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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 attorneysThere is no denying that a divorce can be a complicated process. The legal dissolution of a marriage is not simply signing a piece of paper. Decisions about important issues need to be made, including how a couple’s assets and property will be divided. In some situations, spouses may have complex or high net-worth assets, including a family business. It can be difficult to determine how to handle the company’s ownership after the divorce, especially if both spouses are active in running the day-to-day operations. There are several options when it comes to dividing this intangible asset. Regardless, it is important to hire a knowledgeable divorce attorney to help protect your rights. 

The Equitable Distribution of a Company

According to Illinois law, marital property is subject to equitable distribution. This means that any assets or property acquired during the marriage will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally in half, or 50/50. Some couples may create a prenuptial agreement to decide ahead of time how to disperse marital assets in case they get divorced. Some couples may choose to sell the business, continue to jointly own it, or buy out their share.

When considering what happens to a business, if one spouse started a company before he or she got married, the business may be considered non-marital or separate property. In other cases, one or both spouses may have opened a store or launched a business together after they took their vows. In these instances, the business would likely be classified as marital property. 

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Kane County divorce attorneysWhen two people get married, they rarely think at the time that they might get divorced. However, statistics show that 40-50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. In some cases, a couple may be married for three years and split up after one spouse has engaged in an extramarital affair. In other situations, partners who have been together for 20 or 30 years may realize they have nothing in common after their kids leave and they find themselves “empty nesters.” Regardless of how long a marriage lasts, some of the same issues will need to be addressed before spouses can legally terminate their marriage. There are several characteristics that can make a divorce complicated when it comes to making determinations in how the marital estate will be divided.   

Child-Related Issues 

With multiple issues to resolve, a couple may have trouble agreeing on certain matters. This can include child-related issues if they have young kids, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation). Both parents may want to have equal decision-making authority and spend as much time with their children as possible. If spouses cannot agree on an arrangement, the court will intervene and make a decision based on the best interest of the children. Co-parenting can be especially difficult when spouses harbor resentment or anger toward each other. 

Division of Assets 

One of the most contentious aspects of a divorce is the division of the marital estate. Splitting up property and assets can cause many disputes. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means marital property is divided in a fair way but not necessarily completely in half.  

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Kane County parenting time attorneyA divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences one can go through, especially if children are involved. The allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) are two important issues that need to be resolved during the divorce proceedings. A couple can create a parenting plan, which essentially outlines details such as what days of the week the child is with each parent. If they cannot agree on the terms, a decision will be made based on the best interest of the child by the court. 

Courts will also weigh other factors before making a decision on parenting time in order for both parents to take an active role in child-rearing. However, in these uncertain times, with stay-at-home orders issued in many states, parents are being creative by using technology for virtual visits if they cannot be done in person.  

Determining Factors for Visitation

Illinois courts recognize that children benefit from a relationship with both parents. This is generally true as long as there is no evidence or history of abuse or that a parent poses a threat to the welfare of a child. Otherwise, parenting time may be denied or supervised visitation ordered. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_home-buying-open-house-real-estate-selling.jpgDeciding to get a divorce can be one of the most difficult decisions of anyone’s life. For those couples who have been married a long time or who have children, it can be devastating. The mere thought of separating and starting over can be daunting. For some parents and kids, the marital home may have sentimental meaning. This is especially true if the couple purchased the house together after they got married and it is where they raised their family. However, the division of property is one of the main issues that needs to be resolved in any divorce. That does not automatically mean the house will have to be sold, but it is a possibility. Assuming both spouses own the home together, there are two options: sell or stay. Deciding who gets to stay can be the source of much conflict during the proceedings. A skilled divorce attorney can help figure out what is the best option.  

Benefits of Selling the House

It is imperative that both spouses learn the home’s current value. This may require an appraisal to get an accurate amount of what it is worth on the market. An assessment of the home’s monthly or yearly costs is also important, which may include the mortgage payment, homeowner’s insurance, and utility bills. Depending on the economy and housing market, most people hope to earn a profit when they sell a house. This money is typically split between divorcing spouses in the final property settlement. In certain situations, one partner “buys out” the other from the home. This means paying the spouse the portion that he or she would have received if the home was sold to an outside party. For those who want to stay in the home, possibly with the kids, this can be a good option.  

