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Divorce in Chicago: Planning for the Holidays with Your Children


Going through a divorce is a difficult time, and when you have children, planning for the holidays can be anything but simple. You want your children to get through the holidays and the divorce process with as little disruption as possible – one of the best ways to make sure this happens during the holidays is to plan ahead. Have you and your ex (or soon-to-be-ex) worked out who the children will stay with over holiday breaks from school? When will parenting time be for each of you? How about the actual holidays? Planning ahead now will undoubtedly spare everyone from undue stress later.

Keep in mind: Courts generally frown upon motions to set holiday parenting time when cases are brought up as emergencies. You know the holidays are coming and you need to plan accordingly; potential conflicts can be resolved much more smoothly with advanced planning. Following are some tips you and your ex need to follow to plan successfully for holidays with the children with as little fuss as possible:

  1. Try to work through scheduling in a way that makes sense for everyone. You need to recognize that although you’d love to have your children with you for the duration of their holiday vacations from school, your ex has just as much desire and just as much right, too (usually). Be aware and keep in mind that a resolution is going to require some give and take, on both of your accounts. Don’t expect to approach your ex with a list of demands and win everything you want without some compromise.
  2. Having a candid discussion with your ex about how each of you are going to want to spend and share parenting time is essential; listen to the other party and expect them to listen to you, too. A brief statement to open the discussion simply stating that the holidays are coming and you’d like to get “everything ironed out ahead of time” is often all it takes to get the conversation rolling. Keep track and take notes – if worse comes to worse and your ex doesn’t want to discuss it at the moment, jot that down and try again soon; your efforts to work through it amicably will aid your case, should it reach that level.
  3. Try to keep as many traditions as you can, but also realize that some traditions may no longer work for you and your children. Traditions bring a sense of happiness and comfort of the familiar for people, and children are no different. Keep as many traditions when you are with your children during your parenting time, and don’t be afraid to create some new ones, too.
  4. Be sure to confirm any and all plans with your ex – in writing. A phone call discussion or a face-to-face conversation is great and all, but down the road if plans become jumbled or there is a dispute regarding the agreed upon parenting time, you can reference the signed and dated agreement that both of you signed to potentially resolve any situations quickly and without frustration.
  5. If you and your ex cannot reach an agreement regarding parenting time, make an appointment to speak with your Chicago divorce lawyer. He or she will advise you on the next steps that are appropriate, and will guide you regarding state laws that are in place to help sort through holiday visitation and parenting time.

Although there are many things to consider in regards to parenting time after or during a divorce, with planning in advance, attention to keeping old traditions and creating new ones, and keeping written records of agreements and conversations, you can help ensure you get the quality time with your children that you and they deserve during the holidays. Contacting your divorce attorney in Chicago, IL sooner rather than later will ensure that any problems or disputes can be resolved in a timely matter before the holidays.

Mediation: Avoiding Financial Distress in Chicago Divorce


There are many reasons why couples may not opt for a divorce to end a dysfunctional relationship, and cost is one of them. However, as stress from the relationship, stress from finances, and stress from jobs make them hesitant to add the stress of divorce to the mix, staying in an unhealthy relationship is also detrimental. Fortunately, there is an alternative to traditional adversarial divorce that Chicago divorce attorneys can provide – mediation.

What is Mediation?

First of all, let us start out by saying that mediation isn’t ideal for every couple. It requires both people to still respect each other and communicate effectively. It works well for those people who want to maintain a productive relationship not only for the benefit of their futures, but also for the futures of any children involved.

Mediation takes place when spouses meet with a qualified neutral professional – usually a divorce lawyer in Chicago – to discuss issues, exchange financial information and to settle the divorce without the courts being involved. Negotiating and reaching a positive resolution requires unique people who are able to “get along for the sake of getting along”. By being able to confer with a divorce lawyer for mediation and coming to an agreement without courts, litigation and the whole traditional process, both spouses can avoid extensive costs and prolonged conflict.

What are the Benefits of Mediation with a Chicago Divorce Attorney?

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of mediation with a divorce attorney in Chicago is that it costs less than litigation does. You and your spouse will pay a mediator to work out a settlement, and then your lawyers bring the settlement to court for approval and for the actual divorce. Mediation is not as emotionally charged or as emotionally draining as litigation is, which means it can also be less painful. Instead of two parties “fighting for control” or “fighting for the win” in traditional litigation and divorce, both parties, as well as their children, remain in control. If there is an imbalance of power between spouses, it is equalized by the mediator. Finally, mediation takes less time than litigation, taking a matter of a few months instead of potentially years as can be the case with complicated litigation.

