Tag Archive for: Divorce mediation

Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Navigating Divorce in Chicago: Tips from a Top Lawyer

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

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

Choose the Right Lawyer

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

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

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

Gather Necessary Documentation

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

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

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

Consider Mediation

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

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

Working With Masters Law Group

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

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

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

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

Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

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.

Should I Wait Until After the Holidays to Get a Divorce?

One of the most common questions that we get around Christmas time from potential clients is whether they should wait until after Christmas to file for divorce. Here’s what you need to consider. 

The holidays are a time for family and friends, and the last thing on your mind should be whether or not you should get divorced.

But if you’re in this position, it’s important to know that you don’t have to keep your divorce plans under wraps forever. There are many situations where it could be good to hold off, and in some cases it’s better to rip the bandaid off. Here are several considerations to keep in mind when deciding whteher to wait until after the holidays to get a divorce.

Avoiding Extra Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, but they can also be a time of joy and togetherness. If you’re considering divorce, it’s important to remember that divorces often take a long time to finalize, and it may be best to wait until after the holidays are over before starting proceedings.

If you’re in a marriage that is teetering on the brink of divorce, the holidays can be especially hard. It’s important to focus on what makes you happy. Whether it’s spending time with family or taking some alone time—and not allowing yourself to fall into the trap of focusing on how unhappy your marriage is making you. Try not to let stress get the best of you during this holiday season.

Be Aware of False Hope

Holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they can also be a source of false hope. Thanksgiving and Christmas are often times when couples will try to rekindle their passion and romance, often “for the sake of the kids”. When couples have been in a long-term relationship, it’s not uncommon for them to experience periods of disconnection or lack of intimacy. But when the season rolls around, these high spirits can sometimes cloud the deeper issues.

However, despite the aura of togetherness over the season, always remember why you wanted to get a divorce in the first place. Are these reasons going to pop up again in the new year? Will everything be magically solved in your marriage? Weigh up the pros and cons carefully before making your decision. 

Supportive vs. Interfering Relatives

If you have decided that it is time to divorce, but are worried about how your family will react, you may want to consider filing for divorce during the holidays anyway.

Depending on your relatives and relationship with them, filing for divorce amidst the holidays can be a great way to get away from the stress of everyday life and spend time with those who mean the most to you. Many people find that they are able to spend more quality time with their families during this time of year, which is why it can be an ideal time to file for divorce and reap the family support you need during this time.

However, we all have that one relative (or multiple relatives) who wish to give their penny’s worth on the topic of your marriage. This negative interference can be detrimental to your mental health and personal strength when it comes to filing the papers. Depending on where you are spending the holidays, consider keeping it quiet. These relatives don’t need to know what’s happening with your marriage now. Wait until the papers are complete and you have the confidence to discuss it further down the line.

Toxic Family Environments

Regardless of your marriage situation, arguments are sometimes impossible to not have during the holidays. The stress gets to everyone, however, If you are in a toxic or abusive situation it’s important to know that you don’t have to stay in your marriage if you’re unhappy. While divorce proceedings can be difficult and stressful for everyone involved, it is better if it is started sooner rather than later. Divorce attorneys can help guide you through the process.

Remember, if you or your children are in danger, it’s important to get out of the situation as soon as possible. Even consider filing for an Order of Protection.

Protecting Children

Announcing divorce at any time can be difficult for children, but it’s even more painful when it’s during the holidays. The festive season is one of generosity and cheer, and children are eager to experience the wonderment of this special time. 

Setting irreconcilable differences aside, even for just an additional month, allows the children and both parents to spend one last holiday together as a family. The gift of family togetherness is one that children will cherish and remember long after the divorce is over.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of your relationship situation it’s important to consider all of the factors before you make the decision to get a divorce. Whether you anticipate divorcing before, during or after the holiday festivities, you can always rely on the attorneys at Masters Law Group to guide you through the process.

We’ll be by your side every step of the way as we work towards a resolution that is fair, equitable and compassionate. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Masters Law Group Recognized in the 2023 Edition of “Best Lawyers in America”

Masters Law Group is a Chicago family and divorce law firm focused on solving problems and achieving the best possible result for our clients. We’re proud of our industry achievements, now including being recognized for professional excellence in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in two categories.

As part of the 2023 selection of distinguished firms, Masters Law Group was regionally ranked in two practice areas, Family Law and Family Law Mediation. 

Best Lawyers in America is the oldest and one of the most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

This recognition honors the professional accomplishments of the top tier legal talent in the country who were selected by their peers through Best Lawyers’ rigorous and peer-reviewed selection process. More than 12.2 million evaluations were analyzed, resulting in the recognition of only 5.3% of lawyers in the United States. Achieving this recognition signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

Masters Law Group is delighted to once again receive such recognition. 

About Masters Law Group

Located in Chicago, Illinois, Masters Law Group handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters.

Our recent recognitions in Family Law and Family Law Mediation highlights our experience, dedication and talent in these fields.

