Tag Archive for: Chicago Divorce Attorney

Civil Union Dissolutions and Mediation

Partners who want to take their relationship to the next level, both ceremoniously and legally, generally have two options: they can be united in marriage or a civil union. In Illinois, dissolving a civil union is almost the same as dissolving a marriage. Here’s what you need to know.

No one sets out to spend their lives together anticipating separating down the line. Just because you CAN have a Civil Union in Illinois, it doesn’t mean you have to stick it out should you be unhappy.

As you traverse the labyrinth of life, you may find yourself entwined in the complex legal maze of civil union dissolutions. It’s a challenging path to tread, one rife with emotional turmoil and legal intricacies. As seasoned divorce attorneys at Masters Law Group, we are equipped with the expertise to guide you through this intricate process, specifically focusing on mediation as a dispute resolution technique.

If you and your partner aren’t sure which may be right for you, it’ll be helpful to learn about the similarities and differences between civil unions and marriages to make an informed decision. Read on to learn more.

WHAT IS A CIVIL UNION?

In Illinois, a civil union is a legal relationship between two people that gives them legal rights to marriage. Civil unions first became recognized in 2011, when the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act was passed. Civil unions can be entered by same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

Partners who enter civil unions are granted the same protections, responsibilities and benefits that one would normally receive in a marriage. Eligibility for those wanting a civil union include the following:

  1. Must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Cannot be related – by the half or the whole blood or by adoption; an aunt or uncle and a niece or nephew, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, or by adoption; or between first cousins.
  3. Cannot enter civil unions prior to dissolution of marriage or similar legal relationships.
  4. Individuals who live out of state, as that civil union would not be legal in their home state.

It is important to note that while civil unions are legally recognized in Illinois, they are not federally recognized. If you have entered a civil union with your partner but have decided to move on, you will need a Civil Union Dissolution.

Civil Union Dissolutions

If things didn’t turn out the fairytale you had imagined, you’re not alone. Any couple who wishes to dissolve a civil union will be able to do so in the State of Illinois. To receive a certified copy of a Dissolution of Civil Union records, an interested couple will need to go to the county circuit court clerk where the civil union was granted.

In Illinois, a party to a civil union may petition the Court to dissolve the civil union just as with Dissolution of Marriage. You must draft a Petition to Dissolve a Civil Union alleging similar facts as in a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and follow similar procedures as set forth above.

You should also consult with a family divorce lawyer who is highly experienced in Civil Union Law.

Mediation: A Beacon of Resolution

In this intricate landscape, mediation emerges as a beacon, offering a softer, more collaborative approach to dispute resolution. Instead of a contentious courtroom battle, you are guided towards mutually beneficial solutions under the oversight of a neutral third party, the mediator. This approach fosters communication, reduces conflict, and places you and your partner at the helm of decision-making.

The Advantages of Mediation

Mediation in civil union dissolution offers numerous advantages. The process is often less costly and quicker than traditional court litigation. It’s confidential, providing a private arena for you to voice concerns and negotiate terms without public scrutiny. Furthermore, it allows for a greater degree of control over the outcome, as you and your partner make the decisions rather than leaving them in the hands of a judge.

How Masters Law Group Can Assist

At Masters Law Group, we stand by your side as trusted advisors and advocates throughout the dissolution process.

Several unique issues can arise during the process of establishing or dissolving a civil union, so it is vital to have a knowledgeable lawyer to guide you through every step.

We provide professional and individualized legal representation for a wide range of family law concerns, including civil unions. Our firm has dedicated considerable time in order to become knowledgeable and up to date in this new area of family law. Whether you want to form a civil union or are in need of a civil union dissolution, we will take the time to fully understand your situation and provide honest advice regarding your options.

Furthermore, Erin E. Masters has been approved as a Mediator for the Cook County Domestic Relations Division and offers private mediation services. If you are looking to settle your family law matter without court intervention, contact Masters Law Group to schedule a mediation appointment.

We will guide you through the mediation process, ensuring your interests are represented, and help you navigate complex negotiations concerning asset division, financial obligations, and child-related matters. Our aim is to facilitate a smooth transition, minimizing conflict and promoting a resolution that respects the interests of all parties involved.

Conclusion

Civil union dissolutions can seem like a daunting legal labyrinth, but they can become more manageable with expert guidance and a focus on mediation. At Masters Law Group, we are committed to providing compassionate, professional assistance to help you navigate these complexities. We believe in empowering you to make informed decisions and strive for an outcome that supports your best interests and those of your family.

Remember, as you go down this challenging path, you are not alone. With a strong legal advocate at your side, you can successfully navigate the complexities of civil union dissolution and mediation.

Schedule a Consultation today to learn more about how we can assist as your Civil Union Dissolution and Mediation attorneys.

The Role of Mediation in Resolving Family Law Disputes

Family law disputes can be emotionally and financially taxing for all involved parties. Fortunately, mediation can help.

Divorce Mediation is a peace-making practice dedicated entirely to couples committed to approaching the end of a marriage with honesty, integrity, and reason.

The aim is for divorcing spouses to reach constructive divorce settlements by avoiding litigation’s emotional and financial toll and without court intervention.