Is Mediation a Viable Alternative for You and Your Spouse?

If you and your spouse can get along amicably still, mediation with a divorce attorney in Chicago may be a great option. However, if one of you is unreasonable, emotionally over-charged, unstable, or “out to get you”, it may not be. To find out if mediation is an option for you and your spouse, or to find out more information regarding it or litigation, contact the law offices of Maria J. Jaffe at 312-641-1050.


Why You Really Do Need A Lawyer for Uncontested Divorce in Chicago

Many people may think at first that Uncontested-Divorcewith an uncontested divorce in Chicago, it means that there are no arguments, no battles and no disagreements. However, what uncontested divorce really means is that both parties amicably agree that the marriage should end, and that they know how they will handle child custody and how they will divide property and debt.

While it may be true that there are some divorces that proceed to dissolve with nary an argument, the truth is that more often than not, people find themselves more upset and more confused than they thought they would be, which often leads to unexpected arguments. These might be about property division, asset division, custody, and a host of other things. It’s important to remember that “uncontested” does not mean that everything will be without incident and that it does not mean that the two people involved will not argue.

Although you may be tempted to convince yourself that you would save money by not hiring an attorney for uncontested divorce in Chicago, the truth is that you very well may end up losing substantial amounts of money by entering into legal divorce agreements without fully understanding the law; you could potentially agree to something that would not be in your best interest financially or personally, due to a lack of legal advice.

The role of a Chicago divorce attorney in uncontested divorce is to provide legal advice and to draft the paperwork. Having this legal professional on-hand can provide you with options and information you may have never considered. Should you choose to have an attorney for your uncontested divorce, you will discuss all major topics like the parenting plan, debt division, who will have sole use of the house, cars, and more. Those who opt to hire an attorney for uncontested cases will find that they are able to benefit from having a legal professional looking out for their best interests; an attorney will explain the non-contested process and relay to you the benefits that you should hope to gain from an amicable proceeding and filing.

Uncontested divorce in Chicago is a process that is best done under the advisement that only a legal professional can provide; negotiating is always a sensitive subject, even under the most amicable conditions. Key aspects of the marriage will need to be handled, and an attorney can help you come to terms with what exactly you are entitled to, what you are not entitled to, what you have a right to do, and the like.

For more information on how our divorce attorney in Chicago, IL can help you with uncontested or contested divorce proceedings, contact Jaffe Legal today.

Don’t Go Solo

There may not be any more lonely feeling than feeling you have just after the words, “I want a divorce.” It’s a horrible shock to the system even if you know it’s coming, and difficult to deal with on so many levels. It’s tempting just to try and go it alone and hope that things work out for the best between the two of you. However well-intentioned you may be, navigating a complex legal undertaking such as a divorce is not something that should be left to hoping for the best. Both of you will need to settle matters that can quickly become contentious, or even acrimonious.

Get Me to the Clerk on Time

In Chicago, filing or answering a petition for the dissolution of a marriage or civil union starts at the Circuit Court of Cook County and requires five different documents even file for your divorce as well as the time to spend at the courthouse. By retaining a reputable and experienced Chicago divorce lawyer, each of you will be able to meet the requirements while still being able to continue with your daily lives. Lawyers will also advise you how best to fulfill your legal obligations to one another and any children you may have.

Protecting Your Interests

In any marriage, there is common property, whether that is a house or a car, bank accounts, furnishings and other items bought in common during the marriage that will need to be divided – this is called marital property and is subject to division between the divorcing parties. Nonmarital property is considered to be property or assets that were acquired by the individuals prior to their marriage. While the court mandates that property division must be fair, what seems fair to one party may not seem that fair to another. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement, you will need a lawyer to help settle issues such as child support, spousal support, division of joint debt and joint assets such as real estate and bank accounts.

Get on the Case

Many people enter the process of obtaining a divorce without having any real idea of the law, or what they are doing. All too quickly what one hoped would be a quick and relatively painless process can turn into a nightmare. Choosing reputable and established attorneys specializing in divorce cases may not save your marriage, but can help to save your sanity.

Understanding What Comes with an Uncontested Divorce

The only way to make one of the most challenging times of your life worse is by getting into a massive legal battle with your former spouse. However, divorces don’t always have to devolve into testy hearings and courtroom showdowns. To learn a little more about how the uncontested divorce approach can help you keep things as amicable and straightforward as possible, let’s spend some time delving into the particulars of this approach and what it could mean for your pending legal separation.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

The core of any divorce proceeding revolves around four basic claims; custody of children, debt allocation, division of community and marital property, and finally alimony and child support payments. Naturally, these subjects come with plenty of strife and unrest in55most divorces due to extended legal battles and countermeasures. However, this unwanted scenario isn’t your only option. The New York State Unified Court System’s divorce resource page explains that an uncontested divorce is when two parties have no outstanding disagreements in these areas. Essentially, there’s enough common ground between the two parties to avoid the more serious litigation that comes with such a dispute.

