Practice Areas

Divorce/Dissolution of Civil Unions

Divorce or dissolution actions can include and encompass a myriad of issues, including complicated financial matters such as the valuation of assets and tax implications of divorce, the division of assets, assignment of liabilities, and provisions for maintenance, and child support, other child-related expenses. Where children are involved, the allocation of parental responsibilities also must be addressed (custody). This includes decision-making with respect to significant decisions affecting the minor children; and parenting time (visitation).

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (Custody) and Parenting Time (Visitation)

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, formerly known as "custody," is a term that encompasses two essential issues:

  1. Decision-making: Significant decisions affecting a child's life can be made jointly between parents, or conversely, one parent can be allocated the significant decision-making authority for a child. In making a determination as to how decision-making authority will be allocated, the best interests of a child are of paramount concern.
  2. Parenting Time: This term refers to when a child spends time with each parent. Parenting time schedules can vary widely from case to case and should be determined based upon the best interests of the child and what works for each family.

Relocation (Removal)

In Illinois, if a parent wishes to move with a minor child to a location in excess of 25 miles from the child's current residence, there are specific legal requirements that must be met prior to any move, such as legal notice to the other parent of your intent to move. These requirements must be met if you intend to move with the child more than 25 miles away, even if your new home will still be in the State of Illinois.

Paternity

Parentage cases address the rights and obligations of parents who were never married to one another, but who have a child in common. Parentage actions can include the determination/establishment of paternity, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, child support and other child-related expenses.

Child Support

Child support is payment that one parent makes to the other to provide support for a child. Historically, child support in Illinois has been determined pursuant to statutory guidelines based on the number of children and the net income of the parent who is paying support. However, as of July 2017 Illinois has adopted an income-shares model for calculating child support. This approach utilizes economic data of estimated child rearing costs based in part, on the income level of the parents. Those estimated child rearing costs are then allocated between the parents based upon their respective net incomes. The revised child support guidelines also provide for an adjustment in shared parenting plans, where each parent has 40% or more of the parenting time with the child(ren).

Spousal Support (Maintenance)

Maintenance is payment that one spouse makes to the other in order to provide support for the spouse who is unable to support herself/himself after the marriage ends. In Illinois, the amount of maintenance awarded depends on many factors, including each party's ability to support themselves, as well as the lifestyle the family had during the marriage. In some cases, maintenance is determined pursuant to statutory guidelines. However, the statutory guidelines do not apply to all cases, so it is important to develop the appropriate strategy for your case to ensure proper determination of the amount, duration and intended tax consequences of maintenance payments.

Domestic Violence/Orders of Protection

An Order of Protection is a court order that prohibits an abuser from physical abuse, harassment, interfering with personal liberty, and other remedies. An Order of Protection can also prohibit an abuser from contacting the other party, coming to his or her residence, school, place of employment and the like. An OP is intended to keep victims of this type of abuse safe and is different from other court orders because a party can be immediately arrested by the police for violating this type of order.

Our attorneys have extensive training and experience in the area of domestic violence and orders of protection. We have a keen understanding of the level of complexity allegations of abuse can add to any family law related matter.

Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract entered into between parties before their marriage, that provides for what happens when their marriage ends, either by divorce or death of one of the spouses. A postnuptial agreement is much like a prenuptial agreement, except the parties enter into the agreed after they are married. Both types of agreements set forth each party's financial rights and obligations in the event their marriage ends. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can include wide ranging provisions to protect the financial interests of the parties, including, but not limited to terms terns regarding a spouse's right to receive maintenance, the characterization of property as marital or non-marital property, and the like. It is important to speak with an experienced attorney who can listen to the details of your situation and work with you to craft an agreement that protects your financial interests.

Enforcement

Issues can arise after a final judgment is entered where one of the parties does not comply with the terms of the judgment. It may be necessary for the other party to initiate enforcement proceedings in court in order to compel compliance with the court's judgment. Frequently, this includes filing a petition seeking to have the non-complying party held in contempt of court. It is important to seek advice of counsel as soon as possible after the non-compliance has occurred, in order to bring the matter to the court's attention.

Litigation and Negotiated Settlements

Most people contemplating a divorce hope to resolve the case amicably, and without having to go to court. In some cases, this can be achieved through a negotiated settlement between both parties and their respective attorneys. However, where the parties' respective settlement positions are too far apart to make settlement attainable, then issues in dispute must be determine by a judge. In some cases, litigation in the earlier stages of a case can set the stage for settlement down the road. It is common for some issues to be heard and decided by a judge early on in the case, before the final resolution of the case is achieved through settlement. In other case, the final resolution must be determined by the judge at a trial. Our attorneys are experienced negotiators and skilled trial attorneys. We work closely with our clients to achieve a final resolution in the case, whether that be through negotiated settlement with the other side, or through litigation, and ultimately trial.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative Divorce uses specially trained lawyers and other professionals to help the parties reach an out-of-court agreement without court involvement. Where both parties are committed to work together to solve problems jointly and to provide an open and honest exchange of information throughout the dissolution process, the collaborative model can be a very effective approach. This approach emphasizes cooperation between spouses with the help of an interdisciplinary team. Rinella and Rinella, Ltd. attorneys are trained in the collaborative process and can help you understand if this is the right approach for your family.

Appeals

Where a party is dissatisfied with the outcome of a trial or believes that the trial court made a mistake, a final judgment can be appealed to the appellate court for review. The appellate court reviews the record on appeal, which consists of all of the documents filed in the case at the trial court level (including petitions, motions, responses, orders, exhibits, etc.) as well as transcripts of testimony before the trial judge. No new evidence or testimony is submitted to the appellate court. The appeal process can be complex, and requires a skilled counsel who can prepare and review the record on appeal to determine the best way to present the written argument to the appellate court showing that the record on appeal supports his or her client's position. Generally, an appeal can only be made after the final judgment in a case is entered. However, there are some special circumstances where an order can be appealed while the case is pending. The attorneys at Rinella and Rinella, Ltd. are experienced appellate lawyers and represent parties wishing to appeal a judgment, as well as clients who are defending against an appeal.