Ekker Law, P.C. / Steven B. Ekker, Esq.

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Sugar Grove, IL 60554

Ekker Law, P.C. / Steven B. Ekker, Esq.

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Kane County divorce attorneyYou may be surprised at how common it is for one spouse to hide money from the other. In the past, it was extremely common for older women to advise young brides to always have some money secretly stashed in case of emergency. Today, it is more common for the higher-earning spouse to keep money or other assets hidden away lest their spouse come after those assets in a potential divorce. It is hard to divide assets one spouse does not know about. Those who are less familiar with divorce law may believe this is advisable, although it almost never is.

If you have a sneaking suspicion that your spouse has more property or money than they are letting on, you may be correct - and you are not alone. It may surprise the average person how common it is for hidden assets to surface during divorce proceedings. If you do not think that your spouse is making full disclosure of all their assets, an attorney may be able to help find out for sure.

3 Steps to Take if Your Spouse is Concealing Money or Property 

Perhaps the best thing you can do to protect yourself if you suspect that your spouse has a financial secret is to find an experienced attorney and inform them of your suspicions. Some steps you and your lawyer can take during your divorce include: 

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Kane County personal injury lawyerNavigating life after a serious car accident can feel overwhelming. You might have a to-do list that seems endless. You might be trying to figure out how to get the time you need off from work to recover. There is a constant stream of follow-up medical appointments for you to keep track of. On top of that, the insurance company will not stop calling when all you want to do is rest and heal. The whole time, you are in pain and not up to doing the daily activities you are used to doing. Many car crash victims must rely on others to help around the house or with childcare duties.

During this chaotic and tiring time, it can be extremely easy to accidentally make a mistake that could impact your ability to make a full financial recovery from the driver who caused your accident. Enlisting an attorney to handle your claim can be very helpful for a number of reasons. 

What Common Mistakes Could Affect My Claim?

There are a few very common types of mistakes that car crash victims make. Unfortunately, a misstep could ultimately reduce the amount you can recover from the responsible driver. Your best option is to call an attorney almost immediately after the crash. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you avoid potential pitfalls that could hurt your case. In general, you should not: 

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County alimony lawyerDivorce can have a massive financial impact on spouses. Lesser-earning spouses may find themselves struggling to pay their bills without their spouse’s financial support. Higher-earning spouses may be required to pay child support or spousal support.

Whatever your situation, it is important to understand your financial rights and responsibilities in an Illinois divorce case. Alimony, called spousal support or spousal maintenance in Illinois, may be significant and it is important to be prepared.  

Who Can Get Spousal Support?

If you are getting divorced, you should know what to expect when it comes to spousal maintenance. In Illinois, spouses may be able to get spousal maintenance through a negotiated agreement between the spouses or a prenuptial agreement. Alternatively, the spouse seeking support may file a petition for spousal maintenance through the court.

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Kane County divorce attorneysSome of the most contentious issues in an Illinois divorce have to do with child custody, the allocation of parental responsibilities, and parental rights. It is understandable that emotions and anger levels may become high between the two parents, but it is important to let your divorce attorney handle these issues. Until a solid parenting plan is agreed upon, it is important to remember the following “do nots” in your case.

Do Not Put Your Child in the Middle

Although it is important for parents to have honest conversations with their child about the divorce and what changes this may mean for the family, this should never be done at the expense of the other parent. Focus on your child’s feelings, fears, and needs and not on what your opinions are of your soon-to-be ex.

Do Not Withhold Visitation or Child Support

One of the most egregious actions in the eyes of the court is when a parent uses their child to get back at the other parent. When one parent blocks access to the child or withholds child support, the person who is the victim and suffers the most is the child.

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Kane County family law attorneyWhen you are considering a divorce, it can be a very emotional and stressful time. There are certain steps, however, that you need to take in order to ensure that you get the best possible outcome possible based on your situation. One of the most crucial elements of any divorce case is ensuring that all information regarding marital finances—both assets and debts—are shared with your divorce attorney. The following are some of the steps you should take as you prepare to file for divorce.

Preparing the Paperwork

Whether you are still contemplating divorce or have made the decision that you want out of your marriage, there are things you can do to help organize your finances before you actually file your divorce petition.

