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Areas of Practice

The Law Office of Berry Tucker is proud to provide services in these areas:



Divorce & Family Law

Estate Planning / Wills & Trusts

Real Estate

Personal Injury

Elder Law

Medical Malpractice

Experienced Family and Divorce Lawyers in Oak Lawn, IL and Southwest Chicago Area

Not Just Legal Advice – A Partnership to Share Your Vision

The family divorce lawyers of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. has over 50 years of experience in a number of legal matters, including but not limited to: family law, divorce law, child custody, personal injury, real estate, bankruptcy, medical malpractice, and more in Oak Lawn, IL and the surrounding southwest Chicago area. Our private practice has allowed us to give clients the most undivided attention, applying years of experience and knowledge of current law to unique cases. At Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd., you can expect complete attention, commitment, and assertion from our experienced family and divorce attorneys.

Divorce Law

When it comes to divorce law in Oak Lawn, IL, nobody knows this are of practice like our attorneys. Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. takes divorce law matters very seriously, handling each case with care and attention to detail while asserting the needs and rights of our clients. Within our divorce law services, we handle all of the following: Pre- and post-nuptial agreements, alimony, child custody and support, domestic violence, visitation, division of property, and post-decree issues. With our experience and resources, we will ensure that your rights are heard to negotiate the solution that is most favorable to you.

Child Custody and Support

Many states will automatically favor joint custody for divorcing couples, and Illinois is one of them. This will quickly make the fight for time with your child stressful if an agreement can’t be made outside of the court. But the child custody and support lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. in Oak Lawn will ensure that your parental rights and responsibilities are heard, fighting for both your and their best interest.

Personal Injury Attorneys

As an established law firm in Oak Lawn, our personal injury attorneys have experience with a broad range of accident cases in the Southwest Chicago area. Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. understands the pain and suffering as a result of other’s wrongdoing and/or negligence, which is why we will use an assertive approach to advocate your rights. Regardless of the type of injury you have suffered, our lawyers will commit themselves to get you the compensation you deserve.

Real Estate Lawyers

From first-time sellers and buyers to experienced property investors, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. in Oak Lawn can provide keen insight to both buying and selling real estate transactions. Our real estate attorneys focus on efficiency, communication, and diligence in order to attain the best solution for both the client and real estate agent. We are also currently offering a $195 special on typical single family sales transactions!

Bankruptcy Attorneys

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. can help you determine whether or not this is the right path for you. Our Oak Lawn bankruptcy attorneys have assisted clients who have been struggling with debt for a number of reasons, including divorce, hospital bills, credit cards, foreclosures, and more. We can help you climb out of this financial turmoil by educating and guiding you through the option that works best for you.

**Please note that the following is subject to withdrawal without notice; terms and conditions apply. Please talk to our office for a specific quote.


