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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyGoing through a divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved. Divorcing parents often worry about their children's well-being, and they will want to ensure that children can continue to have a healthy and happy upbringing. One of the most important aspects of divorce and child custody cases involves creating a parenting plan that outlines how parents will work together to raise their children in the future. Not only is having a parenting plan required by Illinois law, but a well-crafted plan will help ensure that both parents can remain actively involved in their children’s lives.

What Role Will a Parenting Plan Play in a Divorce or Child Custody Case?

A parenting plan, also known as a parenting agreement, is a document that addresses issues related to child custody and provides details about how parents will work together to raise their children after their divorce. This document includes important details such as the parenting time schedule, the parents' rights and obligations regarding decision-making for children, and any other important matters related to the children’s upbringing. The parenting plan will serve as a court order that will go into effect once the divorce or child custody case is finalized. Both parents will be legally required to follow the terms of the plan going forward.

Who Creates the Parenting Plan?

During the divorce process, parents may work together to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of their children. If they are able to have productive discussions, they may sit down together to work out the details of their plan, or they may negotiate terms with the assistance of their attorneys. Parents may also use mediation to resolve any disagreements and make decisions about the terms of their parenting plan.


DuPage County Divorce LawyerGoing through a divorce can be difficult, regardless of your circumstances or the complexity of the issues you will need to address at the end of your marriage. If you own a business, you may be worried about what will happen to it during your divorce. You may have built the business from the ground up during your marriage, or it may have been in existence before you got married. In either case, there are several important factors to take into account if you plan to keep ownership of the business after your divorce.

Factors to Consider When Dividing Marital Property

As you look at how ownership of your business will be handled going forward, the first thing to look at is whether your business was acquired during the course of your marriage. If so, then it will typically be considered marital property—meaning that it will be subject to division between you and your spouse during your divorce. Even if you owned your business before getting married, you may need to look at whether it increased in value during your marriage and whether your spouse contributed to this increase. If so, then your spouse may have an ownership claim over a portion of the business.

You may also need to consider a prenuptial agreement made between you and your spouse before getting married, which may have stated that you will continue to be the sole owner of your business in the event of divorce. If your business was founded or acquired during your marriage, a postnuptial agreement may have been created to detail how ownership of your business will be handled if the marriage dissolves. If you have an agreement in place, this may simplify the property division process and ensure that you and your spouse are clear about who will own the business.


DuPage County Parentage AttorneyIf you are a parent who is involved in a family law matter in Illinois, you may need to address issues related to legal parentage. While this will not be a factor in every divorce or child custody case, there are certain situations where paternity may need to be established in order to protect a father's rights or ensure that children can receive financial support or other benefits. By understanding the laws related to paternity in Illinois, parents can make sure they take the correct steps to provide for their children's best interests.

What Is Paternity?

Paternity is the legal recognition of a child's biological father. When paternity is established, the father will be named as the legal parent of the child, giving him the right to request to share custody of the child and the obligation to provide financial support to ensure the child's ongoing needs are met. In Illinois, paternity is referred to as "parentage," and these cases may affect the relationships between a child and both parents, including mothers, fathers, and LGBTQ parents.

When Does Paternity Need to Be Established?

In some cases, a father may be automatically recognized as the legal parent of his child without the need to take any additional steps to establish paternity. A presumption of paternity will exist in cases where a mother is married at the time of the child's birth, and her spouse (including a same-sex spouse) will be recognized as the child's legal parent and listed on the child's birth certificate. If the mother was previously married, and the marriage ended no more than 300 days before a child was born, the mother's ex-spouse will be presumed to be the parent of the child. In other situations, or in cases where someone other than the mother's spouse or ex-spouse is the child's biological father, paternity will need to be established.


