Tag Archive for: divorce attorney

Navigating Divorce and Social Media

Navigating divorce in today’s digital age of social media might seem impossible. But when it comes to your divorce, social media posting should be temporarily avoided.

Social media has seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, offering a platform for reconnecting with old friends and sharing life’s milestones.

Startling statistics underline the pivotal role that social media plays in divorce proceedings. Astonishingly, 81 percent of divorce attorneys report that spouses actively scour the internet in search of evidence to bolster their claims during divorce cases.

In this blog, we’ll explore some essential tips for managing your online presence during a divorce. We’ll also discuss how a divorce attorney can assist you in handling the complexities of divorce in the digital age. So, let’s dive into what you need to know about divorce and social media today.

Privacy Matters

Having everything at our fingertips can be a great advantage, and social media offers various options to control who can see your posts, photos, and personal information. Unfortunately, Social media usage has had a significant effect when it comes to relationships ending in divorce.

When a marriage does break down, information posted on social media can increasingly become a factor in divorce proceedings. A recent survey found:

  • 33% of divorce cases result from online affairs.
  • 66% of cases involved evidence found on Facebook or other social networks.

If you are going through a divorce, reviewing and adjusting your privacy settings to limit access to your profile is crucial. Emotional posts or comments made in the heat of the moment can quickly escalate conflicts and complicate divorce proceedings. Remember that anything you post online can be used as evidence in court, so use caution and avoid venting your frustrations on social media. By doing so, you can maintain control over your personal life and contribute to a smoother divorce process.

Avoid Sharing Financial Details Online

In the divorce process, you must provide comprehensive financial information. This includes income earned, real estate purchased, and investments made during the marriage. However, some things are separate property. These are things you owned before you got married or got as gifts or inheritances during your marriage.

It’s important to know the difference between marital and separate property to confirm everything’s divided fairly in your divorce. It’s important to recognize that your social media activity can be used to challenge the accuracy of the financial information you’ve disclosed. This can significantly impact the division of marital property. A divorce attorney with experience can guide you through this process and protect your rights.

Don’t Overshare Support Obligations

Suppose you anticipate paying or receiving spousal or child support (alimony). In that case, these payments are usually determined based on the income earned by both you and your ex-spouse. What you share online can be used to scrutinize the income you claim or the income you should realistically earn. Courts may use your online presence as evidence to establish your financial capacity accurately.

It’s advisable to prioritize constructive communication during this time and address sensitive issues in private rather than airing them on social media platforms. Seeking advice from a family law attorney is highly recommended when addressing support obligations. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations, negotiate fair terms, and represent your interests in court if necessary.

Work With A Divorce Attorney

Navigating divorce and social media might seem difficult. At Masters Law Group, our experienced family law attorneys are here to provide valuable assistance, helping to ensure that your rights and best interests remain at the forefront of every decision. Here’s how a divorce attorney can help you effectively handle social media during divorce:

  • Parenting Time: If you have children, it’s essential to work closely with your attorney to determine the most suitable arrangements for child custody and visitation. We aim to help create arrangements prioritizing your children’s well-being and best interests.
  • Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution: We encourage exploring options like mediation and collaborative divorce, which can facilitate mutually beneficial agreements outside the courtroom. Our family law attorneys will skillfully guide you through these processes, representing your interests and helping you secure a smoother negotiation experience.
  • Post-Divorce Modifications: Life can bring unexpected changes even after the divorce is finalized. Circumstances may arise that require modifications to parental responsibilities, visitation, or support arrangements. Our attorneys are here to assist you in addressing these changes promptly and effectively, protecting your rights and the interests of your children.

Final Thoughts

Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging life transition, and social media can either exacerbate or alleviate its emotional toll. By carefully managing your online presence, you can minimize potential conflicts and maintain your dignity during this trying time. 

You don’t have to go alone if you’re considering a divorce, legal separation, or mediation services in Illinois. Our dedicated attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when needed. Servicing Cook, Will, Lake, and Dupage counties, our attorneys can help you through the process every step of the way.

Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation and learn how we can support you through your divorce.

DuPage Divorce Attorney

Divorce is a challenging process that can impact all aspects of your life. With so many divorce attorneys to choose from, it can be difficult trying to figure out which one is right for you. If you are facing a divorce in DuPage County, Illinois, here’s what you need to know.

