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Elmhurst adoption attorneyAdopting a child is one of the most wonderful things a person can experience, but because of the arduous legal path one must travel to get there, it can also be one of the most exhausting. Whether you go through the adoption process with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), work with one of the many adoption agencies in Chicago and the surrounding areas, or plan to adopt a step-child or complete a private adoption with someone you know, you will want to have an experienced adoption lawyer on your side. 

Adoption is an intricate legal process, and because of that, it is essential to enlist the services of an adoption attorney. An experienced family law attorney can help you understand your legal requirements and provide representation throughout the adoption process. In some cases, DCFS provides reimbursement for the legal fees of adoptive parents.

What Does an Adoption Lawyer Do? 

A skilled adoption attorney can help ensure there are no mistakes along the way that can add time to an already lengthy process. An adoption law professional will: 

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Hinsdale spousal maintenance attorneyAt the beginning of 2019, some significant alteration to federal and state divorce laws went into effect. These changes impact spousal maintenance, previously known as spousal support or alimony in Illinois. Spousal maintenance is a recurring payment from one former spouse to another after a divorce, typically provided by the higher-earning individual for a determined period of time. It allows a lesser-earning ex-spouse time to build a new life on their own. The duration that spousal maintenance is paid largely depends on the length of the marriage.

Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance 

A judge will consider various factors when determining whether to award alimony to a spouse, including:

  • Each spouse’s income, property, needs, and earning capacity
  • The standard of living achieved while the couple was married
  • Any contributions of an ex-spouse to the education and career of the higher-earning former partner
  • The time a maintenance recipient needs to obtain education, training, and employment to support themselves in full.
  • The tax impact of property division in the couple’s divorce decree.

Spousal Support Changes in 2019

Changes to 750 ILCS 5/504 dictate that for divorces completed on or after January 1, 2019, the amount of spousal support payments will be calculated by subtracting 25 percent of the recipient’s net income from 33.3 percent of the payor’s net income. This differs from the previous model, in which 20 percent of the recipient’s gross income was subtracted from 30 percent of the payor’s gross income. 

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When you filed for divorce, you probably did all the “right”and “expected” things: you hired an excellent lawyer, readsuggested books or articles, and logically prepared for your post-divorcelife. But when it comes to divorce, you can do all the “right things”and still spiral emotionally. After all, your life is changing forever.This is a stressful and emotionally taxing experience even when the legalprocess is going smoothly.

The only way to move forward is to shake up your life in a positive way.Your depression may be difficult to escape because your divorce is naturallyaffecting so many aspects of your life. To help you discover new and constructiveexperiences, the Illinois divorce attorneys at Wakenight & Associates,P.C. have created this list of tips to help you deal with divorce depression.

Tip #1: (Re)discover a New Hobby

It can be difficult to find time for yourself when you’re going througha divorce, working, and raising children. But this could be the perfecttime to rediscover a beloved hobby that’s been put aside for waytoo long. Alternatively, you can also discover a new hobby by lookingonline or experimenting with classes. Maybe you can even learn a new languageor instrument you’ve always been interested in. By staying busyand exploring yourself, you can rediscover confidence and maybe developsome new personal connections.

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Each November, countless families across the country come together to celebratetheir blessings and eat a hearty Thanksgiving feast. But, like most holidays,Thanksgiving can be an extremely difficult and emotional experience forthe recently divorced. For the first time in a long time, you may be aloneon a day that glorifies the ideals of “family” and “togetherness.”It’s completely natural to feel a little glum.

To help you find a little comfort this holiday season, the Illinois divorceattorneys at Wakenight & Associates, P.C. have completed this Thanksgivingsurvival guide.

Take Action & Avoid Depression

It’s hard to feel excited about a home cooked meal when your ex-spouseand children won’t be at the table. For people readjusting to singlelife, it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning, let aloneenjoy a family-based holiday. Even so, you can still embrace the spiritof the day and summon the energy to create new Thanksgiving traditions.

