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West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
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Kane County Prenup Lawyer

When couples decide to get married, they may have a prenuptial agreement prepared before the wedding. A prenuptial agreement (prenup) goes over how a couple will divide their assets and handle other matters if they were to get a divorce. 

Marriage trends in society constantly change over time. A shift in gender roles, lifespan, and expectations of marriage have led to an increase in the prevalence of prenups with the millennial generation. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County Divorce Lawyer

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many reasons. You may worry about what gifts to buy, or about the imminent political differences and judgmental family members at the holiday dinner table. 

Divorce can add a significant amount of stress during the holidays. This is especially true if you have children, and even more so if it is your first holiday season after the split from your ex-spouse. With these new factors in play, you likely have to coordinate visitation time and gift-giving with multiple families. If you keep a few key divorce tips in mind, it can make the holidays much easier for everyone involved.

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County Divorce Attorney

Many people who are not happy in their marriage feel divorce is the right option for them. The divorce process often takes a lot of work, and mistakes happen from time to time as you go through a divorce case. It is important to limit those mistakes whenever possible, for your personal well-being.

Here are some frequent divorce mistakes to avert: 

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County Divorce Lawyers

Most divorces are difficult on both spouses, so you can expect your divorce case to bring significant stress. The divorce process can be lengthy and take a mental and physical toll, so it is important to learn how to get through it. 

If you allow stress to build up, it can seriously impact your overall health. Here are some proven ways to help ease the emotional burden:

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Kane County Divorce Mediation Attorney

The divorce process can be a long, drawn-out affair if it is a contentious case. A lengthy divorce can drain both you and and your soon-to-be former spouse mentally, emotionally, and financially. 

In many situations, it is beneficial to use a mediator instead of litigating in court. Divorce mediation may take only a few collaborative sessions, and even the longer instances are usually much faster than court cases. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County prenup lawyerWhen two people get married, they pledge to spend the rest of their lives together. Sometimes it does not work out that way, and they want to get a divorce. Couples who enter into divorce proceedings may worry they will be left with nothing. If that is a concern you have prior to getting married, it may be beneficial to craft a prenuptial agreement.

The need for a prenup can vary depending on the couple and the state in which you live. Illinois law divides property equitably, which does not necessarily mean equally. Equitable division of property looks at numerous factors to determine what is fair to both parties. A prenup can be used as one of the factors which determines how the court will divide property and debts during a divorce in Illinois.

Each couple’s situation is different, so it is a good idea to take stock of your finances if you are considering a prenup agreement. You will need that information for the agreement anyway, and it can be a helpful exercise to fully understand the breadth of your financial situation.

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Posted on in Divorce

Carpentersville divorce lawyer substance abuseThe decision to file for divorce is a tough one to make. The mental and emotional toll of ending a long-term relationship is stressful enough in normal cases. However, if you are married to a person who is a drug addict or alcoholic, this can make the divorce process even more difficult. Even if someone is not an addict when the marriage begins, that addiction can develop over time and lead to a number of negative changes in the relationship. People who are considering divorcing their substance abusing spouse should make sure to consider the following factors:

Grounds for Divorce

Even if your spouse’s substance abuse is one of the main reasons for the breakdown of your marriage, it is not necessary to state this when filing for divorce. In Illinois, the only acceptable grounds for divorce is “irreconcilable differences,” which means that the divorce petition only needs to say that the marriage has broken down to the point where reconciliation is not possible or is not in the family’s best interests. The substance abuse will most likely be brought up during the divorce case, but it is not used as the actual reason for divorce on the divorce petition. 

Finances

When your marriage is about to end, you need to take stock of your finances. Making sure you are able to support yourself during and after the divorce process is crucial. Depending on your situation, it may be possible to receive temporary spousal maintenance before the divorce is finalized. If your spouse is a substance abuser, money may be tight for various reasons, especially if they have difficulty keeping a job or have been spending marital funds on their addiction. It is important to protect yourself by opening up your own bank accounts or credit cards and creating a budget that will allow you to live without your spouse’s income. 

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Algonquin divorce spousal support lawyerIn a divorce case, the court may award spousal maintenance (previously known in Illinois as alimony) to mitigate the economic impact of the separation for a lower-earning spouse. A spouse who has decided to forego a career in order to take care of their family or who earns a significantly lower income than their partner will likely be at a disadvantage following divorce as they build job skills to support themselves. Maintenance exists to help with that situation. 

