Tag Archive for: Chicago Law Firm

Tips For Celebrating Father’s Day Amidst Divorce

Father’s Day holds special significance as a time to honor and celebrate the father figures in our lives. Yet, for dads navigating divorce, finding the balance of co-parenting and managing new parenting schedules can feel overwhelming.

The number of children living solely with their fathers has increased over the past few decades. In 1968, only 0.8 million children lived with their fathers. That number has grown to 3.3 million today, reflecting a shift toward fathers taking on roles traditionally reserved for mothers. While divorce and separation have become more common over time, it also provides hope that affected individuals still thrive despite its challenges.

In this blog, we’ll explore strategies for navigating Father’s Day, with tips for supporting your children, focusing on what you can control, and how a family law attorney can provide assistance. Here’s what you need to know.

PLAN FATHER’S DAY ACTIVITIES IN ADVANCE

Planning is one of the most crucial steps to a smooth Father’s Day celebration amidst divorce. Last-minute arrangements can lead to stress and misunderstandings. Here are some key considerations to help you effectively plan for Father’s Day:

  • Make a plan in advance: Discuss and agree on the Father’s Day schedule well in advance. This helps avoid last-minute conflicts and helps ensure both parents are on the same page regarding visitation arrangements. Planning early also allows for adjustments if needed, giving everyone extra time to prepare and make necessary arrangements.
  • Involve the Children: Consider your children’s wishes and feelings when planning for Father’s Day. Ask them how they would like to celebrate and try incorporating their ideas into the plan. Involving them in your plan helps their voices be heard, making them feel included in the celebration. Whether it’s a special outing, a homemade gift, or simply spending quality time together, involving the children in planning can make the day more meaningful for everyone.
  • Be Flexible: While planning is important, it’s also essential to remain flexible. Unexpected events or changes in circumstances may require adjustments to the original plan. Being open to flexibility and willing to accommodate each other’s needs can help prevent conflicts and provide a more enjoyable Father’s Day for all involved.

By proactively planning and considering the preferences of all parties involved, you can help ensure that Father’s Day is a positive and memorable experience amidst divorce.

CREATE NEW FATHER’S DAY TRADITIONS

Starting new traditions with your children for Father’s Day offers an opportunity to infuse the occasion with fresh meaning and excitement. It’s a chance to help create unique experiences and strengthen your bond as a family. Whether navigating Father’s Day in between a divorce or simply seeking to revitalize the celebration, establishing new traditions can be fun and rewarding. 

  • Consider Everyone’s Interests: Choose activities that cater to your interests as a father and your children’s preferences. Whether it’s a nature hike, a cooking session, or a fun craft project, find activities everyone can participate in and enjoy.
  • Make it Meaningful: Infuse your new traditions with meaning and significance. Consider incorporating elements that reflect your family values or create opportunities for bonding and quality time together.
  • Document the Memories: Capture the moments and memories created during your new traditions. Take photos, write in a journal, or create a scrapbook to preserve these special moments for years to come.

These new traditions can become cherished rituals that you and your children look forward to each year, strengthening your connection and creating lasting bonds of love and joy.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL 

If you’re navigating Father’s Day amidst a divorce, it’s important to focus on what you can control and let go of what you cannot. While you may not be able to control your ex-partner’s actions or attitudes, you can control your response and behavior. 

  • Practice Self-Care: Take care of yourself emotionally and physically before Father’s Day. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether spending time with friends, practicing mindfulness, or pursuing a hobby.
  • Stay Present: Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, focus on being present and enjoying your time with your children.
  • Seek Support: If you feel overwhelmed or emotional, lean on friends or family. Surround yourself with positive influences who can offer encouragement and perspective.

A family law attorney can offer guidance and legal advice to help you develop a plan that provides clarity and structure throughout the planning process. With a clear plan, you can aim for special celebrations filled with warmth and understanding.

ABIDE BY YOUR PARENTING PLAN 

A parenting plan can help alleviate potential conflicts, including those surrounding occasions like Father’s Day. It provides a comprehensive framework for both parents to follow, reducing ambiguity and promoting smoother communication and cooperation. 

