Understanding the Legal Procedure in Your Divorce Case

Divorce proceedings can be complex processes. If you want to know more information about the process of divorce, the following slides can give you advice on what steps to take next, what the best legal actions are for your situation and what you need to discuss with your Woodstock family lawyer.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney?

Woodstock family attorneysIn the event that you cannot or do not wish to handle your own financial matters or healthcare decisions, a person who has been granted power of attorney can take care of these things on your behalf. This power is designated by you, the principle, to the agent, the person who has been granted power of attorney. In most cases, say Woodstock family attorneys, separate power of attorney documents are drawn up for financial and healthcare matters. This is generally the case, even when the same person will be granted powers for each.

Durable Power of Attorney

Power of attorney can be very broad or quite limited in scope depending on the needs of the principle. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, if the principle becomes unable to make decisions, the power of attorney will be invalidated. In order for the agent to retain power of attorney in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated, a durable power of attorney will be required, say Woodstock family attorneys

Choosing an Agent

You can designate one person as your agent for both financial and healthcare matters, or you can choose one person for each, says a Woodstock family lawyer. For instance, you may know someone who is financially conscious, whom you trust to make financial decisions. You may also know someone who understands your wishes when it comes to making choices about your health.

Some other factors to consider are how close your healthcare proxy lives to you, in case the agent needs to go to a hospital or medical center. Woodstock family attorneys might advise you to choose a second, or successor agent, in case the original agent cannot or is unwilling to perform the duties specified in the power of attorney documentation.

Requirements for durable power of attorney vary depending on the state or jurisdiction. Woodstock family attorneys may be able to explain what is required in your local area. To make a confidential appointment to meet with a Woodstock family lawyer, please call the Stetler Law Group at (815) 529-4554.

Success of Pro Se Divorce Assistance: Illinois divorce law

Woodstock family lawyer

Limited scope representation can help you reduce fees and obtain a better divorce settlement

Today I completed my representation in a case that I believe shows the value and benefit of limited scope legal representation.  While not widely used, limited scope representation allows lawyers to represent a client in a limited capacity.  In this case, I took on the role of advisor, utilizing my expertise in Illinois divorce law, McHenry County divorce procedure, and background with Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and other financial and retirement instruments.

My client needed help in what he anticipated was going to be a mostly uncontested divorce.  However, he needed to keep his fees low while obtaining the best result overall.  The first version of the agreement he brought drafted by opposing counsel was, unfortunately, a mess.  Opposing counsel simply had every asset divided equally.  This included several small IRAs and small 401(k)s.  While other attorneys may not have realized it, the structure of the agreement put my client at a disadvantage from a tax standpoint and was going to result in both clients paying a small fortune in legal fees and other fees (to financial institutions) to administer the terms of the agreement.

With my advice and my assistance in selecting additional legal language, my client was able to negotiate a settlement that included many terms beneficial to him that were initially excluded, significantly simplify the financial division while creating a more equitable division of the tax consequences, and structure the agreement to minimize the administrative costs of carrying out the division.  All-in-all, I estimate the fees he paid me to assist him were approximately 35% of what the fees would have been to just administer the previous proposed division.  In addition, the custody, visitation, and financial resolution seems to me to be more orderly and more favorable to my client.

While limited scope representation is not right for everyone, we are seeing a variety of outcomes in McHenry County divorces.  It is nice to be able to share a very clear story of the success of such representation and its ability to provide better service at lower costs.  If you are involved in a divorce in or around McHenry County, please contact the Stetler Law Group for additional information and advice.

Appellate Court Considering Illinois Frozen Embryo Case

In what will be a significant ruling, the Appellate Court for the First District of Illinois heard arguments in a dispute regarding the frozen embryos of an unmarried couple.  The trial court ruled in favor of the intended mother, the donor of the embryos, and held that her interests in being a mother outweighed her former boyfriend’s interests in not being a father.  The appellate court will have to decide several issues, including whether such a balancing test is applicable in Illinois or if the contractual language of the donor agreement stating that no use can be made of the embryos without the consent of both parties should prevail (and if so how that language should be interpreted).

