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Kane County divorce attorneysA marriage is a partnership that requires a give-and-take mentality. Going into a marriage, a couple may decide to designate one person as the “breadwinner” and the other as a ”stay-at-home” spouse. Children, financial status, skill sets, and personal preferences can all factor into the decisions that are made. If a divorce were to take place, a stay-at-home partner may feel that he or she is at a disadvantage, having already given up a significant amount of time in the workforce to focus on life at home. If you are a homemaker that is going through a dissolution of marriage, speaking to a knowledgeable attorney could better prepare you for life after divorce.   

Securing Financial Stability

Transitioning to a life away from your spouse can result in increased amounts of stress. Not being able to pay bills, find a place to live, or being able to purchase everyday necessities can all be results for a spouse that is coming out of a divorce. Prior agreements or mediation can resolve topics such as alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, property division, and child support. If an agreement cannot be made by the divorcing couple however, the presiding judge will make a final ruling. 

When determining whether or not to grant alimony, the court may consider the following factors:

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Kane County divorce attorneysA dissolution of marriage can be a difficult decision for a couple. Making drastic changes on your own can present more challenges than one would expect. Concerns related to your home, assets, businesses, and pensions are all worrisome topics that come to mind. Most concerning for many individuals facing a divorce, however, is the dispersion of debt between you and your ex. The state of Illinois recommends that a divorcing couple works together in order to divide their debts equally, however, decisions will be made by the judge if an agreement cannot be reached.      

Marital Debt vs. Non-Marital Debt

Illinois defines “marital debt” as any financial obligation acquired by either spouse after the marriage was finalized, and before the divorce is complete. An example of marital debt could be the amount owed on a credit card that was accrued while the marriage was intact. The court will take certain factors into account to ensure the accuracy of the determination, such as whether or not the credit card was opened prior to the marriage, or whether it is a joint or separate account. Hidden assets are commonly addressed in a divorce proceeding, as well. 

Non-marital debt, simply put, can be classified as financial obligations that are specifically assigned to the person that accumulated the debt. Non-marital debt typically happens before the marriage begins,but there are other ways for a debt to be considered non-marital. Examples of non-marital debt include:

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Kane County divorce lawyersIn a divorce, the marital home is a considered a piece of property. As with all property in a divorce, the couple must consider what will happen to the home once the marriage is officially over. Due to its value and the fact that a home cannot truly be divided, divorcing spouses will often need to be creative in deciding how the home will be accounted for in the asset distribution process.

Separate and Marital Property

Under Illinois law, property in a divorce is classified in one of two ways: separate and marital. Separate property is any asset or debt that was owned by one person prior to the marriage. These types of property are generally not subject to division in a divorce, though there may be exceptions. 

On the other hand, marital property is any property or debt acquired during the marriage by either spouse, with limited exceptions for gifts and inheritances to one spouse. In most cases, the marital home is considered marital property.

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St. Charles divorce attorneysIn Illinois, basic child support payments end when the child reaches 18 years of age or if the child earns a high school diploma (whichever comes last). During the divorce process, parents can come to an agreement in regards to their child’s continuing education costs. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can petition a family court to address the matter and possibly assign a fair amount to be divided between both parents and the child. This amount is intended to specific eligible expenses related to college, trade school, or other post-high school education programs (i.e. tuition, housing, textbooks, etc…). Pre-college expenses such as application fees and ACT/SAT test fees could be included in the parental support payment agreement.

Support can be granted for a college-level child until their 23rd birthday or their graduation (whichever comes first). For good cause shown, the court could extend the support until the child’s 25th birthday.

How Is College Expense Support Determined?

Many college students pay for tuition and other expenses on their own. Others are granted scholarships for academic or athletic ability to help with college expenses. Why then would it be necessary to order divorced parents to pay for their non-minor child’s school fees?

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St. Charles family law attorneysMany things change after a couple decides to separate. In some cases, one parent may have been a stay-at-home parent before the divorce, but now they must find a new job. When they land a job, they may need to move to be closer, and they will, of course, want to bring their children.

If it is a short distance, the parents should have no trouble relocating with their children. However, in the Chicago metropolitan area, a parent cannot move over 25 miles within Illinois or out of the state without permission from the other parent and/or the court. In other parts of Illinois, in-state moves of over 50 miles require prior permission. 

What Are Some Reasons to Want to Move?