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One of the first and most important steps in the divorce process is decidingwhich spouse is going to keep the family home. This helps a divorcingcouple decide who is responsible for paying the mortgage during and afterthe divorce. However, if the home was purchased using a VA loan, thisprocess can get a little more complicated.

VA Home Loans

A veteran may be eligible for a loan if they served their required termor were honorably discharged. This loan can be used to purchase a homeand help a burgeoning family start the next chapter of their lives. Theveteran’s spouse can share and enjoy their partner’s benefitsfor the duration of their marriage. However, once the divorce is finalized,these benefits are stripped away entirely.

Veterans can only receive one VA loan at a time, so they rarely want toleave the family home to their ex-spouse. It’s important that whicheverspouse receives the family home is able to afford it. If a single ownercan’t pay the full mortgage on their own, they may need to refinancethe house to secure a longer mortgage or lower the interest rate to makethe monthly payments more affordable. Usually, this option is only applicableif the veteran keeps the home or is willing to let their spouse have itfor the sake of their children.

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Establishing a child custody arrangement is one of the most challengingaspects of the divorce process. Unfortunately, it’s difficult formany ex-spouses to treat each other cordially once the divorce has beenfinalized. In fact, sometimes a resentful ex-spouse can behave in a waythat unintentionally influences how a child perceives their other parent.In worst-case scenarios, an ex may intentionally drive a wedge that separatesa child physically and emotionally from their other parent.

Parental alienation is a serious concern for many divorced parents. Theonly way to manage the situation is to recognize the signs of parentalalienation and, if necessary, seek legal assistance.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates a child into disengagingemotionally from their other parent. By exploiting a child’s guiltand confusion, a parent can trick their child into attaching negativeassociations to their other parent. However, this creates a difficultpsychological dilemma that can permanently traumatize a child.

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Once the summer months fade into fall, children across the country startdreaming of the one night a year they can throw on their favorite costumesto knock on doors for yummy treats and playful frights. However, any holidayevent can be difficult for families once a divorce has been finalized,and Halloween is no exception. It’s not unusual for children tolack the Halloween spirit because they are still processing their newreality. As a responsible co-parent, it’s your responsibility toput aside your own complicated feelings to ensure that your child hasthe best Halloween ever.

We understand that this may be an emotional event for you as a parent.To help you get through this night, the Illinois divorce attorneys atWakenight & Associates have assembled the following helpful tips:

Tip #1: Don’t Put Pressure on Your Child

Some parents make the mistake of asking their child who they would preferto spend a holiday with. This puts an intense amount of pressure on achild that is still reconciling with a divorce and may be afraid to hurtone parent’s feelings. How can they have fun running around theneighborhood if they’re feeling guilty?

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Like most states, Illinois has its own laws and regulations that governthe distinct line between the divorce process and annulments. Despitemisconceptions popularized by media and religious institutions, civilannulments simply affirm that a marriage never existed in the eyes ofthe law. Conversely, divorce marks the end of an existing and valid legal union.

Illinois courts technically don’t offer “annulment of marriage”actions, but you can ask a judge for a “judgment of invalidity.”Legally, there is no difference between these two terms. A judgment ofinvalidity is a court order stating that your marriage is invalid perIllinois law. However, these are very rarely granted in Illinois exceptunder specific circumstances. If you’re interested in requestinga judgment of invalidity, you must first prove to the court that yoursituation warrants it.

Grounds for a judgement of invalidity include:

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We are currently in the middle of an interesting cultural shift: adultsare marrying and divorcing at increasingly older ages. This naturallyimpacts many aspects of the divorce process, especially when it comesto custody and child support. However, what happens when a couple divorcesand their child is an intellectually disabled adult? Does one parent stillneed to pay child support?

In Illinois, the answer to this question is inconclusive. Per section 513.5of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a parent canrequest financial support for a disabled non-minor child. The statutespecifically states that a disabled person is an individual “whohas a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a majorlife activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as havingsuch an impairment.”

The court considers 3 factors before deciding to award child support foran intellectually disabled non-minor child:

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Divorce can be a challenging legal process, but the long-term benefitsare typically worth the temporary heartache and struggles. The end ofone complicated marriage gives both spouses a second chance at love andromance. However, before you put slip on a new ring, it’s importantto understand how your new marriage can affect the terms of your originaldivorce settlement.

