The Importance of Qualified Legal Counsel

August 29th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

child custody arrangements, child support, divorce papers, DuPage County divorce attorney, qualified legal counselA recent spate of cases involving courts citing businesses for the unlicensed practice of law highlights the importance of using a licensed attorney during the divorce process. A recent case on this issue comes from the Ohio Supreme Court, but it is a problem that can occur just as easily in any other state.

State governments closely monitor the people who practice law to ensure that they have the training to competently represent others in court. Those who are not properly licensed and trained can end up making mistakes that cost their clients. That is exactly what happened in the Ohio case that ended up with the company making a mistake that left their client’s divorce papers useless. Consequently, it is important for discerning people seeking a divorce to ensure that they use a properly licensed attorney if they want counsel during the process.

Fast Divorce Companies

The case in Ohio involved a woman seeking a divorce from her husband based on irreconcilable differences. This requires the person seeking the divorce, the petitioner, to file paperwork with the court. The paperwork needs to include a variety of different pieces of information and proposed resolutions to the divorce, like division of property. One of the things that the paperwork needed to include was proposed provisions for child support and child custody arrangements after the divorce. The paperwork, which cost hundreds of dollars to prepare, did not include such provisions, which meant that the court would not accept the filing, requiring it to be redone without assistance.

Making Sure Someone is a Licensed Attorney

In order to avoid such a thing happening, it is important to ensure that the person preparing the paperwork is a licensed attorney. Making sure that someone in Illinois is a licensed attorney is a simple task that can be done online. All attorneys must register themselves with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (“IARDC”). The IARDC is a service run by the Illinois Supreme Court that tracks all the state’s attorneys. The IARDC tracks an attorney’s business address, his or her current license status, whether he or she carries malpractice insurance, and a public record of any disciplinary proceedings that may have occurred related to the attorney. The website for the IARDC contains a public search function. This search, which operates based on the attorney’s last name, allows potential clients to access the IARDC information so that they can make an informed decision about who they would like to hire.

If you are considering filing for divorce, seek out help from qualified legal counsel in the form a DuPage County divorce attorney. Our skilled team of professionals can put their experience to work for you, guiding you through the entirety of the divorce process and making sure things get done right the first time.

Starting the School Year after a Divorce

August 26th, 2014 at 5:50 pm

after a divorce, children and divorce, DuPage County divorce attorney, filing for a divorce, parental custody, school year, new school year, divorced parentsAccording to divorce attorneys, the end of summer is a common time to start thinking about filing for a divorce. However, summer’s end is also a time for parents who have recently finalized a divorce to think about how it affects their children going off to school. Many parents choose to go through the meat of the divorce process during the summer, so that kids have time to adjust without also needing to deal with schoolwork. However, now that they are returning to their normal routine, parents need to be aware of what information the school needs, and they need to watch out for signs that their children may not be adjusting well now that they are back in school.

Information the School Needs

The divorce decree is going to generate a large amount of information and legal requirements, and children’s schools are going to need to be informed about some of those changes. For instance, schools are liable for the well-being of their students, so it is important to inform the school about which parent has custody, and which parent is allowed to pick up the kids. This is especially important in situations involving abuse, where there may be an order of protection in place. Similarly, parents should also inform schools about which parents have a right to request information about the children and who may attend parent teacher conferences, since non-custodial parents may still retain these rights.

Teachers as a Support Network

Depending on a parent’s relationship with the teacher and the school, it may also benefit the children to let the teacher or the school’s guidance counselors know about the divorce. If the children appear to be depressed or start acting out in class, this may help the teachers and the school administrators get to the root of the issue quicker and in a way that will be healthier for the student. This can also help put teachers on alert for a student’s declining academic performance, which may be the result of the divorce, so that steps can be taken to quickly remedy any issues.

Speaking to the school’s counselor about the divorce may also help the child, since it will give them an extra space to come deal with their emotions. Guidance counselors are trained professionals, and they may be able to help the student work through some of the issues that come with the divorce. Some schools or counselors even run support groups made up of children who have recently gone through divorce so they can share their experiences with each other.

If you are currently considering seeking a divorce or you simply have some questions about the process, reach out to a DuPage County divorce attorney today. We can help answer your questions and guide you through this complicated time.

