McHenry County bankruptcy attorney chapter 7 13There are many ways a person can build up debt that he is unable to repay. An individual may accumulate multiple high-balance debts, such as a mortgage, auto loans, medical bills, or credit cards. Whether it is due to poor luck or decisions that did not work out as planned, when a person gets in over his head, he has the option to file for bankruptcy.


Bankruptcy allows a person to have a second chance if he no longer has the resources to repay his debts. While there are benefits to bankruptcy, such as the forgiveness of some debts, it will negatively affect a person’s credit score and his ability to borrow money in the future.


There are two common types of bankruptcy available to individuals, and each one has different requirements and regulations:


  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: This method of bankruptcy will discharge most outstanding debts. Some debts, such as student loans or obligations to pay child support or spousal maintenance, cannot be discharged. When filing for Chapter 7, a person’s non-exempt assets will be liquidated by the bankruptcy trustee to pay off some of his debts. Some examples of assets which are exempt are tax-exempt retirement accounts, necessary clothing, educational texts, and prescribed health aids. In some cases, a filer may be able to maintain ownership of a home and/or a car that is below a certain value. This method provides a clean slate and fresh start by eliminating most debts.


  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: With this option, a payment plan will be set up in which the filer will pay off some of the debts over a period of time. This can be a good option a person who does not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or who wants to avoid losing her home or other assets. A payment plan will follow either a three-year or five-year schedule, and once this plan is completed, most remaining debt will be discharged. If a person cannot finish the payment plan, she may still be able to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7.


Contact an Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney


When filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is essential to work with a skilled attorney. Our experienced McHenry County bankruptcy lawyer will answer your questions, help you understand your options, and work with you to complete the bankruptcy process successfully.  Moreover, she will give you individual attention on each step of your case to make sure that your interests are adequately represented. Call our office at 847-426-7990 today to learn how Colleen Thomas can help you address your debts and begin that fresh start you so desperately need.



Posted in Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Banruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | Tagged , , , , , , ,

McHenry County minor guardianship lawyerWhen a baby is born, the parent of that child has the immediate authority to make decisions on behalf of that child. Formal adoption of a child will also grant the same parental ability. However, unfortunate circumstances sometimes require the child to be cared for by someone who is not a biological parent, such as the death of both parents. In these cases, a guardian is appointed to care for and make parental decisions on the child’s behalf.


What Is a Guardian?

When both parents are unable to care for their child, a guardian will be appointed to step into the parental role. A guardian does not have to be related to the child, but the guardian must be 18 years or older and a resident of the United States. A potential guardian must not have any legal disability preventing the ability to care for the child or a felony conviction that would endanger the child. In most cases, the circuit court appoints a guardian. The difference between adoption and guardianship is that guardianship ends when the child turns 18 years old.


Legal Steps for Guardianship

If you are trying to become a temporary or permanent guardian, a petition must be filed with the court. A Guardian ad Litem will be appointed by the Court to investigate whether the child requires a guardian and whether you are an appropriate person to appoint as guardian. Then, a hearing date will be set, and instructions to notify the parents and the family of the child will be given. During the hearing, the Guardian ad Litem will speak to the judge assigned to your case, and you and any objectors to the guardianship will be heard as well. A judge will order the guardianship after a hearing under the following circumstances:

• Both parents are deceased.

• The parents are unwilling or unable to provide for the child.

• The child has been abandoned by a parent with no intention of return.

• The parents consent to the guardianship.

A couple of weeks after the hearing, Letters of Office will be sent by the probate clerk, providing certified proof of your guardianship over the child.


Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

If you are seeking guardianship of a child, you are most likely acting in the best interest of a child you love. The guardianship process can seem daunting, so it is best to speak to an experienced family law attorney who can explain your legal rights. To make sure the child receives the support he or she deserves, contact a knowledgeable Illinois family law attorney to learn more about the guardianship process. Call our offices at 847-426-7990 today to find out how we can help you achieve your goals.


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

Carpentersville foreclosure defense lawyerIf you are struggling to make your mortgage payments, the threat of losing your home can be a terrifying thought. After a mortgage is in default, the lender can sue to have the right to sell the property in what is known as a foreclosure sale. Throughout the United States, more than four million people have lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007. If you are facing the potential foreclosure of your home, you should be sure to understand the procedures that will be followed and the legal options available to you.


The Foreclosure Process

When a mortgage has not been paid, a lawyer from the lending institution may begin a lawsuit by filing a complaint in court. After that, a summons and complaint are delivered by a process server or a sheriff. The summons is a notification of the case being filed. Within 30 days of receiving the summons, you must either file an answer and court appearance or a motion of your own.


A status date is stamped on the complaint itself. This is the first court date if neither party files a motion to be heard prior to that date. During the status hearing, the bank’s lawyer will update the assigned judge regarding the status of the property. At this time, you may be able to request mediation, during which you and a representative of the lender will meet with a mutual third party to discuss loss mitigation. This means that options other than foreclosure can be discussed, and you may be able to work out an arrangement that will allow you to stay in the home through solutions such as a repayment plan or loan modification. There are also options in which you may be able to sell the home without going into foreclosure.


Following the status hearing (or sooner if the lender files a motion to be heard earlier), a court date for Motion for Judgment and Sale will be set. If you are working with the bank to reach an agreement, then you may be able to ask for additional time from the court to respond to this motion. After the entry of a Judgment for Foreclosure, there is at least a 90-day period (and sometimes more) in which it may still be possible to negotiate with the bank or sell the home in a non-foreclosure sale.


