Family Lawyer Yorkville


Family Lawyer Yorkville

A family lawyer deals with non-criminal legal issues such as divorce, child custody, child support, parentage, and prenuptial agreements.

We have experience in every category of family law matters and it would be an honor to be your advocate. We’re local lawyers, with an office here in Yorkville and we never hesitate to pick up our client’s phone calls. We’re there throughout the entire process to make sure that your divorce, custody arrangement or other family law issue is handled to your satisfaction. We’re also a family-run firm.

A unique advantage that our family lawyer Yorkville can provide in your outcome is their significant trial experience. Trial attorneys have been tested in the courtroom and know how to get results for their clients. After years of public service as prosecutors, Hope and Andrew Nickel now use that wisdom and experience for the benefit of their clients.

If you need a tough team on your side, look no further than Hope and Andrew Nickel.

Divorce Attorney Yorkville, Illinois

All divorces begin with the filing of a “petition for dissolution of marriage.” It makes no difference who files first. There is no advantage or disadvantage to the person who files the petition. The petition states basic information about the parties, their children, if any, and the grounds for dissolution.

Illinois is a “no-fault” State, meaning if the other person committed adultery, had a substance abuse problem, etc. that fact will not be considered in dividing marital assets. An experienced family lawyer Yorkville will help you navigate these issues every step of the way.

Once the petition is filed with the court, the person who filed the petition must serve the other person with a copy of the petition. Legally, the best approach is to use a private process server who will discretely serve the petition in person. Once the person is served, the dissolution proceedings will follow one of two paths: a contested divorce or through default.

Once the other person is served, he or she has thirty (30) days to respond to the petition for dissolution.

In most cases the other person will respond and/or hire a family lawyer Yorkville who will respond on that person’s behalf. In rare cases, the other party completely the petitioner and does not respond. This situation is most common when the parties have been separated for a long period of time and the person is living outside the jurisdiction. In cases where the other person does not respond, the case proceeds in default.

Know Your Rights – Child Custody Yorkville, Il

The issue of custody arises in two situations: when a divorcing couple has children and when a unmarried couple has a child and their relationship has ended.

Generally speaking, the custody matter proceeds in a similar fashion under either scenario. The main difference is that with a married couple, the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage triggers the custody proceedings and for an unmarried couple, the filing of a parentage action triggers the proceedings.

In both situations, it must first be determined if both parties are seeking residential custody, meaning where the child will technically reside. If one parent does not object to the other parent having residential custody, then all that needs to be decided is if the parties will share joint custody or if one parent will have sole custody, a parenting schedule and child support.

As a family lawyer Yorkville, we’re happy to help you understand how child support is calculated in Illinois. The custody arrangement, visitation, and child support are all contained in the Joint Parenting Agreement (JPA) that is entered with the court. In a parentage action, the JPA is entered with the judgment for paternity.

A parenting schedule establishes on paper when the non-residential parent has visitation. Typically visitation occurs one night every week and alternating weekends. Holidays are divided in an alternating fashion. We have years of experience as a family lawyer Yorkville and will communicate all of the details to you throughout the process.

Depending on the specific circumstances of the parties, however, parenting schedules can vary immensely.

Family Lawyer Yorkville: Joint vs. Sole custody

Joint custody simply means that both parents share in decision-making for all major concerns in the child(ren)’s life, such as education, religious upbringing and major medical issues. If the parents cannot agree, then they must seek a mediator’s assistance.

Joint custody does not mean that the parties have equal parenting time.

Sole custody means that one parent makes all of the decisions without needing to consult the other parent. It has nothing to do with whether the other parent will see the child(ren) or not, which is a common misconception.

Sole custody is only appropriate where the parents are completely unable to set aside their personal differences for the sake of the child(ren).

Family Lawyer Yorkville: Residential Custody

The term residential custody refers to with which parent the children will reside. In most cases the parties can agree on who will have residential custody.

The non-custodial parent will always have visitation, which will be laid out in the JPA as described above. It is rare for a court to order shared custody wherein both parties have equal parenting time. The parents can agree to such an arrangement, but absent an agreement a court is unlikely to rule this is in the children’s best interests.

Family Lawyer Yorkville: Custody Battles

In the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement on joint or sole custody or, more importantly, residential custody, the court will enlist the help of a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).

The GAL is an attorney who is appointed to investigate the parenting situation and make a recommendation to the court. The investigation involves interviewing each parent, with and without the children present, talking to other parties involved in the children’s lives and meeting with the children themselves, depending on their ages.

The main goal of the GAL investigation is to determine what is in the best interests of the child. There are nine factors set out by statute to guide the GAL in making his recommendation:

1. The wishes of the parent or parents as to his custody;

2. The wishes of the child as to his custodian;

3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his sibling and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;

4. The adjustment to his home, school and community;

5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;

6. The physical violence or threat or physical violence by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another parent;

7. The occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse as defined Section 103 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, whether directed against the child or directed against another person; and

8. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child; and

9. Whether one of the parents is a sex offender.

750 ILCS 5/602

There are many different elements that come into play in a custody case, although several of the factors will not apply in most cases. That said, the recommendation by the GAL is not binding on the court. Judges typically put great weight on the GAL’s recommendation, but often times the GAL finds that the margin between one parent being the residential custodian versus the other is very narrow. Once the GAL recommendation (and the margin upon which is based) is known, the next step is to set the matter for a full hearing on custody. For more information on GAL recommendations, our family lawyer Yorkville will be available throughout the process and here to answer your questions.

