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Kane County family law attorneysIn most divorce cases, there are a variety of different considerations that must be addressed, including the division of marital property, maintenance concerns, and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Fortunately, many divorcing spouses are able to remain civil and diligently negotiate a reasonable agreement that resolves all of their outstanding issues. While such cooperation is not always possible, spouses who can work together toward reaching a settlement often realize significant savings in terms of time and money throughout the process.

During the course of negotiations or informal conversations, you and your spouse may agree to certain terms. No matter what is said or agreed to orally, it is important that you record all of your agreements in writing so that there is no confusion or uncertainty down the road.

Most Oral Agreements Are Unenforceable

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Kane County family law attorneyIf you have been ordered to pay alimony—legally known as maintenance in Illinois—your payments are meant to ease the financial effects of the divorce on your ex-spouse. A court may also order maintenance to allow a financially disadvantaged spouse to maintain a standard of living reasonably similar to that which you both enjoyed during your marriage—especially if yours has not markedly changed. In the years that follow your divorce, however, your spouse may find a new romantic partner and begin a relationship. Depending on the nature of that relationship, your obligation for spousal support payments may be affected.

Duration of Support Orders

Most orders for spousal maintenance are set for a predetermined number of months or years. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a formula for calculating the length of the order as a function of the length of the marriage to be used in most situations. Longer marriages result in relatively longer orders for maintenance, and some cases may result in permanent orders. While Illinois law does use the word “permanent,” it is not an ironclad guarantee that payments must continue until one spouse dies. There are certain occurrences that could permit you to stop making maintenance payments in spite of a permanent order.

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Kane County family law attorneyDisputes over child-related matters can often be quite contentious. The resulting bitterness and resentment can affect the relationship between the parents for years to come. Issues involving child custody—now called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois—parenting time, child support, and any other concern related to children are complicated, and when parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will need to step in and make long-term decisions for the family. In some cases, the court will appoint an independent attorney called a guardian ad litem to assist in the decision-making process, and it is important for you to understand why he or she may have been appointed.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

To appreciate the reasons behind the court's appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL), you must first understand the role that the GAL will play in your proceedings. The GAL does not represent either parent or the child; instead, he or she works essentially as an extension of the court and an expert witness. He or she has the power to investigate the family's situation by conducting interviews, reviewing documents, and examining any other relevant information. Based on the results of the investigation, the GAL provides a recommendation to the court of what the ideal outcome should be in the case. Because eligible GALs undergo specific training required by the county, their recommendations are given significant weight by the court.

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Kane County family law attorneysIf you are a parent whose time with your child has been limited due to a divorce, it can be very difficult for you to maintain the relationship with your child that you wish to have. This may be especially true if the other parent has been granted a majority of the parenting time and you only see your child a few days each month. Illinois law, however, allows parents in such a situation to include provisions in their parenting plan that could create extra parenting time opportunities under certain circumstances.

Defining the Right of First Refusal

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), your parenting plan should address what is called “the right of first refusal” regarding your child. If you have the right of first refusal, it means that the other parent must contact you and offer you the opportunity to care for your child if the other parent would otherwise need to find a sitter or alternative child care. Depending on how your parenting is structured, you may be required to offer the same opportunity to the other parent if and when you need someone to care for your child. It is important to note that including the right of first refusal in your parenting plan does not obligate you to accept every such opportunity; the right of first refusal refers to optional additional parenting time.

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Kane County family law attorneysParents who are no longer married to or romantically involved with one another often face serious challenges in developing an agreement regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities. In most cases, both parents want to continue to play an important role in their child's life and are willing to compromise to make that happen. Sometimes, however, the parents cannot reach an agreement on their own. When this happens, the court must step in and assign parental responsibilities and parenting time in a manner that promotes the child's best interests.

The process of determining parenting rights and responsibilities was, until very recently, known as child custody in Illinois. Beginning in 2016, an update to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act revamped the court's approach to the subject and replaced the term “child custody” with the phrase “allocation of parental responsibilities.” The law divides parental responsibilities into two primary areas, each of which may be determined separately.

Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities

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1737 South Naperville Road, Suite 100
Wheaton, IL 60189
630-549-0960
Evening and weekend hours by appointment.

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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