DuPage County, located in the western suburbs of Chicago, is one of the most populous counties in Illinois. Known for its diverse communities, thriving economy, and excellent schools, DuPage County is a great place to live. However, divorce remains a common occurrence. In this blog, we’ll explore the critical role that a DuPage Divorce Attorney plays in helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of divorce. 

How To Pick The Right Divorce Attorney

Divorce can stir up a wide range of emotions, including sadness, relief, and even grief. In 2023, the top three factors for getting a divorce were:

  • 43% Lack of Family Support.
  • 34% Infidelity or extramarital affairs.
  • 31% Lack of compatibility.

While these numbers are stark, it’s important to know that there are attorneys out there who have your best interest. When choosing a DuPage County divorce lawyer, reliability and effective communication are key. Building a strong rapport is essential, as divorce cases can be lengthy. While their primary focus should be experience in family law, you must trust and respect their professional advice and feel comfortable working with them.

Take the time to identify your priorities, whether child custody, financial stability, or other critical aspects of your divorce. Knowing what you want and need will empower you to make the right choice when selecting a DuPage Divorce Attorney who aligns with your goals and can skillfully advocate for your interests throughout the divorce process.

Choosing Divorce Legal Experience

One of the primary roles of a DuPage Divorce Attorney is to provide clients with legal guidance. They are well-versed in Illinois divorce laws and can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. Whether your divorce is amicable or contentious, having an attorney who understands the intricacies of divorce law is valuable. Emotions can run high during a divorce, making it challenging to make rational decisions. A skilled attorney can provide objective advice and help you focus on your long-term goals. They can help you prioritize property division, child custody, and spousal support, ensuring your interests are protected.

Factor In Negotiation and Mediation

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

Mediation can be an effective option for couples willing to work together and compromise to achieve a positive outcome. It’s particularly useful for couples who have children, as it can help reduce the stress and trauma that children often experience during a divorce. A DuPage Divorce Attorney can represent you during these processes, working to reach a fair and mutually acceptable settlement with your spouse. 

Court Representation Experience

When handling your divorce case, a DuPage Divorce Attorney can be your strongest advocate in the courtroom. Their role here is pivotal as they navigate the complexities of litigation to protect your rights and interests. A skilled litigator has the experience to present your case effectively before the judge. They meticulously prepare legal arguments, gather evidence, and strategically plan to secure the most favorable outcome for you.

Whether it’s matters of child custody, asset division, or spousal support, your attorney will help that your voice is heard and that the court’s decision is not only fair but also aligned with your best interests. Furthermore, during court proceedings, your attorney can address unexpected challenges and legal objections and help ensure that all legal procedures are followed diligently. Their presence in court provides you with the assurance that you have a dedicated legal professional fighting on your behalf, helping you navigate the complexities of the judicial process during what can be an emotionally challenging time.

Working With A DuPage Divorce Attorney

If you’re looking for a top lawyer in Illinois, consider working with the skilled DuPage divorce attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our divorce attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when needed.

Our firm has earned a top spot on the list of Best Law Firms 2023 by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report, and we are highly esteemed and respected by leading peer review publications such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers. 

Furthermore, our senior attorneys, Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph, have been recognized by these prestigious publications year after year, showcasing their strong work ethic, character, and skill in family law, guaranteeing you have someone you can trust during your divorce.

If you seek answers to questions regarding divorce, separation, mediation, and other family law matters in DuPage County, contact Chicagoland’s premier family law group here today to schedule a consultation.

SOPHIE TURNER AND JOE JONAS: THE MEDIATION PROCESS

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas have recently entered into mediation to address custody matters and establish a parenting plan for their children. The legal representatives for the couple revealed that both parties would engage in a four-day mediation session.

While Judge Katherine Polk Failla had set a trial date for January 2, the mediation process could potentially resolve a significant portion of Turner and Jonas’ custody disputes. During a recent court appearance, Stephen Cullen, Turner’s attorney, asserted that Jonas is seeking joint custody, expressing a desire for a balanced 50-50 arrangement. 

How it Started: The Hague Convention

Actress Sophie Turner initiated a Hague Convention petition claiming her estranged husband, singer and actor Joe Jonas, ‘will not consent’ for their children to ‘return’ to England with her via The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Best known for playing Sansa Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Turner said in her petition that the couple had planned to raise their daughters in her native country. It also said the girls “are both fully involved and integrated in all aspects of daily and cultural life in England”.

International family law can be complex and challenging, especially concerning child custody disputes. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction, aka The Hague Convention, is an international treaty that protects children from parental abduction across international borders.

