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IL divorce lawyerFamily law issues in the U.S. can be especially complicated for Muslims, whether they were born and raised in the U.S. or are recent immigrants. For instance, many Muslims in DuPage County have ties to non-Western cultures and traditions that often are seen as being in conflict with Western values that often are seen as more prevalent in the U.S. Yet more American Muslims are filing for divorce than ever before.

To be sure, it is important to recognize that many American Muslims are filing for divorce at higher rates. These divorces highlight a growing number of Muslims in the United States deciding to end their marriages for various reasons.

Rates of Divorce Among American Muslims

Currently, the overall divorce rate in the U.S. is right around 45 percent. The divorce rate in the country has declined since the 1970s and 1980s, but it still remains relatively high. In Canada, the divorce rate is at about 37 percent—less than the overall rate in the U.S., but still comparatively high. How does the Muslim divorce rate in the U.S. and Canada compare? In short, there is not a lot of research that has been conducted on this topic, and as such, there is very little data. Back in 1990, one study suggested that the divorce rate among Muslims in North America was just over 30 percent, which was less than the average divorce rates in the U.S. and Canada but significantly higher than divorce rates among Muslim communities in other parts of the world.

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Posted on in Illinois Family Law

IL divorce lawyerMaking the decision to get divorced is never easy no matter what the circumstances might be. Depending upon the specific facts of your case, the divorce process can take months before property division occurs and the court can issue an allocation judgment concerning parental responsibilities. If you are thinking about filing for divorce, you may be asking yourself: should I file for divorce first? Keep in mind that, regardless of whether you are the one who files the petition for divorce, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) will govern the process for your divorce.

While the outcome may be similar whether you are the petitioner (the spouse filing for divorce) or the respondent (the spouse being served divorce papers after the other spouse files first) in an Illinois divorce, there may be some advantages to being the petitioner. In other words, the spouse who files for divorce first may see some benefits over the spouse who is ultimately served with divorce papers.

How Being the Petitioner in a Divorce Case Can Give You the Benefit of Planning Ahead

Being the petitioner in a divorce, or the spouse who files for divorce first may have some financial benefits. For example, that spouse often can spend more time seeking out the best divorce attorney for his or her case and may have the luxury of interviewing multiple lawyers before making a decision about who to hire. As such, the spouse who files for divorce first often can work with the best divorce lawyer for his or her case from the beginning stages of the divorce.

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IL divorce lawyerMany DuPage County residents realize that their marriages are not working out and that it may be time to separate from a spouse. For most people, this results in a decision to file for divorce. Yet we also speak with many people who want to know what the difference is between divorce and annulment, and whether they may be eligible for an annulment instead of a divorce. To be sure, there is a common misconception that annulment can be an alternative to divorce and that it can be quicker and easier.

It is important to understand that annulment and divorce simply are not interchangeable. In the most basic terms, a divorce is the only way to dissolve a legal marriage, while an annulment is how two parties would officially dissolve a marriage that was never legal in the first place. We will say more about how these distinctions work.

Annulment: When a Marriage Is Invalid

Annulment is a process that is only possible when a marriage is invalid. While the law in Illinois concerning annulment falls under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), it cannot be used when a couple is legally married.

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IL business lawyerThe start of the New Year is an important time to revisit the financial and legal documents governing your business. Depending upon the type of business you currently own and the structure of your company, reviewing your business documents and updating them could involve many different tasks. At the start of 2018, you should have reviewed your partnership agreement and the partnership audit rules that took effect on January 1, 2018, as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Whether or not you reviewed your business documents at this same time last year, it is important to work with an experienced DuPage business law attorney to review your company’s agreements, financial materials, and legal considerations for 2019.

Reviewing and Amending a Partnership Agreement

If your business is a partnership, the New Year is a good time to review your partnership agreement and to amend it if necessary. If all partners agree to amend the partnership agreement, then an amendment is possible at any time under the Uniform Partnership Act (805 ILCS 206/) in Illinois.

There are numerous reasons that a business might need to amend its partnership agreement. For example, maybe you added a new partner or are planning to add a new partner in 2019. Or, if a partner left the business or is planning to leave, you will also need to amend the partnership agreement.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen you have made the decision to file for divorce — or you have at least made the decision to speak with an attorney about the possibility of filing for divorce—the next steps can feel daunting. For most residents of DuPage County, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer. Once you have scheduled an initial consultation, you will likely be wondering what you need to bring with you when you meet with a divorce attorney for the first time. While preparing for a divorce consultation can feel intimidating, you should keep in mind that this consultation is for you so that you can get a sense of the attorney’s role in the process, whether you want to work with this particular divorce lawyer, and what major issues you are likely to face in your divorce.

