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Wheaton family law attorneyMarriage is a dream for many people, but for others, it is something that is not necessary. While some people need a ceremony to show their love in front of friends and relatives, others prefer to simply live together and act as a married couple without undergoing the legal process. When a couple wishes to live together but not get married, it is sometimes known as a common-law marriage. While it does work for many couples, any couple that enters into this type of relationship must understand what their rights are, and how to protect them.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

Not every couple that lives together is considered to be in a common-law marriage. In most cases, people that want to be considered common law must:

  • Cohabitate for a certain period of time

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Wheaton IL family law attorneyAlimony, formally known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, is sometimes ordered by a judge when two people get divorced. Spousal maintenance refers to payments one spouse will make to another, and it can be one of the most contentious issues in divorce cases. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood. If you are going through a divorce and want to seek spousal maintenance, or defend against claims for it, it is important to understand the truth behind some of the myths surrounding it.

Myth: Spousal Maintenance is Permanent

Spousal maintenance is meant to help one party get back on their feet after a divorce, and as such, it is usually ordered for a fixed time period rather than indefinitely. Maintenance can also end when the recipient remarries or starts living with a new partner, or after a petition for modification once the recipient is able to support themself. In some cases, spousal maintenance may be awarded only temporarily during the divorce proceedings, and payments will stop once the case is final.

Myth: Spousal Maintenance Orders are Final

It is true that spousal maintenance orders are legally binding. However, that does not mean the terms are always set in stone. When a spouse experiences a significant change in circumstances, one of the parties can petition the court to modify the original order. For example, if the individual paying maintenance loses their job and can no longer afford to make these payments, they can ask the court to modify the order to reflect that change.

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DuPage County family law attorneyThe divorce process is often a long and difficult one for the people going through it. It is no wonder, then, that once it is over, the parties involved feel relieved knowing their divorce decree is final. However, while the orders included in a divorce decree are legally binding, that does not mean they cannot be changed in the future. 

The courts do not take post-decree modifications lightly, but it is possible to obtain one when a person’s situation changes significantly. If you have gotten a divorce and now wish to modify one or more of the orders, below are some of the most important things you should know about these modifications.

Three Terms that Require Modification

In most cases, there are three issues that may require post-divorce modifications. These are:

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DuPage County divorce mediation attorneyWhen a couple is pursuing a divorce, two sets of lawyers are often used to address the legal issues that must be resolved. Each lawyer will represent their client’s best interests when negotiating a divorce settlement or resolving issues in court. Divorces can be lengthy and expensive, but if a couple can work together to resolve their outstanding legal issues, the process can be made easier and simpler. In these cases, divorcing spouses may want to consider divorce mediation.

What Is Mediation?

During mediation, a third-party mediator works together with the spouses to resolve legal disputes. In regards to divorce, a mediator can help couples end their marriage on their own terms. Couples will discuss the various aspects of their divorce with the mediator present, working to reach a decision regarding issues such as property divisionparenting considerations, and spousal maintenance. If they are able to reach an agreement, their divorce settlement will be sent to the court for final approval.

The mediator does not make decisions for the couple, but instead acts as a facilitator, guiding the conversation and helping them to understand the issues that must be resolved, and working to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Here are a few reasons couples may choose mediation over traditional litigation:

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Wheaton IL divorce attorneyBefore a divorce, it is a good idea to review and completely understand the entire divorce process, including the ways in which law enforcement could help to protect you should any rules, guidelines, or orders associated with the divorce decree eventually be violated. If that were the case, here are some ways law enforcement, with the help of your lawyer, can assist you to ensure a smooth divorce transition.

3 Ways the Sheriff’s Office or the Police Might Assist with Family Law

  1. Serving the Petition for Divorce—While it is true that your divorce lawyer will do all the preparation for your divorce petition if you are the one filing the petition, someone must deliver it to the other spouse. This cannot be done by just any person; oftentimes, it must be someone who is court-appointed. In many cases, this can be the sheriff from the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office Civil Division.

  2. Serving a Post-Divorce Modification Petition—Whether the other divorced spouse is not keeping up their end of the bargain with regards to certain elements of the divorce decree or you both have agreed that circumstances have changed, such as your finances or something else, you will need to petition the court with your concerns. Depending on what the judge finds when reviewing your lawyer’s prepared petition, they might direct the sheriff’s office to serve a post-divorce modification petition to the other spouse explaining the situation and the next steps.

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