Tag Archive for: Chicago family law

This National Spouse’s Day: Exploring Legal Separation

Although divorce doesn’t come to mind when celebrating National Spouse’s Day today, many Americans are now looking for ways to help fix their relationship without ending their marriage legally; including legal separation.

National Spouse’s Day is a chance to celebrate your spouse and show your better half that they are appreciated. Let’s admit it, sometimes married couples need reminders to leave the hamster wheel that is everyday life. January 26, however, can either be the remedy to all couples’ woes, or a sign to explore legal separation.

Here’s a look at legal separation and what it could mean for you depending on your personal situation.

What Is Legal Separation?

A divorce means the marriage is legally over. A legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement where a married couple lives apart, leading separate lives. A legal separation is a popular alternative to a divorce when the parties are unsure of the state of their marriage but want to establish boundaries on finances and responsibilities. Oftentimes this includes separation of assets, custody of dependents, and child support.

Although the reasons for seeking a legal separation vary, there are some common ones worth noting. Some religions prohibit married couples from divorcing and a legal separation grants most of the benefits of a divorce without compromising religious tenets. Also, those unsure of their marital future may opt for a legal separation, hoping for a reconciliation. 

When crafting a legal separation, both spouses should thoroughly address any issues about responsibilities, shared assets, or any other situation specific to the marriage that needs to be addressed. If the terms of the agreement are not clearly defined in the petition, the judge won’t be able to help you. Every petition for legal separation must include the following information:

  • The legal names of both spouses
  • The date and location of the marriage
  • The names of any children or dependents of the marriage
  • The proposed custody arrangement of the children
  • The dates and addresses where the couple began living apart
  • Any child support arrangement, as well as any other financial responsibilities to which both parties have agreed

Separation vs. Divorce vs. Annulment

Though a divorce marks the official end of a valid marriage, an annulment treats the marriage as if it had never happened. In other words, a judge grants an annulment indicating that the court does not recognize the arrangement as having been a legally valid marriage. There are a number of scenarios in which a person can request an annulment:

  • The marriage was a result of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity.
  • The marriage took place when one or both spouses were under the influence.
  • The marriage took place when one or both spouses were already married.

In most cases, the legal termination of a marriage will result in a divorce. Unlike a separation, a divorce is permanent. This means both spouses are free to remarry. However, depending on the state where the couple lived and how long the marriage lasted a divorce also means the termination of economic benefits such as shared insurance and assets. Ultimately, electing for a divorce over a legal separation is a personal choice.

Pros and Cons of a Legal Separation


Couples may choose to be legally separated rather than getting a divorce for various reasons. But before they make a decision, one must consider the pros and cons associated with separating legally and if it would be a better option than a trial separation or divorce.

Pros:

  • Divorce is a very final process. Even though a couple has determined that they can no longer live together as a couple, they may not be ready to go through a full divorce. They may wish to legally separate and get the distance they need to make the ultimate decision about divorcing with a clear head.
  • People elect to legally separate when they have religious or social objections to divorce. In such a scenario, separating legally allows the couple to not violate the religious beliefs and live separately.
  • Another reason people elect to legally separate is when they have religious or social objections to divorce. A legal separation allows the couple to live independently of each other without officially divorcing.
  • A few people might have the option to remain on their partner’s medical coverage plan in the event that they are legally separated rather than being divorced. There likewise might be other monetary advantages to separating legally over divorce.

Cons:

  • One of the biggest disadvantages to a legal separation is that you and your spouse remain married. If you want to remarry, you will not be able to do so unless you obtain a full divorce. However, if you decide to divorce, having a legal separation already in place can make the divorce process more efficient as you have already agreed on terms.
  • With similar legal requirements as a divorce, paperwork, litigation, and trial proceedings, separating legally can be as much taxing as a divorce.
  • If you ultimately do decide to divorce, getting a legal separation first can end up costing you more money. Because you must get a court order recognizing your legal separation, you will be subject to court fees. Before going through a legal separation, you should consider the likelihood of divorcing down the road and whether or not a legal separation is more beneficial to you than a full divorce.

Final Thoughts

Like Illinois, most states allow legal separations—the exceptions are Florida, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The length of the separation process can vary depending on the state and the complexity of the agreement, but the process typically takes around six months to a year. You can begin a legal separation by contacting your family law attorneys at Masters Law Group, or by filing a petition with the Circuit Court Clerk of the appropriate county. For a list of circuit courts, view the Illinois Courts website.

If you are considering a legal separation, you should consult with your lawyer to make sure it is the best decision for you. Every case is different, and your attorney can use their experience to help guide you in making this important decision. At Masters Law Group, our team of attorneys are experienced in handling Legal Separation, and Divorce Cases.

Overall, if you’re exploring legal separation it’s always best to consult an established family law attorney for a clear understanding of what your options are. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Illinois Divorce Q&A

Are you considering a divorce? Throughout this tough time in your life you might have a hard time figuring out where to start or have many questions that need answers. For anyone seeking a divorce it’s important to have a lawyer who has your best interests in mind. Here are a couple of the most important and frequently asked questions when it comes to considering a divorce.

Divorce law is complicated so, if you are considering getting a divorce from your spouse you may have questions about what it involves and how to proceed etc. In this article, our experienced Illinois-based Divorce and Family Law attorneys cover the top most common divorce questions and answers.  Let’s dive right in…

Q: Is Illinois a 50/50 State for Divorce?

