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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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 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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