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How do I get a fair settlement in divorce?

You may be in the process of going through a divorce. Of course, there are many things to consider. You may be a parent, so you must contemplate your children's needs. You may be a homeowner and you need to figure out what happens to your property. You may also be wondering how do you get a fair divorce settlement.

The last thing you want to do is go to war with your spouse during this divorce. A contentious divorce can also be stressful for your children. Being able to properly communicate your needs will assist you in working toward a mutually beneficial settlement that you both feel is fair and reasonable. When spouses agree to work together then most of these negotiations can happen outside of the courtroom. Open communication is key to facillitate a smoother divorce. 

Can prenuptial agreements in Illinois be unenforceable?

Illinois couples will get married with the intention that the union will last. Unfortunately, the divorce rates are such that it is just as likely that it will fail as it will succeed. People will frequently try to shield themselves from the possibility that there will be a divorce by crafting prenuptial agreements, also referred to under the law as premarital agreements. Even if the document is completed based on the law, there are times when the agreement is unenforceable. Knowing how the law determines if the agreement is unenforceable can be important to both spouses.

The party that was asked to sign the agreement must meet certain criteria for the agreement to be valid. If that person did not enter into the agreement on a voluntary basis, it could be unenforceable. There is a chance that the agreement was unconscionable, or unfair, when it was executed. If that is the case, and the person who signed it: did not receive a fair and reasonable disclosure regarding the other person's property and finances; failed to sign a written waiver foregoing that disclosure; and did not or could not have had sufficient knowledge of these issues, then the document could be unenforceable.

How are visitation orders affected by a child's best interests?

Parenting time is often one of the most contentious of family law issues, so understanding state law is imperative. A key factor in this is understanding the child's "best interests" and how the court will decide upon the allocation of parenting time.

In some cases, the parents will come together on their own and agree to a parenting plan. This can happen in situations in which the parents are on amicable terms. However, some parents are unable to see past their issues or have concerns regarding the parenting time, and it is necessary for the court to decide how it will be allocated. There are various factors that the court will consider. The parents will undoubtedly have desires regarding parenting time - this will be weighed. The child might be of sufficient maturity to contribute to the decision. Parents will often have a certain amount of time they spend caring for the child - the previous 24 months before the filing will be factored in with parental responsibilities. If the child is under 2-years-old, the amount of time spent caring for the child since birth will be considered.

Appeals court decides on custody case for same-sex couples

In Illinois and throughout the nation, courts are facing family law issues related to same-sex couples. These can be especially complex cases, with the changing landscape of how these relationships are viewed. This makes it important to watch legal decisions. It is of notable importance when same-sex partners share a child, with one being the biological parent, and the couple decides to end their relationship. The allocation of parental responsibilities can be one of the most difficult family law issues.

Recently, an Illinois appeals court decided that a woman whose ex-wife had a child using artificial insemination will be granted parental rights despite them not being biologically linked. This case will not only be applicable to same-sex parents, but to opposite sex parents as well. The couple married in Iowa nine years ago. They moved to Illinois. They then decided to have a child via artificial insemination. They stated they were the co-parents when the child was born and this was noted on the birth certificate. They separated when the baby was 7-months-old and eventually got a divorce.

Experienced legal help is critical when thinking about divorce

When deciding to get a divorce in Illinois, there will undoubtedly be many questions and concerns that people will have. Such issues as allocation of parental responsibilities, formerly known as child custody, child support, alimony, how the division of marital assets will be handled and more will all come to the forefront. To ensure that every aspect of the case is addressed, it is imperative to have legal assistance from an experienced divorce attorney from the start.

Some marriages involve significant assets and marital property. When this is the case, the division of assets might be in dispute. An attorney can explain how the law views marital property and individual property that was accrued prior to the marriage. Even in situations in which there is not a great deal of property at stake, there could be a home and an automobile that must be dealt with. With children, the situation takes on greater urgency.

Child custody laws in Illinois could be set to change

Parents in Illinois who part ways as a couple and share a child will undoubtedly be aware of the need for some form of child custody agreement. This is a strategy to address parental responsibilities, give the child an idea as to how the situation will play out as they move forward and lets the parents know they will need to come to an agreement on parenting time and other important issues. However, legal changes can force parents and children to adapt.

A bill that has been proposed by a state representative would put in place a co-parenting template when a couple divorces in Illinois. The goal is to step back from one parent being granted child custody and move toward a flexible, co-parenting method. This was enacted in other states recently and is deemed by many to be a fairer method than the previous way of giving one parent child custody with the other parent having visitation rights. It is believed that the child's best interests will be served with such a program.

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

If you are going through a divorce or custody dispute, then a guardian ad litem (GAL) is neutral third-party lawyer who is appointed by the Illinois court to act as the representative or “voice” for your child(ren).

A GAL will look deeper into the issues facing the child (ren) and will make recommendations to the court about what the GAL feels is in the best interest of the child (ren). These recommendations do not force the hand of the court but are taken into serious consideration. A GAL is useful in communicating the daily life details, needs, wants and interests of the child(ren) to the judge.

Can a child support order add expenses for child care?

The main objective behind a child support order in Illinois is to serve the best interests of the child. While the courts will seek to cover every eventuality, other factors come to the forefront based on the circumstances. One is if a parent needs to pay for child care. A common concern is whether there will be an addition to the basic child care order to pay for child care expenses. This can happen and it is at the discretion of the court to do so. The court can order either parent or both parents to contribute to reasonable child care expenses. These will be paid to the party or directly to the entity that is caring for the child.

With child care expenses, the definition of the term is based on the actual expenses that are needed to let a parent have a job, go to school, get vocational training to improve employment prospects, or to look for a job. It can also include deposits so a child can be placed in a child care program, costs for before and after school, and camps when there is no school. If the child has special needs, this will be factored in when the amount and need is determined.

What is non-marital property with property division?

One of the most difficult issues to settle in an Illinois divorce case is property division. This is true whether it is a high asset divorce and there is significant property that both parties stake a claim to or if it is a more modest divorce and there are items of financial and sentimental value in dispute. The law has certain requirements for what constitutes marital and non-marital property. While there can still be a certain amount of confusion and disagreements over property, it is important for people who are planning to divorce or are in the middle of a divorce to understand the difference.

Any property that was acquired by one of the spouses after the marriage will be considered marital property except in certain exceptions. If the property was acquired as a gift, because the spouse receives it as a descendent, or as a legacy, it will be non-marital property. If there was property that a spouse had prior to the marriage and it was exchanged for a property after the marriage, it is non-marital property. Once the spouses have been legally separated and one acquires property, it will not be considered marital property. In some cases, there will be a valid agreement between the parties such as a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement - in such an instance, the property will be excluded from being marital property.

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