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Differences Between a Guardian ad Litem and a Child Representative

A couple who recently celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary has decided to get divorced. The wife is a functioning alcoholic. Although she can show up to work and come home, she is barely able to parent. Despite trying to help his wife for years, the husband has realized that there is nothing more he can do. He would like custody of their children, knowing that his wife cannot take care of them while constantly drinking alcohol.

The wife, infuriated, tries to claim that her husband has physically abused her and their children. Now the couple is involved in a very heated divorce proceeding. The judge is considering appointing a child representative to determine child custody issues. We will discuss the differences between an attorney for the child, a child representative, and a guardian ad litem, or GAL, below.

Unbiased Third Party Opinions in Child Custody Matters

When a married couple becomes involved in a divisive and challenging divorce, their issues can bleed into child custody matters. If you find yourself in this scenario, it is essential to understand the differences between an attorney for the child, a child representative, and a guardian ad litem. These three people are unbiased third-party advocates who provide their expert opinions on child custody matters.

Judges use these opinions to determine child custody, parenting time, and the minor child’s best interests. A judge can appoint one of these parties. Or, an attorney for one or both spouses can submit a motion requesting the assistance of one of these individuals during a heated family law proceeding.

An Attorney for the Child

An attorney for the child is an attorney who represents the child or children involved in the custody matter. The attorney for the child can provide the child with independent legal counsel. Attorneys for the child owe the same duties of confidentiality, loyalty, and competent representation as they would owe an adult client.

A Child Representative

A child representative is an attorney for the child who advocates what she thinks would be in the child’s best interest. The child representative must carefully review the facts and circumstances of the case, meet with the child in person and the parents, investigate the facts of the case and encourage the parents to settle. In some cases, the child representative will encourage alternative dispute resolution between the parents. Child representatives cannot be called as a witness to testify during the proceedings.

A Guardian Ad Litem

Finally, a guardian ad litem, also called a GAL, is an attorney for the parties’ children. The guardian ad litem investigates the facts of the case, interviews the child and the parents, and can provide testimony to the court. Unlike a child representative, the guardian ad litem can submit a written report to the judge regarding his or her recommendations of what would be in the child’s best interest. They can also be called as a witness and cross-examined regarding their recommendation.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer

If you need representation for a divorce or child support matter in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.

Alimony vs. Spousal Maintenance in Illinois: What is the Difference?

A Schaumburg couple learned that their son has autism when he still was not talking at age 3. Their son’s special needs became all-consuming. Between therapy and special lessons, the wife felt she could no longer keep her position as vice president of a small start-up. Her husband promised her that he was okay with her quitting her job. As the years went on, however, they began to bicker more and more with each other over finances.

The husband began to resent his wife. He started seeing someone else on the side. After the wife found out about the affair, she decided to file for divorce. Since she gave up her career to care for their child, she is hoping for alimony payments. Below, we will discuss the terms ‘alimony’ and ‘spousal support’ under Illinois divorce law.

Illinois Law Now Calls Alimony ‘Spousal Maintenance’

The legislature recently amended Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). This section deals with spousal maintenance, previously referred to as ‘alimony’ or ‘spousal support.’ As of January 1, 2019, judges and attorneys must use the term ‘spousal maintenance’ instead of alimony when involved in a divorce proceeding. While the names have changed, alimony and spousal support refer to the same thing. Alimony and spousal support refer to one spouse paying another spouse monthly cash payments.

When is Spousal Maintenance Appropriate?

Before you can receive spousal support, the court needs to decide that it is warranted per the facts in your case. You are either entitled to spousal maintenance or not. Judges consider several factors when determining whether to award maintenance, including the length of the marriage. When one spouse stays home to parent the couple’s children, the judge will consider that factor, as well.

When the court finds that spousal maintenance is warranted, they will then determine the amount and duration. When the couple’s combined gross annual income is under $500,000, courts will typically use the formula set out in Illinois’ divorce law to calculate the amount of spousal maintenance. As of January 1, 2019, judges calculate maintenance by taking 33.3% of the paying spouse's net annual income minus 25% of the receiving spouse's net annual income.

Courts will order spousal maintenance for a time frame as indicated in the relevant statute. The longer the couple is married, the longer the spousal support will last. For example, if the couple was married less than five years, the court will multiply five years by .20. As a result, the payor spouse would pay spousal maintenance for one year. If the couple was married 19 years, the court would multiply the length of the marriage by .80. The paying spouse would make spousal support payments for 15.2 years.

Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

Are you considering filing for divorce in Cook County? Do you have questions about spousal maintenance? If so, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.

Divorce After an Affair in South Barrington

A South Barrington, Illinois, couple recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. The wife took great care to plan an anniversary celebration at a charming restaurant in the Foundry in South Barrington. She was surprised to find that one of her and her husband's mutual friends, whom her husband had dated long before they were married, came to their anniversary party. She noticed her husband spending a significant amount of time chatting with this woman.

Later that night, she noticed his cell phone buzzing. She noticed an incoming text message and saw that it was sexually explicit. She discovered that her husband has been having an affair with this woman for over a year. Her husband has been begging her to forgive him and remain married, but she has completely lost trust in him. Devastated, she is now pursuing a divorce.

Seeking a Divorce After Discovering Adultery

Learning that your spouse has been cheating on you is devastating, making it difficult to trust your spouse in any capacity. Beyond the hurt of being rejected by someone you love, spouses who have been cheated on feel a sense of betrayal. This sense of betrayal makes everything involved in the divorce more difficult. A spouse who has been cheated on may feel like an injustice has been done to them, understandably. They may want the court system to punish their cheating spouse during the divorce proceedings. What role does adultery have in an Illinois divorce?

Prior to 2016, Illinois law recognized multiple grounds for divorce, including adultery. However, since 2016, Illinois has been a no-fault divorce state. Now, Illinois only recognizes one ground for divorce — irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences mean you tried to work out the problems in your marriage but could not resolve them. Proving irreconcilable differences is relatively easy. You will simply need to testify that you have not been able to resolve your issues or that you have been separated for at least six months, automatically proving the existence of irreconcilable differences. In other words, you will not need to prove that your spouse has committed adultery to obtain a divorce in Illinois.

Adultery and the Dissipation of Assets

You may be able to claim that your spouse has engaged in the dissipation of assets if they have been having an affair. In an Illinois divorce, a family court judge must fairly divide your marital property. Before they can divide your marital assets, they will consider the dissipation of the value of the marital and non-marital property. When one spouse has spent money on a purpose unrelated to their marriage when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown, the court will consider this a waste of marital assets. As a result, you can make a claim on any money your spouse has spent on dates, vacations, or gifts for their new lover.

Discuss Your Case With a South Barrington Divorce Lawyer

Have you discovered that your spouse is cheating on you in South Barrington, Illinois? Would you like to discuss the divorce process? If you need representation for a divorce or child support matter in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.