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Kane County family law attorneyDivorce and family-related legal proceedings are difficult on all parties involved. It can get infinitely more challenging when a parent is struggling with mental illness. However, the mere existence of mental illness or neurological variance should not be grounds for loss of parental responsibilities, formerly called child custody. Every person is entitled to a fair evaluation of his or her legal competency.

Legal Competency

When a parent is mentally ill, the issue becomes one of mental capacity, which is used to determine a person’s legal capacity to parent. Unfortunately, many times, that capacity is assessed by outdated benchmarks, by biased people. Recent statistics by the National Council on Disability shows rates of child removal from a home where one parent has a psychiatric or intellectual disability are as high as 80 percent. This is manifestly unjust for both parent and child. A parent’s disability may be considered when determining the best environment for a child, but making a blanket determination without an appropriate review is wrong.

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Kane County divorce lawyersOver the last few years, the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has reported that a solid quarter of its members are seeing an uptick in disputes over the custody of a family pet during divorce proceedings. While pets are often legally classified as property, pet owners know better. They are real, genuine members of the family who give love and affection and ask for very little in return. However, if your divorce goes badly, or if both you and your spouse have strong feelings about your pet, you may wind up in a difficult battle over your furry friend.

Property Law Applied to Pets

Despite your very strong feelings on the matter, a pet is considered to be property for the purposes of a divorce proceeding. That means that the animal is subject to the agreement you and your spouse reach regarding the division of your property, unless you have established more specific provisions beforehand (such as, for example, in a prenuptial agreement). Courts do, however, recognize that the situation is somewhat unusual, as most property is not sentient nor does it have feelings.

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Kane County divorce attorneysWhen marital assets are discussed, the first things to be divided in divorce are usually homes and vehicles. There is, however, another type of asset that can arguably be more important: insurance policies of any kind, most specifically life insurance. Insurance policies can have significant payouts and can tip the balance in terms of property and asset division.

Child Support and Life Insurance

In Illinois, if you have children, it is not uncommon that a court may ask you and your spouse to maintain life insurance policies on yourselves as both a way to provide for the children in an emergency and a way to secure a child support obligation. The reasoning is not to give the former spouse a payday in the event of your death, but to ensure that your children are adequately provided for. Some former spouses hesitate to do this, but it is almost always the quickest and easiest way to ensure that your children are protected. Also, it is very often the case that the obligation to maintain life insurance results in a slight offset of child support expenses for the paying parent.

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Kane County divorce lawyersIllinois is a state that utilizes the equitable distribution theory of asset division when a couple is divorcing. This means that any assets acquired during the marriage will be divided fairly between the parties, based on a number of factors like future earning potential. However, what many forget is that this is true for marital debts as well. If a debt is incurred during the marriage and classified as marital, the responsibility to repay it may be divided between the parties.

Defining Marital Debts

Not every debt incurred during your marriage will automatically be classified as marital. If you incur a debt related to a non-marital asset, such as a loan related to a non-marital business, it could be held to be a non-marital debt. So, for example, if you purchase a second automobile with income generated from a non-marital business, sign a loan as an individual, and do not list your spouse on the title or the insurance, it is, in theory, a non-marital asset and the loan used to finance it is a non-marital debt.

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Kane County family law attorneysPrenuptial agreements, also called “prenups” or premarital arrangements, are legal contracts that establish the property and financial rights of each spouse should a marriage end in divorce. Prenuptial agreements are a somewhat controversial topic for a number of reasons. Some individuals believe that prenups are only necessary for celebrity weddings or for those people who do not plan on being married for the rest of their lives. They think, why plan for a divorce before the marriage has even begun?

In reality, prenuptial agreements are one of the most responsible things you can do to protect your financial interests. Signing one does not mean that you think the marriage is doomed to fail. Consider it a different way; if you own a car, you must have car insurance. This does not mean that you believe you will crash the car or get into an accident. You are simply planning for the worst while hoping for the best. When it comes to prenuptial agreements, the old adage “better safe than sorry” holds true.

Deciding You Want a Prenup

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Wheaton, IL 60189
630-549-0960
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We serve clients throughout Kane County, Illinois including St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Elgin, Algonquin, Aurora, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Big Rock, Burlington, Campton Hills, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Elburn, Hampshire, Huntley, Kaneville, Maple Park, Sleepy Hollow, Wayne, West Dundee as well as throughout DuPage County.

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