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Kane County divorce attorney asset division

In this digital age, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects have skyrocketed. With the help of creative websites and television shows that teach viewers how to do their own projects, rather than hiring someone else, DIY has become a valid alternative in a number of areas. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our society and the way we do things has completely changed. The high number of cases and demands for social distancing have made many people wary of going out in public, even for things as important as legal advice. Those considering divorce during these unprecedented times may be researching ways to complete the process without the involvement of a legal professional. While do-it-yourself projects may be a good idea for some home improvement, it is not a smart option for legal proceedings.

How Does a DIY Divorce Work?

Every state has its own stipulations that go along with divorce, as is the case with all legal proceedings. However, if you simply type “divorce papers” into your favorite search engine, hundreds of options for DIY divorce papers will appear from which you can choose. They likely range in price, all of which promise lower rates than an attorney, yet the generic nature of these documents can lead you into dangerous territory. Simply requiring a signature and a few additional details, these documents may seem like a valid option to save you time and money, but armed with the following information, you should think twice about taking on this DIY project.

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Algonquin divorce attorney mediation

You probably have an idea in your mind about what divorce looks like. It may include discovering your spouse’s hidden assets, failing to come to an agreement on your children, and spending extensive amounts of time with your attorney in court. While contentious divorces can include all of these, many divorces are mutually agreed upon and do not involve drama. Not all marriages end in flames, some simply fizzle out and both parties decide that they are ready to move on. In cases such as these, divorce mediation may be a more productive way of creating your divorce agreement, avoiding time in court, or heated arguments with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Rarely are married couples, who have never been divorced, experts on the divorce process, and the options available to them. Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that may be used if you would prefer to stay away from the divorce litigation process. Mediation allows spouses to discuss how they would like things handled after their divorce with a certified mediator present to act as a neutral, guiding party. In most cases, these mediators are divorce attorneys who also work with individuals who prefer to handle things in court. Finding a mediator who doubles as an attorney is a benefit since they are familiar with the legal details and can help guide you with the various areas addressed in a divorce, including the asset division process, the creation of parenting plans, spousal maintenance payments, and more. Mediation allows you and your spouse to take control of your divorce agreement, rather than placing it into the hands of a judge. It can also help you maintain an amicable relationship with your spouse, which is especially important if you have children and will need to co-parent once the divorce is final.

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Algonquin divorce lawyersMost couples begin their married life together with good intentions that it will last forever. Many partners scoff at the idea that something or someone could come between them. That is, until they find themselves in a loveless marriage or confronted with the fact that their spouse cheated. Statistics show that between 40-50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce

In some cases, the divorce may not be mutual, and one spouse can be blindsided by the news. The thought of being single after several years or even decades of being married is often overwhelming. That is why it is important to seek professional legal counsel to represent your best interests if you suddenly find yourself at a crossroads. In addition, below are a few practical ways to help you move on and find happiness again.  

Reinventing Yourself

Going through a divorce at any age can be daunting, filled with the fear of the unknown. Besides completing all of the legal aspects that go into finalizing your divorce, recognizing the emotional toll it can take on you and your children is also an essential part of the process. Once you realize and accept that your marriage is irretrievably broken, it is time to start thinking about what lies ahead. 

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Kane County family law attorneysThe global pandemic due to the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way we do things. The state of Illinois issued a stay-at-home order in an attempt to limit exposure to the virus. Many people have been working from home in an effort to stop the spread. Despite the restrictions, there may still be legal issues that need attention. For example, if a couple is considering a divorce, they may be wondering if that is still possible during coronavirus. In Illinois, it may be possible to obtain a divorce virtually with the help of a skilled family law attorney. 

Addressing Legal Matters Online

When spouses decide to divorce, there are many issues that need to be resolved, which the couple can do on their own if they agree to the terms. Some of these include the division of assets or property and spousal maintenance if applicable. If a couple has children together, the allocation of parental responsibilities will be allocated and child support may be awarded to one parent. If partners cannot reach an agreement, the court will intervene to help and base its decisions on the best interests of the involved parties. 

Since many courts are temporarily closed except for emergency orders, divorce proceedings are now going online. A virtual divorce allows couples to split up without leaving their houses, which can be a major convenience, saving time and money in traveling to and from court. Numerous people are embracing video conferencing as a new way of completing their divorce proceedings. The process may begin by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage online. In some cases, a judge may decide if depositions and court proceedings are needed to be completed virtually. 

