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St. Charles divorce attorney legal separation

Some states require a waiting period during which a married couple must be separated before a divorce can be finalized, and Illinois used to be the same. However, since 2016, an Illinois couple can proceed with a divorce at any time as long as one of the spouses has been an Illinois resident for at least 90 days and the marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences. That said, while a legal separation is no longer a necessary step on the path to divorce in Illinois, it is still an option, and you may have questions regarding whether it is a good idea in your case.

Potential Benefits of Legal Separation

Many married couples choose to live apart from each other while considering a divorce. If you and your spouse have already taken this step, but you are not yet sure that you want to initiate divorce proceedings, you can instead petition for a judgment of legal separation. Doing so offers several possible legal benefits, including:

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St. Charles divorce attorney allocation of parental responsibilities

For many years in Illinois, issues regarding children in a divorce were referred to under the umbrella term of “child custody.” However, since 2016, this term is no longer used in state law statutes, with the relevant issues instead identified as “parenting time” and the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Parenting time is fairly straightforward, as it refers to the time that the children will spend living with each parent on a regular basis. However, you may have questions regarding what exactly it means to allocate parental responsibilities between you and your spouse during the divorce process.

What Parental Responsibilities Must Be Allocated in an Illinois Divorce?

Illinois law states that during a parent’s allocated parenting time, he or she has the authority to make “non-significant” decisions related to the child. This encompasses a wide variety of routine decisions and allows a person the freedom to parent without worrying that every action may potentially violate the divorce resolution. However, certain decisions are considered significant and must be addressed directly in a parenting agreement. These significant decisions include those related to:

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St. Charles divorce attorney spousal maintenance

In Illinois, spousal support or maintenance is not a guaranteed part of all divorce orders; rather, it is generally only ordered if one spouse has a financial need and there is an imbalance in income and assets between the two parties. As a result, it can often be a contentious part of the divorce process, as the two parties may have different ideas as to whether a spousal support order is justified. This contention may continue even after the divorce is finalized as both parties’ circumstances change. If you have been ordered to pay spousal support and you believe that you should no longer have to do so, you may have legal options to pursue the modification or termination of the spousal support order.

Reasons to Modify a Spousal Maintenance Order

You should know that it is usually not possible to stop paying spousal support simply because you are angry or upset with your ex-spouse. Rather, you will need to demonstrate to the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that justifies a reduction to your obligation. Possible reasons for a modification include:

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St. Charles divorce attorney parenting time

When you are getting a divorce, reaching an agreement on parenting time can be challenging both emotionally and logistically. It is often hard for parents and children alike to adjust to an arrangement in which they no longer live with each other full time, and with the schedules of several different people to consider, it may be hard to find a solution that allows both parents to make the most of their time while interrupting the children’s routine as little as possible. It is important to think carefully as you create your initial parenting plan and to be open to change in the coming years if necessary.

How to Create a Parenting Time Schedule

During the divorce process in Illinois, the court will usually ask each parent to submit a proposed parenting plan that addresses many important issues regarding parenting time, including a schedule of days to be spent with each parent, plans for transportation between homes, provisions for holidays, and other extenuating circumstances, and provisions for the process of modifying the plan in the future. The court will issue a decision after reviewing both parents’ proposed plans. However, if the parents are able to work together to create a plan, the court will often approve of it as long as the proposed plan is in the children’s best interests.

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St. Charles family law attorney postnuptial agreement

Most people are familiar with the concept of a prenuptial agreement, if for no other reason than the media attention given to many high-profile marriages and divorces. Postnuptial agreements are not as well-known, but they are a viable option for many married couples when the partners have assets they wish to protect. Although they are not necessary for every marriage, it may be worth considering whether a postnuptial agreement is a good choice for you and your spouse.

What Can a Postnuptial Agreement Include?

Postnuptial agreements can address many of the same matters as prenuptial agreements, with the primary difference being that prenuptial agreements are established before the partners are legally married, while postnuptial agreements are established after. Some specific items that you may want to address in a postnuptial agreement include:

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St. Charles divorce attorney spousal support

Infidelity on the part of one or both spouses is one of the most common reasons for a marriage to fail. If your spouse has been unfaithful and you are unable to work through it together, a divorce may be imminent, and it is reasonable to wonder how the infidelity might affect the divorce process. The answer may surprise you, but it can also help you prepare more effectively for your divorce.

