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CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND FAMILY LAW

What Does a Speedy Trial Mean?

The right to a speedy trial is a fundamental principle in our criminal justice system. According to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” The amendment guarantees a trial within a set period of time, and it prevents the prosecution from unnecessarily delaying your trial. In addition, the state of Illinois also provides a corresponding right in the Illinois Speedy Trial Act, 725 ILCS 5/103-5. However, despite these guarantees, a speedy trial does not always happen, and our justice system often falls short of this goal. While there are...

Understanding “Joint Custody” Laws in Illinois

In an ideal world, parents who are divorcing should be able to negotiate and come to an agreement as to custody and visitation issues, and the well-being of the child should come first.  Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and the courts may need to step in. While people often want to know about joint custody laws in Illinois, it’s important for parents to understand that the terminology used in the state has changed. In 2016 the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was updated to remove the terms “custody” and “visitation” and substitute the terms "parenting time" and "allocation of parental responsibilities."...

What Is a Class 4 Felony in Illinois?

In Illinois, crimes are classified according to how serious they are.  Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, which are broken down into five classifications, from most serious to least: Class X, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and Class 4. Although a Class 4 felony is the least serious of all felony charges, it still is a serious charge, with serious punishments. A prison sentence for a Class 4 felony conviction is 1 to 3 years, and Class 4 felony convictions can also include fines of up to $25,000. Some common Class 4 felonies include aggravated assault, stalking, drug possession of a controlled substance,...

What Happens to Debt When You Get Divorced?

When couples divorce, who gets stuck with the debts run up during the marriage? Just as assets are shared in marriage, debts may be as well, so it has to be determined which party should be responsible for what debts. Sometimes, even if your spouse was the one who incurred the debt, you may still have to pay it; and creditors may be able to go after you for debts held jointly if your former spouse doesn't pay. The experienced and compassionate Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. understand that debt is a major issue for people going through...

How Is Child Support Calculated in Illinois? 

When parents divorce in Illinois, child support is determined by a formula that changed on July 1, 2017, when Public Act 99-764 amended the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Instead of the old method of relying on the net income of the non-custodial parent, there is now an income-share system that holds both parents accountable for child support based on how much they financially contributed to the combined household income while married. Many factors affect the amount of child support, and each situation is different; so if you are having issues with child support, it pays to seek legal...

Arguments in Favor of Prenuptial Agreements

For those planning to tie the marital knot, there are a lot of things to consider, and making a prenuptial agreement should be right up there on your list. A prenup – a legal document that determines how assets will be divided and protected in the event of a divorce – is not only a smart financial decision, it can improve your relationship and chances of staying together by addressing sensitive financial issues right from the start. And it provides protection for your assets if you eventually do decide to get divorced. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, so courts will divide...

How a Divorcing Couple's Age Affects Asset Division

While the U.S. divorce rate has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s, it has increased for couples over age 50. In fact, according to a Bowling Green State University study, the divorce rate for senior couples doubled between 1990 and 2010. One reason may be that people are living longer, and when looking at the best way to enjoy a projected lengthy retirement, they may evaluate relationships and find them lacking. When older couples split up, issues differ from those of younger couples as child support and custody aren’t usually involved. Older couples often have higher incomes and assets and more complicated financial...

Study Estimates 13% of Divorces Caused by Student Loans

Student loan debt, now at a record high of $1.5 trillion, has become a marriage killer. According to a June 2018 survey by Student Loan Hero and reported by CNBC, more than a third of borrowers said college loans and other money factors contributed to their divorce, and 13 percent of divorcees blame student loans specifically for ending their relationship. This is not surprising when you consider that the average outstanding student loan balance is $34,144, up 62 percent over the last decade, according to a report by Experian. And the percentage of borrowers who owe $50,000 or more has tripled over...

Illinois Man Shares Experience to Highlight Possibilities of Reform

There can be life after prison, although the road to get there is usually difficult and badly needs reform. Consider the case of an Illinois man, now heading to Stanford University after having served 15 years of a 30-year prison sentence for marijuana trafficking.  Jason Spyres, now 36, was caught with 38 pounds of marijuana in Macon County in 2001.  He was given a Class X felony sentence, fined over $200,000, and told that he was un-rehabilitatable. Class X is considered more serious than a second-degree murder conviction, where the sentence may be probation. Now that he has left prison, Spyres is on...

Divorce "Tax Break" Will Soon Be Eliminated

There is never a good time to get divorced, but if you have high assets, you probably will be best off getting one as fast as possible.  The reason is the new Republican tax law, which will eliminate the tax break for alimony payments that are finalized or modified after Dec. 31, 2018. Agreements signed before the end of the year will still qualify for the annual deduction. This can make a big financial difference for wealthy couples where one spouse earns substantially more per year than the other. The Securities Exchange Commission defines a high-asset or high-net-worth couple as a couple...

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