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Joliet divorce mediation attorneyEven though divorce is common, there are a lot of misconceptions about the process. Movies and TV shows can make the breakup of marriage seem very dramatic, with couples and their attorneys fighting legal battles in courtroom trials. In reality, most divorces are handled outside of the courtroom, and while spouses may be represented by attorneys, they usually work to reach a settlement, and they may only attend court to finalize the divorce process. In many cases, the best way to complete the divorce process quickly, efficiently, and effectively is through mediation.

Understanding the Mediation Process

When a couple uses mediation, they will agree to work together to create a divorce settlement that they can both agree on. They will do so with the help of a mediator, and while the mediator may be an attorney, they will not represent either party. Instead, the mediator is a neutral advisor who helps facilitate discussions while suggesting possible solutions and making sure the spouses address all outstanding issues.

Mediation usually takes place over several sessions which may last one or more hours. During these sessions, the spouses will identify the issues that need to be addressed and resolved, and they will work together to reach agreements. Matters that may be discussed may include:

  • Property division - Spouses can identify all of the marital assets they own and determine how to divide these assets fairly. The mediator may help spouses understand the ways different property may be valued, as well as any issues related to complex assets such as real estate, retirement benefits, or business interests. By working together to reach the most mutually beneficial arrangements, addressing ownership of property that may have sentimental value, and determining how to divide marital debts, the spouses can ensure that their divorce settlement will provide each of them with the financial resources they need.

  • Child custody - The mediator can help divorcing parents create a parenting plan that fully details how they will work together to raise their children. This plan will detail how the parents will make decisions for their children, while also including a schedule for the parenting time children will spend with each parent. It can also address any other issues the parents want to include, such as rules they will follow, appropriate methods of discipline, and methods they will use to resolve any disputes that may arise in the future. By cooperating during mediation to resolve child-related issues, parents can establish the foundation for a new co-parenting relationship that will allow them to work together to provide for their children’s best interests in the years to come.

  • Spousal support - In some cases, one spouse may need financial support from the other spouse to maintain their standard of living following divorce. Mediation will allow spouses to address this issue and ensure that a stay-at-home parent or a spouse who earns a lower income will be able to meet their needs and take steps to become self-supporting. The spouses can discuss their individual financial circumstances and reach agreements on whether spousal support will be appropriate, the amount that will be paid, and the length of time that payments will last.

At the conclusion of the mediation process, the spouses will have a final divorce settlement that addresses all issues related to the dissolution of their marriage. Both spouses must be in complete agreement about all of the terms of their settlement. They can then attend a prove-up hearing where a judge will sign off on their divorce decree and legally dissolve their marriage.

Contact Our Plainfield Divorce Mediation Lawyers

At the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton, P.C., we help our clients understand when mediation may be a beneficial way to resolve divorce disputes. We help spouses prepare for the mediation process and ensure that they understand their rights. If there are any issues that cannot be resolved through mediation, we can advocate on our clients’ behalf during courtroom litigation. Contact our Joliet divorce mediation attorneys at 815-666-1285 to set up a free consultation today.


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joliet divorce lawyerIf you are a pet owner who is getting divorced, you probably love your pet just as you would a human family member. Understandably, you may be worried about who will keep the pet after your divorce. As with other property division concerns, you and your spouse have the option of reaching your own agreement about the ownership of pets. However, if you cannot reach a decision, the court may step in and make a decision for you. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you understand your rights regarding pet ownership in a divorce. 

When a Pet Could Be Considered Marital or Nonmarital Property

In Illinois courts, pets are treated differently than homes and other property in a divorce. A law established in 2018 requires pets to be treated similarly to children during divorce. The court can award sole or joint custody based on the best interests of the animal. 

The first step in determining who gets a pet in a divorce is figuring out if the animal is marital or nonmarital property. If you or your spouse owned the pet before you got married, it is probably considered non-marital property. Therefore, the judge would generally award custody to the spouse who owned the animal before the marriage. However, there may be exceptions to this rule. If the pet was acquired during your marriage, it is most likely considered marital property.

If the judge finds that the pet is a marital asset, the next step is to allocate ownership of and responsibility of the animal.

Factors the Court Uses to Determine the Best Interests of a Pet

When a pet is marital property, the court may look at several factors before deciding who to award “pet custody” to, such as:

  • Which spouse took the most responsibility taking care of the pet during the marriage

  • The financial stability of each spouse

  • Which spouse can provide a better living environment for the pet

  • Which spouse will be able to devote the most time to the pet

  • Whether any spouse has abused or neglected the pet

In certain cases, a judge may decide to grant joint custody of a pet. For example, if both spouses have been responsible and nurturing pet owners and the animal is resilient enough to handle splitting time between two homes, joint custody may benefit the animal. However, if the pet requires a more stable routine, the judge may award custody to one spouse.

Contact a Joliet, IL Divorce Lawyer

Pet custody can make a divorce more complicated. If you want to fight for custody of your pet, a Will County divorce attorney can help. Call the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton, P.C. at 815-666-1285 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.


joliet divorce lawyerCredit card debt is quite prevalent in the United States. In fact, Americans owe $807 billion in credit card debt. If a single person incurs credit card debt, he or she is solely responsible for paying for it. However, what happens if that debt is incurred during a marriage? If you are getting a divorce in Illinois, you may be held responsible for this debt even if your spouse was the only one who used the credit card.