When you file for a divorce, in addition to the motion requesting the dissolution of your marriage, you will also be required to provide the court with a financial affidavit. A financial affidavit asks a series of questions which will help determine what your financial status is. You will need to answer questions such as all sources of income, including any tax, insurance, union dues, or other deductions. You will also be required to provide a list of all your expenses and other debt.   

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Kane County airline injury attorneysWhile there are many people who are so afraid of flying that they often need medication to calm down enough to get on a plane, the truth is commercial airlines are one of the safest ways of traveling. However, although statistically the odds of dying in an airplane crash are so small they cannot even be calculated, there is a legitimate concern regarding the potential of serious personal injuries a person can suffer before, during, and after their flight.

Overhead Bins

According to several airline safety sources, more than 4,500 passengers are injured each year because of luggage and other items falling from overhead bins. Because most airlines now charge for any checked-in luggage, many passengers pack as much as they possibly can in their carry-on bags, so these items are usually fairly heavy. If one or more of these bags lands on top of a passenger opening a bin, they can suffer some serious injuries, such as concussions or even fractured bones.

Food Carts

There is also the risk of injury during a flight from rolling food carts. This can happen if the passenger is sitting by ramming their shoulders, legs, or feet while it rolls down the aisle or a cart can hit a passenger walking by due to how narrow plane aisles are.

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Sugar Grove paternity lawyerIn today’s world, fewer people are getting married before deciding to have children together. It is not at all uncommon for children to have parents who never were married and are no longer together. Illinois law addresses the various issues that involve parents and their children, regardless of whether the parents were ever married or not. When an unmarried couple has a child together, they should immediately take steps to establish paternity for the child, which provides important protections for all parties involved under Illinois law.

Voluntary Acknowledgements of Paternity

Some men who are certain about the paternity of their child will go ahead and voluntarily establish paternity, which typically occurs at the hospital shortly after the child’s birth. Both parents can sign a Voluntary Establishment of Paternity form, which places the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate and legally establishes him as the father of the child. Keep in mind, however, that signing a voluntary establishment of paternity form waives a man’s right to genetic testing and gives him both rights and responsibilities. For instance, he will have parental rights in terms of access to the child. He also will have financial obligations in terms of supporting the child.

Paternity Testing

If a man is not sure whether he is the father of a child, or he otherwise will not cooperate in voluntarily acknowledging paternity, then the man can be required to undergo genetic testing. The DNA test results will definitively prove whether a man is the biological father of a child or not. If the test results reveal that the man is the child’s biological father, then parentage can be formally established for the child, and the mother can pursue financial support for the child if she wishes.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1828226513.jpgThere are a variety of situations where parents may need to address legal issues related to their children. These cases will often involve the end of a relationship between parents, including when a married couple chooses to divorce or when unmarried parents break up. To ensure that children will have the necessary financial resources, child support will usually be ordered in these cases. While one parent will generally be expected to pay child support to the other, parents will need to understand how the amount of payments will be determined and the types of expenses that child support will address.

Basic Child Support Obligations and Additional Expenses

While parents may expect that one party will pay child support, they may not fully understand how Illinois law determines child support obligations. In most cases, the “non-custodial” parent will be expected to pay support to the parent who will have primary custody of the couple’s children. However, when child support obligations are determined based on the guidelines in Illinois law, both parents’ incomes will be considered, and the amount of parenting time that each parent has with their children may also be a factor that will play a role in the calculation of child support.

When creating a child support order, a “basic support obligation” will be determined, and this amount represents what the parents would have been expected to put toward providing for their children’s needs if they had not ended their relationship. Each parent will be responsible for a percentage of the basic support obligation, with these percentages being based on the proportions of each parent’s income and the combined income earned by both parties.

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 b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_439098511.jpgPeople often want to know what to expect when they are thinking about filing for divorce. The truth of the matter is that this can be a hard question to answer because every divorce unfolds in its own unique way. 

Even so, there are certain aspects of a divorce that can go one of two ways. For instance, if you file for divorce and need to present the divorce papers to your spouse, the hope is that your partner accepts them in a respectful manner. 

However, in some cases, both spouses are not in agreement with the idea that a divorce is the best decision for their relationship. In those instances, one partner will file for divorce and give the divorce petition to their spouse, only for their spouse to refuse to sign the documents. 

