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IL divorce lawyerWhile it will not be appropriate in every divorce case, there are some situations where one party will be required to pay spousal maintenance to the other. This form of financial support, which is commonly known as alimony, may be awarded in cases where one spouse earns a lower income than the other, where a spouse is a stay-at-home parent, or where a person would require assistance in order to maintain their accustomed standard of living. Once a spousal support order is created, financial support will need to be paid from one party to the other on an ongoing basis. However, following a couple’s divorce, situations may arise in which a spouse may believe that maintenance should be modified, or a person may request that their support obligations be terminated altogether.

Reasons for Modifying Spousal Maintenance

In most cases, spousal maintenance will be awarded for a fixed term that is determined based on the number of years the spouses were married. There are certain situations where a person may be ordered to pay maintenance indefinitely, including when a couple was married for at least 20 years. In some cases, maintenance may be reviewable, and after a certain period of time, the court may consider the circumstances of each party to determine whether payments should continue or whether they should be modified or terminated.

Requests to make changes to fixed-term or indefinite spousal maintenance will usually need to be based on changes in the circumstances of one or both parties. A change of circumstances must be substantial, and it will usually need to affect the financial needs of either party or impact a person’s ability to continue paying support to their ex-spouse. For example, if the person paying support experiences a disability that affects their employment, resulting in a lowered income, they may ask that for their spousal support obligations to be reduced or terminated. The payor may also ask for a reduction or elimination of support if they can show that their ex-spouse has begun earning a larger income and can fully support themselves without assistance.

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IL divorce lawyerThe cost of attending college or university has skyrocketed in the last few decades. It is more expensive than ever to attend a two- or four-year college program. If you are a parent who is in the process of divorcing or already divorced, you may wonder how you and your ex will cover this cost. Will you split college tuition and housing costs 50/50? What if the other parent refuses to contribute to your child’s college education?

Illinois Law Regarding College Expenses for Divorced Parents

Illinois is unique in the fact that the state can require divorced parents to contribute to their child’s college education. Many parents are surprised to learn that mandatory financial support may continue even after the child has turned 18 and graduated high school.

Unlike child support payments, which are calculated using a specific formula that uses both parents’ net incomes, the amount a parent may be required to contribute to college expenses varies. Illinois courts have discretion to determine how much each parent pays. If the parents cannot agree on how to cover college costs, the court will divide costs between the parents. Sometimes, the child himself or herself is also expected to contribute to his or her college education.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen two people marry, they join their lives as well as their finances. A huge part of the divorce process is reversing this financial entanglement. Spouses will need to either decide how to divide their jointly held assets or have the court divide assets for them. This process can become very complicated, especially when spouses have complex or high-value assets.

Out-of-Court Property Division Settlements

Ideally, divorcing spouses can work out a property division agreement on their own. Out-of-court settlements can save divorcing spouses time, frustration, and money. There are several alternative resolution methods that may help spouses reach an agreement on the division of debts and assets. Mediation is a process during which spouses meet with a mediator who helps them discuss unresolved divorce issues and develop a solution that works for both parties. Collaborative law is a process during which the spouses and their attorneys work collaboratively to reach a divorce settlement.

Property Division Decided by the Court

Some spouses are unable to reach a property division settlement through alternative resolution methods or other means. In this case, the court will divide marital property based on a legal doctrine called “equitable distribution.” The couple’s shared property will be divided fairly based on many different factors, including:

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce cases range in complexity. In some divorces, the spouses are able to agree about most if not all divorce issues. They spend little time in court and resolve the divorce relatively easily. Other divorce cases are wrought with conflict. The spouses are unable to reach agreements and the court must intervene. In cases like these, witnesses may provide insight into various aspects of the divorce.

Character Witnesses in a Joliet Divorce

Many divorce cases become “he said – she said” situations. Character witnesses may provide insight into a party’s personality or behavior in a divorce case. The information provided by the witnesses may help the judge reach a decision on the case. For example, a child’s teacher may testify about the parents’ involvement in their child’s education or interactions between the child and the parents. A neighbor may testify about the arguments he or she has witnessed between the parties.

