THE WOODRIDGE DIVORCE LAWYERS AT WOLFE & STEC, LTD. OFFER FREE CONSULTATIONS TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE. WE CAN HELP YOU FIND THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME IN DIVORCE AND RELATED FAMILY LAW ISSUES.
Divorce is never easy. It can be devastating for the couple, their children, and other family members. It is one of life’s greatest sources of stress, but is sometimes the only way forward. In fact, almost 50 percent of marriages in the United States wind up in divorce court. At this turbulent time, when you are likely to be worried about your future, your finances, and the impact on your kids, you need a good divorce attorney to take you through the process.
As trial lawyers, our divorce attorneys know the importance of thorough preparation and aggressive representation. As people with families ourselves, we understand that divorce is not simply about dividing assets and property. Our divorce lawyer represents our clients with a deep sensitivity to the emotional impact divorce has on all parties affected.
Call Wolfe & Stec today at 630-305-0222 for your no-cost consultation. Our Woodridge divorce attorney is here for you to walk you through the process of your divorce and to stand by your side.
You and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse are on relatively good terms. You both just want a speedy and fair resolution and to then be able to move on with your lives. There’s no need to hire a lawyer, right? Wrong.
Trying to handle a divorce yourself could be a costly mistake. Even if you and your spouse agree and the divorce is friendly, this may change without warning as unexpected situations arise. Children have issues; spouses become jealous or spiteful over new relationships; or one may start perceiving that the other is coming out ahead financially. Having an attorney can protect your rights when a once-cooperative spouse turns sour.
Remember, once your divorce is final, mistakes are almost impossible to undo; and not only can they cost you a significant amount of money, but you and your children can suffer effects that last a lifetime. It is wise to have a divorce attorney in Woodridge involved to make sure you get it right the first time.
Here are some reasons to hire a competent Woodridge divorce attorney:
The divorce process is complex, and laws constantly change — such as the 2019 major revisions to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. During the Trump administration, there were changes to tax liability regarding maintenance payments. With the Biden administration in office, there may be more changes that the Illinois legislature will have to address with additional amendments. Your attorney can help you through the steps and processes and ensure that you understand the changes.
If you live in the DuPage County area, you want a divorce attorney that knows the local courts and other lawyers and has their fingers on the pulse of the way the legal system runs in Woodridge. This kind of support can make a significant difference, so call us at Wolfe & Stec at 630-305-0222.
You can go online and find countless divorce attorneys advertising their services. But hiring a lawyer with the right experience and who cares for their clients can make an enormous difference in how smoothly and quickly the process goes and the ultimate outcome. You can’t afford to waste your time with a bad or even so-so attorney.
A great divorce attorney …
The short answer: right away. Knowing when to hire a divorce lawyer can make the difference between an amicable split and a drawn-out battle, and a difference in your final settlement. It makes sense to contact an attorney immediately, even if you are just thinking of divorce, and certainly if you have been surprised by divorce papers from your spouse.
At Wolf & Stec, we offer free, no-commitment consultations. Call us at 630-305-0222 to schedule an appointment.
Our attorneys and staff give you the emotional support you need right from the beginning, evaluate the specifics of your situation, and proceed in the best way to protect your assets and legal rights. Getting on the right path from the start will help prevent mistakes and ensure that the outcome of your divorce is as favorable as possible.
Telling your spouse you want a divorce is bound to be difficult, so make sure it is really what you want. If you are sure, prepare ahead of time and consider working with a counselor to help you sort through your feelings. Consult with an attorney to make sure all is in order; do thorough preplanning and gather all your paperwork before you tell your partner anything. Then:
If you have children involved that will be impacted by the divorce, such as with new living arrangements or simply the worry and confusion that may come with parents’ splitting the family, the advice of a professional counselor will be vital. It may be best, however, to keep their counsel for purposes of making the event easier rather than using the therapist as a witness – or weapon – in the divorce. To know all of your options that are specific to your situation, it’s best to consult with a divorce lawyer in Woodridge sooner rather than later. Our experienced compassionate divorce attorney at Wolfe & Stec can guide you through the process, start to finish, explaining every choice before you at each step of the way. Give us a call at 630-305-0222 to begin today.
Preplanning before filling for divorce allows you to protect what you can before the courts get involved.
Things you should do before filing for divorce include:
The veteran divorce attorneys at Wolfe & Stec know the intricacies of Illinois divorce law, and we handle the full scope of divorce and related family law issues. Whether your case is simple or complex, amicable or contentious, we work hard to ensure it is resolved expeditiously and fairly, with minimal stress. Out of our Woodridge office, our divorce lawyers serve clients throughout DuPage County and surrounding counties.