In this blog, we will explore the role of mediation in resolving family law disputes. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that involves a neutral third party who facilitates communication between the parties to help them reach a mutually beneficial solution. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not make decisions for the parties; instead, they help the parties reach their agreement.

Mediation typically begins with both parties meeting with their mediator to discuss the issues at hand. The mediator then facilitates communication between the parties, helping them to identify and address their concerns. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft a written contract that both parties can sign.

In some cases, mediation may not be successful. However, even in these situations, the parties may better understand each other’s positions and concerns, making future negotiations more straightforward. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of mediation.

1. Cost Savings

The rising costs of divorce have made it increasingly difficult for couples to pursue traditional litigation. However, mediation offers a more cost-effective alternative to conventional litigation, allowing parties to save on legal fees and avoid the costs of lengthy court battles.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of legal services increased by 4.9% in March 2023 compared to the same period last year. With inflation rates remaining high, the cost of divorce will likely continue to rise, making mediation an attractive option for those seeking a more affordable way to resolve family law disputes.

2. Flexibility

When parties opt for traditional litigation in family law disputes, they are at the mercy of the court’s calendar. A judge has multiple cases on their docket and will determine the day and time of an appearance. Because of this, it could result in a delay of weeks or even months. Mediation, on the other hand, allows the parties and counsel to weigh in on scheduling and how the case is to be heard.

In some situations, the proceeding might be a hybrid, in that some individuals appear in person and others participate remotely. This flexibility allows parties to choose a date and time that works for them and participate in the mediation process most conveniently.

Additionally, parties can work with a mediator outside the court’s calendar since mediation is voluntary. This can result in a faster resolution and a more positive experience.

3. Time Savings and Continuity 

Family law cases that go to trial involve major disputes over finances and children and can take time to resolve, prolonging one of the most painful events in a person’s life. The impact of such a trial can be significant, affecting finances, job performance, mental health, and overall well-being.

In contrast, mediation offers a streamlined and efficient process for resolving family law disputes. Mediation minimizes time away from work, children, and other essential aspects of life. Parties can work together to schedule mediation sessions at times that suit their work and family obligations.

Once the mediator establishes rapport with the parties, it is essential to maintain a productive conversation. Agreement on more minor issues can lead to the resolution of larger ones. This incremental approach helps to build trust between the parties and encourages them to find common ground.

4. Privacy

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events, and finding ways to lessen the impact of this stress on the family is crucial. Divorce proceedings can bring additional scrutiny and enhance the anxiety associated with the experience. Courtrooms are open, as they should be, but this can add to the stress of the situation.

Mediation offers a more private, confidential, and intimate setting, which can help to alleviate some of the stress associated with divorce. Parties can work together to resolve their issues in a safe and comfortable environment without the added pressure of a public courtroom setting.

The confidentiality of the mediation process can also be beneficial for families. Mediation agreements are typically confidential, meaning the dispute and resolution details are kept private. It can help protect the parties’ privacy and avoid potential negative publicity from a public trial.

5. Long-Term Results

Mediation can provide long-term benefits for parties involved in family law disputes. One of the key advantages of mediation is that it allows parties to reach a resolution tailored to their unique needs and circumstances.

Choosing mediation can result in a more sustainable agreement that is less likely to result in future conflicts. In addition, mediation encourages parties to communicate openly and work together to find common ground, which can improve their relationship and pave the way for better co-parenting and co-existence in the future.

Finally, mediation is less adversarial than traditional litigation. It can help minimize the adverse emotional and psychological effects of divorce and other family law disputes, which can have long-term benefits for all involved.

Final Thoughts

Serving clients in Cook County and DuPage County Illinois, at Masters Law Group, our experienced attorneys understand that divorce is a stressful situation for everyone involved. As such, we prioritize our clients’ assurance and well-being throughout the mediation process.

Whether you are facing mediation, a contested, uncontested, or a civil union divorce, our attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.

No one should go through a family law case alone. Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

Mastering Hague Law With Masters

The Hague Convention protects children from international parental abduction and returns them to their home country residence. It can also include child custody conflicts when a parent or guardian resides in a different country to the home country of the child.

Going through a divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved. However, things can get even more complicated when one parent tries to take the children across international borders. Parents are often left in a legal quagmire with high stakes and convoluted laws in these cases. But you don’t have to face it alone. The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction helps navigate these complex custody cases.

In this blog, we will delve into the details of The Hague Convention and how Masters Law Group can assist. Keep reading to discover everything you need about this crucial legal resource.

Understanding The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

The International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) rules how U.S. courts implement the Hague Convention. The Convention applies in cases where a child has been wrongfully removed from their habitual residence without parental consent. Hague Law establishes a Central Authority in each partner country to act as a point of contact for parents and children in international child custody cases. The Central Authority helps with the following:

  • Be the point of contact for parents and children in international child custody cases.
  • Help locate abducted children.
  • Encourage solutions that work for both parents.
  • Submit documents as part of the application are admissible in courts in partner countries.

Understanding how the Hague framework operates is crucial; let’s dive into who the Hague Convention applies to.

What Countries Are a Part of  The Hague Convention?