Expert Witnesses in Family Law Cases

Character witnesses are usually laypersons who are providing personal accounts or opinions on the divorce dispute. Expert witnesses, on the other hand, are witnesses with particular qualifications or professional expertise. These individuals are asked to provide their professional opinion about the outcome of the case. Expert witnesses in a divorce may include:

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Bolingbrook Child Support LawyerChild support payments help unmarried and divorced parents share child-related costs. In Illinois, child support is usually calculated using the Income Shares formula. Each parent’s net income is factored into the formula so that the amount of child support is reasonably affordable and allows the child the same standard of living as he or she would experience if the parents were married. Unfortunately, calculating child support is not always this straightforward. Unusual income sources, unemployment, financial deception, and other issues can complicate child support calculations significantly.

What Counts as Income?

The amount of child support a parent pays is based on a carefully designed formula that uses each parent’s net income. Net income includes not only wages, but all other forms of income as well. Bonuses, commissions, self-employment income, income from rental properties, investment income, pensions, Social Security, inheritance, and even personal injury settlements or workers’ compensation awards may count as income. Net income excludes taxes and child support or spousal support orders from a previous relationship.  

What if a Parent Lies About Their Income?

Unfortunately, some parents are less than forthcoming about finances during a divorce or child support proceeding. If your spouse is not disclosing all income sources, contact a family law attorney for help. Child support payments should always be based on the most up-to-date, accurate financial information.

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Plainfield Divorce AttorneyDivorce involving older couples differs from traditional divorce in many ways. The legal, financial, personal, and familial issues divorcing spouses face are often unique to their stage in life. If you are thinking about ending your marriage and you are over the age of 50, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. These types of feelings are normal. After all, divorce is a huge decision. Learning about the challenges you may face during a “gray divorce” can help you prepare to tackle those challenges and create a brighter post-divorce future.

Getting Divorced When You are Retired or Close to Retirement

Divorce rates have skyrocketed among older couples in recent decades. Many spouses are simply unwilling to stay in an unfulfilling marriage during their golden years. Unfortunately, getting divorced near retirement age can present unique financial obstacles. In Illinois, courts divide marital property equitably. Retirement accounts, including pensions, 401(k)s, and IRAs are often classified as either fully or partially marital property. Both spouses are entitled to an equitable share of retirement funds that either spouse earned during the marriage.

Divorcing spouses may be able to negotiate an out-of-court property division agreement. Some spouses choose to split retirement funds while others assign the retirement account to one spouse and compensate the other spouse for his or her portion with other marital assets, such as the marital home. A divorce lawyer experienced in gray divorce issues can help you determine what option makes the most sense for you. If you were married for at least ten years, you may also be entitled to Social Security benefits through your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

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Plainfield Child Custody LawyerFor divorcing parents, child custody is usually one of the most important aspects of divorce. Some parents are able to reach an agreement about child custody issues relatively easily while others struggle to find any common ground at all. If you and your spouse are divorcing and you have different opinions about how you should handle child custody issues, you may be feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Child custody disputes can be contentious. However, there are many alternative resolution methods available to spouses in this situation that may help them reach an agreement.

Parenting Plans in a Naperville Divorce Case

Parents who file for divorce are asked to create a parenting plan and submit it to the court. The parenting plan covers everything from who keeps the children on what days to how parents will handle any future modifications to the plan.

The two main issues you must address in the parenting plan are:

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5 Tips for Divorcing an Addict in Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

Bolingbrook Divorce LawyerDrug and alcohol addiction touches the lives of millions of people in Illinois and throughout the United States. If your spouse has a substance abuse problem, you know first-hand how impactful addiction can be on a family. Sadly, many marriages cannot survive the turbulence brought on by an addiction.

If you have decided to end your marriage and your spouse suffers from alcoholism or addiction, the road ahead may be bumpy. However, there are steps you can take to make the divorce process go as smoothly as possible.