Health Problems Associated with Divorce

August 23rd, 2014 at 4:29 pm

DuPage County divorce attorney, health problems, divorce and stress, stressful event, high blood pressure, sleep disruptions, heart disease and divorce, sustained stressDivorce can be a difficult process that affects many different parts of a person’s life. The added stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as adverse health effects if people going through a divorce are not careful. One study from the University of Arizona found that people in the midst of a divorce are prone to poor sleep, which may cause high blood pressure. Other experts have also noted other possible health issues, largely stemming from people’s failure to take care of their bodies during the stressful event. This means that divorcing spouses need to be extra careful to maintain their healthy eating habits and ensure that they get regular exercise.

Physical Health Effects

People undergoing a divorce can experience a wide array of potential health problems. The University of Arizona study analyzed over a hundred people several months after their divorce. The study found that sleep disruptions in the time immediately following the divorce were normal, but if they persisted, the disruptions correlated with high blood pressure. This means that divorcees who still experience sleep issues several months after the divorce may want to consult a physician.

Other experts have pointed out other potential health problems that may arise as a result of a divorce. For instance, stress takes a toll on a person’s immune system. This means that in the wake of a stressful event like a divorce, people may be more prone to infections like the common cold or the flu. Divorce can also have an impact on people over the longer term, increasing a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, and mobility issues.

What Causes This

Physicians and sociologists point to two causes of this decline in health among divorcing spouses. First, divorces, especially those handled poorly, are stressful processes. The body’s natural response to stress involves the release of hormones that alter the body’s functions. This stress response evolved to respond to short term threats like natural predators. Long bouts of sustained stress can produce unfortunate natural reactions, and lead to these sorts of detrimental health effects.

The other possible cause of these unfortunate health issues is depression that may come along with the divorce. This can lead to issues with sleep, and it may also result in fatigue or lethargy. The depression can result in people changing their eating or exercise habits, and generally not taking care of themselves as well as they did during the marriage. Consequently, it is important for people going through a divorce to ensure that they keep caring for their physical well-being.

Going through a divorce can be a very stressful experience. However, having someone on your side can help to reduce that stress. If you are considering filing for divorce, consult an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney today. Our skilled team of professionals can answer your questions and guide you through the process, reducing the stress and difficulty of divorce.

New Bill Punishes Revenge Porn Cyberbullying

August 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am

cyberbullying, DuPage County divorce attorney, getting back at exes, posting private material, revenge porn, getting revengeIllinois is in the middle of passing a new law that would criminalize a recent Internet trend. Senate Bill 2694 punishes people for “posting private material,” which in this case means the posting of sexually explicit photos or videos online without the person’s consent. The goal of this bill is to halt the use of “revenge porn,” a cyberbullying tactic where people post private pictures of their exes after a divorce or breakup as a means of getting revenge. If the bill passes into law, Illinois would join many other states, including California, Wisconsin, and Utah, in legislating against these sorts of invasions of privacy following the end of a relationship.

SB 2694

SB 2694 makes it a class four felony to post sexually explicit photographs, videos, or digital images of a person online without their consent. This means that such a posting could come with steep penalties of up to a $25,000 fine, along with a three-year prison sentence. However, those are the maximums allowed by law. The judge has the discretion to order lower sentences depending on the circumstances of the offense. The bill also creates a crime for the operators of websites that host these sorts of images. Specifically, it is now a crime to charge a fee for the removal of any offending picture.

The bill has already managed to pass the Illinois state senate, moving forward on a 52-0 vote in its favor. The bill was then sent to the state House of Representatives, who passed a similar bill. The two houses are currently working on reconciling the differences between them.

First Amendment Concerns

Certain groups, such as the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, oppose the bill on the grounds that it infringes upon people’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression. They argue that the government’s forbidding people from posting certain images on the Internet improperly limits people’s ability to express themselves, which the government does not have the power to do. The bill’s sponsors argue that this is not the sort of speech that the First Amendment protects. That is because the First Amendment’s protection of speech is not absolute, as certain categories receive less protection and certain categories receive none at all. One of the latter categories is “obscene material.” The bill’s sponsors believe that revenge porn qualifies as obscene material and as such falls outside the bounds of the First Amendment’s protection, though as of yet no court has actually ruled on the issue.

If you are currently going through the end of a marriage and want to dissolve it through the proper legal channels, reach out to a DuPage County divorce attorney today. Our firm’s skilled professionals will make sure that you and your interests are fairly represented throughout the entire divorce process.