If the 90-day period ends with no further action, the home will be sold at an auction. If the home is sold, then a court date will be set for the judge to approve the final sale of the property. If the sale is approved, then you will face eviction from the property, and unless a final appeal is put forward, you will have 30 days to vacate the property. Extensions may still be filed at this time, but they are sparingly granted.


Contact an Illinois Foreclosure Defense Lawyer

Foreclosure can be a living nightmare for a family. If you are facing foreclosure, you should work with an attorney to negotiate with your lender and determine if you will be able to keep your family home. Contact an experienced McHenry County foreclosure attorney today at 847-426-7990.



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

McHenry County prenup attorneyAlthough prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are often associated with the benefits they may provide during the divorce process, not all of their perks are related to divorce, or even legal separation. While you are blissfully planning your upcoming nuptials or are happily married, you may find the idea of a prenup or postnup unromantic or unappealing. However, these types of contracts do not doom your marriage to failure. Marriages that begin with such contracts often have a more open and honest beginning, which can create a stronger foundation for a long-lasting union.


These are some of the primary benefits that many couples enjoy when they create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement:


Open Communication Before You Say “I Do”

Finances are often a hot topic during divorce cases, especially when it comes to hidden debts or assets. Many people enter into marriage only to discover that their new spouse has thousands of dollars in student loan debt. When you add that to the price of a potential mortgage and the wedding expenses themselves, there may be little left with which to begin a family. A discovery of this magnitude can put a strain on any union and alter the dynamic of a family, forcing spouses to adjust their goals and expectations for their marriage.


When you begin your marriage speaking openly about finances, you also create an open flow of communication about what each party expects regarding family roles, assets, debts, and other essential factors. Discussing these issues and determining how to address them if your relationship ever ends can help you protect yourself from catastrophic surprises, and it may even help avoid the possibility of divorce.


Protection For Your Children

If you have children from a prior relationship or expect to have children in the future, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can protect their interests. Creating a marital agreement allows you to designate inheritances or other benefits for your children in the case of divorce or death, ensuring that they will have financial security no matter what happens.


Now is also an excellent time to generate an understanding about parenting time, child support, and other parenting decisions, should the marriage result in divorce. The end of a marriage can be an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved, including the children. While a prenup or postnup cannot be used to make legal decisions about child custody or child support, discussing these issues when creating a marital agreement can help reduce animosity during an otherwise tumultuous divorce.


A Proven Illinois Family Law Attorney Can Help

A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can offer other potential benefits, including providing understanding about the rights and obligations of each spouse before marriage, protecting your assets, and preserving your business. Even if your marriage never ends in divorce, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement offers the opportunity for an open discussion, which can create a stronger marriage all around. At Thomas Law Office, our experienced McHenry County prenup attorney can answer your in-depth questions and help you to create an agreement that gives your marriage a strong foundation and protects you in the case of divorce. Call our office today at 847-426-7990 to schedule a consultation.



Posted in McHenry County Family Law Lawyer, Prenuptial Agreements | Tagged , , , , , ,

Kane County bankruptcy and divorce lawyerFor many families today, divorce and bankruptcy tend to go hand-in-hand. Every situation is different, but divorce may occur as a result of financial strain, or a separation may result in economic pressure for both spouses. Regardless of what starts the struggle, both divorce and bankruptcy can be emotionally complicated. However, if you plan ahead and understand the legal issues you must address, this will help the process proceed more smoothly and result in less of a strain overall. Typically, couples choose one of two options:


Option 1: File for Bankruptcy First

Filing for bankruptcy first offers many benefits. For instance, you and your spouse can file for bankruptcy jointly, which saves money and may increase the number of exemptions you are allowed to take. Additionally, if one spouse is the sole breadwinner of the household, you have a higher likelihood of qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which eliminates most unsecured debts, will help you get out of high car payments, and can reduce the fight over finances during divorce.

Once the bankruptcy process is complete, most of the concerns about a couple’s debts and assets will have been settled, making the process of property division easier. If you choose to file for bankruptcy after divorce, not only must you reach an agreement regarding debts and assets, but creditors may still attempt to collect on any joint debts, which can result in further contention between ex-spouses. Also, one spouse may choose not to file for bankruptcy, thus creating a situation with a non-dischargeable obligation owed to the other spouse.


Option 2: File for Divorce First

In other situations, it does not make much sense to file for bankruptcy first. Perhaps you and your spouse are unable to communicate with each other to determine how to liquidate your assets. Maybe you did not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which frequently leaves Chapter 13 as the only option, requiring that both spouses follow through with a payment plan for three to five years. If either side does not follow this plan, the bankruptcy case will be dismissed. Additionally, due to the pending payment plan of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may not divide any assets until the completion of this plan. Finally, if one spouse will be paying child support or spousal maintenance, it is often beneficial to complete divorce proceedings first to have an accurate understanding of the financial situation after the divorce. For example, a requirement to make regular support payments may make it impossible to continue with a bankruptcy payment plan.


Work With a Skilled Bankruptcy and Family Law Attorney

Every family’s situation is unique. At the Thomas Law Office, our McHenry County divorce and bankruptcy attorney will thoroughly analyze your situation and help you determine the best order to complete these processes. We have experience guiding clients to success in both divorce and bankruptcy, and we can provide you with the legal help you need during this trying time. Call us today at 847-426-7990 to schedule a consultation.



Posted in Bankruptcy, Divorce | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , ,