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

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Sugar grove divorce lawyerIf you are looking to get a divorce, you have likely encountered a long list of things that must be done before the divorce can be completed. One of the many steps that must be taken during a divorce is dividing marital property. This is one of the areas of divorce that is notorious for producing arguments and disagreements, even if you and your spouse are otherwise on the same page. The decisions made during this process are decisions about nearly every single piece of property that you own. If you make decisions that are not in your best interest, it can affect you for the rest of your life.

Marital Versus Nonmarital Property

The first step in the asset division process is determining what is and is not subject to division. Illinois law states that all marital property is subject to division, except for a few circumstances. Marital property is considered to be any asset or debt that you or your spouse acquired during the marriage. Certain assets that were acquired during the marriage, however, are exempt from division. These items include property acquired from a gift or through inheritance, property acquired in exchange for such property, property excluded from division as per a valid prenuptial agreement, and any property acquired after a judgment of legal separation.

Understanding Equitable Division

Once you have determined the property that is actually subject to division, you will then have to determine who gets which assets and debts. The court encourages couples to come to their own property division agreement, but unfortunately, that is not always feasible. 

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Sugar Grove divorce attorneyAlmost any issue that is discussed during divorce negotiations has the potential to become a contested issue. Even if you go into your negotiations with the goal of being cooperative, there is still a possibility that you and your spouse will not agree on certain things. When it comes to child-related issues such as parenting time and even child support, emotions and feelings can be at the forefront of these discussions. Both parents have the duty to provide financial support for a child, which is reflected in the child support formula that now takes into account multiple factors to calculate the parent’s payment. Before you discuss child support with your spouse, it can be beneficial to understand how the child support calculations are made. 

Determine Your Basic Support Obligation

Before you can determine who will pay support to who, you must first determine how much the state of Illinois thinks is an appropriate amount that both you and your spouse should spend on your child each month. This is called the basic support obligation. The basic support obligation is determined by adding together both parents’ net monthly incomes and then finding the matching basic support amount as shown in the schedule of basic child support obligations. This amount takes into account both parents’ incomes and the number of children between the parents. Then you will need to determine each parent’s percentage share of the basic support obligation. This is typically done by using the percentage of each parents’ share of the total household income.

For example, if Parent A has a net monthly income of $2,500 and Parent B has a net monthly income of $4,500, the net monthly household income is $7,000. If this couple has three children, this means that the basic support obligation between both parents is $2,035.

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Kane County divorce attorney QDRO

Nearly all financial aspects of divorce are complex, but few are quite as confusing and consequential as the 401(k) retirement plans. Unlike other assets, these accounts often lead to costly penalties when dividing them, and those who dip into them to fund the actual divorce often find themselves in even more financial trouble. Learn how to effectively divide your retirement plan in divorce, and how the assistance of an attorney can mitigate the risks.

The Complexities of QDROs

Qualified domestic relations orders, or QDROs, are used to divide retirement and pension plans in divorce. They are also exasperating and frustrating for those who do not know how to handle them. This is especially true when the QDRO is handled by a third party. Additional fees can be added when things do not go smoothly (such as failing to follow a third party’s outlined instructions)—sometimes two to three times more than what the divorcing parties might have otherwise paid. 

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Sugar Grove family law attorney divorce

Approaching divorce with the right perspective is often much easier said than done, but when you are able to look at the end of your marriage through a positive lens, the outcome is always healthier and less stressful for everyone involved. Grief and healing are processes that inevitably take time, but when you channel your energy into staying focused on new beginnings that will result from the separation, the road to peace and acceptance is generally less bumpy.

Here are three ways to help yourself develop a positive perspective on divorce:

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Kane County family law attorney parenting time

If the health, safety, or well-being of a child is in question, the court may opt to either suspend or restrict the parenting time of a parent. Alternatively, the court may order supervised visitations. In either case, it is the concerned parent who carries the burden of proof. Sadly, far too many parents are not prepared and their children continue to face danger for longer than necessary. Learn more about how to protect your child with help from the following information and an experienced attorney.

