Five Ways You Can Help Your Divorce AttorneyYou hire an attorney during your divorce in order to handle much of the busy work that comes with the process. An experienced divorce attorney can complete the work in a quicker and more comprehensive manner than you could on your own. However, your attorney still benefits from your help and cooperation during the process. Clients and attorneys are most successful in their divorce cases when they are able to work together. Here are five ways that you can help your divorce attorney obtain the best result for you:

  1. Have a Clear Goal: From the first meeting, you should have a basic idea of what you need from your divorce agreement. Most clients want financial stability and parenting time with their children. However, it helps to determine what your specific priorities are in the divorce so you can focus on those issues. Which properties are most important for you to keep? Are there properties you are willing to give up in exchange? Do you want a majority of the parenting time? These are just a couple of the questions you need to answer before starting negotiations.
  2. Disclose Prior Agreements: You should immediately tell your attorney if you have a pre- or postnuptial agreement with your spouse. The agreement may already determine how your property will be divided and whether one of you will pay spousal maintenance. Your attorney can examine the document to determine whether its terms adhere to Illinois divorce laws.
  3. Share Information: Your attorney can do a lot of the investigative work for your divorce on his or her own. However, you can save your attorney time and yourself money by collecting important information in advance. You can assume that your attorney will need to know your current income, financial savings, and properties, as well as the same information for your spouse.
  4. Be Candid: Your working relationship with your attorney should be based on honest and open communication. Do not hide embarrassing information that your spouse may try to use against you during the divorce. Letting your attorney know in advance will allow him or her to prepare a counterargument.
  5. Ask Before Acting: You should immediately talk to your attorney if you have any questions or doubts during your divorce. Do not make any important legal decisions without consulting your attorney first. Your attorney has a strategy for your divorce, and acting on your own may undermine it.

Working Together

A successful divorce settlement relies on both attorney and client being on the same page with each other. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., will work with you to achieve your divorce goals. To schedule a consultation, call 630-789-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney, Property Division | Tagged , , |

Alternatives to Traditional Parenting Time ArrangementsIllinois replaced the term “child custody” with “allocation of parental responsibilities” because parenting after a divorce involves more than who has custody of the children. Each parent has a role in raising and making decisions for their children. Parents must form a parenting plan that defines their individual responsibilities to their children. The parenting schedule is only one part of the plan, but it is probably the most important part. Nothing replaces the value of time spent with a child. Most parents use a traditional schedule that splits parenting time between weekdays and weekends. This is often the most practical and least disruptive schedule for both parents and children. With the more flexible definition of the allocation of parental responsibilities, some parents have created alternative schedules that work best for them. While these alternatives may not be your best options, it is worth knowing that these options exist.

Alternatives to Weekends

Weekends are usually the best time to exchange children because it is when children and parents are most likely to have free time. If parents do not live near each other, weekends may be the only practical time. However, weekday or evening visits may work if:

  • A parent usually works weekends;
  • A child is not at school age;
  • The parents live near each other; or
  • The children are on summer break from school.

Even Division of Parenting Time

Illinois courts prefer that one parent has a majority of the parenting time because it is considered less disruptive to the children. Parenting plans often involve one parent having 70 or 80 percent of the time with the children. Some parents instead split their time in a 60-40 ratio or divide it nearly evenly between them. A court will likely reject a 50-50 parenting plan unless the parents can prove that the plan is in the best interest of the children and will cause minimal disruption.

Nesting Agreement

For children, the most disruptive part of parenting schedules is being transported between their parents’ homes. Nesting plans negate that disruption by keeping the children in one home and scheduling the parents to stay with the children at different times. However, a nesting agreement is impractical for many parents because:

  • They must cooperate in continuing to own and live in the same home;
  • Each of them will be paying for a second residence for when they are not in the home; and
  • Their work schedules may not give them time to travel between two residences.

Your Parenting Plan

The best alternative to a traditional parenting schedule may be allowing flexibility so that you are not locked into specific days of the week. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you create a parenting plan that works for your needs. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Child Custody, Coparenting, Divorce, Family Law, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney | Tagged , , , |

Budgeting Changes After Your DivorcePersonal finances after divorce can be a difficult adjustment, especially if you are unfamiliar with handling your own finances. You are individually responsible for budgeting your finances and planning for the future. Making financial decisions as an individual requires different considerations than when you are married. Your divorce settlement can set you up for financial stability after divorce, but you will also need to make several adjustments that reflect your individual status.


Your living expenses will change after your divorce because your individual income must pay for costs that you once shared with your spouse. You may also have new expenses, such as if you are responsible for paying spousal maintenance. Even if you receive monthly maintenance payments, your budget will likely be tighter than when you were married. You may need to reconsider how you budget your expenses, such as whether you:

  • Are paying for unnecessary services;
  • Can downsize to a smaller home; or
  • Can find cheaper ways to pay for your basic needs.