The family law advocates at Farooqi & Husain Law Office have years of experience assisting members of the Muslim community in DuPage County with divorce. Recognizing the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) will govern your divorce proceedings, the following is a checklist to consider when preparing for your divorce consultation.

1. Financial Documents

The first and most important category of items to bring to any divorce consultation concerns your finances (and financial documents from the marriage). The divorce lawyer will want to have a sense of the complexity of dividing marital property, whether you will want to seek spousal maintenance (or should expect to pay spousal maintenance), and how the court is likely to handle child support if there are still minor children from your marriage or if you have children in college.

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IL estate planning lawyerAs we approach the New Year, all families in DuPage County should recognize that it is the perfect time to consider estate planning issues or to review your estate planning documents. You may have developed your estate planning documents earlier this year, or you may have drafted estate planning materials years ago without considering updating those materials until now. Since you last considered estate planning more generally or created documents, laws have changed and your own personal circumstances may have changed.

We want to discuss some important estate planning issues that you should consider revisiting for 2019. No matter what changes you need to make, an Oakbrook Terrace estate planning lawyer can assist you.

New Tax Law Implications for Estate Planning

The first major change to the law that could have implications for your estate planning strategy is the new tax law that took effect in 2018. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) raised the federal estate tax exemption. Between 2017 and 2018, the estate and gift tax exemption went up to $5.6 million per person from $5.49 million. As such, starting in 2018, a person can leave up to $5.6 million to family members without it being subject to a federal estate tax. Married couples who jointly leave an inheritance to their heirs can double the amount, meaning that up to $11.2 million can be exempt from federal estate tax. The federal tax exemption does not result in a change to the Illinois exemption, which is $4 million for an individual.

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IL divorce lawyer Many families in DuPage County may realize that, once the holidays come to an end, more friends and neighbors are filing for divorce. Indeed, divorce is so prevalent after the holiday season in the U.S. that many commentators have begun to refer to the Monday after the holiday season ends as “Divorce Day,” or the Monday after Christmas break when the flood of divorce emails clogs attorney inboxes. To be sure, divorce filings at the start of the New Year jump by nearly one-third. And this is not only the case in the U.S. Divorce lawyers in the U.K. also see a spike in divorce filings at the start of January.

What is leading so many people to divorce after the holidays? In short, divorce may have notable seasonal peaks, and there are a couple of different reasons for these spikes in divorce filings. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington noted these salient rises in divorce filings at two times of the year and discussed the reasoning behind these trends.

General Seasonal Trends of Divorce

Divorce filings do tend to spike just after the holiday season comes to an end, but to better understand the reason for this, it is important first to consider the reason for seasonal divorce trends more generally. According to the researchers at the University of Washington, rates of divorce filings tend to rise at two different times of the year: just after the holiday season ends and just after summer vacation (typically for kids on an academic schedule) comes to an end.

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IL family lawyerAs you may know, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)—better known as Trump tax reform—will change the way in which spousal maintenance affects taxes. In short, after the new year, the spouse making alimony payments will have to pay more money in taxes, while the spouse receiving alimony payments will have to pay less in taxes. However, a new Illinois law considers these federal tax law changes and makes it so that the spouse making payments is not as adversely affected as she or he otherwise might have been. We will say more about how spousal maintenance is taxed, and then we will talk about the calculations for spousal maintenance after 2019 when both laws (federal and state) will take effect.

How Spousal Maintenance and Taxation Currently Works

Currently, under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/504), here is how taxation works when it comes to spousal maintenance: the spouse who makes alimony payments (the payor) can deduct the spousal maintenance payments from his or her income prior to paying taxes, while the spouse who receives alimony payments (the payee) must pay taxes on the spousal maintenance payments in the same way that the spouse would pay taxes on other types of “income.”

However, under the TCJA, the new federal tax law, any divorce that is finalized on or after January 1, 2019 will see a major change when it comes to taxing spousal maintenance. For these divorces, the payor spouse will be required to pay taxes on spousal maintenance payments while the payee spouse no longer will have to pay taxes on spousal maintenance payments received. What is the effect of this? In brief, the payor spouse ends up paying more in the long run, while the payee spouse retains more money and pays less in taxes in the long run. Since the payor spouse earns more money than the payee spouse, the payor spouse’s income typically is taxed at a higher rate. As such, taxing the spousal maintenance payments on the payor’s end in most cases will mean that the taxes are higher and the federal government receives more from that payment in taxes.

