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palatine divorce lawyerWithout a doubt, owning a business complicates the divorce process. Unlike an employee of a company who can show his or her earnings on a weekly paycheck, business owners’ income varies significantly. Furthermore, business assets are often considered marital assets. This means that the non-owning spouse also has a right to a portion of the business’s value.

The situation becomes even more complex legally and emotionally if the spouses co-own a business together.

If you or your spouse own a business and you plan to divorce, you may want to consider using the collaborative law process to determine the division of marital property, child custody, and other divorce issues.


palatine divorce lawyerResearch shows that extramarital affairs are more common than many would suspect, and many lead to divorce. Whether it is a single instance of infidelity or a long-term secret affair, cheating can have a significant impact on a marriage. 

As you plan for your divorce, it is important to understand Illinois divorce laws and how the infidelity may impact your case. States vary significantly with regard to these matters, and laws change over time, so it is important to be educated. For personalized guidance regarding your divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

Dissipation of Assets

Unlike in other states, Illinois courts do not consider adultery or other forms of marital misconduct when determining how to divide property. In most cases, the property division process will not be affected by a spouse’s infidelity. However, there is one important exception. If a spouse spent a significant amount of money in connection with the affair, the other spouse may have a valid claim for dissipation of assets. The cheating spouse may be required to reimburse the marital estate for the dissipated funds.


palatine divorce lawyerWhen a married couple decides to divorce, typically, one spouse moves out. However, significant conflict can arise when there is a disagreement about who should move out of the home. Securing an apartment or other living arrangement can be stressful and expensive. Consequently, many spouses fight to remain in the marital home. 

In this blog, we will discuss how Illinois Courts handle disagreements regarding residency during the divorce process and what you can do if you and your other spouse disagree about who should stay in the marital home during the divorce process.

An Agreement is Often the Ideal Way to Resolve Disagreements About Living Arrangements

As with many issues during divorce, reaching an agreement regarding who will stay in the marital home is often the best option for divorcing spouses. Consider working with your respective attorneys to negotiate an agreement about who will keep the home and who will move out. Your agreement can also contain instructions for how the second home will be paid for. For example, one spouse may temporarily rent an apartment during the divorce proceedings, but both spouses will split the rent 50/50.


palatine divorce lawyerThere is no doubt that divorce comes with significant emotional and psychological pain. Ending the marriage relationship is heartbreaking, even if the marital breakdown began years or even decades ago. In the midst of the emotional turbulence associated with divorce, many people fail to address crucial financial matters. As you prepare for your marriage's end, do not neglect the following financial considerations.

Both Spouses are Responsible for Marital Debts

You have probably already started thinking about how marital assets, such as bank accounts or personal property, will be divided during your divorce. However, keep in mind that property is not the only thing you will have to divide. Any debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital debt.

Marital debt can include mortgages, personal loans, credit card bills, tax liabilities, and more. Some spouses are shocked to find out that their spouse had racked up debt they were not even aware of and are now jointly responsible for.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_382918432-min.jpgIn Illinois, and in most states, divorce records are publicly available. In order to access somebody's divorce records, all you have to do is walk into the Courthouse, pay a small fine, and receive copies of the documents. Understandably, some divorcing spouses are concerned about this.

Divorce documents may include significant personal information, including detailed financial disclosures. Fortunately, you have the right to ask the Court to seal your divorce records and prevent them from being accessed by others.

Common Reasons You May Want to Seal Your Divorce Records

The most common reason that an individual wishes to seal their divorce records is to ensure their privacy. Divorce paperwork includes private information that is nobody else's business. Unfortunately, neighbors, family, friends, or even coworkers may be curious about the details of somebody's divorce. Privacy is an especially crucial matter if an individual is well-known in the community.


palatine divorce lawyerAny divorce has the potential for conflict and hostility. However, some divorces are more contentious than others, particularly when one spouse has a high-conflict personality. Those with high-conflict personalities tend to be emotionally volatile and may also engage in aggressive behavior or speech. Navigating a divorce when your spouse has a high-conflict personality can be difficult and trying, but there are some strategies that can help you cope.

Minimizing Conflict in the Face of Provocation

Most people shy away from conflict unless it is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, many people with high-conflict personalities intentionally seek out conflict and create dramatic situations in their lives. Mental health experts explain that people with high-conflict personalities may escalate conflict and perpetuate it through tactics such as blaming, humiliating, or threatening the other person. They may use all-or-nothing thinking and speak in extremes.

