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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted on in Divorce

arlington heights divorce lawyerThe vast majority of divorce cases end via a settlement. The spouses' respective attorneys are able to negotiate an agreement about property division, child custody, or other contested issues that both parties are satisfied with. The agreement is submitted to the Court and the Court issues a final divorce decree.

However, it is possible for a divorce case to end up at trial. Although rare, it is important for divorcing spouses to recognize that this is a possibility - especially if the case is especially contentious.

Steps in an Illinois Divorce Trial

When divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement about one or more aspects of the divorce, the Court will make a decision for them. Divorce trials are usually bench trials. This means that a Judge hears arguments from both sides and makes a decision. There usually is not a jury during a divorce trial.

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palatine divorce lawyerFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and other social media platforms are extremely popular. The majority of Americans have at least one social media account, if not several. For many people, posting on social media is second nature. They share pictures, thoughts, ideas, or opinions without even thinking about it. However, social media use during divorce can be risky. Anything you share online during a divorce has the potential to influence the outcome of your case.

How Facebook and Other Social Media Websites Can Affect Your Divorce

In a contested divorce case, each party is looking for evidence that strengthens their case. Evidence is gathered by each spouse’s attorney during the discovery portion of the divorce. You may be surprised to learn that information from social media websites is increasingly used as evidence in divorce cases. One study found that 81 percent of divorce attorneys had presented social media evidence in court.

Social media posts can affect divorce in many different ways. In some cases, social media posts may be used to demonstrate evidence of a spouse’s financial circumstances. For example, suppose a wife is requesting spousal maintenance during her divorce. She has petitioned the court for support on the basis that she does not have enough financial resources to support herself. However, during the divorce proceedings, she posts pictures of expensive new jewelry she purchased herself on Instagram. The husband may be able to use these pictures as evidence that her financial resources are greater than what she is alleging.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_499991806-min.jpgMany people falsely assume that having significant wealth eliminates most, if not all, of an individual's problems in life. However, having a high net worth often leads to its own unique set of problems and challenges, especially when a marriage ends in divorce. If you are planning to end your marriage and you or your spouse own high-value assets or have a high income, you need to know how this can influence the divorce process. This blog will discuss some common challenges that people with high net worth face during their divorce.

Getting Divorced When You Have High-Value Assets and Income

High-net-worth divorce cases are often much more complex than an average divorce case. As you prepare for divorce, make sure to plan for challenges such as:

  • Valuing assets - One of the biggest challenges for people with high net worth is properly valuing all their assets. Bank account balances are easy to calculate, but valuing more complex assets such as businesses, stocks, and real estate can be much more difficult. Fine art, jewelry, antiques, collections, and other unique items may also need to be valued. It is important to get an accurate appraisal in order to ensure that your marital assets are divided fairly.
  • Dividing complex business interests - If either you or your spouse owns a business, it will need to be appraised in order for the Court to identify and value the marital assets associated with the business. In absence of a valid marital agreement, most businesses established during the marriage are considered marital assets. This means that both spouses are entitled to a portion of the business's value.
  • Spousal support - When one spouse makes significantly more money than the other, spousal support or spousal maintenance may be ordered. High-net-worth individuals are more likely to be ordered to pay spousal support, as their income is often much higher than the average person. Spousal support is determined based on the spouses' income, their assets, the duration of the marriage, and the lifestyle of both spouses prior to separation.
  • Stocks, bonds, and other investments - Many high-net-worth individuals have complex portfolios of stocks, bonds, and other investments. These must be identified and valued in order to determine the value of the marital estate. Dividing these assets between two people can be complicated and require careful negotiation, or even the assistance of a financial advisor.
  • Inheritance - Inherited assets are typically considered non-marital assets in an Illinois divorce. However, if inherited assets are mixed with marital assets, the inheritance may become part of the marital estate. Complex inheritance disputes during divorce often require forensic accounting, discovery tools like interrogatories, and assistance from a skilled lawyer.
  • Tax implications - Having a high net worth can also have tax implications, both during and after the divorce process.

