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st. charles divorce lawyerAfter months of negotiation and deliberation, the divorce is finally over. You no longer live with your spouse and life begins to feel normal again. If you share children, however, your spouse is still in your life - and is likely to be for many years to come. 

Co-parenting after a divorce can be stressful, but there are strategies parents can use to make the process much easier for everyone. After all, minimizing conflict benefits parents and children and will help parents prioritize the children’s best interests over their personal disagreements. Here are some of the things parents can do to make working together easier following a divorce. 

Keep Past Arguments in the Past

It can be tempting to stray back into old patterns, even after partners are no longer together. However, making accusations that one partner is never on time or fails to appreciate the other partner will not help transition children smoothly from house to house. Stay focused on whatever needs to be done to address the needs of the children, and stay away from personal issues. 

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 geneva tax lawyerEverybody knows that divorce is expensive. Separating a couple’s finances, often after many years together, is a complex endeavor that results in both parties owning less than what they shared together. Many divorcing couples are so focused on the asset division process that they forget to protect themselves in the future and not just in the present. 

The long-term financial consequences can often have a greater impact on a divorced individual than the temporary circumstances they find themselves in immediately after the divorce is over. The potential tax implications of divorce are one of the most important parts of an individual’s finances. Understanding how divorce can affect your taxes is important for future financial success. 

Marital Home Ownership 

The asset division process can significantly impact a person’s taxes in the present and the future, especially if a parent feels strongly about keeping the marital home. They may be willing to give up other assets, including savings and investment accounts, only to discover that the expense of the house is too much for them to bear. Property taxes in Illinois are notoriously high, and this can place an additional expense on a homeowner to the tune of many thousands of dollars. 

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st charles divorce lawyerIn divorces where one or both spouses has a high net worth, the divorce process can become very complicated. Illinois divorce courts conduct the asset division process with the goal of an “equitable distribution” - meaning that the worth of a couple’s assets are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. Assets that cannot be literally divided present additional complications. Property division may also be resolved through a mutual agreement between the spouses. 

Before an asset can be divided or used in negotiations, the value of the asset must be determined. This can be made even more challenging by disagreement over which assets are considered marital and are therefore subject to division. 

Is an Asset Marital or Nonmarital? 

Courts generally hold that assets acquired during the marriage are marital assets. However, in cases where assets are acquired through inheritance, gift, or legacy, courts usually view these assets as non-marital. But an inherited asset that starts as non-marital property does not always end that way; the way the asset is used can make it potential marital property. 

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St. Charles divorce attorneyCollege is an expensive investment and one that seems likely to only continue getting more expensive. As students around the world say goodbye to summer and get ready to return to their studies, parents in Illinois may be wondering whether their parenting plan has anything to say about college expenses, either now or in the future. 

Couples often create separate savings accounts for their children to be used someday towards college tuition. However, divorce can complicate the ability to effectively plan for the future. If you are a divorced parent with questions about paying for your child’s college, read on. 

Can I Be Required to Pay for My Child’s College? 

All states require parents to financially support children, but Illinois is one of the states that allows for non-minor support orders in which parents may be ordered to pay their child’s college expenses, even after they reach the legal age of adulthood. The educational expenses that divorced parents may be required to help their children with include: 

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st. charles divorce lawyerIn a perfect world, divorcing spouses in Illinois could reach an amicable settlement using the help of skilled mediators or collaborative divorce experts. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Court trials can be very time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing, but when spouses cannot negotiate a settlement, this may be the only option. 

If you can accurately assess your situation and recognize that a divorce trial is likely in your future, a divorce attorney with experience in litigation can help you better prepare yourself to resolve important issues like property division, parental responsibilities, spousal support, and child support

When is Divorce Litigation Inevitable?

There are several possible signs that your divorce may need to be resolved through litigation. These signs include: 

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 st. charles adoption lawyerWhen parents with children from previous marriages get married to a new partner, that new partner often plays an active role in raising children that are not biologically their own. Over time, a stepparent can create a relationship with a child that is as close as that of a biological parent and child. 

When this happens, a stepparent may wish to adopt their stepchild. In Illinois, this is known as a related adoption. Other types of related adoption include older siblings adopting younger siblings, grandparents adopting their grandchildren, or parents adopting the infant of their own teen child. 

This article discusses the process of related adoption for stepparents and stepchildren, as well as some of the pros and cons of this type of adoption. As always, an experienced Illinois adoption attorney is the person best qualified to answer any questions you may have about the adoption process. 

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st. charles child custody lawyerParents getting divorced in Illinois face a wide range of complex and emotional challenges. Arranging for the shared care of a child in two separate households is often one of the most contested divorce issues couples confront. 