Once you receive a parenting plan after divorce, it’s not open for negotiation. Short of approval for an order modification, both parents are expected to follow their parenting plan as it’s written.

Essential components to have in your plan include:

  • Residence arrangements for the child.
  • Allocation of parenting time for each parent.
  • Protocols for sharing information and records concerning the child.
  • Transportation arrangements for parenting time.

Both parents must sign the plan indicating they agree on all the document terms when filing one plan. If parents do not agree, they must file separate plans. The court will look at each detail of both plans to determine what’s in the best interest of the child or children. Seeking a divorce attorney’s assistance can help facilitate productive discussions and formalize any changes to the parenting plan.

ALLOCATION OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

If you have followed the tips above and are having trouble reaching an agreement, an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities can help. Understanding the allocation of parental responsibilities is crucial for fostering a cooperative co-parenting relationship. In Illinois, there are three primary types of child allocation of parental responsibilities:

  • Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to collaborate on decision-making regarding their child’s education, healthcare, religious instruction, and other essential matters. The parents will agree, or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will provide child support and have designated parenting time, as determined by a parenting time agreement or court order.
  • Sole allocation of parental responsibilities refers to an arrangement where one parent assumes full responsibility for making decisions concerning the child’s well-being. However, it doesn’t imply that the other parent is wholly excluded from the child’s life.
  • Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a variation of joint allocation. It is suitable when the child spends equal time with both parents. The parents live in the same school district and can co-parent effectively. 

For fathers facing challenges in navigating parental responsibilities, seeking help from a family law attorney can be valuable. An attorney can provide legal advice and help establish a parenting arrangement that serves the child’s best interests while addressing both parents’ needs and concerns.

WORKING WITH MASTERS LAW GROUP

Celebrating Father’s Day amidst a divorce requires careful planning and focusing on the children’s well-being. Remember, the goal is to honor the father’s role in your children’s lives while fostering a cooperative co-parenting relationship.

At Masters Law Group, our goal is to help clients assert their rights to help protect the best interests of their children. Partner Anthony G. Joseph brings valuable insights to our firm as both a father and an experienced practitioner in divorce cases. He is also an approved Guardian Ad Litem and Child Representative listed for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

With a strong focus on assisting clients in Chicago and Chicago’s Western Suburbs (Elmhurst, Hinsdale, DuPage, Oakbrook), we offer various services to help parents, children, and families through difficult times like divorce and allocation of parental responsibilities. If you face challenges navigating Father’s Day amidst a divorce and want to know your rights, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Contact us today to set up your complimentary consultation.

Masters Law Group Welcomes New Associate, Catherine Brukalo

Masters Law Group proudly welcomes Catherine R. Brukalo as its newest family law associate. With a deep knowledge of the legal field, Mrs. Brukalo brings a wealth of experience to the firm.


About Catherine Brukalo

Catherine Brukalo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and her Master of Arts from University College London in England. Mrs. Brukalo interned at the United States Consulate General in Krakow, Poland, during her time in London. There, she represented the Consulate to various private and governmental organizations. She earned recognition from the United States Ambassador to Poland, Christopher R. Hill.

Legal Experience and Contributions

Associate Attorney Catherine Brukalo

Catherine Brukalo

Mrs. Brukalo earned her Juris Doctorate from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. She would later begin her legal career as a Law Clerk under Supreme Court Rule 711 with the Cook County State’s Attorney. This helped her gain experience in a felony drug courtroom. Since then, she has represented clients in a variety of legal matters. These legal matters include:

  • Personal injury.
  • Wrongful death.
  • Professional Malpractice.
  • Probate.
  • Breach of contract claims.
  • Real estate transactions.
  • Domestic relations.

Mrs. Brukalo is actively involved in the legal community, having served in various capacities, such as a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, Advocates Society, McHenry County Bar Association, and Chicago Bar Association. She has received recognition for her contributions, including a Presidential Commendation from the ISBA President for her work on civics education and being named an Illinois Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Illinois Super Lawyers.

In addition to her legal prowess, Mrs. Brukalo is fluent in Polish and regularly publishes legal articles in a Chicago-based Polish-language newspaper. She is also trained in Mediation and Arbitration and holds certification as a Life Coach. She serves as a Director on the Board of the Niles Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Niles, Illinois.

