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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1722164458.jpgThe Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, recently announced that tax season will commence on January 24, 2022. With tax season right around the corner, you may be wondering what you can expect when filing taxes after a divorce. Today, we are going to discuss the ways by which a lawyer can assist you as you set out to file as head of household after a divorce. 

What Does it Mean To Be the Head of the Household? 

Many people assume that filing as head of household means that you were the breadwinner. While this is not necessarily untrue, the IRS defines the head of household filing status in a much more detailed way. In order to file as head of household, the IRS takes the following details into consideration: 

  • You are legally either a U.S. citizen or resident. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1073013353.pngThe decision to get a divorce is never one that is made with ease. In fact, for a lot of people, divorce is viewed as the very last option because of how intertwined the lives of a married couple are and how difficult it can be to separate everything after being married, finances included. 

While not every couple chooses to combine their finances, money matters are often a major topic of conversation during many divorces. From figuring out how to allocate the funds in bank accounts to deciding how to divide other assets like investments, there are many financial complexities to sort out during the divorce process. 

Tax Debt is Considered Marital Debt 

So, what happens to the money that you do not have? In other words, how does tax debt work when a couple that owes money to the IRS decides to end their marriage? 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-parents-back-to-school-illinois.jpgNo matter what the dynamic between two spouses looks like, filing divorce papers is never easy. However, the process becomes even more unfortunate and complicated when children are involved. 

Typically, a decision regarding child custody will be determined with the two parents in mind. A judge will often award sole custody to parent A, sole custody to parent B, or shared custody to both parents. Illinois law uses the terms “parenting time” and “parental responsibilities” instead of visitation and custody. However, these terms are still used informally and will be used in this blog.  

Sometimes, grandparents will seek custody of their grandchildren amid the divorce of the children’s parents. With the help of a family law attorney, grandparents can fight for custody of the children whose parents are divorcing in Illinois. 

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IL divorce lawyerGetting a divorce is never easy, but when a spouse refuses to cooperate, it is especially difficult. In some cases, spouses actively hide in order to avoid divorce proceedings. If you cannot find your spouse and you want to divorce, take heart in knowing that your spouse cannot delay the divorce forever. It is possible to get divorced without your spouse’s participation, however, the process is a bit more complicated. A divorce lawyer can be a huge help in a situation like this.

What to Do If Your Spouse Cannot Be Located

When someone files for divorce in Illinois, they use a document called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The spouse who files for divorce is the petitioner and the other spouse is the respondent. The divorce petition is “served” or delivered to the other spouse by the petitioner or by a sheriff or private process server. The respondent must respond to the petition within 30 days of receiving it.

Some spouses try to avoid getting divorced by not responding to the petition or even by hiding where a process server cannot find them. Others spouses move out of state or even out of the country and do not tell the other spouse where they are. This can make the process of serving the petition nearly impossible.

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IL familiy lawyerMost people are unaware of Illinois paternity laws until they have a child. While mothers typically establish parentage by giving birth, fathers are treated differently under the law. A mother or father who wishes to establish paternity of their child may need to take certain actions to do so. Unfortunately, paternity issues can be complicated both legally and personally. A family law attorney can help.

Paternity Is Not Assumed if Parents are Unmarried

In Illinois, the law presumes a mother’s husband to be the father of her baby. However, if the parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth or if there is uncertainty about who the father is, paternity will need to be formally established.

There Are Several Ways to Establish Paternity

The easiest way to establish paternity is a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Parents can sign this form if they are both certain who the father is. However, sometimes, paternity must be established by an administrative order or through the family court system.

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IL family lawyerFor unmarried and divorced parents, child support is a vital source of financial assistance. Illinois child support usually ends when the child becomes an adult and finishes high school or college. At this point, the child is considered old enough to provide for his or her own financial needs. However, some children require financial assistance beyond childhood. If your child has a disability, you may be able to get child support even after he or she is an adult.