The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980 Hague Convention) is a multilateral treaty that establishes proceedings for the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed or kept away from their home country. Currently, there are 101 Contracting States to the Hague Convention. Including the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Significance of Mediation

The decision to pursue mediation comes after Turner’s legal action against her estranged husband, where she sued him for wrongful retention. The complaint against the musician demanded the “immediate return of children wrongfully removed or wrongfully retained,” with Turner’s legal team contending that this “wrongful retention” had begun on September 20, according to PEOPLE.

In response to Turner’s complaint, Jonas countered by expressing his disagreement with her claims, asserting that they had previously reached an agreement to collaborate on a co-parenting plan. Mediation, in essence, operates like having a peacemaker, known as a mediator, who facilitates constructive dialogue and guides individuals in dispute toward a mutually acceptable resolution.

This approach proves especially valuable for parents navigating the challenges of divorce or separation. Mediation provides a nurturing and non-adversarial environment where parents can address issues related to their children and the arrangements for their care.

Now, let’s delve deeper into how mediation can deliver benefits in high-profile cases like this and the everyday scenarios that many families encounter.

Privacy Preservation

One of the key benefits of mediation is the preservation of privacy. Mediation takes place behind closed doors, shielding sensitive family matters from the prying eyes of the media and the public. In traditional courtroom battles, the personal and often intimate details of a family’s life are exposed as evidence is presented, and testimonies are heard. In contrast, mediation focuses on resolving issues without delving into the nitty-gritty of personal lives. This helps protect the privacy and dignity of the parties involved, allowing them to maintain control over what remains private and what is disclosed.

High-profile couples like Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas often attract media attention, and their personal lives become fodder for tabloids and social media. They can minimize the sensationalism and public spectacle surrounding their family matters by choosing mediation. This benefits the couple and helps shield their child from unnecessary public scrutiny.

Maintaining Control

Mediation empowers parents to maintain control over the outcome of their custody and parenting arrangements. This open dialogue can be invaluable in addressing concerns and resolving conflicts constructively. Parents can voice their perspectives, express their desires, and collaboratively explore compromises through mediation. 

Families are dynamic and ever-evolving entities. What works today may not be suitable tomorrow. Mediation acknowledges this reality and allows for adjustments to the parenting plan over time. Parents can return to mediation to revise their arrangements as children grow and circumstances change. This adaptability is a significant asset, ensuring the parenting plan remains relevant and effective throughout the child’s development.

Child-Centered Approach

Regardless of the case’s profile, it’s imperative to maintain a child-centered approach throughout legal proceedings. Mediation helps foster an environment where parents are encouraged to set aside their differences and collaborate for the betterment of their children. Mediation promotes open communication and cooperative problem-solving rather than resorting to adversarial court battles.

This child-centered approach often yields more sustainable and child-friendly solutions. It allows parents to tailor agreements that best suit their children’s needs and circumstances. By focusing on the well-being and future of the children involved, we aim to provide legal guidance and a compassionate and holistic approach to resolving family disputes.

Challenges and Considerations

While mediation offers numerous advantages, it’s essential to recognize that it may not be suitable for every case. In such cases, litigation might be the only recourse to protect their children’s best interests. It’s worth noting that each family’s circumstances are unique, and the choice between mediation and litigation should be carefully considered. Ultimately, the goal is to find the most appropriate and effective means of resolving disputes while safeguarding the welfare of the children involved.

Last Thoughts

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’s decision to pursue mediation to address their custody issues and parenting plan is commendable. It showcases their commitment to providing their children with a stable and loving environment while preserving their privacy and control. Mediation can be a valuable tool for all parents, whether in the public eye or not.

Ultimately, the success of Sophie and Joe’s mediation will depend on their willingness to collaborate and prioritize their children’s needs. Regardless of the outcome, their choice to pursue mediation sets a positive example for others facing similar challenges. Sophie and Joe are setting the example that child-centered solutions are achievable, even in the spotlight of Hollywood.

A trial date has been set for just after the new year on Jan. 2. Turner’s lawyer Stephen Cullen hopes the trial will “proceed in parallel track to [the] mediation,” according to the outlet.

Read the full People article here. 


STAY UP TO DATE WITH MASTERS LAW GROUP

Keeping yourself informed about legal developments is crucial, especially in areas as intricate as divorce mediation and parenting time conflicts. The Jonas/Turner case is just one example of the complex issues that can arise in these matters.

By staying updated with Masters Law Group, you empower yourself with the knowledge to help you make informed decisions about your legal situation. Our commitment to providing timely updates and insights aims to support you in your journey through the legal landscape.

