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Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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Illinois custody lawyer, Illinois divorce attorneyJust because divorce shakes up a home life does not necessarily mean that it will continue to do so over time. It is important to create an agreement that is long-lasting, rather than temporary, especially in situations where children are involved. Everyone needs some sense of stability and routine to their day-to-day activities, even those who thrive under spontaneity. For those who enjoy the unexpected and the ability to create each day to their liking, the randomness is a sort of routine. We decide which works best for us as adults, but as parents, we must do what is best for our children. Psychologists believe having a stable routine offers many benefits. Parents should consider creating a stable environment when creating a child custody arrangement after a divorce ends.

Steady Routines Bolster Future Success

Routine is not just about going to bed at the same time every day or eating dinner together as a family every night. The most important thing you can do for your child is to provide as much routine as possible throughout the day. Psychologists believe when a schedule is predictable, children can relax and trust in their environment. Even in a situation where a child visits two homes regularly, the daily routine should not waver significantly, but if necessary, keep each routine consistent within each environment. Routine also includes which days and holidays a child may expect to see each parent. A few benefits of having a routine include:

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Posted by on in Domestic Violence

Illinois domestic violence attorney, Illinois family law attorneySadly, domestic violence is a topic which never really disappears from the headlines nor within the community. Incidents of abuse and harm continue amidst apologies and promises to never let it happen again. Just like the vicious cycle, the violence continues over and again. If you find yourself in a situation that sees no end to the hurt and pain, take the leap and put in place protections for yourself and other loved ones in harm's way. A domestic violence attorney can help you navigate the procedures to shield yourself from future suffering.

Forms of Abuse

Abuse can take many forms. Although the initial reaction is to associate it with physical violence, mental torture can also wear a person down. Control through fear and intimidation is what the perpetrating partner is vying for.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child custody lawyerThe allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as custody) can greatly impact the life of a child. Further, it can determine just how involved you are in the decision-making process of your child’s life. Whether you are an unmarried father who has recently established paternity or a couple going through a divorce, the following information can help you better understand the allocation of parental responsibilities, including who may be eligible to pursue it and when. You will also learn more about what it is and why it is important.

What Is the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities?

Child-related matters typically involve two aspects: parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Parenting time is the time that a parent spends with their child. The allocation of parental responsibilities pertains to the decision-making privileges of a parent. For example, a parent with greater allocation may have the final say in where the child goes to school, or whether they attend church or not.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyFor many couples, the advice given as they experience divorce can often translate as repetitive, and at times even useless. Hearing the same suggestions for a successful, happy post-divorce life over and over again can be discouraging, especially when those suggestions seem downright unrealistic. We all know the standard recipe for a healthy lifestyle: Eat well, exercise, and make time to do things we enjoy. On the surface, this formula for well-being appears practical, but when your marriage is in the midst of ending, it is not always so easy to strike that balance.

Finding Your Balance

Divorce adjustment experiences differ significantly from one person to the next, depending on the circumstances that led up to the split. It is helpful to recognize that there is no need to rush through grief, as it is a natural process that needs to take place. However, it is also a good idea to set yourself goals and to be aware of signs that indicate you are in a rut and are having trouble with the transition.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyStudies tell us that divorce is one of the most difficult life events for children and adults alike. Even under the very best of circumstances, research shows it takes a significant emotional toll on everyone involved, often prompting long-term psychological effects that require a healthy support system to successfully manage effective coping skills.

Out of the countless stressors we deal with throughout the course of a divorce, experts tells us there are certain aspects of the experience that have a particularly strong impact on us. This applies greatly to children in the family, who experience the same painful challenges adults do, with especially heightened emotional challenges.

Here are some of the biggest stressors of divorce and why they are such a struggle for children and their parents:

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Posted by on in Alimony & Maintenance

b2ap3_thumbnail_alimony.jpgCouples generally enter a marriage in good faith and with the best of intentions. Sadly, even the most dedicated spouses can grow apart, suffer experiences and life situations that were not predicted, all of which, put a strain on the relationship and lead to the decision that they are simply fundamentally different people. Whatever the reason, when divorce proceedings begin, the issue of spousal support also known as “alimony” or “maintenance” will be considered. Spousal support allows one former spouse to receive financial support from the other if, after the marriage ends, that receiving spouse may not have the resources, circumstances or background to function as before.

To ensure you have an effective, thorough, and enforceable agreement, retaining a family law attorney is advisable. An attorney will assist you in formulating an agreement or crafting a case before the court, that is both fair and sensible given the circumstances.