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Latest News

May 21, 2024Older adults may be frail or live with disabling chronic conditions, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Being in a vulnerable condition makes them susceptible to elder abuse. But caregivers who are wrongly accused of abusing a senior must know their legal rights and the actions to take to protect themselves. Home Caregivers are tasked with a demanding job: providing quality care to an elderly individual, oftentimes for several hours a day, over months or years. They can be fraught with anger, frustration, and exhaustion. Caregivers who are burned out might resort to abusing or neglecting the care recipient. What are Types of Elder Abuse? Abuse may take place in the senior’s home by family members, friends, or hired caregivers. It is not uncommon for nursing home staff to be accused of elder abuse. In fact, nursing homes run rampant with physical, sexual, and emotional abuses as well as neglect of residents’ basic needs. Physical Abuse A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 9 percent of nursing home staff admitted to physically assaulting an elderly resident. Examples of physical abuse include kicking or punching, restraining the senior with straps, and shoving the older adult. Seniors who undergo physical abuse in these facilities endure broken bones, bruises, and bleeding. Without proper medical attention, abuse victims suffer serious injuries or even death. Elder abuse also assumes other forms, such as medication errors, malnutrition, and ignoring residents’ complaints. Emotional Abuse Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are outcomes of emotional abuse. Examples include insulting the senior’s appearance, threatening the older individual, and isolating the senior from loved ones. A senior who undergoes emotional abuse experiences changes to their mood or behavior. Financial Abuse Financial abuse can be committed by members of the senior’s social circle, such as friends, family members, or caregivers. Types of financial abuse include manipulating bank accounts, inheritance fraud, using the senior’s credit card, taking out a second mortgage in their name, and withholding their financial resources. Do Misunderstandings and False Accusations Occur? While clear neglect and other forms of elder abuse are serious crimes that warrant second-degree felony charges, sometimes caregivers, friends, or family members are falsely accused of elder abuse. Misunderstandings or a senior’s dementia can put caregivers at risk of being wrongly accused. For example, a family member who notices black-and-blue bruises on a senior’s arm may suspect a caregiver has intentionally physically abused them—although the injuries resulted from an accidental trip and fall. In this case, the older adult’s injuries are not due to neglect but an accident. Dementia and mental health conditions may cause an elderly patient to point fingers when no crime has been committed. Due to the confusion associated with dementia, a senior may honestly believe they have been a victim of elder abuse when misconduct did not actually occur. Family members themselves may become tangled in squabbles about receiving monetary gifts or a larger share of the senior’s estate. False accusations of financial elder abuse fly. The adult children may accuse siblings or relatives of stealing money or property from the aging parent. Why are Wrongful Accusations Significant? Wrongful accusations are damaging, as they destroy the caregiver’s reputation. They can lead to criminal charges, jail time and fines, and strain relationships. Due to the serious repercussions, caregivers who have done nothing wrong should understand their legal rights and protect themselves. When an individual files a complaint to law enforcement about elder abuse, the authorities will investigate. If appropriate, an arrest is made and criminal charges are brought. A trial begins if the prosecutor files charges. A prison sentence of up to 15 years follows upon conviction. Knowingly filing a false claim of elder abuse comes with legal consequences. The individual is faced with a third-degree felony charge. If convicted, the penalties include prison time or hefty fines. The Department of Children and Family Services may fine the accuser up to $10,000 for false accusations. What Legal Recourse Do the Falsely Accused Have? The resulting damage to reputation and lost income from false accusations of elder abuse should prompt the wrongly accused to take immediate legal action. A civil lawsuit against the accuser can lead to compensation. A lawsuit requires the services of a qualified and experienced attorney. A criminal defense attorney is positioned to help the wrongly accused navigate the complex legal processes and build a defense that restores their client’s reputation. The legal professional can also show that the accused’s actions do not meet the criteria for elder abuse. A powerful legal defense is critical when someone makes false allegations and presents evidence in court that makes the wrongly accused appear guilty. The legal team examines the evidence and aggressively defends the falsely accused, thereby taking control of the issue. Work With Elder Law Attorney in Illinois Elder abuse is an unfortunate reality. However, individuals might be wrongly accused of crimes. When you face a false allegation of elder abuse, the competent legal team at Berry K Tucker & Associates is ready to listen to your story, prepare a strong defense, and bring about justice. Our elder law attorneys are experienced in fulfilling the diverse legal needs of seniors. We handle a vast array of cases, representing the elderly involved in disputes about nursing homes and assisted living. Our comprehensive legal services include end-of-life planning, estate planning, and guardianship. At Berry K Tucker & Associates, we possess the knowledge and experience to meet the unique needs of seniors. Our compassionate approach ensures that our clients understand all of their legal options, especially when they face tough decisions, like end-of-life planning and health care decision planning. Whether you are falsely accused of elder abuse or must plan for the future, the elder law attorneys at Berry K Tucker & Associates provide the legal support you need. Our firm accepts clients in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and the neighboring areas. Call our law firm for dedicated legal help at 708.425.9530. [...]