Mrs. Brukalo’s primary focus at Masters Law Group is domestic relations, handling cases involving divorce, parentage, allocation of parental responsibilities, and child support. Her dedication to her clients and commitment to excellence make her a valuable asset to the firm.

About Masters Law Group

Recognized as one of the Best Law Firms in 2023 by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report, Masters Law Group is located in Chicago, Illinois, and handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding areas. It concentrates on areas such as divorceallocation of parental responsibilities, and other family law matters. Our lawyers, Erin E. Masters and Anthony Joseph have been recognized by prestigious publications numerous times. This not only speaks volumes about their work but also their character.

Working with Masters Law Group

At Masters Law Group, we’re committed to helping you achieve the best outcome in your case. Our attorneys possess unique knowledge, experience, and talent in family law and divorce. With over ten years of experience handling family law cases, we know how important it is for our clients to feel comfortable. That’s why we offer free consultations, where you can meet before deciding whether to hire us.

Contact us to schedule a consultation today.

Divorce and Sexual Assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, shedding light on a sensitive topic often surrounded by silence and stigma. Within the broader context of family law, divorce can intersect with issues of family violence and sexual assault, requiring delicate legal handling. 

Nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and assault in their lifetime. The effects of sexual assault and harassment can cause physical harm and emotional wounds that are endured for years.

In such instances, seeking assistance from a family law attorney can prove crucial for navigating the complexities of divorce and obtaining necessary protection orders. In today’s blog, we will explore the significance of legal support in these situations and how it can empower individuals to protect themselves and their families. Here’s what you need to know.

THE ROLE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH

Sexual Assault Awareness Month serves the critical purposes of shedding light on the severity of domestic violence, debunking myths, and dispelling stereotypes. Through education about the signs and impacts of abuse, individuals gain the tools to recognize and address it effectively. This month reinforces the message that survivors have support and resources.

Moreover, Sexual Assault Awareness Month underscores the importance of prevention through community engagement and educational initiatives. It encourages discussions about healthy relationships, consent, and bystander intervention. Let’s learn more about domestic violence and how it can be prevented.

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Domestic violence/domestic abuse is typically manifested as a pattern of abusive behavior toward an intimate partner in a dating or family relationship, where the abuser exerts power and control over the victim. Domestic abuse can be mental, physical, economic or sexual in nature.

Regrettably, domestic violence transcends boundaries and can affect individuals of any gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Its wide-ranging repercussions impact not only the immediate victims but also the children who witness such abuse.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) identifies several forms of abuse, including:

  1. Physical abuse (including sexual abuse)
  2. Harassment
  3. Intimidation of a dependent
  4. Interference with personal liberty
  5. Willful deprivation
  6. Exploitation
  7. Stalking

The warning signs of abuse may not manifest immediately and can evolve as the relationship progresses. However, it’s important to recognize that each relationship is unique, and domestic violence can manifest in various forms. One common trait among abusive relationships is the abuser’s attempt to establish power and control through various methods at different stages. Fortunately, there are strategies available to help protect you from this abuse.

ORDERS OF PROTECTION: A VITAL LIFELINE

Divorce proceedings can intensify tensions within a relationship, potentially worsening existing instances of family violence or leading to new forms of abuse. Additionally, survivors may disclose incidents of sexual assault during this tumultuous period. It’s crucial to recognize that survivors of sexual assault may face heightened vulnerability during divorce proceedings, often encountering threats, coercion, or manipulation from their abuser.

Fortunately, Orders of Protection (restraining orders) serve as a legal mechanism to shield survivors of family violence and sexual assault from further harm. These court orders can establish boundaries, prohibit contact, and provide security for individuals and their children. Survivors need to know that they do not have to face this process alone. Getting an order of protection requires a comprehensive understanding of legal procedures, evidence requirements, and advocacy skills.

A family law attorney can help provide legal resources and support services to assist in navigating an order of protection. By seeking the assistance of a compassionate and dedicated legal team, survivors can take crucial steps towards reclaiming their autonomy and finding security and peace of mind.

