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Wheaton open adoption attorneyMany people may not have heard the term “open adoption” before. The concept of an open adoption is a relatively new one--it started gaining popularity in the United States in the 1980s and 90s. Now, it is estimated that the vast majority of domestic adoptions (nearly 95 percent) involve some degree of openness. Open adoptions are gaining popularity due to the benefits they provide for birth parents and the children themselves.

What Is an Open Adoption?

In a traditional or closed adoption, the identities of the birth parents are kept confidential, and they have no contact with the adoptive family before or after the child is adopted. In these cases, the thought process tended to be that if the birth parents knew where the child was, they might attempt to take the child back at some point. However, this would be against the law, because once a child is adopted, the adoptive family is considered the child’s legal family.

In an open adoption, one or both of the birth parents are involved in the child’s life to varying degrees or have some form of contact with the adoptive family. There are no set types of open adoptions; rather, each open adoption is structured to meet the families’ needs. The adoption could be fully open, where the child, adoptive family, and birth parents have regular contact with each other and form relationships, or the adoption could be semi-open or mediated, meaning the families communicate indirectly with each other through an adoption agency.

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Winfield divorce mediation lawyerDivorce can be intimidating--there are many different types of divorce and many ways you can create a divorce settlement. It can be overwhelming to figure out which type of divorce is right for you. A traditional litigated divorce can carry a lot of stress and can take a long time; a collaborative divorce can become expensive, but fosters a healthy cooperative environment; and a mediated divorce brings its own advantages and is becoming an increasingly popular choice for divorcees. It is important to choose the right type of divorce for your family so you can get the most out of a less-than-happy experience.

If you are able and willing to cooperatively work with your spouse to come to an agreement on your outstanding divorce issues, mediation may be the best option for you. Along with the peaceful nature of the process and the lower cost than other methods, there are many advantages to a mediated divorce, including:

1. It Is Easier on Your Children

In traditional, litigated divorces, there is often a lot of stress and tension in the household during the process. Children are very receptive and can sense the conflict between their parents. Divorce mediation is, by nature, a more peaceful process, because your mediator helps facilitate cooperation and meaningful conversation between you and your spouse. This will help you build a foundation for working together to raise your children after your divorce has been finalized. 

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West Chicago divorce mediation lawyerPreparing for divorce is not easy. In some ways, preparing for divorce mediation can be even more difficult. Because of the cooperative nature of mediation, you have to put aside your differences to an extent and work together with your spouse to achieve an outcome you are both okay with. With all of the benefits of divorce mediation, you should try to prepare yourself as much as possible to facilitate a successful mediation process. Here are some ways to get ready for divorce mediation:

1. Come With Copies of Important Documents

You should come to your mediation sessions with copies of all of the important documents that you and your spouse have accumulated while you were married. These documents should include assets and liabilities such as:

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement funds
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Stocks
  • Businesses
  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Loans

2. Prepare to Negotiate Rather Than Argue

Arguing is probably one of the things that got you into the divorce process, and you should realize that it will likely not help you resolve anything. Negotiating is what divorce mediation is all about. Once you realize that the past is the past, you can focus on looking at the bigger picture and what really matters. The mediator is there to help minimize arguing and promote collaboration, but you have to do your part to be in the mindset to work together.

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West Chicago divorce attorney irreconcilable differencesDivorce is not an uncommon thing--in the United States alone, there are nearly one million divorces granted each year. Most states have adopted a no-fault divorce policy that does not require couples to divulge the reason they are getting divorced, but simply state that their marriage is beyond repair. Throughout the world, there have been tales of strange reasons why people have gotten divorced that range from slightly odd to flat out ridiculous. Here are seven strange stories of why people have filed for divorce:

  • A Japanese woman filed for divorce from her husband after she took him to see the movie “Frozen,” and he did not appreciate it like she did. The women ended her marriage of six years because of her husband’s dislike of the Disney movie.
  • A man in Dubai divorced his wife because he thought she was possessed by a genie. The wife’s family told him that she was possessed by a “djin”--which is a genie-like creature in Arabic folklore--after she refused to have sex with him.
  • A woman who resides in Kuwait divorced her new husband when she discovered that his way of eating peas was different than hers. The couple was only married for a week before she found out that he eats peas with bread instead of with a fork, which she cited as bad table manners.
  • A Chinese woman sought divorce after the family parrot began clueing her in on her husband’s affair. The parrot began saying things like “divorce,” “I love you,” and “be patient” after it overheard her husband’s phone calls to his mistress.
  • A man from Israel filed for divorce from his wife after she brought home 550 cats. The man said the cats hindered the quality of his home life, and the couple agreed that reconciliation was a good option for them, though the wife ended up choosing the cats over her husband, resulting in a divorce.
  • A lot of women try to get their husbands to clean more, but that was not the case for a German woman who divorced her husband because he cleaned entirely too much. She filed for divorce after the man tore down a wall in their house because it was too dirty.
  • A Nigerian woman divorced her husband of six years because she said he talked too much. She stated that he would often tell his friends about family matters instead of talking to her about them.