As already stated, a new job may be a reason for the primary parent to move, but it is not the only reason a parent will elect to move. Sometimes, a move is necessary to:

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Kane County divorce attorneysToo often, children believe that a divorce is their fault and that if they had behaved better, maybe mom and dad would not be splitting up. Parents know that this is not true, but these thoughts can lead youngsters down a path of mental disturbance.

This is why having a proper parenting plan put in place is important for children whose parents are  involved in a divorce. As part of a parenting plan, both parents can decide on a schedule for visitation—now called parenting time in Illinois—after the physical separation of the family.

Keeping Parents Involved

Child development experts and mental health professionals tend to agree that is usually best for children of divorce to have both parents continue to play an active role in the children’s lives. There are exceptions, but children who grow up with only one active parent seem to be at a higher risk for:

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St. Charles family law attorneyEvery child has the right to be supported by both a mother and a father. There are some cases in which this is unable to happen due to the death of a parent. However, in cases where two parents are alive, both should be responsible for the upbringing of the minor. Unwed couples often have a more difficult time raising a child together, especially if the alleged father is denying paternity of the child. Most men deny a child because they do not want to assume the financial responsibility of raising a baby with a woman to whom he is not married.

In these cases, a mother can ask the court to order a paternity test to prove that a man is the father of her child. Once paternity is established, the mother can move on to file a petition for child support, and the couple can work on visitation rights of the father.

Why is it Important to Establish Paternity?

Unmarried parents in Illinois must establish paternity if they birth a child before marriage or else the father cannot be llsted on the child’s birth certificate. The child will suffer as well if paternity is not established because he or she might not have:

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Kane County family law attorneyChild custody is usually an issue between the two parents of the child. However, there are some cases in which a grandparent is considered for custody of the child(ren). In Illinois, custody disputes that are taken into family court are settled based on what is in the child’s best interests. If the judge finds that neither parent is suitable to take custody of a minor, he or she can allocate parental responsibilities to the grandparents.

Cases of this nature sometimes can be found in single-parent households where the sole parent is shirking—or unable to fulfill—their responsibilities for whatever reason. Some divorce cases have also ended with grandparents stepping into the parental role. It all depends on the capability of the parents.

Factors that are taken into consideration when determining child placement include:

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Kane County divorce mediation lawyersChoosing to end a marriage is a difficult decision by itself, so going through the divorce process should be as stress-free as possible. It is always best for a couple to agree to the terms of the divorce on their own, but if the two people cannot discuss things without arguing, then a mediation session is the next best thing.

When going through the court system, the couple getting the divorce have less control over the splitting of assets, allocation of parental responsibilities, and business control because the court will make the decisions. In mediation, the couple is in control so long as they can find a resolution that both can agree on and be happy to accept.

What Is Mediation?

The state of Illinois utilizes the Uniform Mediation Act which says that “mediation” is a discussion between both parties involved in a divorce—or other legal case—and a third-party, unbiased person who is called a “mediator.” This person’s job is to make sure a couple remain civil during the discussion of all aspects of a divorce. 

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St. Charles child support lawyerIllinois considers it the right of any child to receive financial support from both of his or her parents. Child support can allow a child with divorced or unmarried parents to experience the same opportunities and quality of life as he or she would with parents who are together. Illinois courts use a specific method, called “income shares,” to calculate fair and reasonable child support obligations. However, if something major changes in the life of either parent or the child, the child support order may need to be amended. It is important to learn the steps you should take to request a child support modification in Illinois.

What Should I Do If I Cannot Afford Child Support?

Child support payments can often be a substantial part of a parent’s overall expenses. If you realize that you cannot make your support payment, never simply stop paying. Child support nonpayment is taken very seriously by Illinois courts and you could face serious consequences for neglecting your obligation. Parents who fail to pay their court-ordered child support can face steep fines, wage and bank account garnishment, property liens, interception of tax returns, and more. In the most egregious cases, failure to pay child support can be considered a criminal offense punishable by jail time. If you realize that you cannot make your support payment, notify the recipient of support and your local county court house. To request a change in child support, file a Petition for Modification of Child Support with the court.

Grounds for Child Support Modification

Child support obligations cannot be changed without good reason. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Division of Child Support Services outlines the grounds on which a child support order can be changed. You can qualify for a modification review if one or more of the following circumstances exists:

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Kane County divorce lawyersWhether you have been married two years or 20 and are now going through the process of divorce, you should be aware of how that divorce will impact how you file your taxes going forward. Unfortunately, filing your taxes will not go back to the way it was before you were married, when you filed as single and only had a W-2, or maybe two of them. Much is changing and knowing what to expect the first time you file taxes after your divorce can make the process easier.

