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St. Charles IL divorce attorneyOne of the most consequential aspects of the divorce process is the division of property and debts. In complex divorce cases involving high-value or difficult-to-value assets, property division is also often one of the most complicated parts of the divorce. Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, Binance Coin, or Dogecoin must be addressed along with all other forms of property. However, valuing cryptocurrency and understanding how it should be divided is often a major challenge. If you or your spouse own Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency, make sure you understand how this unique asset will be handled during your divorce.

Virtual Currency in an Illinois Divorce

Cryptocurrency is difficult to understand because it is completely unlike traditional forms of currency. This digital asset also exists outside of the government’s control. Furthermore, the value of cryptocurrency fluctuates dramatically.

In addition to valuing the cryptocurrency, the spouses will need to determine who has a right to a portion of the cryptocurrency’s value. Only marital property, or property acquired during the marriage, is subject to division. Determining how much of the cryptocurrency’s value is marital property and how much is non-marital property can be a massive hurdle.

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Kane County divorce lawyerDivorce can be very difficult for a number of reasons. It can often become fairly contentious when a former couple must battle for custody of their children, but what about their pets? Although laws tend to look at pets as a form of property, many people consider their pets to be valued and loved members of the family. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the placement of family pets or companion animals depends upon a few different factors.

Is the Pet a Marital Asset?

The placement of the family pet is dependent upon Section 5/503(n) of the IMDMA. This provision of the law explains that if the court finds the pet to be considered a marital asset, it will allocate ownership of and responsibility for the companion animal. This means that one spouse could receive sole ownership of the pet, or both parties could be awarded joint ownership. In making this decision, the court is now obligated to examine the well-being of the animal.

When is a Pet Considered a Marital Asset in Illinois?

A marital asset is usually any property that is acquired after a couple is married, so if the spouses adopted a pet while they were married, it will likely be a factor in the divorce. However, a pet could be considered non-marital property if it was gifted or left as an inheritance specifically to one spouse, or if a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement states that the pet belongs to one spouse alone. If the pet is not considered to be a marital asset, then whoever is the legal owner of it will likely keep it as non-marital property in the divorce. A service animal is also considered to belong to the spouse who benefits from its services.

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Kane County child custody attorneyIf you are a parent who is getting divorced in Illinois and you wish to share custody of your children, you will be asked to create a parenting plan. The parenting plan or parenting agreement is a detailed description of how the parents will share parenting time and parental responsibilities. The parenting plan is not merely a formality. A carefully considered and well-planned parenting agreement can reduce co-parenting conflicts, help the parents avoid future legal disputes, and benefit the child’s adjustment and overall well-being. One provision you may want to include in your parenting plan is the “right of first refusal.”

Understanding Parenting Time Schedules

A key element of your parenting plan will be a schedule describing the allocation of parenting time. Formerly called visitation, parenting time refers to the time the child spends with each parent. You may decide that the child will live with one parent Monday through Wednesday and the other parent Thursday through Sunday, or that the child will spend time with a parent every other weekend. You may even assign parenting time to one parent during the school year and the other parent during the summer months. Parents have the freedom to design whatever parenting time schedule meets their needs, as long as it is in the child’s best interests. However, it is also important to consider what happens when a parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligation.

How the Right of First Refusal Affects Parenting Time

Consider the following scenario: A mother is responsible for watching the children on weekdays. However, a work trip requires her to be out of town Monday through Wednesday. Does the mother hire a sitter or ask the father to watch the children on those days? The right of first refusal is intended to address just such a situation.

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St. Charles divorce lawyerGetting divorced is always a challenging life event to go through. When spouses own a family business, ending the marriage becomes even more complicated. If you or your spouse owns a business and you are ready to end your marriage, you may be overwhelmed with questions. Will we have to sell the business? Will we both receive an equal share of the business assets? How should we accurately value the business? Is it possible to continue running the business jointly after the divorce?

The answers to these questions will depend on your unique situation as well as your plans for the future. However, one thing is certain: addressing a family business during divorce is complex. You will need to work with a skilled lawyer who has sufficient experience successfully handling business owner concerns during divorce.

Most Family Businesses Are Considered Marital Property

In an Illinois divorce, property is divided into two categories: marital and non-marital assets. Both spouses have a right to an equitable, or fair, portion of marital assets. If your business was established or purchased during your marriage, it is almost certainly considered a marital asset. Even if a spouse purchased the business before getting married, the business can become marital property if joint funds were used in the business or if the non-owning spouse made financial or non-financial contributions to the business.

