| Read Time: 4 minutes | Immigration

How Much Does a Green Card Cost?

To receive a green card through your marriage to a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident you must prepare personal documents and government applications. You also must prepare yourself financially. Your green card application comes with multiple forms and fees, and you may also have to pay for copies of personal documents to submit with your application.  How much does a green card cost? A green card can cost thousands. The total cost depends on the specific facts of your case, but there are some broadly applicable costs you should consider as you prepare to change your immigration status. How Much Are the Application Fees? Your green card application is not reduced to just one form. To receive your green card, you must submit multiple forms to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other government agencies. The USCIS receives the vast majority of its funding from application and petition fees, so submission of many of your green card forms costs money. Many petitions and applications for immigration benefits can be time sensitive, so you should make sure you have access to a substantial amount of money before you start the filing process. Your green card application fees could total up to $1,845 or more, depending on your circumstances, including fees for: Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative; Biometric services for U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse; Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (for applicants already in the U.S.); Biometric services for spouse seeking green card; Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form I-864 Affidavit of Support;  Immigrant fee (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (if applicable); Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable); and Form I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable). If you must submit to a medical examination for your green card, you have to pay for an exam with a USCIS-approved civil surgeon. While prices vary, a civil surgeon examination could cost between $200 and $400 dollars. If not already included in your exam, you need to pay additional money for any required vaccinations you have not received. An experienced immigration attorney can determine what application fees apply to you and help you locate any necessary supplemental services.  Are There Necessary Costs Outside of My Application Fees? Your application fees are not the only costs associated with your green card application. Your green card application requires you to submit multiple supplemental documents about your life including: Copies of official documents proving your spouse’s citizenship or their lawful permanent resident status; A copy of your government-issued ID with photo; A copy of your marriage certificate; Copies of the legal terminations of any prior marriages for you and your spouse (if applicable); Financial statements; Two identical passport-style photos in color of you and your spouse (separately);  Birth certificates for any children you had with your spouse; Any other documents that prove you have an ongoing marital union; Certified police and court records regarding all your criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (regardless of the final disposition); Inspection and admission or inspection and parole documentation; Proof that you have continuously maintained lawful status since you arrived in the U.S.; and Proof your spouse has continuously maintained lawful status since they arrived in the U.S. If you do not already have these documents, you might have to request them from government agencies and other institutions. Your requests for copies of these documents may come with fees. Also, your application for a green card may require you or your spouse to travel, and you should prepare for those costs early.  Attorney Fees In addition to the fees you need to pay the government, you may incur attorney fees. Although you can attempt to file your application on your own, it is easy to make mistakes that may jeopardize your status.  An immigration attorney is an invaluable resource when applying for a green card. They can help you gather all the documents you need, fill out your forms, and file your application. They can also help you prepare for your green card interview. Attorneys may charge by the hour, or they may prepare your immigration application for a flat fee. Or you can take advantage of Vantage Group Legal’s subscription legal services for a low monthly rate. Contact an Attorney Right Away The financial burden of applying for your green card is less overwhelming if you plan early and efficiently. There are many moving parts to a green card application, and most of those parts cost money individually. It is important to know which parts you do and do not need. An immigration attorney can help you streamline your immigration application process so you do not pay unnecessary fees or suffer the financial blow of an unexpected expense.  Vantage Group Legal Services boasts a network of highly experienced and reputable immigration attorneys. Our network attorneys stick by you through the duration of your case  and respond to your needs quickly. You will likely have many legal questions and needs as you and your spouse seek to build a life in the United States. We are here to help you. Contact us online or call us at 773-938-4747 for a free consultation. 

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Immigration

What Documents Do I Need for a Marriage Green Card?

