What Happens to Pets in an Illinois Divorce?

Wheaton divorce attorney for pet custodyFor couples who have decided to get a divorce, one issue that may catch them unprepared is how to deal with the family pet, if they have one. In some cases, a pet may be beloved by both spouses, and neither one can imagine life without it. The law, of course, provides guidelines on how to deal with issues involving children of divorcing parents, and decisions about the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time are made based on what is in children’s best interests. However, pets are often a different story.

Changes to the Laws on Pet Ownership After Divorce

While divorce has been around for a long time, new and increasingly complex issues often arise in divorce cases. As a result, legislatures must pass new laws to address or respond to these new issues. Illinois is no exception, and one area the legislature has recently addressed is pet ownership after divorce.

In the past, pets were treated as property, and therefore, their ownership was determined in the same manner as all other marital property. However, there is no rational way to split ownership of a pet based on a percentage, neither is it humane to treat a pet the same as a piece of furniture. When factoring in the emotional nature of decisions related to family pets, the need for the legislature to act on these matters becomes evident.

What Judges May Consider When Deciding Pet Ownership

According to the updated law, judges in Illinois divorce cases are now required to consider the well-being of the pet when deciding ownership. However, pets are still legally considered to be property, so the laws regarding the division of marital property will still apply in determining who gets the pet. What the law now brings into the equation is deciding which of the two spouses will give the pet better care—something that was not a factor before.

How About Joint Custody of Pets?

Joint “custody” of a pet is possible under the new Illinois law. If a couple demonstrates that they are both capable of taking care of the pet, and if they can afford to and wish to continue to share the pet, then a judge may decide that joint ownership of the pet is the best option. In these cases, the couple may create a schedule of when the pet will stay in each home, and they may wish to specify how they will divide costs related to the pet, such as vet bills.

Contact a Wheaton Marital Property Division Lawyer

If you have a pet and are determined to keep it after divorcing in Illinois, we are here to give you guidance on how to resolve this and other disputes. Find out how a knowledgeable DuPage County divorce attorney can help you achieve your objectives during your divorce by calling our office today at 630-871-1002 to arrange a free consultation.

Sources:

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000050K502.htm

 

How Can a Child Support Order Be Modified in Illinois?

DuPage County child support modification attorneyAfter you have gone through divorce and are paying or receiving child support, there may come a time when you believe the amount you pay or the child receives should be adjusted. In Illinois, this may be done through a modification review process.

When Can I Have My Child Support Order Modified?

Under Illinois family law, an order for child support is eligible for modification review every three years, or when there is a significant change in either parent’s income or in the needs of the child. In the case of a three-year review, a parent will receive a letter from the agency in charge, informing them of the right to request a review.

Who Conducts the Modification Review?

Modification reviews of child support orders in Illinois are done by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). The agency is tasked with the responsibility to make sure child support orders are consistent with applicable Illinois law and changed circumstances involving all concerned.

What Are the Requirements for Child Support Modification Review?

To qualify for a modification, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • At least three years must have passed since the date child support order was issued or since the date of the decision from the last modification review.

  • There is a substantial change in the non-custodial parent’s income.

  • There is nothing in the order that addresses the child’s healthcare coverage.

  • There is a written communication received by DCSS from the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent, or an agency in another state requesting a review.

If you have requested the modification review, both you and your ex-spouse will receive a letter from DCSS stating whether the order qualifies for modification review or not. You should expect this letter in 30 days or less from when DCSS receives your request. If the order qualifies for modification, both you and your ex-spouse will be asked to provide information to be evaluated in determining whether your request should be granted.

What Happens After a Child Support Modification Review?

DCSS will analyze the information you and your ex-spouse provide to recalculate the amount of child support your child should receive. The results of the analysis will be sent to you by mail. This notice may state that the amount of child support payments will increase, decrease, or remain unchanged. If you disagree with the decision, the law allows you various ways you can have this decision itself reviewed.

An Experienced DuPage County Child Support Lawyer Can Help

Requesting and obtaining a child support modification can be a complicated process, especially when there are other issues that cannot be resolved by DCSS. To ensure that the decisions made will meet your family’s needs while protecting your financial resources, you should work with an attorney who is experienced in family law and understands how the child support modification review process works. If you believe there are good reasons why child support ordered in your case should be modified, our knowledgeable Wheaton, IL family law attorneys are ready to help you get the modifications you need. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-871-1002 today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000050k510.htm

https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/FormsBrochures/Pages/hfs3588.aspx

 

What You Need to Know About Prenuptial Agreements in Illinois

DuPage County family law attorney for prenupsPrenuptial agreements are often associated with very wealthy individuals, and people who seek a prenup may be seen as believing that their marriage will not last. Because of this, a stigma was attached to these agreements, but this has changed over time, and prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more common.

When Is a Prenuptial Agreement Appropriate?

Nowadays, it is routine for marrying couples to discuss, agree to, and sign a prenuptial agreement before they exchange marriage vows and seal their marriage. A prenuptial agreement may be appropriate in a variety of situations, including:

  • One spouse has significantly more assets than the other spouse. In this case, it behooves the spouse with significantly more assets to have a prenuptial agreement in place to protect against the incidental or deliberate inclusion of their assets as marital property in a potential divorce. Ordinarily, assets obtained before a couple’s marriage are considered non-marital property and therefore not subject to division or sharing after divorce.

  • One spouse has children from a previous marriage. It would be prudent for the spouse with children from a previous relationship to ensure assets they owned prior to the marriage are preserved for those children in the event the second or subsequent marriage does not last.

  • Either or both spouses wish to preserve their sanity and civility in the event of divorce. The disputes involved in the end of a marriage can become expensive and litigious, especially in high asset and complex divorce cases. One way to minimize these expenses and keep things simple is to have a prenuptial agreement. This can allow a couple to resolve issues ahead of time and avoid the need for litigation in court, saving both parties time and money. This can also provide a couple with peace of mind that they can amicably address these financial and economic issues in a potential divorce.

Is a Prenuptial Agreement Enforceable in Illinois?

Generally, yes, so long as the agreement is signed by both parties. The only exception would be terms related to child support, parenting time, and parental responsibilities. In those situations, the judge will decide the issues based on what is in the best interests of the child, not the parents.

A prenuptial agreement, however, cannot be enforced in Illinois if it is determined that the agreement was obtained by fraud or duress, or if it is unconscionable. Fraud is established if one spouse lied or concealed his or her assets at the time the prenuptial agreement is signed. Duress is established if it is shown that one of the spouses was induced by a wrongful act of the other to sign the prenuptial agreement. Such wrongful act can be found to be something as subtle as the other spouse not having the opportunity to consult with an attorney prior to signing the agreement. Unconscionability is established when the prenuptial agreement is oppressively and unreasonably one-sided.

Contact a DuPage County Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer

It can be difficult for a person to ensure that a prenup is legal and valid without the assistance of an attorney who understands the relevant Illinois laws. If you are planning to create a prenuptial agreement before getting married, our knowledgeable Wheaton, IL family law attorneys are ready to give you legal advice and help you create an agreement that follows Illinois laws and provides you with the protection you need. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-871-1002 today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2087&ChapterID=59