Child Support for Children With Disabilities

If your child has a disability, he or she may not be able to reach the same level of financial independence as a child without a disability. This can place a major financial burden on the child and the child’s parent. Fortunately, parents of disabled children may be able to extend child support past the typical cut-off point. This can help the parents cover child-related costs such as housing, in-home care, medical costs, and more.

What Counts as a Disability for the Purposes of Non-Minor Child Support?

You may be wondering what types of disabilities qualify a child for extended child support. Per Illinois law, a disabled person is one who has a mental or physical impairment that “substantially limits a major life activity.” You will also need to show that there is a medical record of this disability. Furthermore, the disability must have occurred before the child reached the typical child support cut-off age. Intellectual disabilities like autism, physical disabilities such as blindness, and mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder may all qualify for extended child support.

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IL divorce lawyerFor art lovers, the pieces they have accumulated throughout the years are more than just property. They are valuable investments with great financial and personal value. Unfortunately, owning expensive artwork or other collectibles can complicate a divorce case significantly. The true financial value of a painting or sculpture is not easily ascertained, and spouses may disagree about the value of art. Spouses may also disagree about who should keep artwork, antiques, or collections. In some cases, art and collectibles are even used as vehicles for financial fraud in a divorce case.

Valuing Property During Property Distribution

Illinois couples may be able to reach their own property division arrangement without the court’s involvement. They may be able to negotiate a mutually-satisfactory agreement through their attorneys or during the divorce mediation process. However, before they can determine a fair division of property, they must determine the property’s value. This often requires input from a professional appraiser. If the couple cannot reach a property division settlement, the court will need to know the precise value of the assets to determine an equitable division of property. Consequently, having the artwork professionally valued is often the first step toward addressing art during divorce.

Who Gets to Keep Artwork?

The value of a rare or valuable piece of art is not only monetary. Art enthusiasts also place great sentimental value on artwork. Deciding who should get to keep the art after divorce is often a major point of contention. If a divorce case goes to trial, the division of property is decided by the court. According to Illinois divorce law, art and other assets accumulated during the marriage are usually marital property. However, there are exceptions. For example, if a spouse inherited a painting from a relative, the painting may be considered non-marital property belonging solely to that spouse. Illinois courts divide property equitably based on many factors, including the spouses’ financial resources, duration of the marriage, and standard of living experienced by the couple during the marriage.

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are getting divorced, you may be well aware of the financial consequences of ending a marriage. You may have already started gathering financial documents and creating a budget for your post-divorce life. Financial concerns are a major part of the divorce process. Not only do spouses have to divide marital property and address issues like child support and spousal support, they must also deal with the tax implications of these matters. The decisions you make during your divorce can impact your finances for years after the split. This is why it is important to research your options and work with an experienced divorce attorney.

Handling Tax Returns in the Middle of a Divorce

Filing taxes is already stressful. Filing taxes in the middle of a divorce is even more confusing and overwhelming. If you are getting divorced, you may wonder if you can still file jointly. According to federal law, you may file a joint tax return if:

  • You were still technically married as of December 31 and
  • Both spouses agree to file jointly

By filing jointly, you may enjoy a decreased tax obligation. However, filing jointly may also mean that both spouses are liable for any tax penalties.

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IL divorce lawyerFor many Americans, winter is synonymous with the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or take part in other cultural celebrations, divorcing during this special time of year is especially challenging. Consider the following tips for coping with divorce from mental health professionals.

Make Concrete Plans Regarding Your Shared Children

Separating from your spouse during the holidays is hard enough. Adding children into the situation makes it even harder. If you share children with your soon-to-be-ex, make solid plans for the holiday season. Include detailed information about which parent will have custody of the children and how the children will be transported between houses. Put these plans in writing.

Prioritize Peace of Mind Over Gifts

For many, buying gifts for others is even more enjoyable than receiving gifts. If you are someone who takes pride in finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones, you may feel pressure to maintain this high standard this holiday season. However, it is important to priories your own health and wellbeing. Do not go overboard buying gifts when you should be taking care of your own needs.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets married, few describe the union in terms of the marriage’s legal significance. However, it is important to remember that marriage is a legal relationship between two people. Undoing that legal partnership through a divorce can take a significant amount of time and money. However, the cost of divorce ranges dramatically from case to case. If you are thinking about divorce, consider the following factors to estimate how much the divorce will cost.

