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Wakenight & Associates, P.C.

707 N. York Street, Suite 201, Elmhurst, IL 60126

DuPage County | 630-852-9700

Mokena | 815-727-6144   Oak Park | 708-848-3159

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As of 2018, Illinois is the12th state to adopt a collaborative practice law under the Illinois Collaborative Process Act. In a collaborative divorce , spouses hire attorney s to facilitate their equitable distribution negotiations outside of court. Since implementing the law in January, it has become increasingly common for divorcing couples to utilize the collaborative process as an alternative to traditional divorce .

How Does the process Work?

In a traditional Illinois divorce , spouses file for dissolution of marriage and hire lawyers to represent their individual interests in court. divorce can be a stressful and highly emotional process, and court negotiations may become adversarial if spouses start fighting over asset division.

A collaborative divorce is a unique alternative because it requires all parties - spouses and attorney s - to sign an agreement stating that all negotiations will take place outside the courtroom. Under this pledge, divorce lawyers are responsible for facilitating communication between both parties until a settlement is mutually agreed upon. Lawyers also have the duty of ensuring that all participants are fully and honestly disclosing any requested and required information.

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In many ways, a military divorce shares many similarities with a civilian divorce and, depending on the circumstances, might not be that much more complicated to navigate with legal help. That said, they do share some differences, including the service of process, residency and filing requirements, and specific rules regarding thed ivision of military pensions.

To help shed some clarity on the basics of a military divorce , we have compiled a list of military laws and rules you should familiarize yourself with as you begin this process:

  • Military divorce laws: Military divorce s are governed by state and federal laws. When dividing assets like military pensions, federal laws will come into play, where as state laws will dictate how alimony is issued. If a military spouse ison active duty, the service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) prevents divorce proceedings from continuing for 60 days or more, if allowed by the court. this protection allows military spouses to devote their time and attention to their duties rather than worry about missing important court dates.
  • Jurisdiction: In order to grant a divorce to military members or spouses, a court must first have jurisdiction to hear the case. this is generally straightforward for civilians since jurisdiction is typically the place where one or both spouses live. For members of the military, jurisdiction might be the placewhere he or she has legal residence, despite being stationed elsewhere.
  • Service of process: Military members and their spouses typically have three options when it comes to choosing a state to file for divorce in. The filing spouse can choose to do so in the state where he or she resides, where the military spouse is stationed, or where the military spouse has legal residency. The divorce laws of the chosen state will govern how property distribution, child custody, alimony, and other key issues are determined.
  • Residency filing requirements: In many cases, states reduce or eliminate residency requirements for military divorce s, allowing members of the military or their spouses to file wherever themember is stationed. this is not always the case, however, so ask your divorce attorney or advice on your own specific situation.
  • Military pensions and other benefits: Military pensions are subject to division during a divorce . The payment of a military spouse's retirement is done so directly through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) as long as there were at least 10 years of marriage, which overlapped with 10 years of military service. Additionally, a former spouse of military personnel is eligible for full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges if they were married for 20 years or more, if the service member served at least 20 years of creditable service toward retirement pay, and if there was at least a20 year overlap of marriage and military service.
  • Spousal and child support: the court can enforce child support obligations in various ways, such as a court order, wage garnishment, and voluntary or involuntary allotment.

divorce attorney s in Illinois

If you believe your marriage is headed for a divorce , you need to take the right steps to understand your options and how to best protect your interests. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., our Illinois divorce attorney s can navigate you through your divorce , even if you or your spouse is a member of the military. We will use our experienceand knowledge to your advantage.

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Getting a divorce is not just an emotional process, but a financially difficult one as well. Divorcing spouses risk taking a major hit to their financial health during a divorce , especially with out proper legal guidance on their side. While you might be tempted to fixate on what went wrong in your marriage or on how to cope with this major change in your life, it is crucial to also try to limit the other effects your divorce will have on your life, so you can work toward minimizing the damage.

Below are some of the most common missteps spouses make during a divorce and some advice on how to avoid them:

  • Missing money: It is crucial to take the time to examine your assets in order to make a thorough accounting of current accounts, non-cash assets, and future assets, such as pensions, business interests, or start-up stock options.You should also remember to include the income you earned prior to filing for divorce but received after. The cut-off date for asset valuation is the date of your divorce filing, so pay close attention to these details. If you are actively involved in managing the household's finances, this might not be too daunting a task, but if not, your attorney can effectively help you fill in any gaps and reveal potentially hidden assets.
  • Ignoring tax basis: If you want a fair settlement , do not forget your taxes. For example, the spouse who is awarded the marital home that is worth $500, 000 will face a different set of tax circumstances when he or she sells the house for profit than the spouse who receives distributions later on from an individual retirement account that is worth the same amount.
  • Staying connected: Remaining financially linked through joint accounts and beneficiary designations is a major liability once you begin the process of a divorce , especially if there is a lot of hostility with you and your soon-to-be former spouse.Open a new individual bank account to keep your future income separate and begin financially untangling yourself from your spouse. this couldinclude calling your credit card issuers to remove authorized users, closing joint accounts, updating deeds and titles to reflect who was awarded what, and changing beneficiaries.
  • Raiding retirement: Unless you are taking distributions from retirement for retirement purposes, tapping into these accounts to fund your divorce or to pay off joint debts is a big mistake. Barely half of all households have adequate savings for retirement, so dipping into them for your divorce is not going to improve your chances of a comfortable retirement for the future.
  • Getting emotional: Some of your assets will likely have a lot of sentiment attached to them, but if you are not careful, theemotional value you place on them will inflate your idea of what they are truly worth, making a settlement unfair and dangerous to your future. For example, getting the house will not matter if you lack the liquid assets to keep up with the mortgage. Try not to let your feelings for certain assets get in the way of making the right decisions.