If you are married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you can apply for a green card. A green card application requires many documents—documents about your life that you must locate and present to the government, and documents the government provides for you to fill out. The United States government wants an in-depth illustration of who you are personally and professionally before it grants a green card. This article can give you an idea of what the government expects from you and how to prepare for your green card application.  What Documents Should I Have Before I Apply for a Green Card? The green card application process can be lengthy and involves many steps. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, you should gather as many necessary documents as possible before you start filing forms. What Your Spouse Must Provide Generally, your official green card application process begins with your spouse’s Form I-130 petition to the government. This petition establishes your marriage relationship with your spouse and lets the United States government know you are eligible for legal permanent resident status.  Your spouse must prove their legal permanent resident or citizen status In their petition, your spouse must prove that they are a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident with the following documents: A copy of their birth certificate from a civil authority; A copy of their naturalization certificate from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); A copy of form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad from a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate; A copy of their unexpired U.S. passport; An original U.S. consular officer statement that verifies your spouse is a U.S. citizen with a valid passport;  A front and back copy of their Permanent Resident Card;  Copies of their passport biographic page that shows admission as a lawful permanent resident; or Other documents issued by USCIS or INS that prove permanent resident status. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen who cannot locate their official citizenship documents, USCIS offers alternatives for proving their status.  Your spouse must prove they legally married you Your spouse’s petition must include proof of your legal marriage. Proof of your legal marriage to your spouse includes: A copy of your marriage certificate; Copies of the legal terminations of any prior marriages for you and your spouse (if applicable); Two identical passport-style photos in color of you and your spouse (separately);  Any documents that show joint property ownership; Lease documents showing you and your spouse live at the same residence; Documents evidencing joint financial resources; Birth certificates for any children you had together; Affidavits from others who can affirm the validity of your marriage; and Any other documents that prove you have an ongoing marital union. The USCIS has many specific rules regarding your passport-style photos, so you and your spouse should read the Form I-130 instructions carefully before submitting documents.  The list of documents to prove your legal marital status is long. The marriage certificate, proof of legal terminations of prior marriages (if any), and passport photos are required for every spouse petition, but the USCIS encourages you to include one or more of the other documents listed above to prove you have a bona fide marriage. The United States government is very wary of potential marriage fraud for immigration status, so the more documents you have to prove the validity of your marriage, the better.  Your spouse must prove that your travel in and out the United States has been legal Your spouse’s petition must include your I-94 documentation. Your I-94 is a document from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol that proves your lawful admissions into the U.S. after trips abroad. You can get copies of your I-94 travel history from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.  What You Must Provide The Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is your main green card application. With your application, you must submit many documents including: A copy of your birth certificate; A copy of your government-issued ID with a photograph; Inspection and admission or inspection and parole documentation; Documentation of your immigrant category, including Form I-797 to prove receipt of your spouse’s Form I-130;  Certified police and court records regarding all your criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (regardless of the final disposition); Proof that you have continuously maintained lawful status since you arrived in the U.S.; and Proof your spouse has continuously maintained lawful status since they arrived in the U.S. If you were previously deported or deemed inadmissible for entry, you will likely have to file additional forms with your application. There are also certain immigration statuses that require additional forms. You should check the list of initial evidence needed for green card applications to determine what additional forms you need (if any). An experienced immigration attorney can determine what you need to complete your green card application and reduce complications in your application process.  What Applications Do I Need to File to Receive a Green Card? In your list of documents for a green card through marriage are many petitions and applications. Generally, the applications and petitions you or your spouse need to file include: Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (filled out and submitted by your citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse); Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (submitted by you); Form I-797 to prove receipt of your spouse’s petition; Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form DS-261 Online Choice of Address and Agent (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record; Form I-508 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable); and Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable). A Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record is for public health reasons and must be completed and sealed by a USCIS-approved doctor...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Immigration

Getting a Green Card Through Marriage

Building a life with your spouse brings excitement and joy. If you immigrated to the United States to be with your spouse, you might feel the exhilaration of adventure, but you might also feel anxiety about where you will live and how you will work. You can apply for a green card if you married a United States citizen or legal permanent resident. A green card gives you the right to live and work permanently in the United States. With a green card, you also have more legal protections than a visa holder. How Do I Get a Green Card After I Marry? Of all the factors that can make you eligible for a green card, marriage can place your application high on the priority list. To receive a green card, you must provide the U.S. government with information about your history, financial resources/needs, marriage, and health. How to Prepare for the Green Card Application Process When you begin the process to obtain a green card, you should have the following documents ready for submission with your application forms: A copy of your birth certificate; A copy of your marriage certificate; Proof that you continuously maintained lawful status since you arrived in the U.S.; A copy of your government-issued ID (containing a photograph); Two passport-style photographs; Certified police and court records of your entire criminal charge, arrest, and conviction history (regardless of the final disposition); and  Documents of inspection and admission, or inspection and parole. If you can no longer locate or access your birth certificate, you can provide other proof of your birth or proof that your certificate is unavailable or nonexistent. Acceptable alternative evidence of your birth includes church records, school records, and medical records. Depending on your current immigration status, you may need to gather additional documentation to submit with your green card application.  How Do I Apply for a Green Card?  Your request for a green card not only requires identification information and many documents about your history, it also requires many government application forms. One of the first applications the government wants when you seek a green card through marriage is Form I-130. An I-130 form is also called a Petition for Alien Relative, and it is for your spouse to fill out. The petition gives information about you and your spouse, and it establishes your relationship with your spouse.  During the application process, you may need a medical examination to prove you are admissible to the United States. The U.S. government requires examinations for public health purposes. A designated “civil surgeon” must perform your examination and fill out government-issued paperwork regarding the exam. Your exam form must be dated within 60 days of your green card application. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends that you undergo this exam as close as possible to the time you file your application, so your results remain valid during adjudication.  Generally, your main application to become a green card holder (also called a lawful permanent resident) is Form I-485. Form I-485 is also called an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This application has many in-depth questions about your background, personal history, employment history, criminal history, immigration history, and financial needs. You must submit multiple personal documents and additional government forms with this application, and you must pay filing fees.  What If I Am Not in the United States? If you and your United States citizen spouse are not in the U.S., your spouse must send their Form I-130 petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are. Your spouse’s petition goes through consular processing. You must also file forms from the U.S. Department of State for an Immigrant Visa. If the USCIS approves your spouse’s petition, they send it to the Department of State’s National Visa Center. The National Visa Center lets you know when you need to submit supporting documents and when you need to pay immigrant visa processing fees.  Once a visa is available for your priority date, the consular office schedules you for an interview and decides your eligibility for a visa. If the consular office grants you a visa, you receive a visa packet and you must pay an immigrant fee. You cannot open your visa packet. Upon arrival in the United States, Customs and Border Protection takes your packet. Customs and Border Protection also inspects you to determine if they can admit you as a lawful permanent resident. If Customs and Border Protection admits you as a lawful permanent resident, you should receive your green card within 45 days. While you wait for your green card to arrive, you have the right to live and work in the United States.   How Long Do I Have to Wait for a Decision About My Green Card? The vast majority of immigration applications take up to eight months to process. Your application may take longer, depending on the nature of your marriage.  Your ability to obtain a green card depends partly on whether a green card is immediately available during application processing. If you married a United States citizen, an unlimited number of green cards are immediately available. If your spouse is a legal permanent resident, you may have to wait longer in line for an available green card. Spouses of legal permanent residents are subject to preference categories for green cards. According to the preference categories, spouses of legal permanent residents take second preference after adult, unmarried children of citizens.  What Do I Do While I Wait? While you wait for a decision on your green card application, follow all directions you receive from the government. You must also make sure you maintain a continuous and lawful presence in the United States. If you need to travel temporarily while you wait, you need to apply for a travel document first. You can also check the status of your application online while you wait.  What If I Have Not Received My Green Card Approval and I Need to Work? The...

