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In some cases, parents may need to attend parenting classes in Illinois. However, there are certain questions that parents may have about these circumstances and the possible exceptions. Here are some explanations about what to expect with Illinois parenting courses.

When Do Parents Need to Take Parenting Classes in Illinois?

Illinois law states that parenting classes are needed when parents of children who are still minors are involved in court proceedings regarding parental responsibility and time. These cases include post-judgment cases that discuss changes made to parenting time and responsibility or the child’s relocation.

Possible Exceptions to the Requirement

Parents may not be required to take parenting classes if they can convince the judge that they have a good reason for being excused from parenting classes. The judge will only allow parents to avoid these courses if the decision is found to be in the children’s best interests, and the court needs to document the reasoning in the actual court record.

The Reason for Taking Parenting Courses

According to the Cook County court, there are several reasons why parents may need to take parenting courses, including:

  • To teach parents to get past their differences and create an environment that’s both safe and stable for their children, with emphasis on meeting their needs
  • To help parents develop healthy communication between each other along with their children, promoting a mutual respect for both parties’ wishes
  • To help lower the expenses pertaining to litigation between both parties
  • To give parents the resources they need to keep their children removed from conflicts between both parents.
Finding Court-Approved Parent Education Programs

Parents required to take parenting classes will need to take them via a parent education program that the court has approved. Many of these education programs falsely claim to have been approved and received certification from the Circuit Court of Cook County. However, the only two parent education programs that have been authorized include the Focus on Children (FOCUS) in-class program and the Children in Between Online (CIBO) online program.

Parenting classes may be beneficial to both parents and their children when required to take them, but they may be able to avoid them entirely if they can prove why they’re unnecessary.

The post When Are Parents In Illinois Required to Attend Parent Education Courses? appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Answering a divorce petition in Illinois helps to ensure that the rights of the receiving spouse are protected. When a spouse in Illinois is served with a divorce petition, the respondent has a limited time to file an answer. If the respondent does not submit an answer to the courts within the allotted timeframe, a default judgment may be issued in favor of the petitioning spouse.

Spouses Who Receive a Divorce Petition Have Two Options

There are two options available for spouses who receive a divorce petition in Illinois. Understanding the consequences of each can help people determine which option is best for their situation.

  • Take No Action

If a spouse chooses to ignore a divorce petition, the case will proceed without the spouse’s involvement. A default judgment will likely be issued and the terms will probably be in the petitioning spouse’s favor, possibly resulting in unsatisfactory terms for the other spouse.

To challenge this judgment, spouses must file forms asking the court to vacate the judgment no later than 30 days of the default judgment date. It can become difficult to eliminate the judgment after this period.

  • Issue a Response and Get Involved in the Case

Spouses who wish to contest the terms proposed in a divorce petition and protect their rights must respond to the divorce petition by filing an Appearance form and corresponding Answering form with courts within 30 days.

If a family lawyer in Chicago, IL is retained by the respondent, he or she will discuss the terms of the petition and evaluate the objectives of the client before drafting a response. In addition to filing an answer to the divorce petition, the respondent will have the opportunity to file any counter petitions.

Individuals can also file forms themselves by uploading files into the court system or by bringing forms to the courthouse clerk in the county where the case was filed. Individuals also need to provide a copy of the Appearance and Answer forms to the other spouse or his or her lawyer the same day.

The post Answering a Divorce Petition in Illinois appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Appearing in child custody court can be intimidating, but knowing what to expect as the case moves in front of a judge can help relieve some of the stress. Becoming familiar with legal terms commonly used in court and understanding the role of the judge in custody proceedings can help parents prepare for what’s in store.

Learning the Legal Terms

It helps to be familiar with the legal terms that apply to a child custody proceeding so that parents know exactly what they are asking the judge to order.

Legal custody” pertains to how the parents will make decisions on behalf of the children involved. Rather than small decisions like bedtimes, parents have the right to make decisions regarding important factors like medical care, education, and religion. Typically, joint legal custody is ordered unless a parent is unfit to make decisions that are in the best interests of the children.

Physical custody refers to the living arrangements of the children. Parenting plans are required to lay out the terms of “parenting time” if the child spends more time with one parent than the other.

