IL divorce lawyerContested child custody cases can be difficult for parents and children alike. Things like having a guardian ad litem come in and interview your children or having a judge evaluate how involved in your child’s life you are can be immensely stressful. However, some of the difficult processes your family will go through are essential to helping the court make the best decisions. Remember that every decision the judge makes must be based on what is in the best interests of the child in question. While the judge strives to determine what type of parenting time calendar and allocation of parental responsibilities would be best for your child, there are steps you as a parent can take to protect your child’s well-being during the process. It is important to follow your Illinois family law attorney’s advice and keep them advised of your co-parenting strategy during an active custody dispute. 

Preparing Children Without Coaching

A common issue in contested child custody cases is coaching. “Coaching” refers to a parent teaching their child what to say to the judge and guardian ad litem. An unscrupulous parent might train their young children to say ugly things about the other parent or to complain of abuse that never happened. It is normally quite apparent to the trained eye of a GAL when a child is only repeating what they were told to say. 

Preparing your child for these conversations is different. You can talk with your child about the questions they might be asked without suggesting a response. It can also help to explain the roles of your lawyers, the GAL, and the judge so the child feels that they understand what is happening. 


How Do I Know if My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?

Posted on in Division of Assets

IL divorce lawyerIllinois divorce attorneys have a number of ways of finding hidden marital assets. This is because it is fairly common for one spouse to try to conceal funds from the other in the hopes of not having to share. Illinois law clearly states that nearly all property a married couple obtains during the marriage is marital property, regardless of whose income was involved. Placing money or property in a separate account is not enough to make it not marital property. If you suspect that your spouse is keeping assets hidden from you, it is important to tell your divorce lawyer immediately so that they can begin conducting a search. Your divorce may be paused while your lawyer works to uncover secret assets using strategies like hiring a forensic accountant or using internet-based investment tracking resources. 

Look for Missing Money

One of the simplest ways to determine whether your spouse might be hiding money is to try to account for your marriage’s finances. Does the amount of income equal the amount of expenditures plus the amount of money saved? If not, your spouse is likely either hiding money or using money for a purpose you would not approve of. 

Also, look for suspicious cash withdrawals from the bank or transfers out of investment accounts. If your spouse suddenly starts taking cash out or selling stocks without saying anything and does not have a verifiable explanation for why, suspicion would be warranted. 


When Can I Stop Paying Spousal Support?

Posted on in spousal maintenance

IL divorce lawyerVery few people are pleased about being ordered to keep financially supporting the person they just divorced. The good news is that in most cases, spousal support does not last forever. Unless you and your spouse are senior citizens who have been married for 20+ years, the chances that you will be able to stop paying spousal support eventually are very high. Generally, Illinois courts do not like the idea of alimony. It is often seen as an outdated concept, a relic from a time when one spouse worked and the other was a homemaker in nearly every marriage. Spousal support is only ordered in cases where the court, having considered all the relevant factors, deems it fair to both parties. There are several reasons that spousal support payments may terminate in Illinois. An Illinois divorce attorney can assess your case and help determine when you might be able to stop supporting your former spouse. 

Ways to Terminate Spousal Support in DuPage County

Most spousal support orders are not meant to be permanent. If you are currently paying alimony, you may be able to have your obligations terminated if: 

  • Your circumstances change - If your income changes and you can no longer afford to make alimony payments, the court will likely grant a modification to stop spousal support. The same may be true if you begin to suffer physical or mental health issues that impair your earning ability or demand significant funds to treat. 
  • Your ex-re-partners - If your former spouse begins cohabiting with a new romantic partner or remarries, you are likely no longer obligated to support them. 
  • Temporary support ends - Spousal support orders are often temporary in the first place. This is common when the spouse receiving alimony is expected to be able to re-enter the workforce and support themself. Alimony may last only long enough to allow the receiver to get some job training in preparation. 
  • Your ex’s circumstances change - If your ex does in fact successfully begin working again and simply does not need support from you anymore, the court will usually cancel alimony payments. 

These are only a few of the reasons a court might grant a motion to terminate spousal support. If you feel that continuing to make alimony payments would be inequitable, an attorney can help you determine whether you might be able to stop. 


Can I Modify My Final Divorce Decree?

Posted on in Divorce Procedure

IL divorce lawyerIf you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances since your divorce decree was issued, you might be able to have your divorce decree modified. Illinois law recognizes that the terms of a divorce decree can become impractical or impossible to follow when one party has gone through a significant life change. A simple example is that a divorced person who has lost their job might no longer have the ability to pay spousal support. In this example, the court would likely be willing to modify the divorce decree to cancel spousal support payments.  Parenting plans established during a divorce may also be altered if a significant change suggests that a modification is in the child’s best interest, such as if the child or a parent becomes disabled. If you feel that your divorce decree is no longer working because your circumstances have changed, you should contact an attorney to discuss pursuing a modification. 

What is a Substantial Change in Circumstances? 

What constitutes a substantial change in circumstances is left vague in Illinois’ post-decree modification statute. This is likely intentional. The legislature likely knew that it could not anticipate all types of changes in circumstances that could reasonably impact the workability of a divorce decree after it had been finalized. That said, there are a few common types of changes in circumstances that the courts will usually grant a modification to a divorce decree or a parenting plan, including:

  • Job changes -  Child support and spousal support are generally based on the payor’s income. If the payor’s income changes, their support obligations might also change. 
  • Health issues - If either party or one of the children starts experiencing serious medical or mental health issues, a change in the terms of the decree or parenting plan might be warranted. 
  • Relocation by a parent - A parent who moves a significant distance will likely need a modification. 

Although these are far from the only circumstances that could prompt the court to grant a modification, they are among the most common. 


Tips for Smooth Child Custody Handoffs

Posted on in Child Custody

IL family lawyerCustody exchanges are often the only time spouses who are getting divorced or who have already divorced will see each other outside of a courtroom or mediation center. Courts and mediation centers can lead the conversation so both parties stay focused on resolving their divorce or child custody case. During custody handoffs, there is usually not anyone present to be “in charge” of the situation. The parents must cooperate to keep custody handoffs smooth and civil on their own. This can be difficult, especially for those going through a high-conflict divorce. Your attorney can help you come up with an individualized plan to help your custody exchanges go well. 

Ways to Keep Custody Exchanges Friendly

One of the things that often goes wrong during custody exchanges is that the parents begin to argue. This can be upsetting for both adults, but also for the children involved. Some ways to prevent conflict during custody exchanges include: 

  • Make agreements - If you know what topics or actions are likely to provoke a fight, agree beforehand to avoid those triggers. Your attorney can help you determine what other agreements might be necessary. 
  • Be there, and be there on time - One of the biggest mistakes parents make is failing to show up for a scheduled custody exchange, or arriving significantly late. It is okay if you are delayed a few minutes once or twice, but it is important to respect the parenting time plan. 
  • Focus on the children - Custody exchanges are a good time for parents to catch each other up on what the children have been doing. Parents can go over their child’s upcoming schedule for extracurriculars or share a fun activity they did. Keeping the conversation focused on the child means that the parents are less likely to start arguing. 

Are Custody Exchanges Avoidable?

In certain situations, custody exchanges are not safe for one parent, or unsupervised visitation is not safe for the child. Courts sometimes use what is called “supervised visitation.” This means that the parent needing supervision can only see the child either in a designated visitation center or sometimes while a qualified adult is present. When supervised visitation is used, the parents will generally not need to come face to face. 


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