It’s important to note that the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction applies only to countries that have signed and ratified it. As of 2023, there are currently 91 signatory countries, but it’s essential to consult with a Hague lawyer to determine whether the Convention applies to your case.

For a full list of participating treaties, click here. 

Additionally, the Hague Convention only applies to children under the age of 16. Some signatory countries may have different age limits or apply the Convention to older children. It’s crucial to understand that the Hague Convention’s primary goal is to promote the return of wrongfully removed children to their country of habitual residence. To navigate complex legal proceedings in the country where your child habitually resides, seeking guidance from a Hague lawyer is highly recommended.

Hiring A Hague Lawyer

Attorneys experienced in The Hague Convention are crucial when it comes to navigating international child abduction. If you are concerned that your child may be at risk of abduction, it’s essential to take proactive measures to protect them. An experienced Hague Convention lawyer can help you assess the risk of abduction and develop a plan to safeguard your child’s well-being.

Some preventative measures that your attorney may recommend include:

  • Obtaining a custody order or parenting plan that specifies each parent’s rights and responsibilities, including travel restrictions.
  • You request that your child’s name be added to a watchlist to prevent them from being removed from the country without your consent.
  • Obtain a court order that requires surrendering your child’s passport or restricts international travel.
  • Establish security measures and emergency protocols by working with your child’s school or daycare.

If you are concerned about the possibility of parental child abduction, contact your family law attorney immediately to discuss your options and develop a plan that will help ensure your child’s safety.

Working With Masters Law Group

At Masters Law Group, our knowledgeable Hague lawyers are here to help you navigate the complex legal proceedings related to international child abduction, including coordinating with the Central Authority and representing you in court. Serving clients in Cook County and DuPage County Illinois, we can assist you in determining whether the Convention applies to your case – and how – based on the laws of the country where your child resides.

Our award-winning attorneys, Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph, have vast experience in international family law. You can rest assured we will work aggressively to advocate on your behalf.

As a testament to our experience, see some of our recent Hague decisions here:

If you or a loved one is facing the possibility of international parental child abduction, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help you protect yourself and your children.

Schedule your complimentary consultation here today.

What is The Hague Convention? (INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION)

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another. The powerful international treaty can yield beneficial results when implemented correctly and appropriately.

The Hague Convention has been in the headlines recently regarding the war with Russia and Ukraine. This has left many across the globe asking, “What is the Hague Convention?”.

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”) was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”), which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to his or her country of habitual residence.

The International Criminal Court in the Hague has issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin. It accuses him of being responsible for war crimes in Ukraine, including the unlawful deportation of children. Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Ms Maria Lvova-Belova, is also subject to an arrest warrant.

According to Ukraine, tens of thousands of possible war crimes have been carried out by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine in February last year. The Hague Convention doesn’t just apply to war crimes; it also affects everyday civilians across the globe when their child has been wrongfully removed from their habitual residence.

Divorce and The Hague Convention

When parents divorce, deciding how to handle issues regarding their children can be intense. When parents originate from separate countries, these disputes can quickly become complicated, especially when one parent attempts to move children across international borders.

When this happens, you need a Hauge lawyer who is highly experienced in international law. They understand how to settle matters of jurisdiction involving courts in the United States and other countries across the globe (if these nations are a part of the convention).

The Hague Convention’s applicability can be determined by two factors:

(1) whether both parents have consented to their child’s removal from one country to another; or

(2) if a child has been wrongfully removed from one country and brought into another country without either parent’s consent.

Hauge Law is created in order to protect you and your family both nationally and internationally.

INITIATING THE PROCESS

Deciding whether to file a Hague application is an important decision and must be considered based on each case’s specific circumstances. Perhaps after separating from their partner, a parent wants to take their child and move to another country. Maybe a parent moved internationally in violation of a custody agreement.

Filing a case under the Convention does not guarantee that your child will be returned. To obtain the return of your child through a Hague proceeding, you must first be able to demonstrate the following:

  • That your child was habitually resident in one Convention country and was wrongfully removed to or retained in another Convention country;
  • The removal or retention of your child is considered wrongful if it was in violation of your custodial rights, and you were exercising those rights at the time of the removal or retention, or you would have been exercising them but for the removal or retention.
  • The Convention must have been in force between the two countries when the wrongful removal or retention occurred (the dates are different for every country); (Note: In many instances, when a country accedes to the Convention, it is not automatically partners with all of the other countries who have ratified or acceded to the Convention.  Countries must accept another country’s accession to the Convention under the terms described in the Convention before a treaty partnership is created.
  • The child is under the age of 16.

WHY CHOOSE MASTERS LAW GROUP?

International custody issues can be incredibly difficult to deal with as a parent because of the concern you have for the safety and security of your child, and should be handled properly by a knowledgeable attorney.

Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes and kidnapping in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

Read the details of our most recent successful Hague Convention cases below. Furthermore, see what our clients have to say on representing their Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction case:

 

I had a very difficult case in the United States Federal Court. My ex husband filed a Petition against me under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child abduction asking to return our two sons to Lithuania. Seeking for the legal representation, I was advised by the U.S. Department of State to contact lawyer Erin E. Masters. I was so lucky to have the team of the best lawyers Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph representing me in this difficult trial.