Determining Your Filing Status

Your filing status will be based on your marital status as of December 31st of the filing year. If you are filing your taxes for the 2018 year, then you would file as single if your divorce was final on or before the last day of the year. 

There are other factors to consider, such as who is deemed the custodial parent. The custodial parent, because they usually have the children for a larger percentage of the time, can claim Head of Household. This filing status is helpful in many ways.

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St. Charles divorce attorneyAny divorce can come with myriad complications that can create stress not only for those going through the legal process but also for any children and other family members involved. When there is a business involved, things can become even more stressful with many factors for the court to consider. Before discussing the business valuation in a divorce with your spouse, heading into mediation hearings, or making requests of the court, you should understand how a divorce can impact your business and how a business can impact your divorce. 

Reaching a Mutual Decision

Open communication is encouraged when two parties are seeking a divorce. If you own a business, whether it is considered marital property or not, discussing the business and its assets with your ex can mean much fewer headaches in the future. Reaching an agreement concerning who owns or runs the business as well as making other vital decisions without needing the courts to decide for you will always be the best option.

Marital Property vs. Non-Marital Property

If a mediator or the family court needs to get involved in the process of separating assets, the first thing determined is whether it is marital property or non-marital property. 

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St. Charles Spousal Support Lawyer

If you are currently receiving maintenance payments, also known as spousal support or alimony, you must notify the payor if you remarry or move in with a romantic partner. Illinois law requires you to notify the payor of your intention to remarry at least 30 days prior to the wedding, unless the wedding occurs spontaneously, in which case you must notify the payor within 72 hours of the wedding. 

Unless your divorce order states otherwise, the obligation to make future maintenance payments ends on the date of your remarriage or on the date on which cohabitation began as determined by the court. If maintenance was paid to you after such date, you must reimburse the payor for those amounts. 

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St. Charles Child Support AttorneySince Illinois switched to the “income shares” method in 2016, child support payments are calculated based on the combined net income of both parents. When both parents have a job that pays a straight salary or hourly wage, the calculation of net income is fairly straightforward. The calculation can be far more complicated, however, when a parent is self-employed, retired, has a child support obligation from a previous marriage, or has some other special situation. 

The Definition of Net Income for Illinois Child Support Calculations

Illinois child support law (750 ILCS 5/505), in combination with various court rulings, defines income for the purpose of child support calculations as follows. 

Net income includes all income from all sources, broadly defined by the courts as “a gain or recurrent benefit” that “enhances a parent’s wealth and facilitates that parent’s ability to support a child.” This specifically includes:

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St. Charles Divorce Attorney

Before you finalize your Illinois divorce settlement, consider this: Will you and your children be financially protected if your ex-spouse dies prematurely? Under Illinois law, the obligation to pay spousal support, aka maintenance or alimony, terminates upon the death of either spouse unless otherwise agreed in your divorce settlement. Child support obligations, however, are not terminated by a parent’s death. The court may order a deceased parent’s estate to pay child support and college expenses

Child Support After a Parent’s Death

Per 750 ILCS 5/510(d), “the amount of [child] support or [post-secondary] educational expenses, or both, may be enforced, modified, revoked or commuted to a lump sum payment, as equity may require, and that determination may be provided for at the time of the dissolution of the marriage or thereafter.” To ensure your children’s financial security and your own peace of mind, you can ask for your child support order to specify how child support will be paid out of a parent’s estate in the event of death. Keep in mind that both parents have an obligation to support their children financially, so this determination should be made for both parents.

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St Charles Divorce Attorney

When you start thinking about divorce and dividing your assets, the division of your personal and household belongings may not be top of mind. However, when you add up the cost of replacing those items, the total can be significant. Insurance companies generally estimate the contents of your home to be worth about 50 percent of the value of the structure itself. Thus, if your home is worth $400,000, its contents may be worth as much as $200,000.

In an Illinois divorce, all marital property must be divided equitably between you and your spouse. Your marital property broadly includes all household furnishings and other belongings acquired during your marriage with the exception of items received via inheritance or personal gift. In a typical division of property, each party keeps their own clothing, jewelry, and similar personal items, although a high-value collection of watches or jewelry may be excepted from that rule. You will need to inventory everything else and decide on an equitable division of those items.