In an attempt to better serve the child’s interests, Illinois stopped using the terms “custody” and “visitation” and instead has two distinct categories to address matters regarding the parent-child relationship: Parenting time and parental responsibilities.

Parenting Time 

Parenting time, formerly known as “visitation,” is exercised by one or both parents and involves spending time with and caring for a child. Among other things, a parent with parenting time will need to:

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kane county custody lawyerSharing parenting responsibilities and parenting time for your child can be complicated, especially when parents have different opinions on where the child should live. People in America today are also exceptionally mobile, and moving out of state is common. However, after a divorce in Illinois, moving out of state - or even outside of a certain distance - when you share parental responsibilities for your child may require approval from a court.

How Far Can I Move in Illinois with My Child? 

If you have parental responsibilities and parenting time for at least half the time, you may ask the court’s permission to move and take your child with you. However, the distance you can move depends on a few factors. 

If you live in Kane, Cook, DuPage, McHenry, or Will County, you can move up to 25 miles away from where you lived previously without asking permission from the court, even if the move is across the Illinois border to a city in a neighboring state. If you live in any other county in Illinois, you may move up to 50 miles away. Any farther than this, and you must file a notice for approval with your local court. 

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kane county divorce lawyerIf a divorcing couple is able to communicate effectively, they can resolve many issues together and save themselves the headache of going to trial. In a contested divorce, this may not be possible. Hostile spouses may need to go to a divorce court trial, during which a judge will evaluate the circumstances of each spouse and then issue a judgment. 

If you have already gone to court, received a divorce decree, and feel the judgment is unfair or incorrect, you may be able to appeal the judgment. However, this is only possible under certain circumstances. 

What Does a Divorce Decree Decide?

Divorce decrees can greatly influence your life, both now and in the future. Monetary issues such as asset division, change in homeownership, and spousal maintenance can have a tremendous impact on your overall financial stability. Moreover, a decree can impact your relationship with your children by determining when you can see them and whether you can share in parental responsibilities.

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barrington divorce lawyerMost marriages begin with high hopes, and the prospect of divorce seems unlikely, if not impossible. Unfortunately, statistics show that 40-50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Although nobody wants to go through the divorce process, there are things you can do to make it go more smoothly. 

Being cautious about your choice of divorce attorney and choosing someone who has experience and skill can make a difference in how well your divorce is managed. Here are some of the things you should consider when looking for a divorce attorney. 

  • Understand your wants and needs – You may not want to litigate your divorce in court, so an attorney with experience in mediation and negotiating out-of-court settlements may be your best fit. If you know that you are heading toward a high-conflict divorce, you may need someone who will be aggressive on your behalf. Whatever your circumstances, a realistic assessment of your wants and needs will help you choose the right attorney. 

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st. charles divorce lawyerFinding out your spouse has thousands of dollars in gambling debt can be one of the most difficult things that can happen when you are getting divorced in Illinois. Yet for some spouses, this is exactly what happens during the divorce process. For some chronic gamblers, their addiction is out of control and can drive their family to the brink of insolvency. 

The non-gambling spouse who has filed for divorce may be worried about whether he or she has to pay half of their partner’s gambling debt. What happens to all that money? And what if their shared credit, such as a home equity loan, was leveraged in order to get more money for gambling? 

Illinois is an Equitable Division State

Luckily for the non-gambling spouse, Illinois divorce law mandates that marital assets and debt be divided equitably, rather than equally. This means that the judge will consider who brought money into the marriage, who spent it, and why. For example, if a couple has $300,000 in total assets at the time of the divorce, but would have had $400,000 if the husband had not gambled away $100,000, it would not be unusual for the wife to be given $200,000 and the husband $100,000. 

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kane county divorce lawyerThe outcome of a divorce decree is legally binding on both parties, and there are consequences for failing to adhere to the terms of the order. However, circumstances change, and people may find themselves unwilling or unable to abide by the terms of their divorce order or may believe their spouse is violating the terms. For example, your former spouse may not pay the required amount of child support, or you may need to move out of state and will require a change in your shared parental responsibilities. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you can take action. Although some things, such as property division, are finalized and highly unlikely to change following a divorce decree, other things can change. 

Which Issues Can Be Modified? 

  • Child support is one of the most commonly modified parts of a divorce decree. Typically, the change in a parent’s income must be substantial to modify the required child support payments. A change in a child’s needs may also require a change in child support payments. For example, if a child is diagnosed with a learning disability and requires extensive educational support, a parent’s child support payments may be modified to reflect the new expenses. 

