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Frankfort Law Blog

Family law: what is the right of first refusal?

When Illinois and Indiana couples have a child in common but don't live together, it can be difficult to hash out visitation that is fair under the circumstances at hand. It can also be challenging to ensure that both parents are kept up-to-date about everything pertaining to the child. This often leaves parents afraid that they will be pushed out of their child's life. One thing that could help alleviate this concern, though, is the utilization of the right of first refusal.

The right of first refusal gives a parent the priority option to provide care for his or her child prior to the child's other parent seeking care from anyone else. Therefore, if a custodial parent wants to take a vacation and leave the child with the child's grandmother, then the noncustodial parent must first be contacted and refuse to assume care of the child before the child can be left with that grandparent. A child's parents can agree to this right of first refusal, but they don't have to.

Common questions about personal bankruptcies

There are a lot of questions that some people ask if they considering filing for bankruptcy. It is understandable since it is imperative that you have all the information possible when you are trying to make your decision.

If you are drowning in bills and don't see a way out, personal bankruptcy might be a viable option. Here are some common questions and their answers for you to peruse to determine if this is the right choice for you:

Facing child custody or visitation issues? Help is available

The marriage dissolution process is one that can be fraught with emotions. Property division can leave you feeling stressed out about your financial future, and so, too, can discussions regarding alimony. However, if you have children, then a significant amount of your focus will be on child custody and visitation arrangements. Although some Illinois and Indiana residents are able to resolve these issues in a fair and amicable way, others find themselves butting heads with their child's other parent.

When addressing child custody and visitation issues, it is important to remember that a court will base its decision on the best interests of the child. Therefore, if domestic violence, substance abuse or financial strain have an effect on the child's well-being, then a court may limit or eliminate the amount of time a child can spend in the household where those issues are present. This means that, regardless of which side of the dispute you are on, you need to be prepared to make strong legal arguments to support your position.

Personal bankruptcies amongst the elderly on the rise

Most of us think of our golden years, the years when we age into retirement, as a time of life that is defined by freedom from work, time constraints and financial obligations. The reality is far different, though. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project found that since 1991 the number of individuals age 65 and older has tripled.

What has caused this staggering increase? A number of factors. To start, many Baby Boomers are being hit with increased medical care costs that are significantly eating into their savings. Also, incomes have dwindled over the years and pensions have been replaced by riskier 401(k) plans. The average income for those elderly individuals who seek bankruptcy is just over $17,000. With such a small income it is easy to see how an expensive medical bill or an ongoing mortgage payment can eat into one's finances, making it difficult to get by.

Property division during the divorce process

Divorce, while sometimes emotionally ravaging, can also be financially devastating when not handled appropriately. This is often because property division and other financial matters, such as child support and alimony, are addressed during the marriage dissolution process. Property division can address a number of matters, too, including a marital home, bank and retirement accounts, pensions and personal property such as vehicles, jewelry and even the family dishes.

Illinois and Indiana attempt to divide marital property equitably, which does not always mean equally. While what constitutes "equitable" is always up for argument based on the circumstances at hand, so, too, can what qualifies as marital property.

Your parenting relationship directly impacts your children

Parents who are divorcing must learn how to navigate the new parenting relationship and they need to figure out how to help the children. This can be a challenging time for everyone involved. However, there are some ways that you can lessen the difficulties.

The most important thing is to remember that your children come first. The tension between you and your ex should be put aside to help the kids. While you can't control how the other parent handles things, you can control what you do.

Medicaid planning and the special needs trust

Although much of estate planning focuses on the distribution of assets upon an individual's death, part of that process is learning how best to protect those assets during an individual's life so that they can actually be passed down to heirs and beneficiaries. One threat to an estate's financial health is long-term care. The costs associated with long-term care can be exorbitant, leaving an estate severely damaged.

However, there are ways to engage in estate planning that seeks to reduce or even eliminate the damage caused by the need for long-term care. One step an individual can take to address this matter is piece together funding to satisfy the potential for any long-term care needs. Medicaid can help alleviate the financial burden associated with long-term care, but many individuals don't qualify to receive these benefits because their income is too high or their assets are too great. The same can hold true when assets are left to an individual who is currently receiving government benefits. Such an inheritance, if not handled properly, can suddenly render an individual disqualified from receiving the benefits he or she depended upon.

Discharging student loans through bankruptcy

A significant portion of the American population carries student loan debt. This debt is taken on in hopes of bettering one's self and increasing the chances that he or she will find a well-paying job in a field they enjoy. While some of these individuals are able to graduate or leave school with minimal debt that can be easily paid off, others find themselves struggling to make their monthly payments for years or even decades.

It may seem like escaping this debt is impossible, but it isn't. Although extremely challenging, it is possible to discharge student loan debt by utilizing the bankruptcy process. In order to do so, a bankruptcy petitioner must pursue either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and demonstrate that the student loan debt has created an "undue hardship."

Which debts can't be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Millions of Americans find themselves saddled with debt, oftentimes due to no fault of their own. Trying to find a way to get ahead of this debt can be an overwhelming task. Realistically, many are unable to do so even though they try for years, sometimes even decades to get caught up on past due payments. By waiting to fully address their financial hardship, individuals put themselves at risk of facing long-term financial difficulties and a significant financial toll that is often associated with the stressors of debt.

Although it is viewed negatively by some, bankruptcy is a very real debt relief option. Depending on which type of bankruptcy is pursued, an individual may be able to retain his or her most prized assets while eliminating debt. In other words, when successfully completed, bankruptcy can provide a once indebted individual with the fresh financial start he or she needs.

Substance abuse can justify child custody modification

If you've followed the news at all recently, then you are aware that there is an epidemic of opioid abuse that is taking the nation by hold. While those who abuse illegal and dangerous drugs like heroin can pose a danger to themselves, they can also put their children at risk of physical and emotional harm. To start with, children who live in homes where substance abuse occurs are more likely to be the victims of physical and sexual abuse. But even those children who are not victimized can be negatively affected by witnessing instances of violence within the home.

Children with parents who abuse drugs can be affected in other ways, too. For example, because their parent's behavior is often unpredictable, a child of a substance abuser may develop mistrust not only of his or her parent but of other adults too. This, in turn, may lead to poor school performance and aggressiveness toward authority figures. These children may also develop a sense of shame about their parent's problem. He or she may also place the blame for the parent's substance abuse on him or herself. Fear, confusion and insecurity can also be present in these children.

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