McHenry County bankruptcy and debt lawyerWhen finances get tight, most people take an in-depth look at each of their monthly expenses and consider cutting out what they do not need. If, after making adjustments to your budget, you still cannot make ends meet, you may begin researching and considering the option of bankruptcy.

On payday, the first bill paid often covers housing. Next come all of the other expenses necessary to make the house run, such as electricity, water, and other utility bills. The phone bill, car note, and insurance payments rank next in the order of importance. If there is anything left of the paycheck, many people who are experiencing financial hardship must decide between paying their court-ordered maintenance (formerly known as alimony) or child support payments and buying food for themselves.

When times get tough, many find that bankruptcy is a prime solution to make a fresh financial start. Unfortunately, many people wait months or until there are looming legal repercussions to seek help. At this point, a significant number of bills may be months past due, and outstanding debts and interest (known as “arrears”) can add up quickly. When your domestic support payments (child support and maintenance) are past due, the punishments can also be damaging to your future, and worse, result in a jail sentence. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you may wonder if your past-due child support and maintenance payments are dischargeable.

Non-Dischargeable Debts

In the State of Illinois, certain debts are non-dischargeable by filing bankruptcy. If you are able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your payments on non-dischargeable debts are due after the finalization of the discharge. In Chapter 13, your payments become absorbed into a payment plan. Non-dischargeable debts include child support and maintenance.

Ask a McHenry County Bankruptcy Lawyer

When you fall behind on your child support or maintenance payments, even though they are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy, a bankruptcy may help keep you from being punished by the court, including going to jail. A McHenry County bankruptcy attorney can review your case to determine whether a bankruptcy can help you with your debts, including child support or maintenance. At Thomas Law Office, we provide reliable representation when you need it most. Call us today at 847-426-7990 to set up your initial consultation.


Posted in Bankruptcy, Child Support, McHenry County Bankruptcy Attorney | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

McHenry County divorce lawyerYounger children undoubtedly need more hands-on attention in all areas of life. In addition to learning how the world works, their psyche needs development. Negative experiences can leave a lasting impact on infants, toddlers, and young children. Although older children and young adults are more capable of understanding situations and are generally self-reliant, coping with the divorce of their parents has a dramatic impact on their lives as well. Whether they are a pre-teen or an adult, your children still need you to help them through your divorce.

Show Them They Are Loved

While younger children often need to hear that your divorce was not because they did anything wrong and that both parents still love them, older children and young adults also need to witness that they are loved. Older kids likely already know that the divorce is not their fault; their concern is how this will impact the future. Will you both be able to attend their graduation? Will you be civilized at their wedding? Who will attend family events? Older children need to know that your love for them is greater than the anger you and your spouse have toward each other.

Find a Support System

Even if your children are married and have a family of their own, they do not want to be in the middle of your divorce. Discussing the intricacies of the divorce puts your children in an awkward situation. You are still their parents, and they love you both. Venting to them is an invitation to have them choose a side, which is unfair to everyone involved. Find a support system with whom you can discuss your divorce, and be sure to share only the necessary information with your children.

They Think About Your Future

When you are married, you have someone with whom to travel through life. If you get sick, your partner is there to nurture you back to health. You help each other financially and provide support for your children. After a divorce, that partnership is no longer available to fall back on. Many children, especially adult children, concern themselves with what will happen should you need help. Do your health and care become the responsibility of the kids? Do you have an alternate plan in place to find care for yourself to alleviate some of the burdens on your children? Discuss your plans with your children sooner rather than later.

Ask an Attorney

Although a Kane County family law attorney will never make the divorce decision for you, sometimes talking with one about your options can help you determine if divorce is the right option for you. In your initial consultation with attorney Colleen Thomas, you will discuss why you are leaning toward divorce, if you are prepared for the process and the future, and how you should complete the next steps. Call us today at 847-426-7990 to learn how we can help you with your divorce, post-divorce modification, or other family law concerns.


Posted in Divorce, McHenry County Divorce Lawyer | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Carpentersville bankruptcy lawyer repossessionGetting behind on your bills due to unforeseen life events takes a toll on both your credit score and your emotional well-being. When your vehicle becomes repossessed, it may feel like the world has collapsed around you. How are you going to get to work? If you have no reliable transportation, how will you keep your job to pay bills and put food on the table? As contradictory as it may seem, filing for bankruptcy can help.