Our Attorneys

Best Family Law Attorney

Erin E. Masters (Attorney / Family Law Mediator) and Anthony G. Joseph (Attorney / Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representative) both have extensive experience and knowledge in family law and family law mediation.

Ms. Masters’ recent recognitions include in Family Law and Family Law Mediation, and has represented a variety of clients, both pre-decree and post-decree. 

“We are honored that Masters Law Group has been recognized by Best Lawyers® for the sixth consecutive year.” commented Managing Partner Erin Masters. “We thank all our fellow attorneys in the Chicago Metropolitan area for including us in this prestigious list as well as our attorneys and staff for their hard work and dedication in serving our clients.”

In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases.

2023 Best Lawyers

Anthony G. Joseph has been recognized for his excellence in Family Law and is an active trial lawyer whose practice focuses exclusively on Family Law and on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He has an emphasis on International Child Abduction and cross-border custody issues pursuant to the Hague Convention of 1980 and the UCCJEA. Mr. Joseph also publishes in the area of civil litigation.

WORK WITH THE BEST

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

Masters Law Group is dedicated to understanding your individual needs and helping you work through stressful situations in the Family Law and Divorce fields. They move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with their clients’ assurance and well being in mind.

Schedule a consultation here to speak with an experienced attorney regarding your family law matter today.

 

 

This National Spouse’s Day: Exploring Legal Separation

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

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

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

What Is Legal Separation?

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

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

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

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

Separation vs. Divorce vs. Annulment

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

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

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

Pros and Cons of a Legal Separation


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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Illinois Divorce Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Can You Be Denied A Divorce In Illinois?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Illinois?


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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

 

Divorce Planning: Finding Freedom in 2022

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

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

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

Discuss the Divorce 

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

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

Navigate Separation Details

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

Compile Your Legal Documents

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

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

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

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

Hire a Divorce Attorney

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Contact our office today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

The Process of Divorce Mediation in Illinois

Even when parting spouses disagree, a divorce doesn’t always have to be a big fight. Divorce mediation is a way of finding solutions to issues such as child custody and spousal support. It acts as an alternative to the formal process of litigation in divorce court.

In Illinois, divorce mediation is mandated by the court for couples disputing child custody and parental allocation plans.  Divorce mediation is also helpful when seeking to settle financial matters. Many family law attorneys in Illinois and across the United States provide divorce mediation services to help clients reach a fair divorce settlement, as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible.

In fact, Illinois family law courts actually require that couples attempt divorce mediation before their case can be scheduled for litigation in court. If you’re considering the mediation route with your ex-spouse, here’s a couple tips on how to find the right Divorce Mediator in Illinois.

Mediation and How it works

Mediation is considered an alternative dispute resolution process where an impartial or neutral mediator helps guide you and your spouse in settlement efforts – hopefully helping you reach a final agreement.  Unlike judges, a mediator has no authority to make decisions for you or your spouse. Their job is to keep you and your spouse’s focus on your needs and interests instead of fault and rights.

When a couple begins divorce mediation, they either choose the mediator in advance or one may be appointed by the court, with the court deciding how to split the costs.  Both spouses provide documentation to support their viewpoint regarding disputed issues, while the mediator works with both sides to find a resolution. The goal of the mediator is to reach an agreement between the two parties, therefore it is critically important to work with your divorce mediator attorney to ensure that the proposed solution is truly fair and equitable to you.

The Upsides of Mediation

There are many benefits to resolving your differences through the divorce mediation process.  Mediation can often save you time and money by leading to resolution and avoiding the costs associated with litigation. Divorce mediation is usually less adversarial than battling issues in court and is, therefore, less stressful. 

Mediation provides a means to reach an agreement on all issues quicker than litigating in court and is, therefore, less costly. Both parties are typically satisfied with the agreements since they both had input to the resolution. For parents, the process lays the foundation for cooperation in making important parenting decisions for their beloved children. If mediation is right for you, our lawyers develop a strategy for negotiating the best settlement possible.

Mediation Drawbacks

There are some disadvantages with mediation that you should also keep in mind. Divorce mediation can be a pointless exercise, if the parties are entrenched in a position and refuse to negotiate; a mediation will only be successful if the parties are committed to a resolution. What’s more, if the case is more about the principal than the recovery of money, mediation will not provide the desired resolution. If there are unresolved issues both parties will have to take on further costs and spend more time trying to finally get everything settled.

In addition to understanding the pros and cons of mediation, it’s helpful to understand when mediation is the best choice for the particular situation you are faced with. Some of the kinds of cases that are suitable for mediation include:

  • Business disputes
  • Partnership disagreements
  • Contract issues
  • Leases
  • Will contests
  • Employment issues
  • Divorce and Allocation of Child Responsibilities

Divorce Mediation with Masters Law Group

Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with family disputes that lead to much happier, healthier results. At Masters Law Group, we provide an array of family law services including Divorce Mediation for our clients. Erin E. Masters has been approved as a Mediator for the Cook County Domestic Relations Division and offers private mediation services.