They represented with the highest standards of law, but also provided support and empathy through the process. The communication was fantastic, always answered every question, explained every situation and possible outcome. As it was a very fast track case, Erin and Anthony worked hard including weekends to prepare everything for the hearing. There was only one hearing and the Decision was totally in my favor. All my family, especially the kids, are very grateful! It is also fair to mention that the legal expenses for the amount of services provided was very very reasonable.

I will gladly recommend Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph to represent any of my friends and family in need of an excellent and highly professional family attorney.

— Aistė Šulcaitė

FINAL THOUGHTS

Instead of trying to figure out international law issues alone, contact the Family Law Attorneys at Masters Law Group. Serving clients in Cook County and DuPage County Illinois, our experienced team will help you navigate the legal complexities of your case and are committed to vigorously representing you in these frightening, high-stakes proceedings.

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today. 

Featured Hague Decisions:

Does Divorce Affect Adoptions in Illinois?

Parents who adopt aim to give the child/children a stable, loving environment to grow up in. Couples rarely adopt children with plans to divorce. But as we know, it doesn’t always pan out that way. 

After any adoption, with respect to minor children, if the parties divorce, the adoptive parent may have the same duties and parental responsibilities in regard to child support and other issues as though the minor child was his or her natural child. Here’s what you need to know.

Different Types of Adoption in Illinois

There are four main types of minor adoption that are commonly used in Illinois:

  • Related Adoption: Also called a “kinship” adoption, occurs in a situation where the child is adopted by family members, i.e, stepparent, grandparent, sibling, or aunt and uncle. This form of adoption is often the easiest to navigate, because some procedures and requirements may be waived. 
  • Agency Adoption:  In an agency adoption, the parents receive the child from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or a licensed private adoption agency. The biological parents have already surrendered the child to the state or had their parental rights terminated.
  • Private Adoption: A private adoption occurs when the adoptive parents receive the child directly from the biological family. 
  • Standby Adoption: A standby adoption is a legal arrangement that becomes effective after a specific event occurs, such as the death of a biological parent.

It’s important to note that Illinois also allows for adult adoptions. Adult adoption happens when a person over 18 is adopted by loved ones they have lived with for a substantial amount of time. The adult being adopted must give consent. However, biological parents do not need to give their approval.

Impact of Divorce on Adoption

When a married couple decides to adopt a child, they typically do so together, as joint petitioners. This means that both parents are legally responsible for the child, and both must consent to any decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, and medical care. However, if the couple divorces before the adoption is finalized, the situation becomes more complicated.

In Illinois, the adoption process is generally governed by the Illinois Adoption Act. According to this act, if a married couple begins the adoption process and then decides to divorce before the adoption is finalized, the court must determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child.

The court will consider various factors when making this determination, including the child’s age, health, and well-being, as well as the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving home for the child. If the court determines that the adoption is still in the child’s best interests, the adoption can proceed, but the non-adopting spouse will no longer be considered a legal parent of the child.

On the other hand, if the court determines that the adoption is no longer in the child’s best interests, the adoption will be terminated, and the child will remain in the care of their birth parents or legal guardians.

Impact of Divorce on Stepparent Adoption

In some cases, a stepparent may wish to adopt their spouse’s child after a divorce. This process is known as stepparent adoption, and it is subject to different rules than traditional adoption.

Under Illinois law, a stepparent may adopt their spouse’s child if the following conditions are met:

  • The stepparent is married to the child’s legal parent.
  • The child’s other legal parent has consented to the adoption or had their parental rights terminated by a court.
  • The adoption is in the best interests of the child.

If the stepparent meets these requirements, they may petition the court to adopt the child. However, if the legal parent of the child objects to the adoption, the court will have to determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child.

If the legal parent does not object, the adoption can proceed without the need for a court hearing, and the stepparent will become the child’s legal parent.

Conclusion

Divorce can have a significant impact on adoption proceedings in Illinois, and it is important to understand the laws and regulations that govern these situations. If you are considering adoption or are going through a divorce while in the process of adopting, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the legal process and protect your rights and the best interests of the child.

At Masters Law Group, our team of skilled attorneys can help guide you through the divorce process and explain the legal implications of how adopted children could be affected.

Schedule a consultation today to begin the conversation.

Illinois Property Division in Divorce

If you are approaching divorce in Illinois, you may wonder how the law treats the division of marital property. Here’s what you need to know. 

Divorce is a difficult and emotional process that can be made even more complicated by the division of property between spouses. Marital property includes more than your family home. The legal definition of an asset in a divorce is anything that has a real value. Assets can include tangible items that can be bought and sold such as cars, properties, furniture, jewelry and even cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between the spouses. This is in contrast to community property states, where marital property is divided equally between the spouses.