Wives’ Education and How it Impacts Divorce Rates

August 16th, 2014 at 10:08 am

divorce rates, divorce trends, DuPage County divorce lawyer, marriage trends, non-traditional marriages, educated wife, divorce and educationThe gender gap in education has been reversed. In recent years, women have outpaced men in earning college degrees and in graduate school enrollment. Some sociologists have noted this could be a potential problem for marriages in the future since old data showed marriages in which the wife’s education surpassed the husband’s were more prone to end in a divorce.

However, a new study being published in the American Sociological Review reveals that those concerns may be overblown. The study, performed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Northwestern University, examined marital success rates over the last 50 years and correlated them to the education levels of the spouses.

What the Study Found 

Through this analysis, the study’s authors found that the trend in relative educational levels has reversed from 1950 to 2004. In the 1950s it was more common to see marriages where the husband had a higher level of education than the wife. By the mid-1970s, the numbers were almost equal, and by the year 2000, 30 percent of marriages involved more educated wives, while only 20 percent involved more educated husbands. Interestingly, marriages with differing educational levels only accounted for half of all the marriages. This is because over the entire timeline of the study, a steady 50 percent of marriages have involved husbands and wives with equal levels of education.

The research done on correlating these different categories of marriages to divorce rates shows that the 30 percent of marriages involving more educated wives are no more likely to end in divorce than those of the general population. In fact, the research shows that such marriages may be better off than those with more educated husbands, though the data, according to the study’s authors, is not clear on that point.

Potential Explanations

The authors offer a variety of explanations for this change in divorce rates. First, the increase in divorce with more educated wives that used to be seen may actually have been a proxy for non-traditional marriages in general. This means that a more educated wife might have been because of a marriage across age groups or as a result of some other factor that could place strain on the marriage. Now that the gender gap in education has reversed, a more educated wife is no longer sign of a non-traditional marriage. Alternatively, if there was something inherent in the wives’ extra education, it is possible that the increasing normality of more educated wives has removed any sociological implications for the marital education gap.

If you are currently considering seeking a divorce, reach out to a skilled DuPage County divorce lawyer today. Our experienced team of professionals can help guide you through the process and ensure that your questions are answered.

Returning to College after Divorce

August 12th, 2014 at 9:52 am

divorce trends, DuPage County divorce lawyer, life after divorce, returning to college, returning to college after divorceOne decision several people make after getting a divorce is returning to college. This can be a beneficial way to get a fresh start in life. It can also be a good step to entering or reentering the workforce for spouses who opted to stay home and care for the children rather than working outside the home.

Returning to college after taking some time off has both benefits and challenges associated with it for the non-traditional student. Going to college is always a big decision, but that is especially true for those returning to college, so recently divorced potential students should consider their options carefully.

Benefits of Returning to College

Returning to college may seem like an intimidating task after spending time away from school. However, non-traditional students, meaning those over age 25, have a variety of factors going for them that both make returning to college easier and may make it a good idea. For instance, returning students have a different perspective than students coming right out of high school. Colleges and their professors value these diverse viewpoints and the extra dimensions that they can lend to the class. Returning students are also used to working, which means they have experience balancing their time and managing the mundane details of their lives.

Additionally, a college degree can represent increased earning power. The statistics related to the added salary that come from a college degree vary widely, and much depends on the school and degree that a student chooses. Yet, the increased employment and salary potential over a high school diploma is undeniable.

Challenges of Returning to College

Non-traditional students also face unique challenges going back to school. Apart from the pervasive issue of the cost of tuition that all students face, non-traditional students often have other financial commitments that make returning to college even more difficult. Non-traditional students may have children that require their support, or jobs they are holding down while they study. In addition to the added financial cost, this can place a strain on the schedules of older students.

Fortunately, with the rise of non-traditional students in recent times, colleges are better at accommodating these issues. In fact, according to Department of Education statistics, over one-third of students are now over the age of 25. Consequently, many colleges offer night and part-time options for returning students who have other commitments. Community colleges are especially good at this, and the credits may also be transferable for students who try out community college and decide they would like to pursue a four-year degree.

With that said, if you are just considering filing for divorce and have questions about the practical side of the process, contact a DuPage County divorce lawyer today. Our experienced team is on hand to answer your questions and help you make the right decisions.

How Siblings Affect Custody

August 9th, 2014 at 8:58 am

DuPage County divorce attorney, siblings affect custody, siblings and custody, keep siblings together, types of custody, sibling relationshipsIn divorces that involve children, the parents’ paramount questions are often related to custody and include concerns such as how custody is determined or the various types of custody. One common issue that arises when determining the answers to these concerns involves how siblings affect the custody process in general. Siblings’ relationships with each other can often be very close, and the existence of these additional close relationships may complicate the custody process.