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IL divorce lawyerSubstance abuse can affect people of any age, gender, or income level. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can take over a person’s life and destroy relationships within a matter of months. If your marriage is ending and your spouse is an alcohol or drug addict, you may wonder if this will affect the divorce process. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so you will not report substance abuse as the grounds for the divorce. However, drug abuse can affect the financial and child-related aspects of divorce.

Drug Use and Child Custody in Illinois

Using legal drugs like cannabis or alcohol does not necessarily prevent someone from being a good parent. However, excessive use of drugs and alcohol – especially use of illicit substances like methamphetamine or heroin – can certainly affect someone’s parenting ability. If you believe that your spouse’s addiction may endanger your child, you may want to petition the court for all of the parental responsibilities and parenting time. Alternatively, you may want to request a parenting time restriction such as supervised parenting time.

Understanding Dissipation of Assets Claims

Illinois courts do not consider marital misconduct when dividing property between spouses. However, a spouse who wastes money prior to divorce may be subject to a “dissipation of assets” claim. Dissipation refers to wasteful or reckless spending or intentional destruction of assets. If your spouse drained the bank accounts or sold property to fund his or her addiction, this may be considered dissipation. If successful, a dissipation of assets claim will require the dissipating spouse to reimburse the marital estate for the lost funds. However, wasteful spending must occur within a certain time frame to count as dissipation.

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IL injury lawyerAny accident involving a commercial truck can be life-changing for all parties involved. If you or a loved one were seriously hurt, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may be in one’s best interest. Any time spent in the hospital or days missed at work are damages you should be compensated for. Additional types of damages in these cases can range widely, and determining who is liable can be difficult. This is why hiring an experienced truck accident attorney is essential.

Types of Damages an Injured Person May Receive

In truck accidents, the number of involved parties tends to increase, as do the complexities of a personal injury claim. Property damage, medical expenses, and loss of income due to time off of work are the most common forms of compensation being sought by crash victims. You may have the right to further compensation, such as:

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Il divorce lawyerWhether you and your soon-to-be-ex are on good terms, or you cannot stand to be in the same room together, one thing is certain: Co-parenting with someone to whom you used to be married is hard. Even if you initially agree on child custody terms, disagreements and complications are bound to arise. This is why it is so important to build a strong parenting plan during your divorce. A well-thought-out parenting plan can help you and your child’s other parent focus on what really matters: Your kids.

Try to Work Out an Agreement that Minimizes Conflict

When parents divorce, they are required to submit a parenting plan to the court for approval. If the parents cannot agree on the plan, the case may eventually end up at trial. Child custody disputes are stressful for adults and children. If you can, try to reach an out-of-court agreement. Mediation may be a useful tool if you and the other parent are able to discuss issues cooperatively. However, if the situation is more contentious, negotiating an agreement through your attorneys may be the better option.

Include More Than the Bare Minimum

Illinois law describes 15 different issues that must be addressed in your parenting plan. You will need a parenting time schedule or detailed method for determining parenting time, an allocation of decision-making responsibilities, information about how the children will be transported between households, and much more. However, parents are encouraged to include additional information. The more detailed your parenting plan, the better. Consider the parenting obstacles you may encounter in the future and make a plan for how to deal with them. For example, which parent will get to spend time with the child on his or her birthday? How will parents transport the children to and from extracurriculars? How much time will children spend with grandparents and other family members? The more you can decide on in advance, the less you will have to decide in the heat of the moment.

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IL divorce lawyerGetting divorced is much more than deciding not to be married any longer. Divorcing spouses must also determine the terms of the divorce. Depending on their unique situation, they may need to address the distribution of marital property and debts, parenting time schedules, parental responsibilities, and spousal maintenance or alimony. If the couple can agree on these issues out of court, they may be able to save themselves time, money, and frustration. Mediation is one method of alternative dispute resolution that many divorcing couples find beneficial; however, it is not sufficient in every case.

Advantages of Divorce Mediation

During mediation, both spouses sit down with a mediator to discuss the unresolved divorce matters. They may negotiate the terms of their property division arrangement, decide who will keep the kids on what days, determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, and more. The mediator helps the couple stay focused and explore various solutions and compromises. Using mediation to resolve divorce issues allows you to stay in control of your divorce’s outcome. It may also help parents stay on relatively good terms so that they can build a functioning co-parenting relationship for the sake of their kids. The conversations you have during mediation are also confidential.