Understanding Maintenance Terminology

If you are considering divorce or are in the process of obtaining a divorce from your spouse, there are a few terms relating to maintenance that are helpful to know:

  • Fixed-term maintenance - This type of maintenance is designated to end after a certain period of time, which the court will determine based on the length of the marriage. It is intended for marriages of less than 10 years. After the maintenance term ends, the receiving spouse is barred from pursuing further maintenance, and the spouse who was awarded the maintenance will have to be self-sustaining. This type of maintenance is intended to prevent repeated cases in court in which couples fight over the amount of maintenance and how long it will be paid.
  • Indefinite maintenance - This is maintenance that is awarded for an undetermined period of time and does not have a termination date set by the court. Indefinite maintenance continues until it is modified or terminated because of a change in circumstances for one or both individuals. It is most often awarded when a marriage has lasted longer than 20 years. 
  • Reviewable maintenance - In these cases, the court awards maintenance for a fixed period of time, but after that time, the court may review the couple’s circumstances to determine whether spousal support is still necessary. When reviewing the maintenance, the court can designate another fixed term maintenance as reviewable or non-renewable, or it can designate the maintenance as indefinite. 
  • Temporary maintenance - An individual may file a request for temporary maintenance while the divorce case is pending, as long as they have a legitimate reason for why maintenance should be awarded during that time. Temporary maintenance will usually end when the divorce is finalized. 

Contact a Knowledgeable Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you need help understanding your rights to receive spousal support or your obligations to pay maintenance in your divorce case, our skilled Carpentersville spousal maintenance attorney can provide you with legal guidance and advocate for your best interests in court. We will provide the legal help you need throughout every step of the divorce process. Contact the Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II PC today at 847-428-7725 to schedule a free consultation. 

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West Dundee divorce property division attorneyIf you are considering entering into divorce proceedings, you may be wondering what will happen to the property you own. Each state has its own laws that determine how to divide property in a divorce. In Illinois, the law states that property must be divided in an equitable, but not necessarily equal, manner. Before the court can make the decision regarding how to divide the property, the property first needs to be divided into two categories: marital property and non-marital property. 

Marital Vs. Non-Marital Property

Marital property includes any property or debts that were acquired during the course of the marriage by either spouse. The types of property that are considered marital assets may vary widely. The scope of what is and is not marital property does not stop at large purchases; it can be any type of physical property or financial assets that the couple has in their home or elsewhere. However, some assets may not be considered marital property even if they were acquired during the marriage, such as if the item was a gift or inheritance. 

Most non-marital property consists of assets that were acquired by either spouse before the marriage. However, non-marital property can also include property received in exchange for other property which was acquired before the marriage, property acquired by a spouse after a legal separation, or property not included as marital property because of a legal agreement between the spouses (such as a prenuptial agreement). 

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Posted on in Divorce

West Dundee divorce attorneyA marriage is a partnership and a pact between two people to share in each other’s lives and feelings. It is normal for married couples to have disagreements with each other, but there are a few behaviors which make it much more likely that a marriage will end in divorce. Exhibiting all of these behaviors is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they do not happen with such great frequency that they are overruling the positive elements of a marriage. 

What Are the Behaviors?

The four behaviors are as follows:

  • Contempt - In this context, contempt means that one partner thinks that they are smarter or better than the other person. When a person feels contempt towards their partner, they are typically not being receptive to how the other person is feeling, which leads to the other person feeling like they are not heard or are being put down. 
  • Criticism - Criticism is similar to contempt in that it can make little things turn into big arguments. Constantly criticizing the way your partner does something or the way they dress or look and not addressing issues in a constructive way can lead to increased feelings of resentment. 
  • Defensiveness - This behavior is characterized by one spouse constantly stating that it was not their fault if something goes wrong or acting as if they are a victim. In many cases, it is better for spouses to take all the details of a situation into account and think about what they could have done better. 
  • Stonewalling - If an argument is about to happen, and one partner abruptly decides that they are not going to talk about the issue, this can lead to further issues down the road. Not being able to discuss problems and air grievances with each other may lead to couples staying mad at each other longer than they would have if each person had explained their reasoning. 

The repeated and constant occurrence of one or a combination of these problems can lead to an increased likelihood for a couple to divorce. Overall, a constant theme throughout these behaviors is a lack of proper communication and empathy. Making sure to explain problems in a thoughtful way and talking through each person’s viewpoint can help relieve many problems in a marriage. 

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West Dundee divorce attorney technology social mediaThe increase in the use of social media and the internet in general over the past decade has made people more dependent on technology. Using smartphones to browse the internet, read emails, and manage tasks is a commonplace part of our everyday lives. However, this reliance on technology, when combined with the increase in stress levels during divorce proceedings, may lead you to forget that technology can be used against you as well. Protecting yourself online during a divorce is an important step in making sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. 