Estimating the Financial Cost of Your Divorce

When it comes to divorce, it is nearly impossible to predict the exact cost ahead of time. Multiple factors influence the total cost, including the complexity of the couple’s financial situation and what issues the spouses disagree on.

According to Business Insider, the average cost of divorce in the United States is approximately $15,000. However, some divorces cost much less, and others cost much more. If a couple owns few assets, has no children, and agrees on the relevant divorce issues, they may be able to get divorced for as little as a couple of hundred dollars. Divorce cases that go to trial can result in overall costs of $50,000 or more.

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St. Charles prenup attorneyOriginally posted: April 10, 2019 -- Updated: 11-9-2021

UPDATE: Illinois law has allowed prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements for decades. However, for many years, people misunderstood these important legal protections. In 2021, prenuptial agreements are more popular than ever - especially among the younger generation. 

Prenuptial agreements can protect an individual’s assets and shield them from their partner’s debts. Prenuptial agreements or “prenups” are especially beneficial for business owners, older couples, and individuals with high-value assets. However, prenuptial agreements must be properly executed to be legally enforceable.

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IL family lawyerMillions of parents make the selfless decision to sacrifice a career for the benefit of their children. If you are a parent who has not worked outside of the home in several years or longer, you may be worried about how you will make ends meet if you get divorced. Sadly, many spouses stay in unhappy marriages because they are worried that they cannot manage without their spouse’s income. Fortunately, divorcing spouses in Illinois have several options for seeking financial assistance - both during and after the divorce.

Child Support and Spousal Maintenance

In Illinois, parents with the majority of the parenting time are typically entitled to child support. Illinois courts use the Income Shares model for child support to calculate the amount of child support a parent receives. Both parents’ net income is used to determine child support payments.

Spousal maintenance is awarded less frequently than child support, however, it is possible to get spousal maintenance in an Illinois divorce. If you do not have any marital agreements, such as a prenuptial agreement dictating spousal maintenance, you can petition the court for maintenance. The court will evaluate factors like the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, financial resources and needs of each party, and employability of each party when determining maintenance.

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IL divorce attorneyDuring an Illinois divorce, you and your soon-to-be-ex will need to address several important issues, including but not limited to the division of complex assets such as business interests and retirement accounts. You may also need to address complicated child-related concerns like child custody and child support. Reaching an agreement about these issues becomes much harder and more complicated when a spouse is not forthcoming about information. The discovery process is the fact-gathering portion of a divorce case. If you are engaged in a high-conflict divorce or a divorce involving complex assets, the discovery process may be quite involved. Consider the following tips for preparing for divorce discovery.

Gather Financial Records and Other Important Evidence

During discovery, your attorney may use several different methods of gathering information from your spouse. Of course, your spouse’s attorney will do the same thing. Gathering financial records like tax returns, pay stubs, mortgage documents, and loan applications ahead of time can make the process go more smoothly. Your attorney will help you understand what you will be asked to provide during discovery. Keep copies of text messages, emails, voicemails, and other communications with your spouse, as these may be important as well.

Make Sure You Have a Strong Support Network

Divorce litigation can be very demanding. Sharing personal information and discussing emotionally charged topics like who will get most of the parenting time or how hard-earned assets will be divided is understandably stressful. You need a strong support network to help you through this difficult time. Friends and family members can be extremely helpful, but many divorcing spouses also gain valuable support from professionals like divorce coaches or mental health counselors.

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Il family lawyerA university education can set up a young person for long-term career success. Unfortunately, college is also increasingly expensive. The average cost of just one year of college education in the U.S. is over $35,000. Out-of-state colleges and private colleges can be even more expensive. If you are a divorced parent or you are considering divorce in the near future, you may wonder how these costs are addressed. Is college included in child support payments? Are divorced parents required to split the cost of a university education? Read on to learn more.

