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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_Divorce-kids_640.jpgIf you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, your child is most likely your top priority, especially if you have been allocated the majority of the parenting time. You work hard to meet your child’s needs and to provide the best possible life for him or her. In an ideal situation, your child’s other parent would also make your child a priority, and while your opinions on specific aspects of parenting may differ, common goals can allow you to work together constructively.

Issues often arise, however, when parents have drastically different views on what is appropriate for their child. In some cases, this can even lead to the child being placed in dangerous environments. If you believe that your child is in any type of danger when he or she is with the other parent, you may need to take action quickly.

What the Law Says

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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_separation-divorce_640.jpgWhen your marriage has reached the point that divorce seems to be your only option, you may assume that you are in for a long and grueling process. The reality, however, is that while divorce is rarely easy, it does not need to be so bad. There are, in fact, a number of things you can do to help facilitate a faster, less stressful divorce, and you can start right away, even if you are months from filing any official paperwork.

Know What You Have

The first thing you should in preparation for your divorce is to compile an organized list of all of your assets and debts. Include everything that you can possibly think of, even if it seems superfluous. Do not limit your inventory just to property that you assume to be marital property; write down the things that yours as well as those that belong to your spouse. As you make your list, try to remember when each asset or debt was acquired and locate receipts, warranties, statements, or other proof if possible.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-keep-last-name_640.jpgOne of the most common questions that those who are facing a divorce often have is whether or not alimony will be ordered in the divorce judgment. In many cases, alimony—or maintenance as it is known in Illinois—is a point of serious contention with each spouse’s opinion in direct opposition to that of the other. If you are considering a divorce, there are some things that you should know about maintenance awards and how such decisions are made under Illinois law.

A Brief History

The entire purpose of spousal maintenance is to help alleviate the impact of divorce on a financially disadvantaged spouse. In past generations, alimony was virtually a standard component of many divorce proceedings. This was due to the fact that in a large percentage of marriages, one spouse—usually the husband—was the primary or sole source of income. The other spouse—usually the wife—often worked much less, if at all, focusing instead on household and child-rearing duties. When such a couple divorced, it was nearly impossible for the lower-earning spouse to support herself, especially if she was also granted custody of the couple’s children. Therefore, a divorce judgment often obligated the higher-earning spouse to provide financial support either permanently or until the other spouse could become self-sufficient.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Female-Hands-Holding-Divorce_640.jpgWhen a couple gets divorced, everyone “knows” that each spouse is entitled to half of everything the couple owns, including the property that each party brought with them into the marriage. This idea is repeated as fact in countless movies, television programs, and informal advice forums. Such an assumption, however, about how property is divided in a divorce is, at best, misguided and, at worst, completely inaccurate—at least in the state of Illinois.

Equal Division Is Not Guaranteed

Illinois is known as an equitable distribution state when it comes to dividing property in a divorce. Equitable is not the same as equal, and the distinction is very important. The principles of equitable distribution—and Illinois law—require marital property to be divided in a manner that is fair and just. To determine what is fair and just, the circumstances of the marriage, divorce, and expected post-divorce situation must be taken into account. Important factors include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_computer-hacking-during-divorce_600x400.pngLast year, the infamous affair website Ashely Madison made international headlines when the information of some 30 million users was leaked to the public. The leak and the ensuing scandal led to celebrity breakups and questions of trust for millions of couples across the country, presumably many of whom ultimately decided to divorce.

More than a year later, Ashley Madison has attempted to transform its image and shift its focus away from extramarital affairs and more toward open-minded adult relationships. But now, another potential data breach on a different site may be poised to start the whole pattern over again.

Hackers Strike Again

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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_party_640.jpgFor many generations—centuries, even—divorce carried with it a sort of social stigma. A person who could not make his or her marriage work was often seen by his or her peers as a failure or, in some cases, immoral. While there are still social circles in which divorce is frowned upon and somewhat unacceptable, most of Western Culture has come to accept divorce as a reality of modern life.

Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of this is the increasing popularity of divorce parties—literal parties thrown to mark the end of a marriage. Party planners and DJs across the country have begun advertising their services for divorce parties which are intended to ease the transition for the newly-divorced into their new life.

Together or Separate?

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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 Mediation

b2ap3_thumbnail_mediator-1.pngWhen you and your spouse have agreed to try to reach a reasonable divorce settlement without resorting to litigation, you have taken the first steps toward a healthier post-divorce relationship. Some couples may be able to hammer out their differences through a series of informal conversations, and, as long as both parties are sufficiently satisfied with the result, such a method can certainly be effective. Other couples, however, may require a bit more structure as they negotiate the various elements of their divorce. For these couples, mediation may offer the best chance at an amicable divorce agreement.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that, when utilized in a divorce case, places both spouses together with a neutral third party—the mediator—as they work toward a common goal. The goal in divorce mediation is a settlement agreement that reasonably accounts for each party’s needs, desires, and legal rights regarding property, alimony, and parental responsibilities (formerly child custody). The mediator does not provide legal advice or represent either party; rather, he or she helps facilitate the conversation and works to keep the negotiation on track toward a resolution.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody1_640.jpgEvery year, approximately 1.5 million children are forced to endure the divorce of their parents. As difficult as the new reality can be for children, it can be just as stressful—if not more so—for the adults, with each parent struggling to find ways to remain an active part of their child’s life. When a parent approaches the process of divorce, he or she may wonder what his or her rights are regarding parenting time with his or her children.

Visitation Is Now Parenting Time

For many years, a non-custodial parent could expect reasonable rights to visitation with his or her child, presuming that the parent was not found to present a danger to the child. Beginning this year, new legislation in Illinois overhauled the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and its provisions regarding child custody and visitation. Child custody has been renamed the allocation of parental responsibilities and parental visitation is now known as parenting time. The intent of the updates was to make such proceedings less confrontational and more cooperative, keeping the focus on the child best interests of the child as much as possible.

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