Contact a Palatine High-Net-Worth Divorce Lawyer

High net-worth divorce cases require special attention and care, as they are often more complex than other divorces. If you are planning to end your marriage and you have a high net worth, contact experienced Arlington Heights high-net-worth divorce lawyer Nicholas W. Richardson for help. Call 847.873.6741 and set up a free initial consultation today.

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palatine child custody lawyerFor children, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and memories. Unfortunately, they can also be a time of stress for parents who are divorced or separated. If you are a divorced parent or soon will be, you may be struggling to manage the holiday stress as a co-parent. There is no way to completely avoid parenting stress and conflict this time of year, but you may be able to reduce some of the tension. Here are ten tips to help you handle the holiday season with less stress when co-parenting.

Surviving the Holidays as a Divorced Parent

During fall and winter holidays, the normal routine can be disrupted. Children have a break from school, extended relatives visit from out of town, and events quickly fill up the calendar. All this change can be difficult to navigate as a divorced parent. If you are separated or divorced, consider the following tips for the holiday season:

  • Comply with your parenting plan - As always, adhere to your parenting plan and respect the agreement. If you are in an ongoing battle with your ex-spouse or partner regarding child custody, think twice before making any changes for the holidays without consulting your attorney.
  • Discuss holiday plans early - Open communication between you and your ex is essential at all times, but especially during the holidays. As soon as possible, have a conversation to plan which days the kids will spend with each parent throughout the season.
  • Set boundaries - It is important to establish boundaries for yourself and your ex. Respect each other’s time with the kids, including any extended family who may be visiting. Respect also includes understanding your ex’s boundaries and expectations for the arrangement.
  • Create new traditions - When splitting custody, it can be difficult to maintain older family traditions. Consider creating new ones and sharing them with the kids.
  • Focus on your children - Even though it can be difficult, focus on the needs of your children first. Avoid putting them in the middle of any conflicts you may have with your ex.
  • Talk to your children frequently - Make sure your children feel comfortable talking to you about any worries or concerns they may have about spending time with both parents.
  • Focus on experiences instead of expensive gifts - If you are like many parents getting divorced, money may be tight. Consider low-cost activities like arts and crafts or building a snowman instead of buying more expensive gifts.
  • Be flexible - If possible, be willing to adjust your plans so that both you and your ex can spend holidays with the kids.
  • Be mindful of your emotions - Divorce and co-parenting can be very emotional. Make sure that you take time for yourself, practice self-care, and seek help from a therapist if needed.
  • Let go of resentments - Try to let go of any resentment you may have towards your ex. Doing so can help reduce stress and prevent conflict during the holidays. Above all, remember that although the holiday season may be filled with stress, it is ultimately about spending time with your children and creating lasting memories.

Contact a Palatine Divorce Lawyer

If you are a parent getting divorced, contact our Arlington Heights divorce lawyer to get the legal support and help you need. Call the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. at 847.873.6741 for an initial consultation.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1270775542-min.jpgMany people buy real estate properties and rent them out to individuals or businesses for profit. Owning rental properties can provide consistent income during a marriage, however, these same properties can cause significant legal and financial headaches during divorce

If you own rental properties and you are ending your marriage, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding the properties themselves as well as the income generated by the properties.

Marital Versus Non-Marital Property

Assets acquired by a spouse during the marriage are generally considered marital property jointly owned by both spouses. Property that is acquired before the marriage is non-marital property. However, there are several exceptions to these rules. Property that is excluded from the marital estate through a prenuptial agreement or other marital agreement is non-marital property regardless of when or how it was acquired. Property, including real estate, acquired through inheritance is usually non-marital property. Non-marital property can also become marital property if both spouses contributed o the increased value of the property.

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palatine divorce lawyerWhen a married couple finds themselves frequently arguing, facing the repercussions of an affair, or simply falling out of love, they may decide to try a trial separation. The hope is that by spending some time apart, the couple will be in a better position to decide what to do next. 

Divorce is a huge decision and not one that should be taken lightly. By living separately temporarily, the spouses may have the space they need to figure out whether divorce is the right step.

When it comes to trial separations, results vary. Some separations end with both parties realizing how much they love each other and wish to remain married. Other times, trial separations end with divorce papers. If you are thinking about a trial separation, make sure to consider the following.