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Posted on in Divorce

st. charles divorce lawyerDeciding whether or not to get divorced is one of the most difficult choices a person will make in his or her lifetime. Divorce is often disruptive to day-to-day life, emotionally challenging, and expensive. One of the factors complicating divorce is knowing whether you have really reached the point when you are ready to legally end the relationship. You may wonder if you have sufficient justification or whether you are being reasonable.  Here are the top five most common reasons couples give for divorce. If you recognize yourself in any of these situations, it may be time to contact the attorneys with the Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II PC. 

Lack of Commitment

When two people are not absolutely sure that they are in the marriage for life, that lack of commitment can lead to divorce. Commitment is key to making a marriage work because it gives couples incentive to work through their issues, rather than avoid them. Often, couples who have been married for many years will credit their marital success to commitment, rather than being deeply in love or incredibly attracted to each other. 

Infidelity 

Finding out that your significant other has engaged in an emotional or physical relationship behind your back can be devastating. Many couples who have a cheating partner cannot overcome the violation of trust and feelings of betrayal the infidelity causes between them, and divorce is the inevitable outcome. 

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kane county family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, a couple has the ability to enter into a prenuptial agreement that defines each spouse’s interests in marital and non-marital assets. A prenup can be especially helpful if the marriage later ends in divorce, as it can allow the spouses to smoothly divide their property and resolve questions of spousal maintenance on their own terms. However, there are cases in which a prenuptial agreement can be an additional source of conflict during the divorce process, particularly when a spouse tries to claim that an agreement is invalid and unenforceable.

Reasons to Invalidate a Prenup in Illinois

In most cases, prenuptial agreements are valid and legally enforceable, and they cannot be dismissed simply because a spouse is no longer satisfied with terms they had previously agreed to. However, you may be able to make the case that the court should not enforce your prenup if you have evidence of at least one of the following:

  • You were never legally married after signing the prenup. A prenuptial agreement only takes effect upon marriage, so if you decide not to go through with the marriage, or if the marriage is void for whatever reason, your partner cannot lay claim to any of your assets that the prenup may have granted them.

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kane county divorce lawyerIn recent years, pets and companion animals have taken on an increasingly important role in our lives. Recent studies show that over 75 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and that viewing pets this way is even beneficial for the owner’s physical and mental health. However, family law statutes throughout the U.S. have been slower to adopt this view, with many states still treating pets as equivalent to other forms of property in divorce cases. Illinois is one of the rare early exceptions, having enacted laws specifically addressing companion animals in divorce cases in 2018.

Which Spouse Keeps the Pets?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now specifically references companion animals in several places, recognizing that when a couple owns a pet together, ownership of and responsibility for the pet is an important part of the divorce resolution. For example, the law allows spouses to create an agreement regarding possession and care of their pets. In many cases, these agreements include visitation schedules, or even arrangements similar to parenting time in which the pets will live with each spouse on certain days. A companion animal ownership agreement is also noted as a necessary part of a joint simplified dissolution of marriage for couples who have pets.

In cases of contested pet ownership, the law allows a spouse to petition the court for temporary possession of their pet during the divorce process, or more permanent terms for pet ownership in the final divorce resolution. When making a decision, the court will consider whether the pet is a marital asset, typically meaning that it was adopted during the marriage. However, the court will not simply treat a pet as any other type of property, but will instead consider the animal’s well-being and whether continued joint ownership would be appropriate. The court will also exclude service animals from these decisions, ensuring that an animal trained to assist one the spouses will be able to stay with that spouse.

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st charles paternity lawyerAccording to recent statistics from the Pew Research Center, around 35 percent of unmarried parents are in cohabiting relationships. This includes many parents who have a child without getting married, but continue to live together in a committed relationship. In a case such as this, you might assume that establishing legal paternity is unnecessary, as the child’s father is living with the child and actively involved in raising him or her. However, failing to take the steps to definitively establish paternity can be a costly mistake in the long run.

Does Cohabitation Create a Presumption of Paternity?

In Illinois, there are certain situations in which a man is automatically presumed to be a child’s legal father. This includes when the man is married to the child’s mother when the child is born, as well as when the man is in a civil union or “substantially similar legal relationship” with the child’s mother, such as a domestic partnership or common law marriage established in another state. However, cohabiting alone does not qualify as a substantially similar legal relationship. This means that even if a man lives with his child, he may not be recognized as the child’s father under the law.

Taking Steps to Establish Paternity

There are several major downsides of failing to establish legal paternity after a child is born. It will be more difficult for the child and the child’s mother to secure child support from the father, and the child will also not have access to other benefits through the father, including inheritance rights, insurance coverage, and government benefits. Also, if the man’s relationship with the mother ends, he will not have the right to petition for parental responsibilities and parenting time unless he has been recognized as the child’s legal father.