The Benefits of This Process

Aside from the obvious goodwill and dignity that comes with avoiding a lengthy spat in the legal system, the experts at HG, an online legal resource center, point out that uncontested divorces come with a variety of other benefits. By keeping the allocation of assets and custody rights amicable and out of court, former spouses can save quite a bit of money in court fees and lost time at work attending sessions. Additionally, for those who wish to keep the particulars of this former marriage private, the uncontested route steers clear of airing dirty laundry and grievances in an open venue.

Making Sure You’re Prepared for Every Step

Before filing for an uncontested divorce in Chicago, Illinois Legal Aid Online – a partnership between The Chicago Bar Foundation, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, and ITT Chicago-Kent College of Law – suggests going over a quick checklist that can help avoid serious roadblocks along the way to resolution.

First, make sure you, or your former spouse, haven’t already filed for divorce in another state. Additionally, both participants must hold legal residence in the state of Illinois for longer than 90 days. Finally, gather as much information as possible about yourself, your former partner, and any children involved in the dispute. By having this information on hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned about uncontested divorces, you’ll be well on your way to a private and amicable split that avoids the less than savory attributes normally associated with a legal separation

Jaffe Legal: What is an Uncontested Divorce?

Every divorce has to deal with these four issues:
Child custody
Payment or child and/or spousal support
Division of debt
Division of community and/or marital property
In the event that there are disputes between the two parties regarding these four points, the interested parties can settle the divorce outside of a trial using an uncontested divorce. Every couple that is seeking a divorce should consider working out mutual terms for the divorce without going to court. If there is an unresolved issue or dispute, couples will often go through arbitration and mediation with or without attorneys. This will save each party significant sums of money and time if they can bypass litigation.
Uncontested divorces also move quickly through the court and are much less expensive than contested divorces.
As opposed to contested divorces, uncontested divorces generally reduce hostility among each party and allow both of them to move on with their lives more quickly. Uncontested divorces are also quiet. While the agreements that the two parties make are a matter of public record, the disclosures that both parties make unto each other do not go on the public record, neither do any of the various proposals discussed during the course of reaching an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.
When Uncontested Divorce is Not Advisable

Uncontested divorce is ill-advised when there is a domestic abuse in the relationship. Victims of abuse are not in a position to negotiate with their abusers. The abused should seek out an advocate, like an attorney to help them navigate the divorce.
Uncontested divorces will not work if either parties do not desire to speak to each other. Sometimes, one person is bitter or upset about the impending divorce and retaliates by sabotaging the process. When this happens, uncontested divorce is a waste of time and money.
Uncontested divorces are also a bad idea if one or both parties are ignorant about the law and greedy. Uncontested divorces work well if one party or both are ignorant of the law but are reasonable as there is room for negotiation. Litigants who know the law, but are greedy can generally be reasoned with. But if one or both parties are ignorant and greedy, uncontested divorces can drag out for years.
If you are in need of legal representation in a contested or uncontested divorce in Chicago, contact the Law Offices of Maria Jaffe for experienced and compassionate help.

The Divorce Process Explained (or What Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Illinois?)

Most couples don’t take the decision to divorce lightly – and according data reported by the American Community Survey, the percentage of Chicago residents over the age of 15 years who are divorced is less than nine percent. There are many reasons for this, but there are certain requirements that couples must meet in order to have a divorce granted in the state of Illinois.

There’s a residency requirement – the couple must have lived in the state for at least 90 days prior to petitioning the court for a divorce. If a case involves children, those children must have lived within the state for six months, according to Illinois Legal Aid.

In Illinois, mental or physical cruelty, drug addiction or drunkenness are all acceptable grounds for divorce. There is one other category that a divorce in the state can fall into — irreconcilable differences—meaning that the two spouses cannot agree on things in the marriage and do not believe that the situation will improve. There are certain criteria that a request for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences must meet before a judge will grant it. They are:

Spouses have been separated for at least two years – unless the divorce is an uncontested divorce in Chicago. If both parties agree to the divorce, then the separation period is just six months.
Parties must state that they have worked to solve their problems and that the marriage cannot be saved.