April 25, 2024In Illinois, the process of obtaining a divorce typically ranges from a minimum of six months to a maximum of two years. However, the exact duration varies based on numerous factors, including whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the complexity of financial matters, and the workload of the local court system. Understanding the legal procedures involved and considering your specific circumstances can provide insight into the expected timeline for your divorce. Understanding Divorce in Illinois In Illinois, the process of divorce begins with one spouse filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court in the county where either spouse resides. This petition outlines the grounds for divorce, which typically revolve around irreconcilable differences. After filing, the other spouse must be served with a copy of the petition, initiating the legal proceedings. Illinois follows a “no-fault” divorce system, meaning fault or wrongdoing does not need to be proven for the divorce to proceed. Instead, the focus is on resolving issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody if applicable. Throughout the process, both spouses are required to disclose financial information and participate in negotiations to reach agreements on these matters. If agreements cannot be reached through negotiation, mediation or a trial may be necessary to resolve contested issues. Once all matters are resolved, a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is entered by the court, officially terminating the marriage. What is Contested Divorce? A contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot agree on one or more key issues related to the divorce, such as child custody, division of assets, spousal support, or any other significant matter. In a contested divorce, the spouses may disagree on various aspects of the divorce settlement, leading to negotiations, mediation, or even litigation to resolve the disputes. Contested divorces typically last around a year on average. One reason for this duration is the mandatory six-month waiting period required to establish grounds for divorce. However, the primary factor contributing to the length of a contested divorce is often the challenge of reaching a settlement agreement between the parties. Learn: How to Handle a Contested Divorce? What is Uncontested Divorce? An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses are in agreement on all key aspects of the divorce, including issues such as child custody, division of assets, spousal support, and any other relevant matters. In an uncontested divorce, there is no dispute or disagreement between the spouses regarding the terms of the divorce settlement. This typically results in a smoother and quicker divorce process since there is no need for extensive negotiations, mediation, or court proceedings to resolve conflicts. Instead, the spouses can submit a joint petition or agreement to the court outlining their agreed-upon terms, making the divorce process more straightforward and efficient. An easy uncontested divorce can wrap up in just two months when both spouses agree on everything. Common Reasons That Could Lead to Divorce Delays A divorce involves various complexities, and delays can arise from a multitude of reasons. Let’s understand some of the common reasons behind these delays: Hard-To-Solve Conflicts: When spouses cannot find common ground on essential matters like child custody, asset division, or spousal support, the divorce process can stall as negotiations or court proceedings become necessary to resolve conflicts. Complex Legal Issues: If a couple’s financial situation is tangled up in businesses, investments, or other complicated assets, it takes time to untangle everything. Lawyers need to dig deep, crunch numbers, and figure out what’s fair. This complexity can stretch out the divorce process as everyone tries to make sure they’re getting a fair shake. Court Clog: Backlogs in court schedules can lead to delays in setting hearings or trials, with priority often given to urgent cases, causing routine divorce proceedings to be postponed. Discovery Challenges: The exchange of necessary documents and information during the discovery phase may encounter delays if parties are slow to provide requested materials or disputes arise over the scope of disclosure. Negotiation Hurdles: While seeking settlements through mediation or negotiation can expedite the process, reaching agreements may take time, especially when addressing contentious issues that require careful resolution. Jurisdictional Disputes: Disagreements over jurisdiction or venue, particularly in cases involving spouses residing in different locations, must be resolved before proceedings can move forward in the appropriate court. Interim Arrangements: Temporary orders for child custody, support, or other matters may be sought during contested divorces, leading to delays as parties negotiate or contest these interim measures. What Are Some Legal Options Available to Speed up the Divorce Process? There are a few legal options to make the divorce process faster. Couples can consider an uncontested divorce if they agree on everything, like how to split assets and handle custody and support. This way, there’s less need for court involvement, which saves time and money. Another route is mediation or collaborative divorce, where a neutral person helps them negotiate and find solutions together. These methods focus on cooperation and can lead to quicker resolutions. Also, getting temporary orders for important issues like child custody can bring clarity and stability while waiting for the divorce to finalize, reducing delays from ongoing conflicts. When filing a divorce in Illinois, you need to know how to file a divorce legally with right steps. Get Legal Help in Illinois If you’re thinking about divorce and you’re in the southwest Chicago suburbs, you should definitely get in touch with Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our team has more than 50 years of combined experience in family law, and we’ve handled all sorts of cases. We’ve worked with both men and women, making sure to find solutions that really work for them. Plus, we’re always up to date on any changes in the law, so you can trust us to handle asset and property division effectively. We also have experience in handling all sorts of cases like child custody, business or any other kind of property or financial asset. To schedule an initial consultation with one of our divorce attorneys, contact Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. at (708) 425-9530. We look forward to working with you soon! [...]
March 19, 2024Summary: Discovering signs your partner might want a divorce is essential. Look out for changes in communication, intimacy, and behavior, such as increased arguments, emotional distance, or secretive behavior. This awareness helps you decide whether to work on saving your marriage or prepare for divorce. Marriage is a journey filled with highs and lows, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, relationships may reach a point where divorce seems like the only option. While the decision to end a marriage is never easy, it’s essential to recognize the signs that indicate your partner may be considering divorce. By understanding these signs early on, you can take proactive steps to address issues and potentially salvage your relationship. In this article, we’ll explore 9 common signs that your partner may want a divorce and offer insights on how to navigate this challenging situation. 9 Signs Tell You That Can Lead to Divorce With Your Partner 1. Unable to Resolve Problems In a healthy marriage, partners work together as a team to address challenges and solve problems collaboratively. However, if your partner consistently blames you for issues in the relationship without taking any responsibility themselves, and if they demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to engage in constructive problem-solving discussions, it’s a concerning sign. Blaming can create a defensive atmosphere where genuine communication and resolution become nearly impossible. Similarly, if your attempts to address problems are met with avoidance, deflection, or outright refusal to engage in dialogue, it can indicate deeper issues at play. Pay attention to patterns of communication where problems are swept under the rug or left unresolved, leading to a buildup of resentment and frustration. Addressing these dynamics requires both partners to commit to open and honest communication, taking responsibility for their actions, and actively working towards finding mutually acceptable solutions. If your partner consistently deflects blame and avoids problem-solving, it may signal a deeper disconnect in the relationship that needs to be addressed with honesty and compassion. 