Resolving Your Most Difficult Family Law Conflicts
The Illinois law firm of Butler Giraudo & Meister, P.C., represents clients in all matters of family law. Contact our family law attorneys to learn how we can help you reach a resolution to your legal matter. We have handled thousands of successful cases and are committed to excellence in representing our clients.
People who are going through a divorce often feel emotionally vulnerable as a result of having been in a bad relationship, or as a result of what they experienced in their marriage. A person should never make decisions about marital property division or parental responsibilities and parenting time without being fully advised and without having a full understanding of the options available. It is essential that the attorney and client develop a rapport and ease of communication. We take pride in the relationships we build with our clients and work hard to maintain them.
In Illinois, property is divided equitably in a divorce. This includes all marital property, no matter how complex. Business interests, deferred compensation, stock options, trust assets, pensions and other complex assets need to be carefully valued and assessed. We take a detail-oriented approach to high-value assets in order to protect your interests now and into the future. It is essential for the documents and court orders which finalize your divorce to be properly drafted in order to fully protect your interests. We carefully craft appropriate language for you, tailored to your specific situation.
In Illinois, a civil union is a legal relationship between two people, either of the same or opposite sex, and both at least 18 years of age. A civil union provides all the rights, interests, benefits and protections that the law of Illinois grants to married couples. Civil unions are governed by the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which became effective on June 1, 2011.
Couples who obtain a civil union in Illinois are also able to dissolve the civil union in Illinois. The dissolution of a civil union happens under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Under the same laws applicable to a dissolution of marriage, courts are available to resolve disputes about the division of property, child custody and visitation.
Parents going through divorce often get hung up on labels such as whether they are the custodial parent or whether they “just have visitation.” In January 2016, Illinois divorce law was substantially revamped to focus on parental responsibilities. These consist of the decision-making roles of parents and the parenting time allocated between the parents. Our goal is to assist our clients in reaching mutual agreement to resolve these children’s issues. As family law attorneys, we aim to help you dispense with a focus on the labels and to focus instead on the quality of the time each of the parents will be able to spend with the children. We also understand that sometimes a contested case is the only way to deal with parents’ conflicting ideas of what is best for their children in a divorce. In that event, we are aggressive and effective advocates.
In Illinois, our parental responsibilities statute is gender-neutral. This means that both the father and the mother have equal rights to request the allocation of parental responsibilities for children in a divorce proceeding or parentage case. Shared responsibilities is a popular way to make sure both parents retain a decision-making role in the major issues facing children as they grow and mature. Joint decision-making agreements are the result of parents putting aside their differences and focusing on the best interests of their children. Rarely is joint parenting forced upon parents; unless they both agree and confirm to the court that they are committed to cooperating, the court will rarely impose an order requiring joint decision-making.
There are guidelines for the calculation of child support, but deviations are possible. For example, where the payor’s income is so high that the guideline percentage would give a windfall to the recipient, far in excess of the reasonable needs of the children, the court may make a downward deviation. Illinois law calls for the payment of child support directly from the payor’s employer. This arrangement ensures that payments will be made on time and in the right amount.
Additionally, child support can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. For example, if the payor of child support loses his or her job or is forced to take a lower-paying job, child support payments may be reduced. If the payor receives a raise or a promotion, child support may be recalculated so the children will benefit by an increased amount of support.
Spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) can be one of the more difficult issues to resolve in divorce. Illinois uses formulas for determining maintenance amounts and the duration of maintenance. Our law sets forth multiple factors which the court initially considers when being asked to award maintenance to one of the spouses. If the court decides that maintenance is appropriate, the formulas then apply. Artful advocacy by your attorney is required in handling all maintenance cases. Our attorneys have substantial experience in handling maintenance cases.
While most people accept an equitable division of marital property and the necessity to pay child support, few want to write monthly checks to their ex-spouse. When the spouses cannot agree about maintenance, a judge will hear the facts presented by each spouse and decide whether maintenance should be paid and, if so, in what amount and for how long.
In today’s mobile society, it is not uncommon for parents to want to move out of state for new employment or family reasons. Problems arise when children are involved because the distance may interfere with the parenting-time arrangements that the parties have enjoyed. Additionally, enforcing terms of the divorce agreement become difficult, particularly where more than one jurisdiction is involved. We assist parents requesting to move out of state as well as those contesting the relocation.
The terms of a divorce decree regarding children’s issues, child support and spousal maintenance can be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Our attorneys are experienced in analyzing your facts to determine whether such a substantial change of circumstances has occurred in your case. Our firm can help you modify an existing child support or child custody and visitation agreement.
Most people who go through a divorce understand that they will have to divide marital property with their former spouse. Much of the effort in a divorce case involves determining the identity of all the assets of the marriage and then valuing them. We work closely with our clients to understand their needs and concerns. By understanding your worries and through careful evaluation of your assets and debts, we can advocate for a fair division of property for you.
Pensions are marital property, even if they are unvested, but the key is to determine what part of the pension was earned or accumulated during the marriage. Pension interests that accrue before or after the marriage are the nonmarital property of the employed spouse. Complex court orders, called qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs), are prepared by the attorney to make sure that the former spouse receives his or her share of the ex-spouse’s pension. Our attorneys have expertise in drafting QDROs for our clients.
Voluntarily signing a birth certificate at the hospital does not give an unmarried father legal rights, such as the right to see and visit the child, should he and the child’s mother end their relationship. It is crucial to be informed about the effect of signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and of filing a parentage (formerly called paternity) case to establish the legal parentage of a child born to unmarried parents, and to legally establish the rights and obligations of the parents. There are numerous issues and potential problems involved in parentage cases. It is essential for unmarried parents to receive sound legal advice as they seek to do what is best for their child.
At Butler Giraudo & Meister, P.C., we are committed to being responsive to those who are victims of violence. That having been said, an equally devastating situation occurs when a spouse misuses the Illinois Domestic Violence Act to gain an advantage in the divorce or parenting plan case. We are experienced in knowing when to file and when to fight an order for protection.
Adoption is a statutory procedure under state law in which a permanent and legal parent-child relationship is established between a child and one or two adults who are not the child’s biological parents. Frequently, adoptions are used to give legal weight to a close relationship that already exists. It is important to hire a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the adoption process in order to avoid the pitfalls that can occur in this very personal and emotional proceeding. Time is of the essence in every adoption proceeding, and our attorneys strive to provide services that facilitate the interests of our client while maintaining a concern for the child’s best interest.
Guardianship proceedings are often used to obtain legal recognition of a relationship that already exists. Recent developments in guardianship law require that an accurate assessment of the case be made, and that there be aggressive advocacy.
Illinois law gives parents the discretion to decide whether their children will have the opportunity to develop a relationship with their grandparents. Under very specific circumstances, such as the death of one parent and situations where the parents otherwise cannot care for a child, a grandparent may have the right to seek visitation time with a grandchild. Each case is fact-specific, and legal advice should be obtained if grandparents have these types of problems. Illinois law was changed in 2016, and a consultation with one of our attorneys will inform you of your rights and options.
Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representation
Our attorneys are qualified to serve and represent the interests of your children in the capacity of guardian ad litem. In contested parenting plan cases and other matters involving children, it is often advisable for the court to appoint a guardian ad litem to protect and advocate on behalf of the children. When a guardian ad litem is involved, the children rarely testify themselves, thus greatly reducing their stress.