Prenuptial FAQ: What is a Prenup?

To put it simply, a prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people who plan to marry. The couple doesn’t need to be legally married to enter into a prenuptial agreement. The contract can resolve common issues in divorce cases, such as spousal maintenance and property division, in advance. This may help to remove the need for divorce litigation. Read on to learn more about prenuptial agreements, how they work, and when you may want one.

How Does a Prenup Work?

Prenuptial agreements in Illinois must adhere to the requirements described in the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Although prenuptial agreements don’t require a witness or court involvement, they must also be in writing and signed by the couple. Prenuptial agreements don’t become effective until the couple is married.

Since unmarried couples (excluding those who’ve entered into a civil union or common law marriage ) have no legal right to one another’s property after they separate, there’s no risk involved for either party if the marriage never occurs. Additionally, a prenuptial agreement isn’t set in stone; it can be amended or voided after the marriage, although both spouses will need to provide written consent.

Should I Get a Prenup?

There are a number of situations in which a prenuptial agreement can be beneficial:

  • If you’ve experienced a stressful divorce in the past, you know how emotionally and mentally trying it can be. Although a prenup can’t address issues like child custody, it’s a smart way to possibly avoid painful divorce litigation. Not to mention, it can reduce the costs of divorce significantly, since pressing issues like asset division and alimony won’t need to be litigated.
  • Do you have more assets than your intended spouse, such as a small business you’ve put many years of time and money into? If so, you would likely want to hold onto those assets if your marriage ends in divorce. A prenuptial agreement can prevent your assets from being regarded as marital property.
  • Prenuptial agreements can ensure your children from a prior marriage have access to the assets you’ve set aside for them.
  • Prenuptial agreements can be used to ensure that, upon divorce, property that was acquired before your marriage is regarded as a non-marital asset and remain your property after a divorce, or after your death.

Does a Prenup Protect Future Assets?

Yes, a well-written prenup can protect future assets. However, it’s not as simple as listing “all future income” or “all future property acquisitions” to ensure your future assets are protected. The prenup needs to list those future assets in detail, or the court will be unable to discount them as marital property, especially if there’s no clear owner. Because verbiage is critical when drafting a prenuptial agreement, it’s important to rely on the expertise of a lawyer with prenup experience.

Rely on a Skilled Lawyer to Create a Prenuptial Agreement

Do you have additional questions about prenuptial agreements? Does a prenuptial agreement seem advantageous for you and your intended spouse? If so, contact Conniff Law Offices. We’ll gladly schedule a consultation with you at our Chicago or Oak Park office.

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5 Tips for Co-Parenting After Divorce

Divorce isn’t easy, and neither are the painful readjustments that accompany it. Transitions and visitation are difficult — emotionally, mentally, and logistically. Co-parenting can get especially tricky when young children are involved, as you and your ex will need to work together closely to ensure your child’s needs are met. We’ve highlighted a few pieces of crucial co-parenting advice below, so you and your ex can make the best possible decisions concerning your child’s happiness, visitation, transitions, self-care, and more.

1. Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings

Your child won’t always want to pack a bag and spend the weekend at his mother or father’s house. When this happens, acknowledge how difficult the process is for your child and lend an ear. Then, help nudge them into more positive territory by saying something like, “Your Mom loves and misses you so much, and I’m sure she has a lot of fun stuff planned for you two.”

Ask if there’s anything you can do to put their mind at ease. Sometimes, it’s as easy as packing a few things they’re missing at the other parent’s house.

2. Make Co-Parenting a Joint Effort

Whether you’re on good terms with your ex or not, you’ll need to make parenting decisions — and those decisions don’t end until the child is living on their own. If you can do this without bickering, you’ll both get much better results.

Agree on rules and discipline. Be as consistent as possible and respect the disciplinary measures carried out by the other parent. For example, if the other parent grounds the child, don’t allow them to go out when they visit you. Also, agree on a schedule, so your child can stick to a routine regardless of which roof they’re under. If managing a co-parenting schedule starts to get complicated, there are multiple apps to help with divorce that can make everything more seamless.

3. Simplify Transitions & Visitation

Whether your child transitions from one household to the other every week or every few months, it’s likely not easy for them. They’re reunited with one parent but leaving the other, and for many children, it’s a bittersweet feeling. There are a few steps you and your ex can take to make the process easier for your child:

  • Set Reminders: A couple of days before they leave, remind your child that they’re heading to the other parent’s house soon.
  • Pack Ahead of Time: Help your younger child pack, so they’re ready to go when it’s time for them to leave. Encourage them to pack that stuffed animal they love or the photo of you two that they keep on their bedside table — but don’t push it.
  • Set a Pick-Up/Drop-Off Schedule: Drop your child off at the other parent’s house, but don’t pick them up. Allow your ex to bring them home. This way, you won’t interrupt any bonding time.