2. Emotional Disengagement Caring for each other is fundamental to the success of any marriage. It serves as the glue that binds partners together through life’s challenges and joys. However, when emotional distance begins to grow between partners, it poses a significant threat to the relationship’s stability. This emotional gap can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and a gradual erosion of the bond that once united the couple. Research suggests that the longer this emotional distance persists, the higher the likelihood that the marriage is heading towards trouble. Couples experiencing such disconnection often describe feeling as though they have “fallen out of love” or simply stopped caring for one another. These sentiments are frequently cited by divorcing couples as key factors contributing to their decision to separate. Signs of emotional distance may include a lack of interest in each other’s lives, diminished displays of affection, and a decline in meaningful communication. Partners may find themselves living parallel lives, sharing the same space but feeling emotionally distant from one another. Over time, this disconnection can breed resentment, frustration, and a sense of being unfulfilled in the relationship.  3. Lack of Attention to the Marriage Marriages require constant attention. If either one of you works 60+ hours a week to pay bills while the other is at home with the kids all day, the end results won’t be good. If the couple also gets into a fight, one of you may feel less inclined to go home right away and accept an invitation to go out for a drink after work. What comes after that will surely only hurt the marriage. 4. They Care More About their Appearance All of a Sudden A notable sign that a spouse may be contemplating divorce is a sudden and significant emphasis on personal appearance. When individuals are preparing to re-enter the dating scene or seek independence, they often make concerted efforts to enhance their physical appearance. You may observe them dressing more stylishly, adhering to a regular exercise regimen, updating their wardrobe, adopting healthier eating habits, getting a trendy haircut, or exploring other avenues to enhance their attractiveness. For women who typically remain at home and are contemplating divorce, this shift in focus on appearance may extend beyond aesthetics. It could signify a broader desire to regain autonomy and financial independence. In such cases, you might notice them actively seeking employment opportunities as a means to broaden their social circle, assert their independence, and accumulate financial resources to facilitate a potential transition out of the marriage. This sudden preoccupation with appearance and professional pursuits often serves as a coping mechanism or a strategy to lay the groundwork for life beyond the marriage. While these changes may seem innocuous on the surface, they can signal deeper underlying issues within the relationship that merit exploration and open communication 5. Financial Problems Sometimes, couples have different ways of dealing with money. One person might like to save, while the other prefers spending. This can cause problems, even if everything else in the relationship seems fine. They might have separate bank accounts, but dividing up the money and bills can be tricky. When couples don’t agree on money matters, it can make talking to each other hard. They might argue about things like how much to spend and save, which can make them feel upset with each other. Financial problems could be a sign that a couple might be headed for divorce. When money becomes a big issue in the relationship, it can lead to more arguments and stress. Sometimes, one person might not tell the truth about money. They might hide how much they earn or spend. This can hurt trust and make it even tougher to fix money problems together. It’s really important for couples to talk openly about money. They should share what they want to do with their money and listen to each other’s ideas. Making a budget together and checking their spending regularly can help them work as a team. 6. No Communication When it’s hard to talk to each other in a relationship, it’s like ignoring a little crack that could become a big problem later. Avoiding fights might feel like a quick fix, but it doesn’t solve the real issues. Not being able to talk suggests there are bigger problems. Both partners might just keep quiet instead of dealing with tough stuff. But this silence doesn’t really help; it just shows there’s something wrong. By not talking, couples miss chances to understand each other and solve problems. This can lead to bad feelings building up between them. Staying in a relationship just to avoid divorce or being alone isn’t fair to either person. It stops them from finding happiness and growing together. Talking openly and honestly is key to making a relationship work. Even if it’s hard, addressing problems openly helps both people move forward. 7. Being Disrespectful Losing respect for one another is a sure sign that the marriage is in trouble. Simply not listening, showing empathy, or disregarding anything involved in eachother’s lives just means trouble. Once a marriage hits this point, it will take a lot of work on both ends to resolve the issue. Many end up in divorce. 8. Lying to Your Spouse When lies become part of a marriage, rebuilding trust can be an uphill battle for both partners. Without open and honest communication, the relationship is at risk of heading towards divorce sooner rather than later. Additionally, dishonesty often goes hand in hand with adultery, further weakening the marital bond. Unfortunately, the internet offers numerous opportunities for deceit. Dating platforms provide an easy way for spouses to seek romantic connections outside of their marriage without their partner’s knowledge. This secretive behavior undermines trust and intimacy, leading to feelings of betrayal and resentment. Overcoming dishonesty in a marriage requires a commitment from both spouses to transparency and honesty. Rebuilding trust involves acknowledging past deceit, engaging in open discussions, and demonstrating a genuine dedication to honesty moving forward. Without these crucial steps, the marriage may face irreparable damage and eventual dissolution. 