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Hillside, IL 60162

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Oak Park, IL family law attorney gray divorce

A “gray divorce” is a term used when referring to a couple that gets divorced later in life, typically when they are over the age of 50. Perhaps they were waiting until their children were grown and out of the house, or an extramarital affair caused the split. Regardless of the reasons for the marriage ending, these older spouses will have to make some important decisions regarding their divorce settlement in order to move forward into the next chapter of their lives. One of the major issues with a “gray divorce” is that there can be more assets, and larger assets, to divide, which can cause conflict between spouses. Certain high-value assets can be more problematic when trying to determine which of these assets are marital property and subject to division. Also, often there is the emotional aspect of becoming single again after perhaps decades of marriage to deal with. 

Important Issues to Consider

Every marriage is different, and therefore every divorce is likely to have its own unique issues. Even if spouses are amicable and mutually agree to legally end their marriage, they may find the legal process quite challenging. In many “gray divorce” cases, it can be difficult for one party to think about starting over, moving into a new house, and/or finding employment after years of raising children and not working outside of the home. Here are some of the main elements that typically need to be addressed in a “gray divorce”: 

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Oak Park family law attorney divorce

The end of a marriage can occur for many reasons, including infidelity, abuse, addiction and financial problems. But sometimes, spouses may put off filing for divorce, especially if they have children. Parents often worry about the emotional impact their split can have on their kids in the immediate aftermath of a divorce as well as in the future. However, studies have shown that children can be more traumatized when parents who have a toxic relationship stay together. Constant exposure to arguments is not healthy and may prevent children from having positive attitudes or relationships themselves. Fortunately, there are ways for parents to minimize the negative effect of a divorce on their children so all involved can live “happily ever after.”     

Alleviating the Stress of the Situation 

How children react to a divorce typically depends on their age, personality and the circumstances of the breakup. The initial reaction may be disbelief, anger, sadness, anxiety or worry. During a divorce, kids can also learn valuable tools for dealing with stress, and as a result many children eventually become more flexible, tolerant adults. Navigating this major life change often depends on how the parents handle the process. 

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Oak Park divorce attorney parenting time

When a couple with children gets divorced, they must make several decisions regarding the children’s care and upbringing going forward. In most cases, both parents will be awarded a designated amount of parenting time (visitation) depending on the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) between them. A "right of first refusal" is a subject which arises when a parent intends to leave his or her child with a caregiver for a portion of his or her normal parenting time; that parent must first ask the child’s other parent if he or she can watch the child instead. Parents may reach an agreement on this subject in their divorce, but if they cannot agree, the court will consider whether to award one or both parties a “right of first refusal” in connection with caring for a child during the other parent's regular visitation time. 

Parenting Time 

A substitute caregiver for a child might be a babysitter, a second spouse, a family member, a close friend or a neighbor. Any involved parties should always consider first and foremost the child's best interest. When the court awards a “right of first refusal” in an Illinois divorce, the judge's award will typically clarify the following: 

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Oak Park family law attorney paternity

When a couple is married and they have a baby, it is presumed that the man is the legal father of the child. However, when two people are not married, paternity (parentage) has to be legally established before the father is eligible for specific parental rights, and before the child is entitled to certain benefits. Studies have shown that children thrive most when they have a relationship with both of their parents, so confirming parentage is important for everyone’s best interests and well-being of all parties. Establishing parentage for children born out of wedlock can also help provide a basis for obtaining child support payments, and for fathers, it may be necessary for the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and can allow them to be more involved in their child’s life moving forward.

Legally Recognizing Parentage 

In Illinois, when parents are in agreement on who the father of the child is, both parties can fill out and sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” (VAP) form, which legally establishes parentage. In situations where the parents do not agree on the father’s identity, they can do either one of the following:

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Oak Park, IL divorce attorney property division

It can sometimes take a long time for a couple to come to the realization that their marriage should end. Regardless of the reasons for the relationship breakdown, sometimes it is for the best. The legal process of ending a matrimonial union involves many steps and decisions regarding various issues. Divorce laws vary by state, but in Illinois, the division of property follows the equitable distribution method. This means that marital property and assets are divided in a fair way, but not necessarily 50/50. Any property that is acquired during the marriage is subject to division. However, if your ex-spouse did not disclose all of his or her financial information, the divorce settlement is likely unfair. With the help of an experienced divorce attorney, you may request a modification of the property division orders.  

Hiding or Dissipating Assets

It is possible that your former spouse hid or dissipated assets toward the end of your marriage in order to gain a financial advantage in the final proceedings. For example, if there is less money in a bank account, there is less to split. There are several ways that someone can engage in these deceitful behaviors. Spending or wasting funds after the relationship has irretrievably broken down is considered dissipation of assets. Hiding property by putting it in another party’s name or assigning it a lower value are examples of ways that a spouse can be untruthful during the divorce process. 

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