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West Dundee divorce attorneysRegardless of whether you have been having problems for a long time or you were not expecting your spouse to file for divorce, the thought of ending your marriage can be daunting. It can be scary to think about how you will live apart, especially if one of you did not work or made significantly less than each other. Many issues will need to be resolved in a divorce, including the division of property or assets, to name a few. In some cases, your spouse may have been dissipating or  hiding assets in an attempt to receive more after the divorce. Therefore, it is important to have legal representation when making decisions regarding your divorce settlement. In addition to an  attorney’s help, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you are not being taken advantage of by your spouse.   

Keeping Information Private in the Digital Age

In today’s digital world where everything is put online, it can be hard to keep personal matters private. Using electronic devices to send and receive information leaves a digital footprint even if you delete messages. Sensitive information can often become public, and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may try to use that against you. For example, if you post pictures of a lavish vacation you took with your friends, you could find it harder to convince the court that you should be entitled to spousal support payments.
In addition, even if you block your spouse on certain social media sites, you may have mutual friends who take it upon themselves to pass along information they see as potentially damaging to you or your spouse. Basically, you will want to change any shared devices to have separate access so your spouse cannot track your every movement. Turning location sharing services off can prevent this, which can be helpful in divorces that involve stalking or harassment.

Here are a few more ways that you can protect yourself during the legal dissolution of your marriage:

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Kane County family law attorneysDivorce does not have to be the difficult process that you once thought it would be. You and your spouse can avoid costly battles in court and come to an amicable settlement through mediation. Negotiating with your soon-to-be ex-spouse can be challenging, especially if child-related issues are involved. It is important to arrive at your mediation meetings with the right frame of mind. Even with an experienced mediator, it is your responsibility to listen deeply, communicate your needs, and find a compromise. If you are feeling nervous at all, remember that the benefits of mediation go far beyond cost savings, and you have a better chance of maintaining a peaceful relationship with your ex-spouse once the divorce is final. A qualified divorce attorney can help you achieve this goal.

Listen Attentively and Be Courteous

Mediation is about compromise, so that means more than just stating your terms and hoping your spouse will agree to them. Depending on the circumstances, your spouse may attempt to push you to bend to his or her terms. You might also find yourself judging your spouse or focusing on your assumptions, but you will never be able to develop a solution that works for both of you if you do not stay present and respectful. Hopefully, your attentiveness will foster a comparable frame of mind in your spouse and that the mediation will go move forward smoothly.

Do Not Dwell on the Past; Build a Positive Future

Divorce and the painful experiences that lead to it are uncomfortable, but if you are trapped in those emotions, you might run into many pitfalls during your mediation. If this is the case, you will have a difficult time building a future that you can enjoy. Imagine the future that is best for you, your spouse, and your children, and cooperate with your spouse to determine the changes that will lead to that positive outcome.

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Barrington divorce attorney

Mental illness can manifest itself in many different forms, including depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. Some of these conditions are recognizable while others are harder to detect. Studies show that nearly half of American adults will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. In many cases, these conditions can cause the breakdown of a marriage. The emotional upheaval that a divorce causes can be challenging for anyone to go through, but when one spouse has mental health issues, legally ending a marriage can be even more intimidating. Although Illinois courts do not consider fault in a divorce, it will weigh several factors when determining certain marital issues such as child custody or dividing assets and property. The mental well-being of one spouse may impact the outcomes since a judge will consider what is in the best interest of the children.   

Practical Steps to Protect Yourself

The stress of a divorce can escalate the symptoms of mental illness. For example, a person who suffers from depression may become suicidal at the news that his or her spouse has filed for divorce. In other situations, a mentally ill person can become violent toward his or her spouse or children in response to the marriage dissolving. In certain cases, Illinois courts may terminate parental rights when a parent is mentally ill is unable to perform basic parental duties. 

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Kane County dissipation attorneysAlthough it would be ideal, not every divorce is amicable. One spouse may have been planning to split for months, while the other spouse is blindsided by the news. In certain scenarios, one partner may have controlled all or most of the couple’s finances during the marriage. In these cases, one spouse is put at a disadvantage because he or she is financially vulnerable. 

Under Illinois law, the division of assets or property is subject to equitable distribution. This means any marital property that was acquired during the marriage will be divided in a fair manner. However, one spouse may be guilty of depleting and/or hiding assets in order to keep more for himself or herself after the marriage is legally terminated. Inappropriate spending in such a situation is called dissipation of assets, and a skilled attorney along with a forensic accountant can help in revealing this form of deception.         