Generally, there are two major concerns related to siblings and custody. These include whether the court will keep the siblings together and whether siblings are allowed visitation rights to the other siblings. Unfortunately, neither question has a concrete answer. Family law is a discipline with many unique scenarios. However, there are legal guidelines within which courts will work.

Keeping Siblings Together 

Many parents of siblings are often concerned about whether the court will break the siblings up during the custody decision, sending some to live with the mother and others to live with the father. To understand whether courts will do this, it is important to understand how child custody decisions are made. The law requires judges to look to the best interests of the child as the overarching guideline for making a custody decision. The law does include several factors, but it is largely a question of judicial discretion. However, one of the factors is how the custody decision will affect sibling relationships. Additionally, there have been cases where higher level courts have instructed judges to attempt to keep siblings together.

In the end, this means that courts tend to view keeping siblings together as a default position. They will try to preserve sibling relationships and former lifestyles to the extent that it is possible. But if other issues arise, such as one child needing special care or needing to live in a certain location, it is possible that judges will split siblings up.

Sibling Visitation Rights

Another issue that arises most frequently in cases of adult siblings is that of visitation rights. Many adult siblings want to maintain contact with their younger brothers and sisters, but one parent or the other will object. In these circumstances, Illinois law allows siblings to apply for visitation rights in much the same way that parents do, provided that several conditions are met. First, this law applies in the case of siblings whose parents are divorced. Second, at least one parent must consent to the sibling’s being allowed visitation rights. Third, the sibling’s visitation must not diminish the visitation rights of any parent to whom they are not related.

If you are thinking about filing for divorce and have questions about child custody or other aspects of the process, seek out an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney today. Our skilled lawyers can answer your questions and help you move forward with the divorce process.

New Study Finds Possible Explanation for Gender Imbalance in Divorce

August 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am

gender imbalance in divorce, children of divorce, divorce trends, DuPage County family law attorney, gender, gender gap, gender imbalance, firstborn daughtersA past post on this blog highlighted the disparate impact that divorce has on girls because marriages with firstborn daughters tend to end more frequently than marriages with firstborn sons. That post highlighted a study that posed a variety of sociological explanations for that gender gap, such as fathers feeling more obliged to provide a male role model for sons or parents’ inaccurate perceptions that girls are more costly to raise increasing stress within the marriage.

Now, a new study has discovered a possible biological explanation for the gender imbalance in divorce. This explanation is known as the female survival advantage. The female survival advantage is a term for the generally-observed fact that women appear to be more physically resilient and more likely to survive than men. This trait carries over throughout all stages of life. In fact, men have documented higher mortality rates for all ages from zero to 100.

What the Study Found

The idea of a female survival advantage prompted researchers to examine whether such an advantage extended further back in the life of a person. To that end, the study’s authors examined a variety of demographic data taken between 1979 and 2010. Using this data, they determined that pregnant women who were under high amounts of stress during their pregnancies were more likely to give birth to girls. In some cases, the odds of having a boy dropped by as much as 7 percent based purely on the stress that the members of the relationship were reporting.

The researchers who authored the study posited that this correlation may imply causation. Pregnancies that take place during stressful times in the mother’s life are not healthy for the children, and in some cases they can even lead to miscarriages. However, the study provides evidence that the female survival advantage may apply to embryos as well. This would make them more likely to survive a stressful pregnancy.

How this Impacts Divorce

The fact that girls are more likely to survive a stressful pregnancy may affect the current perceptions about female children “causing” divorce. If marriages that are already under stress are more likely to produce female children, then that could tilt the data about whether female children are actually overrepresented in divorced families, as well as about whether the female children are somehow responsible for that stress. The study’s authors were also quick to point out that this new research does not necessarily disprove any of the potential sociological motivations that might be responsible for the gender gap in children of divorce. Instead, this merely provides a clearer picture for sociologists to analyze to see if there actually is a gender gap.

Our Attorneys Can Help You through a Divorce

If you are considering filing for divorce, contact a DuPage County family law attorney today. Our team of knowledgeable professionals can help answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process.

New Spousal Support Guidelines Await Governor’s Signature

July 30th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

DuPage County divorce attorney, pay support, spousal support, spousal support guidelines, Wheaton divorce attorneyOne of the key portions of any divorce proceeding is the determination of spousal support, also referred to as alimony. This is the money that one former spouse pays to the other to support them as they transition back to their single life.