Get Your Vehicle Back

Many lenders do not give any advanced notification of an upcoming repossession. If you are behind on your payments, filing for bankruptcy can prevent the lender from taking your vehicle without warning. When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is placed on all of your bills, preventing lenders and creditors from pursuing any collection actions, including repossessions and harassing phone calls. It may be possible to reclaim a repossessed vehicle, so long as it has not already been sold. Typically, lenders successfully sell these vehicles in under two weeks, depending on a variety of factors, so it is important to move quickly after a repossession.

Getting a vehicle back depends on the type of bankruptcy filed. The differences are as follows:

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy buys you some time to pay the missed payments due to the automatic stay. Your payments would then continue with the original loan terms. If you cannot pay back the full arrears, the automatic stay affords you time to negotiate with your bank on various payment options. One last option that may be available is to reclaim the car and own it free and clear by paying the bank what the car is worth, rather than the amount owed on the vehicle. This amount must be agreed upon with the lender and settled in a lump sum.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy rearranges your loan terms and can force the lender to return the vehicle to your possession, but you may be responsible for the repossession fees. The renegotiated payment plan will spread the payments out over three to five years.

Contact a Kane County Bankruptcy Attorney

Many people shy away from filing for bankruptcy due to a perceived social stigma and the long-term impact on their credit score. Instead, consider a life where your phone is not constantly ringing as creditors attempt to collect payment from you. Also, keep in mind that a repossession and missed payments will also negatively impact your credit score. If you are exploring the possibility of bankruptcy, a Kane County bankruptcy lawyer can help. Thomas Law Office can help you eliminate or reduce your debt and pursue all options of getting your vehicle back, allowing you to get back to a normal life. Call 847-426-7990 today to schedule your initial consultation.


Posted in Bankruptcy, McHenry County Bankruptcy Attorney | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Carpentersville divorce and bankruptcy lawyerDivorce can be stressful for anyone, but it becomes especially difficult when a couple is struggling with financial difficulties during the breakup of their marriage. When spouses are facing overwhelming debt, bankruptcy may be their best option, allowing them each to have a fresh start after they have dissolved their marriage. However, if you are considering both bankruptcy and divorce, there are several issues that you should pay attention to when determining your best path forward:

Should I File for Bankruptcy Before or After Divorce?

In most cases, filing for bankruptcy prior to filing for divorce is the best option. When debts are shared by spouses, they can each be pursued by creditors if they fail to make payments. By filing for bankruptcy together, they can discharge their mutual debts, ensuring that neither spouse will be responsible for repayment of these debts after divorce.

However, you should be aware that filing for bankruptcy creates an automatic stay, stopping creditors from pursuing collection of debts and freezing your assets so the court can determine the full extent of your debts and assets. Filing for bankruptcy prior to divorce can cause the divorce process to last longer, since issues related to bankruptcy must be resolved before your assets can be divided in your divorce.

Should I File for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows for the discharge of most debts, and it can often be completed in a few months. This is often the ideal solution for divorcing couples, allowing them to resolve their financial issues more quickly and simply. However, spouses’ combined income or shared assets may put them over the threshold for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, making Chapter 13 bankruptcy their only option when filing for bankruptcy together. If Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not available to you while you are married, it may be preferable to wait until your divorce is completed before filing for bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires the creation of a three to five year repayment plan, and a divorce cannot be completed during this time unless the repayment plan is canceled or restructured. If Chapter 13 bankruptcy is your only option, you may wish to complete your divorce first.

What Debts Are Included in Bankruptcy?

While most debts can be discharged through bankruptcy, there are certain debts that are nondischargeable. These include:

  • Child support and spousal maintenance
  • Student loans
  • Government fines
  • Guardian ad litem fees in family law cases

Contact a Carpentersville Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you are planning to get a divorce, Thomas Law Office can work with you and your spouse to determine your options for bankruptcy, helping you begin your post-divorce life on secure financial footing. Schedule a consultation with us today by contacting a McHenry County bankruptcy attorney at 847-426-7990.


Posted in Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Banruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Divorce, McHenry County Bankruptcy Attorney | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Kane County Family Law Attorney AdoptionWhen parents face an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy during divorce, they have three options: parent, terminate the pregnancy, or place the child up for adoption. Choosing the latter option, adoption, does not mean that a parent is “giving up;” it means they are making the best possible decision for everyone involved in their situation at that time. This decision belongs to the biological parents, particularly the mother, and no one else. However, even a decision made to place a child up for adoption remains unenforceable unless certain specific prerequisites are met.