There are practical and philosophical problems that arise in this case.  From a practical standpoint, where a child has not yet been considered legally conceived (I understand there may be some dispute as to the characterization, but I defer to current law for the purposes of this post) should one party be able to force the other into parenthood?  Where all other methods of producing a biological child have been eliminated, should one party be able to prevent the other from using a frozen embryo to have a biological child?

Perhaps part of the problem comes in terms of the law.  These two people clearly have little to do with each other now and it seems do not really want to have a child together.  A ruling in favor of the sperm donor prevents the egg donor from ever having a biological child — something very important to many women.  However, allowing the use of the embryos, due to the current law, cements the donors status as the legal father with all the rights and responsibilities that come along with that status.

In much of the United States, frozen embryos have been treated similarly to property, though this area of the law is still undergoing significant development.  Illinois, like many other states, has been slow to adopt laws that more accurately reflect and address the concerns of current reproductive technology, including a possible redefinition of the term parent, both with respect to rights and obligations.  Unfortunately, this is a case where it is quite easy to sympathize with both parties — and that makes these kinds of cases, and issues, the hardest to deal with.

One thing is absolutely clear, though.  No matter what the appellate court decides, this case is likely to be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court and stands a good chance of having the petition for leave to appeal granted.

Tips on Shared Parenting

McHenry divorce lawyerAdjusting to a shared parenting relationship can be challenging for you and your children. Your McHenry divorce lawyer has seen a number of shared parenting relationships and can offer valuable advice on acclimating to your new status.

Decompression

Your McHenry divorce lawyer will note that you need to be aware of differences in parenting approaches and how these differences affect your child. For example, if your former spouse’s home offers an unstructured environment, your children may develop alternate ways to create the structure they need. When they come to your house, they may still try to follow the routines they’ve established. If your home is more structured, you may find them resisting the new structure. If this problem occurs, your McHenry divorce lawyer may recommend providing them with an opportunity to decompress as they make the transition. You should be able to determine fairly quickly what is needed, which may be nothing more than letting them play in their rooms for a few hours.

Logging

Another issue your McHenry divorce lawyer can discuss with you is concerns you may have about the other parent’s ability to provide a safe environment for your children. For example, you may learn that your former spouse is not using proper car seats while driving the children or is leaving them unattended for long periods of time. If you have these concerns, your McHenry divorce lawyer may recommend creating a parental log to record these events as they occur. Your McHenry divorce lawyer can use this log as evidence if you want to challenge the custody arrangements. However, your McHenry divorce lawyer will emphasize that the courts are only interested in events that reflect threats to the actual physical welfare of your children. Courts will not referee different parenting styles.

The McHenry divorce attorneys at the Stetler Law Group can help you address shared parenting issues. Call them at 815-529-4554 to arrange for a consultation.

Handling of Assets When You File for Divorce

McHenry divorce mediation attorneyMarried couples generally merge all aspects of their lives. Therefore, bank accounts and other assets are often in both persons’ names. It is important, as you begin the divorce process, to move toward separating these assets. A McHenry divorce mediation attorney can provide you with assistance.

A McHenry Divorce Mediation Lawyer on Handling of Liquid Assets

It is important that you begin setting aside money for yourself. While it is true that, until the divorce is final, all assets that were obtained during the marriage are community property, you should begin setting aside some cash in a safe place. You should also open a checking account that is only in your name. As your McHenry divorce mediation attorney will tell you, this is important because sometimes bank accounts can be frozen during a divorce.

A McHenry Divorce Mediation Attorney Discusses Credit Card and Savings Accounts

It is helpful if you and your spouse can reach an agreement on how to handle bank accounts that are in both of your names. Ideally, the two of you will close the accounts and split the money evenly.