The Strain of Property Division on Divorcing Couples

The division of property that you and your spouse have shared for years can seem especially tricky, often introducing fresh grievances or re-igniting old ones in the process. Here are some of the reasons why property division can be difficult in divorce:

  1. Emotional attachments to property: Couples may have emotional attachments to certain properties, such as a family home or heirloom, which can make it difficult to negotiate a fair division.
  2. Disagreements about what is fair: Spouses may have different ideas about what is a fair division of property. For example, one spouse may argue that they should receive a larger share of the marital property because they earned more money, while the other spouse may argue that they should receive a larger share because they contributed more to the household.
  3. Complexity of assets: Couples may have complex assets, such as businesses, investments, or retirement accounts, that are difficult to value and divide.
  4. Difficulty agreeing on values: Even when the assets are not complex, it can be difficult to agree on the value of the assets, especially if they have appreciated or depreciated in value since they were acquired.
  5. Legal complexities: Property division in divorce can be a legally complex process, and couples may struggle to understand the relevant laws and regulations.
  6. Fear of financial instability: Divorce can have a significant impact on a person’s financial stability, and couples may be afraid of the financial consequences of a property division that they perceive as unfair.

Equitable Distribution in Illinois

As mentioned, Illinois is an Equitable distribution state, meaning that a court will divide the marital property in a way that is fair and just, taking into account various factors such as:

  • The contributions each spouse made to the acquisition, preservation, or increase in value of the marital property;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Primary caregiver status for the child/children;
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the property division;
  • Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements between the spouses;
  • The age, health, and occupation of each spouse;
  • The needs of each spouse; and
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant.

Marital property in Illinois includes all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled, except for property acquired by gift, inheritance, or a property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage.

Non-marital property, on the other hand, includes property acquired by a spouse before the marriage, property acquired by gift or inheritance, and property acquired in exchange for non-marital property.

Tax Consequences

You will want to be sure to understand how the decisions you make about the division of your property will affect the taxes owed by both you and your spouse.

For instance, if you sell your home or other assets during your divorce, you may be required to pay capital gains taxes. Understanding and addressing tax-related issues will help you avoid financial problems that may arise after you complete your divorce.

Community Property Laws in Illinois

Illinois is not a community property state. Community property states, such as California and Texas, divide marital property equally between the spouses regardless of the contributions each spouse made to acquiring or maintaining the property.

In a community property state, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered community property, and each spouse has an equal interest in it. This includes income earned during the marriage and any property acquired with that income.

Illinois and other equitable distribution states, on the other hand, divide marital property in a way that is fair and just based on the factors discussed above.

Hidden Assets

It is not uncommon for parties to hide their assets from their ex’s and the courts to help swing the distribution of property in their direction.

When it comes to property division, it’s important to make a list of all assets and debts that you and your spouse share. This includes assets that are solely in your name or your spouse’s name. This involves everything from retirement accounts and investments to real estate and personal property. Having a detailed inventory of your assets will help your lawyer build a stronger case and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

It’s also crucial to be honest with your lawyer about any challenges you may face during the divorce process. This includes concerns about child custody or your spouse hiding assets or income.

Getting the Legal Help You Need

If you are facing divorce in Illinois, you might decide you want an attorney to help you with your case. It is important to get an experienced lawyer when discussing property division after divorce for several reasons:

  1. Knowledge of the law: A divorce attorney will have a deep understanding of the laws and regulations that govern property division in your state, including the factors that a court will consider when dividing marital property. This knowledge will be invaluable in helping you negotiate a fair and equitable division of property.
  2. Objectivity: Divorce can be an emotionally charged process, and it can be difficult to negotiate property division when you are feeling hurt, angry, or resentful. A divorce attorney can provide an objective perspective and help you make decisions that are in your best interests.
  3. Protection of your rights: A divorce attorney will work to protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair division of property. They will help you identify assets that may be subject to division and make sure that those assets are valued correctly. They will also help you understand your options for negotiating a division of property, including mediation and litigation if necessary.
  4. Avoiding mistakes: Property division can be a complex process, and it is easy to make mistakes that could have long-lasting financial consequences. A divorce attorney will help you avoid these mistakes and ensure that you are making informed decisions about your property division.
  5. Negotiation skills: A divorce attorney will have strong negotiation skills that can be invaluable in reaching a fair and equitable division of property. They will work to find creative solutions to complex property division issues and help you achieve your goals.

An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate the complex process of property division and ensure that you receive a fair and equitable division of property.

Conclusion

Divorcing couples may struggle with property division because of emotional attachments, disagreements about what is fair, complex assets, difficulty agreeing on values, legal complexities, and fear of financial instability. It is important for couples to work with experienced divorce attorneys who can guide them through the process and help them reach a fair and equitable property division agreement.

If you are going through a divorce in Illinois and have questions about property division, contact the award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our highly experienced divorce lawyers are ready to guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Set up your consultation here today. 

Co-Parenting and The Impact on Child Support

As family dynamics diversify, co-parenting is becoming increasingly popular. But this child-centered approach to parental separation has its own set of opportunities (such as consistency) and challenges (such as who is responsible for child support). Here’s what you should know. 

Co-parenting is a form of parenting relationship in which the two parents are not involved romantically with each other, but assume the joint responsibility of the child. It can be described as any two people jointly raising a minor, irrespective of whether or not they are biological parents. But, in the majority of cases, co-parenting comes after a divorce, separation or a breakup involving a child.

After divorcing (or legally separating), working with your child’s other parent may be uncomfortable to say the least. But making the effort to cooperate with your co-parent  makes things easier for everyone involved. Especially the child/children.