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Kane County spousal maintenance lawyerThe years after a divorce can be a difficult transition period for many people. You may still be tied to your former spouse through elements of your divorce order, while at the same time trying to move forward with your life. Often, your past and future can influence each other in complicated ways, including when it comes to the legal terms of your divorce resolution. One situation to pay close attention to is starting a new romantic relationship during an active spousal support order.

Effects on the Spouse Who Receives Support

In Illinois, spousal support orders usually last for a limited time, so as the receiving spouse, you will need to prepare for the payments to end eventually. However, a new romantic relationship can lead to the end of spousal maintenance sooner than you expect. Spousal support will not end simply because you start dating new people, or even because you enter a committed relationship with someone new. However, if the court determines that you are in a cohabiting relationship, the maintenance order can be terminated effective on the date the cohabitation began.

Defining a cohabiting relationship can be complicated, but in general, the court will consider things like the length of the relationship; the amount of time the partners spend together, including overnight stays; how they spend that time together; and whether they share property, expenses, or joint financial accounts. If the partners legally marry, the case becomes much more straightforward, and maintenance obligations will end on the date of marriage.

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St. Charles family law attorneyMany divorcing couples consider the option of mediation to help them resolve the issues at hand. Mediation can be beneficial for many reasons, including its general affordability, efficiency, and privacy in comparison to a divorce trial. However, if you are feeling frustrated or hurt by your spouse, the thought of meeting with them for mediation may be unpleasant. It is important to understand how the mediation process works so that you can decide whether it is something you are comfortable with.

The Traditional Mediation Process in Illinois

Traditionally, divorce mediation involves scheduled sessions during which the spouses will meet at a neutral site, with a neutral mediator guiding negotiations to help them find common ground and reach an agreement. This means that for at least part of the process, you will likely be speaking with your spouse face-to-face. However, you may ask to speak with the mediator privately if you have something to say that you would prefer your spouse not to hear. You can also request to have your own attorney present for mediation so that you have someone who can help you protect your interests. Even if you and your spouse are prone to conflict on your own, the structure of mediation may be able to help you civilly resolve your differences.

The Virtual Mediation Alternative

With recent improvements in communication technology, and especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual mediation has become a more popular alternative to the traditional face-to-face process. During virtual divorce mediation, you, your spouse, and the mediator will likely be speaking directly to each other at the same time, but you will not have to be in the same location. This can not only create an additional buffer between you and your spouse, it can also fit more conveniently into your schedule and allow you to be in a place of comfort while it happens.

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Kane County parenting time attorneyThe summer months are a time when children often have less structure to their schedules because of the extended break from school. This can come with many benefits, including time to relax, participate in other activities, spend time with family, and take trips. However, it can also be a source of stress for parents, especially those who are recently divorced, as they try to adapt to the changes that summer brings. If you are going through a divorce, planning for summer break in your parenting agreement can help you prepare for many of the challenges you might encounter. Here are some things you may want to address in your parenting plan.

Shifting the Balance of Parenting Time

During the school year, it may be in a child’s best interest to spend the majority of the time during the week with one parent, so as to minimize interruptions to their daily routine. However, this may not be as important during the summer when children do not have as many schedule commitments. With this in mind, you might consider allocating more summer parenting time to the parent who has less time throughout the rest of the year. This arrangement often works especially well when parents live far apart, making regular travel between homes more difficult.

Setting Expectations for Travel

Many parents plan family vacations or trips during the summer, and it may be a good idea to address this directly in the parenting plan. For example, you could specify certain weeks when each parent can travel with the children, perhaps taking into consideration a fair allocation of summer holidays when parents have time off work. You should also include expectations for notifying each other about travel plans, as well as communication with your children while they are on a trip with the other parent.

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St. Charles IL divorce attorneyIf you have received property through an inheritance from a family member or close friend, it is likely something that you hold very dear. You may see it as a representation of that person’s legacy, and in many cases, it also has substantial monetary value. The thought of losing your inheritance or having to divide it in a divorce can be concerning. Fortunately, Illinois law often allows you to protect inherited property during the divorce process, but there are some possible exceptions that you should be aware of.

Inherited Assets Are Usually Non-Marital Property

According to Illinois law, most property that either spouse acquires during their marriage is considered to belong to the marital estate, and this means that both spouses have the right to a fair share of it in the event of a divorce. However, the law lists several forms of property that are considered non-marital assets. One example is “property acquired by gift, legacy, or descent,” which includes assets acquired through a will, trust, or intestate succession. Provided that you alone are the named or qualifying beneficiary, you will likely be able to keep all inherited property in the divorce. If your spouse is willing, creating a postnuptial agreement after receiving an inheritance can provide additional protection for your assets.

When Can an Inheritance Become Marital Property?

However, under some circumstances, property received through inheritance is subject to division in a divorce. This may be the case if:

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