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

221 S. Main Street, Suite 200
Sugar Grove, IL 60554

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

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630-234-4682

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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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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