Retain Experienced Legal Counsel

A spouse’s drug or alcohol addiction is sure to complicate any divorce. Nearly every aspect of the divorce process can be affected, including child custody, the division of marital assets and debts, and child support. Make sure to work with an attorney experienced in divorce cases involving substance abuse or addiction. Your lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected and act as your legal advocate throughout the divorce.

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Bolingbrook Divorce LawyerDivorce involves much more than ending the marriage relationship. Divorcing spouses must also allocate the property they have earned throughout the marriage. If you or your spouse own business interests, real estate, stocks, investments, and other complex assets, property distribution will be especially challenging. Spouses have a right to an equitable share of the marital assets during divorce, however, some spouses try to cheat the other spouse by lying about financial concerns during a divorce. Hiding assets is unlawful and it can impact the outcome of your divorce dramatically. It is important for spouses to recognize signs of financial fraud during divorce and take swift action.

Signs Your Spouse May Try to Lie About Finances During Divorce

Nearly every aspect of the divorce process is influenced by finances. The distribution of assets and debts, child support, and spousal maintenance or alimony are all directly impacted by the spouses’ financial resources. Some spouses try to gain an advantage by undervaluing assets, overvaluing debts, or failing to disclose assets. If you are getting divorced, make sure to look for signs your spouse may be hiding assets or otherwise trying to manipulate the outcome of your divorce:

  • Secrecy about financial matters – If your spouse is trying to keep financial information a secret from you, this is a major red flag. Changing the passwords on online bank accounts, hiding or destroying financial documents, and deleting computer programs or files containing financial information may all be signs of financial deception.

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Plainfield Divorce LawyerStay-at-home moms and dads who get divorced face a unique set of circumstances. For many parents, the justification for staying home with the kids was largely based on the other spouse’s income. If you are a parent who has sacrificed a career to care for your children full-time, you may be worried about the financial implications of divorce. You may also worry about how you and your children will adjust to life after the separation. There is no getting around it: Divorce as a stay-at-home parent is complicated and emotionally taxing. Fortunately, Illinois law provides options that may help.

Temporary Relief Orders Can Provide Financial Support and Stability

Unfortunately, many stay-at-home parents stay in unhappy or even abusive marriages because of concerns about money. If a parent has not held a job in several years, they may worry about having the financial means to leave their spouse. If you are in this situation, you should know that you may be able to get financial assistance from the other spouse through a temporary relief order.

Divorce cases may take months or even years to resolve. Fortunately, you do not have to wait until the divorce is complete to get child support or spousal support. You can petition the court for a temporary relief order which will require your spouse to pay child support and/or spousal support. The court will consider both spouses’ financial resources, the standard of living during the marriage, and the children's needs when deciding on a child support or spousal support temporary relief order.

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DuPage County Divorce AttorneyThe internet has become a huge part of most people’s everyday lives. We can pay our bills, shop, or even get a degree, all from our home computer. If you are thinking about divorce, you may wonder if you can reduce divorce costs and speed up the process through an online divorce or “do it yourself” divorce. While the idea of a DIY divorce may initially seem attractive, many people who choose this route are met with unforeseen consequences.

DIY Divorce Services are One-Size-Fits-All

Getting divorced is one of the most significant things you will ever do. The financial, legal, and personal implications of your divorce will likely affect you for years after the split.  So-called “online divorce” usually consists of little more than forms that you can fill out with basic information. These divorce services are one-size-fits-all and do not take into account the particulars of your situation

You Could Make Costly Mistakes that Drag Out the Divorce

Most people look into DIY divorce because they are hoping to save money. However, when considering the cost of your divorce, you must also consider the long-term financial consequences of your actions. If you make a mistake during the divorce process, you may suffer financial consequences for years.

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Bolingbrook Family Law AttorneyOriginally Posted April 13, 2020 ---- Updated Post November 11, 2021

Any parent can confirm that raising children is expensive -- especially when you are doing so on a single income. If you are divorced or soon will be, it is important to know how Illinois child support laws will apply to your case. Well-meaning friends or relatives may try to give you advice about child support or help you estimate your payments. However, the way that Illinois calculates child support changed significantly in recent years. The best way to receive trustworthy guidance regarding child support is to work with an experienced family law attorney. 

