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St. Charles IL divorce lawyerNo one gets married with plans to get divorced. However, a large number of marriages—between 30 and 40 percent, according to recent estimates—fail to stand the test of time. Ending a marriage relationship is the most personal of decisions, and doing so can be incredibly difficult emotionally. Nevertheless, there are many things that may signal that it is time for you to file for a divorce.

What Are Irreconcilable Differences?

In 2016, the Illinois legislature abolished all fault grounds for divorce in the state. As a result, the only required grounds for divorce are that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences. This basically means that the law recognizes the need for divorce when the marital relationship cannot be saved.

Nobody should have to live in a situation where there is constant bickering or where one or both partners no longer feel connected to each other. If it is difficult to have civil conversations with your spouse, it may be time to consider divorce. Other signs that a divorce may be the best option include infidelity, major substance abuse issues, financial dishonesty, or the simple inability to find joy and happiness in the relationship.

St. Charles IL family law attorneyFollowing a divorce, if you had previously assumed the surname of your spouse, you have the option of returning to your birth or maiden name. This request can be included in a divorce petition, and it will typically be approved by the judge.

To change your name later on, or to change the last names of your children, a separate court order must be filed. Changing the names of your children you had with your ex-spouse is more complicated than changing your own, and having an attorney with experience in name change cases can help immensely.

Name Changes for Minor Children

According to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5), a request to change a minor’s name will be approved only if a judge finds that changing the child’s name is necessary to serve the child’s best interests. This means that the name change will not automatically be approved simply because you want your child to share your last name. The Illinois Parentage Act (750 ILCS 46) also contains a provision that allows a name change for a minor if both of the child’s parents agree to the change, but this statute is usually reserved for cases involving unmarried parents or if the child’s parentage is disputed.

Kane County divorce attorneyWhen you have made the decision to get divorced, there are many things that you need to do to prepare for the process. Among these is finding a divorce attorney who is willing to advocate on your behalf and fight to protect your best interests if necessary. Once you find the right lawyer, you will want to meet and spend some time with him or her so your attorney can best represent you. The more information you provide, the better your attorney is able to handle your case.

As you go into the first meeting with your lawyer, there are a number of things that you should be sure to cover, including:

What Information Do I Need?

For your discussion with your lawyer, you want to bring documentation that illustrates your financial contributions to the marriage. Most commonly, this includes tax returns, proof of income, bank statements, stocks, bills, and insurance paperwork. You also want to include debt information, including outstanding loans. Take the time to collect documents such as tax returns, pay stubs, credit card bills, and insurance policies so that your lawyer can have a good starting point for building your case.

Kane County divorce attorneyApart from acknowledging how much will be needed for rent and basic monthly expenses after a divorce, it is all too easy, and common, for divorcing couples to find themselves shelving the financial aspect of the split until after the process is finalized. When you consider the emotional toll of the end of a marriage and additional stressors such as parenting plan arrangements, a potential relocation, and maybe even a new partner for one or both parties, money is often one of the last things couples wish to think about. This can be especially harmful for those who have very limited funds to begin with, or for those who have little to no employment options when the marriage unravels. 

The Importance of a Financial Game Plan

No matter how much or how little money you have to work with, the lack of a financial game plan can result in a divorce that does not turn out in your favor. For example, if you and your spouse were already in serious debt prior to the separation, those debts may only get worse and become more unmanageable if they are ignored. As overwhelmed as you may already be, avoidance is never the answer where your financial well-being is concerned, especially when you are about to experience a significant shift in income and overall lifestyle due to the split.

Why It Pays Off to Address Financial Matters Early On

Whether you have had minimal time to prepare, are currently a stay-at-home parent and do not know where to turn for help, or are simply scared and are avoiding money matters because your mind is on overload, making a plan to address finances early on can help you turn the situation around. Here are three reasons why addressing your finances is important:

St. Charles IL grandparent rights lawyerSometimes, parents prove unwilling or unable to take care of their children. In these scenarios, there are several options for the children to receive care, but one that is becoming increasingly common is for a grandparent or grandparents to step in. According to official state estimates, there are more than 100,000 grandparents raising their grandchildren in Illinois. If you are in a position where you may decide to raise your grandchildren, there is a process to follow to ensure everything is legally sound.

Obtaining Physical Custody and Parental Responsibilities

There are several different options for grandparents to obtain physical custody of their grandchildren and decision-making authority regarding their well-being. The one that is most commonly used is to bring an action for parental responsibility under 750 ILCS 5/601.2, which is part of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). There are two scenarios under this law in which a grandparent could conceivably obtain physical custody. The first is if the child is not in the physical custody of their parents—for example, if the parents are both deceased, or if one or both parents voluntarily abandoned the child. The second is if one parent is deceased and the other is missing or incarcerated. If either of these applies to your family situation, the IMDMA is likely the best law under which to bring your petition. 

However, if neither of these scenarios is applicable, for example, if the child is still in the custody of one or both parents and there has been no willing relinquishment of parental responsibilities, other Illinois law statutes may offer a better option. Most often, these cases will fall under the Juvenile Court Act, wherein a parent must be proven unfit in order for a grandparent to gain custody. Grandparents pursuing this option should be aware that Illinois is one of the few states in which parental rights can actually be regained after losing them, though doing so is a difficult and laborious process.

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