When you are dealing with a high-conflict spouse, it can be tempting to respond in kind and engage in the same type of aggressive behavior or speech. However, as painful as it can be, the best thing to do in this situation is to take the high road. Avoid yelling, name-calling, threatening, or any other behavior that could worsen the situation. Instead, focus on minimizing your response and remain composed in the face of provocation.


palatine divorce lawyerDivorcing spouses who have accumulated significant wealth will likely experience additional hurdles during the divorce process. With high-value assets comes the need to value and distribute those assets between spouses. Individuals undergoing a high-asset divorce may have significant business interests, investments, real estate, and other complex assets. Having a high income can also influence child support and spousal support determinations. For these reasons, it is not unusual for high-asset individuals to utilize the expertise of outside professionals during their divorce.

Valuation Experts

Divorcing spouses cannot begin to negotiate a property division arrangement until they understand the full extent of their property and what it is worth. Some assets, such as bank account balances, can be known immediately. However, certain assets are very difficult to value. For example, stock options may be considered marital property if the options were earned before the couple separated. If either spouse owns stock options, the couple will need to decide whether to value the stocks using deferred distribution or present valuation.

Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly popular investment. Because the value of cryptocurrency fluctuates by the day, determining the value this asset during divorce is no easy feat. Antiques, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles are other examples of hard-to-valuie assets. An appraiser or valuation expert maybe you needed to provide professional insight into the assets’ value.


palatine divorce lawyerWhen a married couple decides to get divorced, one of the most important issues they will encounter is the division of marital property. Both spouses have a right to a fair share of any property that was acquired during the marriage, save for certain exceptions. Real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, household items, vehicles, investments, and even businesses may be considered marital property.

Spouses may be able to agree on how to divide their shared property and reach an out-of-court settlement. This process can be challenging, as it generally requires both parties to negotiate and reach an agreement that they are both content with. However, reaching a property division settlement is generally preferred to a divorce trial, during which the court makes decisions on behalf of the spouses.

What is Involved in the Negotiation Process?

The property division process will look different for each divorcing couple. If you and your spouse are on good terms and can work together to reach an agreement, you may be able to simply discuss the terms of property division and determine who will keep what assets. A mediator can provide valuable assistance during these discussions as well. 


palatine divorce lawyerWhen an Illinois Court issues a decision related to a divorce, child custody, or family law case, the decision is final. The parties may have an opportunity to file an appeal or petition the Court for a modification under certain circumstances; however, they cannot simply ignore the Court’s ruling. Failure to comply with a Court order can lead to being held in contempt of Court.

Noncompliance Can Lead to Contempt of Court Charges

When an individual knowingly fails to obey a Court order, he or she can be held in contempt. For example, a parent who is required to pay child support or spousal support may be held in contempt if he or she fails to make regular payments. Divorced parents can also face contempt charges for consistently failing to adhere to the parenting plan. Being late to drop off a child a few times will not result in contempt charges, but a consistent, intentional decision to violate the allocation of parenting time or responsibilities may cause a parent to be held in contempt.

What Does it Mean to Be Held in Contempt?

If a party believes that another party bound by a Court order is violating the order, he or she can file a petition for rule to show cause with the Court. A hearing will be scheduled during which both parties have a chance to express themselves. The person who is being accused of violating a Court order will have an opportunity to explain his or her reasons for doing so. The Judge listens to each party’s arguments, examines the evidence presented, and then makes a ruling.


palatine divorce lawyerIf you are in a same-sex relationship and you are thinking about divorce, you probably have many questions and concerns. In Illinois, same-sex marriage has been legal for some time now. Individuals can marry, have children, and divorce just like heterosexual couples. Issues like property division and spousal maintenance are handled the same as in divorce cases involving opposite-sex individuals. However, child custody matters may be more complicated.

Any parent getting divorced is encouraged to work with a divorce lawyer who can help them navigate the legal system. A divorce attorney will be able to provide advice on all aspects of the process and can work with you to ensure that your rights are protected. However, guidance from a skilled attorney is even more crucial in a same-sex divorce involving children.

Property and Financial Matters in a Same-Sex Divorce Case

Divorcing spouses of any gender have the option to negotiate their own property division agreement. Deciding who should keep what property can be complicated, and many spouses struggle to reach a compromise. Mediation and collaborative law are two alternative dispute resolution methods that may be used to reach an agreement without going to court. However, if the parties cannot agree through negotiation, mediation, or another method, the court will determine an equitable division of property based on Illinois law.


palatine divorce lawyerMarried couples with children should take extra care to consider the needs of their children as they go through a divorce. Establishing an effective parenting plan is one of the best things parents can do to minimize stress and foster a positive co-parenting relationship. The parenting plan includes information about vital issues, including the parenting time schedule and the allocation of parental responsibilities.

If you are getting divorced, finding common ground with your ex-spouse regarding parenting issues can be challenging. As you work to reach an agreement about the terms of your parenting plan, keep the following tips in mind.