What Are the Risks?

Couples will often share passwords for their various online accounts with each other, because this can be cheaper and more convenient than maintaining separate accounts. Whether these are bank accounts, credit cards, accounts with online retailers, shared calendars, or photo storage apps, shared accounts are a common aspect of many modern relationships.

During the process of a divorce, the relationship between spouses is often strained, and animosity can lead them to take actions to hurt each other. This can be as simple as changing the password on the family’s Netflix account or as damaging as making expensive purchases or withdrawing money from a shared bank account.

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Carpentersville estate planning wills attorneyIt is important to make a last will and testament when you are planning your estate. A will ensures that your family members will be the legal owners of any property or assets you wish to pass on to them. It also explains any other wishes you might have for what should happen after your death. Personal items, real estate, and vehicles are the most common assets to include in a will. However, wills may also include provisioning for guardianship of children, investments, or business assets. 

Preparing your will is a necessary part of planning for what happens after you die, but not everyone has a chance to make those choices. If a person passes away unexpectedly and has not made a will, the government will need to get involved. 

Intestate Wills

If a person dies without creating and executing a last will and testament, their estate will pass to their family members through a process called “intestate succession.” The state will handle the provisioning of the deceased’s estate to their spouse or heirs. Before the intestate succession process can proceed, the estate will be used to pay for any debts the deceased acquired during their life. The process for intestate succession in Illinois is laid out below: 

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West Dundee divorce lawyerDivorce can happen because of money, extramarital affairs, growing apart, and many other reasons. As the American people’s viewpoint on marriage has evolved over the past few decades, it may seem as if more people are getting divorced than at any time throughout the country’s history. There are a variety of reasons for this idea, including the facts that people are living longer, more people are cohabitating instead of getting married, and expectations of marriage have changed, especially in the last 40 to 50 years. 

What Do the Numbers Say?

The perception that more people are getting divorced now than ever before is not strictly the case if we look at the statistics on divorces per capita: 

  • In 1970, the divorce rate was 14.9 divorces and annulments per 1,000 married women. 
  • In 2015, the divorce rate was 16.9 divorces and annulments per 1,000 married women.

These two numbers are fairly similar, but in order to fully understand the history of the divorce rate, there is a middle number which needs to be examined.

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Posted on in Divorce

Algonquin divorce mediation attorneyIn the days leading up to your first divorce mediation session, you may not know what to expect, and you may be nervous about what lies ahead. One way to quell your nerves is to learn more about what mediation is like and how you can proactively prepare for success.

Proper preparation may help you reduce the number of mediation sessions your case will require and make the process go more smoothly. Our office recommends planning in the following ways:

  • Get your financial documents in order. Before your first mediation session, you should compile all financial documents that describe your income, assets, and debts. This documentation should be thoroughly organized, making it easy to locate relevant information during mediation. Also, creating a spreadsheet or index of these documents is extremely helpful during the course of mediation.
  • Plan a budget. Closely related to the step above, it is also important for you to create a budget for your divorced life, describing your income and expenses and what financial resources will be required to meet your family’s needs. Be sure to include expenses for children, medical insurance and related costs, housing, and transportation. 
  • Prioritize your desires and concerns. It is important to think about what you want your life after your divorce to look like. Are there certain marital assets that you want to keep? What do you want to see happen with cars or houses? How do you expect child custody and child support to be handled? You need to determine what areas you feel strongly about and what areas you will compromise on. It often helps to write these thoughts and ideas down on paper and be prepared to discuss them rationally during mediation.
  • Get your emotions under control. A mediation session is not the place to rehash fights or past hurtful events. It is a time to handle the legal terms of your divorce. Some couples find it helpful to go to counseling before and after mediation sessions, so that they can address the emotions that often come up when dissolving a marriage.  

Find a Kane County Divorce Mediator You Can Trust

Another way you can ease your nerves is by hiring a mediator that you feel confident can help you address your legal issues and help you reach a satisfactory resolution. Our firm’s mediators are trained, certified, and have decades of mediation experience. 

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Carpentersville spousal support lawyerThe federal government’s recent tax reform bill, which was passed in December 2017, could have a major impact on divorcing couples. Under the new plan, alimony payments in divorces that are finalized after January 1, 2019 will not be tax deductible for the payor or be counted as income for the payee.

Tax and legal experts say that this will make divorce more expensive and will likely hurt the spouse receiving alimony. Alimony, the term used by the federal government, is also called spousal maintenance or spousal support in Illinois.

