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Kane County family law attorneyA prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a premarital contract regarding a couple’s property and assets, including how they will be handled in the event of a divorce. To be legally enforceable in our state, a prenuptial agreement must conform to the legal requirements contained in the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Even a seemingly small error could render a premarital agreement unenforceable. Here, our family law attorneys highlight four of the most common reasons why prenups are deemed invalid in Illinois.

No Formalized, Written Agreement

In some circumstances, you do not necessarily need a written agreement to have a valid contract. An oral contract is sometimes enforceable in Illinois. However, an informal or oral prenuptial agreement is never valid in Illinois. Under state law, a prenup must be “in writing and signed by both parties.” An informal pre-marriage “deal” is simply not enforceable. Only written and formalized prenuptial agreements will be enforced by state courts.

Prenup Contains Invalid Provisions

Not only does a prenuptial agreement have to be formal, but the contents must comply with strict state rules and regulations. There are only certain things that can be addressed within a prenup. If an agreement contains invalid provisions, the whole thing might be thrown out by a court. As a simple example, you cannot negotiate terms for child custody or child visitation within a prenup. In addition, you cannot pre-determine child support obligations.

Kane County spousal maintenance lawyerDuring a divorce case, there are a wide variety of legal and financial issues that will need to be addressed. One key issue that may play a role in some divorces is the matter of financial support paid by one spouse to the other. This form of support, which is commonly known as alimony, is referred to as spousal maintenance in Illinois. Those who are going through the divorce process will want to be sure to understand the laws surrounding spousal maintenance and the situations in which it may be awarded. By working with an experienced divorce attorney, you can be sure this issue will be addressed correctly as you work to legally dissolve your marriage.

The Purpose of Spousal Maintenance

Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not meant to be a punishment or a reward for either spouse. Instead, it is intended to address disparities in the incomes earned by divorcing spouses. Following a divorce, spouses should be able to continue living at the standard they enjoyed while they were married, but this can be difficult or impossible for one spouse if the other spouse earned the majority of the family’s income. For a person who was reliant on their spouse to provide for their needs, receiving spousal maintenance will allow them to support themselves after their divorce while also giving them the means to obtain education, pursue employment, and become self-supporting.

When Will Spousal Maintenance Be Awarded?

During the divorce process, a spouse may petition the court for temporary maintenance. These payments can allow them to establish new living arrangements and pay ongoing expenses. When negotiating a divorce settlement or resolving matters through litigation, a spouse may ask that permanent maintenance be awarded. These payments will be made after the divorce is finalized, and in many cases, maintenance will be paid for a fixed amount of time. However, in some cases, maintenance may be reviewable, meaning that after a certain period of time, the court will look at the parties’ circumstances to determine whether payments should continue or be terminated or modified.

St. Charles family law attorneyOnce your divorce is wrapped up, you and your family will embark on new journeys and a brand new way of life. When you and your ex-spouse share children, arrangements for parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities must be made, resulting in new routines and a lifestyle that you and your children were not previously accustomed to before the divorce. While these new arrangements can take some getting used to, they often result in happier, healthier homes and habits for you and your children.

Depending on your family situation, however, you may wish to take other people into consideration, such as grandparents, mentors, and close family friends.  Who will have visitation rights, and what will those rights look like? How will you determine which non-parents will spend time with your children, and how will you negotiate those parameters?

Non-Parent Involvement

If the visitation rights of non-parents are not addressed in the parenting plan, they can be granted by the court using the following guidelines:

Posted on in Divorce

St. Charles IL divorce attorneyIf you have recently made the decision to pursue a divorce, you will probably have many questions. You might wonder how much the process will cost you, how long the proceedings will take, and what you should expect along the way. There is also the issue of hiring an attorney to help you through your divorce. In today’s digitally-connected world, countless online resources offer guidance on handling a divorce without a lawyer, but doing so is not usually a good idea. It is especially dangerous if you and your spouse have children together or have even moderate wealth. Hiring an attorney is the best course of action, but do each of you need a separate lawyer, or can a single lawyer handle the proceedings on behalf of both of you?

Conflicting Interests

At its most basic, marriage is a type of contract between you and your spouse, which makes your divorce a legal proceeding to dissolve the marriage contract. Technically, this means that you and your spouse are opposing parties in the case, regardless of how well you get along and whether or not you have reached an agreement regarding the details of your divorce.

According to the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, the guidelines that govern how attorneys practice law in Illinois, a lawyer may not represent a given client “if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.” An attorney is presumed to have a conflict of interest if representing the client in question “will be directly adverse to another client.” As far as the law is concerned, this is exactly what would happen in your divorce. While you and your spouse might be committed to cooperation during your divorce, the law and the rules of ethics view your interests as conflicting with your spouse’s by virtue of being opposing parties in the same legal proceeding.

Posted on in Adoption

Kane County stepparent adoption lawyerAdoption is a lifetime commitment to a child that should not be taken lightly, and no matter how rewarding the ultimate outcome may be, it is rarely an easy process. Adopting a child of your spouse is often more straightforward than the adoption of a non-biological child, but it is still important to have competent representation. A qualified family law attorney can help you through the process of a stepparent adoption and ensure that your family’s rights are protected.

Stepchild Adoption in Illinois

In Illinois, an adult who is at least 18 years old, has a good reputation, and is under no legal disability can adopt a child. For some kinds of adoptions, the adopter must have lived in Illinois for a minimum of six months, or for 90 days if he or she is in the armed forces. However, this residency requirement can be waived in the case of a related adoption, including one involving a stepchild.

To legally adopt the child of your spouse, the parental rights of the child’s other biological parent must be terminated. A parent may voluntarily terminate their parental rights, or a court may terminate the rights of a biological parent if evidence shows that they are not fit to take care of the child. Some examples in which a court may decide to terminate parental rights include:

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