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cool county divorce lawyerBefore divorce proceedings begin and a couple starts negotiating their differences, it can be difficult to tell whether a marriage is likely to end with hostility or respect. Spouses frequently surprise each other by the extent to which they are willing to fight over seemingly small issues. Likewise, a couple may also be surprised by how smoothly they can negotiate.

Although divorce is rarely predictable, certain things can let spouses know whether attempting mediation rather than divorce court is likely an effective strategy. Both mediation and divorce trials have pros and cons, and spouses getting divorced would be wise to weigh their options before making any decisions.

What are the Benefits of Mediation? 

Mediation can be a great strategy for couples who can communicate well and are willing to work hard to minimize hostility and resentment. Openness, honesty, and a willingness to put certain personal differences aside will help divorcing parents focus on more important things like asset division, child support, and allocation of parental responsibilities

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chicago custody lawyerWhen questions arise in an Illinois court case regarding the best interests of a child, there are many different people who may potentially be involved. Attorneys for each parent, child welfare agents, and other parties advocating for the best interests of the child may each play a role with slightly different responsibilities. 

In this article, we will examine the roles of child representatives, guardians ad litem, attorneys for the child, and custody evaluators. If a guardian ad litem has already been assigned to your child custody case, read our previous article to find out more about what you can do. 

What is a Child Representative? 

Child representatives are attorneys for a child and are tasked with advocating for the child’s best interests. They must investigate the circumstances and facts surrounding a case, meet with children and other relevant parties, and can be involved in court hearings related to allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, or overall parental fitness. Unlike a guardian ad litem, child representatives may not be called as witnesses to testify in court, and they do not submit a report to the court but instead provide evidence-based legal arguments. 

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 chicago divorce lawyerTo many people, a divorce seems like a long process with tons of conflict and stress. However, it does not have to be that way. If both partners are willing to be civil with one another and look at the big picture, they may be able to have a more peaceful divorce. If you and your spouse plan to get divorced, you can take steps to make proceedings less stressful.

Ways to Minimize Conflict in Your Divorce

A divorce can be one of the most difficult events of your life. You and your spouse may feel anger and resentment towards each other. Despite all that, it may be possible to reduce conflict during the process.

  • Consider mediation. Fighting in divorce court for months can definitely cause stress and heartache. To avoid this, think about working with a trained mediator. This professional can help you and your spouse come to a favorable agreement faster and with less conflict. A family law mediator does not replace an attorney, but mediation may help spouses find common ground and resolve divorce disputes. 

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chicago family lawyer Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts some couples enter into before getting married. These contracts set forth the division of assets in the event of a divorce and are typically recommended for couples with wealth disparities and those who have been married before. If you are considering creating a prenuptial agreement, it is important to consult an Illinois family lawyer promptly.

Misconceptions About Prenuptial Agreements 

Prenuptial agreements have a bad reputation due to misinformation and misunderstandings. However, prenuptial agreements can provide multiple benefits for both parties. Here are a few common misconceptions about these agreements.

  • If you sign a prenuptial agreement, you plan to divorce. Some couples are reluctant to enter into a prenuptial agreement because the document is associated with divorce. However, just because you sign this agreement does not mean you and your partner will get divorced in the future. It simply offers protection for both parties if a divorce does occur.

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chicago divorce lawyerIf you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, it may be difficult for the two of you to agree on divorce issues. Instead of relying on a judge to make important decisions in your divorce, such as child custody and property division, consider going through mediation. The process can be beneficial for many divorcing couples willing to discuss the unresolved issues and work toward a solution cooperatively. 

How Divorce Mediation in Illinois Works

Mediation is intended to help couples reach reasonable agreements about various issues in their divorce, such as spousal maintenance, child support, and allocation of parental responsibilities. During each mediation session, you and your spouse will sit down with a trained mediator, who will facilitate a civil and productive discussion about the unresolved aspects of your divorce.