Get Representation From a Warrenville Divorce Lawyer

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the only required grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. You may decide to end your marriage for a multitude of reasons, but no matter the cause, you need an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney to help you along the way. When you decide to seek the help of the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC, you are putting your case in good hands. Contact our office at 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer child issuesOften, when couples who are married begin thinking about a divorce, the topic of children comes up. Do you stay together for the kids, or do you divorce? Every divorce is different, and so is every child--that is why there is not really any way of knowing what exact effect a divorce will have on your child. However, many studies have shown that staying in an unhappy marriage can be more damaging to children than the effects of a divorce. Some of the effects that children may experience in this type of situation include:

1. Chronic Stress

Parents play a crucial role in a child’s development--their relationship with their parents is one of the most important parts of their upbringing. When a child is raised with parents who are constantly at odds, they internalize the conflict. This means that rather than feeling at ease and comforted when they are with both parents, they feel tension and stress. Such constant stress can also cause physical symptoms in children, such as depression or chronic fatigue.

2. Mood Problems or Behavioral Issues

Parents who are constantly fighting teach their children to forgo optimism and expect the worst at a very young age. This can cause problems in children such as dysthymia, which is a mild, but long-term form of depression. These problems can also be the root of many adult issues, like personality disorders or substance abuse.

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Posted on in Mediation

Warrenville divorce mediation lawyerStatistics can be a little fuzzy when it comes to the divorce rate. Depending on the source, the divorce rate is reported to be anywhere from 33 to 50 percent. But the one thing that professionals are noticing to have been changing about divorce in the United States is the increasing rate of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). More couples are choosing to settle their divorce through ADR methods like collaborative law and mediation, rather than the traditional litigation method. Some couples may be wary of divorce mediation, but by debunking the myths you may have heard about mediation, you can make an informed decision about whether it is right for you.

1. Mediation Will Not Work if There Is a Lot of Conflict Between Spouses

One of the most common thoughts that people have about divorce mediation is that it only works if both spouses are friendly toward each other. This is not necessarily true. While it may be easier for couples who are amicable toward each other to come to an agreement, it is not impossible for high-conflict couples to reach a settlement. Divorce mediators are trained to handle high-conflict situations, and if necessary, another professional, such as a family therapist or psychologist, can be hired to attend mediation sessions to teach couples how to communicate better.

2. Mediation Means You Will Settle for Less

If you litigate your divorce in court, the judge is required to abide by Illinois law when it comes to deciding things like property division, spousal maintenance, child support, and parental responsibilities. When you participate in divorce mediation, you and your spouse are able to consider other factors that a judge may not. The mediator serves as an uninterested third party who is there to direct your attention to the issues that need to be resolved.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerIt is no secret--divorce is not easy. It can be lengthy and costly, and it can drive your emotions through the roof. Even though divorce is stressful by nature, it does not have to mean the end of your emotional well-being. If you are beginning the divorce process, here are five ways to emotionally prepare yourself for divorce and make the most out of the next phase of your life:

1. Seek Social Support

People tend to want to isolate themselves when they go through a divorce because of the emotionally draining nature of the divorce process. However, it is important to seek the support of others during this time and avoid emotionally retreating from your friends and family. Talking with others about your situation and asking for help is a healthy way to cope with your divorce.

2. Begin Emotionally Grieving

A divorce is the end of a marriage, and some may say that it is a type of death. This means that it is only natural for you to grieve. Healthy grieving means accepting that there will be a healing process following your divorce. It is okay to be sad, but it is important for you to realize that even though the healing process is tough, peace will come if you allow it to.

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Winfield divorce name change attorneyThere are many reasons why a person would want to change their name or the name of their child--adoption, marriage, establishing parentage--but for many people, a name change can be the last step in the divorce process. Many people--women, especially--change their last name to match their partner’s when they get married. In the event that you get divorced, changing your last name to what it was prior to the marriage is a way that many people emotionally detach themselves from the marriage and their ex-spouse. The easiest way to change your last name in the event of a divorce is to add it to the divorce decree, but you do not have to do it then. You can change your name at any time after the divorce.

