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Posted on in Divorce

property division, divorce, cohabitation, lawyer, attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer, Chicago divorceThe definition of marital separation is changing. Traditionally, it involved the movement of one or both spouses out of the marital home into smaller houses, or possibly an apartment across town. As more couples deal with upside-down mortgages and a buyer's housing market, the apartment across town becomes the apartment in the basement.

 Many married individuals cannot afford the luxury of a true separation and family law judges are recognizing these financial complexities when making determinations about separation requirements. Ending a marriage often involves the disposition of the marital home. Whether you decide to sell the home and split the proceeds during asset division, or to refinance and “buy out” your spouse, the family home is often the most valuable asset for division in a divorce proceeding. The bursting of the real estate bubble left many married couples owing more than their houses are worth, and selling would leave the family in financial ruins. Those who do choose to sell must wait while their houses sit on the market for months or even years with no response. The only viable alternative is to separate under the same roof in hopes of a real estate turn-around. For some couples, the decision to stay under the same roof is centered around the well-being of the children. Maintaining a sense of stability and routine is just as important as maintaining a roof over their heads. Many parents decide that co-parenting is the best course of action for the children, even in the midst of a painful separation. This can prove beneficial because many judges prefer for parents to make decisions about their children, without necessary intrusion from the court.  How Cohabitation Affects Separation Requirements

Illinois law requires at least a six month separation period before a couple will be granted. divorce. Some states are strict in their definition of separation, mandating that the parties live in completely separate dwellings. In some jurisdictions, one night of cohabitation is enough to break the continuity of separation. Other states are much more liberal, allowing for co-habitation, as long as you maintain different bedrooms and refrain from sexual intercourse throughout the separation. Many jurisdictions fall in the middle of the spectrum, using a totality of the circumstances model to determine whether a true separation has occurred.

 In the past, some Illinois courts have found parties to have met the separation requirement even while living under the same roof. With the widespread phenomena of financial hardship, recent trends suggest that more family court judges are willing to grant divorces for separations occurring under one roof. From a public policy standpoint, separation is meant as a cooling off period, to let feelings settle and perhaps bring about reconciliation. The argument for divorce can be strengthened when reconciliation does not occur among parties under the same roof.  Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer An experienced Illinois divorce attorney can advise you about the separation requirements in your case and help you determine whether your housing decisions will impede the process of your divorce. Contact Goostree Law Group, P.C. for a consultation today.
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child custody, best interest of a child, Illinois divorce, Illinois family lawyer, children of divorceA high-profile and very heated child custody battle has made headlines in recent months, underscoring the complexities of determining parental rights after a divorce or break up. The battle over the nine-month old baby of Olympic skier Bode Miller and former marine and firefighter Sara McKenna has been raising questions as to mother’s rights in custody battles.

 According to’s New Day news blog and The New York Post’s online site, Mr. Miller and Ms. McKenna met through an elite dating service and dated for a short time while in California. Ms. McKenna became pregnant during that time, and, according to her, Mr. Miller requested that she get an abortion. Ms. McKenna decided to keep the baby, and, at seven-months pregnant, decided to move to New York, where she now attends school at Columbia University. Then, in November of 2012, Mr. Miller filed for custody of the baby boy.

 A family court referee made the first call in the Miller-McKenna custody battle, and it was a controversial one. The referee ruled that Ms. McKenna had been irresponsible and that she was reprehensible for moving from California to New York while she was pregnant, and subsequently awarded custody to Mr. Miller. A New York appeals court later overturned the New York Family Court ruling, and a Manhattan Family Court judge will hear arguments from Ms. McKenna and Mr. Miller to determine child custody and visitation issues. Though it is unclear how the judge will ultimately rule, it is very apparent that both sides are pushing hard to obtain legal custody of the young boy.

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marriage, dissolution of marriage, same sex marriage, same sex divorce, Illinois divorce lawyerThere was a time when divorce, same sex marriage and same sex divorce, civil unions and their dissolution, asset distribution, and a host of other family law related issues were non-existent or, at the very least, were very rarely discussed. That is not the case anymore, and the question remains: what has led to this progressive level of thinking? There is not a single encompassing answer, but the changes are occurring rapidly.


Divorce was a rare occurrence at one time, and it seems likely that education, technology, and shifting beliefs have all attributed to the increase in divorce rates across all age ranges. Many married couples are still finding a way to make it work, but others choose to opt out.

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Posted on in Divorce

business valuation IMAGEDivorce is never a pleasant endeavor. The issue of who gets what is ever present during any and all negotiations, and included with that difficulty is the very real possibility that the parties to the divorce are less than cooperative with each other, as they often harbor significant animosity. Add to all that the difficulties in dividing property, especially if that property is a business operated by the couple or one of the spouses to the marriage, and the task of divorce becomes even more complicated. Determining whether that business is marital property and its value are a paramount concern.

Valuation of Your Business

The first concern in valuing a business that is potentially subject to property division laws is to determine whether the business is marital or nonmarital property. If the business is determined to be nonmarital property, then it remains the possession of the spouse who owns it. Of course, there is the possibility that the business was started prior to the marriage but there has been an increase in value which may be considered marital property. In Illinois, 750 ILCS 5/503 deals with disposition of property, and can assist you in determining what may and may not be considered marital or nonmarital property

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Posted on in Divorce

With a few exceptions, all assets acquired during an Illinois marriage are considered marital property.  Most people may be aware that marital property can include significant assets such as a home pension plans, stocks and bonds. However, many people may not be aware that rewards points like frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and other similar points earned during the marriage may also be considered marital assets.  If the rewards points, or a portion of the points, were earned before the marriage, then the points are considered non-marital assets and are not subject to be divided upon divorce.

  Division of Rewards Points by the Divorcing Parties One way for the divorcing parties to divide the reward points would be to contact the airline, credit card company, or hotel and have them divide the points into two separate accounts.  This way, each spouse can take their separate account and use its reward points independent of the other spouse.  If the assets are frequent flyer miles, any transfer fees that an airline might charge should be considered in any divorce settlement agreement. Other issues that should be considered include some rewards programs’ prohibition on the transfer of points, even if the transfer is stated in a divorce decree; the potential expiration of reward points; and any possible fees associated with renewing the points. If the rewards program prohibits division of the points, then one spouse could agree to maintain the points and distribute half of the points to the other spouse upon request.  For example, after the divorce, the spouse who possesses the points would be responsible for booking a flight or hotel room for the ex-spouse.  The divorcing parties could also agree to reserve the rewards points for children or other family members to use.  Division of Rewards Points by the Court If you and your ex-spouse cannot decide on how to divide your property upon divorce, the court will determine what marital property is and how much that property is worth. If an airline, credit card company, or hotel places an actual cash value on the points, then the court’s calculation is straightforward.  Conversely, if rewards program does not assign an actual cash value to the points, it can be difficult for the court to compute a value for frequent flyer miles, hotel points, or other rewards points for the division of marital property. Reward points can vary in value depending on which flight or hotel property you wish to use, and what time of year or day you wish to use the points. Additionally, airlines, credit card companies, and hotels may be unclear regarding the actual value of the points, which can make it difficult for a court to award cash, or a spouse to offer cash to buy out the other’s spouse’s interest in the reward points.  Assistance with a Claim for Division of Marital Property It is not always easy to decide how to fairly divide reward points and other assets and debts of divorcing parties.  If you believe your spouse might have rewards points that could be marital assets, Goostree Law Group, P.C., can help you decide your best settlement options to divide the reward points and other assets equitably.  Contact our experienced Kane County family law attorneys today to see how we can help.
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