Congratulations! Your dream of retiring is about to become a reality. You’ve worked hard your whole life. Sure, the divorce set you back financially, but it was years ago.  You have prudently saved and invested your money.  It wasn’t easy to do, especially having to write that maintenance (alimony) check to the ex each month.  Wouldn’t it be nice to finally cash out and spend that money traveling the world or vacationing? The bags are packed, and the tickets have already been paid for. You’ll want to send a postcard to your loved ones from where ever you are.  Before you take flight, however, you may want to re-read your judgment for dissolution of marriage.

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Upon reading it, you snap out of your dream and you realize that your support obligation remains in full force and effect. Your maintenance obligation doesn’t automatically terminate upon your retirement. Sweat begins to form at your brow, nervousness comes over you, and panic sets in. However, you can rest easy, because Illinois law affords you some relief.

 

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Everyone has someone in their immediate or extended family who, because of advanced age or other physical or mental health troubles, requires more day-to-day intensive care.  This can be health care, assistance with performing daily tasks, help running errands, among many other things.  When a family member is the one that ends up providing this care, rather than hiring a sometimes costly third-party care provider, this commitment can take a toll on them as well.  The questions many people may have is what, if any, compensation or financial assistance is the caretaker entitled to for their services and sacrifice.

 

In situations such as this, the Illinois Probate Act provides that any spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child of a person with a disability who dedicates himself or herself to the care of the person with a disability by living with and personally caring for the person with a disability for at least 3 years is entitled to a claim against the estate upon the death of the disabled person. Continue reading

Scenario:  A motion has been filed in your case to obtain some general relief in family court, such as maintenance, child support, or parenting time. The judge in your case has heard all the facts and considered the evidence. A hearing or trial has taken place, and the judge has entered an order on the issue. You and the opposing party must now abide by this order or you will be subjected to the consequences for violating the same.

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Fortunately, you are an upstanding individual who obeys court orders to the letter. Unfortunately, the opposing party is not, and he or she is now disregarding the order. What do you do? Do you have to go back to court to enforce the order? Why should you have to pay an attorney to deal with the opposing party’s malfeasance? Thankfully, within the world of enforcing orders and being in contempt of a court, the law exists to help you by offering you remedies for your troubles.

 

Section 508(b) of Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states as follows:

“In every proceeding for the enforcement of an order or judgment when the court finds that the failure to comply with the order or judgment was without compelling cause or justification, the court shall order the party against whom the proceeding is brought to pay promptly the costs and reasonable attorney’s fees of the prevailing party.”

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If you have a lawsuit pending in a courtroom before a judge and want to change judges, do you have any recourse? Must the judge have acted improperly to be removed from the case?  In Illinois, the answer to these questions is: yes, and not necessarily, in that order.

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To begin, once a case is filed, it is automatically assigned to a courtroom (or “calendar,” to use Cook County parlance) in the particular courthouse. Cases are assigned to courtrooms, not judges. Judges are frequently re-assigned to new courtrooms for various reasons, including due to retirement, recent elections, and appointments to fill vacancies.  Therefore, often a change of judges will occur for no reason other than an administrative change in judicial assignments.

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The dictionary definition of “dissipation” is waste by misuse, to spend or use wastefully or extravagantly, to squander, to deplete.  The definition contained in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act refers to a spouse’s wasting of marital assets during while a marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.  What does that mean?

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In the case of Marriage of O’Neill, the court stated, “dissipation arises when property is improperly used for the sole benefit of one spouse, for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.”   If a spouse spends marital money frivolously on items or individuals not related to the marriage while the marriage is breaking down, the other spouse may make a claim for dissipation in a divorce. In many cases, this arises when one spouse spends marital money on an extramarital affair, extravagant travel, and/or expensive hobbies, none of which benefit the marriage or family. Often a spouse does not learn of his or her partner’s dissipation until the discovery or information-finding step in the divorce.

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Many couples continue to reside together in the marital residence during divorce proceedings, even when the thought of having to continue to live with their spouse is terribly unpleasant.  This may be especially true when there are children involved.

 

But what happens if the living situation becomes especially sour or openly hostile?  Specifically, what happens when the physical or mental health of one of the spouses, or even one of the children, is at risk?  Section 501 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a remedy for the situation during the pendency of a divorce.

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In many custody disputes, allegations of abuse against children are thrown around.  Sometimes, people use this simply as a means of mudslinging to gain an upper hand in the court’s eyes against the opposing party.  However, other times, even the slightest indication of abuse can reveal a Pandora’s Box, leading to a full blow investigation to ensure a child’s safety.  In DuPage County, allegations of abuse against children are taken very seriously, and the County specifically set up an investigative body to handle such allegations.

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In 1987, Illinois’ first (and the country’s fifth) Children’s Center was opened in DuPage County.  In 2001, it was incorporated into the DuPage County Office of the State’s Attorney.  The DuPage Children’s Center is distinct from schools and local police departments, and it aims to uncover and collect evidence regarding abuse of children to find the truth.  Once the DuPage Children’s Center has corroborating evidence, it will present a case to the Assistant State’s Attorney for review and possible charges.

 

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The answer is, it depends.  Generally, federal income taxes that are due and owing are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, meaning that even if the bankruptcy eliminates a person’s other secured or unsecured debt, the tax debt he or she has will remain.  In very limited circumstances, outstanding federal income taxes can be discharged in bankruptcy.  However, if the taxes a person owes cannot be discharged through a bankruptcy and he or she cannot pay them in full in a timely manner, the person may be able to enter into a payment plan with the IRS or else resolve the outstanding debt by way of an offer in compromise.

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This article primarily focuses on tax debt and bankruptcy.  However, payment of tax debt can be easily addressed if a person enters into a payment plan with the IRS, wherein the person agrees to pay a certain monthly payment on the full balance owing.  Sometimes this option also allows a person to reduce or eliminate any penalties or interest associated therewith.  Notably, even though a person is in a payment plan, his or her future tax refunds, if any, can be automatically applied towards the existing balance.  If he or she fails to comply with the terms of the repayment plan, fees and penalties might accrue so it is important to remain current.

 

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When a married couple divorces, often the wife will opt to return to the use of a former or maiden name.  The reasons and rationale are as diverse as the individuals who make this choice.  Illinois law provides this opportunity but not requirement when a divorce judgment is entered and a divorce is finalized.  In fact, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, provides: “Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court shall order her maiden name or a former name restored.”

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This is a right and an option, but not an obligation.  Therefore, it is important to preserve that right in the judgment of dissolution of marriage (often referred to as the “divorce decree). If the name change is not covered by the judgment, an entirely new legal case must be filed to obtain a name change.

 

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Imagine the classic scenario: you are presented with a prenuptial agreement on the eve of your wedding, and asked to sign before you make your vows tomorrow.  You’ve been together for years and had no idea this was coming.  Your soon-to-be spouse earns significantly more than you and has more assets than you.  Should you hire an attorney?  Did your spouse disclose assets you had no idea he or she had?  Are you being asked to waived spousal support in the event of divorce?  Should you just “risk it” and sign the agreement, hoping that if you get divorced the court will deem it unenforceable?

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In Illinois, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs the formation and enforceability of prenuptial agreements.  It provides that a premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought can prove that he or she did not execute the agreement voluntarily, or if the agreement was unconscionable when it was executed, and that party was either 1) not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the assets or financial obligations of the other, 2) did not voluntarily and expressly waive any right to disclosure of the same, and 3) did not have or reasonably could not have had an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other.  As you can see, there are several factors that a court will consider when determining whether a premarital agreement should be enforced.  This results in a very fact-intensive inquiry by the court.

 

 

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