Burden of Proof

Parenting time in Illinois is protected, not for the sake of the parent, but for the sake of the child. In short, it indicates that a child has the right to emotional and financial support from each parent. So, under the eyes of the law, the restriction, suspension, or order of supervised parenting time is a limitation of the child’s rights. It is from this angle that parents can understand why a preponderance of evidence is needed to limit or restrict parenting time.

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County family law attorney parenting plan

During divorce proceedings between parents in Illinois, a parenting plan is created to determine each parent’s rights and responsibilities, including the time each parent spends with a child, also known as parenting time. The plan creates a structure that helps ease the transition of two parents who now live separately. It covers things like who is financially responsible for different aspects of the child’s life, how holidays or vacations should be approached, and daily life aspects like school and extracurricular activities. No matter how diligently you and your attorneys work to craft a suitable plan, it will not last forever as it was originally written. As time goes by, your situations will almost certainly change, and the parenting plan will probably require modifications.

Modifying Your Parenting Plan

As with creating the parenting plan in the first place, changing a parenting plan should be treated as a business transaction or contract negotiations. Amendments to an Illinois parenting plan require approval from the court. If there are any discrepancies, Illinois law falls back on the original parenting plan, but if the change has been active for six months, it may be added to the court-approved plan. Changes made without the court and official documentation are not enforceable. Illinois law states parenting plan changes should be in the best interests of the child. The state requires a significant change in circumstances in order to grant a modification. Acceptable reasons may include:

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Kane County family law attorny child custody

Family court judges are required to make decisions based upon the best interests of a child in any allocation of parental responsibilities case—previously known as “child custody” in Illinois. The judge will have to decide which home is the best place for the child to live most of the time. As a divorced parent, you may be wondering if the school district you live in will influence that decision.

Education Is One Factor

There are many different factors that go into making a decision that is in the best interest of the child in a divorce. The type of education a child will receive is an important consideration, but it is only one factor among many. Other factors Illinois judges look at when deciding what is in a child’s best interest include:

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Kane County family law attorney allocation of parental responsibilities

The allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody) can greatly impact the life of a child. Further, it can determine just how involved you are in the decision-making process of your child’s life. Whether you are an unmarried father who has recently established paternity or half of a couple going through a divorce, it is important for you to understand the allocation of parental responsibilities, including who may be eligible to pursue it and when.

What Is the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities?

The allocation of parental responsibilities can be broken down into two primary areas of concern: parenting time and significant decision-making authority for the child. Parenting time is the time that each parent spends with his or her child, while the decision-making authority pertains to the level of responsibility each parent has regarding important choices regarding the child’s life. For example, a parent with more decision-making authority may have the final say in where the child goes to school, or whether he or she attends church or not.

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Kane County family law attorney parenting time

One of the most difficult things for children—and parents—to handle during divorce are the transition periods between time with each parent, especially for young children. Your children are used to having both Mom and Dad in the same home together, sleeping in the same room every night, surrounded by the same toys and belongings. Suddenly, instead of the consistency of a daily routine, their little world is turned upside down and they spend their time being shuffled between two homes, two routines, and two different sets of rules. However, there are steps that parents can take to make that transition easier for everyone.

Prepare Kids for the Transition Between Two Homes

It is vital for children’s adjustment to feel secure and to know exactly what to expect now that they are going to be leaving their house to go spend time at what will also be their home, with the other parent. Discuss the things they may want to bring with them and assure them that you will help them pack those belongings. Explain what days they will be going from one home to another. A suggestion that provides a good visual for young children to follow is to make a color-coded calendar for each home so the kids can see when the transitions will take place and what days they will be at each home.

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce attorney asset division

Most couples who end up getting divorced usually see it coming months, if not years, before the papers are actually filed. It is not an uncommon scenario for a husband and wife to stay together long after they both realize their marriage is over. For anyone who is in this situation, there are steps that should be taken before the divorce process begins in order to ensure there is an equitable division of assets and no surprises for either party during divorce negotiations.

Financial Documents

If you are contemplating divorce or suspect that your spouse is, the first step you should take is to gather copies of all of your financial records, including:

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