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kane county divorce lawyerA divorce is easily one of the most difficult events in your life. From your finances to your living situation, many things are about to drastically change and you may be unsure about how you will cope with that. One way to ease some of the stress associated with divorce is to speak to a mental health therapist about your situation.

Benefits of Speaking to a Mental Health Therapist During Your Divorce

At first, the idea of talking to a stranger about your problems might seem daunting. However, there are actually several benefits to confiding in a mental health counselor. Your therapist can:

  • Provide honest advice - When you are dealing with the mental health effects of a divorce, you need someone to give you honest feedback rather than what you want to hear. Your family members and friends likely mean well, but they might not give you truthful feedback because they do not want to hurt your feelings. That is why you should consider speaking to a professional therapist. He or she will give you helpful advice instead of sugar-coating it.

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kane county child custody lawyerWhether you have been divorced for several months or just separated from your spouse, it is important to stick to the child custody and visitation order you agreed upon. However, if your child does not want to see the other parent, it can make the situation much more difficult. If you do not comply with the parenting time schedule described in your parenting plan, the court could even find you in contempt of the court order.

Common Reasons Why Children May Refuse Visitation

While it would be ideal if all children complied with visitation schedules, it does not always work out that way. Children may not want to see their parent for a wide range of reasons. Perhaps they do not like the rules they have to follow at the other parent’s house or maybe they do not get along with their parent’s new significant other. Other children may refuse to see their parent because he or she lives far away from their school and friends.

How to Handle a Child Who Is Refusing Visitation

If your child does not wish to visit their other parent, you can take the following steps to rectify the matter. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerFrom posting vacation photos on Instagram to announcing the birth of a child on Facebook, people use social media for various reasons. Although social media has its benefits, it can cause issues during an Illinois divorce. To prevent complications in your divorce case, try to limit what you post on these sites.

How Social Media Can Damage Your Divorce Case

When you make a post on social media, it may get taken out of context, which can be problematic for your divorce. For instance, let’s say that you go out to the bar one night with a few friends and post a photo of the group on Facebook. Although you are not doing anything wrong, the photo may lead some people to believe that you are an irresponsible parent who drinks too often. Your ex may even try to use that photo in a custody proceeding to suggest that you are an unfit parent.

Posting on your social media may also have financial consequences for your divorce. If you, for example, post a photo of a new vehicle you purchased, despite claiming financial difficulties, your ex’s lawyer may argue that you are hiding assets. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerBusiness assets of any kind can complicate the divorce process, but professional practices present a set of challenges all their own. When a doctor, lawyer, therapist, or any other licensed professional owns their own practice, the business’s success is closely tied to the owner’s efforts. The owner typically relies on the business as their primary livelihood. This can make fairly valuing and dividing the practice during divorce quite difficult. If you or your spouse operates a professional practice, you should be aware of what to expect during the divorce process.

Is the Practice Marital Property?

You might assume that a professional practice belongs only to the spouse who founded it, but in reality, this depends in large part on when the practice was established. If it was already in existence before the marriage began, it will most likely be excluded from the marital estate. However, if the practice was established during the marriage, it will most likely be considered marital property for which both spouses could have a claim during the divorce process.

This issue can be more complicated if you have invested marital assets in a professional practice that would otherwise be considered non-marital property, or if your spouse has contributed to the practice’s success through their own personal efforts. Even if the practice retains its non-marital status, you may need to reimburse your spouse appropriately during the divorce process. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerDivorce can be hard on a couple no matter their income level. In fact, a couple with a high net worth can face some of the most difficult complications when it comes to the financial aspects of divorce like the division of assets and spousal maintenance. If you are ending a marriage in which one spouse was the primary earner, there is a good chance that spousal support will be a factor in your divorce resolution. It is important to understand how this issue is handled in Illinois family court, as well as the options you may have for reaching an agreement.

Spousal Maintenance Decisions in an Illinois Divorce

There are a number of situations in which spousal maintenance may be necessary to ensure a fair resolution to a high-asset divorce. One common example is a situation in which one spouse did not work but instead relied entirely on the other spouse’s income and assets. In a case such as this, a high-earning spouse may want to retain full ownership of high-value businesses and real estate properties, which can lead to an even greater financial disparity. Spousal maintenance may be the best option to ensure that the other spouse can support themself after the divorce.

According to Illinois law, another possible reason for spousal support is to help a spouse maintain the standard of living they have become accustomed to during the marriage. In a high-asset divorce, even a spouse who works and earns their own income may have a case for maintenance if the other spouse has significantly greater income and assets.

