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These last few years have seen a flourish of changes, both large and small in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA).  The most recent changes to the IMDMA affecting the maintenance provisions are the result of recent changes to the tax code by the Trump Administration.  In the past, maintenance or alimony payments were deductible by the payor on his or her individual tax return and were included as income on the tax return of the recipient.  The result was often a tax savings for both parties since the recipient of the maintenance often paid taxes at…
A new law takes effect on January 1, 2019, in Illinois, protecting visitation rights for the family members of elderly adults. Before this new law takes effect, guardians have effectively had the unilateral authority over visitation privileges and could prohibit, without recourse, family members and others from visiting with their elderly loved ones in another family member’s care. I have witnessed the unfairness of a family member taking control of a parent to the exclusion of other siblings. This new law will provide a remedy for the excluded family members. It will prevent guardians and caretakers from unilaterally and arbitrarily…
Anyone who is contemplating a divorce, is in the process of obtaining a divorce, or is recently divorced should think about estate planning. If you are still married, your spouse is considered your heir. So, an untimely death before your divorce is finalized will result in your spouse receiving some or all of your estate. If you are recently divorced, your ex-spouse may still receive a portion of your estate unless you make changes to direct the assets of your estate where you want them to go. Probably not to your ex-spouse. If you are thinking about a divorce, going…
Estate planning is something that is very easy to put off. Most of us do it, sometimes for a very long time. Some of us until it is too late. Estate planning is also something that keeps us awake at night with questions like: What will happen to my children if I die? That question is what estate planning is all about. We plan our estates to provide for our loved ones. We provide for them by the assets that we leave them, but we also provide for them in planning out our estates so that they don’t have to…
Beginning January 1, 2018, Illinois Judges have the authority to consider the well-being of pets in a divorce action.  In the past, pets and companion animals, unlike service animals, were treated as property in a divorce (like furniture for instance), and rules for dividing property were applied to pets. Pet owners, however, often view their furry friends as part of the family.   The new law treats pets more like part of the family. Judges may consider a number of factors in determining which party should have the family pet(s): When was the animal acquired – before or during the marriage?…
We recently published an article addressing the proposed legislation contained in House Bill 4113. HB 4113 would impose a starting presumption of 50/50 parenting time when it comes to child custody. “Child custody”, of course, is no longer a relevant term in the state of Illinois. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has eliminated the notion of “child custody” and replaced it with the term, parenting time. In a “custody” dispute, parenting time is now the issue. HB 4113 has been championed by people concerned about fathers’ rights. Mothers have traditionally been awarded primary custody more often…
In a previous article, Carolyn Jansons discussed the roll of a Guardian Ad Litem in a custody case. In this article, I will provide some advice regarding how to work with a Guardian ad Litem in your custody case. As discussed in the previous article, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an integral component of the judicial system when it comes to custody cases. GAL’s are the eyes and ears of the court. For this reason, the parents’ interaction with the GAL is of primary importance. It should go without saying that this interaction with the GAL should be…
The process of determining custody of minor children in a divorce or a paternity situation often involves a Guardian ad Litem. What in the world is a Guardian ad Litem, and why is one needed, is the topic of this blog piece. Begin armed with information and understanding is essential to be able to navigate the custody process with some peace of mind. In addition to the parties and their attorneys, Guardians Ad Litem (GALs) are an integral part of the judicial system intended to accomplish the goals of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), which is…
One of the most common questions that people ask about lawyers is: How do I find the best lawyer? If you need a lawyer, for whatever reason, that is the right question to start your search. Choosing a lawyer should involve as much thought as buying a car. Lawyers are not cheap; people don’t choose lawyers for insignificant reasons; so choosing a lawyer should be done with care and thought. As with any significant decision, you should begin by doing your due diligence. While car purchases are often made on impulse, the better approach is to do your homework before…
A Power of Attorney is a document by which one person (the principal) can appoint another person (the agent) to act on the principal’s behalf in regard to financial and property matters (Property Power of Attorney) and health care and personal matters (Health Care power of Attorney). In other words, one person (the principal) can appoint another person (the agent) to do things for himself or herself that otherwise only he or she (the principal) would only be authorized to do. Powers of Attorney are prepared to address the concern about losing one’s ability to manage one’s own affairs. Without…