4. Turn Loneliness into Productivity

Although it’s important for your child to spend quality time with both you and your ex, it’s natural to feel lonely in the interim. When your child is away, spend your time doing the things you love, such as reading, writing, biking, and catching up with friends. Consider the extra time to yourself a silver lining after the dissolution of marriage or civil union.

If your child is away for longer than a couple of days, find ways to keep in touch that won’t make the other parent feel like you’re infringing (and can actually be helpful), such as picking the child up after school and dropping them off.

5. Control Your Emotions

If your ex does something that upsets you, don’t involve your child. No one wants to hear negative comments about their parent, especially if those comments are being made by the other parent. Let your kid be a kid and don’t bog them down with past conflicts that took place between you and your ex.

Instead of immediately reacting with an angry phone call or text, keep a list of grievances with your ex. Update the list when you have a new grievance and check back in a few days. If it still upsets you, address it with them privately. If it’s no longer an issue, move on.

Get More Co-Parenting Advice from Conniff Law Offices

Conniff Law Offices is a reputable family law firm in Illinois, with offices in Chicago and Oak Park. If you’re seeking a divorce, or have questions about family law or getting child support, we welcome you to contact us to schedule a consultation. Searching for fun things to do in Oak Park that will make visits with your children more memorable? Even in this area of expertise, our team is here to help. Take a look at our guide to start planning for your kids’ next visit today.

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First Steps Toward Divorce

You’ve moved past the point of considering a divorce and think it may be time to take action, but what should you do now? While television has sensationalized divorce and made contested, messy divorces a part of popular culture, the divorce lawyers at Conniff Law Offices believe in collaborative divorce and mediation, with litigation as a last resort. You have now already taken your first steps toward starting a new life: researching divorce attorneys and how to file for divorce. Read on to learn what to do next.

In a collaborative divorce or a mediated divorce, your first step in the divorce process is to reach out to an attorney trained in the Collaborative Law Process or an attorney with mediation training.

How to File for Divorce

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that, while you certainly have your reasons for wanting to dissolve a marriage or civil union, they are not required and have no impact on factors like spousal maintenance or child support or property division. In order to file for divorce in Illinois, either the person seeking the divorce or his or her spouse must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days, then:

  • The petitioner has the right to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage;
  • The petition must be filed in a county where at least one of the spouses lives;
  • The petition must be served on the other spouse by an individual appointed by a judge to deliver the Petition by hand.

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will include basic information about the relationship: the date and location of the marriage, current living arrangements, and any children of the marriage.

While filing for divorce can take a certain level of courage and determination, it is probably the simplest part of the process. The divorce proceedings themselves are when difficulties may arise, depending on. It is wise to consult a divorce attorney in even the most amicable divorces so you can discuss your options on how to approach divorce proceedings.

How to Approach Divorce Proceedings

Divorce proceedings in Chicago typically use one of four conflict resolution processes:

Even in an amicable or uncontested divorce, one or more of these processes will be used to determine the specifics of the divorce, from dissolution of assets to parental responsibilities for children. Every divorce follows the same path: petition for dissolution, conflict resolution, and enacted judgment for dissolution of marriage.

As you walk the first steps toward divorce, know that you do not need to decide on a collaborative divorce or divorce litigation right now. A divorce lawyer can help you decide the ideal method(s) of conflict resolution for your divorce and offer guidance along the way.

Consult a Divorce Lawyer at Conniff Law Offices

Even if you are still weighing the possibility of divorce, it will be very helpful to consult with a divorce attorney in Chicago who can advise you of your options. Contact Conniff Law to learn more about our divorce services and the steps to take when dissolving a marriage.

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How to Move on After Divorce

Divorce, even a no-fault divorce or a mediation that was cost-effective and timely, can be a painful, life-altering experience. Dealing with the aftermath of a divorce can be difficult, even if the court finds in your favor. When the dust has settled and you’re ready to start your life back up again, we have some advice for how to move on after divorce.

Gather your Circle

Whether you know it or not, you have a support circle of friends and family. Don’t underestimate the value of your loved ones; they can help to bolster you as you find your footing again. If things are feeling difficult or you are feeling vulnerable, reach out to the people you know and love and allow them to help.

Focus on the Future

True, your marriage ended, but that is also already in your past — you have a whole future to look forward to. It sounds like a cliché to say that every ending is also a beginning, but it’s true. While some people will want or need to wholly reinvent themselves after a divorce, you could do something as simple as taking an art class or spending more time with a friend. You now have the opportunity to focus on who you are and what you want from life, independent of your former partner.

