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Joliet IL family law attorneyDomestic abuse is a problem that affects millions of people throughout the United States, but many people are reluctant to admit that they have been victims or take action to protect themselves. If you, your child, or another loved one has suffered from abuse from someone in your household, you should know that it is possible to seek help through the Illinois legal system by petitioning for an order of protection. A protective order may be warranted in more situations than you would expect, and it is important to understand how to go about obtaining one.

Reasons to Petition For an Order of Protection

An Illinois order of protection can provide safety from many different forms of domestic abuse. Physical violence may be the most obvious form of abuse from which a person needs protection, but it is certainly not the only one. You can also file an order of protection in response to willful deprivation of food, shelter, medical care, and other needs, or in response to certain forms of emotional abuse, including threats, intimidation, harassment, and surveillance. If you believe that you or someone in your household has been victimized by any of these behaviors, you should consult with an attorney to understand your options for protection.

Can I File a Petition?

If you have been the victim of domestic abuse from your spouse, parent, sibling, or another member of your household, you have the right to petition the court for an order of protection for yourself, as well as your children who may be at risk. However, you need not be a victim yourself in order to file a petition. Illinois law also allows anyone to file for an order of protection on behalf of a minor child or a disabled adult who cannot file on their own. If, for example, you have witnessed abuse between other members of your household, or you are aware of abuse toward your child when they are staying with their other parent, you can take action to help protect the victim.

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Joliet IL family lawyerParents of children with special health or developmental needs are well aware of the challenges that come with raising and providing for them. Unfortunately, these challenges can often become more pronounced when parents are going through a divorce. In addition to the mental energy that the divorce process requires, parents may also be concerned about how best to handle decisions regarding child support and parental responsibilities in a way that prioritizes their children’s interests and needs.

Child Support for Special Needs Children in Illinois

One of the most significant challenges for parents of children with special needs is the financial cost. Estimates from the U.S. government indicate that from birth to age 18, the cost of raising a child with special needs may be at least five times as high as the cost of raising an average child. While many sources of financial assistance may be available, a good portion of the expenses is likely to fall on the child’s parents.

When the parents of a child with special needs decide to get divorced, child support is a crucial element of the resolution. Illinois law typically bases child support obligations on the average amount that parents within a certain income bracket tend to spend on a child’s basic needs, but the law allows for a significant deviation from the usual calculation to account for a child’s extraordinary developmental, medical, or physical needs. You should be sure to consider costs including ongoing medical care and treatment, special education, in-home accommodations, transportation to appointments, and the services of child therapists and developmental specialists.

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Will County divorce lawyerStudent loan debt is a serious burden for millions of Americans, with recent statistics showing an average debt of more than $30,000 among borrowers. Often, borrowers take 20 years or longer to fully pay off their loans. With this in mind, there is a good chance that if you are going through a divorce, you, your spouse, or both of you will have outstanding student loan debt. You should be sure to understand how this debt will affect the division of marital property, as well as your financial situation after the divorce.

Marital and Non-Marital Debt

One of the most important steps when getting a divorce is to take inventory of all of your assets and debts, as well as all those belonging to your spouse. Each spouse’s non-marital assets and debts will stay with them after the divorce, while marital assets and debts will be distributed fairly between the spouses. The question, then, is whether student loans qualify as non-marital or marital debt.

It is common now for people to wait until after graduating college to get married, meaning that many spouses have taken out student loans before their marriage begins. Student loans incurred before the marriage are an example of non-marital debt. However, if you or your spouse took out student loans during your marriage to further your education, they will most likely be considered marital debt. The fact that the loans financed only one spouse’s education, or that only one spouse signed on the loans, will not change their marital status. If you get divorced later in life after taking out loans in your name to finance your children’s education, these loans will also likely be considered marital debt.

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Joliet IL family lawyerIf you and your partner are ready to commit to a life together in marriage, it is crucial that you can trust each other to make responsible financial decisions and respect each other’s property and financial goals. Similarly, if you are already married and your financial situation has recently changed, it is important to determine how you and your spouse will adapt to this new reality. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can often help to address these issues. When considering whether an agreement of this nature is the right choice, you should be aware of some of the property concerns that it can help you manage.

What Can an Illinois Prenuptial Agreement Do?

Provided that you and your spouse can agree to the terms, a prenup or postnup can help you do all of the following:

  • Define non-marital property - One of the most common reasons for creating a prenup is to protect the property that each spouse brings to the marriage. For example, a prenup can clearly define the amount of each spouse’s premarital retirement contributions, or ensure that a business or home remains the separate property of one spouse. A postnup can accomplish a similar purpose during the marriage, perhaps if a spouse wants to protect a newly acquired inheritance.

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Is My Prenuptial Agreement Valid in Illinois?If you could protect yourself from an unpredictable future, would you do it? Many engaged couples have come to the realization that protecting yourself from the unknown is better than being unprepared. As a bright-eyed and recently engaged couple, divorce is likely not at the forefront of your mind. You are probably spending time thinking about the fun part of the engagement: planning a wedding and a future together. Just as nailing down the details of your wedding arrangements is critical for a successful wedding day, recognizing and preparing for the possibility of divorce can also lead to a better marriage. The unpredictability of an ending relationship can add anxiety and tension to marriage, whereas having things planned out with the help of a prenuptial agreement can ease your worried mind. If you are considering signing a prenup, you should be aware of the following mistakes that can make your agreement invalid in a court of law.

DIY Disaster

As is the case with most legal proceedings, generic legal forms can be found on the internet and filled out by each spouse to act as their prenuptial agreement. Rarely do these unsupervised and uninformed DIY prenups hold up in a court of law. Trying to cut out the cost of an attorney and create your own prenuptial agreement with your spouse can actually lead you to spend more time and money in court later on. Working with an attorney is critical for ensuring equality within the agreement, compliance with your state’s laws, and proper filing of the legal document.

Full Disclosure

The most common reason why couples decide to create a prenuptial agreement is to divide their assets and debts evenly before emotions are heightened by the stress and devastation of divorce. It is imperative that you and your spouse fully disclose your assets and debts in the agreement. Failure to do so can invalidate the entire agreement. If you do not disclose your financial background, the court may assume that you were trying to conceal assets and keep them out of the divorce and your spouse’s hands. Whether intentional or not, you could find yourself scratching your entire prenuptial agreement if things are left unsaid.

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