IF CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED

Unlike allegations of domestic violence, accusations of sexual abuse, particularly child molestation, are typically not made lightly. Such accusations are infrequent and receive intense scrutiny. The courts typically respond by appointing a Guardian ad Litem to investigate, with an expectation that the accusing parent has made every effort to investigate, document, and halt the sexual misconduct as soon as suspicion arose.

If accusations of sexual abuse, especially concerning children, arise within your marriage, immediate arrangements for a medical examination of the victim or alleged victim, even if that victim is yourself, are imperative. Subsequently, contacting an attorney should be a priority. Taking swift action can be pivotal in establishing the truth in court.

THE ROLE OF A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY

In the face of such challenges, the guidance of a knowledgeable family law attorney can be valuable. Family law attorneys have experience in navigating the complexities of divorce cases involving family violence and sexual assault. At Masters Law Group, we aim to protect you and your children’s best interests. Here are some of the areas that we can help you navigate: 

  • Parenting Time: If you have children, work closely with your attorney to determine the best parenting time plan. This helps to ensure that the agreed-upon arrangements prioritize your children’s well-being and best interests.
  • Mediation: Explore options such as mediation or collaborative divorce to help you and your ex-spouse reach mutually beneficial agreements outside of court. Your family law attorney can help guide you through these processes and represent your best interests during negotiations.
  • Post-divorce disputes: After the divorce is finalized, circumstances may require modifications to allocating parental responsibilities, visitation, or support arrangements. Stay in touch with your attorney to address any changes or issues that may arise in the future.
  • Orders of Protection: In cases where an order of protection is granted, attorneys monitor compliance and take swift action against any violations. This proactive approach reinforces the efficacy of legal measures and prioritizes the safety of survivors and their families.

In addition to representing clients, Senior Partner Erin E. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters.  Furthermore, Senior Partner Anthony G. 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.

Remember, during this challenging period, Masters Law Group is here to support you and your legal rights. Working with our trusted attorneys can help alleviate the stress associated with domestic disputes, helping ensure a smoother transition for both you and your children.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

In Chicago, there is a wide range of community resources available to support survivors of sexual assault. The Domestic Violence Legal Clinic provides legal assistance and advocacy services, helping ensure survivors can access legal remedies. The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network serves as a comprehensive resource hub, connecting survivors to various shelters, counseling, and legal aid services throughout the city.

Hospitals like the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago also provide comprehensive medical care and forensic exams for survivors seeking immediate assistance. These community resources play a vital role in supporting survivors to help them heal and seek justice in the aftermath of sexual assault.

LAST THOUGHTS

As we observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it’s crucial to recognize the intersection of divorce, family violence, and sexual abuse. Shedding light on these issues can empower survivors to take proactive steps toward safety and justice. 

At Masters Law Group, our skilled family law attorneys are here to help navigate the complexities of divorce while prioritizing the well-being of survivors and their families. Let us strive to create a society where survivors are heard, supported, and empowered,

Contact us here today.

Divorce Advice Every Woman Needs on International Women’s Day

At Masters Law Group, we proudly honor the trailblazing women within our family law firm and across all fields in every industry. As family law attorneys, we have firsthand experience with the complexities of divorce and helping women through this challenging time.

Every year on March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day, recognizing the achievements and resilience of women everywhere. Being a female going through a divorce can be an isolating and overwhelming experience. If you’re a woman feeling unhappy in your marriage, you’ve likely considered initiating divorce. However, determining whether it’s the right choice for you, your children, and your spouse can be daunting. That’s why seeking personalized divorce advice is crucial for making well-informed choices.

Leaving a marriage is a woman’s toughest decision, often presenting unique challenges. There are important factors to consider upfront and inevitable hurdles along the way. Here are some practical tips to help protect yourself during the divorce or separation process.

Why Women Initiate Divorce

In the United States, women often initiate divorce more frequently than men. This trend has grown as women now have more job opportunities and higher independent incomes, which reduces the financial risks associated with divorce compared to the past. Here are some notable statistics:

The divorce process has also become more accessible, especially with the legalization of no-fault divorces in certain states. Illinois is one of the states that follows a no-fault divorce model. This means couples can dissolve their marriage without having to prove fault or wrongdoing by either party. This can simplify the process, offering a straightforward route from an unsustainable marriage.

