Tag Archive for: Divorce law Illinois

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.

DuPage Divorce Lawyer

DuPage County boasts a supportive environment for businesses, a haven for families, and a hub for innovation. However, behind the suburban facade, troubled marriages and divorces persist. 

Despite the idyllic setting, many families face divorce’s emotional and legal challenges. If you’re navigating the complexities of divorce in DuPage County, Masters Law Group is here to help and support you through this difficult process.

Understanding Divorce

Divorce is a legal process that dissolves a marriage, ending the legal relationship between spouses. It involves various emotional, financial, and practical considerations. Understanding divorce requires acknowledging its complexities and potential impacts on individuals and families. 

What leads to divorce? The reasons can be numerous. A range of factors, such as lack of communication, infidelity, constant conflict, and other situations, can heighten the risk of divorce. Financially, divorce often involves dividing assets and liabilities accumulated during the marriage, determining spousal support, and addressing child support and custody issues. 

Divorce can have long-term effects on children, family dynamics, and social relationships. Therefore, seeking support from friends, family, and family law attorneys can be crucial in navigating the complexities of divorce and moving forward with clarity and resilience.

Navigating Divorce in DuPage

While Illinois divorce rates are depleting, in DuPage County, the divorce rate trend is less consistent:

  • 2012: 2,308
  • 2013: 2,233
  • 2014: 2,301
  • 2015: 2355
  • 2016: 2210
  • 2017: 2285

(*Note: DuPage County is currently only documented up to 2017)

In DuPage and throughout  Illinois, divorce operates under a no-fault system, necessitating only the presence of irreconcilable differences for legal separation. This means divorcing couples don’t need to assign blame to dissolve their marriage. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the highest divorce rates in Illinois are in the following five counties:

  • Cook County
  • DuPage County 
  • Lake County 
  • Will County
  • Kane County

Navigating a divorce in DuPage County demands careful selection of legal representation. When seeking a divorce lawyer, reliability is paramount. Effective communication and a strong rapport are essential, given the protracted nature of divorce proceedings. While experience in family law, particularly divorce law, is crucial, finding an attorney you trust and respect is equally important.

Starting the Divorce Process

In DuPage County, Illinois, initiating the divorce process typically begins with filing a petition for dissolution of marriage at the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. This petition outlines the grounds for divorce. The petition can include irreconcilable differences or fault-based reasons such as infidelity.

Along with the petition, the filer must also serve the other party, the respondent, with a copy of the documents. Once served, the respondent has the opportunity to respond to the petition. If both parties agree on property division, child custody, and support, they may proceed with an uncontested divorce, often resulting in a faster and less costly process. 

However, if there are disputes, the case may proceed to court, where a judge will decide on contested matters. It’s advisable for individuals navigating divorce in DuPage County to seek legal counsel to help protect their rights throughout the process.

Alternative Divorce Methods

Alternative divorce methods offer couples varying pathways to dissolve their marriage with differing levels of complexity and contention. In cases where the dissolution is relatively straightforward, joint and simplified divorce procedures provide expedited routes, requiring mutual agreement on key issues and minimal conflicts. 

Uncontested divorces follow a standard procedure but involve spouses who are largely in accord regarding the terms, reducing the time and resources needed compared to contested divorces. Beyond these options, couples may explore alternatives such as legal separation. 

  • Legal separation offers an alternative to divorce, addressing concerns of couples who wish to live separately without permanently ending their marriage.
  • Civil unions, recognized in DuPage and across Illinois, undergo a dissolution process similar to that of marriage, necessitating legal guidance to navigate.

These alternative methods offer flexibility and choice to couples seeking to end their union in a manner that best suits their circumstances and preferences.

Working With Masters Law Group

Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged journey that often requires the guidance of seasoned family law professionals. At Masters Law Group, our family law attorneys are here to provide valuable assistance, helping to ensure that your rights and the best interests of your children remain at the forefront of every decision. Here are some areas where we can help guide you:

  • 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, helping protect your rights and the interests of your children.

By working with a DuPage divorce attorney, you can confidently navigate the complexities of divorce and reduce stress. Your rights and the well-being of your family are our top priorities.

Last Thoughts

The complexities of divorce, especially concerning children and/or substantial assets, necessitate legal assistance. Masters Law Group is ready to advocate for you throughout your divorce process.