You should obtain a couple of credit cards in your name. Debt from joint cards can be transferred to individual cards, but the main advantage is that this renders you all the more independent from the other individual. You should also gather statements of all jointly held accounts and place a freeze on joint investment accounts.

Consult an Attorney If You Need Assistance

A McHenry divorce mediation attorney will provide you with more useful advice and can assist with any questions or concerns. Call Stetler Law Group today at (815) 529-4554.

Illinois Eavesdropping Law Expanded, Affects Illinois Divorces

Effective December 31, 2014, a new eavesdropping law went into effect in Illinois.  The previous version of the law was struck down as unconstitutional and since, there has not been an enforceable eavesdropping statute.

The new law continues to require the consent of all parties in order to record a conversation.  In this way, it maintains much of the prior law.  There are exceptions for conversations that the participants cannot reasonably expect to be private.  This appears to be the change the legislature hopes will make the new statute constitutional.

Recordings made by eavesdropping are specifically excluded from use as evidence.  The statute states:

Admissibility of evidence. No part of the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication that has been recorded or intercepted as a result of this exception may be received in evidence in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of this State, or a political subdivision of the State…

There are some exceptions, but none that would apply to a divorce case.  Surreptitiously recorded evidence will now, again, present the dilemma of knowing a fact but likely being unable to prove the underlying facts.  Further, pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, keeping your spouse under surveillance remains a basis for an order of protection.

Divorce cases, unfortunately, often involve “he said, she said” situations and many litigants either misremember or outright lie when testifying before the court.  In Illinois, gathering evidence of harmful statements or evidence remains difficult and the revision to the current law, prohibiting even a participant to the conversation from recording the conversation, continues to limit the ability to bring more concrete evidence of statements against a party’s interests.

Of course, the new law will be important for law enforcement, but the law will also have a significant impact on divorce cases in Illinois and McHenry County, especially where the facts regarding spousal support, maintenance, child custody, visitation, or financial issues regarding child support are hotly contested.  All divorce lawyers in Illinois and McHenry County should closely review the new statute and be aware of possible criminal liability for violations (violating the eavesdropping statute is a class 4 felony).  If you are in an Illinois divorce, be aware of the limitations on your ability to record your spouse or others.

Six Compelling Reasons to Settle Your Divorce out of Court

Not every divorce needs to end in a courtroom battle. In fact, you’ll discover that a majority of divorces are settled across a conference table in a lawyer’s office. You should discuss this option with your Woodstock divorce lawyer. To help you make an informed decision about the settlement process, consider the following six reasons why you should stay out of court.

Common Problems and Solutions in Parenting Plans

Woodstock family lawyerWhile you and your spouse may have the intention of creating a well-structured parenting plan, your Woodstock family lawyer can explain that it is almost impossible to predict all potential problems and issues that may arise. However, your Woodstock family lawyer can inform you of the common problems that arise in the parenting context so that you can be better prepared for them if they do arise.

Discipline

Woodstock family attorneys can help you set up established rules regarding how children will be disciplined in both homes.

Structure

Parenting should be consistent and structured. Visiting children at unannounced and unplanned times will only lead to confusion and stress. Establish clear guidelines concerning time for each parent. Your Woodstock family lawyer may recommend using a color-coded calendar to indicate which days will be yours and which will be your spouse’s. Each child may carry one, or you may hang them on the refrigerator.

Emergencies

If an emergency arises, it is important that you have a plan in place about how to deal with this issue. Decide ahead of time who will care for a sick child or respond to an emergency call. The parent who will not be impacted as much by missing a day of work may be the better parent to handle this responsibility. Schools and supervisors of extracurricular activities should have both parents’ contact information.

If you would like to learn about other common problems of parenting plans and how to solve them, contact the Stetler Law Group by calling (815) 529-4554.

 

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