A: Unlike other states that divide the marital estate exactly in half, Illinois instead considers a variety of factors to determine an asset division arrangement that is fair and reasonable on both ends. Unfortunately, Illinois is not a 50/50 state for divorce. This means that the court weighs a number of factors to determine how to fairly divide property rather than dividing property 50/50. These factors include each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property, the value of the property, the duration of the marriage, and which party has more responsibility for any children of the marriage. 

Q: Do Both Parties Have to Agree To Get A Divorce?

A: Both parties do not have to agree to get a divorce. A divorce can be filed by either party by filing a divorce petition along with a summons with the clerk of court and having it personally served upon the other party. Although both parties do not have to agree to get a divorce, both parties do have to agree to waive the 6-month waiting period of living separate and apart prior to a divorce as discussed above.

Q: Can You Be Denied A Divorce In Illinois?

A: In Illinois, you cannot be denied a divorce. Some states have many grounds for divorce and may deny a divorce if you fail to prove the grounds that you allege in your divorce petition, such as adultery or habitual drunkenness. Prior to 2016, Illinois operated this way as well. However, since 2016, the only ground for divorce in Illinois is irreconcilable differences. 

This means that the only reason that your divorce would be denied would be because you failed to follow the court’s procedural requirements or because you did not meet certain prerequisites, such as the six-month waiting period. Even if your case was dismissed or delayed based on these grounds, with the help of an attorney, you would eventually be able to receive a divorce order.   

Q: How Can You Get a Divorce if Your Spouse Won’t Sign?

A: When one spouse challenges whether the couple should get a divorce or any other reason, you have a divorce dispute. This is referred to as a contested divorce and can take more than 18 months to be resolved. An uncontested divorce (referred to as a “dissolution of marriage” in the state of Illinois) means that both parties agree on all the key terms of the divorce, including:

  • Dividing marital property.
  • Child custody and parenting time schedule.
  • Dividing marital debts.
  • Child support and medical insurance coverage for any minor children.
  • Spousal support (also called “alimony”).
  • Custody of pets.

Uncontested divorce is a great way to speed up the divorce process and make it less expensive. If both parties do not agree to the issues involved in the divorce, or even to the idea of getting divorced, this will not prevent you from receiving your divorce order.  

Q: How Can I Get a Quick Divorce in Illinois?

A: 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.  

However, if the parties can agree on the issues mentioned above, this is called an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the parties and their attorneys draft written agreements at the outset. These are known as Marital Settlement Agreements and Joint Parenting Agreements. Uncontested divorces can be resolved with one court appearance and can be finished as quickly as a month.  

Q: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Illinois?


Those living in Illinois and thinking about divorce might be like many Americans in the current uncertain financial climate. In Illinois, there are no set costs for the divorce. There are, however, set costs for filing the paperwork with the court where you live.  If you are a couple who have been married a short period and have separated for at least 6 months, a divorce should be relatively easy – therefore more inexpensive – even if you hire an attorney. If you are married with children, have joint assets like retirement accounts, investments or own a home/business together, you may think it is easier to hire attorneys and let them work out the details.

Final Thoughts

While there are many questions and valid concerns that come with divorce, the divorce process itself does not have to be difficult, and you don’t have to go it alone. However, divorce is an investment with substantial risks.

Divorce cases involving considerable assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge. Masters Law Group is skilled at identifying and valuing assets and wealth, including real estate, securities, business interests, retirement funds, pension plans, tax shelters (domestic and foreign), overseas accounts, stock options, trusts and other actual or potential sources of wealth.

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

If you are contemplating filing for divorce or learn that a spouse recently filed, Masters Law Group’s team of experienced attorneys can answer any questions you may have throughout this process.

For more information on the divorce process in Illinois, contact us here today.

 

Divorce Planning: Finding Freedom in 2022

Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is one of the most anticipated times of the year. But for parents considering divorce, the holidays are not always a happy time. Now is a good time to figure out how to manage your expectations of divorce in 2022.

They say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” But is it, when considering a divorce? No matter how long you and your spouse have been together, a divorce can be draining—both emotionally and financially. It can be difficult if you’re unprepared or disorganized. With the new year around the corner, now may be the best time to prepare yourself for your next steps to finding freedom in 2022.

To make the transition as smooth as possible, the family law attorneys at Masters Law Group have put together divorce planning tips for 2022 to help you navigate through the process. Here’s what you should know.

Discuss the Divorce 

If you haven’t talked with your spouse about a divorce yet, decide when, where, and how to approach the subject. Try to pick a date that doesn’t coincide with a major event, which is why many individuals put off the process until the new year. Then, choose a time that will give both of you a chance to talk, think, reflect, and rest before work or other obligations arise. If possible, plan to have the conversation in a neutral place—out of the home and away from domestic triggers and distractions. Keep it simple, try to remain calm, and avoid saying more than you need to. 

Any divorce can get messy and complicated. It’s important to have a support system in place when you’re going through a hard time. A group of trusted friends and family members who will be there to listen and lend a hand will be especially important throughout this tough time. It’s also a good idea to meet with a therapist, especially if you’re coping with any trauma, such as domestic or substance abuse. 