Custody Without Divorce

Parents who were never married or who plan to live separately are likely facing a custody trial if they fail to come to an agreement on their own.

A trial could involve a single court appearance or a series of evidentiary hearings after an initial court appearance, depending on the complexity of the case and whether witnesses or other evidence will be presented. The judge may deliver his or her decision at the end of the final fact-finding hearing or at a dispositional hearing. This depends on whether or not the judge wants more time to review the evidence and court transcripts before making the final decision.

Custody and Divorce

For married couples seeking a divorce, the courts require the inclusion of custody terms for children in the final divorce judgment or decree. When custody is contested, the terms will be decided as part of the divorce proceeding. Temporary custody orders are often given to couples that live apart until the divorce is finalized, at which point permanent provisions will be included in the divorce judgment.

The post What to Expect When Your Child Custody Case Goes to Court appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Real estate transactions always come with the risk of legal issues, and buyers and sellers may file lawsuits against agents or brokers for a variety of reasons including fraud, nondisclosure of property conditions, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation, unlawful discrimination, antitrust violations, and more.

Misrepresentation

Misrepresentation is the most common reason for hiring a real estate lawyer to file a claim against a broker. In many cases, brokers will misstate specific features or the overall condition of the property, or simply neglect to disclose any pertinent information about real estate.

When brokers fail to accurately disclose property flaws out of ignorance, it is known as negligent misrepresentation. Fraudulent misrepresentation occurs when brokers purposely omit or misrepresent facts.

The most frequently misrepresented features of properties are the structural features and foundation, along with other aspects of the property including the roof, boundaries of the property, and pest infestations. Brokers may also fail to disclose any renovations performed without a permit, environmental conditions, easements, or title issues.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

These claims often occur when a dual agency is not disclosed in accordance with state laws during a real estate transaction. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has a code of ethics that makes agency disclosure mandatory, but both the timing and method vary depending on the state.

Antitrust

Antitrust laws are put in place to prevent the unreasonable restriction of trade. Group boycotts and fixed prices qualify as antitrust violations.

Unlawful Discrimination

Fair housing laws are sometimes violated when real estate agents or brokers use language that discourages certain people from purchasing property or they otherwise indicate that specific groups of people are not welcome buyers. Something as simple as placing an ad stating “no children” can violate fair housing laws. Additionally, many lawsuits occur because real estate agents refuse to provide equal services to individuals of a certain ethnic background or race.

Identifying Liable Parties

When a person has suffered damages as a result of the acts or negligence of a real estate agent or broker, multiple entities may be liable. In some cases, real estate firms or brokerage companies may share legal responsibility for the misconduct.

The post Top Reasons People Sue in Real Estate Transactions appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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When urgent matters require immediate attention during a divorce case, emergency orders may be established to provide petitioners with prompt relief. While the court won’t deem every urgent matter an emergency, issues involving the safety of either party or the children, and critical matters involving money are addressed with emergency orders.

There are several different types of emergency orders that may be available during a divorce.

No Contact Orders

For victims of physical or mental abuse, stalking or harassment, emergency protective orders- also called no-contact orders, are available. This is a court order that provides protection from an abusive individual.

An order of protection can be issued when there has already been abuse, or when intimidation or stalking indicate the need for protection.

Stalking is considered to be a “course of conduct” involving two or more acts directed at a targeted victim, and the abuser knows that his or her actions would evoke fear for the victim’s safety or that of another person. In Illinois, stalking includes situations in which the abuser exhibits certain behaviors either directly or indirectly to cause distress for a victim. This entails following, monitoring, observing, threatening, or communicating to or about the person; engaging in other non-consensual contacts without stopping; or interfering with or causing damage to property or pets.

Urgent Matters Involving Children

When the safety or well-being of children is in jeopardy, the court will address these concerns immediately. If one parent is abusing alcohol or illegal substances, for example, and the abuse is endangering a child, the court will usually grant temporary custody orders that restrict the offending parent’s access to the kids. In some cases, the court will require supervised visitation to ensure that the children are kept safe.