Financial Help

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyOut of the countless concerns couples have as they go through the divorce process, worry over finances is often at the top of the list. This is understandable, considering divorce has the potential to significantly alter your financial standing, which can, in turn, impact your overall lifestyle following the separation. Worry over money extends even further when children are involved, adding more pressure to each party to ensure financial affairs are in order and that they provide the necessary means to stay afloat.

Taxes and Post-Divorce Life

Between maintenance matters, child support, and the division of property and assets, the last thing couples often have the energy to address is the issue of taxes. There are many ways taxes can affect your wallet after your divorce, however, so it important to lump them in with the other financial matters that must be tackled on the divorce to-do list. Whether you have already considered the tax implications of your separation or the issue is just now being brought to your attention, keep the following in mind as you address the state of your finances throughout the divorce process:

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois child support attorneyBeginning July 1, 2017, Illinois will change the way child support is calculated. How will this affect your current support order? How will this affect parties who get child support order after July 1? Read on to find out.

There are three key features about the new calculation model that parents who have a support order or will have support order should understand.

Both parents’ income will be used in the calculation. This is the main difference between the new model and the old model. Under the old model, only the non-custodial parent’s income was used in calculating child support. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the children reside with a majority of the time.

Under the new model, both parents’ income is used to determine child support. This model is meant to mimic what a child would enjoy if the parents were married. This type of calculation is used in 39 other states.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child custody lawyerNo matter how smoothly you and your spouse feel your divorce may be panning out, it is only natural to experience some bumps in the road somewhere along the separation journey. Even the most civil, peaceful partings can stir up feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, and resentment. This is especially true for the children in the family, who may understandably feel confused or threatened by the sudden changes in the household.

Studies show that children of all ages tend to struggle with changes in routine and that they typically do best emotionally and mentally when they know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Young adults in particular struggle with the transition, but even younger children can experience significant anxiety when their parents’ marriage ends.

Recognizing When Your Child Needs Help Coping

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Posted by on in Child Custody

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyThe year 2016 brought about a plethora of family law changes in the state of Illinois, all of which significantly impacted the divorce experience. One such change included an amendment that allows parents to move with their children following the divorce, as long as the new residence is within 25 miles of the current or previous residence.

Parental Relocation Permissions and Restrictions in Illinois

Many have remained skeptical of the new law, as the 25-mile rule can technically mean a move to a different state, particularly for counties that sit along the Wisconsin state line. Where a court order was once required to move children out of state after divorce, permission now exists to remove children from Illinois state, which can further add to already existing tensions surrounding the decision to relocate following the split.

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Posted by on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyIt is not at all uncommon for middle-aged adults to shy away from the idea of divorce. Many individuals remain in unhappy marriages merely to avoid the discomfort that comes with separating later in life. For many reasons, it is completely understandable to experience extreme anxiety when faced with ending a marriage after the age of 50, especially when you have spent a good chunk of your life with your partner. The hurdles that accompany life after divorce when you are mid-life are intimidating, but they do not need to stop you from moving on and enjoying your life.

Here are some common fears that often cause middle-aged adults to stay in unhealthy marriages:

Loss of familiarity - Deciding to take the plunge and end a marriage at any point in life is a scary thing, but Psychology Today tells us that divorcing after the age of 50 tends to be particularly fear-inducing. It is not hard to see why; for starters, years of memories, habits, and routines have accumulated over time, making it seem inconceivable that another way of life could exist after the marriage. Many couples simply see divorce as an impossible feat when they look back and consider the amount of time they have invested in the relationship. For others, if the marriage is short-lived, the idea of divorcing can be just as scary, as it can feel as if time is running out. It can also translate in the individual’s mind as a failure, because it causes them to wonder if it was, in fact, a waste of their time. Whatever your personal circumstance, you can take comfort in knowing that starting over and facing new routines is difficult for everyone, no matter which stage of life, for many different reasons.

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Posted by on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyThe prospect of divorce is never an appealing one, especially when it feels as if so much is at stake for both parties. From saying goodbye to the bond and months or years of memories you and your spouse share to dividing belongings and making new living arrangements, the outcome of any divorce, no matter how large or small, results in sacrifice. The experience can be even more emotionally taxing when children and pets are involved, which easily intensifies the situation and further complicates the question of whether or not to officially call it quits.