Navigate Separation Details

Some couples live together until the divorce is final, but usually, one spouse or the other moves out before that time. Decide where you, your partner, and your children will live. Keep in mind that maintaining two separate homes will be expensive. Both you and your soon-to-be-ex should aim to spend no more than 25% of your respective take-home pay on rent or mortgage costs. Be sure to create a realistic budget that reflects the new living arrangements and ensures both households are safe. 

Compile Your Legal Documents

Part of divorcing is figuring out who gets what. A good place to start is to make a list and keep proper documentation of personal items that belong only to you, such as jewelry, family heirlooms, or photos and papers that have special meaning to you. If necessary, give these items to a trusted family member or friend for safekeeping. 

It’s essential to have your financial paperwork organized and in one place, such as a file or binder. Start by collecting and making copies of your legal documents, including:

  • Marriage documents: Agreements and marriage license
  • Tax returns: Federal and state tax returns for the past five years
  • Real estate: Deeds, appraisals, cost basis of home, mortgages, rental property records
  • Business documents: Receipts, tax returns, payroll information, and any registrations, patents, or trademarks
  • End-of-life plans: Will, power of attorney, advance healthcare directive

If you have trouble finding any documents (or your spouse is making it difficult), your attorney can help. 

Hire a Divorce Attorney

How well you are able to navigate through your divorce may rest in large part on your ability to produce documents and evidence that can support your claims for alimony, child support, a division of assets and other important issues. Even if your divorce is amicable, it’s best to hire an experienced attorney who will help you understand your rights and responsibilities—and ensure you follow the appropriate steps. That way, you can make educated decisions about you and your loved ones’ future. 

Making sure you are treated fairly is vital to give you the best chance of moving forward in the best possible way after your divorce is finalized. To find a reputable lawyer, seek out recommendations from family and friends or research several family law attorneys in your area. Either way, be sure to interview a few candidates to find the one with whom you will be most comfortable.

Final Thoughts

January is often dubbed “divorce month” because many people say, “Let’s make this the last good holiday for the kids and our families” or “Let’s wait until after the New Year when the kids go back to school.” No matter what the reason though, divorce is never easy. There is no “good” time for a divorce – period. Coming to terms with your divorce and divorce planning does not have to be hard.

At Masters Law Group, our award-winning attorneys are here to guide you through your divorce every step of the way and help you untangle the process. When you need the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney in the greater Chicagoland Area, call Masters Law Group. We are dedicated to providing our clients with exceptional service and support throughout the divorce process. 

Contact our office today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction Questions and Answers

What is the Hague Convention? Can I protect my child from Parental Child Abduction? What should I do if my child is taken across state or international borders? Find all the answers to these time-sensitive, high-stakes questions here. 

The Hague Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined. Its purpose is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent.

While there is a lot of information out there about the Hague Convention, we decided to make a list of the most frequently asked questions. Here’s what you need to know if you are facing the frightening situation of International Child Abduction.

What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 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.

This multilateral treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and concluded on October 25, 1980, entering into force on December 1, 1983. These participating countries are also included in a large treaty that governs the way different legal systems work together. There were two specific goals in mind at the time of The Hague Services Convention’s formation:

  • Create a means to ensure that judicial and extrajudicial documents to be served abroad can be brought to the notice of the addressee in sufficient time.
  • Improve the organization of mutual judicial assistance.

The overall purpose of the Convention is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the speedy return of an abducted child to their country of habitual residence. As well as to organize and secure the effective rights of access to a child.

What Countries does the Hague Convention include? 

Listed below are the countries that are participants of the Hague Convention in force with the United States of America. The official list and dates the treaties signed can be found here.

Andorra Lithuania
Argentina Luxembourg
Armenia Macedonia, Republic of
Australia Malta
Austria Mauritius
Bahamas, The Mexico
Belgium Monaco
Belize Montenegro
Bosnia and Herzegovina Morocco
Brazil Netherlands
Bulgaria New Zealand
Burkina Faso Norway
Canada Pakistan
Chile Panama
China (Hong Kong and Macau only) Paraguay
Colombia Peru
Costa Rica Poland
Croatia Portugal
Cyprus Korea, Republic of
Czech Republic Romania
Denmark Saint Kitts and Nevis
Dominican Republic San Marino
Ecuador Serbia
El Salvador Singapore
Estonia Slovakia
Fiji Slovenia
Finland South Africa
France Spain
Germany Sri Lanka
Greece Sweden
Guatemala Switzerland
Honduras Thailand
Hungary Trinidad and Tobago
Iceland Turkey
Ireland Ukraine
Israel United Kingdom (Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Isle of Man, Montserrat)
Italy Uruguay
Jamaica Venezuela
Japan Zimbabwe
Latvia

My Ex wants to move out of state with our child. What can I do?

First off, it’s important to note that your options will depend on a number of different factors, and we want to provide you with some general information below. If your former spouse makes the decision that they want to move out of state with your child, they must first notify you of the move. 

The notice they give you must state the date they intend to move, the address of their new home, and how long they intend to remain in the new location. They must deliver the notice to you at least 60 days before they move unless they have a court order that specifies different instructions.

You can sign the notice if you approve of the move and your former spouse will then file the notice with the court. Of course, you do not have to consent to the move. If your spouse moves out of state with the child without your consent, or without sending you notice, it is considered parental kidnapping or child abduction.

If you don’t consent to the move with your child, your ex has two options. They can either agree not to move out of state with the child, or they can petition the court to overrule you and allow the move. If your ex petitions the court and asks them to allow the move, you and your former spouse must attend a court hearing. During the hearing, a family law judge will take many factors into consideration and then deliver their decision.