DuPage County Divorce LawyerMoney is often cited as one of the main reasons couples encounter relationship problems. When one spouse feels like they are shouldering more of the financial burden than the other, or when spouses disagree about spending, this can lead to serious conflict. Unfortunately, money is also often at the root of infidelity in marriage. Whether it involves hidden bank accounts, undisclosed debt, or secret spending habits, financial infidelity can have a devastating impact on a relationship. When these issues come to light during a divorce, it is important to understand how they may affect issues such as property division. By understanding how to address concerns related to hidden assets, asset dissipation, or other forms of financial deception, you can make sure your rights and financial interests will be protected during your divorce.

Addressing Financial Infidelity When Dividing Marital Property

Financial infidelity can take many different forms, but all of them involve some level of deception or secrecy when it comes to money. In some cases, a person may have been hiding a bank account from their spouse for years, or they may have racked up a large amount of credit card debt without the other spouse's knowledge.

While every situation is unique, there are some general ways that financial infidelity can impact divorce proceedings. For example, if your spouse has attempted to hide assets from you, this could lead to an unfair division of property. Similarly, if your spouse ran up debt during your marriage without your knowledge, you may be responsible for repaying these debts.


dupage county divorce lawyerThere are a variety of financial factors that may play a role in a divorce, and in some cases, one spouse may be at a financial disadvantage because they earn less money or depend on the other spouse to provide for their needs. In these situations, a spouse may request support from their former partner that will allow them to meet their needs in the years following the end of their marriage. Spousal support—sometimes called "alimony"—is a payment from one ex-spouse to the other. In Illinois, spousal support may be ordered as part of a divorce judgment, or a couple may agree that spousal support will be paid when they negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement. 

In divorce cases where spousal support may be a factor, spouses are likely to have many questions. In addition to determining whether a spouse is eligible to receive support and the amount of support that will be paid, the parties will need to understand how long these payments will last. This can ensure that they will both be able to plan for how to address their needs in the future.

Duration of Spousal Support Payments

Under Illinois law, spousal support is referred to as spousal maintenance. In general, there are two categories of spousal maintenance in Illinois: temporary and permanent. Temporary maintenance may be paid during the divorce process, and it may begin after one spouse requests support and the judge issues an order for temporary relief that specifies the amount that will be paid. Once the divorce is finalized, temporary support payments will stop. 


Illinois divorce lawyerIf you have been served with a divorce petition filed by your spouse, you may be wondering if you can contest the divorce. The answer is yes, it is technically possible to contest your spouse's divorce petition. However, doing so may not be in your best interests. Regardless of how you choose to approach the divorce process, it is important to make sure you have legal representation from a qualified and experienced attorney.

The Process of Filing and Responding to a Divorce Petition in Illinois

In Illinois, either spouse may file a petition for dissolution of marriage. Once the petition is filed, it must be served to the other spouse. The spouse who was served with the petition then has 30 days to respond. This response may include objections to the divorce petition, although most of the time, a spouse will accept the petition, answer any claims made by their spouse, and allow the divorce process to proceed.

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, and there are only a few requirements that need to be met when filing a petition for divorce. At least one spouse must have resided in the state for 90 days prior to filing the petition. When providing a reason, or "grounds," for the divorce, a divorce petition will simply state that the petitioner wishes to end their marriage due to "irreconcilable differences." Illinois law defines irreconcilable differences as an irretrievable breakdown of a couple's relationship to the point that attempts to reconcile would not be practical and would not be in the best interests of the couple or other family members.


dupage county divorce lawyerWhen a married couple decides to divorce, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. How will their assets be divided? Where will the children live? Who will pay child support? These are all important questions that must be addressed during the divorce process. While a couple's divorce decree will set down the final decisions made in these areas, some issues may need to be addressed while the case is ongoing. Temporary orders can address these issues.

What Are Temporary Orders?

Temporary orders (sometimes referred to as temporary relief) are court orders that are issued on a temporary basis during a divorce case. In Illinois, a person will request temporary relief when filing a divorce petition, and the other spouse may also make requests when they file a response. The judge will address these requests and issue temporary orders at the beginning of the case. 