Obtaining Emergency Orders

It can be tricky to obtain any one of these orders in an emergency because there are a number of rules and procedures that must be followed. Individuals can consult with their divorce lawyers about which emergency orders are available to address their urgent circumstances at any time during the divorce process.

The post Understanding Emergency Orders in an Illinois Divorce appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Divorced Illinois couples and their children may experience some lingering problems long after their divorces are final, especially in high-conflict cases or when parenting issues are disputed. Men and women may experience major drops in income and have trouble collecting child support, and they may have lingering emotional problems and rush into new marriages too quickly. While some children adjust well and show little to no negative symptoms after a divorce, others may develop emotional and behavioral problems that last for years to come. With planning and hard work, people may be able to reduce the chances of experiencing ongoing post-divorce problems.

Lingering Problems After Divorce

Men, women, and children may all face ongoing problems after divorce, and in many cases, these problems linger for many months or even years. Women are likely to face significant financial problems after getting divorced. An estimated 65 percent of divorced women with children do not receive child support, and 60 percent of divorced women with children have incomes that are under the federal poverty guidelines.

Men are likelier to suffer emotional problems after getting divorced because of the loss of intimacy. They are also likelier to rush into new marriages. Some children are well-adjusted while others develop emotional problems and behavioral disorders. The way in which children react to divorce depends largely on how their parents cope. If the parents’ relationship is filled with conflict, the children are much likelier to adjust poorly.

Preventing Post-divorce Problems

While not all post-divorce issues can be avoided, people may be able to minimize the problems that arise. People who are thinking about filing for divorce should meet with financial advisors so that they can better understand the potential impact that divorcing might have on their finances. Couples should talk openly and honestly about the problems that they have in their marriages if they believe that the marriages are salvageable. When divorce is inevitable, parents should keep the best interests of their children at the forefront and try to work together to raise their kids. Children do best when their parents are able to communicate and to work together in co-parenting relationships.

The post Problems May Linger After the Custody Battle is Won appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Parental alienation psychologically manipulates the most innocent members of the family and causes lasting psychological damage. Parental alienation can permanently affect the bonds between parents and their children.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is the disruption of the parent/child relationship through manipulation and isolation. The parent committing parental alienation attempts to sever or prevent a healthy relationship between the targeted parent and the children, often using the children as a bargaining chip. This type of strategy focuses on unjustified or exaggerated criticism of the targeted parent with the goal of damaging the relationship between the parent and the children.

What Effect Does Parental Alienation Have on a Family?

Parental alienation can harm every member of the family. The targeted parent may cycle through anger, depression, frustration, and hopelessness. The manipulated child may express disrespect, fear and irrational anger toward the targeted parent. Often, the bond between the parent and child deteriorates over time, sometimes resulting in family members becoming unable to communicate or spend time together.

In some parental alienation cases, the offending parent makes false allegations of abuse against the other parent. These accusations, which are more common in high conflict divorce cases, often result in severe psychological harm and loss of reputation for the targeted parent.

Signs of Parental Alienation

There may be several signs that parental alienation is occurring, such as:

  • Constant criticism of one parent
  • Borrowed scenarios to denigrate the targeted parent
  • Weak rationalizations for the denigration
  • Reflexive support from the parent causing the conflict toward the children
  • Lack of guilt over allegations and criticism of the other parent
  • Spread of animosity to other people familiar with the children and divorce
Movement to Stop Parental Alienation

Various community members have been part of a growing movement to stop parental alienation. Ginger Gentile has produced a documentary on the subject titled “Erasing Family.” Others have participated in symposiums and educational events to shed light on the growing problem. Gentile and others promote reform in family court and raising awareness in court-ordered family separations. Other professionals in the education, health and legal fields also work with families who are at risk for parental alienation.

The post Are You a Victim of Parental Alienation? appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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After a foreclosure in Illinois, junior lien holders may pursue judgments against the debtors in an effort to collect what is owed to them. While second mortgages and home equity lines of credit will no longer be secured by the properties, foreclosed homeowners may still be liable for them. Similarly, if the foreclosure sale does not secure the total amount that is owed, the primary mortgage holder may seek to recover the difference through a deficiency judgment.

What Happens to Second Mortgages in Foreclosure?