Although a mediator must have extensive knowledge in divorce and family law, he or she cannot provide you or your spouse with legal advice unless he or she is also a lawyer. A mediator can, however, help you identify common ground, ask you and your spouse to clarify your points, and help you brainstorm possible resolutions.

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chicago divorce lawyerA divorce can be one of the most difficult and emotionally draining times of your life. It is also no secret that divorces can take a long time to finalize. If your spouse was the primary breadwinner in your marriage, you may wonder how you will financially support yourself and children in the meantime. After all, the mortgage, utility bills, childcare costs, and other bills still have to be paid. Luckily, you can file for temporary relief orders that can provide the financial support you need before the divorce is finalized and the final orders are entered.

Requesting Temporary Spousal Support

Before your divorce is finalized, you may request temporary spousal support from your spouse. You will be required to file a petition with the court and provide an affidavit that explains why you need the temporary relief. The affidavit has to contain bank statements, tax returns, and other financial documents that support your statements. A judge may consider several factors when deciding whether or not to award temporary maintenance, such as you and your spouse’s annual earnings, the standard of living you had during your marriage, the property you and your spouse own, and how long your marriage lasted.

Keep in mind that a judge will not consider marital misconduct in the decision. Therefore, if your spouse had an affair during your marriage, it will not affect how much temporary support you will receive.

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chicago child custody lawyerIn Illinois, child custody is broken down into two components. The allocation of parental responsibilities refers to how parents divide child-related decision-making responsibilities. Parenting time, formerly called visitation, refers to the time a parent spends directly caring for his or her child. Parents are asked to reach an agreement about parenting time, parental responsibilities, and other parenting concerns and describe the agreement in a parenting plan. However, reaching an agreement about these issues is not always easy – especially when divorcing or unmarried parents disagree about what is best for their child. In some child custody disputes, a guardian ad litem is assigned to the case.

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

In any child-related legal dispute, the child’s best interests are the court’s top priority. When parents disagree on how to allocate parental responsibilities or parenting time, the court may intervene and make a decision on the parents’ behalf. In some child custody disputes, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to the case. GAL’s are attorneys with special training in family law issues. The GAL is not an attorney representing either parent. Instead, the GAL’s job is to investigate the circumstances of the dispute and use what he or she learns to determine what is in the child’s best interests. The GAL shares his or her findings with the court and makes an official recomendation about the case’s outcome.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

If you are a parent, grandparent, or other guardian going through a child custody dispute, you may be shocked to learn that a guardian ad litem has been assigned to your case. You may even feel offended that the court deems a guardian ad litem necessary. Remember, the GAL’s job is to ensure that the court’s decision is as informed as possible. Having a GAL assigned to your case does not mean that you are being accused of anything.

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chicago paternity lawyer Paternity is classified as the legal relationship between a father and his child. When a child is born to parents who are not married, steps can be taken to establish paternity. Depending on the unique circumstances of your situation, establishing paternity may present many unforeseen challenges. If you find yourself in a paternity-related dispute, it is important to discuss your case with a skilled family law attorney. How to Establish Paternity

One of the most common ways to establish paternity is to sign and complete a Voluntary Acknowledge of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital after the child is born. If the father of the child is not present or is undetermined at that time, there are three ways to establish paternity at a later date:

  • Both parents may complete, sign, and submit a witnessed VAP with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services at any time

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Chicago divorce attorneysSpousal support, also called alimony or spousal maintenance, is designed to limit the negative financial consequences of divorce experienced by a lesser-earning spouse. In the past, husbands were almost always the payors of spousal support and wives were the recipients. However, as more and more women are becoming primary earners, orders of spousal support from ex-wives to ex-husbands are becoming more common.

In Illinois, courts have considerable discretion in determining whether or not to award spousal maintenance. Typically, statutory formulas determine the amount and duration of maintenance payments.

When Is a Spouse Entitled to Spousal Support?

If a divorcing couple has a valid prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement that establishes spousal support terms, the court will typically uphold this agreement. If there is no prior spousal maintenance agreement, the court will consider a range of different factors when determining whether spousal maintenance should be awarded. These factors include but are not limited to:

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