Like when making child custody decisions, the judge will take many factors into consideration. All of the factors are guided by what is in the best interests of the child. However, if your ex wants to move for a better-paying job that would allow them to better care for the child, the judge may consider the move in the best interests of the child.

What are the defenses to a petition for the return of my child?

There are a few defenses to a claim of wrongful removal or retention under the Hague Convention, which include:

Defense 1: That the petitioner (parent seeking the return of the child) was not “actually exercising custody rights at the time of the removal or retention” under Article 13.

Defense 2: That the petitioner “had consented to or acquiesced in the removal or retention” under Article 13.

Defense 3: That more than one year passed from the time of the wrongful removal or retention until the date the petitioner commenced a judicial or administrative proceeding for the return of the child, under Article 12.

Defense 4: That the child is old enough and has a sufficient degree of maturity to knowingly object to being returned to the petitioner and that it is appropriate to heed that objection, under Article 13.

Defense 5: That “there is grave risk that the child’s return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation,” under Article 13(b), and

Defense 6: That return of the child would subject the child to violation of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, under Article 20.

If your child has been wrongfully removed to a country overseas, you should immediately contact your local family law attorney that is experienced in international custody disputes for help.

How do I initiate the process of International Parental Child Abduction?

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:

  • 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.

How do I find a reputable parental child abduction attorney?

To make sure you have the best possible chance in your Hague Convention case, you need an attorney who understands both the severe circumstances and the delicate interplay of state, federal, and international laws.

Accredited family law attorneys Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph of Masters Law Group have extensive experience in cases involving international child abduction disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

Masters Law Group Featured Hague Decisions:

If your former spouse wants to move out of state or cross international borders with your child against your consent, or they already have, our skilled and experienced team can help. At Masters Law Group, we know the requirements parents must abide by when they want to move, and we know how to challenge the move so you do not lose out on time with your child.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your case immediately.

 

Chicago Divorce Attorneys: Work with the Best

Chicago has a lot to offer its residents and you can find some great resources in the windy city. But if you’re searching the market for a Divorce Attorney in Illinois, you should do some serious research to find the right divorce attorney for your unique situation. 

If you are considering filing for divorce from your spouse, you will most likely need to find a divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys (a subsection of Family Law) specialize in the entire divorce process from start to finish, help smooth over differences between disagreeing parties, and even offer a sympathetic ear to listen when you feel overwhelmed or upset.

Choosing the right divorce attorney is a very personal decision: one that can make all the difference in your case. It isn’t as simple as searching for “divorce lawyers near me,” as this will produce a plethora of options in your area. Location is obviously an enormous factor, but to identify the perfect Illinois attorney for your situation, it’s crucial that you select a law firm that specializes in the unique issues involved with your case. Here are four tips to help you do just that.

Choose a Reliable Divorce Attorney

When looking at your options for lawyers, pay attention to how they communicate with you. It’s important to develop a positive rapport with your lawyer, as most divorces take several months to settle. Throughout the divorce process, you’ll have an array of questions, concerns, or disputes you’ll want to take care of. As such, you’ll want someone on your side who will alleviate your stress, address your concerns, and answer your questions to the best of their ability.

Check Certifications and Education

The firm and their attorneys you choose should be board certified. Most attorneys will mention their board certification on their website. If you can’t find this info on their site, then ask them directly. While you’re at it, ask your prospective attorney where they received their education.

Read Reviews and Testimonials

Quality services can help your case especially if it has to go to court. Online reviews will always give you an idea about the quality of services an attorney offers. You cannot afford to go and spend your money on services that you cannot trust. Therefore, before you hire a divorce attorney, you have to be sure that they can offer the best services.

Make a List of Questions

Make a list of questions to ask your potential lawyer. Interviewing divorce lawyers can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. So, it is always a good idea to have a list of prepared questions before starting the interview.

Here’s the list of questions that we’ve put together to help you select the right divorce lawyer for your case.

  • Are you experienced in divorces and divorce mediation?
  • What can I expect my divorce process to be like?
  • How long will it take to resolve my case?
  • How will we communicate with each other?
  • What is your strategy for my case?

You may feel that you would like to just get an attorney and get this divorce over with as soon as possible without too much in-depth thought. The problem with that is you risk missing out on the right representation for you. At the end of the day, a good attorney is responsive to client and court needs, knows the contours of family and divorce law, and can demystify an otherwise complex system to walk their client through each step of the way.  Because of the legal reality of divorce, finding your best Illinois divorce lawyer is priority one.

About Masters Law Group

Located in Chicago, Illinois, the firm handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters. Our Attorneys have a lot to offer, here’s why you should work with the best.

Both of our senior Attorneys have been recognized by multiple peer review publications such as, Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. If the votes for a lawyer are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that lawyer must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition. 

Our Attorneys

Erin E. Masters

Erin Masters is the principal of Masters Law Group, located in Chicago, Illinois. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and Hague Convention/ international child abduction matters.

Erin E. Masters

Ms. Masters received her Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Child and Family Law from Loyola University of Chicago, School of Law, in May of 2004. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2004 and to the General Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2005 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020. Ms. Masters was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in March 2009.