Determine What You Will and Will Not Compromise On

First, be realistic about your expectations. You and your ex-spouse may not agree on all issues, so it is important to be open-minded to compromise. Pick your battles and focus on the things that are most important to you, but also consider what is best for your children. For example, you may have deeply held religious beliefs which make certain holidays especially important to you. You may insist on having parenting time during these holidays but are willing to give up parenting time on other special days.


palatine divorce lawyerThe way we make and spend money has changed dramatically in recent years. Cash transactions are less and less common, and you rarely, if ever, see someone bring out a checkbook. Simultaneously, electronic payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and Zelle are becoming increasingly popular.

The IRS has delayed its plan to tax payments made through e-payment services like PayPal. However, spouses getting divorced may still need to address payments received through these types of apps.

Is Money Received Through a Payment App Considered Income?

For decades, American workers received their weekly paycheck in the form of just that - a check. However, direct deposit and other electronic forms of payment have become much more commonplace. Money received through direct deposit during the marriage is part of the marital estate. Moreover, any money that comes into a divorcing spouse’s account via electronic payments, such as PayPal or Apple Pay, is also considered marital income. This money will need to be addressed during the property division process in a divorce. Spouses may be able to negotiate an agreement regarding the division of marital property, or they may have to go to court if an agreement cannot be reached.


What Does a Child Custody Evaluator Do?

Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_129788240.jpgA child custody evaluator is an impartial third party appointed by the court to investigate and report on the best interests of a child relating to custody issues and parenting time. The role of the evaluator is to assess each parent's parenting ability, any emotional or physical factors that could affect the parents’ ability to properly care for the child, and determine how a proposed parenting arrangement would affect the child.

If you are getting divorced and you have children, it is important to know how a child custody evaluator may play a role in your case.

How Does a Child Custody Evaluator Decide About What is Best for the Child?

A child custody evaluator provides the court with evidence and expert testimony on the issues of parenting plans and child custody as they relate to your case. The evaluator may interview parents, children, teachers, family members, and other people who are familiar with the situation in order to make knowledgeable recommendations about what would be in the child's best interests.


palatine divorce lawyerIf you are a parent of a teenager or pre-teen, you may already be thinking about your child’s future education. College tuition and related costs rise every year in Illinois and throughout the country. However, Illinois is unique in that divorced parents are sometimes court-ordered to contribute to their child’s college education. If you are a divorced parent or soon will be, it is important that you understand Illinois law regarding financial support for college-aged children.

Tuition and College Costs May Be Split Between the Parents

Illinois law states that a court may require unmarried or divorced parents to contribute to college tuition, housing, and other costs. If the parents cannot negotiate an agreement on how much each will contribute to their child’s college education, the court will make a decision for them. Illinois courts consider each parent’s financial circumstances, any scholarships or financial support the child is receiving, the child’s own financial resources, and other factors when deciding how to divide college expenses between the parents. The court may also require the college student to contribute to these expenses.

The amount that an Illinois court can order a parent to pay toward college expenses is capped. Parents will not be required to contribute more than the cost of tuition, housing, and related costs at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. So, if a child wants to attend an expensive out-of-state private school, the parents will not be forced to cover the entire tuition bill for that school. Tuition for the 2023-2024 school year at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is $17572 - $22,836, but this does not include housing, meal plans, textbooks, and other fees. Parents are not required to contribute to their child’s college education past a bachelor’s degree.


What is Involved in a Divorce Deposition?

Posted on in Divorce

palatine divorce lawyerWhen divorcing spouses disagree about the terms of their divorce, the divorce is said to be "contested." Disagreements about asset division, child custody, or spousal support in a contested divorce can often be resolved through mediation or negotiation. If the parties cannot resolve their disagreements out of court, the next step is litigation which may involve depositions, requests for production of documents, and other types of discovery.

A deposition is an opportunity for one spouse (or more likely, the spouse's attorney) to ask questions of the other spouse under oath in front of a court reporter. The answers are recorded and placed into evidence. The purpose of the deposition is to obtain information that may be useful in determining how the divorce settlement should be structured. If a divorce case is resolved through a trial, information from a deposition will be used to by the parties to strengthen their arguments in court. 

What Happens During a Deposition?

Discovery is the process of gathering information in a contested divorce. A deposition is one form of discovery that enables each spouse to learn more about the case from the other spouse's perspective. During a deposition, both spouses will answer questions posed by their attorneys. The attorney may also ask questions related to financial documents, child custody arrangements, and property division.


palatine collaborative divorce lawyer width=While the overall divorce rate has been declining, one type of divorce is on the rise: so-called "gray divorce." Divorcing adults over the age of 50 are divorcing at rates significantly greater than other age groups. The reasons for this discrepancy are as varied as the reasons that couples get married in the first place. Some gray divorces are a result of years of pent-up dissatisfaction, whereas others are a result of changing life circumstances, differing goals, infidelity, a lack of intimacy, or countless other reasons.