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| Read Time: 9 minutes | Foreclosure

Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law

Facing foreclosure? Start by reading this guide to Illinois foreclosure law, then contact Vantage Group Legal for immediate help. Anticipating or dealing with the process of foreclosure in Illinois can be an angst-ridden time for anyone. Tendencies can be to ignore the possibility of foreclosure, try to handle the foreclosure case on your own, or be angry about the circumstance but not act. However, the most productive result is understanding the Illinois foreclosure process and seeking immediate help from an established legal service with expertise in Illinois foreclosure law. If you face foreclosure, you are taking a significant step in protecting yourself and your property right now by reading a bit about the Illinois foreclosure process. No matter what the circumstance, you have rights and options. Here’s a brief guide to help you get started on addressing foreclosure in Illinois. We help Illinois homeowners who are facing foreclosure. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   What Is Foreclosure in Illinois? Let’s start with the basics. You’ve heard the term and maybe received a notice which references the term. But what exactly is foreclosure? Foreclosure is a process. It involves a lender taking a homeowner’s property because the homeowner failed to make agreed-upon payments or otherwise violated the mortgage contract. How Long Does a Foreclosure Take in Illinois? The time it takes from missed payments to having a home foreclosed on and sold can vary significantly depending on the individual case and whether you opt to contest the foreclosure. Without contesting the foreclosure, it can take up to 15 months before the property is no longer yours. Don’t start packing just yet. There are a lot of steps along the way. Here is the general Illinois foreclosure timeline: 30-60 days late: missed payments prompt contact from the lender. 60-120 days late: automatic mortgage loan default. 90 -120 days late: lender provides a breach letter.  120-175 days late: homeowner receives service of a mortgage foreclosure summons. 230 days late: without a response, the court enters default judgment. 260 days late:  right to reinstate the loan expires. 7 months after being served or 3 months after judgment (whichever is later): right to redemption expires. 10 days before sale: receive written notice. 15 days after property is sold: an eviction notice is entered. 30 days after property is sold: you may be forcibly evicted.  If you decide to contest the foreclosure, the timeline will change a little. The process will also include document filing deadlines and court proceedings. Illinois Foreclosure Process and Timeline Going through foreclosure proceedings can be extremely stressful and hard on you as well as those you care about. This is especially true if you and your loved ones are living on the property in question. The help of an experienced foreclosure attorney could make the process a lot easier and potentially uncover ways that you could keep your home. It may be worth looking into getting professional legal help with your potential foreclosure.  Here is a breakdown of each step to better answer the question, How long does a foreclosure take in Illinois? MISSED MORTGAGE LOAN PAYMENTS Most lenders offer a grace period before assessing late fees on missed mortgage payments. The lender may even reach out to provide payment assistance programs to help you catch up. Life happens, and sometimes our finances change. Most lenders understand that, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take missed payments seriously. You certainly should not ignore lenders who may have options to help you out of debt.  AUTOMATIC MORTGAGE LOAN DEFAULT In Illinois, your mortgage loan will automatically default after 90 days without payment. At this point, your lender will send a Notice of Default (NOD), which serves the purpose of informing you of their intent to foreclose on your property due to lack of payment. Once the lender sends this notice, your foreclosure becomes a public record. Beware of solicitation from creditors offering to help. It is best to work with your lender directly or a reputable debt management company.  BREACH LETTER IS RECEIVED Most mortgage contracts contain a clause that requires the lender to send a “breach letter” when the loan defaults. The lender should issue this letter 30 days before filing the foreclosure lawsuit, giving you, as the borrower, a chance to avoid foreclosure proceedings. Thirty days after the breach letter is sent and 120 days after the first missed payment, the lender may file a foreclosure complaint.  SERVED WITH A MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE SUMMONS Despite what you may have seen in the movies, hiding in the bathroom or closet when the mailman knocks on your door will not prevent you from being served. The mortgage foreclosure summons is not something you should ignore. It is necessary to read the complaint to understand the allegations against you, find any discrepancies, and be notified of any important dates.  DEFAULT JUDGMENT IS ENTERED If you choose to ignore or to intentionally not respond to the mortgage foreclosure summons, a default judgment will be entered against you. If you choose to respond and fight the foreclosure, this will change the Illinois foreclosure process timeline for your specific case. It is best to consult with a foreclosure attorney to assess your options prior to deciding whether to respond to the summons. Choosing not to respond means that you essentially agree with the complaint and the lender’s request for foreclosure.  RIGHT TO REINSTATE LOAN EXPIRES In Illinois, you have 90 days from the date the lender serves you with the mortgage foreclosure summons to reinstate your mortgage loan, even after a default judgment has been entered. This means that you may bring your loan payments current along with other expenses that have occurred because of your late payments. Reinstatement after the 90 days may still occur if the lender allows it, but they are not obligated to do so. If the lender allows an extension past the 90 days, it could change how long the foreclosure takes in Illinois.  RIGHT TO REDEMPTION EXPIRES Up until seven...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Foreclosure

