Four Tips for Success in Divorce Proceedings

When entering into the process of divorce, the sheer volume of considerations can sometimes be overwhelming. The uncertainty of the future can seem even more daunting when life as you know it is changing so drastically. All the variables may not be within your control, but these divorce tips can help ensure a measure of protection against the worst life may have to offer after a divorce.

  1. Be informed.    Educate yourself regarding the family income, debts, assets and financial circumstances, collecting documentary evidence wherever possible.  Obtain copies of pay stubs, income tax returns, financial institution statements, bills, investment, retirement and benefit statements, and the like. If such materials are not available to you directly, they can be accessed through the Court process of discovery.
  2. Assess your priorities.    After taking account of the needs of yourself, spouse and any children of the family, whether financial, physical and/or emotional, and the resources available to address those needs, determine if there are sufficient resources to meet all those needs, and if not, whether there are alternatives to expanding the extent of those resources (for example, additional income potential, more cost effective debt management, etc.). If compromises are necessary, as is often the case when one household becomes two, prioritizing the most important considerations will often provide a road map to an equitable resolution of matters which seem otherwise impossible.
  3. Be optimistic, but realistic.    Keeping an open mind to the potential for success, rather than being weighed down with feelings of loss, anger or resentment, can provide the foundation for healthy future relationships and opportunities for growth. Change is inevitable with divorce; however setting new goals and planning to reach those goals require parties to engage in a thoughtful review of their current circumstances with an eye towards fulfilling unmet needs. Such constructive introspection and exploration of available paths towards making goals a reality can be the first step towards achievement of happiness and prosperity.
  4. Consult with an experienced attorney.    While you may be an authority on whatever expertise you have acquired, chances are, navigating the complexities of law, legal jargon and procedure may not be part of your skill set. Just as hiring a IT expert to address matters for the technologically challenged, or an air conditioner repair person for the mechanically challenged, often provides a better result than do-it-yourself endeavors, an experienced divorce attorney can provide knowledgeable insight into not only your legal rights and responsibilities, but effective methods to meet your objectives as well.

While not all-inclusive, the above divorce tips can be instrumental in optimizing success in a divorce proceeding. For additional information, contact our office in Lombard or Plainfield for a free consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.

 

 

Grandparent Visitation

Grandparent Visitation:  What are the Rights and Limitations to Grandparent Visitation?

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that fit parents are presumed to act in their children’s best interests, and as such, parental decisions regarding the role of grandparents should be given great weight and consideration.  Since said ruling, laws throughout the nation, including Illinois, have limited the rights of grandparents and other non-parent persons, including step-family members.

Illinois Courts will presume that parental decisions regarding grandparent visitation and visitation by non-parents are not harmful to children. The burden is on the grandparent or non-parent person seeking visitation to prove a parent’s decisions will cause undue harm to a child’s mental, physical or emotional health.

The right to even petition the Court for grandparent visitation or non-parent visitation must be based upon a showing that there has been an unreasonable denial of such visitation and, that the denial has caused the kind of harm to the child that the law seeks to protect against. Further, one of the following circumstances must also exist:

  1. The child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 90 days.
  2. The parent of the child is incompetent as a matter of law.
  3. A parent has been incarcerated for a period in excess of 90 days immediately before the petition is filed.
  4. The child’s parents are divorced, legally separated, or are currently involved in such legal proceedings involving determinations of child custody and visitation, and at least one parent does not object to the requested visitation.
  5. The child was born to parents who are not married to each other, those parents are not living together, and parentage has been established by a Court.

If the above criteria have been met, then, the Court may consider such factors as: the wishes of a mature child; the health of the child and non-parent desiring visitation; whether the parent and non-parent have acted in good faith regarding their decisions; the nature of visitation being requested and, the quality of the relationship previously existing between the child and person seeking visitation.

For additional information regarding grandparent visitation and other non-parent visitation, contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation.

Parenting Through Divorce: Holidays

Parenting Through Divorce:  Holiday Parenting Time in Illinois

The holiday season can be a difficult time for those who are recently divorced as well as for those who are going through a divorce.  For those with children, many times extended families end up feeling the effects of the divorce.  Decisions need to be made as to which party will have the children on each holiday.  A difficult balancing act usually takes place, which attempts to ensure family traditions continue with the children despite the divorce, while at the same time maintaining a level of fairness between the parents and their extended families.