How you stand financially after divorce is of great concern for both parties, so our divorce attorneys focus on the financial planning aspects of divorce. We are familiar with the common tax, benefits and retirement issues that normally arise, but will refer you to a financial advisor if you need expert help on issues such as the short- and long-term impact of dividing property and analyzing pension and retirement plans. We can help you create a realistic budget and future spending plan. We can also connect you with a bankruptcy lawyer if this is a consideration.
Whether you have relatively few assets, or you have multiple properties, businesses, and accounts, our divorce attorneys will help protect your interests within the law.
There is much to consider when undergoing a divorce, as the rest of your life is at stake. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means marital property and debts need not be divided 50/50, but according to what the courts decide is “equitable.” The court’s property division decision is guided by twelve factors set out in the law, and it does not consider “marital misconduct” in dividing the property and debts. The factors include:
Prenuptial agreements aren’t just for the super wealthy person marrying the less-well-off person. Such agreements can help prevent a lot of aggravation down the line, as they create a basis for agreement should divorce occur. Prenuptial agreements are best suited for people who have premarital funds and ventures they do not wish to blend with marital assets. Agreements also make sure money stays in the family in the event that the new prospective spouse passes away during marriage or in case of divorce.
The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act speaks to prenuptial agreements in state law. The agreements must be in writing, both parties to the marriage must sign for the agreement for it to be enforceable, and the marriage must actually take place. The agreements may be amended by spouses after the marriage as long as they both agree.
If you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement may be an option. It is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it is entered into and signed after marriage. Our attorneys will create a unique and personalized prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that is tailored to meet your needs.
Property division in the dissolution of a marriage is governed by statute. Illinois is an equitable distribution state — marital property is divided equitably, not necessarily equally. All property acquired after the marriage and before a judgment of dissolution of marriage is presumed to be marital property, and this is divided without regard to marital misconduct.
To determine what is equitable, both spouses are required to provide a complete disclosure of their financial information. You will have to provide pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements supporting the information listed in the affidavits. The court may also look at the dissipation of assets, tax liability, child custody and other matters.
If you have a business, our attorneys will help you protect it in divorce, as well as your retirement accounts and any pre-owned property. In some circumstances, such as a situation where a spouse was employed by, or helped run, the company, the spouse may be entitled to as much as 50 percent of the business in a divorce, so we work to ensure that you don’t do anything to put your business at risk. We know the importance of capturing all financial records in a business valuation to ensure we can best protect your interests.
In addition, partnership, shareholder and/or operating agreements should have provisions to protect the interests of the other owners if one gets divorced.
As of January 1, 2019, Illinois spousal support laws have changed. The new law sets out formulas that would apply in most cases to determine the proper amount of support and the number of years the maintenance award shall continue. (See 750 ILCS5/504.) Our experienced divorce lawyers are there to help establish support payments and explain the types of support that you may be entitled to or must pay.
Get in touch with the divorce attorneys at Wolfe & Stec to learn more about issues with property and assets in a divorce and how they pertain to your case.
Not every divorce looks the same. Some cases require special handling, due to finances, family dynamics, or other unique situations. Our lawyers bring the experience necessary to expertly represent their clients even in the most challenging divorces. If you have a special situation in your divorce, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced, knowledgeable divorce attorney in Woodridge for help.
The more assets involved, the more you have to risk if your divorce is not handled properly. Our divorce attorneys handle cases for individuals with high net worth and those involving family-owned businesses. We strive to protect your pre-marital, family, and business assets, and to make sure the distribution of marital assets is equitable and fair.
A normal divorce is bad enough, but when it degenerates into a high-conflict one, you need a skilled attorney on your side. Spouses undergoing high-conflict divorce often clash, fight, and show hostility in almost every situation. They frequently take each other to court and may take out restraining or no-contact orders and accuse their partner of domestic violence, physical abuse or sexual abuse.
Major areas for high conflict include:
It is in your best interest to reduce the acrimony in your divorce case and approach with a level head. Let your attorneys do the talking. Don’t make your children confidants in the dispute. If approached by a spouse with ill will, consider avoiding direct contact if you can’t calm the situation. Do not be afraid to seek professional help.
When one spouse chooses to divorce and the other does not want it to happen, conflict can quickly escalate and is sometimes unexpected. Be aware of this possibility and if you think that could happen, talk to our divorce lawyer about it. Our compassionate understanding comes from experience with our clients. We know what to do and what resources can help you navigate this difficult step in your divorce.