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st. charles paternity lawyerIn Illinois, there are several different methods through which a man can be legally recognized as a child’s father. For example, when a child’s parents are married at the time of his or her birth, the man is presumed to be the father without any need for further confirmation or legal action. Unmarried parents can also establish parentage through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP), which keeps the court’s involvement to a minimum. However, there are cases in which it is important to confirm that a man is, in fact, a child’s biological father, and DNA tests are often used for this purpose.

Genetic Testing for Paternity in Illinois

Genetic testing adds another cost to paternity proceedings, and it also takes time for the results to come back, which can delay the resolution. If you are confident in your child’s parentage, and you and the other parent are in agreement, it may be best to forgo a DNA test. However, genetic testing may be the best approach in any of the following situations:

  • When there is uncertainty regarding the child’s parentage. Perhaps you believe yourself to be a child’s father and you want to sign a VAP, but there is another man who may have a claim of paternity. In this case, it may be in your best interest to voluntarily request genetic testing to protect your rights or contest a competing claim.

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St. Charles divorce lawyerGetting a divorce is often an important step to help you leave an unhealthy situation, and the terms of your divorce resolution can provide you with financial and personal protections. However, reaching a resolution may take time, in some cases several months or more, and you may find that the relief you need is not coming fast enough. Fortunately, Illinois law offers several forms of temporary relief that you can pursue before your divorce is final. To decide whether temporary relief is right for you, you should consider the following questions.

Are You Struggling to Provide for Yourself and Your Children?

If you have a limited income and assets, and your spouse will not willingly assist you with expenses, you may have a case for temporary child support and/or spousal maintenance during the divorce process. When you petition for temporary support, you will need to submit a financial affidavit detailing your current financial situation. You should also keep in mind that a temporary support order is not a replacement for terms regarding child support and maintenance in your final divorce resolution.

Does Your Spouse Control Your Assets?

If your spouse has control over much of your marital property and you are concerned that he or she will prevent you from accessing it, you may be able to obtain relief through a temporary restraining order or injunction. A financial restraining order can prevent your spouse from hiding, transferring, or dissipating marital assets during the divorce, and require them to notify you of any unusual spending. 

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kane county divorce lawyerEarlier this week, Bill and Melinda Gates, widely known for their work at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced that they were ending their marriage. This marks the second divorce of one of the world’s most wealthy individuals in recent years after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott ended their marriage in 2019. Very few divorces will match the Gates divorce in terms of the assets to be addressed, but other high-asset couples considering divorce may be able to learn something from the Gates’s situation.

Preparing for a High-Asset Divorce in Illinois

Though the Gates divorce is being resolved in the State of Washington, some of the issues at hand offer possible lessons for divorcing couples with significant assets in Illinois. For example:

  • Property division can be resolved through an agreement between spouses. When filing for divorce, the Gateses noted that they have reached a separation agreement regarding their property and assets. In a high-asset divorce in Illinois, it may be possible to reach a similar resolution with your spouse, rather than leaving the division of assets in the hands of the court. However, it is usually a good idea to consult with financial experts who can help you understand the full implications of your decisions.

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St. Charles divorce attorney Hiding Assets

When a couple is going through a divorce, they are both required to provide the other with details of their individual finances. Each party is required to fill out a financial affidavit – under the penalty of perjury – that is also filed with the court.

It is not uncommon in these situations for one or both spouses to be resentful about sharing this information with the other spouse and may decide not to disclose all of their assets. However, if a person is caught hiding assets in a divorce, the penalties could be far more costly than if they had just told the truth.

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St. Charles family law attorney paternity

While there is usually no question regarding the identity of a child’s mother, the same is not always true of the father. Whether the biological father is unknown at the time of pregnancy, or the father shows up years later, a mother may wish to have a DNA test performed to legally determine who the father of her child is. Genetic paternity testing of a man’s DNA and the child’s DNA can reveal if the two are father and child.

Paternity Testing

Half of a child’s DNA comes from their mother, and half comes from the father. A DNA test can reveal whether the father in question is truly the father or not. The process begins with a cheek swab from the inside of the alleged father’s mouth, as well as the child’s mouth. The DNA fingerprint of each is then profiled, with an accuracy of 99.99 percent. A paternity test can also be done while the mother is still pregnant with the child through blood analysis or more invasive measures by sampling the placental tissue.

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St. Charles divorce attorney parenting time

Not all divorces and separations are amicable and they do not always result in the desired outcome. In fact, when children are involved, few do. The allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time (previously referred to as child custody and visitation) is a contentious and emotional issue, as the court’s decision will affect the child and both parents for years to come.   Co-parenting requires a couple to find some grounds for cooperation and mutual understanding when, in reality, neither of those two factors was strong enough in the relationship to make it last in the first place. So how do you deal with it now? 

