Wheaton IL family law attorneyChristmas is just a few days away, and a week after that, 2020 will be over. This year’s holiday celebrations are likely to be different than most of us have ever experienced, as many families will only be able to get together through telephone calls or video chats. For parents who are subject to shared parenting arrangements, the holidays can be difficult enough already. Add in this year’s unique challenges, and things have the potential to be even tougher. As you look toward the approaching holidays, it is important to work with your co-parent, if possible, to help your children have the best experience you can offer them.

Communication and Compromise

If you normally share parenting time for the holidays, you and your child’s other parent should do what you can to be patient and kind to one another. Family celebrations—including video calls—may run long, and if families are getting together in person, the weather in Northern Illinois is often unpredictable. It is a good idea to plan your days out in advance, including which of you will be picking up and dropping off if there will be travel between homes, but be courteous and gracious to the other parent if things do not go exactly according to plan.

Be an Example for Your Children

It is not uncommon for family holiday celebrations to include wine, beer, and festive alcoholic beverages. For some individuals and families, however, overindulgence can be a real problem. If you plan to celebrate the holiday with your children this year, be sure to put their needs ahead of your own. Demonstrate to your children that you can celebrate with alcohol in moderation, even in the midst of one of the most difficult years most of us can remember. If you choose to drink, do not drive. Set a positive example for your children—one that you would be happy to see them follow as they become adults.

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DuPage County property division attorneyThe distribution of assets is an important element in most Illinois divorce cases, and it can often lead to misunderstandings and arguments between the spouses. Items with sentimental value may cause even more disagreements than higher-value assets such as the marital home or vehicles, as both spouses might have an emotional attachment, making them less agreeable to parting with a particular piece of property. If you are interested in keeping a family heirloom, a specific work of art, or any other item with sentimental value, there are some ways you might be able to do so.

Is the Item a Marital Asset?

Whether or not a sentimental item is considered marital property depends on several factors. The two most important factors are when and how the item was acquired. Under Illinois law, an asset is generally considered marital property if it was acquired by either spouse during the marriage. If the item in question was yours before you got married, you typically have the right to keep it following your divorce.

It also matters how the item was acquired. Property acquired during the marriage can be considered non-marital if it was received as an inheritance specifically to one spouse. This means that if you inherited an heirloom from a family member, it is likely to be considered yours and not subject to being divided in the divorce process. The same is true of a gift if it is made to just one spouse.  

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Wheaton IL child custody lawyerIf you have recently gone through a breakup or divorce, it is natural that you would want to move on to a new relationship. However, when you and your ex have children together and a child custody case pending, the other parent and the court may have a right to know more about the people you are spending time with, especially if that time is spent around your child.

How a Court Makes Custody Decisions

When a judge in Illinois is making a decision about parental responsibilities and parenting time, the judge must consider what is in the best interest of a child. Some of the factors a judge will consider include: 

  • What arrangement provides the child with the most stability?

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DuPage County parenting agreement lawyerThe issue of child custody—officially known as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois law—is often among the most difficult concerns to resolve in a divorce. Parents who have spent years raising their children together may suddenly be arguing over the role that each of them will play in the lives of their children. A dispute over parental responsibilities can quickly become a very stressful and emotional situation for both the parents and the children. In some cases, extended family members are affected as well.

Every case is unique, and parents facing such a dispute should not make any assumptions about the level of responsibility that they will be granted. Instead, they should keep in mind a few important factors that may influence the outcome.

The Importance of Both Fathers and Mothers

In the past, mothers were often the primary caretakers of the children in a marriage, and were therefore commonly awarded primary or full custody of the children in a divorce. Today, things are largely very different. Evolving social norms and the realities of life have led to an increase in families in which both parents work, and more fathers play a prominent role in the day-to-day lives of their children. Such changes are being reflected in court decisions as well, as family court judges tend to lean toward shared parenting arrangements whenever possible.

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Wheaton spousal maintenance attorneyThose who are facing a divorce generally have many questions about both the process and what the future will look like after the divorce is finalized. One of the more common concerns is whether alimony is going to be a part of the divorce decree. In many situations, alimony—known as “maintenance” in Illinois—becomes a point of contention between the spouses. If a divorce is looking to be increasingly likely for you and your spouse, it is important to understand some basic things about spousal support in Illinois and when such support is awarded.

How Is Spousal Maintenance Used?

Spousal maintenance is intended to reduce the negative effects of a divorce on the lower-earning or otherwise financially disadvantaged party. Several decades ago, spousal support was a fairly standard part of many divorce cases. This was because most households typically relied on one spouse’s income—most often the husband—while the other partner—the wife, usually—worked significantly less or not at all. The spouse who worked less often focused on household and child-related responsibilities. When a couple in such a situation got a divorce, it was almost impossible for the spouse who earned less to support herself, particularly if she was awarded primary custody of the children. Therefore, it was common for a divorce decree to include an order for alimony to be paid by the higher-earning spouse, at least until the lower-earning spouse could support herself.

Spousal Support is Not Guaranteed

Today’s version of the typical marriage—if there is such a thing—looks much different than it did 50 years ago or even just 20 years ago. In many households, both spouses work full-time, either out of necessity or because both partners are invested in their careers. As a result, both spouses are often sufficiently equipped to support themselves in the event of a divorce. In recognition of changing social norms, Illinois law currently holds that there is no presumption that maintenance will be ordered in any divorce case. Instead, the court may order such support if the judge finds that maintenance is appropriate and there is no agreement in place between the spouses on the issue.

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