Signs You May Be Able to Reconcile

Some counselors say that if there are certain factors present in a marriage, there may be promise for reconciliation, should both parties be willing to work on the relationship. These include mutual love and trust, good communication, and a sense of safety where both parties are concerned. A sense of safety can manifest itself in a number of ways, including mentally, physically, emotionally, or financially. Other signs that you may be able to salvage your marriage are the presence of shared interests and obvious reciprocal partnership. If you are both faithful to one another, express genuine commitment to the marriage, and possess active, common interests, it may be beneficial for you both to explore the option to stay put.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois mediation lawyerClients that come into the office frequently discuss the reasoning for filing for divorce, although the state does not necessitate such reasoning. The reason individuals from all walks of life choose to share their story with their attorney is that it feels good to “let it out.” In many of the cases, they utter the phrase, “that was the last straw,” or something similar. The verbiage used indicates other difficulties in marriage in which a spouse was hoping a behavior would change on its own, but there came the point where they just could not continue to try. Before it gets to the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” many married couples choose to attend divorce therapy, which, if they still want to divorce will help a divorce mediation process.

Is Divorce Therapy the Same as Marriage Counseling?

Marriage counseling and divorce therapy are similar, but they are not the same. Marriage counseling is an avenue many couples utilize to improve their relationship to avoid divorce. Divorce therapy, also known as pre-divorce counseling, understands that divorce is imminent, but improves communication skills between the two parting spouses. By learning to communicate skillfully, efficiently, and civilly, the divorce proceeds much more amicably. A healthy separation is imperative to the livelihood of any children involved in the case but is useful for the mental health of the splitting adults.

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Planning for Sudden Divorce: Three Ways You Can Prepare for Separation You Didn’t See ComingFor some couples, the idea of planning for divorce seems downright unrealistic. Not everyone sees the end of their marriage coming, even when it has been unraveling for some time. It is easy to remain in denial or to be so swept up in work, friends, and other activities that you do not realize the marriage is over until the warning signs are unmistakable. Marriages can end suddenly, and when they do, couples are often left to race around and pick up the pieces, with little to no preparation at all.

Where to Start

Wherever you fall on the divorce-readiness scale, if you were not expecting your relationship to end so abruptly, you are left with little choice but to face the music and begin chipping away at the filing process. Even the most peaceful splits entail a lot of work from both parties. From arranging parenting plans and discussing possible maintenance to dividing assets and relocation plans, your hands are full as you are thrust into the separation experience. If you, like many spouses, feel blindsided by your sudden divorce, you can make the filing process as efficient as possible by making the following preparations:

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Differences Between Mediation and Collaborative DivorceCollaborative divorce settlements and mediation have grown in popularity as an alternative to court divorce settlements. Reaching an amicable solution outside of a courtroom can save each side money and feel less adversarial. Attorneys are trained to handle cases of mediation and collaborative divorce. Benefits include:

  • An environment that encourages cooperation by both sides.
  • Shared cost in hiring a mediator or experts for testimony.
  • An understanding by the attorneys that the goal is to reach a fair settlement out of court.

While mediation and collaborative divorce may seek the same outcome, they are two distinct processes that have their own advantages.

Collaborative Divorce

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How to Protect Yourself When Filing a Joint Tax Return During a DivorceWhile going through the process of a divorce, spouses can still be legally bound to each other in certain aspects, such as filing a joint tax return. Signing the return opens up the possibility of shared liability for any understated income or erroneous deductions. If one spouse commits errors or fraud in filling out the return, the other spouse can be held equally responsible for any resulting penalties.

Each spouse should carefully read through a joint tax return before signing it, but that will not always prevent a spouse from missing mistakes or deception by the other spouse. There are three steps of legal protections the unknowing spouse can take, though proving innocence can be difficult.

First Step

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Supreme Court case debates military divorce retirement paymentsIn divorce cases involving a spouse in the military, federal law has set up specific guidelines for the distribution of military retirement pay. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act authorizes state courts to divide disposable retired pay among former spouses. The law defines disposable retired pay as retirement benefits, not including disability benefits.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on a lower court decision that argues the definition of the disposable military retirement pay in divorce cases. In Howell v. Howell, the Arizona Supreme Court sided with an ex-wife, who argued that her monthly share of her ex-husband's military retirement pay should not be lowered because he waived part of his pay for disability benefits.

The Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold or overturn the Arizona ruling, which will also set a precedent for military divorce rulings in state courts, such as Illinois. To better understand the implications of a decision, here is a breakdown of the law and the case:

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Things to Watch for on Children’s Social Media Accounts During a DivorceOver the last decade, the advancement of social media has directly impacted divorce within the United States. Numerous studies have linked social media to rising divorce rates, and even when social media is not directly responsible for a divorce it may affect the proceedings or outcome. Information shared publicly on social media can create legal problems, and couples are encouraged to avoid posting anything pertaining to the divorce on their accounts. There are also certain things to watch for on children’s social media accounts during a divorce that could cause unnecessary problems.

Accidental Incrimination

During a divorce parents usually try to shield their children from any unpleasantness between the adults and do not discuss any ongoing disputes that are affecting the divorce. Since children do not realize that their custodial parent is withholding certain information, they may accidentally incriminate their parent by oversharing on social media. A child may post pictures of a parent’s new purchases, discuss new relationships, or complain about a parent going out a lot more than usual. Parenting plans and financial settlements may be affected by information posted on social media that is later used as evidence.

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Posted by on in Child Support

How to Fight a Child Support IncreaseDetermining an appropriate child support amount is one of the most stressful parts of finalizing parenting arrangements. The parent with greater parental responsibilities is anxious to ensure that the children in their care are adequately supported, and the other parent wants to provide for their children without facing financial hardship. Once a parenting plan is created, either parent is able to request a child support modification, and in some situations, the modification may result in the monthly obligation being increased. If a judge decides to modify an existing order, knowing how to fight a child support increase gives you an opportunity to avoid paying a larger award amount each month.

Start the Reconsideration Process Immediately

After finding out that a court ordered child support amount is being increased, it is not unusual for a paying parent to spend a few days panicking. The sudden change often affects all aspects of an individual’s finances and can disrupt other family members who depend on their income. Though it is tempting to spend a few weeks digesting the news and weighing the change, it is extremely important that you start the reconsideration process immediately. Requests for a review of the modification must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the decision notice, and finding an attorney to represent you during any hearings may take time.

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Signs That Marital Assets Are Being HiddenDuring a divorce in Illinois, a couple must determine how to divide marital assets and property.  Many couples find this difficult as resources commingle over the course of an average marriage. Once the court determines what property is officially part of the marital estate, the task of dividing assets can begin, but in some cases, one party may attempt to conceal assets. Even though there are substantial penalties for hiding assets, a person might feel that the potential benefits outweigh the possible risks. In a survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 58 percent of the adult surveyed admitted to hiding money from their spouse. Recognizing signs that marital assets are being hidden may aid you and your legal representatives during your divorce proceedings.

Unexplained Loss of Income

Underreporting actual income is a way to hide assets and reduce future financial obligations. Certain types of maintenance payments such as spousal support and child support are determined in part by the earning potential of both partners. Business owners, in particular, may attempt to report a lower income through falsified transaction records, adjustments to salary, and using anonymous currency. It is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to take advantage of their partner’s lack of involvement in household finances or business management when reporting an unexplained loss of income.

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  • DuPage County Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Rotary of Oak Brook
  • BV Distinguished Rating by Martindale Hubbell
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
  • Top 40 Under 40
  • DCBA Law Firm of the Year
    DCBA Law Firm of the Year 2011, 2013
  • Outstanding Service to the Office of the State’s Attorney 2006-2007
    Outstanding Service to the Office of the State’s Attorney 2006-2007
  • Outstanding Misdemeanor Prosecutor 2012
    Outstanding Misdemeanor Prosecutor 2012
  • Client's Choice Award AVVO
    Clients' Choice
  • Thank you for helping me realize how good things really are in my life. I now focus on creating happiness each and every day for me & my girls. Things are definitely looking up!

  • If you are in need of a true advocate, and you are stuck in the family law court system in DuPage then William Stogsdill should be your choice. I feel strongly about his ability and I can't say enough.

  • I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your professional assistance and advice on my recently dismissed case. I can again look forward to being together with my wife for many more years.

  • Mr. Smit has demonstrated a high degree of loyalty and trust worthiness to his work and to his associates. Justin certainly is an asset to your Law Firm, his organization skills are second to none. I have and will continue to recommend Justin ...

  • You've clearly established a client-focus in your office -- providing your clients with the warmth and understanding they need as they go through a very difficult time. Thank you, again, for all your help.

  • Taking that step to file for divorce was probably one of the most life changing decisions I have ever made. The process is very painful and emotionally draining. I retained Robert Boyd and Justin Smit of The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C...

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