If you have questions about divorce in DuPage County, an experienced DuPage divorce lawyer can assist you. Our firm has years of experience providing counsel to the community of DuPage County, and we are here to answer any of your questions about divorce or other family law matters. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Divorce Mediation vs. Litigation

Divorce mediation or litigation? When couples decide to end their marriage, they often choose between the two. While both approaches have their merits, it’s crucial to understand the differences and consider your options carefully. 

Divorce is a challenging and emotional process, no matter where you are at in life. Masters Law Group, located in Oak Brook, Illinois, with offices in downtown Chicago, is a law firm committed to helping couples navigate these difficult decisions and offers a comprehensive approach to divorce resolution. Here’s what you need to know.

Understanding Divorce Mediation

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where an impartial or neutral mediator helps guide you and your spouse in settlement efforts. Unlike judges, a mediator cannot decide for you or your spouse. Their job is to keep you and your spouse focused on your needs and interests instead of faults and rights.

When a couple begins divorce mediation, they choose the mediator in advance, or the court may appoint one. Both spouses provide documentation to support their viewpoints regarding disputed issues while the mediator works with both sides to find a resolution. The mediator’s goal is to reach an agreement between the two parties. 

Benefits of Divorce Mediation include:

  1. Faster Resolution: Mediation often leads to a quicker resolution than a court-based divorce. Mediation sessions can be scheduled at the convenience of the parties involved, and they can work at their own pace, leading to a faster outcome.
  2. Greater Control: In mediation, the divorcing couple retains control over the outcome and decisions made. They actively participate in crafting agreements that best suit their unique needs and circumstances, rather than having a judge impose decisions on them.
  3. Less Emotional Stress: Mediation tends to be less adversarial and confrontational compared to litigation. It provides a more supportive and less combative environment, which can reduce the emotional stress and conflict associated with divorce.
  4. Confidentiality: Mediation is a private process, and discussions that occur during mediation are generally confidential. This allows both parties to speak openly and honestly without fear of their statements being used against them in court.
  5. Preservation of Relationships: For divorcing couples who will continue to co-parent or have ongoing relationships, mediation can help maintain a more amicable and cooperative atmosphere, which can be beneficial for both parties and any children involved.
  6. Customized Solutions: Mediation allows for creative and customized solutions that take into account the specific needs and concerns of the divorcing couple and their children. This flexibility can result in more tailored agreements than what a court might provide.
  7. Reduced Court Involvement: Since many issues are resolved through mediation, there may be fewer court appearances and less time spent navigating the legal system, reducing the overall burden on both parties.
  8. Improved Communication Skills: Mediation often helps couples improve their communication skills and learn effective ways to resolve conflicts, which can be valuable skills for future interactions and co-parenting.
  9. Reduced Post-Divorce Disputes: Because mediated agreements are typically reached through mutual understanding and cooperation, there may be fewer post-divorce disputes and a higher likelihood of compliance with the agreed-upon terms.

Divorce Mediation Drawbacks

While mediation offers numerous benefits, it’s important to acknowledge the potential drawbacks. These drawbacks come into play when the parties involved are unwilling to engage in constructive negotiation. Successful mediation hinges on the commitment of all parties to resolve. Issues that remain unresolved can lead to additional expenses and extended negotiation timelines.

In addition to understanding the advantages and disadvantages of mediation, it’s valuable to discern when mediation is the most appropriate choice for your unique situation. Some cases that are particularly well-suited for mediation include:

  1. Partnership disagreements
  2. Contract issues
  3. Will contests
  4. Employment issues
  5. Divorce
  6. Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

By recognizing the strengths and limitations of mediation, individuals can make informed decisions regarding their conflict resolution needs.

Understanding Litigation

Divorce litigation is a legal process used to resolve the issues surrounding the dissolution of a marriage when couples cannot reach an agreement on their own. This approach involves taking the divorce case to court, where a judge will make decisions on key matters, including property division, child custody, and spousal support if the spouses cannot agree to negotiation or mediation.

Here’s a breakdown of how divorce litigation typically works:

  • Filing a Petition: The process begins with one spouse filing a divorce petition, formally initiating the divorce proceedings.
  • Legal Representation: Both spouses hire their attorneys to represent their respective interests. These attorneys will provide guidance, negotiate on behalf of their clients, and advocate for their rights during court proceedings.
  • Court Proceedings: Divorce litigation involves court hearings, legal motions, and formal discovery processes where each side gathers evidence and information.
  • Decision by the Judge: Ultimately, a judge will make decisions on the disputed issues, often after a trial. The judge has the final say, and the outcome is out of the hands of the divorcing couple.