9. Never Listening When your spouse shares something important or troubling, do you truly listen? Many women rely on talking as a way to work through their issues, seeking support and understanding from their partner. However, if you consistently fail to listen, they may stop confiding in you altogether, leading to feelings of neglect and disconnection. Moreover, if you respond by offering advice rather than actively listening, it can further discourage them from sharing their concerns in the future. This breakdown in communication can erode trust and intimacy within the relationship, ultimately jeopardizing its stability and longevity. To foster a strong and healthy connection, it’s crucial to prioritize active listening and empathy, allowing your partner to feel heard and valued in the relationship. Other Possible Signs of Divorce are as Follows: Constant fighting Contemplating separation Seeking legal information Missing initimacy Avoiding future plans Unwillingly to work on the relationship What is a Miserable Husband Syndrome? “Miserable Husband Syndrome” describes a situation where husbands feel consistently unhappy and dissatisfied in their marriage or personal life. This term reflects the emotional challenges that some men encounter due to factors like relationship conflicts, work stress, financial worries, or personal insecurities. Symptoms may include irritability, withdrawal, depression, or engaging in harmful behaviors. What is the Walkaway Wife Syndrome? The “Walkaway Wife Syndrome” describes a situation where wives unexpectedly end their marriages without prior signs of discontent. It reflects the experience of women who reach a point of emotional detachment or exhaustion within their marriage, leading them to make the decision to leave. Factors contributing to this syndrome may include unmet emotional needs, communication breakdowns, unresolved conflicts, or feelings of loneliness. This decision typically arises after prolonged feelings of frustration and distress, highlighting the importance of addressing relationship issues proactively to prevent such outcomes. Are They Really Considering a Divorce? There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, and chances are one of these signs has come up in yours. But experiencing too many of the signs above are the perfect ingredients for a failing marriage. In this case, it’s crucial to reach out to your partner about your differences. Otherwise you may be left wondering if they really are considering divorce and it will only leave you frustrated in the long run. If you or your partner is showing these signs and are thinking of a divorce, here’s how you can be prepared and plan your divorce. Divorce Planning Tips Get Your Papers: Collect important documents like bank statements and tax returns. Talk to a Lawyer: Get advice from a family law attorney to understand your options. Lean on Others: Surround yourself with supportive people who can help you through tough times. Try Mediation: Consider mediation to make the divorce process smoother. Take Care of Yourself: Focus on self-care and seek support if you’re struggling emotionally. To Know More, Read: Essential Tips When Planning a Divorce Work with a Divorce Attorney While some marriages can be saved, it may be in the best interest of others for both of you to go your separate ways. If you feel that divorce is the best solution in your case or your spouse has presented you with divorce, it’s important to reach out to a family attorney. An attorney that is experienced can allow the process to run efficiently and effectively for both sides. As they have been through the process many times, they can help you to divide your assets and property with minimal interruption. Many law firms also assist in child custody, allowing you to keep attorney fees efficient and save time in the divorce process. Read: Tips for Filing a Divorce in Illinois Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. If you are considering a divorce and live in the southwest Chicago suburbs, reach out to the divorce attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our lawyers have over 50 years of combined legal experience and have assisted in a number of diverse cases. We have worked with both men and women when it comes to resolving their case, establishing a solution that works in their best interest. Our attorneys also ensure to stay updated in all changes to the law, allowing us the greatest chance of effectively dividing assets and property. Schedule a Consultation To schedule an initial consultation with one of our divorce attorneys, contact Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. at (708) 425-9530. We look forward to working with you soon! [...]
February 13, 2024Income Cuts, Mortgage Debt and Medical Fees are the main reasons why people face bankruptcy Keeping up with bills can be difficult, especially if you’re months behind. While deadline extensions are limited, there is another option that’s available: filing for bankruptcy. But before making any quick decisions, it’s important to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to make sure that it’s the right move for you. When it comes to filing bankruptcy, Chapters 7 and 13 are among the most common. Most Common Causes of Bankruptcy 1. Medical Debt Due to the increase in medical care costs, it’s becoming increasingly harder for patients to keep up with their bills. In fact, much of this care has left Americans with additional costs they didn’t anticipate. According to a Harvard study, 62 percent of all bankruptcies have been spurred by medical debt. 2. Loss of Income The second biggest cause of bankruptcy includes either a loss or significant decrease in income. As many as 22 percent of all cases are due to unemployment. Without the necessary funds, people will use their credit cards – often with high interest rates – to provide temporary relief. But long term, they are digging themselves into a deeper hole. Aside from unemployment, decreased hours can still lead to other financial problems, like legal fees, divorce, student loans, mortgage, and any other large expenses. A bankruptcy attorney can also help to provide guidance out of debt. 3. Credit Card Debt, Mortgage, and Other Debts Another common reason that Americans file for bankruptcy includes credit card debt, mortgage, and other major expenses. While it can create major financial problems, much of this is caused  by uncontrollable spending. It’s often the case that many credit unions and banks are too eager to lend out the money with the expectation that they would be paid back with high interest rates. But credit card and mortgage debt is also a problem that can be relieved with the help of a bankruptcy attorney. However, it’s not common that many Americans seek the help of an attorney. 4. Legal Fees Believe it or not, legal feels accounts for about 8 percent of bankruptcy cases. These fees can include anything from child support payments to alimony. The hard part is that these fees cannot be “written off” with bankruptcy, however, others can, which allows the filer to focus on paying these fees. 5. Natural Disasters If you have ever experienced a tornado, fire, flood, or any other kind of disaster, you’ll know well that they are expensive. Especially if your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover the expense or you don’t have insurance, you’ll find yourself quickly buried in restoration bills. On the other side, almost all homeowner’s insurance policies cover disaster cases. Just be ready to pay the deductible, which may also be significant, depending on your policy. Least Common Causes of Bankruptcy You may be surprised that these reasons even constitute for bankruptcy. But while they are rare, they still happen and it’s important to be aware of them. 1. Foreclosure Many Americans love their home so much that they file for bankruptcy to prevent foreclosure. In the process, they can also alleviate some of their other debts so they can catch up on their mortgage payments. So in many cases filing for bankruptcy to alleviate multiple accounts of debt can be the best option. 