Oftentimes, after the GAL gives its report, the other parent concedes residential custody, especially if it very strongly favors one parent over the other. When the margin is very narrow or when the other parent refuses to accept the GAL recommendation, a full custody hearing is necessary. At the hearing, each parent testifies, the GAL testifies, and any other witnesses each parent wants to present testify, as well. After the hearing the court will normally take some time to consider the evidence and make a written judgment as to who will be the residential parent and why the judge reached that conclusion.

Custody rulings by the judge can be appealed, but it is a difficult road. Having a family lawyer Yorkville on your side with years of experience certainly gives you an advantage.

If the judge issues a written ruling a JPA is not usually necessary; the judge’s order will normally provide for all of the terms addressed in a JPA. Once the court rules or a JPA is entered, the parties cannot seek to change custody for two years unless there has been a change in circumstances that puts the child in serious danger or the parties agree to the change.

Family Lawyer Yorkville: A Contested Divorce

The term “contested” here simply means that the other party has hired an attorney or is representing him- or herself.

Either way, he or she is involved in the proceedings and there will some discussion about the division of property, debt, and any custody issues. In many cases, the divorce proceeds quite civilly with the parties agreeing on all or most issues.

Obviously, not all cases will go without some amount of disagreement and conflict.

After the other person responds and/or hires an attorney, preliminary matters are addressed, such as temporary custody and support.

Given the current economic climate, many divorcing spouses have no choice but to continue to live in the same house. When that is the case, issues such as who will have custody of the child(ren), temporary child support and temporary maintenance will not be an issue.

A parenting schedule will need to be established immediately so the judge knows the children have some structure to make things easier on them until a final custody determination is made. The word “temporary” when used in regards to child support and maintenance simply means that no final decision on child support and maintenance amounts has been made and will not be made the divorce is final.

In situations where one of the spouses/parents leaves the residence, a determination will need to be made as to who will have temporary residential custody and who will pay temporary child support until a final custody decision is made. Custoday arrangements can be confusing and frustrating, but an experienced family lawyer Yorkville will help ease the difficulty.

When custody of the children is an issue, meaning both parents are seeking residential custody, that issue must be resolved first for the sake of continuity for the children. See section on child custody for more details on how the court decides who will have residential custody.

Once custody is resolved, the division of property, assets, and debts will then be addressed. Obtaining the counsel of a family lawyer Yorkville helps ensure that your rights are protected and receive the best outcome possible.

No Contest Divorce – Family Lawyer Yorkville

In an ideal world, all divorces would be agreed, meaning the parties are not disputing the settlement of property or any custody and visitation issues. Agreed divorces are much less costly, largely because both parties generally do not need to hire separate attorneys.

Attorneys cannot ethically represent both parties. In most agreed divorce situations one of the parties comes to an attorney with a general outline of how the property will be divided and, if children are involved, who will have residential custody and what the parenting schedule will be. The attorney will draw up the necessary paperwork and help resolve any issue the parties may not have thought of, such as retirement plans, post-high school education, etc.

Child Support Help – Family Lawyer Yorkville, Il

A noncustodial parent is required by law to pay a statutory amount of child support to the residential parent based on a percentage the noncustodial parent’s net income.

The percentage is based on the number of minor children between the parties. In Illinois, a child is considered a minor until he or she turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs later. There are several other events that can emancipate a child, making the noncustodial parent no longer responsible for child support, such as the marriage of the child. If you have any reservations, please take a moment to look at our reviews. 

Child Support Calculation – Family Lawyer Yorkville

The percentage of net income that a non-custodial parent generally must pay is as follows: 

Number of children: Percentage
1 20%
2 28%
3 32%
4 40%
5 45%
6 50% (maximum)

750 ILCS 5/505

The percentage is based on the net income of the party paying support. These guidelines are followed strictly by most courts. A judge has the authority to deviate from the guidelines, but make written findings as to why. Deviations typically only occur if the noncustodial parent has a near-equal amount of parenting time or if there is a huge disparity between the parents’ respective incomes.

Family Lawyer Yorkville: A Guide to Calculating Net Income

Net income for child support purposes is not always the same as it appears on a person’s paycheck. Determining a person’s net income for child support purposes is based on a specific statute in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Net income, according to 750 ILCS 505(3), is income from all sources, minus the following deductions:

1. Federal income tax;
2. State income tax;
3. Social Security (FICA);
4. Mandatory retirement contributions required as a condition of employment;
5. Union dues;
6. Dependent and individual health/hospitalization premiums;
7. Prior obligations of support or maintenance actually paid pursuant to court order.

There is one more statutory section that allows other expenses that can be deducted from a person’s total income to arrive at the net amount of child support. Those expenses, however, are less common than the one listed above and are better discussed on a face-to-face basis. Generally speaking as a family lawyer Yorkville, they involve expenses paid for the generation of income, such as certain business expenses and student loans.

These deductions are not always allowed to be taken, even if you are allowed to deduct them for income tax purposes.

Contested Paternity – Family Lawyer Yorkville

In a parentage case, if either party is contesting paternity, a DNA test will need to be done to establish paternity.

In relationships that existed during and after the pregnancy, the father was usually at the hospital when the child was born and signed a “voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.” Signing the acknowledgment waives the right to a DNA test and establishes conclusively that he is the father.

As always, there are exceptions, but a signed voluntary acknowledgement of paternity is difficult to undo. Once paternity is established, custody becomes the issue if the father is seeking residential custody. Either parent can file a paternity action.

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