The Financial Obligations of a Post-Divorce Life

A divorce settlement is essentially a legal agreement that encompassesthe terms of a couple’s separation. Before spouses can finalizetheir divorce, they need to make decisions regarding spousal maintenance,child custody, child support, debt allocation, and asset division. Thesedeterminations are important aspects of their divorce settlement.

Spousal Maintenance

Because your new marriage naturally alters your financial situation, itmay impact the original terms of your divorce settlement. For example,the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that bothformer spouses can request a modification or termination of payments undercertain circumstances.

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In an Illinois divorce, the court determines asset distribution and debtallocation based on “equitable distribution.” As the termimplies, equitable means fair, not equal. This flexible system means thatseparating spouses may not receive a strict 50/50 split.

The court considers multiple factors when determining equitable distribution:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • The earning abilities of both spouses
  • The best interests of the child
  • The value of the marital estate
  • Various tax considerations
  • Marital vs. non-marital property

But what happens if you inherit assets and property in the course of yourmarriage? Is it considered part of the marital estate?

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It’s normal for separating couples to experience some degree of conflictduring divorce proceedings, particularly when it comes to the equitabledistribution of assets. Because Illinois doesn’t have any laws thatrequire anequal distribution of assets, spouses may find themselves standing before ajudge who is responsible for deciding how their marital property shouldbe dividedfairly. In this case, one does not equal the other.

In high-asset divorces, some spouses might be tempted to hide assets, andwill go to extreme lengths to protect them from the distribution process.For example, one spouse may try to hide financial assets in a secret accountor transfer real estate property to a relative. This is incredibly inadvisable,as guilty parties are usually caught and punished with severe legal andfinancial penalties.

During the discovery phase of your divorce, spouses must be financiallytransparent and honestly disclose any relevant assets and properties—thisincludes both marital and separate properties. This is so important thatspouses are required to testify under oath that they are providing allthe necessary financial information and documentation.

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Each marriage is defined by unique family and financial dynamics that mustbe taken into account during divorce determinations. In certain cases,the court may award a lower-earning spouse alimony to make the transitionto single life (and a single income) easier. In theory, alimony is toprovide financial assistance while a spouse pursues new job or educationalopportunities. It’s entirely up to the spouses or the court to decidehow long alimony payments should last.

Typically, a judge thoroughly reviews the financial situations of bothspouses before making a final determination. The spousal support amountis calculated per state laws and can be paid in monthly installments ora lump sum payment. However, alimony can be terminated or modified undercertain conditions, and to the benefits of both spouses.

Terminations and modifications can be requested under the following conditions:

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If you and your spouse are seriously considering a divorce, there may beno time like the present to file your petition and complete the process.As 2018 crawls to a close, we are getting closer and closer to the lasttax season that provides certain tax benefits to divorced couples.

The Trump Administration passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December2017, and the legislative changes will finally go into effect on December31, 2018. The TCJA is making significant changes to the individual incometax, and these changes include reforms to alimony, dependent deductions,and the child tax credit. These are all tax issues that may affect yourpost-divorce life.

Alimony

The purpose of spousal support is to provide financial aid to a lower-earningspouse who may find it difficult to live on a single income after a divorce.Before the TCJA, alimony payments were tax deductible for the paying spouseand judged as taxable income for the receiving spouse. In 2019, this standardwill no longer apply to any new spousal support orders or alimony modifications.Depending on your personal circumstances, this may be one positive changeincluded in this sweeping tax reform.

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Americans collectively owe nearly $1.5 trillion in student loan debts.Statistically, this means that 1 out of every 4 adults nationwide arecurrently part of a college debt repayment plan. The standard federalrepayment plan takes at least 10 years to complete, and it’s notuncommon for people with student loan debts to marry and divorce withinthat same time period. But what happens to student loan debts during a divorce?