Preparing Yourself Emotionally 

When you initiate the discussion of divorce with your spouse, and especially when you take the definitive step to file, you’re entering a realm with no clear path back.

At the core of any amicable divorce lies open and sincere communication. If possible, both partners must come together to express their feelings, concerns, and expectations. This fosters trust and clarity, reducing misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts.

If conversations become difficult or communication proves challenging, consider involving a mediator, therapist, and divorce attorney. These professionals offer guidance and a neutral space for productive discussions, aiding both parties in reaching fair and mutually agreeable resolutions.

Remember, if you are initiating divorce due to dangerous behavior, such as physical and emotional abuse, drug addiction or other factors, you can seek an Order of Protection. Let’s explore this more.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is described as abusive behavior when a family or household member uses physical or mental maltreatment toward another family or household member. The IDVA uses the following terms as abuse:

1. Physical abuse
2. Harassment
3. Intimidation of a dependent
4. Interference with personal liberty
5. Willful deprivation
6. Exploitation
7. Stalking

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a court order made in writing which prohibits, by law, further abusive behavior.

Who are persons considered to be family or household members?
The IDVA defines members to include:

1. A spouse
2. Ex-spouse
3. Girlfriend/boyfriend who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship
4. Parents
5. Children
6. Stepchildren
7. Significant other/partner
8. Persons who share or allege to have a blood relationship through a child
9. Persons who live together or formerly lived together
10. Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants

Need an Order of Protection in Illinois? Contact us to help you file in Illinois Civil court.

Prioritizing The Well-Being Of Your Children

If you don’t have the safety of yourself and/or family to worry about, if you have children, their well-being should be your top priority. If possible, maintain a united front when it comes to co-parenting decisions. Create a comprehensive parenting plan that outlines responsibilities, schedules, and guidelines. Keep children out of adult conflicts and reassure them of your love and support.

Whether it’s parenting time, asset division, or spousal support, your DuPage divorce attorney will help that your voice is heard and that the court’s decision is fair and aligned with your best interests. Furthermore, during court proceedings, your DuPage or Chicagoland divorce attorney can address unexpected challenges and legal objections and help ensure that all legal procedures are followed diligently.

Their presence in court assures you that you have a dedicated legal professional fighting on your behalf, helping you navigate the complexities of the judicial process during an emotionally challenging time.

Consider Options for Equitable Distribution

As couples navigate the challenging path of divorce, alimony, and asset division are critical aspects that demand attention. Unfortunately, Illinois is not a 50/50 state for divorce. This means that the court weighs several factors to determine how to fairly divide property rather than dividing property 50/50. Illinois follows a more intricate approach called “equitable distribution.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Contribution to the Marriage: The court looks at what each spouse brought to the marriage regarding money and non-money contributions like caring for the home or children.
  2. Duration of the Marriage: How long the marriage lasted matters, as it can affect how assets are divided.
  3. Economic Circumstances: Each spouse’s financial situation, including income and needs, is considered.
  4. Non-Marital Property: Things owned before marriage or received as gifts or inheritance during marriage may not be split.
  5. Custodial Arrangements: If there are kids, the court looks at custody and how it impacts finances.
  6. Spousal Support (Alimony): Whether one spouse needs support payments is factored in.
  7. Tax Consequences: Taxes resulting from asset division are also considered to make things fair.
  8. Wasteful Dissipation: If one spouse recklessly spends or wastes money, it can affect the division.
  9. Future Needs: The court considers what each person will need, especially if one is in a tougher spot after the divorce.
  10. Agreements: Any agreements made before or during the marriage, like prenups, are considered if they meet legal standards.

Remember, “equitable distribution” doesn’t always mean a perfect 50/50 split. It’s about creating a fair and just arrangement based on each family’s unique situation. This process can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to work with a skilled family law attorney to help ensure your rights are protected during asset division in Illinois.