How to Detect Wasteful Behavior

Dividing assets or property can be one of the most contested aspects of a divorce. The court considers several factors when determining who gets what. In some cases, the split could be 65/35 or 80/20, or all marital property could even be allocated to one spouse.  

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Kane County divorce lawyersA divorce can impact all areas of a person’s life, from physically separating to breaking apart emotionally and financially. Once the decision to divorce has been made, a couple may think the hard part is over. However, the legal process of ending a marriage raises many new queries that need to be resolved. For example, how will property and assets be divided? If children are involved, who will be awarded the allocation of parental responsibilities and who will pay child support? What are the tax implications, especially when it comes time to file your taxes? With tax season upon us, it is important to be prepared by considering the tax consequences when you get divorced in order to protect your financial future.   

Tax Implications of Divorce

Even if you or your spouse has filed the divorce petition, if you are still married as of December 31 of that given year, you have the option to file jointly for that year’s tax return. Until a divorce decree has officially been issued, you are married in the eyes of the law. However, once your divorce is final, each party has the option to claim as Single or Head of Household. The right choice for your situation will depend on your specific circumstances, and it is advisable that you speak with a tax professional.

If you have children together, the parent with the majority of the parental responsibility typically files as head of household, and the tax exemption or credit for the children usually goes to this parent. In some scenarios, parents can split tax exemptions using IRS form 8332, which means the custodial parent allows the other parent to claim a child on his or her taxes. Parents can also claim a tax credit for each dependent who is under the age of 17. There are also other credits for contributions to education and childcare.

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Kane County divorce attorneysPeople often say that a marriage is hard work. Once the “honeymoon” phase is over, being married can be challenging for various reasons. Even if two spouses love each other, life circumstances can get in the way of living happily ever after. For example, a job loss or the death of a loved one can cause one partner to turn to alcohol or drugs as a remedy. In other cases, someone may become addicted to shopping, gambling, or pornography as a way of coping with stress. Regardless of the root cause of an addiction, this type of behavior can destroy a marriage and ultimately lead to divorce. If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse who has an addiction problem, it is important to know how to protect yourself emotionally and financially.  

Irreconcilable Differences

In Illinois, the only recognized “grounds” or reason for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” This means the marriage has deteriorated without hope for reconciliation. Therefore, abusing drugs or alcohol cannot be the official reason to file for divorce, but it can definitely contribute to the breakdown of a relationship. When a couple has children together, addiction can put a significant strain on the family. In some cases, alcoholism can lead to physical or verbal abuse. Attempts at rehab or therapy may have failed to resolve the problem. A parent may feel he or she has no choice but to leave the marriage in order to protect him or herself as well as his or her child’s best interests. Even though it is not a legal prerequisite, if a couple has been separated for at least six months, that typically proves they have irreconcilable differences.

Protecting Yourself

Once you have decided to leave your addicted partner, there are a few things you can do to help prepare for the divorce process. In many divorce cases involving an addict, the two spouses do not agree on how to divide marital property or assets. For these situations, the court will consider many factors to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time. Overnight stays may not be granted, or a judge can order supervised visitation for the parent who has a substance abuse problem.

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Kane County divorce attorneysThe reasons for divorce can be numerous, from infidelity to financial problems to addictions to simply growing apart. Some marriages can end amicably if the decision to separate was mutual. However, many divorces are contentious, especially if one partner harbors bitter feelings toward the other spouse. When it comes time to make decisions during the divorce proceedings, this can cause conflict. 

Litigation is one approach to resolving divorce disputes between couples. This method involves going to court in order to come to an arrangement on issues such as spousal support or allocation of parental responsibilities, and more. Couples will often resort to litigation if they cannot reach an agreement on their own or through mediation. It is important to have an experienced divorce attorney by your side if you are considering filing for divorce under any circumstances. 

Steps to Keep in Mind When Divorce Issues Are Escalated

Just as every marriage is different, every divorce is unique. Each has its own set of challenges and issues to resolve. If a couple had a difficult time agreeing on things during the union, they will likely argue over property division or child-related issues in the divorce settlement. That is when a judge may become involved, and he or she will make the children’s best interest the top priority when determining certain solutions. The court will weigh several factors when deciding outcomes for parenting time and child support, including the kids’ wishes.   

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Kane County divorce attorneysThere are many reasons why a marriage may end in divorce. These can range from infidelity to financial problems to lack of communication to domestic abuse, the list goes on. Many couples who have children stay together even though they are unhappy for their “kids’ sake.” However, staying in a toxic relationship can be detrimental to your well-being, which in turn affects your children. There comes a point where it may be in your best interest to file for divorce. If you and your spouse have tried marriage counseling and put forth a concerted effort to salvage your union but problems remain, it may be necessary to make a decision about how you want to spend the rest of your life. 

Problems Can Negatively Impact Your Relationship

Regardless if a couple has been married for a few years or several decades, marriage is hard work. Life circumstances such as a job loss, a child with special needs, or a family member’s death can strain even the best of relationships. If issues are not addressed, they can simmer over time and cause feelings of resentment, anger, or loneliness, ultimately leading to the breakdown of a marriage. One of the most important aspects to a successful marriage is communication. In order to solve problems, a couple needs to talk about them and try to find ways to conquer them. 

Some of the typical behaviors that often lead to one spouse considering filing for divorce include:  

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Kane County family law attorneysA divorce can be complex, with many issues to resolve. Some couples argue over money, especially as it relates to child support or spousal maintenance. In high-asset divorce cases, one spouse may deliberately try to hide funds in an effort to keep them from the other spouse. That is why it is important to seek professional legal counsel to make sure you are not being taken advantage of during the proceedings. Hidden assets can be uncovered in several different ways with the help of a forensic accountant, as well as an experienced divorce attorney.      

Ways in Which a Spouse May Hide Marital Assets

There are certain ways your spouse can be deceitful if he or she does not want to share a portion of the marital assets. One of the most common ways to hide assets is to transfer them to a new bank account that is only in your spouse’s name. Hidden assets may also include other acts, such as using dinners as a business expense or tax write-off. Undervaluing a piece of property you own together is another way to conceal funds. 

Below are a few examples of the means through which marital assets may be hidden:

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Kane County family law attorneyDomestic violence does not discriminate. It can happen to men, women, and even children of socioeconomic status. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence each year. In many cases, an abusive relationship can lead to a divorce. However, in some cases, violent behavior by one spouse can continue throughout the divorce process and long after. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) provides safety provisions for survivors of domestic violence and their children by holding their abusers accountable in the criminal and civil courts. This can be done by court orders, but it is important to know how to obtain such protections and how long they are in effect. 

What Can Protective Orders Do?

In Illinois, there are certain actions a victim can take against his or her alleged abuser. A protective order can restrict or limit certain actions a person can and cannot do. Often referred to as a “restraining order,” it can prohibit an individual from harassing or harming the victim as well as forbid any contact or coming within a certain distance of the alleged victim. 

To obtain such an order, a person must file a petition for an order of protection. In the petition, the accuser must explain to the court why he or she wants an order of protection. If the court believes the person has been abused or is imminent danger of abuse, a judge will issue an order of protection. Below are the three types of Illinois protective orders and the amount of time for which they are in effect: 

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St. Charles complex divorce lawyerEven under the best circumstances, divorce can be a challenging process. Many marital issues are sensitive in nature and difficult to resolve. These matters may include allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, parenting time (visitation), as well as spousal support or maintenance (alimony). They can also involve valuables or high net-worth assets that need to be divided. Complex divorce proceedings can seem intimidating at first, but they can be managed with professional legal guidance.    

Child-Related Issues 

Many of the disputes in a complex divorce involve a couple’s children. These arguments can include how much time each parent will spend with the child or how much support will be paid by one of the parents, among other issues. A parenting plan is a legal document that establishes the legal rights and obligations of both parents as relating to their child. This plan outlines a schedule for when each parent will see their child. Creating this timeline can be difficult since most parents do not want to give up time with their kids or relinquish control to the other parent, especially if there are bitter feelings.  

Some of the child-related issues that may need to be addressed in a divorce settlement include:

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Kane County divorce attorneysDepending on the couple and their circumstances, a divorce can take weeks or months to finalize. Once the legal proceedings are complete, a final divorce decree will be issued, which officially documents the terms of the divorce. However, sometimes a significant change in circumstances can warrant a modification of part or all of the original order. When a divorce settlement is no longer relevant for a couple or does not fit the needs of their children, it is possible to alter the terms of it through a post-decree modification. If you or your ex-spouse requests a post-divorce order modification for any reason, it is helpful to know the process and how it affects your rights regarding matters such as child-related issues or spousal maintenance.  