An Illinois military divorce involves different laws than a civilian one, and we have the expertise to handle divorce for both service members and their spouses. Under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, 50 UCS section 521, there are military rules and regulations for serving papers on a soldier, and laws for maintenance, child and spousal support, and division of a military pension. Active duty spouses have legal protection to allow them to “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation,” through 60 days post active duty, so there are times it is necessary to postpone the filing of your divorce papers.
There are also federal laws that allow for support for former spouses of military members who served significant time in the armed forces.
Our divorce attorneys at Wolfe & Stec understand the variables that make every divorce a unique situation, including military divorce. To discuss the particulars of your case, call our Woodridge office today at 630-305-0222.
When hiring a divorce attorney, it makes sense to start by asking for recommendations from friends and family members who have gone through the process. Another good source is doing research online and examining the websites of attorneys who handle your type of divorce situation. It may be helpful to consult a local finding service that provides quality-assured lawyer directories and can connect you to an experienced lawyer in your area.
Once you have come up with several choices, take advantage of the free consultations offered and interview these attorneys to see whether you feel comfortable with them. Have questions ready to ask so you can determine whether the attorney has the experience, objectivity, and knowledge to represent you during the divorce proceedings, shares your divorce philosophies, is affordable, and is a good fit for you. Ask about how they would handle elements of a divorce that apply to your situation, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, etc. We believe you will find positive answers to these questions when you contact Wolfe & Stec.
When you meet with one of the attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, feel free to bring up any concerns and questions you may have about the divorce process and what to expect. These may include:
You’ve made the difficult decision to divorce, you’ve done your research, and you’ve hired a divorce attorney in Woodridge to represent your interests. Now is the time to get the ball rolling. Here is what to expect.
Where to File for Divorce: In Illinois, you may file for divorce in the Circuit Court in the county where either spouse lives.
Residency Requirement for Divorce in Illinois: To file for divorce in Illinois, the parties need to reside in the state for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: The divorce process begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The filing party is the “Petitioner” and the responding party is referred to as the “Respondent.”
The divorce process can be divided into three phases. These are the Temporary Relief Phase, the Discovery Phase and the Resolution Phase.
The Respondent is served with a Summons and Petition for Dissolution, typically by the sheriff or a professional service. You can find a copy of the summons with a restraining order on the web. The summons provides temporary relief while the Petition or Dissolution remains pending. The spouse has 30 days to respond or a judge will typically set a date for both spouses to appear in court.
Temporary Relief may include:
In this phase of the divorce process, the parties exchange documents for a full disclosure of all assets. Each party must disclose a Financial Affidavit, which includes income, expenses, assets, debts, and other financial-related items. Commonly used methods for discovering information are Marital Interrogatories (a list of written questions requiring the responding party to make written responses) and a Request to Produce Documents (requiring copies of the documents requested).
The case settles and a Judgment for Dissolution and Marital Settlement Agreement is entered. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning the marital property is divided in an equitable manner, but not necessarily equally. If the parties cannot reach a settlement on the issues, the divorce case goes to trial, where the court will determine issues such as the property award and child and spousal support.
There is no simple answer to this. The time a divorce takes depends on the issues involved. If the divorce is simple and uncontested, it can take as little as two months. If it is contested and the spouses are fighting over issues such as property division, child support and custody, and spousal maintenance, divorces can, in some cases, take several years.
One way to speed up the divorce process is to come to an amicable agreement with your spouse. The two of you can work out property division, maintenance and custody issues between yourselves. The process can go quicker if the two of you use attorneys to negotiate a deal that will easily be authorized by the courts.
Divorce is a major life-changer for children, who are bound to be affected emotionally and have fears and insecurities about their future. Will they get to see both their parents; will they have to leave their home, school and friends; will there be enough money for them to meet their needs?
In any divorce settlement, Illinois courts make the needs of the children a priority. Parents must come up with a parenting plan that that outlines how both parents will continue to care for and provide for their children after separating. You and your spouse ideally will work together to come up with a plan. If that is not possible, or if there is significant animosity between you and your spouse, you can work separately but have attorneys come together to hammer out an agreement.
In making your plan, you should include all elements that are essential to cover your children’s physical, emotional and social needs, plus the needs and considerations of both parents. Basic plan essentials should include:
While every client and family dynamic is different, there are a few issues that tend to be more relevant to men, to women, and to same-sex couples. We have the skills and experience to represent all of our clients with a tailored and personal approach.
Men have specific issues in divorce and should hire a Woodridge divorce attorney who has experience with and understands these issues, including:
Custody and visitation. Traditionally, divorce courts were biased toward the mother in custody proceedings, and the common arrangement was for the mother to have residential custody and the father to have visitation, often every other weekend and one night during the week. In recent years, courts have become more gender-neutral and now focus on the best interests of the child. As a result, more men can get shared custody arrangements, known as “parental time and responsibilities.”