Consider Divorce Mediation

Mediation offers an alternative dispute resolution method where a neutral mediator facilitates settlement discussions between you and your spouse, aiming to reach a final agreement. Unlike judges, mediators lack the authority to decide on behalf of either party. Instead, they focus on needs and interests rather than faults and rights.

In divorce mediation, couples either choose a mediator or one is appointed by the court, with costs typically split between both parties. Both spouses present supporting documentation for disputed issues, and the mediator works with both sides to find a resolution. The ultimate goal is reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.

Even with disagreements, divorce doesn’t have to escalate into a conflict. Mediation can provide a constructive path for addressing issues like allocating parental responsibilities and alimony, serving as an alternative to formal litigation in divorce court.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While many questions and valid concerns come with divorce, the divorce process does not have to be difficult, and you don’t have to go alone. If you’re a woman considering filing for divorce, our experienced DuPage Divorce attorneys are available to address any inquiries you may have along the way.

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

For more information on the divorce process in the Chicagoland area, including DuPage and its surrounding counties, contact us here today.

 


Learn more about the experienced and talented females at our Family Law Firm

Partner / Family Law Mediator: ERIN E. MASTERS

Erin E. Masters is the principal of Masters Law Group, located in Chicago, Illinois. The firm handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and Hague Convention/ international child abduction matters.

women's divorce lawyer

Associate Attorney: HAILEY MCGILLIVRAY

Hailey McGillivray is a dedicated and meticulous attorney, currently admitted to the Illinois State Bar. She holds an American and Canadian Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

Read their full bios here.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce

Divorce Mistakes can be minimized dramatically through proper preparation and avoiding pitfalls. If you’re facing an unsettling divorce situation, here are our top pitfalls to avoid. 

Divorce is difficult in many layers. It affects not only you and your spouse but your family and friends. With this in mind, minimizing the difficulties of divorce should be a top priority alongside the goals of your separation. But how do we go about reducing these challenges?

Beyond choosing a quality divorce firm and emotionally preparing yourself, there are many mistakes – that, if avoided – will make divorce much more accessible. Read on to learn common mistakes we’ve observed at Masters Law Group after years of counseling those seeking a divorce.

Not Talking to a Divorce Attorney

When looking to divorce, some will attempt to settle on their own. This may come from an idea of an “amicable approach,” but it can put you and your loved ones in a compromising position in the long term. Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. Notably, this figure primarily applies to first marriages, of which about half result in dissolution. However, the failure rate for second and third marriages is significantly higher.

First and foremost, attempting divorce on your own removes experienced legal counsel from the equation, opening you up to variables that can negatively affect you. Things like asset division and custody of children have legal nuances that aren’t easily navigated. Avoid this mistake if you can. Seek quality legal counsel so that your life post-divorce is what you want.

Setting Unrealistic Goals & Timelines

The emotional aspect of divorce can often influence our approach to the process. Whether you’re the one seeking a divorce or it’s your former partner, you might feel that certain aspects are “unfair” or that the process should move faster than it is. One common problem that arises with unrealistic timelines is when a spouse becomes disgruntled and intentionally prolongs the process to cause financial or emotional harm to the other party.

This situation highlights the importance of having legal counsel that can remain emotionally detached from the divorce. Having such counsel will help you set appropriate timelines and realistic goals while providing you with an advocate who works at the highest level to achieve the best possible outcome.

Other Mistakes to Avoid

  • Dating: While everyone involved in the divorce wants to move on, dating can complicate an already difficult situation. It can create animosity with your former partner and may push them to make the divorce more complicated than need be.
  • Divorce Tunnel Vision: While getting wrapped up in your divorce is easy, it’s paramount to consider life after. Are you financially set and aware? Have you considered how to navigate the logistics of shared custody of children if it pertains to your situation? Consult with your financial advisor and legal counsel on these concerns.
  • Avoiding Negotiation: If you can communicate with your former partner, negotiation is always an ideal way to mediate. If you can do this, you can often avoid going to court. This will shorten the divorce process, limit costs and ultimately reduce stress on all involved.
  • Misleading Your Legal Counsel: Do your best to be truthful at the highest level. Any omission of facts, assets, or animosity between you and your former partner can affect divorce. If your legal counsel isn’t aware, these unforeseen challenges can derail a plan they’ve laid out. This can ultimately cost you more money and reduce the positive outcome of your goals.