For any recently divorced parents, the terms of their Parenting Plan and Allocation Judgment will determine who has the right to exercise parenting time with the children on each holiday.  It’s important to remember under most Parenting Plans, the schedule of assigned parenting time only takes place in the event the parents cannot agree who should have parenting time on a specific date.  This means the parents are free to work with each other, even after the divorce is finalized, to ensure the children’s best interests are put first.  Sometimes this means a Father giving up a Christmas Eve night with the children if the Mother’s side of the family is in town.  In this situation, the parents are free to work with each other to adjust their court-ordered holiday schedules.  If the Mother was assigned Thanksgiving parenting time, she can agree to the children spending Thanksgiving with Father.  The assigned parenting times need to only take effect if the parents cannot agree.

For those parents currently going through a divorce, holidays can be especially difficult.  If a Parenting Plan and Allocation Judgment has not yet been entered, each holiday will have to be addressed on an individual basis as they arise.  This can cause difficulties in planning out-of-state travel and logistics.  When the parents are unable to agree on a holiday parenting schedule, the majority of courts in Illinois apply an alternating annual schedule on an odd/even numbered year basis.  This means that for every holiday Mother is assigned in 2018, Father will be assigned the identical holidays in 2019, and vice versa.  Furthermore, the Illinois courts tend to divide the more popular holidays such that each parent will have some parenting time with the children on or near the holiday.  For example, If Mother is assigned Christmas Eve in 2018, Father will be assigned Christmas Day.  If Father is assigned New Years Eve, Mother will be assigned New Years Day.

While the Court’s assigning of alternating holidays ensures fairness, it does not always reflect or encourage the continuation of family traditions.  For this reason, parents are encouraged to work with each other to reach an agreement on a holiday schedule that best reflects what each parent believes to be the best interests of their children, rather than a third party deciding it for them.

There are a number of additional factors to consider when considering a holiday parenting schedule.  Contact a divorce lawyer or family attorney at our Lombard or Plainfield offices for a free consultation.  Our attorneys are able to meet in person or discuss your options via phone if it is more convenient for you.

For more information about Illinois Parenting Plans and Allocation Judgments, see section 5/602.7 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

 

When do I need an Order of Protection?

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a court order which restricts someone who has abused a family or household member. An Order of Protection may:

  • prohibit an abuser from continuing threats and abuse;
  • order an abuser out of a shared home or residence;
  • order an abuser out of that home while they are using drugs or alcohol;
  • order an abuser to stay away from you and other persons protected by the order and keep abuser from your work, school, or other specific locations;
  • prohibit an abuser from taking or hiding children, give you temporary custody, or require the abuser to bring the child to court;
  • require an abuser to attend counseling;
  • require an abuser to turn weapons over to local law enforcement; and/or
  • prohibit an abuser from other actions.

How do I obtain an Order of Protection?

To obtain an Order of Protection, you should ask your attorney to file in civil court or in a criminal prosecution.  If you are already going through an existing divorce or family court proceeding with the abuser, you may file it in that proceeding.  The divorce and family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert F. Kramer, Ltd. are experienced in helping clients in need of Orders of Protection obtain the legal remedies they need to protect themselves and their family members.

If you do not have an attorney, you can go to your local circuit court clerk’s office and get the necessary forms to seek an Order of Protection for yourself, or you may contact a domestic violence program for help completing the necessary forms.

What is Domestic Violence?

What is Domestic Violence?

Any person who commits an act of abuse against another family member or household member has broken Illinois domestic violence law.

How are family or household members defined?  Under Illinois law, family or household members are defined as:

  • family members related by blood or marriage;
  • people who are married or used to be married;
  • people who share or used to share a home, apartment, or other dwelling;
  • people who have or say they have a child in common;
  • people who have or say they have a blood relationship through a child;
  • people who are dating or used to date, including same sex couples; and
  • people with disabilities and their personal assistants.

 

What is an act of abuse?  An act of abuse in Illinois includes:

  • physical abuse (such as pushing, hitting, forced sex);
  • harassment (such as creating a disturbance at your job, repeatedly telephoning, following or watching you, preventing you from seeing your child, threatening to hurt you);
  • interference with personal liberty (such as not allowing you to leave);
  • making a child or other person watch abuse; and
  • denying a disabled person access to needed care.

Domestic violence is a serious issue and assistance may be obtained from law enforcement, domestic violence programs, court personnel and family law attorneys. The divorce and family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert F. Kramer, Ltd., are experienced in helping clients who have been victims of domestic violence obtain the legal remedies they need to protect themselves and their family members.

 

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