Mediation Alone Is Not Always Enough

In Illinois, divorcing couples are sometimes required to attend mediation. If you and your spouse are struggling to discuss divorce issues calmly and productively, mediation may be useful. In many cases, mediation is a great first step. However, you may need to take additional action to fully resolve the divorce issues.

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IL divorce lawyerNo divorce is without conflict or complication. However, some divorce cases are more complex than others. If you are thinking about divorce and you are over age 50, it is important to consider the unique obstacles you may face. “Gray divorce” or divorce involving older couples often involves unique legal and financial issues that divorcing couples in their 20’s or 30’s may not face. Consequently, it is highly recommended for older spouses to work with an experienced divorce lawyer versed in gray divorce issues.

Divorce and Your Retirement

One of the top concerns during a gray divorce is how the divorce will affect retirement. Many people wonder if they will be forced to share their hard-earned retirement with their spouses during divorce. They fear that they will be forced to take out funds early and suffer the associated withdrawal penalties or delay their retirement. Divorcing individuals who were homemakers or stay-at-home parents worry about how they will make ends meet during their golden years and whether they will have access to their spouse’s retirement benefits.

In Illinois, retirement benefits that a spouse accumulated during the marriage are considered marital property. Both spouses have a right to a portion of the retirement funds. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is typically used to divide retirement and pension plans in an Illinois divorce. Spouses may also negotiate a property division arrangement in which one spouse keeps retirement funds, and the other spouse keeps property of equivalent value. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you determine the best way to address retirement accounts during your divorce.

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IL injury lawyerSevere and fatal truck crashes can happen in the blink of an eye. Few videos demonstrate the immediate chaos of a semi-truck crash better than a recent video of a fatal Illinois truck accident. The video shows the semi-truck careen into oncoming traffic before bursting into flames. Sadly, the October 5, 2021 accident left the 34-year-old truck driver with fatal injuries. Paramedics pronounced the driver dead at the accident scene. Truck crashes like these are not uncommon in Illinois and victims are often left with gruesome injuries that require long-term medical treatment.

Truck Accident Liability Is Not Always Clear

Crashes involving large commercial trucks can be caused by any number of factors. Sometimes the truck itself is the underlying cause of the accident. Trucks that have not been properly serviced may contain weaknesses that make an accident inevitable. Manufacturing or design defects in the truck’s tires, steering mechanism, brakes, or other truck parts can also cause preventable truck crashes.

The truck driver, or more likely, the driver’s employer, may be liable for truck crashes called by driver negligence. Fatigued driving, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving may all contribute to a truck collision. In some truck crashes, several different parties share responsibility for the accident. Determining who is legally responsible for a truck crash and gathering evidence of that party’s negligence is a huge component of building a strong truck accident claim.

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Sugar Grove divorce attorneySpousal maintenance, spousal support, and alimony are all terms used to describe financial support that one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. Traditionally, spousal support was paid by husbands to wives. However, Illinois law now treats women and men the same with regard to spousal maintenance entitlement. If you are getting divorced, you may have questions about how much spousal maintenance payments will be and how long these payments last. The amount and duration of spousal maintenance vary from case to case, but there are general rules that apply to all divorce cases in Illinois.

How Much Money Does a Spouse Receive?

A spouse may be entitled to maintenance payments if the couple agrees to maintenance in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or during the divorce process, or if the court awards maintenance based on the spouses’ financial circumstances. If the payment amount is decided by the court, a statutory formula is typically used to determine maintenance. A quarter of the recipient spouse’s annual net income is subtracted from a third of the paying spouse’s annual net income to determine the amount of maintenance. In some cases, Illinois courts deviate from this rule; however, this is usually how maintenance is calculated.

How Long Do Spousal Maintenance Payments Last?

The duration of spousal maintenance varies. Typically, maintenance is paid on a time-limited basis. This financial assistance gives the recipient spouse time to find suitable education and employment. However, permanent or indefinite maintenance may be available for marriages lasting 20 years or longer.

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Sugar Grove family law attorneyIt may be hard to believe, but Christmas is just a few months away. If you are a parent who plans to divorce or has already started the divorce process, it is important to consider how you will account for holidays in your parenting plan. Where a child will spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and other holidays is often a major point of contention. Many parents have strong feelings about who their child should spend these special days with. Holidays can also present co-parenting challenges because of the disruption in school and childcare routines.