Final Thoughts

Avoiding these mistakes and sidestepping potential challenges is your best course of action for a positive outcome in your divorce. Consequently, being unprepared or even attempting to divorce can lead you to these issues, causing emotional harm and potential financial and legal ramifications. 

At Masters Law Group, our firm’s mission is to solve your problems and achieve the best possible results for you and your loved ones. With a strong emphasis on serving clients in Chicago’s Western Suburbs, including Elmhurst, Hinsdale, DuPage, and Oakbrook, we offer a range of services designed to assist parents, children, and families during difficult times such as divorce, parenting time, and the allocation of parental responsibilities.

If you’re currently navigating a divorce, or considering one, schedule a consultation with us today to learn how we can help.

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.

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.

Getting a Military Divorce? Here’s What You Should Know

Military regulations are clear that remarriage means that a spouse loses the military ID card and associated privileges (e.g. commissary and base exchange shopping). But there are more unique situations that are associated with military divorces. Read on to learn more. 

If you’re getting divorced and your spouse is in active military service, you may be wondering what this will mean for your divorce. Even if you and your spouse mutually decide to split, your spouse’s military status may have an affect on how your divorce goes.

Whether you are looking to file a simple no-fault divorce or if your case is more complex, Masters Law Group can help. Here’s what you need to know.

Active Duty Service Members and Divorce

If you’re a military spouse, you may be wondering whether you can pursue a divorce. The answer is yes. However, there are some limitations on what you can do.

The Federal Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003 requires a person seeking a divorce to state their spouse is not a member of the U.S. armed forces. This rule prevents spouses from divorcing military members who would be unable to attend divorce proceedings.

If your spouse is a member of the military, you can pursue a divorce as long as they consent. However, they have to sign a defendant’s affidavit of consent.

Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act

If you or your spouse are an active member of the military, there’s a good chance the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) may affect how you divide your assets.

Here’s what the USFSPA covers:

  • Commissary and exchange privileges
  • Health care coverage and other benefits
  • Military retirement pay

If you or your spouse is an active member of the military, it’s important to know that a former spouse does not automatically get a portion of the service member’s retirement pay and there are specific requirements to qualify.

What You’ll Need to File a Divorce

Even though there are a few added rules when it comes to the military divorce process, the remaining process is very similar to civilian divorce. You will still need to agree on the following:

  • Division of assets such as homes, vehicles, money and other property
  • Division of credit card debt, loans and any other outstanding debt
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody

In many cases, you can file for a no-fault divorce (Illinois is a No-Fault Divorce State) if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce. If not, however, an experienced divorce lawyer can help mediate your dispute and draft a settlement agreement. 

Last Thoughts

It’s never easy to make a decision that will impact your life and the lives of your family members. But when you’re a military family, there are even more considerations to keep in mind.

Because military families face unique challenges, our firm has made it our mission to help make sure you get through this difficult time as smoothly as possible. In Illinois, you need to comply with the mandatory waiting period that exists for military families. Typically, there is a 90 day waiting period to obtain a divorce if one spouse, or both spouses, are active in the military. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act requires a spouse to either reside or be stationed in Illinois for 90 days.

How Masters Can Help

We understand that military life can be difficult for families. When it comes to divorce, there are many factors to consider before making a decision about your future. 

From splitting retirement pensions to child support, at Masters Law Group, we take into account all aspects of military life when working with our clients during their divorces. We know that there are more than just two sides to every story; when working with us as your attorneys, we will give both sides equal weight as we chart out a plan that works best for everyone involved.

We can help you and your spouse understand the unique circumstance of a military divorce and ensure that you make the best decisions for your family. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

 

Chicago Divorce Attorneys: Working with Masters Law Group in 2023

If you are contemplating divorce or your spouse recently dropped the “D Bomb,” you may be on the fence debating whether you should hire a divorce attorney or if you should represent yourself. If you’re about to go through a divorce, here’s why you should invest in a divorce attorney.

