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Wakenight & Associates, P.C.

1100 Lake Street, Suite 120, Oak Park, IL 60301

Oak Park | 708-848-3159

DuPage County | 630-852-9700   Mokena | 815-727-6144

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Recent Blog Posts

Tips for Raising an Adopted Child Alongside Your Biological Children

 Posted on August 20, 2019 in Child Custody

Oak Park family law attorney for adoptionMany couples struggle with infertility and therefore turn to adoption to achieve their dream of having a family. In some cases, parents might already have biological children but choose to adopt another child as a way to expand their family, or a couple may conceive a child after they adopted one. No matter what the circumstances, there are many children who need good homes, and adoption is a wonderful way to provide them with a nurturing, safe place to grow up. Raising children is not easy, and bringing up an adopted child along with your biological children can be even more challenging. 

Guidelines for Blended Families

If you are raising both adopted and biological children, you may find it difficult to meet each child’s specific needs while also making them feel loved and part of the family unit. It is important for every child to have a safe, loving home. Here are some helpful hints to consider when you add to your family:

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Tips for Going Through a Divorce in Middle Age

 Posted on August 19, 2019 in Divorce

Cook County divorce lawyer for middle aged spousesPeople are living longer these days, and as their children leave the nest, the bond that holds a marriage together can dissipate. A divorce at any age can be nerve-wracking, but for those couples who are over 40, it can be very intimidating. For some people, the thought of being alone after a long marriage is overwhelming. If you have been together for many years, figuring out how to divide your marital assets can also be complicated. A common concern for a newly single person is whether or not he or she will have the financial resources needed for retirement. It is important to become acquainted with Illinois’ divorce laws to ensure that you can create a stable future.   

Practical Advice 

With more women working full time, and some out-earning their spouses, the financial imperative to stay together no longer exists in many marriages. Also, if a middle-aged couple had children together, the children are usually out of the house at college or living on their own, so there is no need to remain married “for the kids’ sake.” If you are considering filing for divorce, the following tips can help ensure a smooth process regardless of your age:

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How Are Retirement Plans Divided in an Illinois Divorce?

 Posted on July 31, 2019 in Divorce

Hillside QDRO lawyer

Many people work for a long time in order to save for retirement. Others may have a pension, or they may invest in mutual funds or IRAs so they can live comfortably after they are done working. If a married couple decides to part ways, they may wonder what will happen to their assets in a divorce, including their retirement plans. Under Illinois law, marital assets are divided using “equitable distribution.” This means any assets acquired during the marriage will be divided fairly between the spouses, but not necessarily split in half. It is important to understand what you are legally entitled to in terms of retirement savings that may have originally been meant for both your and your spouse’s future.   

Dividing Retirement Accounts and Pensions

If retirement accounts were created or contributed to during a couple’s marriage, or if they increased in value during the marriage, they are considered to be marital property. The balances in these accounts may be divided equally between the spouses, or a couple may agree on another way to divide these assets. Once it is determined how any retirement accounts will be divided, the retirement plan administrator must be given the details of the division and how that division will be executed. This is done through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). 
By using a QDRO, funds can be withdrawn or transferred from a retirement account, and the account owner will not be required to pay penalties or taxes on the withdrawn amount. QDROs are typically entered once the divorce is finalized. The majority of retirement accounts, including 401(k)s, require a QDRO before they can be divided between spouses. IRAs are considered a different type of retirement savings and do not require a QDRO. 

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Can Infidelity Affect My Illinois Divorce Proceedings?

 Posted on July 25, 2019 in Divorce

Oak Park divorce lawyer for infidelity

For many couples, a betrayal of any kind can mean the end of the marriage. It is often hard to move past a mistake such as infidelity, even if it only took place one time. Trust can be irretrievably broken after adultery is committed, and for some people, that trust cannot be regained. Therefore, they decide to end their legal union. It is best to seek legal counsel once the decision has been made to divorce in order to understand what happens next when it comes to the division of property, child-related issues, spousal maintenance, and more.      

Understanding Illinois Divorce Laws 

Even though the betrayed spouse may wish to blame the other spouse for destroying the marriage, Illinois divorce law does not recognize fault-based grounds for divorce. A petition for divorce need only state that “irreconcilable differences” are the reason for the end of the relationship, and that it is beyond repair. Illinois law also states that no marital misconduct of any kind should be considered when determining how to divide marital property fairly or whether to award spousal support. However, there may be certain scenarios in which adultery can impact a divorce case, including:

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What Can I Do if My Spouse Is Harassing Me During Our Divorce?

 Posted on July 18, 2019 in Divorce

Oak Park divorce attorney mental illness

Going through a divorce can be hard on everyone involved, especially if one spouse did not see it coming or does not want to separate. In many cases, one spouse has made the decision to divorce in order to get out of an unhealthy relationship, whether it be due to abuse, addiction, infidelity, or other reasons. Unfortunately, there are cases in which one spouse may try to intimidate the other spouse into staying in the marriage. This can include harassment or stalking, either in person or by electronic means. If these actions make a person feel unsafe or uncomfortable, he or she has legal rights and options to stop this threatening behavior and finalize the divorce as smoothly and as quickly as possible. 