Reasons for Changing a Judgment Order

We all know life can change in an instant, whether it be from a sudden medical event such as a heart attack or stroke to unexpectedly losing a job. For instance, child support payments are calculated based on parent’s income. If the paying parent loses his or her job and cannot afford the payments, he or she may request a modification of the child support order. Some other examples of major life events that would justify a modification can include: 

  • Being laid off or fired from a long-time occupation, which impacts child or spousal support (alimony)
  • Being transferred out of the state or country for work, ultimately affecting the allocation of parental responsibilities and/or parenting time
  • Contracting a serious illness that requires extensive medical care 
  • Suffering a catastrophic injury that results in a disability or lost wages
  • One or both ex-spouses remarrying, which typically requires a reduction in spousal or child support payments

Steps for Amending a Judgment Order

To request a change to an order, one of the former spouses must file a “motion to modify” the divorce judgment. This motion is typically filed with the same court that issued the original divorce decree. The main steps to take when modifying an order are:

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Kane County family law attorneysWhen a couple decides to end their marriage through divorce, they have the option of deciding how to divide their assets and wealth on their own. However, when a couple cannot come to an agreement about property division, the courts must intervene. Illinois courts use a system called “equitable distribution” to divide a divorcing couple’s marital estate. If you are considering getting a divorce in Illinois, it is important to understand how asset division decisions are made.

Marital Property and Separate Property

According to Illinois law, only marital, or shared, property is divided in a divorce. Marital property typically includes any property or funds that either spouse accumulated during the marriage. Non-marital property, or separate property, includes assets that a spouse already owned before he or she got married. However, differentiating between separate and marital property is not always this straightforward. Certain gifts and inheritances may also be considered separate property – even if the spouse received the gift or inheritance while he or she was married. Furthermore, separate property can be transformed into marital property when it is commingled with marital property.

For example, if a husband purchases a house before he got married but then he and his wife both contributed to the mortgage, the home will likely be considered marital property during divorce. Similarly, if one spouse receives an inheritance during the marriage but then deposits those funds into a shared account, the inheritance funds transform from separate into marital property. The inheritance would then be subject to division according to equitable distribution.

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Elgin divorce attorneyIf you are going through a divorce, the first thing on your mind may not be taxes or financial issues; however, it is important to know that a divorce does have tax implications. Your filing status, tax consequences of maintenance payments, property transfers, and more are typically decided by your divorce judgment/order and affected by any new tax law changes.

A division of assets agreement should take into account any tax issues so there are no surprises later. If you are ending your marriage, a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you prepare for any financial consequences.

Asset Division 

When a couple negotiates how to divide marital assets or property during a divorce, it is imperative to consider the areas that may have potential tax implications. Most marital property does not incur a tax liability if transferred, but you should consider the potential tax consequences of considerations such as:

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St. Charles divorce lawyersWhen two people get divorced, the court typically issues a final judgment that documents the terms and conditions of the divorce. However, it is not uncommon for there to be changes to the original divorce settlement or agreement. Sometimes these changes are necessary due to lifestyle changes or if they are in the best interest of a couple’s child. Post-judgment order modifications can include a change in the child support payment amount or allocation of parental responsibilities if one parent loses his or her job or moves to another state. 

Steps to Take for Enforcing an Order

Post-divorce decree issues can often become hostile and expensive. It is ideal if everyone involved can resolve these issues without taking actions such as contempt of court. If possible, negotiating an amicable resolution saves all parties time and money. However, this is not always the case if one party does not follow an order. If one party is not willing to cooperate, someone can pursue enforcement through the courts by filing a contempt of court motion. In the majority of divorce cases, contempt of court actions are typically filed for reasons such as:

  • Non-payment of child support;
  • Non-payment of spousal maintenance;
  • Failure to adhere to parental responsibility and parenting time agreements; and
  • Sale of property that violates property settlement agreements.

The Illinois Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has the authority to implement certain enforcement procedures. For example, if one parent is behind on child support payments, they can garnish wages from his or her paycheck. Sometimes, the DCSS gets overloaded with a lot of cases, and a lawyer can file a contempt of court motion on a parent’s behalf to help recover any money that is owed.

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St. Charles hidden assets attorneysUnder Illinois divorce laws, marital property is subject to equitable distribution, meaning each party receives a fair share of any assets that were acquired during the marriage. However, sometimes a spouse can be dishonest, depriving the other spouse to what he or she is entitled. This can be done a number of ways, and although common in high net worth or complex divorces, it can happen in any type of divorce. Forensic accounting is defined as the use of accounting practices to investigate fraud and to analyze financial information for use in legal proceedings, such as disputes or litigation during a divorce.  

How Are Assets Hidden?

People can be creative when they want to conceal money or valuable possessions. In a lot of cases, one spouse earns the majority of the income or owns a business, so that spouse often has easier access to financial matters.

Some of the ways assets can be hidden include:

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