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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
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Recent Blog Posts

When Your Former Spouse Fails to Pay Child Support

 Posted on March 03, 2015 in Child Support

Support Orders, Missed Payments, Illinois family law attorneyIf you are a divorced parent, chances are you and your former spouse have a child support agreement in place as part of your divorce settlement. When you have a child support agreement, your spouse is required to pay you a specified amount of money every month, every week, or according to another schedule drafted by the court, until your child becomes an adult. This is to help you cover the costs that come with raising a child such as groceries, clothing, shelter, academic support, and extracurricular activities.

When a parent fails to make his or her child support payments, the child is the one who suffers. Custodial parents might find themselves stressed or feeling overwhelmed when they don't receive the financial support their former partner agreed to pay. Failing to pay child support is a violation of a court order and can carry civil and criminal penalties under the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act. If your spouse is routinely late with child support payments or has not made a payment in months, you have the right to get the court involved to get the money your child deserves.

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I’m A Grandparent. What Are My Rights to My Grandchildren?

 Posted on February 25, 2015 in Child Visitation

grandparent visitation rightsIf your child has recently gone through a divorce, you are likely wondering how his or her custody arrangement for his or her children will affect you and your time with your grandchildren. You might be wondering what rights you have to spend time with your grandchildren and whether or not time with you is considered as part of their custody arrangement.

The short answer to your questions is this: unless you have court-ordered custody of your grandchild or grandchildren, your child and his or her former spouse are not legally required to have their child spend time with you

However, if you are routinely denied the opportunity to spend time with your grandchild, you may file a petition to have the court grant you visitation rights with your grandchild. Visitation rights are written into the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act along with other laws related to child custody and support.

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Prepare Yourself for Property Division

 Posted on February 16, 2015 in Division of Property

property divisionIf you are going through a divorce or considering beginning the process soon, you and your spouse will have to work with the court to divide your property. Knowing that you could soon lose a portion of your shared assets and property to your spouse can be daunting, but do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Property division is an important part of nearly all divorces. Your attorney should be able to guide you through this and the rest of the divorce process.

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for the property division process is to understand how the process works. The court considers multiple factors when it divides property among divorcing couples and tries its best to reach settlements that are fair to both parties. Be honest with your attorney and your spouse about your goals and desires for your divorce settlement. Most divorces are settled outside of court in a process known as alternative dispute resolution. If you have a fairly amicable relationship with your spouse, this could be a productive option for you. Ask your attorney about alternative dispute resolution to learn more about whether or not it would be advisable for you to pursue this route.

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Types of Custody Arrangements and Terms You Should Know

 Posted on February 06, 2015 in Child Custody

Illinois custody arrangementsThere are lots of terms that come up during a child custody hearing. If you are currently working through such a proceeding or considering filing for divorce in the near future, it is in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the terms and procedures related to child custody before beginning the process. Illinois' laws regarding child custody arrangements are written into the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. By understanding how custody arrangements and other legal decisions regarding children are made, you are better prepared for your own custody hearing.

Types of Custody Arrangements

In Illinois, two separate types of custody are recognized: legal custody and physical custody. A parent can have either type of custody solely or as part of a joint custody arrangement.

Physical custody refers to the home where the child resides. When a parent has sole physical custody of his or her child, that means the child lives with him or her full time and may have visitation time with the other parent. When parents have joint physical custody, the court requires the child to spend a specified amount of time in each parent's home on a weekly or monthly basis.

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Finding Hidden Assets During Your Divorce

 Posted on February 03, 2015 in Division of Property

hidden assetsAny asset that an individual conceals from his or her spouse may be considered to be a hidden asset. During the divorce process, an individual might attempt to hide his or her assets to avoid sharing them with his or her former partner. These assets can be anything from cash or valuables to mutual funds, stocks, and vehicles.

The legal process to find these assets is known as discovery.

Types of Assets

There are three different types of assets married individuals may hold. Each is handled uniquely in the divorce process. Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act covers the types of property an individual may hold and how they may be divided during a divorce.

  • Marital property. This is the property that a married couple obtains together during their marriage. This can include homes, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement plans, and personal property such as household furnishings.