Educational Expenses for a Non-Minor Child

When parents are unmarried or divorced, one parent may be required to pay child support to the other. These payments help the parent with the majority of the parenting time cover housing, education costs, childcare, and other child-related expenses. A parent’s child support obligation typically terminates once the child grows into an adult. However, it is possible for child support to extend past the child’s 18th birthday. In an Illinois divorce, parents have the opportunity to petition the court for non-minor child support to cover college expenses like tuition and housing.

How Much Does Each Parent Pay?

If parents cannot reach an agreement about how to finance their child’s university education, the court may step in and decide for them. The court will consider both parents’ income, property, and overall financial circumstances. The student’s own financial resources, including income from a part-time job, scholarships, and grants, are also factored into the court’s decision. The standard of living established during the marriage and the child’s academic success can also play into the court’s decision.

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IL divorce lawyerPregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time full of expectation and excitement. Unfortunately, life does not always turn out how we expected. Some pregnant women find themselves in a marriage that they no longer wish to be a part of. If you are currently pregnant and you wish to divorce your spouse, you may have questions. Can you get divorced while you are pregnant in Illinois? How does pregnancy impact the divorce process? Will the father automatically be considered the child’s parent? How are child support and child custody handled in a situation like this?

Illinois Law Regarding Divorce and Pregnancy

In 2021, there is only one ground for divorce in Illinois: irreconcilable differences. As long as you meet the residency requirements and can assert that irreconcilable differences have led to the marriage’s breakdown, you will be granted a divorce. This is true regardless of pregnancy. However, there are ways in which pregnancy can impact divorce issues.

Child Custody Concerns and Pregnancy

Illinois law presumes that a woman’s husband is her child’s father. Of course, extramarital affairs happen every day and this is not always the case. If your baby’s father is your current husband, he will have the same parental rights as any other father after divorce. Unless there is sufficient evidence that he is an unfit father, he will have the right to pursue parenting time (previously called visitation.) Furthermore, you will have the right to pursue child support.

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st. charles divorce lawyerIn most divorce cases, couples will need to address multiple types of legal and financial issues as they work to separate their lives from each other and legally terminate their marriage. These issues can be especially complicated in a high net worth divorce, and if a spouse is a business owner, ownership of business interests may need to be addressed during the property division process. Whether a business is part of the marital estate or is owned separately by one spouse, a business valuation will usually need to be performed to ensure that the parties fully understand what this asset is worth. By understanding the procedures followed during a business valuation, spouses can ensure that they will be able to determine the value of their property and divide their assets fairly and equitably.

Business Valuation Methods

Business owners and their spouses will often need to work with experts such as financial analysts or forensic accountants to ensure that the value of a business is calculated properly. These experts may use one or more of the following methods:

  • Asset-based valuation - The most straightforward way to determine the value of a business is to add up all of its assets and subtract its liabilities. Assets may include physical items such as inventory and equipment, as well as real estate holdings, intellectual property, accounts receivable, and intangible assets such as goodwill and reputation. Liabilities may include any debts owed by the business, as well as obligations under contractual agreements and other ongoing payments. This calculation can provide a good picture of the current value of business assets, but it will not necessarily address the business’s potential for growth in the future.

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st. charles divorce lawyerFinancial disclosure is a crucial component of any divorce case. Although we like to think of marriage as a romantic partnership – It is just as much a financial partnership. When you get married, you and your spouse entangle your finances. Undoing this financial fusion during divorce can be difficult under the best of circumstances and extremely challenging when a spouse is dishonest. Whether you are only thinking about divorce, or you have already filed your petition for dissolution of marriage, signs of financial deception should be taken seriously. A spouse who lies about his or her income, assets, and debts can trick you into a divorce settlement that is grossly unfair.