When determining your monthly budget after a divorce, you may need to account for the additional expense of paying for your own benefits plans. Your health insurance can be the biggest change because spouses are often covered by the same family plan. If you were part of your spouse’s health insurance, you will need to find your own provider. The easiest way is if your employer provides insurance, though that will be an additional expense taken out of your pay. If you do not have access to an employee health plan, you can explore the individual market.


One way to help with your budget is increasing the amount of money you make. You should consider opportunities for career advancement, such as:

  • Working towards a promotion at your job;
  • Looking for a better-paying job; or
  • Continuing your education to qualify for better jobs.


You need to manage your budget so you can still afford to save money for emergency purposes and retirement. You may receive a share of your former spouse’s retirement benefits, depending on how long you were married and the terms of your divorce settlement. However, you should also save money on your own so you are not relying on your former spouse after retirement. A financial planner can advise you on ways to invest your money that can pay short-term and long-term dividends.

Money and Divorce

A well-negotiated divorce settlement can support you while you make the adjustments needed to become financially independent. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can lead you through the negotiation process. To schedule a consultation, call 630-879-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Divorce, Financial Problems, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney, Spousal Maintenance | Tagged , , , |

A Father's Role After DivorceBetween the two parents, a father is generally in greater danger of seeing his relationship with his children diminish after a divorce. Mothers more often receive a majority of the parenting time during the allocation of parental responsibilities. Because mothers are more likely to be the caretakers during the marriage, courts often choose the mother as the primary parent. However, children’s relationships with their fathers are also important in their happiness and development. Fathers who see their children less often after a divorce must work to remain an active part of their lives:

  1. Advocating for Parenting Time: A father has an equal right to be the primary parent of his children after a divorce if he can prove that living with him is in their best interest. If a court grants the mother primary responsibility over the children, the father can still fight for a greater share of parenting time. A 60-40 division of parenting time would give him an additional day each week with his children as opposed to a 70-30 division.
  2. Taking on New Roles: The father no longer has the mother to rely on when he has his time alone with the children. He is both parents in one and has parental duties that he may be unfamiliar with performing, such as being a caretaker, nurturer, disciplinarian or playmate.
  3. Being a Father Figure: A father can teach his children lessons that the mother cannot. Most importantly, a father defines what a grown man is to his children. Sons learn what kind of man they should be when they grow up. Daughters learn what qualities they should look for in the men they allow into their lives as adults.
  4. Being Present and Available: Fathers should treat their time with their children as more than an obligation to look after them. They should find ways to interact with their children, such as planning fun activities. Fathers can extend their roles when they are not with their children by encouraging electronic communication.
  5. Staying Positive: A father’s time with his children should not involve complaining about the mother or trying to pump the child for information about the mother. The father should instead focus on his relationship with his children and only talk about their mother in as far as how it relates to what is happening in their lives.

Protecting Fatherhood

No one can replicate a biological father’s importance in his children’s lives. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can protect your rights as a father during your divorce. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Child Custody, Divorce, Family Law, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney | Tagged , , , |

Seeking a Mental Evaluation of Your SpouseQuestioning the mental health of your spouse is a serious accusation to make during your divorce. Mental fitness can help determine the allocation of parental responsibilities because a person with a mental illness may be erratic, irresponsible or abusive. Your spouse is certain to react negatively to a claim that he or she is not fit to care for your children. However, you need to pursue the issue if you believe your spouse’s mental state is a danger to your children. Illinois law gives the court discretion over whether a party in a divorce needs to receive a mental health evaluation.

Requesting an Evaluation

A court may on its own order your spouse to undergo a psychological evaluation, but it is more likely that you will need to request it. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215 explains the process, which includes:

  • Filing a motion to order a mental health evaluation of a party in the case; and
  • Recommending an independent examiner to conduct the evaluation.

The court will decide whether to approve the evaluation and the suggested examiner. An evaluation may be both an inconvenience and embarrassment to your spouse. You must show that there is enough doubt about your spouse’s mental health that an evaluation is necessary.

Evaluation Results

Once the court has approved the psychological evaluation, you have 21 days to return with the examiner’s findings. The evaluation may or may not include a diagnosis of a mental illness, depending on the qualifications of the examiner. The most important information is whether the examiner believes your spouse’s mental state is a danger to your children. The court will take the examiner’s recommendation under advisement and may use it as evidence that your spouse should have limited interaction with your children.


Illinois courts try to discourage opposing parties from harassing each other by making baseless accusations of mental illness. If the court grants your request for a mental evaluation, you will be responsible for paying for the examination and any income your spouse loses because of having to attend the examination. Needlessly accusing your spouse of mental illness may reflect poorly on you. During the division of marital property, the court has the discretion to favor your spouse if it believes your were harassing in claiming he or she has a mental illness. If the court believes you made the accusation to prolong the case, it may order you to pay a portion of your spouse’s attorney fees as compensation.

Your Children’s Safety

You must carefully consider whether your spouse’s behavior is a threat to your children before you request an action that may take away his or her parental rights. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you decide whether requesting a mental evaluation of your spouse is necessary. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Child Custody, Divorce, Family Law, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney | Tagged , , |