At any time during the divorce process, either spouse may file a petition requesting temporary relief, and a hearing will be held to determine how certain issues will be handled. Once a temporary order is issued, it will remain in effect until the completion of the divorce, unless another temporary order is issued at a later date that modifies or reverses the initial order. Once the divorce is finalized, the terms of the divorce decree will supersede any temporary orders that had been put in place.


dupage county child custody lawyerAddressing matters related to child custody is often one of the most difficult aspects of getting a divorce. Unmarried parents may also need to address this issue, and both parents may be looking to determine how they can share custody of their children. In Illinois, joint child custody is generally presumed to be in the child's best interests unless there is evidence showing that it would not be. However, understanding exactly what joint custody entails is not always easy, and parents will need to be aware of how legal and physical custody are addressed in Illinois law.

Understanding Joint Child Custody

When matters involving child custody are addressed in family courts, the decisions made will usually be separated into two distinct categories, commonly referred to as legal and physical custody. Legal custody, which Illinois law refers to as the "allocation of parental responsibilities," refers to decision-making power for things like education and medical care. Physical custody is known as "parenting time" in Illinois, and it includes any time that children spend in the care of a parent. Physical custody will address where children will primarily live and when they will stay in each parent's home.

In cases where parents have joint legal custody, each parent will have a say in making decisions about how their children will be raised. Depending on a family's unique circumstances, different areas of responsibility, such as decisions related to medical care or education, may be the primary or sole responsibility of one parent. However, regardless of how parental responsibilities are allocated, each parent will be able to have reasonable amounts of parenting time. A parent's rights to parenting time may only be restricted if there is compelling evidence showing that this is necessary to protect the children's best interests.


IL divorce lawyerOriginally published: April 30, 2020 -- Updated: September 14, 2022

Update: The right of first refusal, as discussed below, may address situations where one parent is unavailable to care for children during their scheduled parenting time. However, if these situations occur frequently, and a parent is regularly unavailable to address children's needs when required, the other parent may believe that it will be necessary to modify their child custody agreement and ensure that children will be able to have the care they need from a parent going forward. By understanding the requirements for post-divorce modifications, a parent can make sure these situations will be addressed correctly.

Modifications to the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time will usually only be allowed if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original child custody agreement was put into place. There are multiple factors in the lives of parents or children that may be changes that are considered significant enough to warrant a child custody modification. For example, if a parent has found a new job with different hours, and they now require a babysitter or family member to pick children up from school and care for them during the evenings, the other parent may ask for their parenting plan to be modified so they can care for the children during these times. 


dupage county legal separation lawyerNo marriage is perfect, and married couples may encounter relationship issues for a variety of reasons. Some common factors that can lead a couple to grow apart include disagreements about finances or how to raise children, changing priorities that cause a couple to be incompatible, or extramarital affairs. For those who believe that they can no longer make their marriage work, divorce may be the best option. However, many couples are not ready for this permanent, final step, and they may first wish to separate on a trial basis. In other cases, a couple may prefer to stay legally married, even if they no longer wish to have a close relationship or live in the same home. This will allow them to maintain certain benefits and avoid the stigma of a divorce. In these situations, legal separation may be the ideal option.

The Process of Legal Separation in Illinois

For married couples who live in Illinois, a legal separation is handled in a very similar manner as a divorce. The process begins when one spouse files a petition for legal separation with the court in their county of residence. Once the paperwork is filed, the other spouse will be served with the petition and given 30 days to file a response. If both spouses agree on the terms of their legal separation, they can sign a separation agreement that will be submitted to the court.

A separation agreement will need to address multiple issues related to the couple's marriage and separation, including:


illinois child custody lawyerWhen parents get divorced, they may put child custody arrangements in place to ensure they can be closely involved in raising their children. Maintaining strong parent/child relationships in the years following a divorce can be crucial for a child's well-being. However, these relationships may be affected by a parent's decision to relocate to a new home. If a parent plans to move with their children to a different city or state, and this relocation would impact child custody or parenting time, the parent will usually need to request a post-divorce modification. By understanding the specific laws in Illinois that govern parental relocation, parents can determine their options for resolving disputes in these situations. 