Throughout her career Ms. Masters has represented a variety of clients, both pre-decree and post-decree. Additionally she has prepared Prenuptial Agreements, drafted Marital Settlement Agreements and Final Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Orders, as well as prosecuted and defended Orders of Protection. Ms. Masters has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases. Since 2016, Ms. Masters has been named “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers and has been named as an “Emerging Lawyer” by Leading Lawyers. In 2020, Ms. Masters was named “Super Lawyer” by Illinois Super Lawyers, and in 2021 and now for 2022, she has been recognized by Best Lawyers for her work in Family Law Mediation.

Anthony G. Joseph

Anthony G. Joseph is an attorney at the firm of Masters Law Group, LLC. Mr. Joseph received his B.A. degree in Global Economic Relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

Anthony G. Joseph

He obtained both his J.D. degree and Certificate in Trial Advocacy from The John Marshall Law School. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2010, the Federal General Bar and Trial Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2012 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020.

Mr. Joseph is an active trial lawyer. Mr. Joseph publishes in the area of civil litigation. Mr. Joseph has also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University. Mr. Joseph is “AV” Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, which is the highest peer review rating available and has been named a “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers in both 2019, 2020 and 2021. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers for his work in Family Law.

Mr. Joseph concentrates his practice in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Mr. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time as well as prosecuted and defended Orders of Protection. Ms. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support. Mr. Joseph has also litigated cases in both state court and multiple United States Federal Courts involving The Hague Convention and international child abduction issues.

Karly Armstrong

Karly Armstrong received her B.A. in Political Science & Interdisciplinary Social Sciences – International Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2016 and graduated magna cum laude.

Karly Armstrong

Throughout her time at the State University of New York at Buffalo, she was in the advanced honors program and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Middle Eastern women’s rights movements.

Karly received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2021. At Loyola, she was on the ABA Negotiations Team. She also was a student clinician at the Loyola Community Law Center where she served as a Guardian ad litem in contested minor guardianship proceedings. Karly took her Illinois bar exam in July 2021 and passed. She has been admitted to the Illinois bar since November 2021.

Karly thoroughly enjoyed her time spent as a clinician at the Loyola Community Law Center and is excited to start her new career as a family law attorney at Masters Law Group.

Client Reviews

“I can not thank him enough for what they have done to help me and continue to help me!”

I found Anthony Joseph and Erin masters of masters law group on Avvo. Needing desperate help for a case that I had been dealing with alongside the state for years. Calling in tears Anthony assured me he’ll fight for me. He has done nothing less! Dealing with a tough year he was always there to tell me it’s going to be okay and deal with my ever so gracious ex. He is there whenever you need him! Email, call, how up in court the day before Thanksgiving! I would highly recommend it!

-Lynn

Divorce Client

“Excellent, caring attorney”

I went to Erin after I realized I couldn’t finish my divorce on my own (it was dragging for a year at that point). She took action right away and my divorce was settled 3 months later! I got everything I wanted in my settlement, which was to keep my kids and home! I would recommend Erin for divorce, family law problems. She is prompt in answering phone calls and emails and provides the best service. She is very knowledgeable on allocation of parental responsibilities and child support matters as well. She is definitely a 5-star attorney.

-Rayah

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Client

Final Thoughts

With a long history of awarded recognitions in Family Law, Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. 

Come and work with the Best Chicago Divorce Attorneys in the city. Schedule a consultation here today.

Planning for a Gray Divorce in Illinois

Gray divorce refers to the increasing divorce rate for older couples in long-term marriages. If you’re facing a divorce later in life, here’s what you should know. 

Divorce can be difficult and emotionally draining, especially after long-term marriage. Gray Divorce is often referred to as “diamond divorce,” a phrase which has been coined for the increasing number of late-in-life divorces.

The overall U.S. divorce rate is dropping but the number of divorces after age 50 is surging. The reason is a generational divide: Americans in their 20s, 30s and 40s are delaying and, in some cases, skipping marriage. Those who do get hitched are likelier to stay together. Meanwhile, baby boomers — who caused the divorce rate to surge starting in the 1970s — are continuing to divorce at higher rates as they age.

If you’re thinking about, or going through a divorce later in life, here’s what you need to know.

What is Gray Divorce? 

As mentioned above, gray divorce refers to a demographic trend that has witnessed an increase in the split or separation of older couples who have been married for a long time. The term began to be used in the United States in 2004, but the practice had already been prevalent for about 20 years. You need to know that the consequences of getting divorced after 50 can be incredibly impactful, both financially and emotionally, to older people and their families.

Splitting up after age 50 may be particularly hazardous to your emotional and financial health, far worse than doing so at younger ages. A wave of new research is quantifying the damage.

“It’s a grim picture,” said Susan Brown, a Bowling Green State University sociology professor and co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, which has generated many of the new findings. According to one study, people who’ve gone through a gray divorce report higher levels of depression than those whose spouses died.

The need for retirement benefits becomes more critical when you divorce later in life because people have less time to “make up” any losses they may face pursuant to a divorce. Understanding what benefits are available, and how they can be distributed, is paramount as you plan for a separate future. 

Reasons For Gray Divorce

Divorce is one of the most challenging parts of anyone’s life, but sometimes it is inevitable. Asides from generational differences, there have been a couple recurring themes linked to it.

