Divorce/ Dissolution of Marriage:
A large part of the practice of family law involves divorce (known in Illinois as “dissolution of marriage”). Handling a dissolution involves everything from initiating the proceedings to entry of a final judgment. It may include serving and responding to discovery, establishing temporary child support, negotiating a settlement, or conducting a hearing or trial when no agreement can be reached. Simpler cases involve parties who have already reached an agreement, and simply require an attorney to ensure that the agreement is properly drafted, filed, and finalized with the court. However, more complicated cases involve significant negotiation and/or litigation of the many issues that arise during a dissolution proceeding, including:
Rebecca Whitcombe has ten years of experience with all phases and issues involved in dissolution proceedings, and can guide you through every step of the process.
Child support issues arise in connection with both dissolution and parentage proceedings, and can be the subject of constant modification. Illinois law provides specific guidelines for calculating child support, but that calculation has its complications. For example, the calculation of a person’s “net income” for purposes of calculating child support is not the same of his or her “net income” for tax purposes. And if a person is self-employed, the calculation of his or her net income becomes even more complicated. Child support can be increased when the payor’s income increases, and can be decreased if the payor loses his job. And most importantly, too many parents simply fail to pay the child support they are ordered to pay, and the custodial parent will often have to seek the court’s intervention to enforce the other party’s child support obligation. Ms. Whitcombe encounters these and other issues on an almost daily basis, and has the knowledge and experience to address any issues that may arise.
Custody and visitation issues can arise in a number of ways – the initial determination of custody in a dissolution or parentage proceeding, the modification of custody as circumstances change and children grow older, or modifying custody based on the custodial parent’s desire to move out of the state of Illinois. Many custody disputes are resolved between the parties through mediation and/or negotiation. However, where no agreement can be reached, custody can become one of the most hotly-contested issues in a divorce or parentage proceeding. Ms. Whitcombe can assist in any aspect of such custody matters, and has even drafted (and won) two appeals during the course of her career regarding the removal of children from the State of Illinois.
What many people know as “alimony” is called maintenance in the state of Illinois – it is support paid by one party to another for his or her support. It can be temporary, permanent, rehabilitative, modifiable, or non-modifiable. The calculation and duration of maintenance is a complex issue, and is different in every case. Based upon her experience and knowledge, Ms. Whitcombe can advise clients regarding the likelihood of paying or receiving maintenance, as well as how much maintenance might be appropriate in any given case.
What many call “paternity” cases are referred to in Illinois as “parentage” cases (“paternity” was previously used to establish only the father’s rights; parentage proceedings can establish rights and obligations for either the mother or the father). Such cases are intended to establish a party’s rights as a parent when the parents were never married, or to establish and enforce a parent’s obligation to pay child support. Like dissolution cases, parentage cases involve a number of issues, including custody, visitation, child support, college expenses, and other issues relating to minor children. Ms. Whitcombe has significant experience dealing with parentage issues, whether simple or complicated, and is prepared to guide her clients through this process.
Adoptions are the cases that all family law practitioners love to take – they represent the kinder, gentler side of family law. While much of the practice of family law deals with families being torn apart, adoptions bring a new family together. Not only does Whitcombe Law, P.C. represent parents in adoption proceedings, but Ms. Whitcombe also serves as a guardian ad litem on behalf of the children being adopted.
Rebecca Whitcombe is approved in Lake County to represent children in connection with dissolution, parentage, and probate proceedings. This position allows her to ensure that the children’s best interests are being preserved when courts make determinations regarding custody, visitation, removal, adoptions, guardianships, and other similar issues. Generally speaking, representatives for children are appointed by the judge handling the case, not privately hired by one of the parties.
Premarital agreements (also known as “Prenuptial Agreements”) are intended to establish the rights and responsibilities of parties who intend to marry. While many view such agreements as “bad karma” when entering into a new marriage, many simply don’t understand the purpose and effect of a premarital agreement. For example, in addition to addressing issues upon the parties’ divorce, it also addresses issues that arise upon the death of either party. In order to ensure that such agreements are valid and enforceable, it is best for parties to hire an attorney who has experience in drafting, reviewing, and negotiating the terms of such agreements. Rebecca Whitcombe has extensive experience in drafting Premarital Agreements, and has served as a seminar speaker in connection with issues relating to Premarital Agreements (see “Publications and Lectures”).