Seven Steps to Changing Your Name After a Divorce

Changing your name in Illinois is a relatively easy process. As long as you have been a resident of Illinois for at least six months, and you have not been convicted of a felony or a sex crime, you can proceed with the steps to change your name. 

1. Prepare the Forms Required

There are two forms required to change your name: a petition and a Notice of Filing for Change of Name. The petition is the formal request asking the court to change your name. In it you must state why you want to change your name, and you must also include proof that you meet the residency and felony requirements. The Notice of Filing for Change of Name is the public notice, which is required by law, that you are changing your name. The notice also includes what name you are changing yours to and the date of the hearing.

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Winfield intercountry adoption lawyerWhen it comes to adoptions, there are a couple different methods that prospective parents can choose from. One of the first decisions you have to make is if you want to go through a domestic adoption, meaning you are adopting a child within the United States, or an intercountry adoption, meaning you are adopting a child from another country and bringing that child back to the United States to live with you. Both types of adoptions can be difficult and tedious, but intercountry adoptions have specific rules and regulations that domestic adoptions do not.

Hague vs. Non-Hague Adoptions

Two types of intercountry adoptions exist for U.S. citizens: Hague and non-Hague adoptions. The country you decide to adopt from will determine which process you will adopt by.

Hague Adoptions

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, also known as the “Hague Adoption Convention,” is an international treaty that was created to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents involved in adoptions.

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Posted on in Family law

Warrenville family law attorney adoption guardianship parental rightsThere are two legal routes of establishing care for a child whose parents cannot provide them with an adequate home: adoption and guardianships. In some cases, adoption, which severs any legal relationship between a child and its mother, is not in the best interest of the child. This is when guardianship comes into play, usually as a temporary legal status.

Adoption

In an adoption, the adoptive parents are given all of the legal rights and responsibilities that previously belonged to the birth parents. The birth parents either have to voluntarily give up their parental rights or have them involuntarily terminated. Adoption is a lifelong, permanent legal relationship.

An adopted child has all of the same legal rights as birth children if the adoptive parents die and do not have a will, meaning the child is entitled to any inheritance or survivor’s benefits in the event of a death. In an adoption, all decision making is up to the adoptive parents, including decisions about schooling, medical treatments, or visitation of birth parents, depending on the terms of the adoption.

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Warrenville parental responsibility attorneyNobody thinks of the end of a marriage when they get married, and even though the divorce rate in the United States is declining, divorce is still common. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 29,331 divorces were granted in the state of Illinois in 2016. Divorces are stressful and emotional, and they become more so when children are involved. When children are a part of divorce, they bring issues with them that need to be resolved, such as child custody, child support, and visitation.

Parental Responsibilities Instead of Custody

The state of Illinois no longer refers to custody of children. Since a new law was introduced in 2016, what used to be known as custody is now referred to as parental responsibilities, and the amount of time children spend with each parent is known as parenting time. Parental responsibility consists of significant decision-making for children, and there are four types of decision-making:

  • Education, including choosing schools and tutors.
  • Health, including decisions pertaining to the medical, dental, and psychological well-being of the child.
  • Religion. 
  • Extracurricular activities.

Unless an agreement is submitted to the court that details the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will determine which responsibilities are allocated to each parent. The law also states that there is no requirement to allocate any responsibilities to each parent.

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Warrenville divorce lawyer college expenses modificationAfter a divorce is finalized, and the divorce decree is entered into court records, former spouses must abide by all terms concerning child support, spousal support, the allocation of parental responsibility, and the division of the marriage’s assets and liabilities. The decree may only be modified if a valid reason exists. These reasons may include changes in employment and/or income, parent and child relocation, a change in marital status for either party, a change in health status, and the educational needs of children.

With regard to a child’s educational needs, when a child is at or near the age of 18, one parent may petition the court for a modification to compel the other parent to help bear the cost of college expenses. The purpose of this article is to explain the basics of a divorce decree modification petition regarding a child’s college expenses.

Illinois Extends Child Support Obligations to Include College Expenses

Illinois is one of several states in which parents’ child support obligations may include post-secondary (college) educational expenses for adult children. Either parent can petition the other for financial contribution to the child’s college expenses. Ideally, the parents address the issue of post-secondary expenses during the original divorce settlement, so that each party is clear as to terms and conditions and can plan years before tuition and board fees are ever due. However, as college may seem far away at the time of divorce, it is not uncommon for the issue to go unaddressed. Later, when the issue must be confronted through a divorce modification petition, lawful “educational expenses” for which contributions may be sought by either parent include:

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Winfield child relocation lawyerRelocating to a new home for work is complex when divorced parents share custody of a child. This is because Illinois has strict regulations regarding the processes parents must follow when moving with a child. As such, the very action intended to benefit yourself and your child – a promising employment opportunity – may be complicated by the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time set forth in your court-ordered divorce decree. 

In some cases, your former spouse may be supportive of work-related relocation, even if it has support and custody-related implications. In other instances, however, the two of you may not agree about modifications to the allocation of parental responsibility when attempting to initiate child relocation. In times like these, it is essential to have experienced legal representation.

Relocation is a Question of Distance

If you were divorced in Illinois, provide your child’s primary residence, and are moving to a new residence in the state less than 25 miles from your current residence for work-related reasons, you do not have to worry about revisiting the existing allocation of parental responsibility ordered by the court in your divorce. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyer taxes spousal maintenanceWith the IRS tax filing deadline coming up later this month, it is time for recently divorced or soon-to-be divorcing spouses to become acquainted with the tax implications of divorce. While child support payments do not have any tax implications (that is, they are not tax-deductible for the paying parent, and they are not considered taxable income for the receiving parent), spousal maintenance (alimony) payments do. Whether you are paying or receiving spousal maintenance in Illinois, you need to account for it on your taxes.

Spousal Maintenance Is Tax Deductible for the Payor

If you are currently paying spousal maintenance to your ex-spouse, know that these support payments are tax deductible. As such, you may end up being required to pay less taxes than expected. Awareness of such positive tax implications should allow you to better plan your finances, whether you are budgeting in the short-term or saving and investing for the long-term.

Spousal Maintenance Is Taxable Income for the Recipient

If you are currently receiving spousal maintenance from your ex-spouse, know that the support payments constitute taxable income. Because of this, you may end up being required to pay more taxes than expected. Anticipating and accounting for this reality well in advance of the tax filing deadline can help you budget and plan your finances as so to avoid experiencing unexpected and stressful monetary burdens at tax time.

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Wheaton divorce mediation lawyerWhile divorce is often portrayed as inherently acrimonious in television, film, and literature, the truth is that it need not be so. Not every divorce is the result of infidelity or abuse. Sometimes, spouses realize that they are unhappy and not getting along despite repeated efforts over a long period of time, or it becomes apparent that they rushed into the marriage without a shared vision of the future. In such completely common and understandable circumstances, it is possible to end the marriage amicably and cooperatively through the process of mediation. Unlike litigation, which is inherently adversarial, mediation is a more harmonious means of resolving the family and financial issues that must be addressed during the dissolution of a marriage.

Mediation Is a Form of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation occurs out of court. This change of venue is symbolic of the non-adversarial nature of the process, in which parties sit across the table rather than on opposing sides of the courtroom. The issues addressed are the same as those in a contentious or contested divorce, and they include: 

  • The fair and equitable division of marital assets and liabilities.
  • Whether and in what amount spousal maintenance (alimony) will be paid by one spouse to the other.
  • Whether and in what amount each parent will pay child support.
  • How parental responsibility (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) will be allocated between each parent.

So, then, the difference between adversarial divorce and mediated, non-adversarial divorce is one of disposition, or attitude. Moreover, obviously, the family law-related issues of child support and the allocation of parental responsibility are only applicable to spouses who have children. For divorcing spouses who are not parents, the process of a mediated divorce is often even more straightforward. 

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Warrenville divorce attorney single parentIn most circumstances, it is in the best interests of a child’s parents to share the allocation of parental responsibility (formerly known as child custody) following divorce. This is a “two hands are better than one” philosophy, with former spouses, even after divorce, working to share resources and balance work and family responsibilities in a way that supports the child’s education, health, and well-being every bit as much as if the parents were still married and living together. 

Parental responsibility is typically shared when a divorce is as harmonious as can be expected, with parents collaborating to create a parenting plan in compliance with state law, and sometimes even when a divorce is filled with acrimony and collaboration is difficult. There are, however, some circumstances in which it is in the best interests of the child for parental responsibility to be solely allocated to one parent. 

A History of Violence, Abuse, or Neglect Is Relevant to Child Custody

With the “best interests of the child” being paramount in the allocation of parental responsibility, it is important to identify certain behaviors that are not in the best interests of the child. Among these behaviors – all factors at issue in a family court judge’s consideration of custody-related matters – are:

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West Chicago division of marital assets lawyerNo couple expects their marriage will end in divorce when they first get married. The beginning of a marriage is a typically a time of peak trust and solidarity, with spouses willingly assuming the roles believed to contribute to a happy and successful union, “Until death do us part.” However, it is important for both spouses to understand their rights, especially when it comes to ownership of the assets they have acquired over the course of their marriage.

Even in a society that is gradually becoming less gendered in matters of economic opportunity, it is still common for one spouse to assume the role of income earner, and the other the role of stay-at-home parent. In such an arrangement, a knowledge gap may come to exist with regard to the marriage’s income, assets, liabilities, investments, and other financial information, with the income-earning spouse handling most financial matters and the stay-at-home parent focused on crucial parenting responsibilities, such as the education, healthcare, nutrition, and transport of the children. 

When the unthinkable happens and the marriage ends divorce, the stay-at-home parent must suddenly close this financial knowledge gap, prepare for life as both a parent and manager of finances, and ensure that he or she receives, in addition to all appropriate child support and spousal maintenance, an equitable portion of the marriage’s assets. When there exists reason to suspect that the income earning spouse is not cooperating in the equitable division required under state law, it is necessary to utilize the legal process of income discovery.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer hidden assets discoveryPlanning for life after divorce is tough enough, even when there are no child custody and support matters to address, and both spouses will continue on in their careers without interruption after the marriage’s dissolution. Divorce takes an emotional toll even in circumstances where the decision is mutual and there is no animosity. Many divorces, however, are rife with tension and disagreement over financial issues, including the division of marital assets, spousal support, and, when there are children involved, child support. 

In obtaining the fair and equitable distribution of assets required by Illinois law, as well as in securing the spousal and child support you need and deserve, the legal process of discovery is instrumental in uncovering income or assets which a spouse may intend to hide from the asset division process.

Illinois Divorce Law Utilizes a Principle of Equitable Distribution

When divorce occurs in Illinois, the state utilizes a principle of “equitable distribution” with regard to a marriage’s income and assets. An equitable distribution is not necessarily an equal division, but is defined broadly as the division of property in “just proportions.” 

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West Chicago divorce lawyer for stay-at-home parentsDivorce can bring unique stress and uncertainty for people who have chosen to assume the valuable role of stay-at-home parent. If you are such a person, you know all too well the worrisome thoughts that hover. How am I going to earn money and be there for my children? Can I even start a career now? How is it fair that my ex-spouse is leaving the marriage with their career intact, while I am entering the job market for the first time? 

Each of these concerns is both legitimate and commonplace. Fortunately, Illinois state law (which governs divorce, child support, and spousal support) acknowledges and respects the trade-offs and sacrifices in marriages in which one spouse assumes the role of income earner and the other the role of stay-at-home parent.

Equitable Property Division for the Stay-At-Home Parent

Just because one spouse earned the majority of the income during a marriage, that does not mean that he or she is entitled to all or most of the marital property. Illinois recognizes that stay-at-home parenting is in itself a valuable contribution, representing both a benefit to the well-being of children and a sacrifice of career opportunities. 

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Winfield divorce attorneyDivorce is a state law issue. This is a simple but important distinction to keep in mind when going through divorce in the state of Illinois, as the legal guidelines concerning spousal maintenance and property division may prove different than what you have may have heard about how divorce works under legal frameworks utilized by other states (e.g., California’s “community property” model). 

Illinois Uses a Unique and Evolving Set of Terminology in Matters of Divorce

In Illinois, “spousal maintenance” is the official terminology for what is elsewhere referred to as “alimony” or “spousal support.” This somewhat abstracted language pairs with that used by the state with regard to child custody (“allocation of parental responsibility”), asset division (“equitable distribution”), and even the terms concerning the state’s position regarding the issue of fault in the dissolution of a marriage (“irreconcilable differences”). 

Maddeningly, the closer you investigate the state’s divorce lexicon, the more circular or abstracted it becomes. “Equitable distribution” does not necessarily translate to “equal,” but rather to “fair and equitable.” “Permanent maintenance” has been reframed as “maintenance for an indefinite term,” though the duration, once determined, may for all practical purposes prove permanent. Divorce is hard enough on former spouses and any children they have, so the state’s arguably confusing language concerning the end of a marriage may seem downright inhumane. 

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