Navigating co-parenting is no easy feat and it can raise questions about the financial obligations of each parent. Let’s dive into the complex world of co-parenting and child support to learn more.

Co-Parenting in Illinois

In Illinois, co-parenting is commonly referred to as joint parenting. Joint parenting refers to an arrangement in which both parents share parental responsibilities and decision-making for the child. The purpose of joint parenting is to ensure that both parents remain involved in the child’s life and that the child’s best interests are always prioritized.

In order to establish joint parenting in Illinois, both parents must submit a parenting plan to the court. The parenting plan should include details about how parental responsibilities will be divided. It should also include decision-making authority, parenting time, and child support.

Child Support Orders

A child support order is determined by what is reasonable and necessary for the support of the child or children. It is presumed that the guideline support amounts represent the amount of support that is reasonable and necessary, unless it can be demonstrated to the court that circumstances exist that would make the guideline amount inappropriate.

Child support is utilized for the child or children’s expenses and looking at the best interests of the child or children to provide a stable home for the child or children. Some common expenses that are associated with child support are:

  • The child’s residence expenses such as mortgage or rent.
  • Utilities such as electricity, gas, and water.
  • The child’s educational expenses such as notebooks, pens, paper, books, sports fees, band fees, etc.
  • The child’s food expenses.
  • The child’s medical expenses. (Illinois Child Support Laws that went into effect on January 1st, 2022 requires that during child support proceedings parents must obtain or maintain health insurance coverage for their child or children.)

If you are concerned about how the court will calculate the child support amount and/or if you are concerned whether your child or children will receive the financial support they need, you should contact your trusted family law attorney.

Impact on Child Support

In Illinois, child support is calculated based on several factors. This includes each parent’s income, the number of children, and the amount of parenting time each parent has. When parents share custody in a co-parenting arrangement, child support is typically calculated differently than in cases where one parent has primary custody.

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, when parents share custody, child support is calculated based on the “income shares” model. The amount of child support is calculated by determining the total cost of raising the child, and then dividing that cost between the parents based on their incomes. The amended income shares child support guidelines model became effective on January 1, 2019, signed into law as Public Act 100-0923 on August 17, 2018.

It’s important to note that in Illinois, child support obligations are not just financial. Parents who share custody in a co-parenting arrangement are also responsible for making sure their children’s emotional and physical needs are met. This includes the following:

  • Providing a stable and supportive home environment
  • Making decisions about education and healthcare
  • Facilitating communication between the child and both parents.

Co-parenting can be a rewarding and fulfilling way to raise children after a separation or divorce. However, it’s important for parents to work together to ensure that their children’s needs are being met, both financially and emotionally. If you feel your current situation and contract is unjust or incorrect, contact your family law attorney to discuss whether you are eligible for a modification of the order.

Modification of Child Support

In some cases, a parent may experience substantial changes to their financial situation that makes it challenging (or impossible) for them to pay the court-ordered amount of child support. In such cases, the parent can request a modification of the child support order.

To modify a child support obligation in Illinois, you must file a petition with the court that has jurisdiction over your case. The petition should explain the basis for the requested modification and the change in child support obligation you are seeking from the court.

Since the petition is for modifying an existing order, there is no need to have it served by a sheriff. Instead, you can serve notice of the petition through mail at the responding party’s last known address. Note that if the petition seeks additional court action besides the modification of child support, such as a change in parental time and responsibility, it must be served through certified mail at least 30 days prior to the hearing date.

It’s essential to remember that you cannot modify child support through self-help in Illinois. Even if the other party fails to comply with visitation rights, you cannot suspend child support payments without obtaining a court order.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to modify a child support order, it’s always best to consult with a family lawyer.

How We Can Help

The options that come with parenting children after divorce or separation have drastically changed in recent decades. While it can be a blessing to many families who have separated on civil terms, it can be hard to navigate when animosity is present.

At Masters Law Group, we understand the laws and the court process inside and out, giving us the necessary knowledge and experience to ensure that your child is properly provided for.

For experienced legal help with your child support orders, parenting time, and more, contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation.

Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Navigating Divorce in Chicago: Tips from a Top Lawyer

Divorce is never an easy process, and it can be especially difficult to navigate in a state like Illinois where a quick Google search for “Illinois Divorce Lawyer” brings up 18,100,000 results. Plus, the complex legal system, coupled with the emotional turmoil of separating from your spouse, can make the whole ordeal seem even more overwhelming.

However, with the help of a top Chicago divorce lawyer, you can navigate this challenging period and help achieve a positive outcome for you and your family. Here are some tips from our Chicago-based law firm, Masters Law Group, on how to navigate divorce in Chicago.

Choose the Right Lawyer

One of the most important decisions you’ll make during the divorce process is choosing the right lawyer.

When seeking a divorce lawyer, reliability is essential. It is vital to evaluate how effectively they communicate with you to establish a positive relationship. A strong rapport is crucial because divorce cases can take several months to settle. While the lawyer’s goal should not be excelling in personability and charm, (it should be excelling in family law, especially divorce law), it is important that you trust and respect their professional advice and want to work with them.