When Are Parental Relocation Requests Necessary?

A move to a new home by a parent will only be considered a “relocation” in certain circumstances. A relocation request may be made by a parent who has been allocated the majority of the parenting time with the couple’s children, meaning that children live primarily in their home. These requests may also be appropriate in cases where children spend an equal amount of time with both parents. Parents will need to request approval for a relocation in the following circumstances:

  • A parent currently lives in one of the counties in the Chicago area (DuPage, Kane, Will, Cook, McHenry, or Lake), and they will be moving at least 25 miles away based on the driving distance determined using an internet mapping service.


oakbrook terrace prenuptial agreement lawyerA prenuptial agreement, or prenup, can be an important legal document that protects married spouses. As a contract between two parties who are planning to get married, a prenup will detail how different issues will be handled if the couple chooses to get a divorce in the future. Typically, a prenuptial agreement will be limited to addressing financial issues, such as property division or spousal maintenance. A prenup can provide both parties with the assurance that certain issues will be handled correctly if their marriage ever ends, and it can remove the possibility of conflict by resolving some disputes ahead of time. However, to avoid disputes related to the terms of an agreement, it is important to make sure a prenup will be valid and enforceable.

Addressing Concerns About Prenup Enforceability

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract, and both parties will need to be sure they fully understand all of the terms of the agreement and have the mental capacity to make sound decisions about financial matters. Once a prenup has been signed, and a couple has been legally married, its terms will usually be enforced in the event of a divorce. However, there are a few rare situations where a prenup may be determined to be unenforceable.

In some cases, a prenup may be found to be invalid because one spouse did not sign the agreement voluntarily. In some cases, a spouse may have signed an agreement due to coercion or duress, which may include threats to end the relationship or pressure related to social or religious norms. This can sometimes be an issue in Islamic marriages, and the payment of a mahr or dowry will sometimes be accompanied by a request to sign a marriage contract that may function as a prenuptial agreement. In these cases, a spouse may feel that they have no other option but to agree to the other spouse’s terms, even if this would put them in an unfair financial position. Demonstrating that coercion occurred can sometimes be difficult, and a person who signed an unfair agreement may end up being bound to its terms.


dupage county spousal maintenance lawyerWhen a married couple splits up, they will often need to make significant changes to the ways they handle financial issues. A couple that had combined their finances, deposited income into joint accounts, and worked together to pay bills and other expenses will need to separate their finances and determine how they will each be able to pay various costs on their own. While this process can be complicated and difficult, spouses will usually be able to make adjustments to ensure that they will each be able to live comfortably on a single income. However, there are some situations where one spouse may be unable to fully support themselves after their divorce, such as when a stay-at-home parent did not work outside the home during their marriage. In these situations, one spouse may believe that they should receive spousal support from the other. By understanding when a spouse may qualify for this form of support, a couple can ensure that this issue will be handled correctly during the divorce process.

Factors Considered in Decisions About Spousal Maintenance

Spousal support is known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, although it is often referred to as alimony. It is important to understand that even if the need for support seems obvious (such as when one party relies primarily or solely on the other party’s income to meet the family’s needs), maintenance will not be awarded automatically. A spouse who believes they need financial support will need to request it, and they must demonstrate that this support is necessary to meet their ongoing needs and maintain the lifestyle they were used to while they were married.

