houses and steal things, Illinois considers any form of breaking and entering to be burglary whether or not anything was actually stolen. As long as the prosecution can determine that an alleged burglary intended to commit the crime of theft or another felony crime, breaking and entering is considered a felony.

Additionally, breaking and entering can take place in other buildings and facilities besides homes; public buildings like schools and government offices, storage sheds, RVs or other trailers, and even aircraft can be burgled. If you have been charged with burglary in Illinois, it is important to understand the law and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What Is Burglary?

Under Illinois law, burglary charges can be filed against an alleged offender who knowingly, and without permission, entered the property of another person intending to steal something or to commit another felony crime. No locks have to be broken for the charge of burglary to apply. The seriousness of the charges and consequences will depend on what exactly happened during the burglary. These charges, and when they apply, include:


IL family lawyerThe research on children who experience divorce is surprisingly clear. In nearly every measurable way, divorce has the potential to negatively affect a child's quality of life - both during the divorce and well into the future. However, not all divorces have lasting negative effects on children. Parents who put their children first and work hard to cooperate during divorce can give their children a supportive environment to process the stresses of divorce and set them up for future success.

Unfortunately, not all parents are committed to giving their children the best future possible. Many parents are more interested in getting revenge after the relationship is over, and sometimes this means using the children as weapons in a never-ending fight. One way this can manifest is through one parent’s efforts to alienate a child from their other parent. If you are afraid that your ex is trying to interfere with your ability to have a great relationship with your child, read on.

Common Signs that Your Ex is Trying to Negatively Affect Your Relationship with Your Child

Although there is some controversy about exactly how parental alienation is described and recognized, there is no question that a child can suffer when one parent tries to distance them from their other parent. Behaviors that might be considered parental alienation include:


IL family lawyerIllinois family law has been updated over the years to reflect the fact that children get the most out of life when they can have warm, supportive relationships with both parents. When parents decide to get divorced, children usually divide their time between each parent’s household even if their parents find it difficult to cooperate or get along. However, in some circumstances, it is not in the child’s best interests to spend time with one of their parents. In this blog, we will look at how Illinois defines child custody and examine some situations where a parent may be given full custody.

Custody vs. Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Illinois no longer uses the legal term “custody” and “visitation” when referring to the relationship with parents and children. Instead, the terms “parental responsibilities” (meaning major decision-making authority) and “parenting time” (time physically spent with the child) are used. When a parent has full custody in Illinois, that really means that they have total responsibility for the child. They make decisions about the child’s religion, education, healthcare, and daily activities. If a parent has visitation, that means they have parenting time where they are responsible for caring for the child’s needs within the parameters of the other parent’s decisions about education, etc.

When Could a Parent Get Full Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time in Illinois?

Although judges prefer to see children spend as much time with each parent as possible, there are circumstances where this would be inappropriate or dangerous. These include:


IL divorce lawyerDivorcing couples frequently cite the marital property division process as one of the most difficult parts of getting divorced. Haggling over who owns what property is never easy, and it can be especially difficult if money has been set aside for a specific purpose. Many parents begin setting aside money for their child’s education in a 529 plan and getting a divorce can impact this money. If you find yourself worrying about how divorce could impact your child’s educational opportunities, read on.

What is a Marital Asset?

Anything that is considered a marital asset must be divided in a divorce. In Illinois, almost anything acquired during a marriage is considered a marital asset, including cash, property, vehicles, retirement accounts, stock options, and more. Even if the asset is owned by only one spouse, if it was acquired after the marriage began, it is almost certainly marital property.

What is a 529 Savings Plan?

Parents can begin saving money for their child’s education in a tax-exempt savings plan. These plans are called 529 plans because they refer to the 529 section of the Internal Revenue Service’s code. Illinois currently only has individual 529 plans, although some other states have 529 plans maintained by a state agency or a public college. Parents can contribute up to $15,000 per year to each plan and as long as the money in the plan is only spent on educational expenses, it remains untaxed. 529 plans must have one account owner and one beneficiary, which in this case are a parent and child, respectively.

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