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  • COVID-19 Court Disruptions

    We hope that you are staying healthy and calm in light of the COVID-19 virus. In order to protect the health and safety of the general public, the different Courthouses in our area – Cook, DuPage, Lake and Kane – are not currently in regular session and are only hearing cases of limited scope, such as emergency orders of protection. If your case is currently on the Court calendar between March 17 through April 15, it will be continued by Order of the Court.

    We assure you that the Law Office of Miriam Cooper & Associates, LLC remains open and fully focused on serving our clients. We will be able to conduct meetings by telephone and to work remotely on all matters during this time.

    If you have any questions regarding this message or if you would like additional information pertaining to your case, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

    We wish you and your families continued good health during this challenging time. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    You may read more about the disruptions at the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County.

  • Paying Child Support for an Adult Disabled Child

    Paying Child Support for an Adult Disabled Child

    People often think child support terminates once their child turns 18 and graduates from high
    school. For parents who have a child with a disability, this is not always the case.

    Section 513.5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) allows a court
    to order either or both parents to pay child support for an adult child who is mentally or
    physically disabled. The IMDMA defines a “disability” as a “mental or physical impairment that
    substantially limits a major life activity,” but fails to specify what exactly it means for a major life
    activity to be substantially limited. Although not specified in the statute, courts have looked at a
    person’s ability to care for oneself, including but not limited to seeking and maintaining
    employment, when determining whether an adult child is disabled for purposes of ordering
    support. Additionally, Illinois courts consider whether or not the child can live on his/her own; is
    capable of supporting his/herself; whether the child completed high school or is attending a
    college or trade school; and whether the child is eligible to receive benefits or aid from the
    federal or state government, such as social security disability benefits.

    Parents should take into account the effect a child support award can have on federal and/or
    state benefits such as social security disability benefits, which can be reduced. Professionals
    experienced in this area of law should be consulted before a court order is entered requiring
    either of the parents to contribute to the expenses of a non-minor child with a disability.
    Additionally, parents must be aware of the timing of when they seek a support award. The
    statute provides that the disability must have arisen while the child was eligible for support as a
    minor, and a court cannot order a parent to be responsible for expenses incurred prior to a
    petition/motion being filed. Therefore, a parent supporting an adult disabled child will want to file
    a petition or motion as soon as possible to ensure the other parent will be obligated to contribute
    to the expenses sooner rather than later.

    Courts will look at each parent’s financial ability to contribute to the expenses of the child when
    making such awards; this includes each parent’s current and future financial resources as well
    their own financial needs. Unlike child support for minor children, courts do not apply set
    guidelines. Rather, the totality of the circumstances must be assessed to determine what
    expenses the child has and what expenses both parents can afford.

    Although a court may order parents to contribute to their adult disabled child’s expenses, a court
    cannot award a parent parenting time or visitation with the child. Once a child reaches the age
    of majority, courts lose authority to decide issues regarding parenting time and visitation.

    Divorce and child support issues are often tricky on their own; adding in the complexity of
    support for an adult disabled child muddies the issues even more. Parents dealing with these
    issues should seek advice from a qualified attorney.

    by Brandy Wisher

  • 4 tips on how to explain divorce to young children

    sad children hugging his motherFor divorcing parents in Illinois, one of the most distressing and complicated issues that must be dealt with is how to tell the kids. Many divorce lawyers Chicago have seen the negative results that can come from parents who wait too long to tell their children about the divorce, leave out important information or simply ignore the process altogether. Most experts agree that divorce will have an impact on children, but the way that parents approach the subject and explain what is going on may improve the way that children react.

    1. Work together and plan ahead

    While many people who are splitting up may have a hard time collaborating, it is important to show a united front when explaining a divorce to children of all ages. Both parents do not need to speak, but both should be present and willing to participate. Planning the discussion together beforehand can help parents anticipate how they will answer some of the questions that may come up.

    2. Stick to the basics

    Talking about a divorce to children should not be like talking with divorce lawyers in Chicago. Most young children do not understand the language surrounding divorce cases, such as child custody, divorce settlements and other legal terms. Simple facts that give children the basics surrounding their parents’ divorce are enough information to aid in understanding.

    3. Avoid blame

    The reasons behind a divorce can be complex and difficult for adults to handle. Even if one parent is at fault, blame should be avoided when telling the children. Neutral language that explains the changes that are going on, rather than going into the details of why the parents are choosing to divorce, is often more helpful and less damaging for children. Many kids view themselves as an extension of their parents, so placing blame can seem like a put-down to a child.

    4. Focus on normalcy

    There are a lot of changes that children will face as their parents’ marriage comes to an end, and it can be hard to deal with so much adjustment. Rather than talking about visitation or other issues that may be scary, focus on the things that will stay the same. Expressing love and commitment to a child is much easier for them to understand and accept.

    Speaking with a child about a divorce is never easy, but doing so in a way that is well thought out can be effective in helping with the transitions that are inevitable. Many divorce lawyers in Chicago can provide guidance and advice for holding a successful discussion with children.


  • Discover if your spouse is hiding property with these 5 tips

    f1b8b678-e686-4e75-baf6-ab2ae45eeb22When going through a divorce in Illinois, one of the most complicated aspects of the process comes when a couple must divide their property. State law requires that all marital property be divided equitably, leaving each spouse with a fair share of the couple’s assets. However, some spouses have property that the other does not know about, or that they do not want divided by the courts. In these cases, one spouse may be left without access to large amounts of money, real property or other valuables that he or she has property rights to. Fortunately, there are ways to discover if a spouse has hidden assets, and to locate those items.

    1. Obtain access to bank accounts

    In many marriages, one spouse takes over control of paying bills and dealing with financial matters. While this may be convenient for some couples, it also leads to one spouse having full access to all bank accounts. Divorcing spouses should obtain passwords and information for all accounts in order to determine if the other spouse is hiding property in a fairly obvious location.

    2. Take time to read documents

    Spouses who are hiding assets often require the signature of the other spouse for documents such as tax returns or deeds. In order to keep assets hidden, the spouse needs the other to remain in the dark. Instead of signing a document without reading it through, perhaps because the spouse is acting pushy to complete the signing process, can lead to missed information about possible property.

    3. Ask for financial information

    It is important for both spouses to be aware of all financial information during the property division process. Spouses who suspect that their soon-to-be-ex is hiding property should ask for all financial documentation. It may not be possible to obtain this information without legal assistance, but some divorcing spouses may give it up when they feel the pressure.

    4. Conduct a public records search

    Any property that has not been disclosed may be discovered with a simple public records search. Looking under a spouse’s name or alias may turn up real property that was previously unknown to the other spouse.

    5. Utilize the legal system

    The divorce discovery process can provide a few methods of obtaining financial information with the help of the courts. An attorney can demand that a spouse produce financial information or answer written questions called “interrogatories.” If necessary, a spouse can even be ordered to provide testimony to compel compliance. If a spouse chooses to disobey a court order, the courts can impose monetary fines or other sanctions.