Financial Issues: One of the most popular reasons is financial problems. Financial problems are problematic during any part of a marriage. When one partner has trouble keeping to a budget, especially if the other is a primary breadwinner, the outcome isn’t always favorable. One example of this is when one spouse makes an investment decision that goes sideways or loses money from a couple’s nest egg. On the other hand, if one of the partners earns all of the money in the household and; therefore, makes all of the decisions involving money, problems may arise. 

Empty Nest Syndrome: Empty Nest Syndrome is also another popular reason why people look to get divorced later in life. When you’re in the prime of your life, you may have two or three kids that consume your time. Pets, family activities, charitable efforts and layers upon layers also keep you happy and active. In many cases, as children grow up and leave home, you spend more and more time at home. This leaves you with time to reflect on you and your partner not being who you were before. 

Infidelity: Cheating on a spouse is another major reason for gray divorce. Infidelity does not carry the same stigma it did in earlier times, and this has led many married couples to stray. Combined with online dating sites encouraging infidelity, many are tempted by the lure of temporary, often younger sexual partners.

Growing Apart: Couples in gray divorce may have realized later in their lives that they lost the spark they had when they first married. Considering that the stigma around divorce is diminishing, they decide that divorce would be the best course of action.

Legal Considerations of a Gray Divorce

While the process of divorce is no different to those of younger divorcees, there are some special considerations unique to divorcing later in life.

Step one is identifying which assets are part of your marital estate and which assets are pre-marital possessions. This would be somewhat simple if you had only married your spouse two or three years ago, but after several decades of being together, memories of who owned what tend to blur together. Also, pre-marital assets can get mixed into marital assets, such as if your husband/wife used money in his/her pre-marriage savings account to buy your house after you were married.

The division of property can be complex. Assets to discuss with your family law attorney include:

  • Health/Life Insurance Policies
  • Property/Marital Home
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Investments
  • Retirement Benefits

Among the most important considerations is how best to ensure a good income stream and access to funds when needed. If older couples have been married for a significant period of time, spousal support may be more likely to be ordered. Additionally, this more often takes the form of permanent alimony. Lastly, postnuptial agreements (post divorce disputes) are signed after the date of marriage instead of before, and can address these issues such as debt, inheritances, and any other property the couple owns — such as a house — in the event of a separation.

Final Thoughts

Once you begin the stages of coming to terms and finalizing a gray divorce, it’s important to surround yourself with loved ones. Reconnect with old friends and family members that you have grown apart from over the years. Life gets in the way between being married and raising a family, focusing on your career and being involved in your community. It is time to reshuffle your priorities and place your needs first.

Divorce cases involving older individuals and substantial assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge.  Masters Law Group is skilled at identifying and valuing assets and wealth, including real estate, securities, business interests, retirement funds, pension plans, tax shelters (domestic and foreign), overseas accounts, stock options, trusts and other actual or potential sources of wealth.

If you’re looking for attorneys who are highly experienced Gray Divorce in Illinois, Masters Law group has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Gray Divorce field.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

 

5 Tips to Survive the Holidays Co-Parenting

Co-parenting over the holidays. These four words can bring either a sense of joy or dread this season, or even both. But with the right planning in place, you can experience a harmonious Hanukkah, cohesive Christmas and no-drama New Year. 

The holidays can be a magical time for everyone. Children have breaks from schools; families and friends gather for meals and multi-day celebrations; and emotions run hot. While the season brings joy and laughter for some, they can also be hard to manage – especially when co-parenting.  Yes co-parenting has its challenges on a good day, but throw in the holidays and it takes on a whole new level.

To make sure your holidays remain special for you and your children, it’s important to have a plan. Here are 5 tips to help you survive the holidays and set your loved ones up for a season of success.

  • Create a Parenting Plan

Since you and your spouse went through the formal divorce process, you likely have a parenting plan in place that also includes how the holidays are meant to be shared. If you feel that you need to make new arrangements this year and it is not your first time co-parenting during the holidays, do not save this for the last minute. A parenting plan is a legally-binding agreement and should be respectfully treated as such.

If you don’t have a parenting plan you may want to consider getting one. You can develop one informally if you are communicating well or you can have your attorney or mediator help create one for you. It’s a good idea for a parenting plan to have a system in place for how disputes should be handled if the situation arises, and a way in which parents can periodically review and make necessary changes to the plan. 

The plan may also include other provisions or information intended to help both parents understand and abide by the shared responsibilities in raising the child or children. Once you have it in place and on autopilot, you won’t have to stress over everything. Try one if you don’t already have one. It can make your life a lot easier.

  • Allow Flexibility

You’ve gone through a lot this year; trying to process divorce, finalize child support and navigate the co-parenting world – just to name a few. Add coronavirus to the mix, and you have yourself the perfect ending to a horrible year. COVID-19 has arisen many grey areas for families across the world, including parenting time schedules. Use your parenting plan as a tool to keep things focused, but while compromising might not be easy, it is an effective way to make things easier for your children, assuming they are only minor adjustments. For example, help yourself by giving your ex some wiggle room on logistics. A great rule of thumb is to plan at least 15 minutes of flex time around any child exchange. Depending on your location and the weather gets worse, you will need more flex time.

Consider having a civil conversation about what you both have in mind for the holidays and how time with the children can be shared with each of you and extended family members. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin the conversation. “The sooner the better” is in order to iron out any initial disagreements that could occur. 

Try to cooperate with each other during this emotionally-charged season and do what is needed for both you and your ex so that you can both spend happy, quality time with your children.

