Chicago family lawyer

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Family law covers a number of different issues that relate to families. Because of the vital role that family plays in everyone’s lives, these cases are some of the most important and stressful legal issues that anyone can be faced with. Given everything that’s at stake in family law cases, it’s important to work with a Chicago family lawyer whom you trust will represent you and your interests with excellence.

David N. Schaffer of Schaffer Family Law, Ltd. has been helping clients with the most complex family law cases for nearly 40 years. Our clients benefit from our extensive experience, as it helps us understand the legal nuances of their circumstances. We also understand the stress and tension that cases like divorce, separation, and parental rights allocation disputes can cause. We seek to provide our clients with the dedication, care, and integrity that they deserve.

Issues a Chicago Family Lawyer Can Help With

Family law is a broad category of civil law. While it involves issues related to the start of a family, like prenuptial agreements or adoption, most family law cases address what happens when families dissolve. As a result, these issues tend to involve significant emotional weight and baggage, particularly where children are involved.


The primary issue in family law is divorce. The statutory term is “dissolution of marriage.” Many of the other issues that family law addresses are a part of the divorce process. Having a lawyer is a critical part of working through the dissolution of a marriage.

There are many different legal requirements in a divorce, and you need to be sure that you’re compliant with them. Additionally, an attorney can be critical to advocating for your interests and desires throughout the divorce process. Our lack of direct emotional involvement can be beneficial to ensuring that your interests are conveyed clearly and fairly.

Generally, there are two ways in which the major issues involved with a divorce are addressed. In most cases, the divorcing spouses will try to reach an agreement outside of court. This involves negotiating a consensus that both sides are willing to accept regarding issues like the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, as well as property division.

Usually, both spouses will have lawyers who will do most of the negotiating, which can be crucial to ensuring that the process remains focused. Attorneys can also help ensure that what’s agreed upon fits within the parameters of the law. Whatever the spouses agree to will need to be approved by the court, and it must fit within the guidelines set by the law to be approved.

Most divorcing couples prefer to resolve their divorce through a negotiated agreement because it can be a more cost-effective route, and it gives them more control over how the issues will be resolved. Alternatively, if a couple can’t come to an agreement, then it will be left to the court to decide how these issues will be resolved. In this case, both sides will normally have their lawyers present their position to the court, and the court will render a judgment within the parameters of the law.

Child Custody

One of the most sensitive issues in family law is determining how the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities will be addressed. Custody in Illinois is divided into two types. “Decision-making responsibility” addresses how the parents will go about making the important decisions in a child’s life, such as health, education, extracurricular, and religious upbringing decisions. However, parents have the right to make routine and emergency decisions during their parenting time with their child.

This type of custody could be jointly held, meaning the parents work together or are in charge of certain aspects, or awarded solely to one parent.

Parenting time” is the other aspect of parental rights, and it covers the way a child’s time will be divided between the two parents, where a child will reside and any potential conditions that could be placed on visitation time. Parents have a right to reasonable parenting time in Illinois unless the court determines the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health would be endangered as a result. In this case, one parent may be awarded sole parenting time.

Child Support

As of 2017, child support calculations in Illinois have shifted from a percentage basis to a calculation based on the income share of the parents of the child. This system looks at each parent’s net income, makes adjustments to it on the basis of other obligations, such as child support from another relationship or spousal maintenance, and then considers the obligation that each parent should be contributing toward the care of the child.

Property Division

Property division in Illinois is done on the principle of “equitable division.” This does not, however, mean that an equal 50-50 split of the property is expected. Rather, property division must be determined to be “fair” in the eyes of the court. The Judge will consider a variety of factors when determining what would be a fair division of property, including the economic conditions, earning potential, and needs of each spouse following the dissolution of the marriage.

Before property can be divided, the property owned by the couple will need to be separated into the categories of separate property, which consists largely of the property a spouse owned before the marriage, and marital property, which is primarily the property that was acquired during the course of the marriage. There is a presumption that all property acquired after the spouses were wed is marital property.

The process of division can become contentious, and many spouses often have differing opinions regarding what they see as fair. Therefore, it’s helpful to have the involvement of a lawyer who understands the expectations of the court regarding these issues.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is a major issue in many divorces, but it is not awarded in every case. During the divorce process, a Judge may award some level of temporary spousal support. However, that may be replaced by long-term spousal support once the divorce is finalized by the court.

Long-term spousal support is awarded in three different ways after a divorce. Fixed-term maintenance will give the dependent spouse payments until a termination date. Indefinite maintenance is awarded on an ongoing basis unless there is a substantial change in circumstances which warrants modification or termination of the award.

Reviewable maintenance is given for a specific term, but the court reserves the option to continue, modify, or terminate the award at a later time.

Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are made before marriage and define how issues like the division of assets and support will be handled in the event that the marriage should end. Postnuptial agreements are similar but are agreed to during the marriage.

Both of these types of documents must be created very carefully in order for them to be enforceable in the event of a divorce. It’s critical, then, that you have an experienced lawyer who understands how to create an agreement that adheres to all legal requirements.

What a Chicago Family Lawyer Does

A Chicago family lawyer is responsible for representing you in any family law concerns for which you hire them. This will largely mean speaking on your behalf and advocating for your interests. We can file paperwork on your behalf, communicate with the court for you, and speak in hearings before the Judge while advocating for your interests. While your lawyer can represent you in trial, this is not necessary in every case, as many are resolved before the need for trial.

Representation in family law issues often occurs outside of the courtroom. Many family law concerns, divorces in particular, involve at least an attempt to resolve the issue by negotiating a settlement rather than letting the court decide. These negotiations often go much more smoothly when both sides are represented by lawyers who understand the legal expectations. Because attorneys don’t have direct emotional involvement, they can keep the process focused and moving forward.

Another critical function that a Chicago family lawyer performs is to offer advice. There are often multiple options available to you and decisions to make in the course of family law cases. However, without experience and knowledge of these concerns, it’s impossible to understand the implications of certain choices. Your lawyer can advise you as to the scope and possible impact of the options you have.

The Chicago Family Lawyer You Need

Family law issues involve many of the most important aspects of one’s life. This makes them some of the most sensitive and emotionally charged legal cases. In these situations, the help of an experienced Chicago family lawyer who understands both the relevant law and the emotional side of these issues is critical to ensuring that your interests are properly represented and pursued.

At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., we have nearly four decades of experience in helping our family law clients with divorce, the allocation of parental rights, and serious family law concerns. We understand the unique challenges that these issues pose from a legal perspective, but we also understand the emotional stress and tension they often create. If you need a family lawyer who is prepared to help you through these challenging times, contact us today.

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