When there are multiple liens against a property, they are ordered in priority. The original mortgage that was used to purchase the home will have priority over second mortgages, home equity lines of credit and tax liens. When a homeowner defaults on the first mortgage, the lender may foreclose on the home. After the foreclosure sale, the second mortgages and junior liens will no longer exist against the home. However, the debts that are owed will not disappear. Instead, these junior mortgages and liens will be transformed into unsecured debts. The creditors may engage in collection activities to try to recover what they are owed. If they obtain civil judgments against the debtors, they may then garnish their wages or attach liens against their other personal or real property.

When the Foreclosure Doesn’t Cover the Debts

When the foreclosure sale doesn’t cover the priority lender’s mortgage balance, the mortgage against the home will not exist. The lender may pursue a deficiency judgment against the debtor in an effort to collect the difference between the foreclosure sales price and the remaining debt amount.

Homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure may want to investigate ways to avoid it or to minimize the risk of judgments, garnishments, and liens against their other property. Loan modification or refinancing may help borrowers to avoid foreclosure. A short sale agreement may also be negotiated. Finally, if there are no other options, debtors may be able to strip junior liens from their home through Chapter 13 bankruptcy while saving their homes from foreclosure.

The post Your Liability for Liens and Second Mortgages After Foreclosure appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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The new tax law that will eliminate tax deductions on maintenance (alimony) as of January 1, 2019. The consensus is that this will force a reevaluation of divorces that involve maintenance.

The Ability to Reduce Maintenance Payments

Divorce lawyers have expressed concern that the divorcee who earns more money will have more leveraging power to argue lower maintenance payments with the new law. While the current tax plan enables the paying spouse to deduct maintenance from taxes, the new law will remove this deduction. With the old plan, high-earning spouses who are responsible for making spousal maintenance payments can deduct those payments from their taxable income each year, often resulting in significant tax savings. However, this will only apply to maintenance payments entered after January 1, 2019. All other maintenance orders will be grandfathered under the old tax law.

Other Benefits Still in Place

Although the new law will remove tax benefits that spouses who pay maintenance have been able to experience in the past and may make it more challenging for divorces to result in an outcome that’s helpful for both parties, there are still a few financial benefits that divorced spouses can continue to experience. Following a divorce, the spouse receiving spousal maintenance will not be required to report the payments as taxable income under the new plan. Additionally, an individual will still be able to receive spousal Social Security benefits that are based on the other divorcee’s earnings. However, the claimant needs to be unmarried at the time of the claim and the couple needs to have been married for at least ten years to be eligible.

The post New Tax Plan Will Penalize You For Getting Divorced appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Rent to own is a technique that allows buyers who cannot gather a large down-payment or secure a mortgage the opportunity to make payments on their home. This type of owner financing is also useful for sellers who want to get their home off the market but are unable to find an eligible buyer. It expands the number of potential buyers and often gives sellers the opportunity to receive the full asking price or higher monthly rent for their property.

Operation of Lease to Own

A lease to own (or rent to own) works in the following manner:

  1. The lease of a property is combined with an option to purchase within a specified number of years (usually around three years or less) at a named price;
  2. The renter sometimes pays a non-refundable “option fee” which is between one to five percent of the total price;
  3. The renter will pay the monthly rent plus a premium that is credited to the purchase price.
Seller Benefits

Lease to own benefits sellers because they are more likely to get the full asking price and receive higher monthly payments because the seller is providing financing to the buyer. The seller then avoids paying for an unproductive property that could be on the market for months before a buyer is secured and the deal is closed.

Sellers achieve monthly cash flow to offset expenses, a higher sale price, and lower risk because a buyer is secured. Moreover, “rent to own” buyers are typically better tenants who are more likely to care for the property because it will eventually become theirs.

Buyer Benefits

Lease to own also benefits buyers. In rent to own deals, buyers have lower out of pocket expenses, their payments are credited to the price of the home, they gain the benefit of equity growth, and they can take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction and other tax benefits that come with homeownership. Moreover, leasing to own combines the flexibility of renting with the control that comes with owning a home.

The post What You Should Know About Rent-to-Own Transactions appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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