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divorce law, new law, Illinois Divorce AttorneyFor the first time in nearly 60 years, sweeping changes have been approved to family law statutes in Illinois. In late July, Governor Bruce Rauner signed a measure to amend the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), along with a number of other family-related laws in the state. Originally introduced as Senate Bill 57, the new law takes aim at several areas of concern, including divorce, child custody, and parental relocation, looking to keep up with the ever-evolving family dynamic.

At-Fault Divorce Eliminated

As it currently stands, a large majority of divorce cases throughout the state are granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, sometimes called a “no-fault” divorce. Beginning January 1st, when the new law goes into effect, such grounds will be the only option available for those wishing to dissolve their marriages. Fault grounds, which include infidelity, mental or physical cruelty, abandonment, and excessive substance abuse, will be eliminated, as the impact of at-fault divorce is relatively minimal anyway under current law. Marital misconduct may not be legally considered in any proceedings for spousal support, division of property, or child-related matters, as long as the child is not directly affected.

No More Two Year Separation

For many years, the largest obstacle to an efficient no-fault divorce has been a statutorily-mandated separation period. The IMDMA presently requires that a couple live “separate and apart” for at least two years before a divorce may be granted, a period that can be reduced to six months by mutual agreement of the parties. The new law will require a maximum separation period of six months, which the parties may waive completely by mutual agreement, allowing the divorce to proceed without undue delay.

Positive Change

While the measure was passed with relatively little fanfare, supporters believe the changes were long overdue. They maintain that the current law contains a number of checklist-type provisions that effectively distract from a couple's purpose of moving forward with their lives toward a more positive future. The new law is designed to remove many of the unnecessary roadblocks and help families look ahead rather than to mire them in bureaucratic procedures.

If you are considering divorce and would like to learn more about the potential effects of the new legislation, contact an experienced Will County family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., our mission is to protect your family's best interest in all areas of law, helping you achieve the outcome and future that you deserve. Call us today to schedule you free confidential consultation.

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mediation, divorce, Illinois family lawyerIf you are considering filing for divorce or have already done so, know that going to court is not your only option. There are other ways to complete your divorce, such as mediation and collaborative divorce. These methods are collectively known as alternative dispute resolution, which covers a wide range of non-litigative ways to resolve legal issues. In Illinois, the laws related to mediation and mediators are outlined in the Uniform Mediation Act.

There are many benefits that come with choosing mediation for your divorce. Many couples who choose this option report higher levels of satisfaction with their divorce settlements and better relationships with each other following their divorce. These benefits are derived from the greater level of control that couples who choose mediation have over their divorces than those who go through the traditional divorce litigation.

How Mediation Works

The couple works with a mediator to determine a fair divorce settlement. A mediator is a licensed professional who acts as a neutral third party during this process. Topics covered during a couple's mediation session can include everything related to their divorce, such as the division of their property and assets, their child custody plan, and issues related to spousal maintenance. These sessions take place in quiet, private spaces such as the mediator's office or conference room. By eliminating the stress of the courtroom, couples often find it easier to communicate with each other and the mediator about their goals and desires for their divorce settlement.

Once the couple has reached an agreement, their attorneys sign the paperwork attesting to the settlement and file it with the court. Once the court approves the paperwork, the couple is divorced. By working out a divorce settlement privately, rather than in the courtroom, the couple can save a significant amount of money on their divorce.

Circumstances Under Which Mediation is Not Advised

Although mediation has many benefits, it is not suitable for every couple. There are certain circumstances that a couple may face that prevent them from being able to complete the mediation process. These circumstances include:

  • If either spouse has a history of failing to cooperate with the court;
  • If either spouse is suspected of hiding assets from his or her partner; or
  • If there is a history of domestic violence or any other great power imbalance between the couple.
Mediation can only work when the couple's relationship is amicable enough for them to work together to reach their goals. If the couple cannot do this, they can not divorce through mediation. Couples who face these challenges are better suited to litigation.

Illinois Divorce Attorneys

To learn more about whether or not mediation is the right choice for your divorce, contact an experienced Will County divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. Our goal is to provide top quality legal advice and representation for divorcing couples and their families. We can help you understand your options and protect your rights throughout the process

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property division, divorce, lawyer, attorney, divorce lawyer, family law, One of the most difficult challenges during divorce is the separation of assets, or the division of property. Not only can this be an especially emotional aspect of the proceedings—because it forces the couple to go through their lives together piece by piece and literally split it apart—but expensive as well.

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is split evenly between the spouses, regardless of whose name is on ownership papers (ie: the deed to the house). According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there are several factors taken into consideration for equitable distribution. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition or preservation to the value of the marital or non-marital property (“including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or to the family unit”);
  • Value of property assigned to each spouse;
  • Duration of marriage;
  • Premarital agreements;
  • Obligations arising from a previous marriage of either party;
  • The reasonable opportunity of each spouse for future acquisition of capital assets and income.

It is important to note that only marital property will be considered for equitable distribution. Separate property in Illinois, according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, is considered anything acquired before the marriage or an inheritance. Yet, as per the specifications above, if a spouse moved into the other's home upon marriage, and the contribution of both spouses during the marriage added value to the home, the home may be considered marital property.

Equitable distribution of marital property was initiated in order to ensure that even the non-primary earner in the relationship had a chance to maintain a similar lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage. In the past, for example, a wife's name was rarely on the title to a shared automobile. With equitable distribution, if the automobile is acquired during the marriage, it would be considered marital property.

If you or someone you know is considering divorce in Illinois and have questions about property division or any other reason, don't go through it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney today.

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Tips For Emotional Stability During DivorceDivorce is one of the most difficult and challenging undertakings a person's life. While many divorces can lead to greater personal happiness, less stress, and a generally better life, the actual process can be sad and lonely. Despite how common divorce is—some statistics cite that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce—it doesn't mean it's easy. Divorce, according to the Huffington Post, encompasses several difficult processes at once—“having to relocate, deal with the pressures of becoming a single parent, helping your children transition, etc.” are just some of the more challenging aspects of any marital split.

A recent Gallup poll reported by the Huffington Post found that “divorced individuals score significantly lower than married individuals on several measures of well-being including physical and emotional health.” During the divorce process, staying healthy can be especially hard. This can be particularly true “for women who wear so many hat that maintaining their well-being often falls to the bottom of the proverbial to-do list,” according to the Huffington Post. “Even when it's not in the throes of a divorce, women are more likely than men to experience depression,” the Huffington Post reports. Here are three tips that can help anyone come through a divorce emotionally on top.

Keep an active social life.

One of the most difficult things in a divorce can be the separation of friends. Sometimes people you considered close can take your ex-partner's “side” during dissolution—and this can be devastating. “Focus on reaching out to your closest friends so you have a support group.” Check out groups that are made up of other divorced people. Don't be afraid to share your burden.

Be good to yourself.

“When you're in the midst of a divorce, it's easy to forget about taking care of yourself,” states the Huffington Post. Eat healthily, get enough sleep, and carve out some time to go out alone and do something pampering. Go to a movie, work out at the gym—do anything that reminds you of the best aspects of your single life. “We all feel better when we have something to look forward to.”

Remember it's not all bad.

Divorce is one of the most difficult phases of your life. It's all uphill from here. Try to keep a positive attitude and watch other challenges disappear.

Regardless of how you personally handle your divorce, the most important first step is to seek the counsel of a family law attorney. Don't go through it alone. Contact The Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton today.

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Divorce can be a trying time full of anguish and stress. Creating a settlement agreement that both parties can agree on can be expensive and time consuming, especially if significant investments and other assets are involved in the division of marital assets. Couples getting a divorce must be careful to always consider stock options received from employers when drawing up settlement agreements. Oftentimes stock options are forgotten during divorce proceedings. This is a mistake, as stock options have the ability to affect the division of assets upon divorce, as well as future support awards.

 stock options in divorce IMAGEWhat Are Stock Options?

Stock options are awards given to employees by their employer. This award provides an employee with the right to purchase company stock in the future with his or her own money. Typically, the price stock can be purchased at is dependent on the company's stock price as of the time that the stock option award was made. The characterization of a stock option is crucial. Some stock options are awarded as compensation for accepting a salary reduction. If this is the case, the income derived from such an option could be considered a forfeited wage, and thus a part of alimony support. Another way an option can be characterized is as an additional compensation benefit granted for being employed by the company. In this case the income derived from the option could be considered an investment, and thus a marital asset that should be divided upon divorce.

How Should I Consider Stock Options in Relation to My Divorce Settlement?

Stock options are often forgotten during divorce settlement proceedings. This is typically because the right to purchase stock has not yet been exercised. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to understand whether a stock option has any monetary value. Instead of ignoring stock options, you and your spouse must determine whether the stock option is characterized as a forfeited wage, and thus alimony, or whether the stock option is simple additional compensation, which must be divided as a marital asset. The first step is to determine whether any stock option exists by reviewing old employment documents and contracts. If such a contract exists, the characterization and value of the stock option must be determined. Lastly, one must also determine if the option is for restricted stock. With stock options the employee can typically only purchase the stock if the original award price is lower than the current stock price. In contrast, restricted stock options are those in which the employee can only take ownership of stock on the vesting date contained in the award, even if the grant price is higher than the current stock price.

Coming to a divorce settlement can be a trying and expensive process, especially when significant marital assets are involved. Make sure that when a divorce settlement is drafted, that you are including stock options awarded to you or your spouse. Contact the family law attorneys here at Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C. in Joliet, Illinois, for assistance with drafting your divorce settlement, or any other family law issues.
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