  • Stability is Key

Once you have made some logistical decisions, present a united front in telling the children together (if possible) what the plans are going to be. Make them feel that everything is worked out and it’s going to be a good holiday season because mom and dad have figured it out.

This will provide stability and comfort to your children. It will ease their anxiety and their concerns about mom and dad getting along during the holidays. Children think about holidays and how mom and dad are going to feel if they are alone. Give them peace of mind that everything will be okay even though you are no longer together.

  • Tolerate Difficult Circumstances (New Partners)

Divorce can be a painful and draining process. Be kind to yourself while going through your divorce. Many medical and mental health professionals recommend treating divorce like grief. There is happiness on the other side of all the legal and emotional issues, and the chances of your children feeling that pain are highly likely. If you or your ex are in the process of separating, try to not make small matters an issue. 

While the holidays can be a delicate time to test your tolerance, by doing so, you’ll look back without regret at handling these emotional issues maturely. Try to have an open discussion with each other about the role of a new significant other and how that will play in the lives of your children. Introducing a new partner is a big and important decision. Incorporating new partners into the family structure is delicate, especially during the holidays. With the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can receive sound advice on how to speak with your children so everyone involved is comfortable.

It’s important to remember to stay calm, the chances of your child remembering you losing your temper are high in the event that someone interferes with your plan. When something goes wrong, you can absolutely feel angry. The suggestion here is to try to have some patience, and focus on your child’s priorities.

  • Show Yourself Some Love

The holidays can be hard even for those who are not recently divorced, so do not begrudge yourself some self-care. There is a chance that you will spend some time alone this holiday season, and with Covid-19 variants looming, you could end up alone more than you expected.

Try to make some plans for yourself that do not involve the kids, even if it is just to sit at home on your own, binge-watching TV shows with your favorite takeaway meal. A little time to yourself can do wonders for your mood and help you get through the holidays with a little less stress. As much as you might want to make the holidays perfect for your kids, you cannot forget yourself. The happier you are, the smoother the holiday season will be them, too.

Last Thoughts

The holidays are meant to be a special time for everyone involved. And remember, having patience while trying to execute the holiday co-parenting plan is crucial to maintaining everyone’s enjoyment of the holidays. 

We hope with the help of these tips mentioned above, it can make way for you to navigate through your holidays in a seamless, appropriate and enjoyable manner. 

For more information on Divorce, Parenting Time, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, Child Support and more, visit our website to talk to our experienced attorneys. With their in-depth knowledge and experience in Family Law, we’re sure to help you get through the holiday season together.

 

Finding the Right Chicago Divorce Attorney

The selection of your Chicago Divorce Attorney will likely be one of the most important factors in the outcome of your divorce. With such a massive pool of lawyers to choose from in the city of Chicago, making this decision could be extremely difficult. It will take research and time, but the choice of your legal representation should not be taken lightly.

Anyone seeking a divorce lawyer needs to ensure that their best interests will be kept at the forefront of the settlement negotiations. Here are a few things to look for when beginning your search for a divorce attorney in Chicago.

Setting Real Expectations & Goals

Before finalizing your choice of a divorce attorney in the city of Chicago, you must first determine what type of divorce process suits your needs, goal, and situation. There are seven types that you can choose from:

  • Contested Divorce
  • Uncontested Divorce
  • At-Fault Divorce
  • No-Fault Divorce
  • Summary Divorce
  • Limited Divorce
  • Default Divorce

It’s important to understand that divorce is a legal process with the sole purpose of dissolving your assets and resolving custody issues. That being said, it’s important to do your due diligence and find a lawyer you trust. Allow yourself to have several options by making a list of lawyers you think can provide the kind of legal service you need. It’s easy for most people to use the first lawyer they find. 

Your divorce attorney’s job is to represent you to the best of their ability in this process. You might want to consider working with a family law attorney, especially if you want a lawyer who can represent you later on if the divorce settlement is not followed. Attorneys specializing in family law are generally more experienced in divorce law than those who are not. The board-certified family law attorneys at Masters Law Group are educated, trained, and experienced in handling family law issues, as well as divorce cases. 

Read Reviews

Many choose to go with an attorney who has worked with someone they know and can assure you of first-rate service. This is where first hand recommendations come into play. But if you don’t know anyone currently (or previously) go through the divorce process, you should take the time to read their online reviews. 

An ideal attorney has the legal knowledge and experience you need, and will help you understand the process, and ultimately is experienced in your specific court system. Regardless of whether or not your divorce is headed to trial, your attorney should understand the fundamentals of family law in your jurisdiction so they can advise you appropriately on legal strategy. 

Choose Local

Family law attorneys who practice in your state or area should be your #1 priority. Working with a locally-based Chicago Attorney has a lot of advantages. The biggest advantage being, an attorney who’s familiar with state/county divorce laws and with legal officials and judges. 

All the tips and suggestions mentioned above should help make the process of choosing the right divorce lawyer in Chicago easier and more convenient for you. 

Qualifications and Work History

Legal matters involving your family, children, or spouse can be some of the most important and trying times of your life. Finding the right Chicago family law attorney can really make the difference in how painless the experience is. Lawyers can say they have experience in family law all they want but having the certifications with the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization is the best way to prove it.

Ms. Erin E Masters of Masters Law Group received her Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Child and Family Law from Loyola University of Chicago, School of Law, in May of 2004. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2004 and to the General Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2005 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020. Ms. Masters was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in March 2009.