A Biological Parent’s Rights Regarding Adoption at the Time of Birth

When a situation, such as a pending annulment or divorce, changes the dynamic of a family, a mother sometimes determines she does not want to be a single mother, or that it is not the appropriate time for her to raise a child. The birth mother has all of the rights and responsibilities as a parent to her child until she officially relinquishes her rights.

The final binding contract, known as the “final and irrevocable surrender for the purposes of adoption,” cannot be signed by the mother until the child is a minimum of 72 hours old. A father may choose to complete the form before the birth of the child, but this decision may be revoked at any point before the 72-hour threshold. To terminate the adoption process at this point is known as “disrupted adoption” and is an option for most mothers whose natural rights have not been previously removed by the court.

The Emotional Roller Coaster

Any pregnancy, regardless of circumstances, is an emotional roller coaster which can be intensified by hormones and stressful situations. However, a phenomenon often occurs at the time of birth in which scared parents see the face of their child and know with absolute certainty that parenting that child is the right choice for them. Unfortunately, this comes as a heartbreak for previously chosen adoptive parents, many of whom have given time, money, and emotional support to the biological parents throughout the pregnancy. It is important to remember that any assistance provided to the birth parents by an agency, attorney, or by the adoptive parents is done so without any legal obligation and is not enforceable as a loan.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

The birth of a child is a life-altering event. Not only is it the beginning of a new life, but it also results in major life changes for parents, extended family members, and friends who are involved. Decisions made during this time deserve thorough research and consideration. At the Thomas Law Office, we understand the importance of your choice and can guide you through the process using experience, knowledge, and compassion. Contact a McHenry County family law attorney today at 847-426-7990 to discuss your case.


Posted in Adoption, McHenry County Family Law Lawyer | Tagged , , , , , ,

McHenry County divorce lawyersDivorce is a difficult process any time of the year, but the holidays can be especially challenging. Many experience loneliness and depression. Others feel more overwhelmed than usual and may be more prone to mood swings. Whatever the situation, however you are feeling, know that there are ways to cope. The following information may be able to help.

Surround Yourself with Friends and Family

The holidays are a time when people are used to being surrounded by friends and family, so reach out to those that you love. If your circle has become significantly smaller, try and make some new friends. Support groups, colleagues at work, and even your neighbor are all great places to look. Some might even surprise you – that person you might have overlooked at the office who went through a divorce last year, or the single mom a few doors down that you might not have even noticed. Go to holiday parties, even if you do not feel like it. Whatever you decide to do, try to surround yourself with people and try to immerse yourself in holiday cheer.

Give Back to Your Community

If meeting new people seems too exhausting, maybe some charity work can help to put you in the holiday spirit and heal your soul a little. After all, there is little that can lift the spirit like feeding the homeless, volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, reading to kids in a hospital, or playing board games with someone in a nursing home. Not sure where to look? Try your local church, bulletin boards, or newspaper. If you cannot find anything there, try talking to friends or just pick up a phone and call your local shelters to ask if they could use some help.

Be Gentle with Yourself and Practice Self-Care

Surrounding yourself with people and giving back are all great ways to cope with divorce during the holidays, but probably the most beneficial thing you can do is to be gentle with yourself and to practice self-care. If you find yourself crying a lot, that is okay. Your grief and sadness are normal. If you do not feel like putting up your tree or lights, try purchasing just a small live one that does not take as much effort – and do not let yourself feel guilty for doing so. Keep the decorations put up if you like, soak in warm baths, make hot chocolate or tea, read a book, or buy a box of candy canes and a present for yourself. In short, do what makes you happiest this holiday season.

Seek Assistance with Your Divorce

If you are filing for divorce but have not obtained legal assistance, now might be the time to reconsider. Not only can a divorce attorney help to ensure you avoid unnecessary mistakes, they can handle the legal details so that you have the time and energy to grieve and care for yourself. You also have an increased chance of receiving a fair settlement in your case if you have an attorney on your side.

At the Thomas Law Office, we offer compassionate and personalized services to suit your needs. Dedicated and experienced, our McHenry County family law attorney can protect your rights and will always make your best interest our top priority. Schedule your consultation to ask how we can help with your case. Call us at 847-426-7990 today.