Illinois law details a number of factors that may play a role in determining whether a spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance, although a judge may consider any issues that may affect the parties’ ability to reach a fair and equitable outcome for their divorce. The specific factors that a judge should consider include:


oakbrook terrace child support lawyerIn most family law cases involving children, child support will be ordered. Child support is usually a factor when parents choose to divorce, but it may also need to be addressed in situations where parents are unmarried. This form of support is not meant to benefit or penalize either parent, but it is instead a right that is afforded to children so that their ongoing needs will be met. Parents will need to understand how child support payments will be calculated, and depending on their unique circumstances, they may also be ordered to contribute to additional expenses on top of child support ordered by the court.

How Parents May Share Children’s Expenses

Child support obligations are determined based on the income earned by each parent, and in some cases, the parents’ respective amounts of parenting time may also factor into these calculations. This “basic support obligation” is intended to cover children’s daily needs, and the parent who receives payments may use them to address the costs of food, clothing, and housing. However, there are usually other costs involved in raising children, and in addition to the basic obligation, expenses such as the following may need to be added to this amount:

  • Health care - Parents must ensure that their children will be covered by a medical insurance policy. Most of the time, coverage will be available through health benefits provided by one parent’s employer. When obtaining coverage, parents may calculate the amount that will be paid to provide coverage for children, and one parent may be required to reimburse the other for a portion of this amount. Other types of health care costs not covered by insurance may also need to be addressed, such as co-pays for doctor visits, medications, and any medical equipment or assistive devices that are needed.


dupage county child custody lawyerParents may become involved in child custody disputes during a divorce or the breakup of an unmarried couple. In these situations, making decisions about how parents will share legal custody and divide parenting time can be difficult. When addressing these issues, it is important to understand how the laws in Illinois may affect a case. Even if a couple plans to negotiate a parenting agreement rather than resolving disputes in the courtroom, knowing how the law addresses their situation can help them make the right decisions. One issue that may play a role in these matters is the way parents have handled and expect to continue handling “caretaking functions” for their children.

What Are Caretaking Functions?

Parents will engage in a number of activities as they provide care for their children, ensure that children’s needs are met, and help children grow and develop successfully. Illinois law details a number of these caretaking functions, and it states that parents are responsible for engaging in these functions during their parenting time. When determining how to allocate parenting time between parents, one factor that may be considered is how each parent has been involved in caretaking functions for their children during the two years immediately preceding the initiation of a divorce or child custody case.

Caretaking functions include:


IL divorce lawyer

Originally published: February 16, 2021 -- Updated: May 25, 2022

UPDATE: Below, we look at how the divorce laws may address attempts by a spouse to hide or conceal assets prior to or during their divorce. However, it is also important to understand how the law addresses the dissipation of marital assets. Dissipation is the use of marital property for non-marital purposes after a marriage has begun to undergo an irretrievable breakdown. Asset dissipation can take many forms, including cases where a spouse spends money on an extramarital affair, such as by taking vacations with a lover or buying them gifts. However, it may also involve purchasing items or using marital funds for a person’s sole benefit, spending money on a drug or gambling addiction, or purposely destroying property with the intent of harming the other spouse.


child custody lawyer in skokieThere are a multitude of different issues that will be addressed during a couple’s divorce, and at the end of the legal process, a divorce decree or judgment will be issued. This final order is meant to remain in place indefinitely, and it will address how certain issues will be handled going forward. For couples who have children, their divorce decree will include a child custody order, which is sometimes referred to as a parenting plan. There are some cases where these orders may no longer adequately address a family’s needs, and based on changes that have occurred, either parent may request modifications of their parenting plan. By understanding the requirements they will need to meet for modifications to be granted, parents can make sure they approach these cases correctly.

Post-Divorce Child Custody Modifications

Generally, modifications to the allocation of parental responsibilities (also known as legal custody) may not be made within the first two years after a couple’s divorce, unless there is reason to believe that issues have arisen that may affect a child’s physical or emotional health, such as abuse against a child by a parent or another person in their household. Modifications to parenting time or physical custody may be made at any time if the court determines that they are necessary. Parents may also agree to make modifications to legal or physical custody at any time, and these modifications will generally be allowed, unless the court determines that they are not in the children’s best interests.