 

Divorce vs. Legal Separation

There are numerous options available for couples facing challenges in their marriage. Two common actions that couples consider are divorce and legal separation. Understanding the distinction between these two choices is crucial in Illinois when making life-changing decisions.

Navigating divorce and legal separation in Illinois brings up a multitude of legal factors and emotional concerns. In this blog, our experienced Illinois-based Divorce and Family Law attorneys explore the differences and provide insight into the unique aspects of each process. 

Divorce vs. Legal Separation

Before delving into the process, it’s essential to understand some fundamental differences in an Illinois divorce or separation. A divorce terminates marriages, freeing both parties to remarry. On the other hand, a legal separation does not dissolve the marriage. Instead, it provides a legal framework for spouses to separate while addressing child custody and property division issues. Let’s take a deeper look at what each option entails.

Illinois Divorce

Divorce is a legal process that results in the termination of a marital union, allowing both spouses to return to the status of single individuals. The primary aspect of divorce is that it terminates the legal relationship between partners. Divorces divide not only their physical assets but also their debts, responsibilities, and future rights.

To file for divorce in Illinois, at least one of the spouses must have been a state resident for at least 90 days. This residency requirement ensures that the case gets filed in the appropriate jurisdiction. It’s crucial to note that Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you don’t have to prove wrongdoing or assign blame for the marriage breakdown. 

The only recognized ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences,” which signifies that the marriage has broken down beyond repair. After the legal proceedings, the court issues a divorce decree addressing the division of property, spousal support (if applicable), child custody (Parenting Time), visitation, and child support arrangements.

Illinois Legal Separation

A legal separation is an alternative option for couples who wish to live apart and establish legally binding arrangements while remaining married. Unlike divorce, legal separation doesn’t dissolve the marriage itself. Instead, it outlines each spouse’s responsibilities, rights, and obligations, similar to a divorce decree, but without terminating the marital status.

People in Illinois seek legal separation for various reasons, including religious or personal considerations. It allows couples to establish specific terms related to property division, spousal support, child custody, visitation, and child support. Legal separation protects both parties, as they can enforce the terms outlined in the separation agreement through court orders.

Key Differences and Considerations

Divorce can have various emotional effects on you and your family, depending on the separation’s circumstances. It is essential to be aware of these potential effects and address them proactively. Let’s take a look at how some of these issues vary.

  • Parenting Time: Parenting Time (formerly called Child Custody) and support are crucial in divorce or legal separation cases involving children. Illinois courts prioritize the child’s best interests when determining parenting time arrangements and support payments.
  • Emotional Impact: Divorce often carries a more profound emotional impact, given that it signifies the end of the marital relationship. Legal separation can be viewed as a temporary arrangement, allowing couples to reassess their situation.
  • Religious or Personal Issues: Legal separation allows couples with religious or personal differences another avenue for divorce. It offers them a middle ground between maintaining their marriage and living apart.
  • Financial Considerations: Both divorce and legal separation address financial matters, but the implications may vary. Consulting legal and financial professionals is essential to ensure that your rights and assets are adequately protected.
  • Property Division: Illinois follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses. We must consider factors like the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse, and their financial circumstances.

Divorce and Legal Separation Process

Divorce and legal separation: Each option has its outcomes and impacts. To start either process, one spouse (called the petitioner) must submit a request to their circuit court.

Both divorce and legal separation involve similar legal procedures. These procedures can include discussions, mediation, and court hearings. Opting for a legal separation lets spouses keep certain marital benefits, like health insurance coverage. On the other hand, divorce brings more significant changes, such as the freedom to remarry and the end of spousal benefits.

If you want a legal separation, you can submit a Petition. This document states that you and your spouse live separately, including information similar to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

You must file for legal separation in the county where:

  • Your spouse resides; OR
  • You and your spouse last resided as husband and wife; OR
  • If your spouse cannot be found in Illinois, the county in which you reside.

Remember, every case is different, and the legal steps may vary. It’s a good idea to consult a family law attorney to understand the process and consequences of divorce and legal separation in Illinois.

Divorce Mediation

If neither divorce nor legal separation sounds like the ideal outcome to your situation, there is another way to settle disputes: 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.

Working With a Family Law Attorney

If you’re looking for a top lawyer in Illinois, consider working with the skilled attorneys at Masters Law Group. Masters Law Group is located in downtown Chicago, covering divorce cases in Cook County and surrounding regions. Our focus areas include divorce, legal separation, mediation, and other family law issues.

