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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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St. Charles divorce attorney hidden assets

One of the most crucial parts of an Illinois divorce is the submission of each spouse’s financial affidavit. The financial affidavit is where you will list your income, assets, debts, and expenses. It is often the first divorce-related document on which a deceptive spouse may lie. Divorcing spouses have many reasons to fabricate financial information during a divorce. Some are hoping to lower the amount their spouse receives in a property division settlement. Others are hoping to reduce the amount they pay in spousal support or child support. If you are getting divorced in Illinois, it is important to be watchful for signs of hidden assets and other financial deception.

Manipulating the Outcome of the Divorce by Hiding Assets  

Spouses are expected to disclose all of their assets and income. Some spouses intentionally leave out sources of income in order to artificially reduce their net worth. There are many different ways that a spouse may attempt to sway the divorce decree in his or her favor. A spouse may “forget” to include sources of income or certain property on his or her financial disclosure. He or she may undervalue assets, create fake expenses, lie about business revenue, transfer property to friends and family, or intentionally overpay the IRS. Some spouses hide assets by literally hiding cash in their home, office, or safety deposit box.

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St. Charles family law attorney divorce

As the 2021 tax filing deadline approaches, you may have questions about how your recent divorce will affect the filing process. The financial aspects of divorce can have a variety of tax implications, one of which is the filing status you will use when completing your tax return. Depending on the situation, you may have options when it comes to your filing status, which in turn can significantly impact your tax obligations.

How to Determine Your Filing Status

If you have recently begun or completed the divorce process, your 2021 tax filing status may depend on several factors, including the date of your divorce and the terms of the resolution. In most cases, your filing status will be one of the following:

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St. Charles divorce attorney parenting time

While married parents are often able to work together to provide for their children and make important decisions about their well-being, the task of co-parenting can be more complicated after a divorce. Divorced parents often need to find a way to coordinate matters regarding their children while living in different homes, and this can be further complicated when there is a certain degree of conflict between the two parents. Matters related to a child’s health and medical needs can be some of the most challenging for divorced parents, especially at a time when health issues are front and center in the public eye.

Which Parent Makes Decisions About a Child’s Health?

Part of the allocation of parental responsibilities during the divorce process is determining how parents will share decision-making authority for their children. Typically, a parent has responsibility for the child’s day-to-day health and routine decisions during his or her scheduled parenting time. This includes fulfilling the child’s needs related to nutrition, sleep, and hygiene, as well as any regular medical needs. If the child has a medical or health emergency during a parent’s parenting time, that parent also has the responsibility to make appropriate decisions to respond to the situation.

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St. Charles divorce attorney parenting time

Many parents who are going through the divorce process are able to set aside at least some of their differences to work together on a parenting agreement that serves the best interests of their children. However, there are also divorces in which parenting time and parental responsibilities are a major source of conflict, and not just because the parents have trouble getting along. In some cases, a parent has concerns about their children spending time alone with the other parent, which may lead them to pursue parenting time restrictions.

Illinois Parenting Time Restrictions

It is important to note that just because one parent is granted a greater share of parenting time or parental responsibilities, that does not necessarily mean that the other parent’s time or responsibilities are restricted. The court will usually prioritize a parenting plan that allows each parent as much time as possible with the children. That said, the children’s best interests are the most important consideration, and sometimes children benefit from more time living with one parent to allow them to maintain their education and after-school routine with minimal interruptions.

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St. Charles divorce attorney parental relocation

Getting divorced and moving to a new location are both significant sources of stress in a person’s life, and the stress can be compounded when one happens soon after the other. A parent seeking to move with his or her children after a divorce is often especially complicated, as it can have a major impact on the other parent and his or her ability to maintain a relationship with the children.

In Illinois, parents who intend to relocate a certain distance away from their children’s current residence must obtain approval from the other parent or the court, but in most cases, this approval is just the beginning of the legal action necessary for the relocation to take place. Parents will also often need to consider substantial modifications to their current parenting plan or agreement, especially regarding parenting time.

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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 family law attorney paternity

Whether you are a child’s mother or father, establishing legal paternity provides important benefits for both you and your child, including court-ordered child support, other benefits for the child, such as health insurance and inheritance, and parental rights for the father. In Illinois, you have a few different options for establishing paternity, depending on the willingness of both parents to cooperate with the process.

It is important to note that if the parents are legally married at the time of a child’s birth, parentage is presumed without the necessity of any further legal action. The same can be true if the parents were previously married within 300 days of the child’s birth, or if they get married after the child’s birth. If none of these situations apply to you, you will need to take one of the following steps in order for a person to be legally recognized as the child’s father.

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