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IL family lawyerAs families that have newly gone through a divorce in DuPage County know, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) was amended relatively recently to do away with the terms of “ child custody” and “visitation.” Amendments to the law changed those terms to “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” which reflect the human relationships that exist between parents and their kids and the differences in family structures.

With those changes to the law, Illinois legislators recognized the need for flexibility in allocating important decision-making tasks about a child’s upbringing, as well as flexibility in terms of regular parenting time or spending time with the child and providing caretaking functions. Currently, the IMDMA says the court can take into account a number of different factors in allocating parental responsibilities, which include parenting time.

However, a proposed bill aims to change the presumptions about parenting time in the state. If House Bill 4113 were to pass, courts would have to begin from the presumption that equal parenting time is the best option for all families. We will say more about the potential effects of this bill and what it could mean for different families in DuPage County.

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Posted on in Business Law

IL arbitration lawyerCommon judicial processes in the U.S., and in DuPage County, in particular, can be problematic for many members of the Muslim community. The American court system functions in a manner that privileges individual rights over collective responsibilities and communities, which can be alienating to Muslims in general and particularly so for members of the Muslim community who are immigrants and are accustomed to different legal, social, cultural, and religious practices. Relying on Muslim arbitration can be one way to handle business disputes and other legal conflicts involving a member of the Muslim community without treading on certain norms that are important to that party.

To learn more about Muslim arbitration, first we want to say more about arbitration generally. Then we will provide you with some background information about Muslim arbitration in the United States.

What Is Arbitration and Why Is It Beneficial?

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Posted on in Business Law

IL business lawyerResolving legal conflicts in business and other areas can be complicated and frustrating for anyone, but the prospect of conflict resolution can feel even more daunting — and potentially biased — for members of the Muslim community. Common legal practices in the West rely on rules and individual responsibility, and as such, lawsuits are routine and necessary. Such practices can corrupt the ethical assumptions and religious or sociocultural practices of persons who do not ascribe to Western norms. All of this is to say that conflict resolution, particularly involving members of the Muslim community, can be complicated in relation to the U.S. judicial system.

Lawyers who regularly work with members of the Muslim community are trained to think outside of the box and to come up with unique solutions to legal and business disputes that arise between and among community members. There are multiple methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and other non-judicial options, for resolving conflicts.

Mediation as a Helpful Alternative for Resolving Conflicts

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Posted on in Business Law

IL business attorneyBusiness disputes arise in many different contexts, from disputes with suppliers or employees to disputes among co-owners of the business. Given that corporate law as it is practiced in the U.S. tends to be very Western and individualistic in its approach, it can be difficult for members of the Muslim community to integrate their own cultural and religious practices into the existing corporate law structures. For example, the practice of taking a business dispute to court can come into conflict with a Muslim business owner’s religious and cultural practices for resolving disputes.

When Western jurisprudence seems to diverge from the principles of Islamic law or Islamic cultural practices more generally when determining the outcome of a business dispute, the parties may consider turning to mediation. A form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation allows parties to a dispute to play an important role in the outcome of the situation all while being flexible with regard to the practices and styles of the mediation space.

How Mediation Can Be Flexible for Muslims Involved in Business Disputes

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IL family lawyerThere are many different reasons that family law conflicts can arise in DuPage County, from one spouse’s desire to file for divorce to difficulty coming to an agreement over a parenting plan after a marriage has been dissolved. Mediation can be extremely helpful for many families and in many different legal contexts. To be sure, there are benefits to mediation that simply do not exist in a courtroom. However, it can be difficult for Muslim individuals and Muslim families to find a mediation model that fits religious and cultural values, as well as the parties’ religious and cultural upbringings.

As such, it is important to work with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney who has experience serving members of the Muslim community. At Farooqi & Husain Law Office, we are dedicated to providing compassionate and informed counsel to Muslims in Oakbrook Terrace and throughout DuPage County.

Why It Is Important to Consider Mediation for Muslims

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b2ap3_thumbnail_immigration.jpgThe process of applying for citizenship in the United States has always been a long and complex one, but it is becoming more difficult and complicated more recently with political and legal changes taking place. Many Muslims in DuPage County have questions and concerns about the citizenship or naturalization process. Naturalization is the process through which a foreign citizen obtains U.S. citizenship. Sometimes Muslim families in Oakbrook Terrace need help with the naturalization process for a family member who is currently a citizen of another country. In other cases, Muslim residents of DuPage County may be living and working in the U.S. on a visa but want to begin the naturalization process in order to become a U.S. citizenship.