Our senior attorneys, Erin E. Masters, and Anthony G. Joseph, have been recognized by prestigious publications such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers, ensuring you have someone you can trust during your divorce. Furthermore, Erin E. Masters has been approved as a Mediator for the Cook County Domestic Relations Division and offers private mediation services. If you want to settle your family law matter without court intervention, contact Masters Law Group to schedule a mediation appointment.

If you’re considering a divorce, legal separation, or mediation services in Illinois, you don’t have to go it alone. Our dedicated attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when needed. Servicing Cook, Will, Lake, and Dupage counties, our attorneys can help guide you through the process and protect your rights every step of the way.

Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation and learn how we can support you through your divorce or legal separation.

Navigating Divorce Late in Life

National Senior Citizen’s Day is celebrated on August 21st. Whether you’re a senior (retirement age) or a quinquagenarian (50-59), seeking a divorce in your older years has unique challenges. If you’re looking to ‘untie the knot’ as an older citizen, here’s what you need to know.

What is Senior Citizen’s Day About?

Do you have an elderly person in your life that you love and appreciate? National Senior Citizens Day is the day to let them know how much you care, and it’s an opportunity to recognize their accomplishments. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed this holiday to raise awareness about issues that affect senior citizens and their quality of life.

What is a Gray Divorce?

Gray (or Grey) divorce is the rising phenomenon of older couples in long-term marriages getting divorced. It refers to a demographic trend that has increased 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. The consequences of getting divorced after 50 can be incredibly financially and emotionally impactful to older people and their families.

The Rise of Gray Divorce

Gray divorce refers to an increase in the separation of older couples who have been married for a long time. According to research published in the Journals of Gerontology, more than one in three people who divorce in the United States is older than 50. Researchers also predict that by 2030, the divorce rate for the gray divorce population will triple. This trend can be attributed to various factors, including changing societal norms, financial independence, and the desire to seek personal fulfillment in the later stages of life. 

If you are facing a gray divorce, knowing your options is essential so you can begin a new chapter of life without worry. Let’s look further at some of the challenges of gray divorce and how you can embrace the change of a new beginning, no matter what stage of life you’re at.

Challenges Faced in Gray Divorce

Navigating a gray divorce presents a unique set of challenges for older adults.  Not to mention the stress associated with divorce can impact physical and mental health. 

The issue of spousal support (also known as alimony) may be a significant concern, and you may need to determine whether this form of support will be necessary, how much you may pay or receive, and how long these obligations will remain in effect. Other distinctive hurdles include dividing assets and trusts and the frightening scenario of telling your adult children (and potentially grandchildren) that you have decided to part ways after all these years.

So what causes gray divorce in the first place? Here are some of the most common factors for gray divorce:

  • Addiction and Abuse: Addressing issues related to addiction or abuse can lead individuals to reevaluate their relationships and opt for separation.
  • An Increased Desire for Happiness: As people age, pursuing personal happiness and fulfillment becomes more critical, potentially prompting them to seek new beginnings.
  • Empty Nest Syndrome: Couples might reassess their dynamics when children leave home, leading to different paths.
  • Infidelity: Infidelity can strain relationships irreparably, leading to the decision to part ways.
  • Lack of Intimacy: Over time, couples might grapple with reduced intimacy, prompting them to seek a more fulfilling connection elsewhere.
  • Financial Differences: Discrepancies in financial goals, spending habits, and values can cause couples to separate.

Divorce looks different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. However, older couples seeking divorce might want to hire an experienced divorce attorney.  

Legal Aspects of Gray Divorce

The first step of divorce is identifying which assets are part of your marital estate and which are pre-marital possessions. If you and your spouse have been together for several decades, memories of who owned what tend to blur together. 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 marriage.

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
  • Cryptocurrencies

Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning the court won’t divide marital property evenly. Rather than splitting everything 50/50, they look at each party’s current situation and future needs. 

Work With an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At a minimum, you need a divorce lawyer to help you navigate the gray divorce process. Masters Law Group recognizes that gray divorce brings its own set of challenges and stress, and our clients seek a path toward a fresh chapter in their lives. With this in mind, we navigate settlement negotiations and mediation while keeping our clients’ well-being in mind.