Illinois no longer bases child support on only the paying spouse’s income and the number of children to be supported. Now, both parents’ incomes determine child support payments.

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Plainfield Divorce LawyerDeveloping a parenting plan is often one of the hardest parts of an Illinois divorce. If you are a divorcing parent, you may have many different questions and concerns about child custody. You may be worried that you will not get to spend enough time with your kids after divorce. You may also have questions about your rights as a parent under Illinois law. One aspect of the parenting plan many people misunderstand or overlook is the “right of first refusal.”

Parenting Time Schedules in an Illinois Divorce

Illinois law no longer refers to “child custody” and “visitation.” Instead, the law breaks parenting duties into two components:

  • Parental responsibilities – Parental responsibilities are how parents make decisions about their children such as where the child goes to school or the types of medical care the child gets.

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Will County Collaborative Divorce AttorneysThe complexity of a divorce case depends on how quickly and easily spouses can resolve divorce issues. Spouses must divide debts and assets, handle child-related concerns like child custody and child support, and determine if one spouse will pay spousal maintenance to the other. When a couple owns a business or professional practice or other complex assets, property division will be much more involved. Disputes regarding parenting time and responsibilities can also complicate the divorce process considerably.

In situations such as these, spouses have several options: They can pursue traditional divorce litigation or they can use an alternative divorce resolution method like collaborative law.

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

Divorcing spouses often want to resolve divorce issues with as little hostility as possible. Contentiousness adds to the stress and expense of a divorce. If you are interested in resolving your divorce amicably, but you still want guidance from divorce professionals, collaborative divorce may be right for you. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses hire their own attorneys. However, the attorneys and the spouses work collaboratively to resolve divorce issues.

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Wheaton Divorce LawyersEvery parent dreams of the perfect family. Unfortunately, many parents reach a point where they realize that getting divorced may be the best option for them and their children. When kids are constantly exposed to their parents’ hostility and disagreement, they can suffer emotionally, developmentally, and academically. For some families, divorce is the right option.

If you are ready to call it quits on your marriage and get divorced, you have probably spent a good deal of time thinking about how to tell the children. When is the best time to tell children about divorce? How much information should I tell them? What if my spouse is not ready to announce the separation?

Plan the Conversation Carefully

Telling your children that you and their other parent are divorcing is one of the most important conversations of your life. Consequentially, it is important to decide in advance what you will say and when. Experts explain that it is best to wait until you are absolutely certain before you tell the children about the divorce. If possible, sit down with your soon-to-be-ex and all of your shared children and have the conversation as a group. If you have children of varying ages, you may need to go back and have age-appropriate follow-up conversations with each child specifically. However, the first announcement should occur with every child present. Telling one child before the others can make them feel as if they have to lie to their siblings – which can increase their stress.

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Naperville Marital Property Divorce LawyerPeople often assume that the emotional and personal aspects of their divorce will be the hardest issues to deal with. However, many are surprised to learn just how complicated the financial and logistical parts of the divorce are. The division of marital property can be particularly complex – especially if the spouses have high incomes or own complex assets. If you are planning to divorce in Illinois, you may have questions about what property belongs to you, what belongs to your spouse, and what property is contained in the marital estate.

Marital and Non-Marital Property

Per Illinois law, assets and income that a spouse earns while he or she is married is marital property contained within the marital estate. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including inheritance and gifts. Property that a spouse owned before getting married is separate property and belongs solely to that individual during divorce.

However, as with many legal issues during divorce, differentiating between marital and non-marital property is not always this simple. Numerous factors can complicate property division, including:

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Will County Child Support AttorneysDisabilities come in all forms. Some disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, are often immediately apparent. Other disabilities, like autism, are invisible to a casual observer. Whatever the specific disability, having a disabled child can be extremely challenging for parents. Many disabled children require specialized medical care, education, and assistive devices. Parents may also need to forgo working outside of the home to care for a disabled child. This can lead to significant financial stress. For unmarried or divorced parents, child support payments can help cover these costs. However, what happens when a disabled child becomes an adult?  