Throughout the process, you may have multiple questions, concerns, or disputes, and you require someone who can ease your worries. At Masters Law Group, we begin by understanding your goals for the divorce and how you wish to feel once the process is complete. We discuss your objectives in detail to provide exceptional legal representation. Additionally, we offer free consultations to help you evaluate if we are the right fit for your needs.

Gather Necessary Documentation

Once you’ve decided on a family law attorney, be prepared and gather any necessary documentation that your lawyer will need to build your case. This includes financial records, such as bank statements, tax returns, investment accounts, and real estate records. You should also provide your lawyer with any evidence you may have that supports your case. Such as text messages or emails that demonstrate your spouse’s infidelity or neglectful behavior.

When it comes to property division, it’s important to make a list of all assets and debts that you and your spouse share. This includes assets that are solely in your name or your spouse’s name. This includes everything from retirement accounts and investments to real estate and personal property. Having a detailed inventory of your assets will help your lawyer build a stronger case and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

It’s also crucial to be honest with your lawyer about any challenges you may face during the divorce process. This includes concerns about child custody or your spouse hiding assets or income (including digital assets like cryptocurrencies. Being upfront and honest with your lawyer in the long run will only help you achieve a positive outcome.

Consider Mediation

Mediation can be an effective way to reach a settlement in a divorce case, without the need for a lengthy and expensive court battle. The mediator’s role is to facilitate the negotiation process, help both parties understand each other’s perspectives, and explore alternative options for resolving disputes. The mediator does not make any decisions for either party but instead works to ensure that both parties have equal opportunities to voice their opinions and arrive at a mutually agreeable outcome.

Mediation can be an effective option for couples who are willing to work together and compromise to achieve a positive outcome. It’s particularly useful for couples who have children, as it can help reduce the stress and trauma that children often experience during a divorce.

Working With Masters Law Group

If you’re looking for a top lawyer in Illinois, consider working with the skilled attorneys at Masters Law Group.

Masters Law Group is located in downtown Chicago, covering divorce cases in Cook County and surrounding regions. Our areas of focus include divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, and other family law issues.

Our firm has earned a top spot on the list of Best Law Firms 2023 by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report, and we are highly esteemed and respected by leading peer review publications such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers. Furthermore, our senior attorneys, Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph, have been recognized by these prestigious publications year after year, showcasing their strong work ethic, character and skill in family law; ensuring that you have someone you can trust on your side during your divorce.

If you’re considering a divorce in the state of Illinois, you don’t have to go it alone. Having the right attorney fighting in your corner can make a significant difference to the outcome of your case. At Masters Law Group, we are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome in their divorce proceedings.

Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Navigating Parental Responsibilities: A Q&A Guide

No one starts a family of their own thinking it will end in separation. However, parental rights and responsibilities are part of mothers’ and fathers’ role as their children’s caretakers after separation as much as it was prior. If you’ve got questions regarding parental responsibilities in Illinois, here’s what you need to know in 2023. 

Married or not, raising a child is a complex and challenging task, and the responsibility of ensuring a child’s well-being falls on the shoulders of the parents

However, in the event of a separation or divorce, the allocation of parental responsibilities can become a source of confusion and disagreement. This blog is an essential resource for parents going through separation or divorce in Illinois. Below, we will cover common questions about parental responsibilities and allocation during these events.

Here’s what you need to know.

Q: What is considerd “parental responsibility?”

A:Parental responsibility is a set of rights and duties that a parent or a legal guardian has towards their children. Usually, parental responsibility includes both ‘parenting time’ and ‘decision making’.

Q: What is Allocation of Parental Responsibilities?

A: There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:

Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding education, health care and religious instruction. It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.

Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture. Parenting Time and parenting time can be the same in a sole allocation of parental responsibilities case as it is in a joint allocation of parental responsibilities case.

Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to joint parent.

Q: What is the process for allocating parental responsibilities in Illinois?

A: The process for allocating parental responsibilities in Illinois begins with the filing of a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities by one of the parents. The court will then conduct a hearing to gather information. From here, they will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. Both parents will have the opportunity to present evidence and testify. The court may also appoint an attorney for the child or a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interests.

Q: What are the factors considered by the court in Illinois when allocating parental responsibilities?

A: In Illinois, the court will consider a number of factors when allocating parental responsibilities, including the child’s needs, the relationship between the child and each parent, and each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs. The court will also consider the following:

  • History of abuse or neglect
  • The child’s own wishes, if they are old enough to express them.

Q: What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody in Illinois?

A: In Illinois, legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as decisions about education and healthcare. Whereas physical custody is based on where the child lives and who is responsible for the child’s day-to-day care. 

In many cases, the court will award joint legal custody to both parents. Meaning both parents have equal rights and responsibilities when it comes to making decisions about the child. Physical custody can be awarded either on a joint or sole basis. The court will rule in the best interests of the child.

Q: Can a parent’s allocation of parental responsibilities be modified after the initial court order in Illinois?

A: Yes, a parent’s allocation of parental responsibilities can be modified after the initial court order in Illinois if there has been a significant change in circumstances. This could include the following:

  • A change in the child’s needs.
  • A change in one parent’s living situation or ability to care for the child.
  • A change in the child’s relationship with one of the parents. 