Whether you’re venturing on a contested gray divorce, uncontested gray divorce, or gray civil union separation, our team of attorneys is positioned to advocate for your best interests when it matters most. In cases involving substantial assets, our experience shows. Masters Law Group excels in pinpointing and evaluating investments and wealth, spanning real estate, retirement funds, pension plans, crypto assets, domestic and foreign tax arrangements, stock options, trusts, and other tangible or potential sources of wealth.

Final Thoughts

Life doesn’t come with an expiration date, nor does our capacity for change. As we observe Senior Citizen’s Day, we must recognize the challenges of navigating gray divorce. Seniors going through a divorce should prioritize self-care, engage in physical activities, maintain regular medical check-ups, and have the support of an experienced legal team. 

At Masters Law Group, we understand there are many moving parts to divorce, and we are here to help you every step of the way. Our dedicated attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most. Servicing Cook, Will, Lake, and Dupage counties, our attorneys can help guide you through the process and protect your rights. 

Please contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation and learn how we can support you through your gray divorce.

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.

Illinois Property Division in Divorce

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

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

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

The Strain of Property Division on Divorcing Couples

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

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

Equitable Distribution in Illinois

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

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

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

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

Tax Consequences

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

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

Community Property Laws in Illinois

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

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

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

Hidden Assets

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

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

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

Getting the Legal Help You Need

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Set up your consultation here today. 

How to Handle Out of State Child Support Cases in Illinois

The purpose of a child support order is to help ensure children receive the care they need. But what happens when one parent is ordered to pay child support out of state? Or even outside of the United States?

In Illinois, there are specific laws and procedures in place to handle out-of-state child support cases. This includes those involving international borders and the Hague Convention. Here’s what you need to know about handling out of state child support cases in Illinois.

What is Child Support?

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

Understanding the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) provides a framework for child support cases when parents live in different states. Illinois, like most other states, has adopted UIFSA. This means that if the non-custodial parent lives in another state, Illinois can still enforce the child support order.

Under UIFSA, the state where the child resides has jurisdiction over the case. The state where the non-custodial parent lives must follow the laws of the state where the child resides. If you are facing child support issues across state lines, it is crucial to work with a family law attorney who can navigate the complexities of UIFSA and help you achieve a favorable outcome.

Seeking Assistance from the Illinois Child Support Services (CSS)

In the event that the non-custodial parent lives out of state, but you have a child support order in Illinois, the Department of Illinois Child Support Services (DCSS) can provide assistance. DCSS offers the following services to help you:

  • Enforcing the child support order across state lines
  • Modifying the child support order if necessary
  • Establishing paternity
  • Locating the non-custodial parent

DCSS can also work with the federal government to enforce child support orders across international borders. However, it’s important to note that DCSS is not able to provide legal advice and cannot help with the following:

  • Obtaining a divorce or property settlement
  • Modifying a custody or visitation order
  • Obtaining an order for college expenses.

Enforcing Child Support Orders Across International Borders

Illinois can enforce a child support order even if the non-custodial parent lives in another country. OCSE is the U.S. Central Authority for international child support. They work with states and countries to provide assistance to families seeking support when family members live in different countries.

U.S. states process cases with certain countries under different types of reciprocity arrangements, including:

  • Hague Convention countries — countries that have joined the Hague Child Support Convention, and
  • Foreign reciprocating countries (FRCs) — countries and Canadian provinces/territories that have bilateral arrangements with the U.S. government and have not joined the Hague Convention.

Since 2017, the U.S. has participated in an international agreement to streamline child support arrangements around the world, and collecting support from parents who move overseas is now possible in many countries. The purpose of the Hague Convention is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the quick return of the child to their country of habitual residence. Additionally it helps to organize and secure the effective rights of access to a child. Over 80 countries, including the United States are members of the Convention.

According to the Hague Convention, Illinois has the authority to request that the country where the non-custodial parent resides enforces the child support order. As long as the child support order is recognized in that country’s legal system, the country is obligated to comply with the request.

If you are dealing with child support issues across national or international borders, it is essential to work with a knowledgeable family law attorney. Law firms with extensive experience in cases involving international disputes can guide you through the complexities of the Hague Convention and help you protect the best interests of your child.

Working with a Hague Convention Lawyer

When faced with desperate situations, some parents may resort to non-legal means of retrieving their child, such as traveling to the foreign country themselves. However, it’s important to understand that such extra-judicial methods can breach both U.S. federal laws and foreign country laws, and may even make the situation worse.

To ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved, it’s recommended to hire a Hague Convention lawyer. Masters Law Group can provide expert guidance and support throughout the Hague process to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties concerned.