For some parents, the task of entrusting their child to a partner they do not believe is fit to be a guardian is too much to bear, and they may wonder if they can simply refuse to allow parenting time to continue. If you are heading down this path or need legal counsel to re-address custody or visitation rights, contact the family law attorneys at our office as soon as possible, we can help guide you in the right direction.

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St. Charles child support modification attorneys

It is no surprise that a person’s financial health is often subject to ups and downs, depending on what is going on in society and what is going on in their own personal life. The current COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of how significant our finances can be impacted due to circumstances beyond our control. It is situations such as this, where a parent may seek modifications to an existing child support order. Under Illinois law, there are unforeseen circumstances that arise and these can bring forth a need to modify the court-ordered child support that is in place.

When Is an Appropriate Time to Ask for a Child Support Modification?

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St. Charles family law attorney child custody

One of the greatest challenges that parents face during divorce and child custody battle is keeping their feelings under control and not discussing their feelings about the other parent in front of their children. Children are smarter and more intuitive than we often give them credit for. Even a young toddler still learning to speak can sense the hostility that is being directed toward a parent when the other is talking about them behind their back. Multiple studies have shown that alienating a parent has life-long implications for children, with the potential to cause low self-esteem, self-hatred, depression, substance abuse, lack of trust, and more. The following are a few tips to follow if you are involved in a child custody battle. For more details that may apply to your particular situation, an experienced family attorney can assist you.

Posting Online

It is important to remember that the other party can and will use everything to their advantage. This means that if you post negative comments, send threatening emails or texts, or come off as the bitter, angry party, it will be used to your disadvantage. Keeping a calm demeanor is both important inside the courtroom, as well as outside.

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St. Charles family law attorney property division

When a couple is going through a divorce, property and asset division is often one of the most important concerns. It can also be a very difficult one, especially if the couple has amassed significant assets and/or property during their marriage. The first step your divorce attorney will take is assessing what should be deemed marital property and what should be deemed nonmarital property. While this may seem fairly straightforward, it is not uncommon for spouses to disagree on what is and is not marital property.

Marital Property Versus Premarital Property

Under Illinois divorce law, property that is acquired and owned during the marriage is considered marital property. However, property that you acquired and owned prior to marriage is considered your premarital property. This property is not considered part of the divorce and should be immediately transferred to the person who originally owned the property. There is one caveat, however, and that is if there was an increase in the value of the premarital property during the marriage, that increase may then be considered a marital possession.

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St. Charles family law attorney child custody

Of all the issues that a divorcing couple must contend with, child custody is often the most contentious issue they face. Even the friendliest of divorces can quickly turn adversarial when discussions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and developing a parenting plan come into the picture. These strong emotions can make custody disputes difficult, and they can also prompt parents to make mistakes. In some situations, these mistakes can end up being the deciding factor in where the judge decides the child should live. Consequently, it is important for parents in these disputes to stay civil, stay honest, and stay persistent, so that they can have their best chance at the custody arrangement that is best for their child.

Stay Civil

Staying civil is one of the most important parts of the child custody process, and all too often parents fail to do it. While this is understandable in light of the important issues being decided, rudeness will do more harm than good. Illinois law gives family court judges a wide range of discretion to decide custody issues, with the most important factor the judge considering is what is the best interest of the child. A judge seeing one parent being uncivil to the other may not look too favorable on the offending parent, especially if the other parent stays above it.

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St. Charles family law attorney divorce

Over the past several years, the divorce rate in the United States has been decreasing. In 2019, the rate was a record low, with only 15 out of every 1,000 marriages ending in divorce. This was the lowest rate of divorce this country has seen since 1970. Not only has the divorce rate been dropping, but the median duration of marriages has also increased by almost one year in the past decade. In 2010, the median length of a marriage in the United States was 19 years. In 2019, the length was up to 19.8 years. Below is a look at some of the reasons for these statistics.

Rates of Marriages and Divorces

It is projected that the divorce rate will continue to drop, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Last March, when the pandemic first hit this country and states shut down, early projections were that that stress caused by couples and families being locked down together would cause divorce rates to spike. And while there were couples whose marriages did not survive this forced “together” time, data collected reveals that the pandemic actually resulted in many couples becoming closer. In fact, in one major survey, more than half of the 3,000 people surveyed said that the pandemic had strengthened their relationships with their spouse, they had found their commitment to their marriage had deepened and made them appreciate their spouse more than they had before.

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