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St. Charles divorce attorneysThe decision to file for divorce is just the first step in a long road toward legally ending a marriage. One of the major concerns for couples who are divorcing is figuring out who gets what in the final settlement. Illinois is an equitable distribution state when it comes to dividing marital property in a divorce. However, non-marital property is handled differently. Under Illinois divorce law, both spouses are entitled to keep all of their own or separate assets. Non-marital assets are classified as property acquired as a gift, through an  inheritance, or prior to the marriage, as well as property that is specifically protected by a valid prenuptial agreement. In some cases, disputes can arise if spouses argue over these items.  

Identifying Separate Property 

Distinguishing between marital and non-marital or separate property in a divorce is not always as simple as it may seem. One of the difficulties that can arise when trying to establish a non-marital asset occurs when the spouses have commingled or mixed non-marital and marital funds. Tracing is a method of following the flow of money or assets from their original source to demonstrate that they are indeed non-marital. This requires proof that the original source of the asset came from a gift, an inheritance, or ownership prior to the wedding. 

Proving the non-marital nature of inheritance money may require documents such as wills, trusts, and tax returns. These documents can establish the timing of when a spouse received the inheritance. Next, it must be proven that it has not been commingled with any marital funds, such as put in a joint bank account. If this occurs, then the non-marital asset can be transmuted into marital property, which is subject to division between both spouses. 

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Kane County divorce attorneysThe thought of going through a divorce can be intimidating, even if you are in an unhappy marriage. Suddenly becoming single after years of being married is often a difficult transition. When children are involved, the breakup of the family unit can seem devastating. However, a dysfunctional relationship is not healthy, so in many of these cases, divorce is the best option. Facing a new chapter of your life may be scary, but there are steps you can take to alleviate the stress. It is also critical that you hire a proficient divorce attorney to guide you through the process and protect your rights when it comes to the division of property or assets, spousal support, and child support.

Practical Ways to Adjust to Your New Life

You will most likely go through an adjustment period once you are divorced. You may be sad, angry, or bitter. Similar to when someone you love passes away, there is no set time when you should “be over” your divorce. It is painful even if it was your idea to split up. Here are several helpful tips for obtaining a fresh start after your marriage ends: 

  • Give yourself time to grieve. Regardless of the circumstances, a divorce is a loss, and you need to acknowledge that. Cry if you want, or spend time with family members and friends who can provide unconditional love and support. 
  • Process your feelings and emotions. Talk to a therapist or join a divorce group to talk about your regrets, hopes, and dreams. People who are going through the same thing can often relate. 
  • Rediscover your interests. You may have put aside your dreams or hobbies during your marriage if your spouse did not like the same things. Take time to pursue your passions by joining a book club or a fitness class. 
  • Try new things. Be adventurous and open to exploring different things, such as taking golf lessons or learning how to crochet or paint. Book a trip to a place you have always wanted to go. 
  • Embrace your new status. When you are ready, you may want to start dating again. Join a dating service or “meet up” groups where other singles enjoy networking and mingling in a social setting. 

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney 

Although a divorce signifies the end of your marriage, it does not mean your life is over. Many people can find happiness again, whether they remain single or get remarried. It is important to understand the necessary legal steps to finalize your divorce in an efficient manner. The dedicated legal team at Weiler & Lengle P.C. will fight for your rights to secure the best possible outcome. Speak with a qualified Kane County spousal support lawyer to learn your options for protecting your rights to the marital estate. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 630-382-8050.

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Kane County family law attorneyA divorce can be difficult for a child to process. His or her world changes dramatically when the family unit as he or she knew it is no longer intact. Moving out of the marital home and into a new residence may be a challenging adjustment for any child, especially if he or she is living part time with both parents. 

According to Illinois law, parenting time (visitation) is determined based on several factors if the parents cannot come to their own arrangement. Depending on the allocation of parental responsibilities, one parent may have the majority of the time with the child once the divorce is final. However, there may be other family members who wish to see the child on a regular basis. In certain situations, other relatives such as grandparents or aunts and uncles may be awarded visitation rights. There are specific conditions that may warrant this scenario.      

Best Interest Considerations

Unlike parents, other immediate or extended family members typically do not have the presumed legal right to visitation, even if the child lived with them for a period of time or has a close personal relationship with them. However, depending on the circumstances, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or sibling may have been denied visitation. This is common in contentious divorces, where a bitter spouse does not want the child to spend time with the other parent’s family. In these cases, those family members may file a request with the court asking to modify an existing visitation order. 

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Kane County divorce attorneysThere is a common misconception these days that half of all marriages end in divorce. However, recent statistics show the rate is between about 30 and 40 percent. When a couple decides to end their marriage, each spouse should seek legal representation offered by a knowledgeable divorce attorney. In some cases, a separate divorce coach can also help spouses as they navigate this transition. A divorce coach is a specially trained divorce professional who works alongside an attorney to help clients better understand the legal and emotional process of a divorce. This type of coach can act as a guide and provide emotional support as you work your way through the proceedings.

Practical Ways a Coach Can Help 

It is important to note that a divorce coach plays a separate role from your attorney. Your lawyer will represent you in court, inform you of Illinois divorce laws that apply to your case, draft your legal documents, and negotiate with your spouse’s attorney regarding a settlement on marital issues. This includes determining who gets what in the divorce since Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state. Issues such as child support, spousal maintenance, division of assets/property or debt, allocation of parental responsibilities, and parenting time can all be decided with the help of your legal team.

A divorce coach can do the following once you file for divorce: 

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St. Charles Family Law AttorneysA divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences for someone to go through. Even if the decision to end your marriage was both you and your spouse’s idea, there are many issues that require careful consideration before you can obtain your final divorce decree. Illinois is classified as a “no fault” state for divorce, and the only grounds for legally terminating your union is “irreconcilable differences.” This means you have tried to reconcile but the marriage is beyond repair. Although you and your soon-to-be ex may verbally agree on how to split up certain marital property, it is critical to get any decisions put in writing.  