Posted in Divorce | Tagged , , , ,

McHenry County bankruptcy attorneyWhile the decision to file for bankruptcy should never be taken lightly, it is important to distinguish the difference between fact and fiction. For example, prospective filers are often told that they will lose home in the process. However, this is not always the case. Learn more about what happens to your home in a bankruptcy case, and discover what an experienced attorney may be able to do for you.

Understanding the Basics

Bankruptcy is a process in which a debtor comes to the court, asking to be released from their obligation to their creditors. It is, in many ways, a fresh start. Keep in mind, however, that it does not come without cost. Your credit does take a hit (though not quite as severely as people make it out to be). You may also lose some (or most) of your assets, but homesteads are protected. As such, they are treated quite differently in bankruptcy than other assets.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Your Home

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors may be released from nearly all of their creditor obligations. (Please note that federal student loans, child support, and taxes may not be eligible for discharge.) Assets that have liens on them may be collected, but homesteads are protected up to a certain limit. In the state of Illinois, the limit is set at $15,000 for single filers and $30,000 for joint filers.

If the home’s equity does not exceed this amount, the debtor may be permitted to keep the home. Otherwise, it may be sold and some of the proceeds may go to help pay for the bad debts. Debtors at risk for a home loss through bankruptcy may still have options, however. For example, the debtor may be permitted to keep the home if they are current on the mortgage and promise to continue making their payments. If you are concerned about losing your home in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, speak to an experienced attorney about your options.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Your Home

Because Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers typically pay their debts over a predetermined time-period, they are typically permitted to keep most of their assets, so long as they continue to make timely payments. Of course, there may be situations in which it may make more sense to let the home go during bankruptcy. For example, if the home has a lot of repairs that must be made and little to no equity, the debtor may be better off in a different location. Be sure to consider your options carefully, and always discuss bankruptcy decisions with a qualified legal professional.

Contact Our McHenry County Bankruptcy Lawyer

At the Thomas Law Office, we recognize that filing for bankruptcy is not something anyone wants to do. However, we also know that sometimes life changes, circumstances happen, and even the best managers of money and credit can find themselves in financial trouble. Seek legal assistance that understands your struggles and is willing to help, not judge. Contact our McHenry County bankruptcy lawyer and schedule a personalized consultation. Call 847-426-7990 today.



Posted in Bankruptcy | Tagged , , , ,

McHenry County divorce attorneyTechnology and medicine have made massive advancements over the last several years. In fact, things have progressed so quickly that the law has fallen behind. Consider, for example, the numerous cases involving frozen embryos, many with different outcomes. One of the most recent cases involves the awarding of “joint custody” to a divorcing couple in Missouri. Learn more about this recent case, some of the previous rulings, and how all this could impact your divorce case if there are frozen embryos involved.

St. Louis Appellate Court’s Recent Ruling

The problem with embryos is that they are not, under most laws, considered human. They are not property either though – not really. They do not have monetary value. They cannot be split. Instead, the couple must attempt to come to an agreement about the fate of the embryos. When unable to do so, the court is forced to make sense of this confusing but unique legal situation.

Historically, courts have ruled that embryos must be thawed and destroyed. However, there have been some rulings that granted “custody” of the embryo to one spouse or the other. Generally speaking, such rulings have only taken place in marriages where one spouse may have been deemed infertile, and the only chance to conceive is held within the embryos. Of course, this creates a sticky situation: a person who no longer wants to have a child with their ex-spouse is essentially forced to do so against their will if the embryos are granted to a party that wants to conceive. This is exactly what originally happened in the St. Louis case.

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the wife had originally been given “custody” of the embryos, but her husband appealed the divorce court’s decision. He did not feel comfortable with the idea of having a child with his ex-spouse. The appellate court saw where he was coming from and decided to grant the couple “joint custody” of the embryos. They will not be destroyed. They will continue to be stored. However, neither can use the embryos without the other’s permission. Unfortunately, gaining consent may not be easy for the would-be mother.

Facing an Embryo Dispute? Contact Our McHenry County Divorce Lawyer

Embryos in divorce are a complex matter that can easily lead to contention. The Thomas Law Office may be able to help. Dedicated and experienced, our McHenry County divorce lawyer can work with you to devise a creative solution that can hopefully satisfy all involved parties. In every situation, we pursue the most favorable outcome. Call 847-426-7990 and schedule your personalized consultation with us today.