Foreclosure Help in Chicago

Facing foreclosure? This article lists free resources for you to explore. Still have questions? Vantage Group Legal offers affordable foreclosure help in Chicago. Home foreclosure is the process by which you lose legal ownership of your property. Receiving a foreclosure notice can be overwhelming. This process occurs several months after months of missed mortgage payments.  Many Chicago area homeowners are devastated when they receive a foreclosure summons and do not know how to cope with the situation. If no action is taken, the bank can take your home and negatively impact your finances. Though this sounds like a difficult situation to overcome, you may have options to save your home and get foreclosure help in Illinois.  Dealing with a foreclosure in Chicago? We offer affordable help. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 Foreclosure Resources for Homeowners in Chicago, IL There is foreclosure help in Chicago and the surrounding areas that you can take advantage of to guide you through the process of dealing with your potential foreclosure. Here is a list of some of the available resources to help you keep your home in Illinois. Illinois Housing Development Authority Foreclosure counselors from the Illinois Housing Development Authority are available to provide advice and services to help homeowners. These services include reviewing your mortgage and finances and discussing options to find a solution.  Hope Hotline 1-888-995-HOPE Develop a plan tailored to your unique foreclosure situation. Hope Hotline provides free one-on-one confidential and comprehensive financial and foreclosure prevention education.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s list of housing counselors. A housing counselor can offer independent advice on your mortgage and other financial housing issues.  Illinois Legal Aid Resources that explain the foreclosure process are available from Illinois Legal Aid, along with the necessary paperwork and filing timelines to guide you through the process. There are also helpful videos explaining how foreclosures work and what you can do.  Illinois Hardest Hit Fund Financial assistance is available through the Illinois Hardest Hit Fund for thousands of homeowners who meet eligibility criteria and have experienced at least a 15% income reduction due to qualifying hardships.  Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. A certified homeowner counselor from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc., can help identify foreclosure prevention options and solutions to make your home more affordable. They also offer additional homeowner advice and resources.  Illinois Attorney General At the Illinois Attorney General‘s website, you can learn about the steps you should take when facing a foreclosure, your legal rights and options, and what to beware of. This site also provides access to the attorney general homeowner helpline.  Chicago Urban League The housing and financial empowerment center of the Chicago Urban League is a counseling agency that provides professional assistance for low-to-moderate-income residents. Some of their services include mortgage delinquency and default resolution, pre-purchase counseling, homebuyer education, financial counseling, foreclosure prevention, and more.  Northwest Side Housing Center Certified counselors from the Northwest Side Housing Center work toward improving your housing situation through counseling, education, and advocacy. If you are unable to make your mortgage payment and trying to save your home from foreclosure, they can work with you and your bank to make keeping your home affordable. This organization focuses on residents in Belmont Cragin and the surrounding communities. Partners in Community Building (PICB) PICB’s foreclosure prevention department assists clients who are in imminent default, facing foreclosure, or in post-foreclosure. Help is offered through the various federal government, bank, and investor programs.  How Can an Attorney Provide Foreclosure Help in Chicago? If you would like to keep your home and believe you have a defense to the foreclosure, your best option is to seek help from an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about Illinois foreclosure laws. Most defenses are going to require navigating the legal system. Some valid defenses for foreclosure may include: Proper foreclosure procedures were not followed; The party foreclosing on your property cannot prove that it owns your mortgage loan; and The servicer made a serious error with your account.  If you choose to contest the foreclosure, there are several steps that you will need to take within the appropriate time frame.  Complete a Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to Complaint This form lets the court know that you have been informed of the foreclosure summons and allows you to contest the information within the summons. You also have the opportunity to state any defenses you may have to the foreclosure and facts to support those defenses. An experienced attorney will ensure that this form is thoroughly completed and that your facts do support your defense.  Submit Documents to the Court Clerk The Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form should be submitted electronically to the court clerk in the county where you are filing the case against your foreclosure. This is usually the county where the property is located. Your attorney will do this on your behalf.  All Parties Are Informed of Your Answer The other parties involved must be made aware of the lawsuit. It is best to send these documents to the party’s attorney if they have one. Having your attorney ensure proper delivery will take this procedural aspect off your shoulders. Documents can be hand-delivered, mailed, sent by a third-party postal carrier, or filed electronically. Prepare for and Attend Court An experienced attorney is necessary to help you prepare for court. It is important to ensure you have all relevant documents and proof to defend against your property foreclosure. This may include all financial and payment history surrounding your home. You and your attorney should also review any potential questions that you may be asked by the judge and bring copies of all relevant documents. The judge and your attorney will direct you on how to proceed once you are in court.  Why Hire a Foreclosure Attorney? A Chicago foreclosure lawyer can help you formulate your arguments against foreclosure, navigate the rules of the court,...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

