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Divorce is a difficult experience. It can be made more difficult when minor children are involved. If the divorcing parents can not work out the details of child custody and visitation, child custody litigation is the only way to a resolution.
It is important for everyone to understand the players in child custody litigation.  Both parents, their attorneys and the court (the Judge) are involved, but there is more. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides for additional input from three possible sources – a child custody evaluator, a guardian ad litem and an attorney representative for
Continue Reading The Players in a Child Custody Dispute

Marriage is the joining of two people together into one family unit, and that includes their property.  Many married people consider their property in the following terms: what is yours is ours, what is mine is ours and what is ours is ours.  No distinction between “marital property” and “non-marital property” is made: they view it all as theirs, jointly. There are exceptions, particularly when one or both of the spouses have been married previously, but most people go into marriage hopeful and do not spend much time thinking about the distinctions between hers, mine and ours.
Things change when
Continue Reading Marital Property vs. Non-Marital Property

Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult things you will ever face in your life. You well-being and your children’s well-being will depend, in large measure, on your ability to gain some larger perspective, to take a long term view of things and to see the big picture. As intense as the divorce process can be, it will come to an end and life will go on. How you cope through the process, and how you help your children cope through the process, will have long-lasting effects.
In the local counties in which we practice, many of
Continue Reading Your Children in Divorce

Q&A forums on legal issues, and especially divorce and family law questions, are popular on the Internet.   One question seems to be asked more than most: what are grounds for a divorce.  The issue of grounds is fundamental, but many people have the wrong idea of the significance of grounds in the divorce process. Many people believe that the cause of the breakdown of the marriage may somehow benefit them in a divorce.
The law requires a reason for a divorce.  We call that “grounds”. Illinois law provides eleven grounds for divorce with various requirements, including impotence, adultery, mental cruelty,
Continue Reading What Are Grounds for a Divorce

Understandably, many (most) people hate dealing with the court system. In dealing with the issues of child support and maintenance, going to court can be a good thing. Especially regarding child support, the courts take on a very important role of protecting the children to ensure they are receiving the proper amount of support. Take for example the following scenarios based on real life situations. As with any good drama, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Bob and Joan were divorced in the mid 1990’s. At the time of the divorce, Joan was named the residential custodian
Continue Reading Child Support – This is Real Life

The amount and/or percentage of a parent’s obligation for contribution to their children’s college expenses is a matter often left undetermined in a divorce settlement or judgment for dissolution of marriage.  Unless the parties have agreed in advance to the allocation of the expenses, one of three situations is present: 1) the settlement agreement or judgment “reserves” the issue of college expenses; 2) the settlement agreement or judgment simply states the parties “shall contribute” but leaves the amount of the contribution undetermined; or 3) there is no mention whatsoever of the need to contribute to college expenses in the settlement
Continue Reading Allocation of College Expenses & Retroactivity

In today’s society, it is not unusual to find children living with grandparents, aunts, uncles or even friends. Sometime the children’s biological parents are in and out of the children’s lives, maybe even more out then in.  These circumstances can be temporary, but they are often permanent or grow into permanent arrangements.  In these situations, the natural parents’ rights continue unless or until some action is taken to change that.
When the arrangement becomes more than temporary, a caretaker should begin to consider whether to legalize the relationship to allow the provision of health insurance, to enroll the child in school and
Continue Reading Grandparent Standing for Custody or Guardianship

Like a car engine, child support determination in Illinois is often a mechanical process, but not everyone understands how a car engine runs.  Although I am the son of a mechanic, I know very little about cars.  In the same way, not everyone understands how child support is calculated in Illinois.  The purpose of this short article is to cover the basics of child support calculation and answer some frequent questions about the topic.
The calculation of child support is determined by Illinois statute (750 ILCS 5/505).  The statute provides that the amount of child support a noncustodial parent (payor)
Continue Reading Child Support 101