Spousal support. Since men are often the higher wage-earners, they are more often affected by the new tax law, which eliminates the tax break for alimony payments that are finalized or modified after Dec. 31, 2018. The changes in the tax law are reflected in the 2019 changes to Illinois law regarding marital dissolution. The old system allowed people paying alimony to deduct the payments from their income before calculating taxes. The new system requires payment of taxes on all income, including that which is spent on alimony. While the recent changes stem from a previous administration in the White House, we have not yet seen how the newest administration will affect tax law regarding alimony payments – if at all – going forward.
While our society has made strides toward gender equality, wives still do the bulk of the housework and childcare, and many hold a job as well. Since women often earn less and many have stayed home to raise children or have supported their husband’s career, they are often worse off financially when on their own.
While the courts are striving to be more gender neutral, your attorney should be familiar with the laws and understand the unique issues affecting women and their children in the areas of property division, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance. For example, under the tax law that went into effect January 1, 2019, the spouse receiving alimony receives it tax free, the same as money paid for child support. However, since the alimony recipient earns less than the paying spouse, the paying spouse hit by increased taxes will try to negotiate lower payments, so alimony recipients may wind up losing 10% to 15% of what they would get under the old law. Since usually women earn less than their spouses, the new law will hurt them – and their children — the most.
Same-sex marriages or civil unions terminate the same way as a traditional marriage, with the divorce governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Divorcing same-sex couples need to deal with the usual issues of property division, spousal maintenance, child custody and child support.
In dividing property, the courts consider whether property or assets were acquired before marriage or whether the assets are marital property, obtained during the marriage. As in a traditional marriage, spousal support will depend on factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and property owned by parties, and whether one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent.
There are several alternatives to traditional litigation that are available to those considering divorce.
In some cases, couples may work out an agreement through a process called mediation. It is always better for divorcing partners to hammer out differences together rather than to submit to the final verdict of a family court judge. Mediation offers a chance for both spouses to resolve issues with the help of a neutral third party under conditions that are designed to minimize the possibility of conflict.
With regard to custody matters, the court requires divorcing spouses to enter meditation to resolve the issues. This may not be the best course of action in some cases, and the state courts recognize this, allowing some couples to opt out if the situation warrants it, for example, where there has been domestic violence as an issue.
There are variations to the process of divorce mediation in Illinois, including the possibility of mediation through a phone conference.
To ensure that couples speak freely, nothing is submitted to the court until there is a final written agreement.
Couples may decide to undergo mediation before filing a joint petition for divorce or at any time before their court date.
In a collaborative divorce, both parties agree to resolve all issues in a respectful, open and honest manner, and to focus on constructive problem-solving outside of the court system. Both spouses have their own attorneys, who are trained in the collaborative process. The attorneys make sure their clients are aware of their legal rights and obligations relating to property, alimony, and children, and they seek a satisfactory resolution for everyone concerned.
Spouses and their attorneys sign a contract called a Participation Agreement, stating their commitment to resolving issues according to collaborative principals and guidelines. Settlement is reached through a series of meetings where the couple is guided through the process by their attorneys in a structured, non-adversarial way. Once everyone agrees, documents are prepared and presented to the judge for approval and entry of judgment. Collaborative attorneys may not continue to represent their clients if the process breaks down and goes to litigation.
Annulment means the marriage was never regarded as legally valid in the first place. Under Illinois law, an annulment is a “declaration of invalidity of marriage,” an order that revokes recognition by the state. Once an annulment is granted, it is as if the marriage never really existed. Annulments are hard to get, as they have strict requirements and time limits and must have specific grounds such as mental disability, being forced into marriage, bigamy or incest, or hiding one’s inability to have sexual intercourse.
Illinois divorce law is complicated and changing, and the facts and circumstances of each case are different, so it makes sense to seek legal counsel to represent your interests. The skilled Woodridge divorce lawyers at Wolfe & Stec can advise and guide you through every step in the process.
For your initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate divorce lawyer, contact us online or call 630-305-0222. We handle cases throughout Illinois.
During trial four experts all testified against our client the Judge found it was in the best interest of the child that our client be awarded custody. We have successfully represented clients in numerous child custody cases.
We recently analyzed a case whereby the opposing side was seeking a substantial award of maintenance against our client. After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances and several hearings, our client’s obligation to pay maintenance was limited to two years at half of what his former spouse was seeking.
After our client voluntarily changed employment we were able to obtain a substantial reduction in child support payments. We have also stopped such reductions when representing clients receiving child support.