Infidelity Is Not a Legal Reason for Divorce in Illinois 

Though a spouse’s unfaithfulness may be a major contributing factor, or even the most important factor, in your personal decision to get a divorce, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state in which irreconcilable differences are the only legally recognized grounds for divorce. This means that an unfaithful spouse will not be held responsible for causing the divorce, and the infidelity will not be considered by the court in any decisions regarding the division of property, spousal support, or the allocation of parental responsibilities. However, this does not necessarily mean that infidelity will have no impact whatsoever on the way your divorce proceeds.

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St. Charles divorce attorney debt division

Over the course of a marriage, a couple often accumulates significant property and assets together. However, the flip side is that they also often incur a significant amount of shared debt. In the event of a divorce, when the couple must transition from one financial entity to two, it is important to account for both assets and debts in the equitable division of property. This often makes for a complicated process, and it is important to understand how you may be affected if you and your spouse have to divide marital debt.

Common Sources of Marital Debt

The first thing you should know is that under Illinois law, marital debt can include not only loans that you and your spouse have taken out together but also many types of debt incurred by each of you individually during your marriage. Some of the most typical examples of marital debt include:

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St. Charles divorce attorney child support

When a child’s parents are divorced or unmarried, child support is an important means of ensuring that the child’s needs are provided for financially. However, it is not always easy for a paying parent to fulfill his or her obligations, especially in the midst of financial hardship. If you are struggling to pay court-ordered child support for whatever reason, an attorney can help you explore your options and pursue the one that best meets your needs.

Child Support Obligations in Illinois

Since July 2017, basic child support obligations in Illinois have been calculated based on a proportional share of the two parents’ combined net incomes. This often helps to ensure that both parents are treated fairly and that child support obligations do not create an undue financial burden on either party. That said, you may still find it challenging to fulfill your obligation in the months and years following the initial court order.

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Joliet divorce attorney spousal support

When you are going through a divorce, you may feel that you have enough on your mind simply trying to arrange for a fair distribution of marital property and make the case for spousal support. Other financial implications of your divorce, like the way it can affect your taxes, may often slip through the cracks, leaving a lasting negative impact on your future. However, with the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer, you can plan for the effects of divorce on your taxes so that your financial situation remains secure.

Tax Implications of Divorce in Illinois

There are many ways that your taxes can be affected by a divorce, so this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, three common ways that taxes can come into play during the divorce process include:

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St. Charles child custody attorney parental relocation

Moving to a new location after your divorce can help to give you a fresh start, especially if you are pursuing a new opportunity for yourself or your children. However, in Illinois, many parental relocations require court approval to ensure that the best interests of your children and their relationship with their other parent are protected. If you are planning a move, you should make sure you know whether legal action is necessary, and consider how you can help the process go smoothly.

When Does Relocation Require Approval?

The reality is that after a divorce, one or both parents will have to find a new residence, and in many cases, these moves require no special approval. However, in Illinois, the distance of the move can make a significant difference. Specifically, state law requires approval for the following:

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St. Charles divorce attorney asset division

Although Illinois courts will do everything possible to ensure a fair and equitable resolution to a divorce, your finances will always be affected to some degree when marital assets are divided between you and your spouse. As you prepare to move forward with your life as a single person, it is important to make a plan to recover financially and ensure that you can support yourself and your children well into the future.

Strategies for Achieving Financial Stability

Securing your financial situation can start before your divorce and continue throughout the rest of your life. The approach you take may depend on whether or not you have any children. Some helpful suggestions include:

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St. Chalres divorce attorney spousal maintenance

Divorce can be difficult for anyone, but it may be especially devastating for stay-at-home parents, who devote their time and energy every day to the care and well-being of their family. As a stay-at-home parent, you may be concerned about how the divorce will impact your children, as well as how you will support yourself without the income of your spouse. As you prepare for your divorce and life moving forward, it is crucial to identify your priorities so that you can focus your efforts on the issues that are most important to you.

Divorce Issues Affecting Stay-at-Home Parents

Certain aspects of the divorce process may be especially important for stay-at-home parents. You may find it beneficial to keep the following at the forefront of your mind:

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St. Charles divorce attorney property division

Arguments over finances are a contributing factor in many divorces, and when money is already a contested issue, it can be concerning to consider that you and your spouse will have to divide your assets and debts as part of your divorce resolution. However, you may find it reassuring that not all property belonging to you or your spouse is subject to division. In Illinois, anything that is considered non-marital property will most likely stay with the person to whom it belongs.