Individuals who are seeking a divorce can initiate the process on their own and file papers, but when the divorce is contested, it may be beneficial to seek the services of a Chicago Divorce Attorney. Often, individuals are advised to consult an attorney regardless of whether a divorce is contested or uncontested – simply so that parties are aware of their rights and legal responsibilities during divorce proceedings.

No Courts Allowed: Revolutionary Collaborative Law in Chicago Divorce Cases

Collaborative law is a fairly new way to settle divorce cases in which parties of divorce cases resolve disputes by agreeing to not bring their cases to court. Should one party decide to go to court, the collaborative law process terminates and attorneys are disqualified from further case involvement.

This type of law requires that each party be represented by counsel who have been trained in negotiation, the structure of Collaborative law, and in interpersonal conflict resolution. Divorce lawyers in Chicago and their clients sign a contract, often called a Participation Agreement. The focus of these collaborative efforts is one of finding the best solutions for both parties involved, as opposed to “fighting in court and aiming to win” a battle.

One of the biggest differences between collaborative law and “traditional” court divorce proceedings is that Collaborative law recognizes the fact that there are emotional issues that cannot be addressed by the law. The Collaborative law process addresses such issues by bringing them to light and using professionals to find amicable solutions to them. Professionals that are often called upon for this type of divorce in Chicago include child specialists, appraisers, neutral financial advisors, mental health counselors, and others.

The differences lie in the fundamental concepts of client empowerment. Clients have the opportunity to assess the circumstances, evaluate options, understand the consequences and choose a process, as opposed to having a judge decide “what is fair” after hearing argument after argument.

According to an article by, 90% of all divorce cases that use Collaborative law are resolved, which means 90% of them do not expose parties and relatives (especially children) to the stress of the courtroom. Although Collaborative law won’t work in every case (both parties must be willing to refrain from calling on the courts), the evidence suggests that more people are using this means of ending broken marriages than ever before as people realize the opportunity to engage in what has come to be referred to as “the good divorce”.

The Effect of Divorce on Children

divorced children

A divorce is difficult for every single person involved, especially children. However, most people aren’t aware of the actual effects of a divorce on a child.


The Effect of Divorce on Children

The effects of divorce can depend tremendously on the situations of the divorce and how the divorce is handled amongst the family members. In a study by Demo & Acock showed that the most common effects of a divorce on children can include a reduction in self-control, rising anxiety, decreasing self-esteem, increased detachment to their parents, increased tendency in future delinquent activities, and more.

However, the study also showed that rather than the divorce itself, it is increased conflict at the home that causes the above effects. Between an intact couple that frequently fights and a divorced couple that does not have any hostility, the latter can possibly be the better situation for the child.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that if handled maturely, a divorce might even have some benefits on the development of a child, including improved emotional strength, greater maturity, and a stronger understanding of marriage.


How to Inform Your Children on Impending Divorce

How you will inform your child on an impending divorce will of course be ultimately decided between the you and your co-parent. However, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Explain the situation honestly and gently: Never in any way try and deceive your child into thinking that the situation is not what it appears, or that the separation is not real. Be as clear, and as gentle in your explanation as much as possible.
  • Clarify that the divorce is not the child’s fault: Often, children in divorce situations will adopt the belief that they are somehow at fault for the divorce. Stress that this is not the case, and that they are still very much loved by their parents.
  • Be attentive and responsive to their concerns and questions: Most likely your child will have some questions of their own. Make sure that you never ignore their concerns, and are responsive, and attentive in addressing their thoughts.

To speak with a Chicago divorce attorney, contact us today.

Uncontested Divorce: Is it Right for You?

Uncontested Divorce: Is it Right for You?

Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult experiences an individual can have. While many cases can be especially difficult when child custody, division of assets and hurt feelings are involved, a great many divorces in American are uncontested.

An uncontested divorce is one where both parties involved agree to end the marriage and have minimal issues in terms of child custody, division of assets and other issues involved in the break up. Going through the process is not easy, but uncontested divorces in Chicago cost a lot less than other types of divorces. If there is no need for stressful litigation which brings expensive attorney’s fees, it’s best to not to.

Aside from the financial aspect, an uncontested divorce offers the benefit of ending your marriage in a way that is faster, easier and more dignified, and with less stress on you and your children, because you aren’t in and out of court, airing out the pain and hurt you are feeling. If the level of conflict is currently low between and your spouse, an uncontested divorce allows you to maintain that and provides an opportunity to end things without resorting to verbal altercations in a court of law. Granted, some negotiating will be needed. Our team of Chicago divorce attorneys is on hand to get you the very best and fastest resolution to your divorce.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.