2. No Structured Financial Plan While the number of Americans that file for this reason is low, it includes those that have set no budget or boundaries for themselves. In these cases, uncontrollable spending will quickly send people into financial distress. 3. Utility Bills You might be surprised but utility bills account for 1 percent of all bankruptcy cases, including electricity, gas, trash, and water. For bills so inexpensive, some people do not consider these a priority, thus, letting them pile up while they pay the minimum charge to keep everything running. For some, filing for bankruptcy can provide them with a “fresh start” to catch up on their living expenses. 4. Student Loans With college tuition already sky high, it may seem shocking that only 1 percent of Americans file for bankruptcy. But the reason for this is because student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy (or else everyone would be doing it). On the other hand, few people do in order to eliminate or restructure other debts so they can catch up on their student loan payments. 5. Car Repossession The last reason for bankruptcy includes the reason to avoid car repossession. With as many as 3 missed payments, the creditor can easily take the car away. But as soon as you file for bankruptcy, they must return your car as well as any other property that was taken. 6. Divorce When a couple splits up, it’s not just emotions that suffer—finances can take a hit too. One big reason is that during divorce, debts and assets get divided. Sometimes, one partner ends up with way more debt than they can handle alone. 7. Overspending: With prices going up, managing money is trickier than ever. It’s not just about knowing inflation’s effects; it’s about budgeting smart and being careful with spending. Sadly, many people struggle because they don’t budget well and spend too much. This leads to debt piling up and financial stress getting worse. Life After Bankruptcy Filing for bankruptcy can feel like a failure at first, but afterwards, it can be such a relief to get rid of all that debt. Simply working with a bankruptcy attorney cannot only lead you to a “fresh start” long term, but also provide immediate relief like prevent foreclosure and repossession. After all, you need a place to stay and means of transportation to work and pay for these expenses. So if you are worried that you might lose these things in the near future, filing for bankruptcy can stop this process, even allowing you to keep more than you think. Work with a Bankruptcy Attorney Financial turmoil is depressing and can easily lead to other problems like divorce due to arguments caused by financial distress. If you are contemplating declaring bankruptcy, be sure to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to make sure that this is the right step for you. If you live near the southwest Chicago, IL area, contact the attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our attorneys are not only experienced but stay updated on all current laws. They have also worked in a number of diverse cases, you can feel comfortable as they guide you to make the best financial decision. When working with our bankruptcy attorneys, they will answer all of your questions, provide legal advice that is tailored to your unique situation, help filling out all documents, and provide deadline reminders. Schedule a Consultation To speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd., contact us directly at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form. We will be in touch with you shortly! [...]
January 10, 2024As marriage rates decline and rates of births outside of marriage rise, single parenthood in the U.S. is increasing. While mothers have certain rights, fathers, too, have access to their share of rights. Family law has evolved over the decades, giving fathers the same constitutional rights as mothers. These rights include making decisions about the children and spending time with them. In Illinois, fathers are awarded equal parenting time and share decision-making authority. In fact, the state created a law that acknowledges the rights of fathers. The Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 recognizes the right of children to receive the physical, emotional, and monetary support of their parents, regardless of their parents’ marital status. The importance of fathers playing an active role in their children’s lives cannot be underestimated. While mothers have long been viewed as being nurturing caregivers, capable supporters, and strong providers, the role of fathers and father figures is just as critical. Numerous studies conducted on fatherhood show that children whose fathers are involved or supportive tend to perform better academically. Social and language development are also easier for these children. Similar to mothers, fathers can be capable caregivers and effective disciplinarians. What is the importance of establishing paternity? Paternity means being a legal father. While the legal father is normally considered to be the biological father, this is not always the case. A father can adopt a child and become the legal father, just as one who has rights through a valid surrogacy agreement. Establishing paternity is important for fathers who wish to be involved with their children. Rights, privileges, and responsibilities come with establishing paternity early on. Delays in establishing paternity can lead to accusations that the father is uncaring or financial support being owed. Paternity also gives the legal father the right to specific information about the children, such as medical care and school performance. By failing to establish paternity, a father could miss out on opportunities to guide and protect the children or otherwise parent them. What are the rights of a father? Upon the confirmation of paternity, a father may be granted certain rights under Illinois family law. Particularly, the father may seek custody and visitation rights, which are now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, respectively. Not all parents contribute equally to the care of their children. Parenting time may be scheduled based on variable factors, such as how much time the parents wish to spend with their children and a history of the parents’ level of involvement with their children. A father may gain greater parenting time if, upon examination of past behavior, the judge finds evidence showing how involved the father was. If a father wants to spend more time with his children, his past efforts to do so will influence the judge regarding future opportunities for parenting time. If a mother attempts to prevent the father from spending time with the children but the father tries to be involved, it can sway a judge’s decision in favor of the father. The judge will primarily gauge the past efforts of the father when determining a parenting schedule. It is a sad fact that a mother with whom the children live may outrightly refuse to allow the father to visit his children. Such a parent may allow or disallow access to the child based on the conveniences