If you are currently in a bad situation with your partner and you want to settle for divorce, you might consider getting a lawyer. When choosing a divorce attorney, there are a few factors you should consider. Experience, costs and reputation are just a few of the most important considerations.

Having a reputable attorney by your side will help ensure your interests are well-represented. Having a lawyer will also ensure that the settlement you receive is fair and your rights are protected. You will also want to know whether any loopholes in the law may result in an unfair settlement.

How to Choose the Right Divorce Attorney

You may be reluctant to hire an attorney for many reasons such as trust and associated costs, but without one, you may find yourself facing costly repercussions. Divorce is no simple feat, so having a good relationship with your divorce attorney can make the process so much easier. Maintaining good communication with your attorney will only help you in the long run.

If you live in the state of Illinois and are in need of legal representation for a family law matter, look no further. Here’s what you need to know about working with Masters Law Group in 2023.

Working With Reliable Lawyers

Reliability is key when it comes to working with a divorce lawyer. 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.

When we first meet with our clients, we ask them what they hope to achieve from their divorce and how they would like to feel after it is complete. We then carefully discuss their goals so that we can provide the best legal representation possible. We offer complimentary consultations so that you can get a feel for our firm before deciding whether or not we are right for you!

Google Reviews and Client Testimonials

Word of mouth advertising has always had a leg up in certain markets. For the law industry, hear-say isn’t always credible. But looking at client testimonials and reviews of previous clients that have worked for a law firm can be extremely beneficial.

Lawyers that provide high quality services will have more clients who are willing to share their experiences with other potential clients. The law industry is no different from any other when it comes to word of mouth advertising.

If you want to get a better idea about a certain law firm, then it is important that you take some time to look at client testimonials and reviews of previous clients that have worked with your lawyer. A great tool and resource is google reviews. When you type in a business name, the reviews automatically pop-up. Another way to look for testimonials is by checking out their website.

At Masters Law Group, we are fortunate to have a great relationship with many of our clients. Our reviews and testimonials truly bear witness to our commitment to our clients.

We believe that each client deserves a legal team that will be willing to go the extra mile for them. We will always provide you with honest advice and guidance on all matters related to your case.

Client Reviews:

“Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph are an amazing duo. They helped me get through my divorce. In the words of my newly ex husband “your lawyer looks like a shark.” You’re damn right they are. They will go as far as you need them to go with any battle you are going through and I love that about them. I would recommend them to anyone in need of incredible lawyers who are not only knowledgeable but keep every aspect of the process very real. Anthony and Erin thank you very much for handling my case. You are very much appreciated!”

-Bianca 

Divorce Client

 

“Masters Law Group was incredibly helpful with my divorce. Erin and Anthony were a pleasure, very responsive, efficient, and very knowledgeable. I always felt that my case was in good hands and it was a relief to trust them with the process. I highly recommend Masters Law Group to anyone needing help with a family law matter.”

-Luz

Divorce Client

A Little Bit About Masters Law Group

Recognized Best Law Firms 2023 by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report, Masters law group is located in Chicago, Illinois and handles family law matters in Cook county and other surrounding areas. They concentrate in areas such as divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, and other family law matters. 

Masters Law Group is highly esteemed and well respected by peer review publications such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers. Our Lawyers Erin E. Masters and Anthony Joseph have been recognized by such prestigious publications numerous times. This not only speaks volume about their work–but also their character.

Having an attorney who is respected by their peers is a testament to both their work ethic and their character. When you’re facing a legal issue, having someone you can trust on your side makes all the difference.

Working with Masters Law Group in 2023

Here at Masters Law Group LLC, we’re committed to helping you achieve the best outcome in your case. With a long history of awarded recognitions in Family Law, we have a unique depth of knowledge, experience, and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field.

Our highly experienced divorce attorneys are dedicated to providing you with the best possible service. No matter what kind of case you may have—divorce, child custody or relocation—we will work tirelessly to help you get the results you deserve. We have over 10 years of experience handling family law cases and we know how important it is for our clients to feel comfortable with their lawyer. That’s why we offer free consultations so that you can meet with us before deciding whether or not to hire us.

Contact us to schedule a consultation today!