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b2ap3_thumbnail_paternity_600x400.jpgAcross the country, it is becoming increasingly popular for couples to move in together long before they intend to get married. For some, cohabitation is a stepping stone to marriage, while others a placing less emphasis on ever officially tying the knot. This may lead one to believe that there would a corresponding increase in the number of children born to unmarried parents, but the numbers, it seems, tell a different story. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the percentage of first-time fathers who are unmarried is at its lowest point in decades.

Fewer Unmarried Dads

The CDC based its report on data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Researchers used surveys of both women and men between the ages of 15 and 44. The surveys came from three different decades: 1980-1989, 1990-1999 and 2000-2009. According to the survey’s findings, the downward trend in unmarried fathers has been ongoing since the 1980s, when 42 percent of first-time fathers under the age of 44 were unmarried. In the 1990s, that number was at 40 percent.


Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_marital-problems_640.jpgIt is nearly impossible to estimate how many people have ever cheated on their spouse. This is true for several reasons. First, not all couple define cheating the same way. Next, not everyone who has been unfaithful is likely to admit it, even to an impartial researcher. Finally, surveys related to infidelity rarely, if ever, cover a large enough cross-section of the population to be widely applicable. This is why outlets like the Washington Post­ will report that between 25 and 72 percent of married men cheat—far too large of a variation to have much scientific significance.

There is little doubt, however, that infidelity can have destructive effects on a marriage. While it is not usually the only factor in a couple deciding to divorce, it is often a substantial one. If your spouse has cheated on you, it is common to wonder if his or her behavior could impact the divorce process as well.

No-Fault Divorce Laws in Illinois


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


Posted on in Mediation

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mediation_640.jpgWe have all heard the horror stories of divorce cases that take endless months—and sometimes years—to resolve. The spouses could not reach an agreement and, as a result, handed the matter over to the courts to decide. The court system, as most people are aware, can be notoriously slow, especially when there is little common ground between the parties. Of course, nobody wants a divorce to carry on longer than it must. Under the best of circumstances, the end of a marriage is likely to be a stressful and burdensome time, both emotionally and financially, and there are alternatives to battling your spouse in the courtroom.

Mediation offers one way for soon-to-be ex-spouses to negotiate various conditions of the divorce without relying on a judge to make a decision. While the end of marriage may ignite disputes related to child custody (parental responsibilities), spousal support, and other matters, a couple can often save time and money by trying to resolve their differences through mediation.

Reasons to Consider Divorce Mediation in Illinois


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.


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?


Posted on in Child Custody

b2ap3_thumbnail_parenting-plan_600x400.pngThe Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that a separating parent has a right to pursue a temporary parenting arrangement regarding his or her child while working through the divorce process. The temporary parenting agreement—commonly referred to as a temporary custody order—provides security and consistency for the child and both parents during the course of the divorce. The parent who does not receive the majority of the parental responsibilities under this agreement generally receives visitation—now called parenting time—with the child. Temporary child custody agreements can also be adapted into more permanent parental responsibilities arrangements.

What is Temporary Custody?

Recent changes to Illinois law have all but eliminated the use of the term “child custody,” replacing it the more neutral “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Many people, however, still understand orders related to the care of their children as “custody agreements,” and probably will continue to do so for some time.


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.


Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce3_640.jpgThe process of divorce is rarely easy. While some cases may be more complex than others, disentangling the lives of two people joined in marriage will always involve at least some challenges along the way. Most individuals who are considering a divorce recognize the importance of hiring an attorney to assist with the process, but many are often unsure if retaining a second lawyer—one for each spouse—is worth the added costs.

Is a Lawyer Required?

It is important to understand that there are no requirements in Illinois law for the parties in a divorce to hire an attorney. A person is within his or her rights to navigate divorce proceedings pro se—a Latin phrase that means “on one’s own behalf.” Going through a divorce without a lawyer, however, is not recommended, even if your spouse has also agreed to forgo representation. Your divorce attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes in your divorce in addition to taking care of all of the necessary paperwork that the process requires.


b2ap3_thumbnail_College-Student_640.jpgIt is hard to believe that the current school year is already halfway over. Just a few short weeks ago, students of all ages were enjoying their summer break and, now, the fall semester has come and gone, at least in many districts. For high school seniors, the next few months will be full of preparations for college—applying to schools, making a selection, and scheduling their first classes. At the same time, parents of college-bound students will be faced with deciding whether or not to help their children with the costs related to their education. In certain cases involving divorced parents, such decisions may be left up to the court.

A Matter Between the Parents

Illinois law gives family law courts the authority to order one or both parents to contribute to their child’s college expenses, presuming that the parents are divorced or were never married to one another. Such contributions are considered a form of child support, despite the fact that the child, in most cases, is no longer a minor. The authority to order this type of support is based in the recognition that paying for a child’s education is often considered a financial element of a divorce settlement. This means that it is an issue to be settled between the parents, and a college-bound child cannot file a request for such support on his or her own behalf.

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