Debt division is a vital aspect of the divorce process. Typically, onlydebts incurred during the marriage are included in the marital estate.Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that debt isdivided “fairly” and per the will of the court. Fairly, however,does not mean “equally.” The court must evaluate several factorsbefore determining if one spouse’s student loan debts should bepart of the distributable marital estate.

The court makes its determination based on the following:

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Before the divorce process can be finalized, all financial matters relatingto spousal maintenance, or “alimony,” must be agreed uponby both spouses or determined by the court. The purpose of alimony isto offer financial support to a lower earning spouse as they adapt tobeing single and self-sufficient. Typically, alimony is paid in monthlyinstallments to benefit the financial situations of both former spouses.However, the paying spouse or the court can decide that submitting a lumpsum amount is an acceptable alternative to an on-going payment plan.

Lump sum payment options include:

  • Cash
  • Check
  • Marital property division

By choosing to pay through marital property division, the paying spouseessentially agrees to forfeit a portion of the assets there are entitledto in lieu of paying alimony.

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For some married couples, timeshares are a vacation paradise and a romantichome away from home. For many others, however, timeshares represent amisguided purchase that is notoriously difficult to sell. Typically, atimeshare allows multiple people to own the same property and utilizeit for established periods of time during the year. While the idea issound, the reality is a little less grand. In fact, most owners complainabout the strict usage schedules and excessive taxes.

Unfortunately, when spouses decide to divorce, the timeshare becomes partof their marital estate. In other words, it’s time to decide ifyou want to share it, sell it, or have one spouse outright own it.

Share It

If both spouses have an amicable relationship, they might be able to sharethe property and split the usage schedule. By sharing the timeshare, bothspouses can take advantage of inexpensive vacation opportunities. Also,they aren’t forced to cut their losses by trying to sell the timeshareon the open market. Again, this option is only appropriate for formerspouses who are capable of cordial communication and mutual respect. Infact, most attorneys discourage this option because of the long-term pressureit places on both spouses. If you’re interested in splitting thetimeshare, your lawyer can help you include it in the divorce settlementagreement.

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The primary purpose of child support is to provide minors with financially-stableliving environments that encompass their basic living needs. Calculatingand establishing the guidelines of child support payments is an importantfacet of many divorce settlements.

Basic living expenses include:

  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Educational expenses
  • Health care (circumstantially)

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) makes specialprovisions regarding the education of children. For example, the courthas the option of awarding payments that support a child through highschool and college. However, child support doesn’t necessarily coverextracurricular activities or clubs that could help a child enter college.Likewise, there is no provision stating that child support payments areintended to cover private school tuition.

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Summer is a great season for families to vacation together. However, summerplans can get complicated after a divorce. This is particularly true forchildren who split their time between two households.

In 2016, Illinois replaced “child custody arrangements” with“parenting plans.” These are legal documents that list therights and obligations each parent has regarding their children. One importantaspect of a parenting plan is establishing a “parenting time schedule.” In Illinois, these schedules can be flexible so long as both parentsare in agreement. A family lawyer can help you develop or legally modifyyour parenting plan to benefit your relationship with your child.

A parenting time schedule should include the following:

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One important set of documents tends to be forgotten in the mad scrambleof divorce: your estate plan. This is comprised of several essential documentsthat protect your financial interests and personal medical choices inthe event of an emergency. If your plan isn’t updated, then yourex may still be designated as your executor and primary beneficiary.

Estate planning documents commonly include a:

  • Will
  • Revocable trust
  • Irrevocable trust
  • Advanced health care directive
  • Durable power of attorney for finances
  • Durable power of attorney for healthcare

Your Medical Care

Without an updated estate plan, your former spouse may legally have fullcontrol over your estate in the event of a medical emergency. The intentof a durable power of attorney for finances document is to grant an agentthe authority to pay your bills, take care of your medical expenses, andmanage your assets while you’re incapacitated. This means your agenthas full access to your financial accounts. Likewise, a durable powerof attorney for healthcare authorizes your agent to make medical choiceson your behalf—so long as he or she respects your advanced healthcaredirective. Depending on your relationship with your ex, this may not go well.

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