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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-during-pregnancy_600x400.pngWhile all romantic relationships can be complicated at times, nothing changes the dynamic of a relationship more than a pregnancy. Some couples find out they are expecting and it is a huge surprise. Other couples may plan for the pregnancy for years and are thrilled when it happens. Too often, however, couples think that a baby will make their marriage stronger, help ease their arguments, and make the atmosphere inside the relationship happier. While this may work in some cases, having a baby is not usually the solution for a struggling marriage. Having a child, while an exciting and wonderful experience, is not a fix-all to marital problems. What should you do when you realize you want to leave the relationship while your partner is pregnant?

Find the Path That Works for You

Some couples will choose to separate until after they baby is born and then file for divorce. Some states even require legal separation before a divorce filing can be made. Other couples wait until after the baby is born to make the final decision. The first step when considering leaving a spouse who is pregnant is to speak to a lawyer about the situation. He or she will be capable of guiding you to make the best decision for your particular circumstances. Keep in mind that laws regarding the divorce of a pregnant spouse vary from state to state.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_custody2_640.jpgFor several decades, the law regarding child support in Illinois has been rather one-sided. Despite the law stating that either or both parents could be required to make child support payments, the statutory calculations seemed to suggest that only one parent would be required to do so in the vast majority of cases. In nearly every situation, the parent who was not awarded primary custody of the child—also known as the non-custodial parent—would be ordered to pay a set percentage of his or her income as child support to the other parent.

Thanks to sweeping reforms passed in 2015 and which took effect in 2016, the state’s approach to child custody has been updated—including the elimination of the term “non-custodial parent” and other such titles. The methodology for calculating child support, however, was largely left untouched until this past summer when lawmakers passed a new measure that will transform child support considerations in the state.

Public Opinion

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b2ap3_thumbnail_guardianship.jpgCouples who are considering marriage often move in together long before the wedding takes place. In many cases, a couple may even begin cohabiting before marriage is even seriously discussed. As cultural trends and social morals have evolved over the last few decades, the idea of living with a romantic partner prior to marriage is more commonly accepted than it once was. Moving in together before getting married, however, can also impact financial and property concerns, especially if the couple marries and eventually gets divorced.

Marital Property Defined

In the process of divorce, Illinois law requires a couple’s marital property to be divided equitably between the spouses. The law also provides a definition of marital property as any assets or debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Limited exceptions generally include property received as a gift or inheritance to one spouse. Property that was acquired before the marriage is non-marital property and will remain under the ownership of the spouse who acquired it.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_spousal-support-after-divorce_600x400.jpgDuring your divorce, there will be many issues for you and your spouse to resolve. It probably comes as little surprise that property and finances are often among the most contentious concerns. You and your spouse have worked hard for what you have, and the idea of “losing” your property in your divorce can be difficult. Financial matters, however, include more than just dividing marital assets and debts. Spousal support—sometimes known as alimony or maintenance—is another monetary issue that can create serious disagreements between divorcing spouses.

If you are considering a divorce, you are likely to have questions about how maintenance is awarded in Illinois and if it will be a consideration in your case. Some of the most commonly asked questions include:

Q.  Is Spousal Support Automatic?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_family-law2_600x400.jpgIf you are a divorced parent of a minor child, there is a very good chance that you currently pay or receive child support. It is the responsibility of every parent to help provide for their child’s basic needs, and child support orders are intended to formalize that obligation. There may come a time, however, where your existing order for child support no longer meets the needs of your family the way that it once did. When this happens, Illinois law permits either parent to petition the court for a modification of the existing order.

A Significant Change in Circumstances

There are many reasons that a support order modification may be necessary. Some are rather dramatic and sudden, while others are less abrupt. In most cases, a parent wishing to have a child support order modified will need to show that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the family. For example, if you are the paying parent and you are diagnosed with a medical condition that will severely impact your ability to earn a living, complying with your existing support order could soon become impossible. You could request a modification on the basis that your circumstances have changed substantially.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_prenuptial-agreement4_640.jpgWith many Americans waiting longer than ever before to get married for the first time and the rise in the rate of second and third marriages, prenuptial agreements have become increasingly common across the country. You may be wondering what age and remarriage have to do with prenuptial agreements, and the answer is relatively simple. Those who get married at a later age—those getting married for the second or third time are older than they were when they first got married—tend to bring more with them into their new marriage. “More” refers to not only property and debts but also to children, previous spousal maintenance obligations, and other concerns.

With all of the potential considerations, it makes sense that individuals considering marriage would look to protect themselves by drafting a prenuptial agreement. If it is not executed properly, however, your prenuptial agreement may not stand up to challenges in court, making it essentially unenforceable and leaving you possibly unprotected.

The most common reasons that a divorce court court set aside a prenuptial agreement include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody5_600x400.jpgFollowing your divorce, separation, or breakup from your child’s other parent, you may have been granted a majority of the parenting time with your child. Your child may live with you most of the time, using your address for enrolling in school and participating in activities provided by the local municipality. It is easy for a parent in such a situation to presume that because he or she has more of the parenting time, he or she is also responsible for making most of the important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. This presumption, however, would be inaccurate as the law in Illinois considers parenting time and decision-making authority to be distinct concepts that are not necessarily dependent on one another.

Allocating Parental Responsibilities

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that parental responsibilities—formerly known as child custody—are divided into two primary considerations. The first includes significant decision-making authority for the child’s life. Such authority is roughly comparable to the previous understanding of legal custody, which concerned each parent’s role in deciding on important issues in the child’s life, including education, medical care, religious training, and extracurricular activities. Based on the best interest of the child and each parent’s strengths, decision-making authority can be granted to one parent, divided between both parents by area of concern, or shared equally between the parents.

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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorcing-couple_640.jpgWhen you are deeply in love with your spouse, it can be nearly impossible to imagine that your spouse would ever do anything to hurt you, let alone cheat on you. To be fair, episodes of infidelity are rarely the result of a person intentionally looking to cause pain for their spouse or committed romantic partner. In many cases, in fact, unfaithfulness is often the manifestation of much deeper problems in the relationship, including a lack of communication, feelings of isolation, and discontent with one another. Infidelity, however, may be the last straw that leads the offended spouse to file for divorce, often with the expectation that such behavior may afford him or her additional considerations in the divorce process.

Limited Legal Impact

It is completely understandable that a spouse whose partner is guilty of infidelity would feel betrayed and angry and would wish to hold the cheating party accountable for his or her behavior. If you ever found yourself in that type of situation, it would only seem fair for your spouse to be responsible for breaking up your marriage in that way. Unless you and your spouse negotiated an infidelity clause in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, however, you are most likely going to be out of luck, at least as far the law is concerned.

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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_Divorce-decree2_640.jpgRelationships can break down for any number of reasons. Some couples simply grow apart over time, with each spouse becoming less and less interested in the other. In other situations, the situation may be more dramatic. Cheating, mental or physical abuse, abandonment, and substance abuse can all lead to an explosive end to the relationship. For many years, such behavior could be cited as the official reason for a divorce in Illinois, effectively assigning fault to one spouse. Recent changes to the law, however, have changed the way that divorce is handled throughout the state.

No More Fault Grounds

In January of 2016, a series of sweeping changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act were enacted.  No longer will divorce applicants need to cite a reason why their marriage is dissolving.  Prior to the law changes, there were about a dozen fault-based reasons that could be used as the basis for the divorce, including:

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