The current system of calculating spousal support is based on a wide array of factors, including things like both spouses’ incomes and property, the spouses’ needs and earning capacities, the standard of living that occurred during the marriage, and the duration of the marriage. This has led to spousal support amounts being somewhat unpredictable at times.

Now, a new bill that is currently awaiting the governor’s signature plans to reform that. The bill will not remove those factors from play entirely, but it will provide more concrete guidelines for judges to follow. The bill adds a new method of calculating support terms and the amount of time that the supporting spouse will be required to pay support, which will now be based on the length of the marriage. Additionally, the bill provides more strict mathematical formulas for calculating the amount of spousal support that a person will owe.

New Support Terms

The first set of guidelines that the law creates are a set of support terms. These are suggested periods for which supporting spouses must pay alimony, based on the length of the marriage. The new law applies a simple mathematical formula to calculate the support term. The judge multiplies the length of the marriage by a specific factor that changes based on the length of the marriage, as shown in the table below.

Marriage Length

Support Factor

0–5 Years

0.20

5–10 Years

0.40

10–15 Years

0.60

15–20 Years

0.80

20 or more Years

1.0

This means that a couple who has been married for four years would have a support term of 0.8 years because the support term would be four years times the support factor of 0.20. Additionally, the law also allows judges to order permanent support for marriages that lasted more than 20 years.

Support Calculations

The law also creates a new mathematical guideline for the amount of support owed, though the judge may deviate from this amount for a specific reason. The law requires judges to calculate support by taking 30 percent of the supporting spouse’s gross income and subtracting 20 percent of the supported spouse’s gross income from it. Thus, if the supporting spouse made $100,000 every year, and the supported spouse made $50,000 every year, the support obligation would be $30,000–$10,000=$20,000. However, there are two exceptions to this: this only applies to couples making less than $250,000 collectively, and the support may not exceed 40 percent of the combined income.

The legal landscape of the divorce process is constantly shifting. To get the most up-to-date advice for your specific situation, reach out to an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney. Our skilled team can help tailor a divorce strategy to your unique needs.

Illinois Marriage Law, Same-Sex Marriage, & Out-of-State Residents

July 24th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

DuPage County family law attorney, out-of-state residents, same-sex marriage, marriage law, Illinois marriage law, recognize same-sex marriageOn November 20, 2013, the Governor of Illinois signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois, and that law went into effect on June 1, 2014. This new right to same-sex marriage has attracted many people from out of state seeking to get married in Illinois because their home states do not yet recognize same-sex marriage.

However, an old Illinois law, Section 217 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, may prevent the marriages from being legitimate. The law voids marriages in Illinois if they take place between people who live in a state that would not, itself, recognize their marriage. This means that a marriage between a same-sex couple, whose home state did not allow same-sex marriage, would be void.

What the Statute Says

This section of the law, which was enacted in the late 1970s, voids any marriage entered into by a party who lives in another state and intends to keep living in that other state, if the marriage would not be legal in the person’s home state. Essentially, the statute applies the marriage law of a person’s home state to any marriage happening in Illinois. The statute was initially enacted to account for issues related to marriages by underaged parties. People would cross the border into Illinois to get married because Illinois would allow it earlier than some other states.

How This Affects Same Sex Marriage

This issue affects same-sex marriages because of the current schism between states that recognize same-sex marriage and those who do not. Thus far, the federal government has stayed away from introducing a uniform rule about same-sex marriage across the entire country. This means that each state is free to choose for itself whether or not to recognize these sorts of marriages. This can cause problems for couples traveling to Illinois to be married because their home state may not recognize the marriage. For instance, in 2004, Missouri voters amended their state constitution by popular referendum, making the recognition of same-sex marriages unconstitutional. That means that if a couple from Missouri crossed into Illinois for the purpose of getting married, the marriage would be void under Illinois law, unless the couple intended to move to Illinois on a permanent basis.

Illinois lawmakers were aware of the trouble that this section of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act could cause for couples coming in from other states. At present, some representatives have plans to adjust Section 217, but the Illinois legislature is currently in recess, so those plans will have to wait until the house and senate are back in session.

Family law can be a difficult patchwork of conflicting statutes. Consequently, it is important to find an experienced DuPage County family law attorney who understands the full field of the law to ensure the smoothest possible experience.