divorce attorney s in Illinois

If you and your spouse are moving forward with a divorce , you need to seek skilled legal assistance to ensure your financial future is not compromised by any mistakes. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., our divorce attorney s in Illinois have the experience and knowledge that necessary to navigate you through this process while protecting your bestinterests and future.

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Divorcing spouses often cannot wait for the whole ordeal to be over and to put the past behind them. If you share children with your former spouse, however, you cannot simply move on and cut ties with your ex-spouse. The romantic portion of your relationship is over, but you will still have to co-parent your children together. Unfortunately, if there is lingering animosity, this situation can become stressful for everyone involved, including the children . The divorce was already hard enough on them, so you and your ex-spouse must work together to become effective co-parents to lessen the burden on your kids. After all, their well being is still the one common interest you two share.

If you are not sure where to begin on this path, we have compiled a list of tips below that will help you become more successful at co-parenting with your former spouse:

  • Keep it professional: Just because you will continue to co-parent your children together does not mean you have to like your ex. In your professional life, you have likely worked with and frequently interacted with someone whom you did not like and the two of you still managed to perform your job. If you dislike your former spouse, simply approach it from a professional angle and keep your interactions succinct, to the point, and as civil as possible.Removing the emotional aspect of it will help keep you sane and prevent you from getting riled up.
  • Open communication is key: Open communication regarding your children is crucial to make this work, so always do what you can to ensure the two of you are on the same page. If you find face-to-face conversations uncomfortable, consider phone calls, text messages, or emails to avoid any unpleasantness while still effectivelycommunicating thenecessary information.
  • Keep each other up to speed: Even when joint custody is awarded, one of you will be the primary custodial parent. That said, both of you are entitled to the same information, so always keep your co-parent up to speed on important details, such as medical problems or educational issues. Remember, you are in this together because of the children , so hiding something from your ex will do you all a great disservice.
  • Be flexible: You and your ex-spouse will have a parenting plan and visitation schedule that was either court ordered or formally agreed upon and, while it should be followed, there will be occasions when your schedules will conflict and call for some flexibility. You should both work to reasonably accommodate these conflicts rather than try to make the situation harder than it already is. Try to be understanding of each other's needs to avoid animosity from building up in ways that will eventually impact your children .

Child Custody attorney s in Illinois

Issues regarding custody are among some of the most difficult family law matters parents will face. Instead of going through it alone, turn to the skilled and compassionate Illinois child custody attorney s at Wakenight & Associates, P.C. to guide you through this complicated and emotional process while protecting your family's best interests. We will work hard to help you, in or out of court.

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No two divorce s are alike. For some, the process can be incredibly complex and time-consuming, while for others it could potentially be much more straightforward and relatively quick. That said, for those who are about to embark on moving forward with this decision and will soon work toward dissolving their marriage, having a general idea of the process and its time line can be helpful in minimizing the uncertainty of what to expect.

Below is a time line that should give you an idea of thechronology in an average divorce , though you should consult with a divorce attorney fora more accurate understanding of what to expect for your own circumstances:

  • In a divorce , one spouse will obtain the services of an attorney who will assist him or her in writing a petition for divorce that explains the why a divorce is being sought and how he or she would like to settle certain key issues, including those related to finances and custody.
  • the spouse's attorney will file this petition with the court.
  • Once the court receives this petition for divorce , the other spouse must be served these papers along with a summons that will require his or her response with in a specified time frame.
  • the served spouse is typically expected to respond with in about three weeks. The answer he or she provides will say whether or not he or she agrees with the petition and, if the spouse does not respond, the court will assume he or she agrees to the terms set forth.
  • Both spouses will then exchange documents and information on issues regarding property and income. After the exchanged information is examined, the couple or the court can decide on how to divide assets and how to approach alimony and child support.
  • Divorcing spouses can opt to voluntarily resolve these issues through alternative methods for divorce , such as mediation or collaborative divorce .
  • In the event that both parties able to reach a settlement , the agreement will be shown to a judge during an informal hearing, where he or she willask a few questions and ensure each party understands the agreement.
  • If the judge approves of it, the spouses will be given a divorce decree that will legally bind them to their agreement. However, if the judge does not approve of the agreement, or an agreement is impossible to reach through negotiations, the divorce will go to trial.
  • During the divorce trial, the attorney for each spouse will present evidence and arguments on behalf of their client. Based on the evidence and arguments presented, the judge will decide on any unresolved issues, such as child custody, alimony, and property division.

Keep in mind that the length of time necessary to complete this process will entirely depend on your own specific situation and how willing you and your spouse are able to work with each other on a settlement to avoid going through divorce litigation, which can substantially lengthen the duration of your case.

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