How to Find the Best Divorce Lawyer in Chicago

If you are facing divorce, you know you need competent representation. Here, we’ll give advice on how to find the best Chicago divorce lawyer for you. When facing divorce, it’s common for folks to head over to Google and search something like “best divorce lawyer” or “top divorce attorneys”. This is not a bad place to start your search. However, it’s important to understand that there is really no objective measure of who the “best” Chicago divorce lawyers are. The truth is, there are lots of highly qualified attorneys who would do a great job representing you. The best thing you can do as you choose bring the process of finding a divorce lawyer is to consider what traits and qualities would make a given attorney the best one for you. Below we provided the top things to consider when searching for a divorce attorney in Chicago, as well as the qualities common in the top attorneys. Looking for a personal referral for a divorce lawyer? That’s exactly what we provide. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   Things to Consider When Looking for a Divorce Lawyer There are several factors to consider when determining how to find the best divorce attorney in Chicago. Many have misconceptions about the divorce process and may feel apprehensive about hiring an attorney. Finding one of the top-rated divorce attorneys in Chicago may sound difficult; however, narrowing down your options based on the following criteria ensures you find the right fit for you.  Research  Start with a search of attorneys in your area and locate attorneys serving the Cook County area. Narrow your choices of top divorce lawyers in Chicago to those with a focused portion of their practice dedicated to family law. You may research through typical internet search engines, social media, and even local Chicago magazines. Additionally, discussions with friends and colleagues may offer insight into their own experiences with specific firms. Often others provide quality advice regarding the top divorce lawyers in Chicago.  Vantage Group Legal does all the research for you! When you subscribe to Vantage Group Legal, we get to work for you. Vantage Group Legal matches you with an in-area attorney best-suited for your legal needs through our extensive attorney network with a minimum of seven years of experience in their designated field. Rest assured that Vantage Legal Group finds you one of the top divorce attorneys in Chicago.    Be Realistic  Top divorce attorneys in Chicago lay out the reality of the dissolution process in Illinois. Your assigned attorney will review all necessary information regarding your dissolution. Our network attorneys understand the stress and emotion related to divorce. Our top-rated divorce attorneys in Chicago also work to carefully set expectations to ensure you don’t experience negative surprises throughout the process.   Budget  When determining the best divorce attorney in Chicago, it’s also essential to deal with your budgetary limitations. Even if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse get along well, issues may arise through the divorce process to create tension and disagreements. The inability of you and your ex-spouse to resolve your problems efficiently may result in higher legal fees. Vantage Group Legal works to address these concerns through our unique service. Our potential client meets with our in-house counsel to discuss the facts of their case. When you decide to subscribe to our service, our in-house lawyers study your case to match you with a specialized network attorney. We provide one simple monthly payment to include your lawyer, support fees, and more.  Goals Vantage Group Legal provides clients with a free consultation to discuss your goals throughout your dissolution process and how we can best serve those goals. If you and your ex-spouse have no children and relatively simple finances, you may wish to explore a more simple dissolution process. Illinois provides two options for parties wanting to dissolve their marriage: fault-based and no-fault. No-Fault Dissolution In no-fault dissolutions, there exists no requirement to prove that your ex-spouse caused the breakdown of the marriage. Many may opt for a no-fault dissolution if they amicably decide to end their marriage. When you speak to a top divorce attorney in Chicago, they may advise this as a cost-saving option. When both parties agree regarding all aspects of the dissolution, both save substantial sums of money otherwise spent in court.  When one party files for no-fault dissolution in Illinois, they must prove that they have been living separately for at least two years. If both parties agree to a no-fault divorce, Illinois laws require proof of living separately for only six months.  The term “separate” implies the parties must live apart. However, any of the top divorce attorneys in Chicago know that parties can satisfy the separation requirement even if they live together if they behave more like roommates than spouses.  Fault-Based Dissolution As of January 1, 2016, the State of Illinois eliminated fault-based dissolutions. Previously, filing for a fault-based dissolution required one party to claim a ground for divorce. Despite the elimination of fault-based dissolutions, one may still file under the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Once you establish a six-month separation from your ex-spouse, the presumption of irreconcilable differences is proven. Additionally, if you and your spouse agree to have irreconcilable differences, Illinois law eliminates the six-month waiting period. Contact a top divorce attorney in Chicago to determine whether the facts of your case may speed up your dissolution process through agreement of irreconcilable differences. What Qualities Should I Look for in a Divorce Lawyer?  When you meet with your potential divorce lawyer, consider the qualities you hope for in a divorce lawyer. Going through a divorce constitutes an emotionally and financially taxing process. The best divorce lawyer in Chicago will prioritize your goals, understand your budget, and focus on the most critical issues.  Communication Clear and easy communication with your attorney is vital to resolving matters related to your divorce. The top divorce attorneys in Chicago communicate all aspects of your case to you while providing you with realistic...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

Do Chicago Family Law Lawyers Give Free Consultations?