Illinois Harassment and Stalking Laws 

Harassment is defined under Illinois law as conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a purpose that is reasonable under the circumstances, but that causes a reasonable person emotional distress. Harassment can include making an obscene or indecent comment or request with the intent to offend, threaten, or annoy another person. Harassment is a criminal offense, and a first conviction is considered a Class B misdemeanor, and it can result in up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500. The second conviction is a Class A misdemeanor with a possible one-year jail term and a fine up to $2,500. Stalking occurs when someone watches or follows the victim on at least two occasions, and this causes the victim to feel that his or her safety is somehow at risk. Stalking is considered a Class 4 felony in Illinois, punishable by up to three years in a state prison and/or a fine up to $25,000.Aggravated stalking results in bodily harm to the victim and is a Class 3 felony. Aggravated stalking may also include restraining or confining the victim or violating a protective order or injunction. Aggravated stalking can be punished by up to five years in a state prison and/or a fine up to $25,000.While harassment and stalking are commonly thought of as unwanted contact in person, it is important to realize they can also occur electronically through phone calls, text messages, mail, email, or social media sites. 

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How Do Mental Health Issues Affect Divorce Proceedings in Illinois?

 Posted on July 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

Oak Park divorce attorney mental illness

Mental health issues are prevalent in today’s society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions each year. A mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression can be very challenging for a married couple and a family in general. In many cases, mental health issues can cause a couple to grow apart, and they may ultimately lead to divorce. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, and irreconcilable differences is the only recognized legal basis for divorce. While the issue of mental illness is not a legal reason to file for divorce, it can significantly impact the divorce proceedings. 

Orders of Protection

In some divorce cases, a person’s mental disorder could lead to dangerous or even violent behavior. If someone fears for their own safety or the safety of their child, then they should take immediate action. This can include obtaining the following orders of protection

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What Rights Do Grandparents Have in an Illinois Divorce?

 Posted on July 01, 2019 in Family Law

Cook County family law attorney

In a divorce that involves children, not only is the couple breaking up, but the family unit is separating, too. This can affect the extended family, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Grandparents in particular can be devastated by the news of a divorce, especially if they helped in caring for their grandchildren or saw them on a regular basis. Typically, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are decided in court during the divorce proceedings. However, the special bond that exists between grandparents and their grandkids should not be overlooked during a divorce. Illinois law has several provisions that address the rights of grandparents depending on the situation.   

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How Do I Establish Paternity in Illinois?

 Posted on June 24, 2019 in Family Law

Oak Park parentage lawyer

When a baby is born to a married couple, there is usually no doubt that the husband is the father of that child. However, many couples have children outside of marriage, whether intentionally or not. If two unmarried people are in a romantic relationship and have a child together, the man is not automatically considered the legal father of the child even if the man and woman live together. The father’s name cannot be put on the birth certificate until paternity is established.

Legal Orders of Paternity

Paternity is defined under Illinois law as the legal relationship between a father and his child. It is important to know that paternity means the father is legally responsible for that child and is entitled to certain rights as a father. Paternity can be established legally by three different ways in Illinois:

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What Are the Benefits of Adoption Classes and Support Groups?

 Posted on June 17, 2019 in Family Law

Cook County family law attorney

Many people choose adoption for various reasons, such as a desire to expand their family, especially if they cannot have children of their own. However, adoption is a significant undertaking under any circumstances, and the process of adoption can be intimidating due to the emotional complications and legal intricacies involved. For many families, classes and support groups are great resources to help prepare the parents and the child for the transition. It is also helpful to talk to a law firm that has experience in adoptions to make sure you complete all the necessary legal steps.

Pre-Service Training Classes

Adoption establishes the adoptive parent as a child’s legal parent with all the rights and responsibilities of a child born to him or her. Sometimes, parents may choose to serve as foster parents first and eventually adopt the foster children at a later date. According to Illinois adoption laws, any child or any adult residing in an adoptive home for two years may be adopted, and family members are allowed to adopt any relative. The adoptive parent must be a resident of the state for at least six months; however, this requirement can sometimes be waived by the court, depending on the situation.

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What Should I Do if Served With an Order of Protection in Illinois?

 Posted on June 10, 2019 in Family Law

Oak Park order of protection lawyer

A divorce can be difficult for everyone involved, especially if abuse is one of the reasons for the end of the marriage. Orders of Protection (also known as restraining orders) can be common in some high-conflict divorce proceedings. This type of court order can prohibit the abuser from physical abuse, stalking, or contacting the victim for a specified length of time. An Order of Protection also creates a criminal record for the abuser and prohibits him or her from lawfully owning a firearm, even for work. Since there are different types of Orders of Protection, it is important to understand the ramifications of each. If you have been served with an Order of Protection, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal options.  

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