Maybe It’s Time to Consider a Divorce

Marriage is seen by many as an institution that will stand the test of time. Nobody gets married with the intention to separate at some point, but years of misery and anger can make even the most optimistic newly-wed couple consider divorce down the road. Regardless of what other friends and family members might say, everyone is entitled to their own sense of happiness and safety. Continue reading

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Developing a Parenting Plan That’s Beneficial to Your Children

Parents needing to establish a co-parenting plan during divorce mediation or litigation should really consider both the short-term and long-term ramifications of their decisions.

Keep in mind that, if you have young children, you and the other parent might need to live with this plan for a decade or more. Continue reading

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Should You Get a Prenup?

Many couples who are engaged to be married entertain the idea of getting a prenuptial agreement. There is certainly a societal stigma attached to premarital agreements. There’s the feeling that you’re already prepping for the inevitable dissolution of the marriage. But there are many advantages to formalizing a prenuptial agreement that can make it a valuable tool that doesn’t necessarily have to spell misgivings or doubt. Continue reading

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Save Time and Money on Divorce with Mediation

Deciding that it’s time to dissolve a marriage is never easy for either party, even if it’s the best option for you and your family. The stigma surrounding divorce is often one of heated arguments and each party doing his or her best to make the other party suffer for marital mistakes.

While that is the case in some divorces, it certainly doesn’t have to be the case in yours. Many couples can still interact with one another on an amicable, rational, and co-operative basis, which enables them to pursue non-litigated divorce methods such as mediation.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

 Although divorce mediation is sometimes done with just one attorney participating, it’s most common for both parties to retain the services of their own attorney. Then both parties agree on a divorce mediator who is specially trained to help couples negotiate their divorce. The mediator should be impartial, and will have an end goal of developing a final settlement where both sides feel as if they were treated fairly.

One of the reasons divorce mediation is such a valuable process for both parties is the non-aggressive and co-operative communication it fosters. Being able to sit down with one another to compromise and work through the divorce issues may act as a foundation for future communications.

The assistance of a mediator is especially valuable for couples with children. Custody, parenting, support and time sharing issues are often the most contentious issues in divorce proceedings. A divorce mediator can help you and your spouse find realistic solutions that are equitable and stability enhancing.

Divorce is especially difficult on children, as is adjusting to living in a two-family household. A divorce mediator can help you and your ex compromise on these issues and foster a sense of calm and collaboration.

The importance of maintaining the mindset that you and your former husband or wife are still partners in terms of raising your children is essential not only to reach an effective settlement, but also to ensure that settlement and co-operation last well into the future.

Mediation is also significantly healthier for your children. The more you two can get along and make a shared parenting plan work, the less vitriol the children will experience in their home lives.

How Does the Divorce Mediation Process Work?

 The divorce mediation process generally takes place over a few meetings. The times of these meetings are dictated by the availability of all parties involved, including the mediator, both attorneys and both spouses. So, scheduling can be a challenge.

During the first meeting, the divorce mediator will spend most of the time firmly establishing the issues and goals of each party. The mediator will work with you to rank these issues by importance in order to understand your priorities. After that’s been established, the divorce mediator will detail all the relevant information that needs to be acquired and shared to ensure the parties have what they need to make informed decisions.

After the first meeting, you and your spouse will be tasked with gathering the necessary information or any required resources, whether they be financial documents, appraisals, insurance information or other items of importance.

The subsequent meetings between you, your mediator and your attorney will be dedicated to meeting you and your spouse’s divorce settlement goals through compromise and discussion. This is where the mediator’s pragmatism and impartiality are especially important.

Once both parties agree to a negotiated settlement, the mediator will finalize a draft for review by each party’s attorneys.  The final settlement agreement is drafted by one of the parties’ attorneys based upon the mediator’s statement of the settlement terms.

Will Mediation Work for Your Case?

If you and your spouse are amicable enough to agree on most issues and are willing to sit in the same room together, you may be good candidates for divorce mediation.  If you prefer, you can choose to do “shuttle mediation’’ where, instead of you and your spouse being in the same room, the mediator “shuttles” between you and your spouse who are in separate rooms, and works out an agreement between you.  If you would like to learn more about the mediation process or how to begin divorce mediation, please contact the helpful, compassionate family law professionals at the Conniff Law Offices.

They can represent you throughout the process as well as provide several reputable divorce mediator options for your consideration.

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Income Shares: The New Illinois Child Support Law

Effective July 1, 2017, Illinois will join thirty-nine other states, in addition to Washington D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands, that use an “Income Shares” model for determining child support.  Currently, Illinois applies a “Percentage of Income” formula that applies a set percentage to the supporting parent’s net income.  However, on August 12, 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law House Bill 3982, which will become effective on July 1, 2017, as Illinois’ new child support statute incorporating the “income shares” model.

The assumption behind the “Income Shares” model is that when a family is intact then each parent contributes to the expenses and the care of the children.  For purposes of determining child support, the new Illinois statute elaborates on the current child support statute, 750 ILCS 5/505, and provides additional guidance for the court to consider, including, the residential parent’s income, the parents’ additional expenses, working potential or working history if unemployed or underemployed, and parenting time.

How to Calculate Child Support Under the New Statute

Under the new statute, the child support obligation is determined by first calculating the net income of each parent. The net incomes of each parent are then combined to determine the total income of the family (“Total Family Income”).

The Total Family Income is then compared to economic estimates of an average intact family with similar income and number of children.  A chart clarifying these details has not yet been pusblished.  The estimated expense is the basic child support obligation, which can be adjusted for additional expenses.  Additional expenses include:  child care expenses, extracurricular activity expenses, health insurance, and educational expenses.  The statute provides guidance as to which expenses are considered under each category and how the court should consider each expense in relation to each parent and his or her child support obligation.  If the court decides that either or both parent should contribute to certain child expenses, then the basic child support obligation will be prorated for each additional expense in proportion to a  parent’s percentage share of the Total Family Income, and the additional expenses will then be added to the child support obligation.

The new statute also provides for an adjustment or “offset” to child support for shared parenting.  If a parent is in the physical care of a child for at least 146 overnights a year, the court may first multiply the basic child support obligation by 1.5 to calculate the “shared care child support obligation.”  Then, each parent’s child support obligation is calculated by multiplying each parent’s portion of the “shared care child support obligation” by the percentage of time the parent is allocated parenting time with the minor child or children.  The parent who owes more child support pays the difference between the two amounts to the other parent.  As more information is released, we can clarify this change in the law further.

New Statute’s Effect on Existing Child Support Obligations

In anticipation of the practical effect the new guidelines will have on existing child support obligations, the new statute provides that the enactment of the new child support law does not in and of itself constitute a substantial change in circumstances for purposes of modifying past-ordered support.  See 750 ILCS 5/510(a).  Upon petitioning the court, the court may modify an existing child support obligation if it finds that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred for reasons other than the change in statute, and then the court would apply the new statute’s guidelines.  Id.  Nevertheless, the court may experience an influx of petitions for modification of child support in July 2017 simply due to the enactment of the new statute.

If you would like to learn more about the new statue and how it may affect you in the future, please contact the helpful, compassionate family law professionals at the Conniff Law Offices.


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