If you’re searching for a Chicago attorney to represent you in divorce and/or child custody matter, you’re probably wondering whether you’ll get a free consultation. The answer is, it depends on the lawyer. The most common scenario is for family law attorneys to charge you for the initial consultation, and then simply apply that cost towards your retainer, if you indeed hire them. For example, if a Chicago divorce attorney provides you with a 1 hour consultation, and their hourly rate is $250, you could expect to be billed $250. However, that amount would then be deducted from the attorney’s retainer fee once you become a client. So, if the lawyer’s retainer is $5,000, they would bill you $4,750 instead. That being said, there are family law attorneys who will actually consult with you about your divorce for free. Looking for a free consultation about your family law issue? We provide just that. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 Regardless of whether you pay for a consultation, or manage to get one for free, it’s important that you know what information to gather, and what questions to ask of your potential attorney. Questions to Ask During a Consultation with a Chicago Family Law Attorney  Divorce lawyers in Chicago offering a free consultation may provide a time limit to answer questions and assess the facts of your case during the consultation. Therefore, prioritizing your questions ensures you get answers to your most important ones. Consult the list below for possible questions to consider when meeting a family law attorney in Chicago offering a free consultation.  What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of My Case?  Provide your prospective family court lawyer all the facts during your free consultation. With this knowledge, the attorney may assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If you understand the strengths of your case, you can discuss possible methods to help you achieve your goals. Additionally, understanding the weaknesses of your position ensures little surprises arise throughout your dissolution proceedings. What Are the Potential Outcomes of My Case? No attorney can predict the future. However, presenting a client with possible outcomes, both good and bad, represents a realistic approach to a dissolution proceeding. No one wants to lose. However, the possibility may exist in some cases. Therefore, to eliminate surprises for their client, an attorney should present you with all outcome scenarios. An experienced divorce lawyer in Chicago providing a free consultation should never promise a specific outcome. What Are Your Fees?  Understanding the fees related to your divorce case is always at the forefront of most client concerns. The cost of dissolution proceedings adds up quickly, particularly when the parties to the divorce share children and complex finances. Disagreements on issues result in considerable time in court and work on the part of your attorney. Therefore, it’s important to discuss your budget for your dissolution proceeding and how you hope to proceed. In addition to outlining anticipated legal fees, your free consultation should include discussions about required fees for filing documents with the court, service of process on your ex-spouse, and other necessary expenses included in all dissolution proceedings. Who Else Is Working on My Case?  Divorce lawyers in Illinois offering a free consultation can vary from solo practitioners to attorneys in large firms. Consider what type of lawyer you would like handling your case. While the many different attorneys offer different benefits, discussion with your attorney should include a question about what other parties may work on your case. A substantial staff of various paralegals and legal assistants may handle aspects of your case for larger firms. By contrast, there may only be one paralegal or assistant in a small firm or perhaps even an associate attorney handling certain aspects of your case. Understanding who you may speak to on specific issues clears communication gaps or frustrations you may feel if unable to reach your attorney directly. How Often May I Speak to My Attorney? Understanding when your attorney plans to update you on the stages of your case may also arise during your free consultation with a family attorney. An attorney may communicate before hearings and other matters so you understand what lies ahead. Additionally, an attorney may communicate promptly after any issues arise. You may also wish to speak with your attorney on other matters related to your dissolution. Communication with your attorney regarding their schedule and availability to discuss matters will help you determine whether you can count on your attorney to attend to your concerns promptly. How Long Will the Process Take? All experienced divorce lawyers in Chicago offering a free consultation understand that there is no way to determine exactly how long a case may take to resolve. However, based on the facts of any case, an attorney may provide potential clients with an estimated timetable based on past cases with similar fact patterns. General Questions to Ask About the Attorney In addition to questions related to your case, you may wish to ask questions about the potential attorney. These questions may include those on the list below and provide insight into this particular family law attorney’s character. While these questions assist in determining whether a potential family law attorney is right for you, never underestimate the value of feeling comfortable with the attorney you choose. Possessing a good working relationship with your family law attorney alleviates any additional stress as you navigate your way through an already emotional and life-changing situation.  How Many Years Have You Been in Practice? In discussions with your potential attorney, determine how many years they have been in practice—not only in the practice of law but also in the practice of family law. All attorneys in the Vantage Group Legal network possess a minimum of seven years of experience in their particular field of law.    How Much of Your Practice Is Dedicated to Family Law?  Understanding the field of law your potential attorney regularly practices represents an important question to ask during your family...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