Taxes and Spousal Maintenance

If alimony is awarded in a divorce case, it will be paid by the higher-earning spouse to the other spouse for a finite period of time. In some cases, maintenance is ordered on a temporary basis between filing for divorce and the finalization of the divorce process, and the divorce decree will specify the amount of maintenance payments and the duration that payments will last after the divorce has been completed. Often, alimony is paid to the spouse who cares for children and cannot work outside the home.

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Carpentersville divorce debt division attorneyA recent study has found that 13% of divorced people with student loan debt cite this debt as the cause of their divorce. Traditionally, financial concerns have been a common reason for the dissolution of a marriage, and it appears that student loan debt is a new aspect of this issue.

Student loan debt acquired by either spouse may present complex considerations in your divorce case. It is advisable that an attorney review your case to make sure that these and other debts are handled properly during your divorce proceedings.

Student Loan Debt Reaches New Highs

While not as commonplace in older generations, student loan debt has been increasing in recent years. Both the number of borrowers and the amount borrowed have significantly grown. More than 44 million people in the United States have student loan debt, and it is estimated that the total amount of this debt is $1.5 trillion. Those graduating college in 2017 left school with an average of $39,400 in student loan debt.

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Kane County child support attorneyNational Child Support Awareness Month was established in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, with the purpose of ensuring that all children have the financial support they need. This month is a great time to review Illinois law on this subject as well as the purpose behind child support payments. In the context of a divorce or family law case, child support can be a contentious issue that may require the help of experienced counsel. In addition, Illinois child support laws have recently changed, and an attorney can explain your rights and obligations under the current laws.

Recent Changes to Illinois Child Support Law

As of July 1, 2017, Illinois follows the income shares method of determining child support. The income shares formula considers the average costs to raise a child for a family at a similar income level to what the couple had during their marriage. If there are two incomes, they are added together, and the total child support obligation is based on this combined income. Next, each parent's portion of the obligation is calculated based on the percentage that they contribute to the combined income. Typically, The parent with whom the child resides the majority of the time will receive child support payments from the other parent.

Illinois was the 40th state to adopt the income shares model. Previously, only one parent’s income was used in calculating child support. The income shares model is praised for its fairness by experts. It should be noted that child support orders entered before July 1, 2017 will stay the same unless a parent can demonstrate that a significant change in the family’s circumstances requires a modification.

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West Dundee divorce mediation lawyerIf you like the idea of getting a divorce without the courtroom drama, you may be interested in mediation. With mediation, you will limit the time you spend in court and in front of a judge. Many people leave the mediation process feeling more in control of their divorce with more ownership over the decisions made.

Mediation Basics

Mediation is a process by which a divorcing couple meets with a neutral mediator to work out the details of their divorce and related matters, such as property division, spousal support, and issues relating to children of the marriage. This typically takes place over the course of several meetings. Once an agreement is reached, it is submitted to the court and will become binding on the parties.

Is Mediation Right for You?

Mediation may or may not be a good fit for you. For mediation to be successful, both you and your spouse must be willing to cooperate with each other and work to reach agreements and compromises that are mutually beneficial. If you and your spouse are not able to work together throughout the mediation process, litigation may be necessary to resolve any outstanding issues.

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West Dundee divorce parenting time lawyerOne of the biggest concerns for divorcing parents is how no longer being married will affect their relationship with their children. Because both parents will likely be granted some parenting time and parental responsibilities, it is true that parents will probably see their children less than they did when they were married.

There are many misconceptions about how a court will determine these legal issues related to children. Many parents believe that a judge will assign the most parenting time to the parent who is the better person. For example, one may think that a parent who had an affair or a parent who has less money may not get as much parenting time.

This is not the reasoning that a court will use to determine parenting time, however. According to Illinois law, parenting time is determined based on what is in the best interests of the children. What is good for the parents or what is fair for the parents is not what the court will look at. By law, the courts must base decisions on what is best for the children.

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West Dundee divorce attorneyWhen it comes to who begins the divorce process more often, the statistics are clear -- women overwhelmingly are the party that is more likely to pull the plug on a marriage. A survey of more than 2,000 heterosexual couples found that women initiated nearly 70 percent of divorces.

Why Women Initiate Divorce More Often

Psychologists say that this figure mirrors what they see in their own practices. Typically, it is the woman who complains of dissatisfaction with their marriage. The man is more likely to express that he is troubled by his wife’s negative feelings about the relationship. However, the man also often says that he is fine with the state of the marriage and that he would prefer to ride out any trouble spots in the relationship.

In addition, married women report lower levels of “relationship quality.” This may have something to do with the fact that women are expected to take the man’s last name and are often responsible for the bulk of the housework and childcare.

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