Here are some potential benefits of litigation over mediation:

  1. Adjudication by a Judge: In litigation, the divorce case is presented to a judge who makes legally binding decisions on the issues in dispute, such as property division, child custody, and alimony. If you believe that your interests are not being adequately protected in mediation, or if there are serious disagreements that cannot be resolved through negotiation, going to court allows for a neutral third party to make the final decisions.
  2. Legal Protections: Litigation offers a more formalized legal process with established rules and procedures. This can provide legal protections to ensure fairness and adherence to the law. In some cases, individuals may be concerned that mediation could lead to agreements that are not legally sound or enforceable.
  3. Discovery Process: Litigation allows for the use of legal tools such as depositions, subpoenas, and interrogatories to gather evidence and information from the opposing party. This can be crucial in complex cases where there are concerns about hidden assets or uncooperative spouses.
  4. Enforcement of Court Orders: Court-ordered judgments are enforceable by law. If one party fails to comply with the court’s orders, the other party can seek legal remedies through the court system to enforce the judgment.
  5. Binding Decisions: In litigation, the judge’s decisions are binding and final, providing a clear resolution to the divorce case. This can reduce the potential for ongoing disputes or disagreements after the divorce is finalized.
  6. Protection in High-Conflict Situations: In cases of high conflict, where emotions run extremely high or there are concerns about safety and abuse, litigation may provide a more structured and protective environment. Court orders can include provisions for restraining orders, protective orders, and supervised visitation to ensure the safety of all parties involved.
  7. Clear Legal Precedent: Litigation can establish legal precedent in certain cases, which can be important for clarifying legal issues and setting standards for future cases. This can be particularly relevant in cases involving complex legal questions.

It’s important to note that litigation can also be more time-consuming, emotionally draining, and potentially more expensive than mediation.

Litigation Drawbacks

While divorce litigation can resolve challenging cases, it also comes with certain drawbacks that individuals should be aware of when considering this route. It’s important to know that this option can become a long endeavor, characterized by multiple court appearances, filing legal motions, and extensive documentation. 

In litigation, the ultimate determinations rest with the judge, reducing the divorcing couple’s control over the outcome. Furthermore, court proceedings are generally open to the public, potentially exposing sensitive personal information to scrutiny. While it is a necessary option in some cases, it’s worth exploring alternative methods of conflict resolution to determine what best suits your specific circumstances and priorities. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate this complex terrain.

Masters Law Group: Your Oak Brook Divorce Law and Mediation Professionals

If you’re currently residing in Illinois and seeking a family law attorney to assist you in finalizing your divorce, Masters Law Group is here to provide the support you need. Our team of experienced divorce and mediation attorneys is fully prepared to advocate for you and your family. Here’s how our attorneys can help you:

  • Experienced Mediators: The firm’s mediators have extensive experience in family law and are skilled in facilitating productive discussions between divorcing spouses.
  • Experienced Litigators: 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 your most favorable outcome.
  • Conflict Resolution: They are professionals in conflict resolution, focusing on finding peaceful solutions for both parties and their children.
  • Protecting Your Interests: Masters Law Group attorneys work to protect your legal rights and best interest for you and your children.

Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph have consistently earned recognition from esteemed publications year after year (including Best Lawyers, Best Law Firm, Top 100 Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers), a testament to their unwavering work ethic, strong character, and experience in family law. Our track record of success reassures you have a trustworthy ally throughout your divorce proceedings.

Final Thoughts

Divorce is a difficult journey, but in Oak Brook, and across Illinois, couples have access to professional help to make the process smoother and more manageable for everyone involved.

When choosing between divorce mediation and litigation, the decision should be based on your unique circumstances. Masters Law Group offers guidance and a compassionate approach to divorce and mediation, helping you find the best path forward for you and your family. Whether mediation or litigation, the goal is to achieve a resolution allowing everyone to move forward.

Contact us today to set up your complimentary consultation.

DuPage Divorce Lawyer

With nearly a million residents, DuPage is Illinois’ second-most populous county. With a higher population, DuPage also has the second-highest divorce rate in the state. If you need a divorce lawyer in DuPage County, see how Masters Law Group can help. 

Located just west of Chicago, DuPage County provides a supportive ecosystem for businesses, a launchpad for innovators, a strategic location for critical logistics operations, and a healthy home for families. But living in a picturesque suburban town doesn’t equal happy families for all. As with anywhere in the world, troubled marriages and divorce persist.

What factors lead to divorce?