Q: What happens if one parent is deemed unfit to have parental responsibilities?

A: If a parent is deemed unfit to have parental responsibilities, the court may award sole custody to the other parent or to a third party, such as a grandparent. This may be the case if a parent has a history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse, or if they are unable to provide for the child’s needs. The parent’s rights and responsibilities may be limited, but they may still have the right to visit the child.

Q: Are grandparents’ rights taken into consideration in Illinois when allocating parental responsibilities?

A: Yes, grandparents in Illinois can petition for certain rights, such as visitation rights, if they have an existing relationship with the child and the court finds that it’s in the child’s best interests.

Next Steps To Consider

Protect your children’s interests during a separation or divorce by taking these steps:

  1. Establish legal custody: Legal custody determines who has the authority to make decisions about the child’s welfare, including education, healthcare, and religion. This can be joint or sole custody. In Illinois, child custody is called parental responsibilities.
  2. Create a parenting plan: A parenting plan outlines how the child will be cared for and how much time they will spend with each parent. This should include details such as a schedule for visits, transportation arrangements, and communication protocols.
  3. Communicate with your ex-partner: It is important to maintain open lines of communication with your ex-partner. Especially when it comes to the well-being of your child.
  4. Prioritize your child’s needs: The child’s best interests should always be the top priority. Put aside personal differences and work together to provide a stable and nurturing environment for the child.
  5. Seek legal advice if needed: If you have any legal questions or concerns, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

Final Thoughts

The allocation of parental responsibilities during a divorce or separation can be a difficult and emotional process.  Working with a professional family law firm like Masters Law Group can provide a great help in navigating this often emotionally-charged process. 

We are dedicated to protecting your rights, and more importantly, the rights of your child/children. Our Senior Attorneys Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph have extensive experience working with cases involving children in family law conflicts. Ms. Masters is a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, Mr. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

If you’re facing a family law issue, don’t hesitate to contact Masters Law Group for the professional assistance you need here today.

Understanding Spousal Support (Ailimony) in Illinois

When a marriage ends in divorce, couples need to try to come to an agreement as to the settlement terms. In addition to deciding the many issues regarding the children and distributing assets and debts, some spouses may also need to obtain spousal support.

Most people are very concerned about the amount of a spousal maintenance award or about how long the support obligation will last. However, the first question that must be asked is whether an award for maintenance is even appropriate.

Illinois courts have the authority to grant spousal maintenance, (alimony), to financially disadvantaged individuals when deemed appropriate. Maintenance is important because it ensures that both parties are able to maintain a secure lifestyle after the divorce.

Courts take into consideration several factors when determining the amount granted for spousal support. In this article, our Chicago Divorce Lawyers at Masters Law Group will provide insight on spousal support laws in Illinois, and steps you should take in your divorce to ensure you’re being treated fairly.

Are You Eligible to Receive Maintenance in Illinois?

Most people are very concerned about the amount of a spousal maintenance award or about how long the support obligation will last. However, the first question that must be asked is whether an award for maintenance is even appropriate. Spousal support is governed in Section 504 by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. As mentioned above, the court must determine whether they can award maintenance based on the facts of your case. Here are just a few of those factors:

  • Current and future income of each party
  • Current and future financial needs of each party
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Length of Marriage
  • Marital agreements such as prenup or postnup

It’s important to remember that each case is different, as such the court takes a wide range of factors into consideration.

How Long Will You Receive Maintenance and How Much you Can Expect

Divorce doesn’t have to be a difficult process, but it can be made even more complicated by the way Illinois law handles maintenance.

The state of Illinois has a formula that determines the amount and duration of any maintenance award. This formula is based on the income of both spouses, as well as the length of the marriage and when divorce was filed.

If you are considering filing for divorce in Illinois, it’s important to understand these laws and what they mean for you. It is also best practice to consult a family law attorney before filing for divorce—not only will this ensure that you’re aware of your rights and responsibilities, it will also give you access to legal advice from someone who knows how things work in this state.

Modification of Maintenance in Illinois

Family law is a sensitive and complicated subject. It’s important to have the right attorney on your side, especially if you are seeking modification of a maintenance agreement. Illinois maintenance (spousal support) awards can be modified based on the following circumstances:

  • If the paying-spouse’s income goes down.
  • If the paying-spouse or recipient-spouse experiences a dramatic increase in their cost of living, (e.g unexpected illness or medical bills).
  • If the recipient-spouse is unable to become self-supporting or experiences other financial strains beyond control.

If you ever need to make changes or update your maintenance, you can contact the trusted divorce attorneys at Masters Law Group.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

Divorces usually tend to be drawn out, especially when the parties cannot agree on how to handle issues such as child support, allocation of parenting time and responsibility, spousal maintenance, and division of assets and debts.

If you need help calculating your spousal support or need help modifying your maintenance payments, the attorneys at Masters Law Group can help. 

We have a long history of legal success and know how to work with clients to get them the results they deserve. If you are wondering whether or not spousal maintenance is appropriate if you divorce, or if you think it may be time to have spousal maintenance modified due to changes in circumstances do not delay. Contact us here to speak to our experienced family law attorneys about the spousal maintenance factors involved in your situation.