To read some of our Featured Hague Decisions, see below:

About Masters Law Group

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

Don’t navigate international law issues alone, trust the knowledge of the attorneys at Masters Law Group. We are passionate advocates for our clients and we work tirelessly to achieve a favorable outcomes for you and your child/children.

To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us here today.

Post-Divorce Modifications in Illinois

Divorce can be an emotionally charged process, but even after it is finalized, there may be situations that arise that require a modification.

If you are a resident of Illinois, you may have questions about the post-divorce modification process. Whether you are currently in the middle of a divorce, or have already finalized your divorce, this blog will provide you with valuable information and insights.

Marriage Doesn’t Always Run Smoothly

The United States has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world, with 40% to 50% of married couples filing for a divorce. Usually, second or third marriages in the United States have a higher divorce rate: 60% of second marriages and about 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

While Illinois has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation, it still has an average of 6.2 divorces per thousand marriages.

U.S. states with the lowest divorce rate

With these large numbers of divorces occurring each year, there will be some cases where post-divorce disputes arise.

What is a post-divorce Dispute?

Also known as a post-decree dispute, post-divorce disputes often arise when one party does not fulfill obligations indicated in the divorce settlement. Often, one ex-spouse determines that the other has violated a court order relating to the divorce, for example, when one ex-spouse fails to pay court-ordered alimony.

Some of the most common issues involve:

  • the payment of college expenses,
  • recalculations of child support and emancipation of children,
  • as well as modifications of maintenance.

Illinois has specific legal standards that relate to each of these issues, and we can help inform you of the law that relates to your post-judgment issue.

Many individuals are eager to close this chapter of their lives and move on. However, there may be situations in the future where the court-ordered arrangements may need to be adjusted. This blog is an essential resource for anyone going through post-divorce modification in Illinois. Below, we will cover common questions about post-modification.

POST-DIVORCE MODIFICATIONS IN ILLINOIS

In order to change your divorce decree, parenting plan, or other court orders from your divorce, you must file a Petition for Modification. To initiate the process, you must file a petition with the circuit court in the county where the original order was entered. Your ex-spouse must be served the Petition, and they can then choose to file a Response. 

The court will then schedule a hearing where both parties can present evidence and argue their case. The judge will then consider the evidence and decide if modifications are necessary. If modifications are approved, a new court order outlining the changes will be issued. Both parties must agree on its terms moving forward.

How Do I Know If I Qualify for Post-Divorce Modification?

Typically, modifications to divorce orders will only be approved if substantial changes in circumstances have happened since the original decree was entered. This change could be changes in any of the following:

  • Income and financial resources.
  • Living arrangements.
  • Changes to health and well-being.
  • Changes in need of you or your children. 

The changes must be significant enough to require alterations to the previous orders. Sometimes, modifications are sought due to unforeseen events or issues that were not considered during the divorce, such as uncovered debts or the reappearance of a pre-existing health issue.

What is considered a Major Change in Circumstances?

To modify child custody or other orders established during a divorce, it’s necessary to demonstrate substantial changes that have impacted you and your family. These changes could include changes in financial resources, such as job loss or a health condition that affects one’s ability to work. 

Other events that have affected family members, like remarriage, health problems affecting a parent’s child care capabilities, plans to move, or criminal charges leading to jail time or restrictions, may also play a role in these cases.

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Modify Child Custody After My Divorce?

In Illinois, changes to the allocation of parental responsibilities cannot be made within 2 years of a child custody order being put in place, unless a child’s safety is at risk. A parent must provide evidence that the current custody arrangement poses a risk to the child’s physical, psychological, or emotional well-being.

In contrast, modifications to parenting time can be requested without a waiting period. These requests may be made if there has been a considerable change that impacts the child’s best interests or for minor adjustments. This must be agreed upon by both parents and it needs to reflect the current arrangement. Additionally, modifications can be made if the court was unaware of these circumstances that would have affected the original child custody decision.

Can Changes be Made on Property Division?

Typically, court orders for the division of marital property are final and cannot be altered after the divorce is completed. However, in certain situations, a couple may need to go back to court to handle issues that came up or were discovered post-divorce. 