Regardless of the reasons for divorce, gray divorces are typically more complex than divorce cases involving younger couples. Older adults often have decades of accumulated assets, investments, and debts that must be considered during the divorce process. Additionally, gray divorces may involve emotional issues such as caring for aging parents or providing support for adult children as well as grandchildren. In these complicated scenarios, collaborative law can provide a way forward for divorcing couples by allowing them to negotiate their own divorce settlement outside of the courtroom.

Collaborative Law May Keep Your Divorce Case Out of Court

Alternative resolution methods like collaborative law are emerging as a preferred option for many couples. This process is often simpler and less adversarial than court proceedings, allowing spouses to focus on resolving their divorce more efficiently. Additionally, collaborative law helps keep the conversation focused on resolving issues rather than escalating tensions between parties and can help both sides come to an agreement without involving costly courtroom hearings. Through the collaborative process, divorcing couples are able to take control over their own destiny instead of having a judge make decisions for them.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_387607633-min.jpgWhen couples are preparing to marry or have already married, they may consider entering into a marital agreement such as a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. While marital agreements can be beneficial to both spouses, there are certain things that must be included in the agreement for it to be enforceable. Otherwise, the agreement may not stand up in a court of law. This blog will explain five reasons a marital agreement may be unenforceable in Illinois. 

The Agreement was Signed Under Duress 

In order for an agreement to be legally binding, it must have been signed voluntarily by both parties. If one spouse was forced or coerced into signing the document due to threats or fear of retribution from the other spouse, then it will not be enforceable. That is why it is important for each spouse to consult with their own attorney before signing any marital agreement. 

The Agreement Contains Unconscionable Terms 

Marital agreements must contain fair and reasonable terms that are beneficial to both parties for them to be enforceable. If the agreement contains grossly unfair or unconscionable language that only benefits one party over the other, then it could potentially be deemed invalid by a court and thus unenforceable. 


palatine divorce lawyerWhether it is a startup, franchise, family business or long-term established company, if you own a business, an accurate business valuation is critical for your Illinois divorce. A fair and accurate assessment of the value of the company can help ensure that both parties in the divorce receive equitable settlements and that any debt incurred during the marriage is split fairly between them.

If you or your spouse own a business and you plan to divorce, make sure you understand your rights and work with a divorce lawyer experienced in business ownership matters. Divorce is complicated regardless of the couple's financial circumstances, but it is especially complex when one or both spouses own a business.

Why an Accurate Valuation is So Important

In a divorce, each spouse has the right to receive an equitable share of the marital estate. If a business was acquired or established during the marriage, it is most likely a marital asset. Businesses started before a marriage may be non-marital assets. However, any increase in the business's value may be considered marital property. To ensure that each side receives their fair share, an accurate assessment of the value of the business must be performed.


palatine divorce lawyerParents who are unmarried or plan to divorce often have questions about child support, visitation, and the relationship between these two issues. For example, does a parent have to pay child support if he or she does not have visitation rights? Can a parent withhold a child from his or her other parent to enforce unpaid child support? Does the amount of time a parent spends with his or her child affect his or her support obligation?

To make the matter even more confusing, Illinois law changed the language used to describe child custody matters in 2016. What was once referred to as visitation is now called parenting time. Legal custody is called the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Navigating child-related legal issues can be complicated. This blog will provide some basic information regarding the relationship between parenting time and child support. However, readers are encouraged to meet with an experienced family law attorney to receive personalized guidance.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_704183452-2-min.jpg  Divorce is bound to be challenging regardless of the couples’ circumstances. However, divorcing spouses in the public eye often have unique challenges to overcome. Contentious divorce cases involving well-known individuals often become fodder for tabloids and news outlets. Even if a couple is only well-known in their local community, they do not want their divorce to become the subject of water cooler gossip at work or the local coffee shop. High-profile parents may also worry about what their children will overhear if their divorce becomes public.

Collaborative divorce is a divorce option that allows spouses to be represented by attorneys without the exposure of a public divorce trial.

Basics of Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse retains a lawyer experienced in collaborative law. The spouses and their respective attorneys sign a document called a “participation agreement.” This document contains many promises, including the promise to negotiate in good faith, willingly share any necessary financial records other information, and maintain confidentiality.


Introducing The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson

Nicholas W. Richardson is an experienced divorce lawyer and mediator whose comprehensive legal knowledge, commitment to clients and reputation for results bring lasting solutions to your problems.

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