You Are Kept in the Dark About Finances

Some married spouses pay bills and make other financial decisions as a team. Others delegate financial decision-making to one spouse while the other spouse handles separate responsibilities. If your spouse is suddenly reluctant to discuss finances with you or gets angry when you mention financial concerns, this may be a red flag. Rerouting mail, hiding financial documents, and deleting computer files or financial software like TurboTax and QuickBooks may all be signs that your spouse is hiding the truth.

Your Spouse is Making Unusual Financial Transactions

One of the most common ways that spouses hide assets during divorce is by transferring assets. Your spouse may loan money to a friend or make large withdrawals from the checking account. He or she may buy expensive art or other hard-to-value items with the intention of undervaluing the asset during divorce and selling it for case later on. Keep a close eye on your bank account balances and other financial accounts for unusual activity.

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st. charles divorce lawyerWhether you are only contemplating the possibility of divorce or you are certain your marriage is beyond saving, you probably have questions about the divorce process. You may wonder what the divorce process entails or what steps are needed to end the marriage. You may also have conflicting feelings about whether or not to hire a divorce lawyer. Hiring a lawyer is not required to get divorced in Illinois. However, there are significant benefits associated with hiring an attorney during your divorce.   

Your Lawyer Can Help You Explore Your Options

There is no one-size-fits-all divorce, and each case is unique. Many people are surprised to learn just how complicated it is to divorce, personally, legally, and financially. It is typically much easier to get married than it is to undo a marriage. Understandably, the divorce process can be overwhelming, and many divorcing spouses do not know where to begin. Your lawyer can help you explore options like mediation and discuss whether these options are feasible given your situation.

An Attorney Will Advocate On Your Behalf

Working with a skilled divorce lawyer is crucial when you are engaged in a high-conflict divorce or a divorce involving a spouse who refuses to cooperate. Your lawyer’s job is to advocate on your behalf and ensure that your rights are protected. Without a knowledgeable attorney, you may agree to divorce terms that unfairly benefit your spouse and leave you with less than you deserve. It is especially important to work with a skilled attorney if you suspect that your spouse will hide assets or otherwise try to manipulate the outcome of the divorce.

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st charles child support lawyerAny parent can confirm the fact that having children can get very expensive. Childcare, tuition and other school expenses, and extracurricular fees are just some of the child-related costs parents may encounter.

Many divorced and unmarried parents receive financial assistance from the other parent in the form of child support payments. However, some parents may experience financial difficulties that leave them unable to pay child support. If you or your child’s other parent are currently unemployed or facing another financial hardship, you may wonder how this can influence child support payments. Read on to learn how Illinois courts handle child support when a parent is unemployed and what you should do if you need to modify or enforce your current child support order.

Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support if They are Unemployed?

A statutory formula determines the amount that a parent pays in child support in Illinois. Both parent’s net incomes are taken into account so that the payment amount is appropriate and reasonably affordable. You  may ask, “If a parent has no income, does that mean that he or she is absolved of his or her child support obligation?” The short answer is no. Unemployment does not automatically terminate or decrease a parent’s child support obligation. However, the parent may be able to reduce his or her child support obligation by successfully petitioning the court for a child support order modification.

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Kane County child custody attorneyWhen it comes to co-parenting, it is best to be as prepared as possible. This is one reason Illinois requires divorcing parents to submit a parenting plan to the court that describes the important details of their co-parenting agreement. If you are a parent who is thinking about divorce, it is important to understand what Illinois expects from parents during the divorce process, including what you will need to address in your parenting plan. You and your soon-to-be ex can agree on the terms of the parenting plan and submit the plan jointly, or submit separate parenting plans to the court for consideration.

The Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Illinois does not use the terms “child custody” and “visitation” to describe parenting duties anymore. Instead, child custody is broken down into two main components:

Parental responsibilities – Parental responsibilities refer to the parents’ decision-making authority. Parents will need to decide how major decisions about the child’s upbringing will be handled. Will both parents make decisions about the child’s education, or will one parent have the final say? What about the child’s health and religious upbringing?

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