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When Alternative Dispute Resolution is Not the Right Choice

 Posted on January 26, 2015 in Collaborative Divorce

alternative dispute resolutionToday, many divorces in the United States are settled out of court. This can be done through mediation or through collaborative divorce, both of which are forms of alternative dispute resolution. Many couples who choose this type of divorce report higher levels of satisfaction with their settlements than those who choose to end their marriages through traditional litigation.

However, alternative dispute resolution is not always the best choice. Some divorcing couples' circumstances make it impossible for them to amicably work through their issues outside of court. For these couples, litigation is the only option. Before you begin the divorce process, talk to your attorney about whether alternative dispute resolution would be appropriate for your case. He or she will be able to examine your unique circumstances and advise whether litigation, collaborative divorce, or mediation would be best for you and your spouse.

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What’s in a Name? Post-Divorce Petitions to Change Kids’ Surnames

 Posted on January 23, 2015 in Child Custody

post-divorce petitionChanging a last name is a common practice amongst recent divorcees who may seek a stronger sense of finality in their lives after a divorce. Many ex-spouses, primarily those with custody of the children, take it a step further by filing a petition to also change the last names of their children.

Changing a child's last name may be pursued for a multitude of reasons—to create more stability for the children; to remove obvious remnants of a dissolved marriage; a remarriage or adoption occurred and an ex-spouse wants the children to adopt the new husband's last name; or simply for a fresh start. Whatever the motivation, it is advantageous to retain a qualified attorney who can help you successfully navigate through the process and achieve your desired outcome.

How Does the Process Work?

Unlike changing your own last name, which is generally a simple process, changing your children's last name can be complicated. When considering a name change—presuming all the appropriate filings are made without error or delay—the court will look at the rights of both parents. Thus, the process is relatively simple when both parents consent. On the other hand, if one parent does not consent to the name change, the other parent must demonstrate why the change is in the best interests of the child.

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Is Your Child Support Order Due for Review?

 Posted on January 21, 2015 in Child Support

child support orderAccording to the Illinois Attorney General, there were more than 496,000 child support cases in the Illinois Child Support Program in 2013. These cases affected almost 520,000 children statewide, facilitating $289 million in support payments. As there is nothing to indicate significant change, the numbers are likely to be similar this year.

Under Illinois law, both parents are expected to provide for the needs of the child, including physical, mental, education and health-related needs. Following a divorce or separation, the expectation remains and, in fact, is more likely to legally quantified and enforced. While parents may attempt to negotiate a support arrangement on their own, provisions in the law instruct the court how to calculate the amount of financial support for which one or both parents may be responsible. Once a support case has reached the court, deviations from the formula specified by law are only permitted with specific justification.

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Using Mediation During the Divorce Process

 Posted on January 16, 2015 in Family Law

mediation processAn excellent tool to use during the divorce process, mediation can be implemented at virtually any point in the case, but can be especially beneficial in the beginning stages of divorce.

What is It?

Mediation is a process in which individuals come together outside of court to try to arrive at an agreement with the help of a trained third party, the mediator. In divorce cases, the parties are the two divorcing spouses alone with the mediator, both getting time to voice their own concerns and goals regarding certain issues in the divorce. Many couples choose to attend mediation to settle certain issues rather than leaving them up to a judge. In the beginning of a divorce, mediation can be used to settle issues peacefully, before animosity has time to build. If the parties are able to come to an agreement on a particular issue, that agreement will be put in writing by the mediator so that the attorneys can present it to the judge for formal approval.

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Cohabitation and Palimony

 Posted on January 13, 2015 in Children

cohabitation and palimonyIn recent decades, it has become more popular and widely accepted for unmarried couples to live together. In some instances, these couples go on to marry. In others, these couples choose to never marry or to end their relationship. In the latter scenario, problems concerning the couple's shared property and financial obligations to each other often arise.

Property Division

Legally, unmarried couples are treated as separate individuals in matters regarding property division after a breakup. Unmarried couples who decide to purchase property together must decide whether they want to own it as joint tenants or as tenants-in-common. Both of these options give each partner legal rights to the property as well as responsibilities toward its maintenance and taxes.

It is not a good idea for one partner to be the sole owner of a jointly-held piece of property. If a couple in this situation decides to separate, it can be extremely difficult for the non-owner to prove his or her right to the property. Do not allow yourself to fall prey to this type of situation – if you contribute to the purchase, mortgage, or upkeep of your home or rental property, make sure your name is on its title of ownership.

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