Some of the advantages to selling the marital home in a divorce include: 

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Kane County divorce attorneysWith all the issues your divorce might bring – child custody, child support, and more – the division of marital assets can seem especially complicated. If you and/or your spouse own a business, the proceedings can be even more complex. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, which means a court will determine how to split assets fairly instead of just dividing your and your spouse’s assets precisely in half. Therefore, you must have a business valuation conducted to accurately determine the company’s worth. To receive your fair share of this asset, it is important to hire an experienced divorce attorney, who, along with a financial professional, can ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.

What Valuation Method Is Best for My Business?

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to valuating a business, and a forensic accountant along with a skilled lawyer will typically choose from these three methods:

  • The market approach: With this method, an appraiser would look at what similar businesses were sold for recently and use those values as a reference.
  • The income approach: In this case, an appraiser compiles your profit-and-loss statements, tax returns, and any customer contracts to determine your earnings in the near past and estimate what you are likely to earn in the near future.
  • The asset approach: As it sounds, this method uses your business’ assets, accounts receivable, and enterprise goodwill, which is the value that your name or brand carries in the public’s eye. It is difficult to estimate this last item’s value, but that is why you need subject matter professionals to help you place a value on your business.

What If My Business Is Non-Marital Property?

Just because you acquired your business before your marriage does not mean that you do not need a proper valuation during your divorce. Your spouse may be eligible for some of those assets if you invested any marital funds in your business. For example, if you used $10,000 to renovate your retail space and you earned $20,000 in profit, your spouse could receive a portion of the initial investment and a portion of the profits.

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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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St. Charles family law attorneysThe decision to file for divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences of someone’s life. If a couple has children together, breaking the news to them can be just as heartbreaking. Many spouses who are unhappy stay together just for the sake of their kids. However, remaining in the relationship can do more harm than good. It is important to be honest and open with your children about your marriage ending so they are not blindsided if one parent suddenly moves out of the house. Following are some practical tips for helping you and your children during this major life transition. 

Preparation and Delivery Are Important

It is crucial that you do not tell your children that you and their other parent are getting a divorce until you are absolutely sure that is what you are going to do. The news that their family unit as they have known it is splitting up can be devastating to kids. It is critical that you make it clear to them that this is not their fault; it is a breakdown of the relationship between you and your spouse. The conversation is not going to be easy, but the manner in which you deliver the news can make a difference in your kids’ reactions and set the tone for moving forward.

Here are a few ways that parents can alleviate the stress of an impending divorce on their children: 

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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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St. Charles Certified Financial LitigatiorRecently adding to his American, Illinois State, and Kane County Bar Association memberships, Attorney Timothy Weiler of Weiler & Lengle P.C. now also holds the title of Certified Financial Litigator (CFL), which further enhances his existing litigation skills in the family law arena. He is the 7th attorney in the state of Illinois to become AACFL certified. As a CFL, he is able to assist clients with greater depth and understanding of the financial issues that so often complicate family law and divorce cases. 

What exactly is a Certified Financial Litigator? A CFL is a law professional who has been granted a financial education certification by the American Academy for Certified Financial Litigators (AACFL), an exclusive recognition granted only to select practitioners who have completed the highest level of financial litigation training and have successfully passed the AACFL’s official examination. The certification demonstrates an attorney’s competence in various financial aspects of litigation, including: 

  • Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Investments
  • Valuation (appraisal or estimation of an item’s worth)
  • Compensation
  • Forensics (litigation involving complex financial accounting)

The Benefits of Working With a CFL

CFLs are valuable in many family law and divorce cases, particularly when money has proven to be a contentious issue. For example, for many couples, signs of divorce due to financial matters emerge as early as during the marriage planning process. Experts say this grim reality can start with a couple’s vision of the wedding budget from day one, which often sets a precedent for the tone and financial dynamic between spouses for the remainder of their union. One spouse may be open and willing to spend a significantly larger amount on the wedding expenses, while the other prefers to save a large portion and put it toward a down payment on a new condo instead. Experts stress that when couples do not talk about money management early on and have very different financial priorities and goals, divorce is very real possibility down the road. Chances are, if money was a problem throughout the marriage, it will likely be a source of conflict during the divorce process.

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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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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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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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