At Farooqi & Husain Law Office, we know how frustrating and difficult immigration law issues surrounding citizenship and naturalization can be. We have years of experience serving members of the Muslim community, and we can answer your questions about the naturalization process today.

Determining Eligibility for Naturalization

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IL Muslim attorneyWhen you are facing a significant legal matter, whether it is a family law matter such as a divorce or a business dispute, you want to have an experienced attorney who understands your background and the specific cultural issues that may be affecting or influencing your case. While many lawyers and clients alike do not immediately think about the ways in which cultural or religious differences can impact a divorce case or a commercial law contract, it is important to consider how these differences can influence one or both parties and for everyone involved in the case to respect such cultural differences.

In particular, members of the Muslim community, especially with familial ties to India and Pakistan, tend to have different cultural understandings and practices than the ones that are more typical of Western societies. We want to say more about the importance of cultural awareness and respect in solving legal problems.

Preventing Cultural Bias in Legal Proceedings

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Posted on in Spousal Support

IL family lawyerGetting divorced can take a significant financial toll on any couple or family, especially when just one of the spouses was the primary earner. Whether one spouse stayed at home during the marriage to raise children or simply had a lower earning job, divorce can be extremely difficult when parties begin living on only one income. Alimony, which is known as spousal maintenance under Illinois law, is a term to describe a maintenance payment from one spouse to the other in order to account for substantial differences in income levels as a result of the divorce. Spousal maintenance is not awarded in all divorces, but it is awarded in many of them.

Factors for Awarding Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

In order for one spouse to receive alimony or spousal maintenance from the other spouse, the spouse seeking the maintenance must request it. The first step the court takes when it receives a request for spousal maintenance is to determine whether it is appropriate. In other words, should the spouse who wants maintenance receive it?

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Posted on in Illinois Family Law

IL family lawyerFiling for divorce in DuPage County can be complicated and frustrating when you do not have the help of an experienced lawyer on your side, especially when it comes to the division of marital property. One of the most contentious issues in divorces is property division. Under Part V of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), marital property is divided according to a theory of division known as equitable distribution. This means that all marital property will be divided in a way that the court considers fair—but not necessarily equal—to both parties.

Yet in order to understand how the equitable distribution of marital property might work, it is essential to understand how the court classifies marital property.

Marital Versus Non-Marital Property in Illinois

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IL divorce attorneyWhen spouses decide to get divorced in DuPage County, they will have one of two types of divorce: a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs nearly all divorce issues in the state, including those related to both contested and uncontested divorce. What is the difference between the two types of divorce? In short, a contested divorce is one in which the couple cannot agree to all (or any) terms of the divorce, from financial matters to issues concerning parental responsibilities and parenting time. Differently, an uncontested divorce is one in which both parties not only agree to the divorce itself but also to all of the terms.

An uncontested divorce can be preferable to spouses for many reasons. We will go over some of the benefits of uncontested divorce with you. As we do, keep in mind that even in situations where couples agree to the terms of the divorce, it is still extremely important to have an experienced Oakbrook Terrace divorce lawyer on your side throughout your divorce.

What Do Lawyers Mean When They Talk about Uncontested Divorces?

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IL divorce lawyerWhen you get divorced in DuPage County and have an uncontested divorce—or believe you will have an uncontested divorce - then you may have heard about a marital settlement agreement. What is a marital settlement agreement, and why do you need to have one? In short, marital settlement agreements are used when spouses are getting divorced but agree to the terms of the divorce. The marital settlement agreement can clarify how assets, payments, and other financial matters are divided. We will provide you with some additional information about the marital settlement agreement, and then we will give you some examples of what it can contain.

What Is Included in the Marital Settlement Agreement?

Typically, when a couple enters into an uncontested divorce—this means that the couple agrees to all terms of the divorce and the court does not need to make any decisions about financial matters, for instance—then that couple will also enter into a marital settlement agreement.

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Illinois divorce lawyerDivorce is complicated, and many Muslim couples who make the decision to file for divorce in DuPage County wonder if they have really come to the right conclusion. In some cases, divorce seems like the best solution to the marital problems a couple is experiencing, but later on, that couple might decide that it makes sense to try to make the marriage work. Or, other extenuating circumstances might arise that could lead you to want to cancel your divorce proceedings once they have started. Can you cancel a divorce once it starts? And is there a specific point in the divorce process at which the proceedings cannot be stopped?

The short answer is that you can cancel your divorce once you begin divorce proceedings. Yet you should always work with an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer on your case because Illinois divorce law is extremely complicated, and there may be implications that you have not yet considered.

Your Divorce Petition, Fees, and Other Costs

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