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Joliet simplified divorce lawyerSo you have finally made the decision to go ahead and get a divorce. While it may be a weight off of your chest, you may not be able to celebrate as quickly as you had hoped. Some divorces can drag on for months, and highly contested divorces can even drag on for years. The last thing you want when you have decided to end your marriage is to have to deal with your soon-to-be-ex for the next 12 months or more. In some cases, you can apply for a joint simplified divorce, which can significantly decrease the time you will be waiting to get a divorce decree.

What Is a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage?

If you meet certain qualifications, you do not need to spend the time to go to court over every little detail pertaining to your divorce. Typically, joint simplified dissolutions are uncontested divorces, meaning both spouses agree to end their marriage and have little to no arguments about issues pertaining to the divorce, such as spousal support or property division. In a joint simplified dissolution, couples typically only have to appear in court one time, when they are ready to make the divorce final. This can ultimately save thousands of dollars in court costs and lawyer fees.

Qualifications for Joint Simplified Dissolution

Even though it sounds like everyone would want to use the joint simplified dissolution procedure to complete their divorce, not everyone can. You must meet a certain set of requirements before you can begin the simplified process. If all of the following are true, you and your spouse can use the simplified method to complete your divorce:

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Will County paternity attorney family lawIt is widely understood in this day and age that children thrive when both of their parents play active roles in their lives. A father is just as important as a mother, even if the mother and father were not married when the child was born. Ideally, the father will play just as large a role as the mother, though that does not happen all of the time. 

It is extremely important to establish the paternity of your child, because without doing so, your child only has one legal parent. It can be a lengthy and complicated process to establish your child’s paternity if you were not married to the other parent at the time of the child’s birth, but it is not impossible.

Automatic Paternity

Paternity is the term used for the legal tie that a father has with his child. In cases where the mother is married or in a civil union at the time of the child’s birth or within 300 days before the child was born, the man she was married to or in a civil union with is automatically presumed to be the child’s legal father. If the mother was not married or in a civil union, then she must go about establishing the paternity of the child in a different manner. The parents may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, or paternity may be established through legal proceedings, which may order genetic testing to be completed.

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Joliet prenup attorneyTalking about divorce even before getting married is never something that couples want to do -- but sometimes it is a good idea. Prenuptial agreements are gaining more and more popularity with younger couples, especially because the average age of marriage is higher than it has ever been before. This means that couples are more likely to bring their own significant assets into a marriage, such as real estate property or retirement accounts. Prenuptial agreements (commonly known as “prenups”) can be tricky to create, especially since they can be declared invalid if they are not constructed carefully and correctly. Here are three mistakes you should avoid making when drafting a prenuptial agreement:

1. Not Being Truthful About Your Assets

When entering into a prenup, both spouses are required to fully disclose their assets to each other, including all property and debts. If one spouse tries to hide or undervalue certain assets, the entire prenuptial agreement could be dismissed by a court.

2. You Did Not Obtain Independent Counsel

Though it is not technically required by Illinois law to have an attorney when you enter into a prenuptial agreement, it is a good idea. When you and your spouse each have your own independent legal counsel, this tells the court that you both knew what you were signing and understood what the terms of the agreement meant. An argument could be made that one spouse did not fully understand the contract if he or she did not have an attorney, and this could be a reason for the agreement being found to be invalid.

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Will County asset division attorneyWhen a couple marries, they not only join their lives but also their wealth and assets. If you and your spouse are considering getting a divorce, you may have questions about how your accumulated property will be divided. Some states automatically divide marital property exactly in half, but Illinois courts use a more nuanced process for determining how marital property is split between divorcing spouses. If you plan to get a divorce in Illinois, you should know how assets are divided according to the state’s equitable distribution laws.

Differentiating Between Marital Property and Non-Marital Property 

Only marital property is divided during a divorce. Assets acquired during the marriage by either spouse are considered marital property, with exceptions for inheritances, certain gifts, and property addressed in a valid prenuptial agreement. Non-marital or separate property generally includes assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage or after separation. However, it is important to note that assets acquired before the marriage which have been commingled with the other spouses’ assets may be considered marital property during divorce. 

In Illinois divorces, marital property is divided in a way that is just and reasonable based on each spouse’s circumstances. This division method differs from the property division methods of other states in that marital property is not always evenly divided. For example, Illinois courts may be more likely to award the family home to the spouse who will have more parental responsibilities.

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DuPage County divorce child custody lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering ending your marriage through divorce, you probably have concerns about how you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will share responsibility for your children. Some couples are able to come to a custody decision together, while other divorcing couples require court intervention to arrive at a workable custody plan that protects parents’ rights and children’s best interests. If you are considering divorce, and you and your spouse share children, it is important for you to know the basics of child custody laws in Illinois.

Different Types of Custody

Illinois courts recognize two forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Together, the two concepts comprise what the law calls the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Physical custody refers to which parent the child is with at any given time, and it is called “parenting time” in Illinois law. Legal custody is referred to as “significant decision-making responsibilities,” and it involves the right of a parent to be involved in major decisions about their child’s upbringing. Decision-making authority can be given to just one parent, or both parents can share responsibility for different areas identified by the law: education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. While most experts agree that children do better with both parents in their lives, a shared custody arrangement may not be appropriate for families with a history of abuse or neglect.

Factors Considered During Court-Ordered Child Custody Arrangements

If divorcing parents cannot come to an agreement regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities, then custody decisions will be made in court. A family court judge ultimately makes custody decisions for parents who cannot agree to a plan based on what he or she thinks is in the best interests of the child. When making these decisions, a family court judge will consider factors such as:

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