In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases. Since 2016, Ms. Masters has been named “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers and has been named as an “Emerging Lawyer” by Leading Lawyers. In 2020, Ms. Masters was named “Super Lawyer” by Illinois Super Lawyers.

Masters Law Group’s Attorney, Mr. Joseph is an active trial lawyer whose practice focuses exclusively on Family Law, with a particular emphasis on International Child Abduction and cross-border custody issues pursuant to the Hague Convention of 1980 and the UCCJEA. Mr. Joseph also publishes in the area of civil litigation. Mr. Joseph has also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Joseph is “AV” Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, which is the highest peer review rating available and has been named a “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers in both 2019, 2020 and 2021. 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.

Last Thoughts

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients’ assurance and well being in mind.

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

Schedule a consultation with us today to discuss our divorce services.

 

Why the Hague Convention Could Matter in Your Child Custody Case

International child custody cases are on the rise due to the mobility of couples who either desire to live abroad, move back to their home country or who receive international job assignments. Let’s take a look into the implications of International Child Custody cases and how The Hague Convention can help. 

While legal issues with Child Custody (now known as Allocation of Parental Responsibilities) are common, many do not know what to do when their child/children are taken overseas. It’s important for the residents of the Greater Chicagoland area who share custody of their children know about the ins and outs of Hague Convention should this occur. Rest assured, these issues can be handled with caution and care by the Family Law Attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our seasoned attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience in handling international child custody cases under the Hague Convention.

The biggest issue in determining custody issues is where the children reside, as that is typically where the custody battle will take place. Here’s an extensive look on why it’s important to be familiar with the Hague Convention and what it could mean for your international child custody case.

Why the Hague Convention is Important

Firstly, what is The Hague Convention? The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the main international agreement that covers international parental child abduction. It provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.

A number of countries around the globe have joined a treaty called the Hague Convention. This multilateral treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and concluded on October 25, 1980, entering into force on December 1, 1983.

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” whenever it breaches custody rights attributed to a person or any other body. If, at the time of removal or retention, those rights were exercised. Even if a parent already has legal custody of a child, the Convention is needed. U.S. court orders may not be recognized in other countries, and sovereign nations cannot interfere with each other’s legal systems, judiciaries, or law enforcement.

Convention Framework

The Convention’s framework allows countries to help one another find solutions for difficult custody cases where a child is abducted. This doesn’t rely on the immigration status or nationality of the child. In certain situations, a child may be wrongfully detained in another country, where they are not a resident. Violations of custodial rights happen when the child is wrongfully removed from their habitual home and now lives in a foreign country. 

The Central Authority must do 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.

Presenting a custody order is not needed to prove that a parents custodial rights were violated when the child was taken from their country; this can be proven by showing proof of parenthood or marriage. When a child is returned to his/her habitual residence, it does not depend on the immigration status/or nationality of a child or his or her parents. 

The Court May Deny Return

Under certain circumstances, the court may deny the return of the child. It’s important to note that these exceptions can vary from country to country. 

Here are some reasons where the court may deny return:

  • There is risk to the child where they are exposed to physical or psychological harm.
  • The child objects if they are old enough and mature enough.
  • More than a year has passed, and the child acclimates to their new home.
  • The custodial parent agrees to let the child remain.
  • The return would violate human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • The custodial parents seeking return are not exercising rights of custody during wrongful removal. 

The Hague Convention establishes numerous procedures for contacting each country and coordination in an international child abduction. According to the treaty, a suit for the return of the child is given priority, and courts typically make decisions within six weeks.

Get the Help You Need

High-stakes international child disputes are not going away. If you are facing such a case, you need to act fast. An attorney must be ready to file a Hague Convention application and institute or defend a Hague Convention lawsuit on extremely short notice. This is why it’s extremely important to locate counsel with knowledge and experience in Hague proceedings. 

Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. We have extensive knowledge and experience with The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”) that 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.

Our Featured Hague Decisions:

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Welcome to Our NEW Home!

Masters Law Group opens its doors at a new downtown office space. 

Masters Law Group welcomes you to their new Chicago office located in the heart of downtown Chicago: 30 North Lasalle Street, Suite 2250, Chicago IL 60602.

Senior partners Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph have taken another step in their commitment to their clients.

“Moving into a brand-new office space is an exciting occasion for all the team at Masters Law Group, and our growth will allow us to help more clients facing family law and divorce issues. The expansion represents our various successes, especially the development of thriving practice areas such as high-stake Hague Convention, International Child Abduction cases and divorce mediation cases,” says Ms. Masters, “We’re also expanding our team of first-class attorneys and support staff, and created an environment to represent our firm.”

Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. Furthermore, Erin E. Masters has been approved as a Mediator for the Cook County Domestic Relations Division and offers private mediation services. 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.

“We are quickly moving to meet the shifted expectations for office environments and we’re incredibly proud to welcome clients to the new and improved space.” says Mr. Joseph. He continues, “We’re excited to stay on a course that our clients can trust, while remaining focused on delivering solutions for families navigating a consistently challenging legal environment.”

Masters Law Group handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. The firm concentrates in areas of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters.

Ms. Masters concludes, “We invite you to schedule a consultation to speak with us about your case and look forward to inviting you to our new office location.”

Contact Masters Law Group here today.