Average Cost of Divorce in Illinois

Divorce is expensive. At Vantage Group Legal, we can help you do get it done for less. Worrying about how much a divorce costs in Illinois adds to that emotion and stress. While no one may know what your divorce will ultimately cost, carefully considering the following factors may provide guidance. Understanding where to place your priorities and what fees may be unavoidable in the process minimizes the risk of surprises and assists in managing your expectations.  Looking to keep your Illinois divorce costs down? You’re in the right place. Call us 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 What are the Average Costs Involved With Divorce in Illinois? Initial Fees for an Illinois Divorce Even if you and your ex-spouse mutually agree to end your marriage based on irreconcilable differences, unavoidable fees make up part of the average divorce cost in Illinois.  You must file your petition for divorce in the county where you reside. The average cost to file for divorce in Illinois varies from county to county. For example, in Cook County, parties are responsible for paying the following costs for processing a divorce: $337 to open a case and file for divorce, $206 to respond if your ex-spouse files for divorce first,  $60 to have the sheriff serve your spouse with a copy of filings, and  $50 to attend FOCUS on children, court-ordered parenting classes.  These fees may seem minimal, but they typically make up only a portion of the divorce cost in Illinois.  Divorce Attorney Retainer Many attorneys require clients to pay a retainer payment. A retainer payment is an advance deposit paid initially to hire the attorney. While the average retainer payment varies from attorney to attorney, retainer payments increase how much it costs to file for divorce in Illinois. Most attorneys require retainer payments to pay for court fees, attorney fees, and other expenses arising in your case. Retainer payments rarely constitute the total divorce costs in Illinois.  Divorce Attorney Hourly Rate  The hourly rate of any potential attorney you hire affects how much a divorce costs in Illinois. For example, even simple issues increase the average cost of your divorce in Illinois if your attorney charges a high hourly rate. Suppose the complexity of your dissolution requires multiple court hearings, trials, and conferences with the attorney representing your ex-spouse. This can increase your divorce costs in Illinois exponentially.  When your potential divorce cost in Illinois represents a significant concern, it’s essential to utilize your attorney’s assistance strategically. You do not want to call your attorney for every little thing, but only legal matters for which you require help and advice.  Other Factors That Affect the Cost of Divorce in Illinois Multiple factors significantly increase the divorce cost in Illinois. Determining whether these factors may come into play in your dissolution process may prepare you for potential costs to consider. Trial When unable to resolve issues, your attorney must represent your interest at trial. A trial requires significant preparation by your attorney and can be expensive. Children When the parties have minor children, the cost of divorce in Illinois often skyrockets. Disputes often arise due to disagreements over child support, child custody, and visitation. Parties may save on the average cost of divorce in Illinois if they agree on issues about the children.  Property When parties own property or multiple pieces of property, divorce costs in Illinois increase. Parties unable to reach an agreement regarding property division must rely on the court to determine who gets what—reaching an agreement as to property division out of court assists in reducing the cost of divorce in Illinois.  Mediation may be an option for parties unable to reach an agreement on multiple issues about their divorce. To save on the divorce cost in Illinois, a skilled mediator may provide solutions to disagreements between parties.  What are the Grounds for Divorce in Illinois?  The type of divorce you pursue can affect the divorce cost in Illinois. The degree to which you are able to cooperate with your spouse will help determine how much a divorce costs in Illinois.  No-Fault Dissolution Formerly, Illinois permitted a spouse to file for dissolution of marriage on fault-based grounds. The grounds for fault-based dissolution included infidelity, cruelty, abandonment, and many others. However, as of January 1, 2016, Illinois legislation eliminated fault-based dissolution and now permits parties to file for divorce under irreconcilable differences. Therefore, a party may file for dissolution of the marriage simply by representing that the marriage is an irretrievably broken union with no hope for reconciliation between the parties. The court then must find that the reconciliation efforts by the parties failed and future attempts to reconcile are impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.  Proving irreconcilable differences requires a showing that the parties have lived apart for at least six months. Once parties establish the six-month separation, the court presumes satisfaction of the irreconcilability requirement. Additionally, you may receive a divorce decree with no waiting period if both parties agree to irreconcilable differences. When both parties agree to irreconcilable differences, this may substantially reduce the cost of your divorce in Illinois. However, even if your spouse disagrees, you may still receive a divorce decree after the six months have passed.  Collaborative Divorce  Collaborative divorce provides another option for cost-sensitive parties and operates similarly to mediation. Attorneys work to resolve differences between parties. Upon resolution, the attorneys draft an agreement reflecting the resolution reached by the parties. Collaborative divorce significantly decreases the average cost of divorce in Illinois by reducing court involvement. How Can Vantage Group Legal Help You?  Vantage Group Legal understands the stress and emotions associated with divorce. We help clients find a family law attorney right for you! Call our office to discuss your case either in person or virtually with one of our in-house attorneys. In this initial consultation, you advise us of your goals and any concerns you may have regarding divorce costs in Illinois. We then provide a clear plan of...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Divorce

