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Kane County family lawyersThere are two ways a couple can legally terminate their marriage: divorce and annulment. Annulment differs significantly from divorce in that it not only ends the marriage, but declares it invalid. After a marriage has been annulled, in the eyes of the law, it’s as if the marriage never occurred. Illinois law refers to an annulment of marriage as a “judgment of invalidity.” Judgments of invalidity are granted only under very specific circumstances in Illinois. Not just any marriage is eligible for invalidation under this law.

Grounds for Invalidating a Marriage in Illinois

Many people seeking a divorce or separation may wish their marriage never happened. However, invalidity of marriage is not avavible for couples who simply regret getting married. An Illinois judge may only grant a judgment of invalidity if certain grounds, or reasons, exist. In order to request a judgment of invalidity, one or more of the following grounds must be present:

  • A party to the marriage lacked the ability to consent to marriage due to mental incapacitation or the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • A party entered the marriage through fraud or duress (coercion). It is important to note that only fraud that affects the "essentials of the marriage," is a viable ground for annulment. For example, if one party only got married to avoid deportation, the other spouse may be able to file for an annulment. A spouse simply lying about their personal accomplishments or another fabrication which does not influence the essence of the marriage would probably not be considered grounds for a judgement of invalidity;
  • A party is unable to physically consummate the marriage and the other party did not know of this inability before the marriage;
  • The marriage is bigamous (one party is already legally married to another living person) or incestuous; and
  • One or both of the spouses were underage at the time of the marriage and failed to get the required approval of a parent, guardian, or Illinois judge.

Civil Annulments Versus Religious Annulments

Many churches and religious organizations offer their patrons an option to annul or invalidate their marriage in the eyes of the church. It is important to note that religious annulments are not recognized under Illinois law. The only way to legally void your marriage in Illinois is to meet the requirements listed in the Illinois Compiled Statutes and be granted a judgment of invalidity from a judge. If you do not meet the requirements, a divorce is your only option for legally ending the marriage.

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Kane County family law attorneysIf you are an unmarried parent or a parent who is getting divorced, you probably have many questions about how parental responsibilities and allocation of parenting time of your child or children will be handled by Illinois courts. If you can come to an agreement on parental responsibilities and allocation of parenting time with the child’s other parent, you and the other parent will be asked to create a parenting plan or parenting agreement. A parenting agreement is a document which you and your child’s other parent use to outline parental responsibilities and allocation of parenting time and other decisions about the child’s upbringing.

Parents have 120 days after filing a parentage action or divorce petition to file a parenting plan. This initial plan is a temporary placeholder for the more permanent parenting arrangement. This initial plan may be filed jointly or separately. Eventually, parents will be asked to agree on all of the parental duties including who will make decisions about the child as well as how the parenting time will be shared. Parents who do not reach an agreement about these issues before the “status date” will most likely be sent to mediation. Parents can be granted an extension for one of three reasons:

  • To continue working on the agreement in mediation;
  • To continue working on the agreement outside of mediation; and
  • For a good cause such as when parents’ schedules have not allowed enough time in mediation.

In Illinois, a parenting plan must include, but is not limited to, directions about:

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Kane County family law attorneyJeff Bezos is the founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon. Many people consider him to be the world’s richest person. Just recently, the business tycoon announced that he will be divorcing his wife of 25 years. Bezos and his wife have four children and have spent the better part of three decades building a life together. Like many high net worth divorces, their split will likely be complicated. If you are considering divorcing your spouse and you have significant assets or wealth, you should be talking with a qualified family law attorney.

Bezos’s Wife Could Receive Half of His Wealth

Jeff Bezos’s estimated net worth is over $90 billion. He and his family live in Washington which has its own laws governing property distribution during divorce. Most states, including Illinois, make a distinction between marital property and separate property. Separate property refers to assets accumulated before the marriage and certain gifts and inheritances. Marital property includes wealth and property accumulated during the marriage as well as any commingled funds. Washington state divides marital property according to what is equitable and just. This property division method is called equitable distribution and is the same method that is used in Illinois. Property divided according to equitable distribution laws will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

Important Considerations During High Net Worth Divorces

Put plainly, couples with greater assets have more to lose during divorce. Complex assets like family businesses, business holdings, pensions, retirement accounts, stocks, stock options, commissions, deferred income, trust funds, and real estate investments can add complications to a divorce. If you or your spouse own a family business, a professional valuation will probably be necessary. It is vital that high net worth couples consider the tax implications of property division during divorce as well. Child support and spousal maintenance can also be complex issues during a high net worth divorce. Illinois uses the “income-shares model” when deciding child support orders. The court studies the combined income of both parents and uses that number and other information to arrive at a child support order which is reasonable and in the child’s best interest.

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Kane County divorce mediation lawyersIf you are a TV or movies buff, you have probably seen many dramatic scenarios played out in a courtroom. In the movie Liar Liar, for example, a divorcing couple with children bitterly argues about who should have custody of the kids. During the divorce proceedings, the wife admits that she wants full custody of the children even though her ex-husband is a “wonderful father.” Although courtroom scenes in movies are usually highly exaggerated and dramatized, the truth is that resolving family law issues in court can bring out the worst in people. Sometimes, simply being in a court environment makes otherwise reasonable spouses argue every detail of their divorce. Fortunately, there is an option for Illinois residents seeking a divorce who wish to resolve their issues without court intervention. Mediation is an alternative to courtroom litigation which helps disagreeing parties amicably negotiate a practical agreement.

Benefits of Mediation Over Litigation

During mediation, a mediator helps disputing parties identify where their disagreements lie and explore various compromises and solutions. The mediator facilitates a calm, rational, productive conversation between the two parties.

Couples who feel a great deal of resentment for each other often have trouble discussing matters of child custody or property division reasonably. With the help of a mediator, the parties can better focus on what is really important and come to an agreement without resorting to fighting. Because the couple ultimately comes up with their own solution to their disagreements, mediation puts much more control in the hands of the disputing couple than litigation does. It is probably for this reason that more people comply with agreements reached through mediation than those decided by litigation. Individuals who participate in mediation are less likely to be brought back to court by a party who was unhappy with the outcome of a court decision. Another major benefit of mediation is that it is often significantly less expensive conflict-resolution method than litigation.

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Kane County divorce lawyerWith all that you have endured as your marriage ended, nobody has the right to deny you new opportunities for happiness in the wake of your divorce. You have every right to make the most of your new life, and, in some cases, doing so may include pursuing new romantic interests. While casual dating and possibly a serious relationship after your divorce could have a positive effect on your overall health and self-esteem, there are a few things that you should keep in mind, particularly if you are a parent.

Take All the Time You Need

Dating someone new while your divorce is still pending is not usually the best idea, but once your divorce is finalized, you should feel free to start seeing whomever you choose. Keep in mind, however, that you may not be ready jump back into the dating pool right away. Alternatively, you may be fine with casual dating, but not with getting involved in another serious, long-term relationship. A divorce often leaves emotional and psychological scars that may take significant time to heal.

If you have children, you also need to be aware of how they are adjusting to your new situation. Depending on how old they are and their maturity level, your children may have trouble with a new, serious relationship. Your children may feel like you are attempting to replace your ex-spouse—their other parent. Such feelings can easily transform into resentment and fears that they could be replaced as well.

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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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