For instance, if you find out that your spouse had undisclosed assets or didn’t provide required financial information during the divorce, you can file a petition to revisit the case. This would ensure an equitable distribution of all marital assets. There are many factors at hand when you try to split up assets. Here are just a few that are considered:

  • Economic circumstances of each spouse
  • Child upbringing costs
  • Existing court maintenance orders
  • Financial contributions from previous marriages
  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
  • The status of each spouse (i.e. age, health, occupation, employability)
  • Consequences of tax reallocation from a property division

Next Steps To Consider

If you are going through the post-divorce modification process in Illinois, it’s important to protect you and your family. Consider the following steps:

  • Review your divorce agreement to see what can and cannot be modified.
  • Determine if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.
  • Consider consulting an attorney to help you navigate the process and provide you with guidance on your legal rights and options.
  • Gather relevant documentation such as financial records, medical records, or other evidence that may support your request for modification.
  • File the petition with the circuit court in the county where the original order was made.
  • Attend the court hearing and provide evidence to support your request for modification.
  • Be prepared for possible outcomes, such as modification granted, denied, or delayed.

It is important to keep in mind that the legal process of modifying a divorce decree can be complex and time-consuming, and seeking the help of a skilled family law attorney can be helpful in ensuring that your rights and interests are protected.

Last Thoughts

Navigating divorce can prove challenging for all involved parties. If you are considering filing for a post-divorce modification, it’s important to speak with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney. At Masters Law Group, our seasoned attorneys can review your case and provide guidance on how to move forward with applicable modifications.

Masters Law Group ALWAYS advocates on your behalf to make sure your rights are protected and family needs are legally met. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What are the Differences Between Annulment vs. Divorce?

Annulment and divorce are two legal terms that refer to the dissolution of a marriage. While both annulment and divorce involve ending a marriage, there are some significant differences between the two.

So you’ve come to the conclusion it’s time to get a separation from your spouse. In Illinois, there are two different ways to end a marriage: annulment and divorce. While annulments and divorces achieve the same goal, there are some differences between them.

Annulment vs. Divorce

One of the main differences between annulment and divorce is the reason for the dissolution of the marriage. An annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void. This means that the marriage is treated as if it never happened, and the parties are returned to the status of being single. In contrast, a divorce is the legal process of ending a valid marriage.

Another difference between annulment and divorce is the time frame in which they can be obtained. Annulment is typically only available within a certain time frame after the marriage has taken place. This time frame varies by state, but it is usually within a few months or a year of the marriage. In contrast, divorce can be obtained at any time after the marriage has taken place.

The state of Illinois recognizes four main grounds for annulling a marriage: illegality (void marriage), lack of consent, inability to consummate the marriage, or underage without parental consent. If a judge determines a marriage invalid, they may annul the marriage with a Judgment of Invalidity.

Obtaining an Annulment vs. Obtaining Divorce

There are also different grounds for obtaining an annulment and a divorce. Annulment is typically granted on the basis of fraud, duress, or lack of consent. For example, an annulment may be granted if one spouse tricked the other into getting married, or if one spouse was forced to marry against their will. In contrast, divorce can be granted for any reason, such as irreconcilable differences or infidelity.

Differences in Splitting Assets

Finally, there are different financial and property consequences of annulment and divorce. In an annulment, the parties are typically returned to the financial status they had before the marriage, and any property that was acquired during the marriage is divided according to state law. In a divorce, the parties may be required to divide their assets and debts in a way that is fair and equitable.

Conclusion

In summary, annulment and divorce are both legal processes for ending a marriage, but there are significant differences between the two. Annulment is a process that declares a marriage null and void, and is typically only available within a certain time frame after the marriage has taken place. In contrast, divorce is the legal process of ending a valid marriage, and can be obtained for any reason at any time after the marriage has taken place.

Why Get Legal Representation for Either?

There are several reasons why it is generally a good idea to hire a family lawyer for both annulment and divorce proceedings.

First, the legal process for both annulment and divorce can be complex and confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the legal system. A lawyer can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Second, a lawyer can help you understand your options and the potential consequences of your decisions. They can explain the different grounds for annulment and divorce, and help you determine which option is best for your situation.

Third, a lawyer can represent you in court and negotiate on your behalf. If you are involved in a contested annulment or divorce, having a skilled and seasoned attorney can be especially important as they can advocate for your interests and ensure that you are treated fairly.

Fourth, a lawyer can help you protect your financial interests. Both annulment and divorce can have significant financial consequences, and a lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and ensure that any settlement is fair and equitable.

Get in Touch Today

Overall, hiring a family law attorney can be a wise investment when it comes to annulment and divorce proceedings. A lawyer can provide valuable guidance and representation, and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.

At Masters Law Group, we understand 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, civil union divorce, or seeking an annulment, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.

Contact us here today to start the conversation.