Low-Cost Lawyer for Uncontested Divorce in Chicago

Yes, There Are Good Options for Hiring a Low-Cost Divorce Lawyer in Chicago Let’s face it—divorce can be a complicated topic.  Nobody goes into a marriage thinking it will result in divorce later on. Nevertheless, couples choose to end their marriages for a variety of different reasons.  Regardless of their reasons, parties often want to keep divorce proceedings as quick and cost-effective as possible. Hiring an attorney for your divorce can actually be one of the best ways to achieve these goals. Are you considering an uncontested divorce in Chicago or looking for affordable divorce lawyers in Chicago? If so, contact Vantage Group Legal today. Our team of professionals can help connect you with divorce attorneys in the area for one low monthly fee. Give us a call today to learn more about our unique services. Let’s discuss how we can help you save both time and money. Low-Cost Options for Divorce in Chicago, Illinois As with any other legal process, a divorce has the potential to be expensive and time-consuming. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In fact, there are a few options in which a low-cost divorce might not be outside the realm of possibility.  File for Divorce Without the Assistance of an Attorney Of course, one way to achieve a cheap divorce in Chicago is to attempt to navigate the process on your own without the assistance of a divorce lawyer. However, this is generally not recommended.  The fact remains that a divorce is a legal process with specific requirements and deadlines. If you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the process, you can miss key steps.  This could lead to the other party obtaining a more favorable outcome. And if the other party to divorce has an attorney, while you do not, this can make matters even more difficult.  Ultimately, proceeding without an attorney could result in a more costly divorce in the long run. Hire a Cheap Divorce Lawyer in Chicago Another low-cost divorce option is to hire a cheap divorce attorney to assist with your case.  This might be a better option than proceeding with a divorce without the assistance of an attorney whatsoever. However, be wary as you make your selection.  Don’t just select the first option that comes up after a quick internet search for “cheap divorce lawyers in Illinois.” By doing so, you may risk sacrificing valuable experience and quality, both of which are crucial in a divorce proceeding. So don’t limit yourself to only the cheapest divorce lawyers in the area—make sure to carefully vet your potential candidates first and select an attorney that has the skills and resources necessary to take on your case.  Use an Affordable Divorce Lawyer in Chicago to Help you File for an Uncontested Divorce Another great option to keep your divorce affordable is to file for uncontested divorce in Chicago. In situations where there is little to no animosity between the parties, an uncontested divorce might be a way to keep your divorce costs relatively low. If the parties agree on how to handle all aspects of the divorce, this can make the filing process much simpler and can reduce the amount of time and money required to finalize the divorce.  Of course, uncontested divorce in Chicago may not be a viable option in all cases. Speak with a divorce attorney today to discuss your options and see if an uncontested divorce might be right for you and your situation.  Uncontested Divorce in Chicago Sometimes, couples simply grow apart for one reason or another. And while the parties may agree that staying married is not the best decision moving forward, they may not have any animosity toward each other.  In these situations, an uncontested divorce in Chicago can be a great low-cost option. Looking for Affordable Divorce Lawyers in Chicago?  If you’re looking for affordable divorce lawyers in Chicago, contact Vantage Group Legal today.  When you work with our team, we will assign you to an experienced network attorney who fits your particular legal needs. Vantage Group Legal is not a law firm. Thus, you might be wondering, How does Vantage help you achieve a low-cost divorce?  Not all divorce lawyers in Chicago are low-cost and also experienced. However, our unique system at Vantage Group Legal can give you a way to achieve a low-cost divorce. And we can do it all for one low monthly fee.  With our subscription plans, you pay only one low monthly fee to be connected with a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney in your area who will handle all aspects of your case for the duration of your subscription plan. You will have access to Vantage Group Legal’s internal support team as well. For more information on our subscription services and how we can help you accomplish a low-cost divorce, contact Vantage Group Legal today.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

Can a Bank Foreclose if Payments Are Current?

Foreclosure most commonly refers to a lender taking possession of a property for non-payment of a mortgage loan. However, the status of mortgage payments is just one cause of foreclosures. Other causes include the owner’s unpaid debt to other parties, a homeowner not meeting other aspects of the loan agreement, and payments misdirected to the wrong lender.  Therefore even when payments are current, there are several circumstances where the bank can still foreclose.  We Offer Affordable Debt Relief Solutions for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure. Our team is standing by to help. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 5 Reasons Foreclosure May Happen Even When Payments are Current 1. There Are Unpaid Property Taxes Local governments collect property taxes on homes. Sometimes those taxes are paid as part of  mortgage payments (usually under the term escrow). For taxes due separate from the mortgage payment, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to pay the taxes to the government. If they do not pay, the bank may pay the taxes owed. If a homeowner fails to reimburse the bank, the bank can foreclose.  2. Homeowners Insurance Not Up To Date Not having homeowners insurance can be a valid reason for a lender to foreclose on a property. Like property taxes, the mortgage contract likely includes a clause requiring a homeowner to maintain adequate homeowners insurance. Failure to maintain the coverage would violate the mortgage contract. 3. There Are Violations of Other Mortgage Contract Conditions Any mortgage contract term violated by the homeowner, not just failing to pay the mortgage, could be grounds for foreclosure. For instance, most mortgages require the homeowner to keep the property in satisfactory condition. If the homeowner does not do this, the bank can seek to foreclose. A contract violation, such as transferring ownership to another party, may also result in foreclosure.  4. Home Owner Association (HOA) Fees Are Past Due In more recent years, HOAs have become popular entities. An HOA is a community board that makes rules and regulations and provides the upkeep of the shared areas in a specific neighborhood. Homeowners in these neighborhoods are required to pay HOA dues. When a homeowner fails to pay their HOA dues or assessments, the HOA may seek court assistance to sell their home and collect the debt owed. This type of home loss can occur even if all mortgage payments are current.  5. Homeowner Paid Mortgage To Incorrect Bank A mortgage loan may be held by one bank initially, then taken over by another. While the homeowner’s records may indicate that they have been paying the mortgage, they may not have been paying to the right bank. The cause may be a clerical error on the homeowner’s part or that of one of the banks. Regardless, if the current lender is not getting the payments, foreclosure is possible. You Should Have Legal Help in a Foreclosure Case If you or someone you know may be facing foreclosure, look into hiring a lawyer immediately. An attorney will review your mortgage contract and all relevant documents, hear your side of the matter, and defend you in the foreclosure process. A foreclosure defense lawyer gives you the best opportunity to keep your home. Vantage Group Legal Services Will Defend You in a Foreclosure Case No matter the circumstances, Vantage Group Legal Services can assist you in a foreclosure  situation. As a unique company with a team of specialized Attorney’s in foreclosure defense, Vantage Group Legal Services connects you with an experienced network attorney and will give you a no-obligation, free consultation. Once you retain Vantage Group Legal Services, your assigned network attorney and Vantage’s internal support staff will handle all aspects of your case during your contract with them. Chicago foreclosure defense attorneys in Vantage Group Legal Services’ network are chosen because of their ability to win cases and achieve success for their clients. Contact Vantage Group by phone at (773) 938-4747 or online.

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