Improve Your Health

Marriage, even good marriages, can make us complacent about our health and fitness goals. Now is the time to concentrate on creating a better you. Hit the gym, take a cooking class, or join a healthy group in your area. You’ll feel better and can make new friends along the way.

Find a Support Group

It’s estimated that 40-50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. That means a lot of people out there are experiencing a sense of overwhelming sadness that you might be feeling. Join a group to explore your feelings and get advice from others who have gone through it and come out on the other side. Sometimes the thing a person needs to hear most is “I’ve felt that too.”

Concentrate on Your Kids

If you have children, be supportive of them. After all, they’re going through a divorce, too. Work on creating positive memories, finding them loving caregivers (if needed), and settling into their new lives. Try to remain positive when you’re with your kids, and avoid talking badly about your former spouse especially in front of your children. Need a little help planning fun activities when your kids are with you? Take a look at our guide to family things to do in Oak Park for some helpful suggestions.

Divorce Representation That Focuses on You

At Conniff Law Offices, our focus is on you. We treat each case with care and compassion and understand the impact divorce has on individuals and families. Our divorce and family attorneys are well-equipped to help you achieve the goals you seek from your divorce so you can get on with your life on your terms. Contact us today to schedule a legal consultation and learn more about the services we offer. Have questions about your taxes after divorce? We’re here to help. Consult our guide to divorce and taxes to learn more.

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Divorce FAQ

The emotional strain of a divorce can be even more painful when you’re unsure how to go about getting one. You may be asking yourself, “Should I get a divorce,” or “Where do I start?”

Conniff Law Offices is a reliable source for information on divorce in Illinois, as we’ve helped numerous clients navigate divorce proceedings and the emotional and difficult decisions involved. To shed light on this subject, we’ve put together the divorce FAQ below. Read on for more information on how to get a divorce and what it entails.

Divorce in Illinois

Divorce in Illinois is referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” To file a dissolution of marriage, you and your spouse must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days.

In 2016, revisions to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) made Illinois a no-fault state, meaning the courts don’t require or recognize a reason for separation in dissolution of marriage or civil union cases. The only cause recognized by the IMDMA is irreconcilable differences, which means that despite attempting to move past their issues, the couple can’t come to a resolution and divorce is best for them and their family.

How to File for Divorce

You can gather the appropriate forms from the Cook County Circuit Court website. At a minimum, you will need a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you live in the greater Chicago area, you must file:

  • Domestic Relations Cover Sheet
  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • Summons
  • Affidavit of Service
  • Certificate of Dissolution

If you have minors, you must also file:

  • Joint Parenting Agreement
  • Visitation Form
  • Uniform Order of Support (in child support cases).

Once the paperwork has been gathered and filled out, you must file the documents with the clerk of court. You may also serve your spouse with forms via a private process server, sheriff’s service, or publication. Some counties require both sides to file a Financial Disclosure Statement with the court.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

The current filing fee in Cook County is $368, but each divorce is unique and other costs can increase the cost of a divorce significantly. When child custody, child support, alimony or spousal maintenance, and property division are included, the cost of divorce can climb into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars — couples with higher incomes and more assets will often have much higher costs for their divorce.

The excessive cost that come with a litigated divorce is one of the many reasons Conniff Law Offices is staffed with experts in collaborative law — collaborative divorces work to avoid litigation and minimize costs.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

Once the county court receives the petition for dissolution of marriage, you’ll receive a case number, a presiding judge, and a summons. Your spouse will also need the summons, which, as stated above, can be served in a few ways. It can take up to three weeks for your spouse to receive the summons from the sheriff’s office or by special process server, and your spouse can take up to 30 days to respond. After a response is received, a court appearance before the judge can be scheduled to dissolve the marriage.

If you and your spouse need to make decisions about child support, child custody, property division, and more, those court appearances will be scheduled for a later date. How long they take depends on you and your spouse and whether or not you’re able to reach agreements on each aspect of the divorce. It’s worth noting that, in Illinois, custody cases must be resolved within 18 months of the date on which they were filed.

Once you and your spouse have reached decisions, a prove-up hearing will be scheduled by the judge to finalize the agreements.

What Percentage of Marriages End in Divorce?

If you’re in the process of a divorce or are considering one, you are not alone. It is estimated that 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. These divorce rates also tend to increase for people who have already been married.

Turn to Conniff Law Offices for Expert Representation

At Conniff Law Offices, our values dictate how we handle every case — that is, with compassion, discretion, and expertise. Our experienced team of family law attorneys can help you through divorce proceedings, including pain points like child custody and spousal support. For further advice or assistance, including questions you may have about taxes after divorce, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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