In Illinois and around the country, married couples seek divorce for many reasons. This study found that the following factors may increase a couple’s risk of divorce.

  • A lack of communication
  • Infidelity
  • Conflict and arguing
  • Marrying too young
  • Financial issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Health issues
  • Lack of family support
  • Religious differences
  • Lack of premarital education

The state of Illinois is considered a no-fault divorce state. The only grounds required to seek a divorce are irreconcilable differences, meaning that divorcing spouses do not need to prove fault to be granted a divorce in Illinois.

NAVIGATING DIVORCE IN DuPage

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

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

Throughout the process, you may have multiple questions, concerns, or disputes, and you require someone who can ease your worries. Voted Best Lawyers 2023 and Best Law Firms 2023, Masters Law Group, we begin by understanding your goals for the divorce and how you wish to feel once the process is complete. We discuss your objectives in detail to provide exceptional legal representation. Additionally, we offer complimentary consultations to help you evaluate if we are the right fit for your needs.

GETTING STARTED

Aside from contacting your Illinois-based family law attorney, as soon as one or both parties decide that divorce is absolutely the only answer, the first step is filing the paperwork with your local court clerk. The forms you complete may vary from county to county, so it is important that you do some research based on DuPage County divorces. Wherever you live, however, you will need to file what is called a “petition for dissolution of marriage.” The forms are a bit different if you have children. For example, you will need to file a joint parenting agreement, uniform order of support, and visitation forms if you have children. You can also find other required forms on the Illinois court website.

Although the law specifically prohibits judges from analyzing fault when dividing property in a divorce, judges may evaluate whether or not one spouse dissipated marital assets during the marriage.

DuPage CONTESTED DIVORCES

A contested divorce happens when both spouses want a divorce but can’t agree on some of the terms of the divorce, like custody and spousal support. It can also occur if the spouse does not respond to the divorce petition.

In contested divorces, the judge may order you to go through additional steps like divorce mediation in DuPage. The mediation can result in an agreed settlement between the parties.

If mediation doesn’t work, your case will go to trial, and the judge will make the final determination on specific issues you and your spouse couldn’t agree on.

ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURES in DuPage County

If you and your spouse don’t have any children, have little money, and agree on everything, Illinois courts may allow you to have what is called a joint and simplified divorce.

You and your spouse can file a Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage if:

  • no spousal support (alimony) will be paid
  • no-fault grounds are used
  • there are no children and the wife is not pregnant
  • you have not been married more than 8 years
  • neither of you have any real property
  • the total equity in your marital property is less than $10,000
  • the combined annual income of you and your spouse is less than $35,000
  • neither of you earn more than $20,000 annually
  • you both disclosed your assets and tax returns for the years you were married, and
  • you and your spouse have a written agreement dividing all of your property in excess of $100 in value, and allocating who will be responsible for each debt owed.

If you don’t meet the requirements for the Simplified procedure, but you and your spouse are in agreement on all matters, you may still file an uncontested divorce using the standard procedure.

DuPage LEGAL SEPARATION

DuPage County (and across Illinois) is one of the areas that recognize legal separation. Legal separation does not permanently end the marriage. However, a judge must approve the separation agreement, which defines the spouses’ legal rights and obligations.

For individuals with religious concerns or insurance issues who may be discouraged from seeking a formal divorce, a legal separation could be the preferred course of action.  With a legal separation, many of the same issues determined in a divorce can be adjudicated, but without the finality of a legal divorce being granted.

This is a good option if you don’t want a divorce but want to live separately and want legal clarification on matters concerning child custody, child support, child custody, and property division.

DuPage CIVIL UNION DIVORCE

Civil unions allow two adults, of either the same or opposite sex, to enter into a legally recognized relationship. Several unique issues can arise during the process of establishing or dissolving a civil union, so it is vital to have a knowledgeable DuPage Divorce lawyer to guide you through every step.

Dissolving a civil union is nearly the same as dissolving a marriage. Any couple who wishes to dissolve a civil union will be able to do so in the State of Illinois. To receive a certified copy of a Dissolution of Civil Union records, an interested couple will need to go to the county circuit court clerk where the civil union was granted.

GETTING THE HELP YOU NEED WITH MASTERS LAW GROUP

Even a no-fault divorce is a complicated legal process, particularly when children or high assets are involved.

Whether you are facing a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or a civil union divorce, the experienced DuPage attorneys at Masters Law Group are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.

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

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.

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.

 

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. 

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!