Kevin G. Drendel

Most people realize that “Family Law” is a misnomer. Most people associate “Family Law” with divorce, and rightly so. Attorneys who practice family law usually have a high volume of divorce cases and follow up “post judgment” litigation involving maintenance (formerly known as alimony), child support, change of child custody and so on. Still, we like euphemisms, so “Family Law” it is.
In Illinois, the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) establishes the “rules” that define the commitment when two people marry. One reason that few people know or consider the IMDMA when they get married
Continue Reading Family Law: A Perspective on Divorce

Every new year brings new laws and amendments to old laws.  One law that has gone through many changes over the years is the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA).  Beginning January 1, 2014, the State Legislature has forged a new tool that is now available to protect the best interests of children and to encourage (or compel) maximum time with both parents. The amendment provides a right-of-first-refusal for childcare.
The IMDMA has a primary focus on protecting the best interests of children.  Children often take second fiddle when the emotion swirling around the failed marital relationship is playing its swan song.  Sometimes
Continue Reading New Law: Right of First Refusal for Child Care

The idea of doing Estate Planning can seem depressing, and thinking about it can be daunting. Who really knows anything about estate planning (other than lawyers and  experts)? As with many things, however, confronting those unpleasant feelings can be empowering.
While Estate Planning can get complex, there are some simple things you can do and some simple things you should not do that will give you some control over the unknown and peace of mind that you are on the right path. These simple things are not sufficient, by themselves, as a comprehensive Estate Plan, but they will set you
Continue Reading Some Simple Estate Planning Do’s and Dont’s

If You Have Ever Thought, “I just need a simple will,” Read This Now
One of the common statements I hear from clients is this: “I just need a simple will”. I hear it all the time. According to legal blogger, Katya Sverdlow, ninety percent (90%) of the people who say, “I just need a simple will,” are wrong. 
I am not sure about the percentage, but I know what she is saying. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that ninety percent of the people who say they need a simple will are wrong, but I may
Continue Reading “I Just Need a Simple Will”

Financial anxiety is a common issue for seniors. Many older adults live on fixed incomes and have more expenses than they can easily cover. Moreover, it’s relatively common for people after retirement be uncertain about their financial situation and not know, realistically, how stable you are – or aren’t. This uncertainty can breed anxiety that isn’t truly supported by reality.

If you are anxious about providing for your loved ones when you are gone or how your money will be handled if you become unable to manage your own affairs, estate planning can put you at ease. At Drendel &
Continue Reading How Seniors Can Manage Financial Anxiety


One of the newest trends in divorce litigation is the actual avoidance of litigation.  This is accomplished through a wide variety of methods, including mediation with a trained mediator or the parties just simply sitting down to work out their own divorce. 
One issue with either of these methods is the couple may lack sufficient legal guidance to determine if their resolution is truly fair to them. 
Another trend that is gaining favor in divorce and family law matters is collaborative law.  Collaborative law attempts to combine the best aspects of both court litigation and other alternative dispute resolution methods,
Continue Reading Collaborative Divorce

One of the most common questions, and an area of much misunderstanding, involves the difference between a Trust and a Will. I have not addressed the subject in some time, so doing so again seems appropriate.

I will begin with an explanation of Wills since people seem to have a better idea of the concept of a Will. Trusts (for estate planning purposes) are probably best understood in comparison with Wills.

What is a Will?

A Will is a testamentary document, meaning that it will take effect upon the death of the person who executed it. A Will is designed
Continue Reading What is the Difference Between a Trust and a Will?

When it comes to protecting your family and loved ones, most parents will do whatever it takes to support their future. Especially during these uncertain times, families and couples are facing tremendous challenges when it comes to their health, mental well-being, relationship, and financial security. If you are a new parent, single parent, or a couple looking forward to children in the future, some important considerations can help you prepare for this responsibility.
 

Build a Solid Foundation
As a couple interested in pursuing a life together and potentially a family, it’s important that you work together and begin your
Continue Reading Family and Future Planning Advice Amidst Uncertain Times