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illinois child residential preference, oak park custody lawyerAs we begin the New Year, it appears that the divorce rate for American couples remains in perpetual motion. Per the American Psychological Association (APA), a leading scientific and professional organization, the U.S. divorce rate is between 40 to 50 percent.

It is also estimated that 50 percent of all children in this country will experience the divorce of their parents before turning 18 years old. Based on state law, age, and maturity level, the majority of these children can voice their wishes as to which parent they would prefer to live with

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Posted on in Estate Planning
who-acts-for-you-when-you-cannot

If you had to be away at the time of an important transaction, or if you suddenly became incapacitated, who would act in your place? Fortunately, there is a legal document that lets you name someone to act for you in situations like these - the "power of attorney."

There are different kinds of powers of attorney. A standard power of attorney lets you appoint someone to handle financial affairs. You can grant power over all your property, or limit the authority to handling a certain task. A standard power of attorney ends when you die, become incapacitated, or on a set date.

A durable power of attorney is like a standard power of attorney, except it stays valid even if you become incapacitated. Durable powers of attorney are often used to help avoid guardianship proceedings - because someone has already been appointed to handle your affairs, a court won't have to.

A durable power of attorney for health care lets you authorize someone to make your medical decisions if you cannot.

Powers of attorney are valuable planning tools. Laws regarding them are complex, so you should seek legal help in making or changing one.

when-insurance-companies-do-the-wrong-thing

Insurance companies often claim that with them, you're in "good hands," or that they are on your side, "like a good neighbor." But when you need to make a claim, the opposite is sometimes the case, and it's therefore important for accident victims to get legal help promptly. Here are some real-life cases that show how insurance companies sometimes try to delay - or avoid - paying valid claims.

  • Joe R. was badly hurt when the motorcycle he was a passenger on got in an accident. Under the law, Joe was entitled to collect money from the motorcycle driver's insurance company. But when Joe asked about the driver's insurance, the insurance company first said he was not covered. Then, after a long time passed, they told Joe he could receive money - but said the time limit for his claim had expired. Joe took the insurance company to court, and won.
  • Julie H. was hurt when her car was hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver's insurance company offered Julie a very small settlement though it knew she deserved a much higher amount. Julie took the insurance company to court, and won her damages plus an extra amount to punish the company for not promptly settling her claim for a fair amount.
  • Barbara T. bought a $1000 life insurance policy on a family member. When the person died, Barbara made a claim, but the insurance company recklessly refused to pay her the $1000. Barbara took the company to court, and received her $1000 - plus a big punitive damage award. The court said the punitive damage award was needed to dis-courage this kind of wrongful con-duct by insurance companies.

These are just a few examples of insurance companies trying to avoid or delay paying valid claims, and offering unfairly low amounts to settle claims. Because of the way some insurance companies operate, accident victims should get legal help promptly. They should not speak to the insurance company, but rather refer it to their lawyer. Their lawyer will deal with the insurance company, and make sure the accident victim receives full - and prompt - payment for injuries and losses.

Posted on in Divorce
when-divorce-is-near

Many couples get a divorce when they discover their marriage was not right for them. Divorce is a legal declaration that the marriage is over. Except for certain obligations - like alimony and child support - the parties are free to remarry.

Most states once granted divorces only if a spouse committed a marital wrong like adultery or mental or physical cruelty. Today, all states permit no fault divorces. In a no fault divorce, a spouse need only show the marriage has failed - he or she does not have to prove a marital wrong occurred. No fault laws make it hard to prevent divorce if either spouse wants one.

To get a divorce, one must file a complaint (or petition) in the proper court. Most states have "residency requirements" -laws that prohibit divorces unless one of the spouses has lived in the state for a minimum amount of time (usually six months or a year) before filing the divorce action.

Couples seeking divorce who do not meet their state's residency requirements should not go to another state or country where these requirements are less strict. Such a divorce may be invalid in that person's home state.

Between the time the divorce action is filed and the divorce becomes final, several matters may require court orders. There are temporary orders regarding spousal support and, if children are involved, child custody and child support. A "restraining order" may be needed to stop one spouse from abusing the other.

The second part of a divorce (the first part is ending the marriage by court decree) consists of dividing marital property, providing for the payment of spousal support, and settling child support and custody issues.

If the parties cannot agree how to divide property, a judge decides. In some states, the judge considers the couple's assets, the length of their marriage and each spouse's contribution to it, and then divides the property in a fair manner. In other states, the couple's "community property" (the property either spouse obtained through his or her labor or skill during marriage) is divided evenly.

Emotions and complex issues are involved in any divorce. Thus, each spouse should seek legal help. A lawyer can provide advice about property settlement, support, custody and other issues, and explain tax and other consequences regarding these matters.

what-to-do-in-case-of-an-auto-accident

You're driving along when suddenly a car hits you. It's hard to think clearly at this time, but the information that you obtain right after an auto accident - and what you say - can have a big impact on your recovery. Here are some steps to take when you are in a car accident. They will reduce the hassles and help make sure you get the maximum recovery that you are entitled to.

  • Call 911 to get help for anyone badly hurt.
  • Write down the name, address, phone and driver's license numbers, and insurance company of the other driver and the other car's owner (if the other driver does not own the car).
  • Write down the other car's make, year and license number.
  • Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses (including passengers in both cars).
  • Make a diagram of the accident. Show the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If possible, measure skid marks, and show them on the diagram. Be sure your diagram includes stop signs, traffic signals and cross walks.
  • Make notes on weather and road conditions, and where and when the accident happened.
  • Do not take any blame for the accident. Things you say can be used against you later. Also, even if you think you caused the accident, witnesses may have seen something proving the other driver was more at fault.
  • Do not discuss the accident with the other driver.

If a dispute arises regarding the accident, or if you have questions about making a claim for your injuries or property damage, call your attorney. Procedures for obtaining compensation can be complex. It's best to call as soon after the accident as possible, as there are time limits for making claims.

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