In most cases, a parent who requests a modification will need to show that there has been a significant change in the circumstances of themselves, the other parent, or the couple’s children. Some valid reasons for modifications may include:


skokie divorce lawyerIssues related to the property a couple owns are often some of the most complex factors that need to be addressed during the divorce process. While multiple types of assets and debts need to be considered during the property division process, determining how to handle ownership of a family business will often be one of the most consequential decisions. Whether a business is considered to be marital property because it was founded after the couple’s marriage or separate property that a spouse owned before getting married, it will be essential to perform a business valuation to determine the value of this asset.

Business Valuation Methods for Divorcing Business Owners

It will be important for both spouses to make sure a business will be handled correctly during their divorce. A family-owned business may be a source of income for one or both spouses, or it may represent a large portion of the couple’s total assets. Even if a business is a separate asset solely owned by one spouse, it will be important to determine the value of this asset to ensure that both spouses have an understanding of their individual financial resources. This can not only ensure that marital property will be divided fairly and equitably, but it may also help determine whether spousal maintenance will be appropriate. 


dupage county divorce lawyerDuring a divorce, matters related to a couple’s children can often be some of the most complex and difficult issues to resolve. Disagreements about raising children can be a significant factor that leads to the breakdown of a marriage, and these arguments may continue throughout the divorce process as parents determine how they will share parental responsibilities going forward. How parents cared for their children, made decisions, and handled family responsibilities during their marriage may be a significant factor in child custody cases. Some parents may believe that the ways they acted while married should determine the role that they will play in their children’s lives following their divorce, while others may feel that it is best to leave the past in the past and find new solutions as they move forward. When parents encounter disputes about issues related to the custody of their children, they will need to understand how the law may address their previous actions and behaviors.

Factors Considered When Determining Children’s Best Interests

While each parent may have an idea of how they would like child-related issues to be handled following the end of their marriage, the wishes of the parents are not the most important concern in these cases. Instead, family courts will focus on finding solutions that will provide for children’s best interests. Decisions about child custody will be made based on what will allow children to thrive, avoid disruptions to their lives, receive the proper care and education, and maintain positive relationships with both parents.

Child custody cases generally address two types of custody, commonly known as legal custody and physical custody. In Illinois, these are referred to as the allocation of decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Decision-making responsibilities include the rights and obligations of each parent to determine how important issues related to their children will be handled, including the medical and personal care children will receive, their schooling and education, their religious activities and practices, and extracurricular activities children will participate in. Parenting time, which is sometimes referred to as visitation, is the time children will be in the care of each parent. A schedule will be created detailing when children will stay in parents’ homes or visit them in other locations, including on regular weekdays and weekends and on holidays, school vacation days, and other important dates.


dupage county divorce lawyerWhile spousal maintenance (which is more commonly known as alimony, but may also be referred to as spousal support) is not a factor in every divorce, it may be an important issue to address in cases where one spouse earns a significantly higher income or where one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent. Spousal maintenance will only be paid if a couple agrees on this form of support in their divorce settlement or if one party demonstrates to a judge that it is necessary based on the factors outlined in Illinois law. Understanding the options for paying spousal maintenance, including making a lump sum payment or monthly support payments, can help spouses determine the best ways they can each succeed financially once their divorce has been finalized.

Options for Paying Spousal Maintenance

The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide a person who earns a lower income with financial support that will allow them to maintain the same standard of living the couple had during their marriage. The amount that will be paid will be determined using a formula that is defined in Illinois law.

In most cases, if maintenance is appropriate, it will be paid monthly for a specific number of months. This number of months is determined based on the total amount of time that a couple was married, starting on the day of their wedding and ending on the date their divorce decree is issued. If temporary maintenance is awarded to one spouse and paid in the period between when the divorce petition was filed and when the divorce was finalized, these payments may be credited toward the total duration for which spousal maintenance will be paid.

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