of her schedule or as a way to leverage financial support. A court can intervene, however, and give the father parenting time with his children. The exception is when the mother expresses verified concerns about the safety and well-being of the children when in the father’s care. In such cases, parenting time may be supervised by a relative or professional. Parenting schedules are determined after the judge evaluates the fitness of both the mother and father, their co-parenting time and their past involvement with the children. It is possible that the father can be awarded the majority of parenting time with the children. Overall, Illinois courts give importance to giving both parents regular opportunities to spend time with their children. The reality is that Illinois fathers who want parenting time with their children will receive it under the laws of the state, unless the father poses as a safety risk to the children. Once the courts are involved, the judge will ensure that both parents will spend time with their children, and neither will be able to exclude the other parent from the children’s lives. The goal of the courts is to encourage a meaningful relationship between the children and both parents. Fathers may also have the right to receive child support. The law gives equal importance to both parents, meaning they share parental responsibilities and, if appropriate, child support payments. A child support agreement may be reached with the help of a father’s rights attorney. Call us to Learn Your Rights a s a Father Children benefit significantly when both parents are involved in their upbringing. However, fathers may have a bigger uphill battle when seeking visitation rights and the opportunity to make decisions in their children’s lives. It’s important to consult the attorneys at Berry K Tucker & Associates when this occurs. We are a family law firm with a team of father’s rights attorneys who are experienced in providing legal assistance to fathers who are underrepresented. Once you establish paternity, our lawyers will help you address any legal concerns regarding the relationship with your children. Our father’s rights attorneys will fight for your rights for visitation, high child support payments, child custody, and overreaching child enforcement actions. Fathers who already play a significant role in the well-being and development of their children will make it easier for the courts to grant further rights. The family law attorneys at Berry K Tucker & Associates are committed to defending the rights of fathers and ensuring they have rightful access to their children. When you seek expert legal guidance, consult our law firm. We support fathers in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Call today to schedule an appointment. [...]
December 19, 2023While marriages are meant to last forever, they don’t always do. Each state will have different legal requirements for finalizing a divorce, but this article will highlight the general steps of where to start, how to prepare for your court hearing, and how to finalize it. Just keep in mind that all cases are unique and it would be a good idea to work with an experienced family attorney to guide you through the process. They will be able to address your specific situation and guide you to make the best legal decisions throughout the process. Preparing for Divorce As mentioned previously, working with an attorney through the divorce can make things a lot easier and will help you fight for what is most important to you. They will be able to foresee specific factors that will affect your case and even know what is favored and disfavored by the judge after working with them in previous cases. The family attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are experienced in all areas of family law, including divorce, child custody, parental responsibilities (child support), alimony, property division, and more. They will be able to help with you with as much or as little assistance as you need, including the following: Initial consultation Providing legal advice Informing you which laws will apply to your case Guiding you throughout the divorce process Make Sure You Qualify to File for Divorce In order to file for divorce in the state of Illinois, you must have lived here for at least 90 days. You must also adhere to the following: Both parties must agree to the divorce and agree that there is nothing more that can be done to save the marriage, despite making all efforts to solve the problems after 6 months. Live separately from your spouse for at least 2 years if your spouse does not agree to the divorce. Know the Law, Conditions, and Standards While your divorce attorney will advise you to read up on the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5, discussing child custody, support, and property division. This document will prepare you for the presumptions and preferences the judge has to make as well as using proper terminology, including: Determine child custody according to the child’s best interest. Determine child support on the number of children under 18 and a percentage of the payer’s net income. Determine the division of property assets, unless you and your spouse have already agreed beforehand. Select the Court to Process the Divorce As each county will have its own court system, choosing which one to file will have an impact on the results of your case. If you and your spouse have been living together up until the time of divorce, it is best to pick the court in your own county. Otherwise, file in the county in which your spouse lives to ensure that they will be able to order support from him or her. Finding and Completing All Forms While Illinois Legal Aid provides some simple forms to fill out, there are a number of documents to read over and sign. Your divorce attorney can also help with this process, or feel free to use your local self-help center. But it is crucial that you understand the significance of these documents and what you agree to as they outline your future after finalizing the divorce. Getting Ready to File for Divorce After completing all necessary forms for your case, you will need to sign the notary boxes in front of a notary. The courthouses will usually have one on staff or allow a deputy clerk to notarize them. If this is not the case, other approved services include check-cashing services, such as a bank, or your attorney’s office. Just remember to make four copies of each document. Identify Common Roadblocks Because Illinois is an equitable distribution state, you and your spouse will need to agree to a property settlement. The judge will then determine how to divide the assets and liabilities according to the current situation of each party. These will include any or all of the following: The property neglected by each individual Any previous agreements of each individual All custodial provisions of each child The tax results of the property division The circumstances of each parent, including age, occupation, source and amount of income, employability, employment skills, liabilities, estate, health, and their individual needs. Possible and amount of spousal support or alimony The duration of the marriage The current value of the assets for each spouse Opportunities for each party to have a reasonable income or ability to buy assets Create a Parenting Plan that Includes Child