Identifying Non-Marital Property

While you might take comfort in knowing that you can hold onto your non-marital property during your divorce, it can be a challenge to determine which assets and debts are considered non-marital. Under Illinois law, properties that are often defined as non-marital include:

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St. Charles divorce attorney parenting plan

The holiday season is often a time of family traditions and togetherness, and while it can bring great joy, it can also be hard for anyone who has recently gone through a divorce. Going from being married to being single is a major life transition, and it can take time to adjust to this new lifestyle. The thought of celebrating without your whole family intact can be sad and overwhelming, but as the 2020 holiday season approaches, it may help to consider some suggestions that can make it easier to bear, and maybe even help you enjoy the holidays again with new traditions.

Suggestions for Managing the Holidays After Divorce

There is no denying that the holidays will look different after your divorce, but that does not mean they have to be something you dread. You can better prepare yourself for the holiday season by considering the following advice:

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St. Charles divorce attorney

The decision to initiate a divorce is usually not one that happens overnight. In many cases, it comes after a long period of marital troubles and dissatisfaction, and the longer you put it off, the more challenging it may be to broach the subject. However, it is not possible to start working toward the future without first telling your spouse of your intentions. If you have decided that a divorce is your best option, you should think carefully about how to approach this difficult conversation before you begin the legal proceedings to end your marriage.

Tips for Starting the Conversation About Divorce

The first conversation with your spouse about divorce can set the tone for the entire process. A heated argument can make things more difficult in the long run, but a rational discussion can give you a better chance at a cooperative resolution. Here are some tips for telling your spouse that you want a divorce:

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St. Charles divorce attorney settlement conference

Divorce is rarely easy for either party given the major life changes it brings and the potential for emotions to run high, but the good news is that most divorces are able to be resolved through a settlement agreement. When settlements are successful, couples can avoid facing the time, costs, and publicity associated with a divorce trial. Just keep in mind that if you choose to pursue the settlement approach, it is still important to come prepared for negotiations, and that starts with understanding what to expect from a settlement conference.

Important Things to Know About a Divorce Settlement Conference

As you begin the divorce process, the more you know about settlement conferences in advance, the less likely you are to be surprised by the unexpected. Some important things to keep in mind include:

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St. Charles divorce attorney parenting plan

When you have children, getting a divorce can be especially difficult not only because of the emotional impact on the whole family but also because you will need to consider your children’s best interests along with your own when making many important decisions. However, with some effort and flexibility, it is often possible to reach an agreement on your Illinois parenting plan that works for you, your children, and your ex-spouse.

Factors to Consider in Your Parenting Plan

A healthy family dynamic is possible after divorce, but both parents must be willing to compromise. Your best chance at establishing a collaborative agreement on parental responsibilities and parenting time that meets everyone’s needs is to consider factors including:

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St. Charles family law attorney prenuptial agreement

If you own a business prior to getting married, it is only natural that you would think about how your marriage will impact your business assets and operations, even in the happiest and healthiest of relationships. You have likely invested significant time, money, and effort into building the business up to its current state, and want to ensure it remains in good hands throughout your marriage and in the event of a future divorce. One way to protect your business assets is to pursue a prenuptial agreement with your soon-to-be spouse.

Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement for Illinois Business Owners

Though it may be difficult to broach the subject of a prenuptial agreement with your partner, failing to be upfront with your needs can lead to problems in your marriage later on. An open discussion about finances can clarify where each of you stands and may help you both feel more comfortable about your marriage. For business owners, a prenuptial agreement offers several benefits, including:

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St. Charles divorce attorney child support

Whether you are getting a divorce or you are an unmarried parent, child support is an important concern. Of course, you will want to ensure that your children’s basic needs, including food, clothing, and shelter, are provided for. However, raising kids can often include additional expenses for which you may want contributions from the other parent. When you are negotiating or determining a child support agreement, you should think beyond the basics to consider all of these costs that are necessary to maintain your children’s quality of life.

Special Expenses to Consider in Your Child Support Calculations

When calculating child support obligations, the State of Illinois considers the children’s physical and emotional condition, educational needs, and the standard of living the children could have expected if their parents were together. Ensuring that payments meet these standards often requires the inclusion of more than just basic needs. Other common expenses that can be covered through child support include:

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St. Charles divorce attorney division of assets

When you make the decision to get a divorce, the financial implications can be just as important as the emotional implications, especially when it comes to your retirement savings. Contributions to a retirement account during your marriage are almost always considered marital property and are therefore subject to division between you and your spouse if you choose to end your marriage. With this in mind, you need to prepare for the possibility that your personal retirement assets will decrease and understand how to properly divide your accounts to avoid excessive tax penalties.

3 Common Types of Retirement Accounts in a Divorce

In an Illinois divorce, 401k accounts, Roth IRAs, and pensions are all considered in the division of assets, but each type of account involves its own unique considerations to ensure the distribution is handled properly.

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