Parenting Time Schedules in Your Illinois Parenting Plan

Although we still use the words “custody” and “visitation” informally to refer to parenting matters in a divorce, Illinois laws no longer use these words to refer to child custody matters. Instead, parents decide on an allocation of parental responsibilities, or decision-making authority, and parenting time, or time spent caring for the child.

Illinois law requires divorcing parents to submit a parenting plan to the court for approval within 120 days of seeking a custody order. The parents may agree on the plan’s terms and submit the plan jointly, or if they cannot agree, parents may submit separate plans. When parents cannot agree, the court typically requires the parents to attend mediation. If an out-of-court agreement still cannot be made, the court may decide on the parenting plan terms for the parents.

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sugar grove divorce lawyerEquitable distribution states, such as Illinois, courts equitably divide assets and debts during divorce. The assets and debts are considered the couple’s marital property, and the division of such property can be complex. Businesses may also fall under the umbrella of marital property. The two parties will have to appropriately divide the interest they share in the business, often requiring the assistance of expert witnesses to value the business’s assets effectively. 

Businesses Can Be Considered Marital Assets

Businesses will automatically be considered marital property if the spouses are co-owners. However, there are several additional ways in which a business may be deemed marital property. For instance, if the business was formed after the two parties married, it will likely be considered marital property. Alternatively, when businesses are formed prior to marriage, they likely will not be included in marital property. An exception to this would be if the other spouse made direct or indirect contributions to the business throughout the marriage. 

Prenuptial agreements can help to prevent businesses from being considered marital property in the event of a divorce. Alternatively, if the business is formed during the marriage, a postnuptial agreement can be utilized to clarify ownership of the business.

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sugar grove injury lawyerSuffering injuries from an accident can have a devastating impact on your livelihood. Whether the accident involves a car crash, a slip and fall, or another incident, unexpected injuries can have profound financial and non-financial consequences. Pursuing a personal injury claim greatly focuses on negligence and holding the at-fault party accountable. However, when both involved parties share the responsibility, the case can become complex. Illinois follows a legal doctrine called comparative negligence in shared-fault accidents. The laws regarding comparative negligence should be thoroughly considered when pursuing a personal injury claim in Illinois.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

One of the most conflicting tasks after a traffic accident is determining who was responsible for the crash. In some cases, the fault is very obvious, however, when it is not as apparent, it can complicate the accident further. The concept of comparative fault, or comparative negligence, comes into play when both parties involved share the responsibility for the accident, specifically when people or property is damaged as a result.

Some states apply pure comparative negligence, however, Illinois has adopted a new standard for recovering damages after an accident, referred to as modified comparative negligence. Modified comparative negligence is the most popular approach to establishing fault after an accident and determining recoverable damages. This legal doctrine states that a party will not receive compensation if they are found to be equally negligent or more negligent for the resulting injuries or property damage than the other liable parties. If the injured party is less than 50 percent responsible for the injuries, the recoverable amount is reduced by the degree of the receiving party’s negligence. 

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Kane County family law attorneyAlimony, technically called “spousal maintenance” in Illinois law, refers to financial support that one spouse pays the other spouse after a divorce. Temporary spousal maintenance orders called “temporary relief orders” may also be issued if a spouse requires financial support while the divorce is ongoing. Spousal maintenance or spousal support is an important source of financial assistance, especially for stay-at-home parents and spouses who have been out of the workforce for several years. There are three main legal avenues through which spousal maintenance is awarded in Illinois.

Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that spouses agree to before getting married. Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” address important financial concerns if a married couple divorces or a spouse passes away. Through a prenup, a couple can agree to a spousal maintenance arrangement in advance. This can save a great deal of time and stress during a future divorce. A postnuptial agreement is very similar to a prenup, but the couple drafts the agreement after they are already married.

Spousal Maintenance Agreements in the Divorce Settlement

Movies and television often make it seem as if most divorce cases go to trial. In reality, about 95 percent of divorces are settled before trial. Often, the spouses, or the spouses’ respective attorneys, negotiate the terms of the divorce and reach an out-of-court settlement. Whether you are the paying spouse or the recipient spouse, a skilled divorce lawyer can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf during spousal maintenance negotiations. Once you and your spouse reach an agreement on the amount, duration, and conditions of maintenance, this agreement can be written into the final divorce decree.

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