Posted in Divorce | Tagged , , , ,

Illinois bankruptcy lawyerA discharge in bankruptcy releases debtors from the personal liability they hold in certain types of debts. In other words, the debtor is no longer obligated to pay the creditor, and the creditor is barred from taking any further legal action against or communicating with the debtor. However, there are some important things that borrowers should know about the bankruptcy discharge process, including its limitations, exclusions, and the time frame it takes to reach this point.

Discharge Time Frame

A discharge does not occur immediately after filing for bankruptcy. Instead, the debtor must complete the bankruptcy process. It is also important to note that the time frame in which the process is completed will vary, based on the type of bankruptcy being filed and the specifics of each case. For example, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy debtor usually receives a discharge once the time-period for creditor objections has expired (60 days after the 341 meeting). In contrast, Chapter 13 bankruptcy debtors must fulfill all their obligations under their repayment plan before their bankruptcy can be discharged. If the debtor fails to complete any provisions of their filing, including the instructional courses required by law, their discharge may be denied by the courts.

Creditors Can Still Enforce Liens

Although a debtor is no longer obligated to pay their lender once discharge has occurred, the creditor may still have the right to enforce a lien on secured property. For example, if you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have a financed vehicle, the creditor may still recover the vehicle. You would no longer be obligated the pay the outstanding balance for the car, but you would not have the vehicle. For more specific information on how bankruptcy may impact your ownership of secured property, and advise on how you can maintain certain secured property despite bankruptcy, speak to an experienced lawyer.

Not All Debts are Discharged

While bankruptcy does cover many types of debt, it does not cover all debts. Certain categories (a total of 19, in all) are excluded from the discharge process. Examples might include debt obtained while drunk driving, most student loans, alimony, child support, and certain tax claims. To determine if you have any debts that cannot be discharged, and for assistance in determining how to handle these debts, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Contact Our McHenry County Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you are considering bankruptcy, contact the Thomas Law Office. Our seasoned McHenry County bankruptcy attorney can examine your case, advise you on your options, and help you navigate through the complex bankruptcy filing process. Dedicated to your best interest, we always strive for the most favorable outcome. Schedule your personalized consultation by calling 847-426-7990 today.


Posted in Bankruptcy | Tagged , , , ,

McHenry County divorce lawyerDivorce is one of the biggest financial transactions in a couple’s life. Knowing this, many attempt to take shortcuts that end up costing them more in the end. Avoid this risk by examining how you can reduce cost, without compromising the outcome of your case, with help from the following information.

Never Skip the Attorney

There are many ways to cut the cost of divorce, but removing the attorney out of the process should never be one of them. An attorney can do more than just file your paperwork; they can help reduce the risk of financial mistakes. Your attorney can also work as the communication hub between you and your spouse to reduce contention, and they assist with any parenting time or allocation of parental responsibility issues that might arise in your case.

Educate Yourself on Your Financial Situation

Whether you are in a marriage with a high net worth, middle-class, or nearing retirement, it is crucial that you fully understand your financial situation before the divorce. Budgets to determine your cost of living, statements that give a clear picture of your debts and assets, and an idea of what your living expenses might be after the divorce are all financial matters to consider.

If you are in the dark on your financial situation, you may need to do some investigative work. Remember that an attorney can help with this, and should be your first point of contact once you have decided to move forward with your case.

Consider Settling Outside of Court

While not all cases are eligible for mediation, the process does offer some cost-saving potential to divorcing couples. In fact, it is the court process that often eats up a lot of the marital assets. By opting out of this contentious situation, you and your spouse can work toward a settlement that can hopefully satisfy both parties. Keep in mind that you should still have an attorney at your side to protect your interests and assist with the process.

Remember the True Nature of Divorce

Although divorce is, undoubtedly, an emotional process, the legal process is more like a business transaction. If you can remove the emotion from the actual process and cope with it outside of the mediation room or courtroom, you can reduce your risk of elevated divorce costs. Support, counseling, and other coping strategies can all be beneficial in helping you accomplish this difficult feat.

Contact Our McHenry County Divorce Attorney

At the Thomas Law Office, we understand the difficulties that divorcing couples face. That is why we take a personalized approach to each and every case. Learn more about how our dedicated McHenry County divorce lawyer can assist you. Call 847-426-7990 and schedule your consultation with us today.



Posted in Divorce | Tagged , , , ,