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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhen you got married, did you and your new spouse move into a home that one of you already owned or did you find a new house? Have you purchased a new home since your marriage?  The answers to those two questions could directly impact the division of property process should you and your spouse ever divorce.

Prior Ownership

According to the law in Illinois, all assets that were owned by either spouse prior to the marriage and which were not subsequently placed into some form of joint ownership, are generally considered an individual’s non-marital property, not subject to division upon divorce. Determining ownership is fairly easy for smaller items. For example, you bought a washing machine before the marriage, it is non-marital. Larger purchases and investments can be a bit more complicated. If you and your spouse moved into a home that you had already paid off at the time of the marriage, the house, in all likelihood, would be considered non-marital property. If, however, you were still paying the house off for the first several years of the marriage and made some major improvements, the funds used to pay off the mortgage and make the improvements were marital funds. Thus, these marital funds used to improve and pay off the mortgage on a non-marital asset should be accounted for during the division of property.

Name on the Deed

Assume that five years into your marriage, you and your spouse purchase a new home. For credit or business reasons, your spouse—with your permission—puts only his or her name on the deed. The mortgage is in his or her name, along with all other legal documentation. Do you stand to lose out in the event of divorce?  No, you do not. Under Illinois law, it makes little difference whose name is on a particular note or title. If the purchase was made with marital funds—as in, you and your spouse’s biweekly paychecks being used to make mortgage payments—the house is part of the marital estate.

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Wheaton family law attorneysIn the state of Illinois, the legal rights of parents are based upon the recognition of their relationship with their children. For a mother, obviously, the presumption of a legal relationship is usually very simple. For a father, however, it may not be so easy, particularly if he is not married to the mother of the child. While paternity tests and court proceedings may sometimes be required in more complicated situations, such avenues can usually be avoided by means of a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, or VAP.

VAP Basics

Under Illinois law, a VAP can be used to establish the legal parent-child relationship between a man and his son or daughter. It does not require genetic testing, court adjudication, or any other outside influences. Instead, the VAP is, as its name implies, a voluntary acceptance of parental rights and responsibilities.

To be considered valid, the VAP must be signed or otherwise authenticated by both the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity. It must also specifically reference the child regarding whom the man wishes to establish parental rights. The signing or authentication of the form must also be witnessed. The law in Illinois also requires the VAP to include language that ensures the signing parents understand that the form is the equivalent of courtroom adjudication and that, once signed, it can only be rescinded or challenged in very limited circumstances.

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Wheaton family law attorneyIn Illinois, when a married couple has a baby, the husband of the woman who gave birth to the child is presumed to be the father of that child. However, when an unmarried couple has a child together, this presumption is not made. The process through which an unmarried father becomes the legal parent of a child is called “establishing paternity” or establishing parentage. If you wish to establish paternity of your child in Illinois, read on to learn how.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

There are a multitude of benefits to establishing paternity. A father who has become the legal parent of his child gains the right to pursue parenting time, or visitation, with the child and develop a loving parent-child relationship. In some situations, the father may also be able to obtain legal custody or parental responsibilities of the child. While courts rarely take custody or parental responsibilities away from an established parent unless that parent has shown to be abusive, neglectful, or otherwise unfit to parent, a legal father could start by asking for a share of the parenting responsibilities.

Establishing paternity also ensures that the father is the first point of contact for the child if a tragedy occurred, such as the mother’s death or serious accident. Fathers who are established as the legal parent of their child are usually obligated to pay child support. If an unmarried mother wishes to pursue child support from the child’s father, he must be formally established as the child’s legal parent first.

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Wheaton child support lawyersSometimes, life changes simply happen. A good job may evaporate, a relationship may end, or another factor may serve to significantly change your financial reality. When this happens, it may affect your child support payments. Failing to comply with your obligations will lead you into considerable trouble, but there are ways to modify your payment.

How Child Support Is Calculated

As of July 1, 2017, child support payments in Illinois are calculated using a formula based on both parents’ income and the number of children being supported. It sounds self-evident that your support payments should change when your income does, but for a variety of reasons, many parents do not petition for a change in payments immediately. Some believe that their circumstances are temporary so modification is unnecessary. Others are too ashamed to admit their loss of income. Some simply believe that they can handle what they think is a “personal matter” on their own.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIn your divorce case, you and your spouse will need to make difficult decisions on a large number of considerations. If the two of you are able to cooperate and negotiate amicably, you may be able to reach a reasonable agreement; however, if you cannot, it will be up to the court. In cases where spousal support, known as maintenance under Illinois law, is requested, the court is required by law to take a number of factors into account before making a determination. If you believe that maintenance is justified in your case, you need to understand what those factors are.

Reasons for Maintenance

A maintenance award is meant to offset some of the negative impact that a divorce can have on a financially disadvantaged spouse. In many marriages, one spouse is the primary earner while the other is essentially dependent on him or her, either by mutual agreement or due to the family’s circumstances. A divorce could place a spouse who relies on his or her partner financially in a very vulnerable position. It can be extremely difficult—impossible, in some cases—for that spouse to support him- or herself, especially if he or she is also primarily responsible for the care of the children. This is why maintenance exists, and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides the court with a list considerations that must be made when deciding on the need for spousal support.

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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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