Whether you’re in need of mediation services or representation involved in mediation, our highly experienced family law attorneys offer skillful legal representation and negotiation throughout the divorce process. Get in touch with us here today to discuss and execute the best plan of action for you and your family.

 

How to Find the Right Divorce Mediator in Illinois

Choosing a divorce mediator will be one of the most important decisions you reach during your divorce. When looking for a divorce mediation service, be sure to know what qualities to look for, key questions to ask, and how to begin your search.

Going through a divorce can be a stressful experience in someone’s life. Determining who gets what after the marriage ends is often a complicated undertaking. Decisions made through litigation involve the court system and can be time-consuming and costly.

However, there is an alternative resolution method available for divorce that is known as mediation. Mediation is generally less expensive, less stressful, and less time-consuming than going to court and having a long, drawn-out trial. Want to minimize the stress involved by choosing a good divorce mediator? Here’s a couple tips in finding the right divorce mediator.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available to people who are in the middle of the divorce process. Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. Unlike arbitration, mediation doesn’t involve decision making by the neutral third party. ADR procedures can be initiated by the parties or may be compelled by legislation, the courts, or contractual terms.

The main goal of mediation is to use collaborative methods when determining who gets what after a divorce. If a couple can reach a mutual agreement, it is submitted to the court for approval. Some of the main issues that a mediator can assist you with include:

  • Child custody
  • Parenting time and visitation
  • Property/asset division
  • Alimony
  • Child support

Finding the Right Mediator

Once you and your spouse come to the consensus that mediation is your best option, you then choose a mediator you trust to guide you through the proceedings. This is the most important step in the process, since mediation is an unregulated profession in the United States, and not all divorce mediators are the same.

Below are a few steps you can take when choosing a mediator to help you navigate your divorce:

  • Compile a list of names of potential mediators. 
  • Evaluate materials/information on possible mediators. 
  • Interview the mediation candidates. 
  • Evaluate their credentials and make a decision.

Word-of-mouth referrals from friends or relatives who have used a mediator before can assist you in selecting the right one for you. In addition, there are national mediator membership organizations that maintain lists of practitioners and offer referral services. In the end, it is important to use a mediator with whom you feel comfortable in order to achieve a positive outcome. Overall, mediation allows you to create solutions that work best for you and your children. 

Final Thoughts

A divorce does not mean a couple has to go to court to reach a settlement. Mediation is an alternate option that allows spouses to come to an agreement through compromising with the help of a neutral third party and subject matter experts. If you’re looking for a mediator, Masters Law Group is here to help.

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

Schedule a Consultation today to learn more about how we can assist as your Divorce Mediators.

 

What is Divorce Mediation?

Talking to your partner about the practicalities of separation or divorce can be extremely difficult. Divorce Mediators work with a couples involved in family break-ups to make arrangements, either to plan for a separation or divorce, or after the split has taken place.  

Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, and with their help, you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible. Topics covered in Divorce Mediation include:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Property/Asset division
  • Retirement accounts
  • Taxes

While mediation sounds like an ideal solution for separating, there are pros and cons to consider first.

Pros of Divorce Mediation

There are several key benefits to using mediation for your divorce that have contributed to its growing popularity:

  • Speed: Because you do not need to wait for a court date, it is usually much faster to get divorced using mediation than by going to court. By getting you and your ex-partner in one place, it can also speed up communications between you.
  • Voluntary: Mediation is a voluntary process, so there is absolutely nothing forcing you to agree to anything that you find unacceptable during the mediation process. The fact that mediation is voluntary allows many divorcing spouses the sense of ownership and independence they need to feel comfortable making important compromises and decisions.
  • Control: Mediation allows you to keep control of your divorce, rather than leaving the final decision in the hands of a judge.
  • Privacy: When you go to court, the proceedings are held in public, meaning the details of your divorce, including any financial settlement will be made public. Mediation allows you to keep your divorce private, meaning the details will only be known to your and your spouse.
  • Cost: Mediation is generally much less expensive that court action because of the lower legal fees involved.

Cons of Divorce Mediation

Mediation is not the right answer for every divorcing couple, and there are some important elements of mediation that can be disadvantages:

  • Disputes: Mediation is not useful if the parties cannot engage in open dialogue with each other or if your spouse is more aggressive than you.
  • Hiding Assets: If your spouse is hiding assets, the mediator may not ever find out. If you have an attorney representing you, the attorney can use the discovery process and independent investigation to determine whether your spouse is hiding assets.
  • Fairness: Mediation does not guarantee a fair outcome.
  • Not for Complicated Matters: Mediation is not appropriate for certain cases, such as those involving domestic abuse and addictions.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer to Help with Your Mediation

Masters Law Group have many years of experience helping people to get divorced quickly, cost-effectively and with minimal conflict using mediation and other non-confrontational methods. With a sensitive but practical approach, we aim to make getting divorced as straightforward as possible.

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

We look forward to learning more about you and how we can assist as your Divorce Mediators.