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St. Charles Gray Divorce Lawyer

In the past two decades, divorce after age 50 has become far more common, leading to the popular term “gray divorce.” What seems to be causing this, and what should you do if you find yourself considering divorce after age 50?

What Has Contributed to the Increase in Gray Divorce?

Experts hypothesize that longevity and technology trends have converged to make divorce more appealing to those over age 50. In 1970, the average American lifespan was 70 years. If spouses reached age 55 or 60 and felt they had grown apart, most would just stick it out rather than be alone. Today, the average lifespan is about 79 years, almost a decade more. Members of the Baby Boom generation who are now in their 50’s and 60’s also expect to remain healthy and active longer. When they have finished raising their children or their careers have peaked, they could be living for 30 more years. If life with their current spouse is no longer appealing, they feel they have an opportunity to do something different in their remaining decades. They have higher expectations for their remaining years in part because of what they see on the internet. Divorce seems a more viable option than it did in the past, in part because of the reduced stigma of divorce and the ease of meeting a new partner through online dating.

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St Charles Divorce Attorney

When a two-income couple divorces, each person may have no problem becoming self-sufficient immediately. However, if that is not the case, the higher-earning spouse may need to make maintenance payments, formerly known as alimony, to the other. Spouses are free to negotiate their own agreement regarding maintenance payments. If they cannot agree, the court must first decide whether a maintenance award is appropriate. If so, then the judge will determine the amount and duration of maintenance using statutory guidelines (750 ILCS 5/504).

Reasons One Spouse May Need Post-Divorce Financial Support

Marriage often changes how people think about their careers. In some families, one spouse takes on the role of being the primary manager of home and family needs, perhaps even homeschooling the children. That frees the other spouse to focus on building their career and generating income to support the family. In other families, one spouse works longer hours to support the other’s dreams of higher education, developing their own business, or working in a fulfilling but low-paying occupation. The longer a person remains unemployed, the harder it can be for them to re-enter the workforce. If you fall into any of these categories, you may need to negotiate for maintenance payments as part of your divorce settlement.

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Kane County Business Divorce LawyerBuilding a business takes years of effort. The last thing you want to have happen is to lose the business, or a substantial portion of it, in a divorce. Three ways to protect your business in a divorce include: (1) Creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, (2) Keeping clear documentation that the business was acquired with non-marital assets, and (3) Seeking early advice from a divorce attorney with substantial experience in handling divorces for business owners.

Is My Business Marital Property?

Under Illinois divorce law (750 ILCS 5/503), all marital property is subject to an equitable division between the spouses. Marital property includes all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the time of the marriage, including income earned by the efforts of either spouse. Therefore, if you started a business during your marriage, it is most likely marital property.

However, your business will generally be considered your separate, non-marital property if:

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Kane County Divorce Law FirmIf you want to live comfortably in retirement, you will need an income of at least $50,000 per year for an estimated 15 to 20 post-retirement years. That means you will need $250,000 to $500,000 in retirement savings to supplement your Social Security benefits. It should not come as a surprise, then, the division of retirement benefits is becoming one of the most contentious points in Illinois divorce cases. You will want to do everything you can to get your fair share of retirement benefits that you and your spouse have accrued during your marriage.

You might think that your entire pension or 401(k) plan at work is your separate property since it is under your name only and is tied to your employment. However, under Illinois law, any pension benefits or retirement savings built up during your marriage are a marital asset subject to a fair and equitable division. You will need to use historical records to determine what percentage of your retirement savings were accumulated prior to the marriage versus during the marriage. You will want to scrutinize these calculations to get as much of your account as possible designated as a non-marital asset. On the other hand, you will want to get as much of your spouse’s account as possible designated as a marital asset.

You might also think that one retirement account is the same as the next, but that is not correct. When you reach retirement age and start to withdraw money from a 401(k) or a tax-deferred IRA, you must pay ordinary federal income tax on the entire amount you withdraw, both original contributions and earnings. However, when you withdraw money from a Roth IRA, you will pay no federal income tax on any withdrawals as long as you are at least age 59½ and have had the account for at least 5 years. Thus, for someone with a 15% average federal income tax rate, $1,000 in a Roth IRA is worth 15% more than $1,000 in a tax-deferred IRA or 401(k). This is a good reminder of how important it is to understand the tax consequences of divorce decisions.

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