How Credit Card Debt Is Split in an Illinois Divorce

If you are planning to divorce your spouse, you may wonder how your credit card debt will be handled. If the debt was incurred during the course of your marriage, the creditor may hold both you and your spouse responsible for it. On the other hand, any debt either spouse incurred before they were married is considered personal debt and is the sole responsibility of the person who made the purchases.

Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, your debt will not be divided exactly 50/50 if your case ends up going to trial. Instead, it will be split fairly. A judge will look at multiple factors before deciding how to split the debt, such as:

  • Each spouse’s financial resources

  • Each spouse’s personal assets

  • How long the marriage lasted

  • The amount of child support and spousal support

Who benefited the most from the credit card purchases may also be considered by the court. For example, if the person who made the purchases was the only one who benefited, the debt would most likely be classified as separate. On the other hand, if the person made purchases that benefited the other spouse or entire family, a judge would consider it marital debt.

Protecting Your Credit During a Divorce

Although your marital status will not show up on credit reports, joint accounts you had with our spouse and accounts you cosigned for your spouse will. If your ex makes late payments or defaults on the payments, it could negatively affect your credit rating. If it is feasible, try to pay off your existing joint accounts with your spouse and close them before your divorce is finalized. Many divorcing spouses choose to liquidate assets like real estate in order to pay off jointly held debts. 

Contact a Will County Divorce Attorney

If you have additional questions about dividing credit card debt in your divorce, a Joliet, IL divorce lawyer can help. At the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton, P.C., we can examine your marital estate and figure out which debts you will be responsible for. Contact us at 815-666-1285 to schedule a free consultation.




joliet family law attorneyA criminal record can make it more difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, and legally own firearms. It can also affect your chances of getting custody of your children. Family law judges consider the children’s best interests in custody cases and may be reluctant to award custody to a parent with a criminal history. However, having a criminal record does not automatically mean that you cannot be awarded parenting time with your children. 

How a Criminal Record Can Jeopardize Your Child Custody Case

If you have a criminal record and are in the middle of a child custody dispute, you may worry that your past will negatively influence the outcome of the case. Although it may be more challenging to gain the parental responsibilities and parenting time outcome you are hoping for, it is not impossible. A judge will consider several factors regarding your criminal history before coming to a decision.

Non-violent criminal convictions are less likely to affect the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time than convictions involving assault, battery, or abuse. Family court judges also look at how old your criminal conviction is. If you, for instance, got convicted of an offense over a decade ago and have not gotten in trouble with the law since then, the judge is less likely to use this information when deciding custody. The frequency of your offenses may also affect the outcome of your case. If you are a repeat offender, the judge may question your judgment and question whether you can provide a stable environment for your children.

Restricted Parenting Time or Parental Responsibilities

In some cases, the court may order certain restrictions on parenting time or parental responsibilities. The court has the authority to:

  • Require parents with drug or alcohol dependency problems to attend treatment

  • Prohibit the parent from using drugs in the child’s presence

  • Prohibit certain individuals from being present during the parent’s parenting time

  • Require supervised parenting time or “supervised visits”

  • Order any other restriction that is needed to ensure the child’s best interests are protected

Contact a Will County Family Lawyer

If you have a criminal history and are trying to get custody of your children, discuss your case with a Joliet, IL family attorney. At the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton, P.C., we understand the difficult situation you are in and can help you assert your rights. Call us at 815-666-1285 to schedule a free consultation.


IL divorce lawyerMany married couples experience relationship issues at some point, and while many disagreements can be resolved, others may cause one or both spouses to consider ending their marriage. For some couples, divorce is the best solution, while others may be able to repair their relationship and stay married. However, some people fall somewhere in the middle, where they may be considering getting divorced but do not yet know whether ending their marriage is the right choice. In these cases, a couple may pursue a trial separation while they determine whether to get divorced, or they may make plans to live separately on a more permanent basis without legally ending their marriage. When doing so, it can be beneficial to pursue a legal separation.

What Is Legal Separation?

A temporary or permanent separation will often leave spouses uncertain about their rights, and arguments or disputes may arise over how various issues will be handled, especially if the couple has children. By pursuing a legal separation, a couple can put an agreement in place that will address these issues. In essence, a legal separation can cover most of the issues that would be addressed during a divorce, but the couple will continue to be legally married.

The process of getting a legal separation is similar to filing for divorce. One spouse will file a petition for legal separation, and the other will file a response. The couple will then identify all of the issues that they will need to address in their separation agreement, and these may include matters related to the division of marital property, child custody, child support, and/or spousal maintenance. They will work to negotiate a resolution to these issues, and if they cannot reach an agreement, they may ask the judge in their case to make the final decisions. While most of these matters will be addressed the same as they would during a divorce, a settlement regarding marital property cannot be validated by the court during a legal separation unless both parties agree on it.

Legal separation can make sure both spouses will have an understanding of their rights and requirements while they are living separately. However, by remaining legally married, they may be able to realize certain benefits, such as having both spouses and their children be covered in a health insurance plan provided by one spouse’s employer. Legal separation can also be a good solution for those who do not wish to get divorced for religious or cultural reasons. However, while a couple is still married, neither spouse will be able to marry someone else. Either spouse can choose to pursue a divorce at any point in the future, and they may be able to complete this process fairly simply and easily since many of the decisions in a separation agreement can be incorporated into a divorce decree.

Contact Our Plainfield Legal Separation Lawyers

If you have questions about the process of legal separation and whether this is the best choice for your situation, the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton, P.C. can assist you. We will advise you of your rights and options, and we will provide you with legal representation whether you are planning to get a legal separation or divorce. Contact our Will County family law attorneys at 815-666-1285 to schedule your free consultation.


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