Continuing Child Support After Adulthood

Child support typically ends once a child reaches adulthood and/or completes an undergraduate degree. At this point, the child is expected to provide for his or her own needs. However, a disabled child may be unable to reach the same level of financial independence as a child without a disability. Fortunately, Illinois law reflects this reality. Parents with disabled children may be able to receive non-minor support or child support that continues past childhood.

Financial Support for a Disabled Child

As a parent of a disabled child, you may wonder what types of disabilities qualify a child for non-minor support. Illinois law defines “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits a major life activity. Physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and mental health conditions may qualify a child for continued support from the other parent.

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Will County Divorce LawyerYou may have heard that experts consider divorce to be the second-most stressful life event a person can endure. Divorce is second only to the death of a spouse in terms of emotional and psychological pain. Understandably, many divorcing spouses are eager to get the divorce process over with so that they can move on to a happier post-divorce future. If you are ending your marriage in Illinois, you may ask, “How long will it take?”

Factors that Influence the Duration of a Divorce Case

Each divorce is unique. Countless factors can influence the length of a divorce, including:

  • The amount of conflict regarding divorce issues – Couples who agree on the terms of their divorce are in for a much faster resolution than couples who disagree. You and your spouse may be able to reach an agreement about who should keep the marital home, how to divide marital property, and other divorce concerns on your own or with help from a divorce lawyer or mediator. If you cannot agree on these issues, you may reach a resolution through collaborative divorce or litigation. A skilled divorce lawyer can sit down with you and help you figure out the best way to address disagreements about divorce issues.

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Will County Divorce LawyerIf you are a parent who is in the middle of divorcing your spouse, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of the back-to-school season. For many parents, the beginning of the school year is already stressful. Ending a marriage during this hectic season only adds to the stress. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate this stress – for both you and your kids.

Establish Consistency and Reduce Conflict with a Temporary Child Custody Order

You probably already know that divorcing parents must abide by a “parenting plan” which describes the parenting time schedule (previously called visitation) and allocation of parental responsibilities. However, the parenting plan does not go into effect until after the divorce which may take months or years to finalize.

Fortunately, you can petition the court for a temporary child custody order that dictates parenting time while the divorce proceedings are ongoing. This may help avoid confusion and arguments as well as give your child the consistency and stability he or she needs during this difficult time.

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Will County Divorce LawyerIn a divorce, each spouse must provide current, accurate financial information. Whether the divorce is settled out of court or it goes to trial, financial data is crucial. Spouses cannot reach a settlement on the division of property and debts or spousal maintenance without this information. The court cannot determine a reasonable child support payment amount without accurate financial information. Nearly every aspect of your divorce case is influenced by finances. So, what happens if a spouse lies about income or property during the divorce?

Undisclosed Assets and Hidden Property

In an attempt to sway the terms of the divorce in their favor, some spouses lie about their financial situation in the divorce. They may “forget” to disclose an offshore account or fail to mention their expensive jewelry collection. They may transfer wealth or real property to friends or family members to shelter it from division. Some spouses overpay the IRS or use a small business to hide assets. This type of financial manipulation during divorce is unlawful. If a divorcing spouse is caught lying about finances under oath, they may be held in contempt of court and subject to serious penalties.

Ensuring Your Divorce Settlement or Judgment is Based on Truth

Any agreement spouses come to regarding the terms of their divorce should be based on complete, up-to-date financial information. Undisclosed assets and financial deception must be uncovered in order for this to happen. Divorce attorneys often use discovery tools like requests for production, interrogatories, and requests for admission to gather financial records and information in a divorce. The spouses and their respective attorneys may be asked to attend depositions in which testimony is gathered while the spouses are under oath. Divorce lawyers may also work with specially trained accountants called forensic accountants to trace assets and reveal hidden income or property.

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