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Hillside, IL 60162

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Oak Park Family Law AttorneyFathers who are involved in family law court cases usually want to make sure their parental rights will be protected. When a married couple with children gets divorced, both parents will usually have the right to share custody (now known as “parental responsibilities” in Illinois) of their children. However, if a child’s parents are unmarried, the father likely may first need to establish paternity before he will have any legal child custody rights. By understanding when it may be necessary to establish paternity and the rights that will apply to parents and children in paternity cases, fathers can make sure they take the correct legal steps that will allow them to maintain close, ongoing relationships with their children.

Establishing Legal Paternity in Illinois

If a mother is married when her child is born, by law her spouse is presumed to be the  parent of the child. However, if the mother is not married, she and the father may need to take steps to ensure that the father will be recognized as the child’s parent. Even if both parents agree that a man is the child’s father, a failure to legally establish paternity may result in disputes in the future if the parents disagree about how they will share custody, or about other subjects. Without legal rights toward the child, the father may be unable to participate in raising the child or spend regular time with them.

To avoid these types of problems, parents can establish paternity by signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form (“VAP”). This may be done immediately after the child’s birth, and hospital personnel can usually assist parents in the completion of this form. Parents may also agree to voluntarily acknowledge paternity at a later date, and they may do so by obtaining a form from their local courthouse or child support office. If both parents do not agree to acknowledge paternity, either parent may pursue a paternity case with the assistance of Illinois Child Support Services, or they may file a petition with the court and ask a judge to order genetic testing to confirm the identity of the child’s father.

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Hillside Divorce LawyerWhile a spousal maintenance award will not be made in every divorce case, such an award may be appropriate in cases where one party will require financial support in order to maintain their standard of living. For example, if one spouse is a stay-at-home parent, they may ask for their ex-spouse to provide them with ongoing support payments to ensure that they will be able to meet their financial needs as well as maintain a residence where they can continue to provide care for their children at home during the day. While arrangements for spousal support may address a person’s needs as they move forward following their divorce, the circumstances of both parties may change in the future. If these changes would affect a person’s ability to continue making maintenance payments, or if the recipient of support will no longer need financial assistance, post-divorce modification of a spousal maintenance order may be necessary.

When Can Modifications Be Made to Spousal Support?

Generally, a person can request modifications to spousal maintenance payments if there has been a significant change in circumstances for either party. This kind of situation will typically involve changes to the income that a person earns. For example, a person who pays spousal support may encounter financial hardship due to the loss of a job or a serious injury or illness. If they will be unable to continue paying support while also covering their own ongoing expenses, they may ask for the amount of support to be reduced temporarily, or reduced permanently, or they may request that maintenance payments be terminated altogether.

Modifications may also be needed to address changes that affect the recipient of spousal support. Since maintenance is often intended to help a person become self-supporting, such as by pursuing a college degree or receiving occupational training, it may be appropriate to terminate support payments if the recipient has re-entered the workforce and is earning an income that is sufficient to meet their needs. Maintenance will also be terminated if the recipient gets remarried or begins a new relationship in which they are living together with their partner.

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Hillside Divorce LawyerOver the past several years, more and more people have begun to invest in virtual currencies, which are also commonly known as cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and a multitude of other cryptocurrencies may be bought, sold, and transferred, and since these transactions take place online, they can sometimes be hard to track. Since virtual currencies can be valuable, they may need to be considered in a divorce case. In some cases, spouses have attempted to use cryptocurrency to hide money from their partners and avoid dividing these assets during the divorce process. 

Addressing Cryptocurrency When Dividing Marital Property

When a couple gets divorced, they will need to divide all of their marital property. This includes any assets that either spouse acquired during the couple’s marriage. Cryptocurrency purchased by one spouse during the marriage will usually be considered marital property, unless that spouse used only their separately-owned assets to make these types of purchases. Any increase in value of virtual currencies will also be considered marital property, and in some cases, these assets may be worth tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, transactions involving cryptocurrency can sometimes be difficult to uncover. A person may use multiple online accounts to log into virtual currency exchanges, and transfers may be made to overseas accounts or using websites that are kept hidden from the public. Some spouses have taken advantage of this situation by transferring cryptocurrencies they own into multiple secret accounts with the intent of hiding these assets from their spouses. They may believe that if these transactions are not visible to others, they will be able to conceal the value of these assets they own, giving them a financial advantage once their divorce is complete.

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Oak Park Family Law AttorneyWhen a child’s parents split up, family law courts which address issues related to child custody will be looking to protect the child’s best interests. In addition to making decisions about where a child will primarily live, how involved each parent will be in raising the child, and when the child will spend time with each parent, the court will also ensure that the child’s financial needs will be properly addressed. Child support obligations will apply to both parents, and these obligations will be determined based on the amounts of income the parents earn. The parents may also be required to divide certain child-related expenses, such as the costs of daycare, medical treatment and extracurricular activities. However, the parents’ income may change in the years after the court makes its decision, and in such situations, it is important to understand when and how child support may be modified according to Illinois law.

Requesting a Child Support Modification

Parents may request modifications of child support orders if they believe that changes are necessary. In most cases, when a parent petitions for modifications to these orders, they will be required to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. These changes may have affected either parent or their children, but the petitioner will need to show that they are significant enough to require a modification to orders that had been issued previously. 

Changes in income will often qualify for a child support modification. For example, if a parent who makes monthly child support payments has lost their job and cannot make the required payments, they may request that their payments be temporarily lowered or suspended until they can find employment. In these situations, that parent will typically need to show that the changes in employment occurred in good faith (for example, they did not voluntarily quit their job in order to avoid paying child support), and that they are making efforts to find a new job that will allow them to meet their financial obligations. Until a new court order is issued, existing child support obligations will remain in place. However, modifications may be made retroactive to the date that a petition for modification of child support was filed, so it is important for a parent to act quickly to request a modification as soon as they experience issues that affect their ability to meet their obligations.

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Oak Park Divorce LawyerA divorce case will involve a number of different types of financial issues. Depending on the complexity of a couple’s finances and the marital and separate assets they own, determining how to divide marital property can be a complicated process. Retirement accounts are one type of property that may need to be addressed during the divorce process, and couples will need to make sure they understand the issues that may affect how these accounts will be divided. 

Division of 401(k) Accounts, IRAs, and Pensions

Retirement savings accounts may be valuable assets that a person will rely on to provide for their financial needs in the future. When an account in one spouse’s name was created or contributed to during a couple’s marriage, it will usually be considered a marital asset that will need to be addressed during the divorce process. Couples may take a few different approaches when dividing these accounts, such as splitting the funds in an account equally, or allocating a certain percentage of an account to each spouse, or having each spouse keep accounts in their names while ensuring that other assets are divided in a manner that is fair and equitable.

When spouses choose to divide the funds in an account, they will need to follow the correct legal procedures to ensure that they will not be required to pay early withdrawal penalties. For employer-sponsored accounts such as 401Ks, a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” (“QDRO”) can be prepared, and this “QDRO” will provide instructions to the retirement plan administrator on how funds should be transferred.

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