Marital Settlement Agreement

In Illinois, parting spouses must create a marital settlement agreement (MSA). Every divorce is unique. For example, some couples may have children while others do not. They may also have signed a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement that clarified how to divide assets ahead of time in case the marriage did not last. A parenting plan is often part of the MSA, and it specifies the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation).

Drafting the MSA typically requires at least one settlement conference, which can be an informal negotiation or meeting between you, your spouse, and your attorneys or a more formal conference with a judge. Often referred to as a judicial settlement conference, this can avoid the expense and time spent in litigation if your divorce case goes to trial. The judge will listen to your concerns and suggest helpful solutions. Hopefully, this will help you and your spouse compromise on certain matters so you can finalize your settlement agreement. 

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Kane County divorce attorneysOne of the most difficult parts of the divorce process is the often division of assets. Married couples usually accumulate a significant amount of property during their marriage. When a couple decides to divorce, differentiating between martial property and non-marital property can become quite complex. Assets that were once considered personal, non-marital property can be transformed into marital property, which is then eligible for division. When property division issues become convoluted, it is best to hire a divorce attorney with experience managing complex property division during divorce.

Illinois Equitable Distribution Law

Illinois law regarding property division in a divorce follows a set of principles known as “equitable distribution.” Under the doctrine of equitable distribution, a couple’s marital estate is to be divided equitably, or fairly, according to each spouse’s needs and financial circumstances. There is no guarantee that each spouse will receive an equal share.

It is important to realize that only marital property is divided in an Illinois divorce. Marital property includes any assets which were acquired by either spouse during the marriage, and non-marital property includes assets which the spouses owned before the marriage as well as certain types of gifts and inheritances. Non-marital property is assigned to the original owner during a divorce. Asset division can become especially confusing when assets are commingled or mixed.

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Kane County family law attorneysFrom big-time publications such as The New York Times and Forbes to hundreds of parenting blogs across the internet, the media is littered with strong opinions - and equally strong judgements - on the subject of divorce and stay-at-home parenting. Society, it seems, is especially hard on stay-at-home mothers who wish to remain at home after a divorce is finalized. Oddly enough, though, stay-at-home parents are bombarded with judgement no matter which path they decide to take. For many, choosing to stay at home is simply not a luxury they can afford. However, for those truly desiring to maintain their homemaker role after a divorce, even when finances are tight, the option can be explored and may still be a possibility, regardless of what critics have to say.

Stay-at-Home Parenting Preparation for Divorcing Couples

As you begin the divorce process, many factors need to be considered when deciding who will stay at home with the children or whether or not the stay-at-home parent will enter the workforce once the dissolution is final. Depending on the nature of your relationship with your ex-spouse, this can either be a contentious battle or a team effort to protect the best interests of the children and the family as a whole.

Whatever your circumstances, ask yourself the following questions as you move forward with your plans:

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St. Charles family law attorneysA postnuptial agreement, or postnup, is a legally binding contract that can be executed after a couple finalizes their marriage. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a postnup can help two individuals identify marital and non-marital assets following a divorce. Although the introduction of this topic might upset a spouse, a legally binding document may be beneficial for both parties. If a dissolution of marriage were to take place, having an agreement in place could expedite the process and better prepare each individual for the future. 

Why Should I Establish a Postnuptial Agreement?

When the thought of a postnuptial agreement goes through an individual's head, a preconceived notion of a failed marriage can quickly resonate. Although it may be simple to make that connection, it is oftentimes not true. Before a marriage is enacted or if situations start to change, the idea of planning for your future could be favorable for both members. 

A postnuptial agreement may be beneficial if:

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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 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 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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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 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 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 Hidden Assets LawyerPrior to filing for divorce, a devious spouse may try to hide assets either to capture a greater share of the marital estate out of greed or fear of future financial insecurity or to prevent their spouse from getting a fair share out of spite. This is more likely to happen when certain conditions exist. If any of the conditions discussed below exist in your marriage, then be sure to alert your divorce lawyer about your concerns. Your attorney may recommend hiring a forensic accountant who can study several years’ worth of your tax returns, bank statements, and other financial records to uncover evidence of hidden assets.

When to Be Concerned About Hidden Assets

Some conditions that create greater opportunity for assets to be hidden include:

  • Wealth. In a high-income, high-asset divorce, assets may be spread across numerous investment accounts, real estate holdings, and expensive personal property such as antiques, jewelry, and boats. A couple may also have multiple sources of income. The more complicated the marital estate, the more options a spouse has for hiding places. A devious spouse could also try to argue that parts of the estate are actually their separate property, acquired before marriage, by gift, or by inheritance.

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St. Charles prenup attorneyWhen you enter into a marriage, you are promising to share everything you have with your partner. Sadly, not all marriages will end happily ever after. A divorce can be a messy process, but if a prenuptial agreement is put into place before a union, the process of dividing assets during divorce can be made more simple.

According to the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a prenuptial agreement is a written agreement signed by both partners planning to enter into a marriage. Both parties must be comfortable with the agreement without pressure from either side.

What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Protect?

A prenuptial agreement is a tool that will specify how a couple’s businesses, finances, or property would be divided between the two parties should a divorce happen. When creating a prenup, both parties are required to fully disclose their respective finances to each other to ensure that they have a full understanding of their financial situation and can weigh this information when making decisions about how to divide assets. Once all assets have been identified, the parties may decide what happens to each asset and whether specific assets will be considered marital property that must be divided during divorce or separate property owned by one spouse.

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