Support The best way to get what you want out of the divorce is to come prepared with a parenting plan. This will highlight the parental responsibilities that each of you will have to your children. It also includes visitation times that will work best for both of your schedules. Of course, don’t forget to include child support, or the percentage of income that must be paid to the other parent, depending on how many children that need support. While the amount will vary according to the economic situation of each parent, common amounts include 20% for one child and 50% for 6 or more children. If relevant circumstances have changed, the court may deviate the percentage according to the current situation of the family. Filing and Carrying Out the Divorce As soon as all documents and plans are ready, provide the original copy of each document to the clerk of the court who will hear your case. Be prepared to pay a fee, unless if you are qualified to have it waived. The court clerk will then sign your documents and summons (if needed), return your summons, and stamp your copies of the documents with the filing date if you ask them. Summoning the Divorce and Serving Your Spouse Unless if you and your spouse have already made agreements, you will need to serve them the summons. After the clerk signs these papers, make a copy for your records, and send the originals, along with the rest of your documents, to your spouse. Keep in mind that they must receive these within 1 month of having the summons issued to you. If you prefer to avoid contact, you can pay the sheriff to deliver these documents for you. Once all documents have been received by your spouse, they will have 30 days to respond with a written answer. File for Default if Your Spouse Doesn’t Answer If you haven’t received an answer in over a month, you can file for a Default Judgment. Just remember that this won’t solve everything, especially if your spouse lives out of the court’s jurisdiction. For example, if the children are in Illinois and the other parent lived in a different state, the judge would be able to change the visitation times or the power of decisions they are allowed to make on your children’s behalf. But they may not be able to issue an order for child support. Following Through with the Divorce The first step in preparing for court is gathering evidence and information needed to support your case, known as the discovery phase. You will find the regulations, techniques, and processes regarding discovery in Part E of the Rules on Civil Proceedings in the Trial Court. You will also want to work with your divorce attorney through this phase as they can educate you on what to say and how to make the best legal decisions to help your case. During the discovery, you will be allowed to require your spouse to: Answer all questions under oath Allow you to inspect items and/or property Provide you with copies of documents regarding the divorce and marriage Stating Disclosures When preparing to state your case, make specific disclosures as well as requesting the same from your spouse. These can include lists of witnesses asked to testify, financial complications, relevant evidence, and any other statements your family attorney recommends. But if these are not disclosed prior to the hearing or your spouse objects to their use, you might not be able to use them during the trial. Understanding the Rules of Evidence Ask your attorney about the rules and regulations of evidence and ensure you understand them well. Mediation Mediation is always required when children are involved in divorce. Throughout this process, a third party will suggest possible options to help each party settle an agreement for all issues. But the mediator will only provide suggestions, not make decisions, so you won’t need to bring evidence with you. If both parties are able to come to a mutual agreement, then there is no need to go to trial. If both parties have come to an agreement, the mediator will prepare all necessary documents for you and the individual to sign. If you were not able to come to an agreement, matters will then be handled in court. Keep in mind that the mediator will not make any statements to the court, regardless of what was said during mediation. Scheduling the Hearing As this is the most important step of the divorce process, make sure you are prepared with everything, including: Your documents and summons Relevant evidence The estimated duration of the hearing Issuing subpoenas for witnesses Date, time, and location of the hearing The judge who will attend the hearing Confirmation from your divorce attorney When Attending the Hearing You should be dressed in business professional attire on the date of your hearing. Men should wear suits and women blazers and dress pants or skirt. If you do not have either, dress clean and respectfully, avoiding shorts, tank tops, miniskirts, sagging pants, and flip flops. When entering the court room, don’t speak with anyone other than your attorney and the judge, and refer to them as “Judge” or “Your Honor.” Whenever it is your turn to speak, stand before doing so. The divorce case will then proceed as any other would, unless under specific circumstances: The petitioner will make their opening statements (a summary of the case and what is to be proven) Opening statements from the respondent All witnesses cross-examined by the respondent and called by the petitioner and vice versa Closing arguments by the petitioner (summary of their wishes and why the hearing should be ruled in their favor) Closing arguments from the respondent Final argument from the petitioner Final ruling from the judge Reviewing and Adhering to or Appealing a Hearing After the hearing is finished, the opposed party will usually have to prepare orders, unless if you had already proposed them earlier. But if you do have to prepare them, you can find blank ones on the bench, picking the one that applies to your case, and complete it there. When you are done, make 2 copies and file the original with the court, sending a copy to the other party and keeping the originals for yourself. As soon as the judge signs the order, you can get a signed copy from the clerk. If at any time you disagree with the ruling, you have about 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal with the Trial Court. Ask Your Attorney for Extra Help As there are numerous benefits of working with an experienced family attorney, they will be able to help you through all stages of the process. They may be able to complete your documents and summons for you. But regardless of your case, they will best prepare you for mediation or the hearing, including gathering all necessary evidence and information, which questions to ask, and how to answer questions. Ultimately, they will guide you to make legal decisions that will work in your best interest. If you live in the southern suburbs or parts of Chicago, contact Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our family attorneys not only have years of experience but have worked in unique situations that will help you through any and all complications of your divorce. They also remain updated on all current law in order to educate you and argue why the hearing should rule in your favor. Don’t hesitate to contact them at (708) 425-9530 in Oak Lawn, IL. [...]
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