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palatine child custody lawyerIllinois Courts presume that it is ideal for a child to have both of his or her parents involved in his or her life. However, this is a rebuttable assumption. Ultimately, the Courts determine all child-related decisions based on what is in the child's best interests. If there is evidence that a parent's involvement in a child's life is harmful or dangerous, the Court may implement parenting time restrictions. Supervised parenting time or supervised visitation is one of the most common types of parenting time restrictions but it is just one of several restrictions the Court may enforce.

Conditions and Limitations on Parenting Time

Illinois law defines a parenting time restriction as any condition placed on a parent's parenting time. Courts only limit parenting time in this manner if the Court finds that unrestricted parenting time would "seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health." 

There are a number of conditions or limitations that the Court may place on parenting time. These include, but are not limited to:

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palatine divorce lawyerAccording to a recent report, nearly 75,000 individuals in Illinois suffer from Opioid Use Disorder. Drug addiction involving opioids like oxycodone, morphine, heroin, and fentanyl can absolutely devastate a person's life. These substances are so powerful that they often consume an individual's entire world, leading to financial instability, criminal activity, and the breakdown of the family unit.

If you are divorcing a spouse with opioid addiction, you are not alone. Many individuals in Illinois find themselves in this difficult situation. The person you are divorcing may bear little resemblance to the person you married. If your spouse is like many suffering from substance abuse, addiction may have changed him or her dramatically. Consequently, protecting yourself and your finances is paramount during the divorce process. 

Temporary Orders During Divorce Involving an Addict 

The divorce process can take months or even years to complete. You may want to consider getting temporary orders to ensure your physical safety and protect your financial assets while the divorce is ongoing. 

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palatine divorce lawyerMany people have heard of divorce mediation, but few understand exactly what it entails. If you are planning to end your marriage, you may be interested in ways you can reduce conflict and increase cooperation during the divorce process. Divorcing spouses who can reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities, division of marital property and debt, and other important matters are typically more satisfied with the outcome of their divorce than those who go to Court and let a Judge make decisions for them. Resolving divorce issues through mediation or lawyer-assisted negotiation is also much less expensive than a divorce trial. This blog will outline the general principles of divorce mediation and explain how a mediator may be able to help you and your spouse reach an out-of-Court agreement on any disputed issues during divorce.

What Happens During Mediation?

Mediation is an informal process in which a trained neutral third party, the mediator, assists the divorcing couple in communicating with each other to reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce. The mediator does not make any decisions for the couple or give legal advice. Rather, the mediator’s role is to facilitate communication and help the couple brainstorm solutions to their disagreements.

During mediation, the couple may discuss questions such as:

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palatine high net worth divorce lawyerGetting divorced is always a difficult process, but it can be even more complicated when there are high levels of wealth involved. If you are going through a high net worth divorce, there are some special considerations you need to take into account in order to protect your interests.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

When either spouse has a high net worth, you need to make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side who knows how to navigate these kinds of cases. The wrong lawyer could end up costing you substantial money, so you need to do your research and find someone who has experience handling cases like yours.

Protect Your Assets and Your Right to an Equitable Share of Marital Property

In a high net worth divorce, there is much at stake in terms of assets and property division. You need to make sure you have a solid plan in place for protecting your assets and ensuring that you get what you are entitled to. This may involve using discovery tools or forensic accounting to uncover hidden assets or offshore accounts. Appraisers and business valuation experts may be needed to assess business interests and other complex financial holdings.

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palatine divorce lawyerDivorce is not exactly known for bringing out the best in people. Yet despite conflict being common during divorce, your spouse should not be subjecting you to behavior that makes you afraid of him or her. Unfortunately, some spouses attempt to scare, coerce, or intimidate their partners during divorce out of a desire for revenge, to get the upper hand in divorce negotiations, or simply to be a jerk. 

This is not normal behavior, and you do not have to tolerate it. If your spouse is stalking or harassing you, your children, or any other member of your family, you may be able to take legal action in Illinois Court to stop the behavior. 

What Counts as Harassment and Stalking in Illinois? 

Stalking and harassing are illegal behaviors in Illinois. However, before you can seek relief from a spouse who exhibits these behaviors, you need to make sure they actually rise to the level of stalking or harassment. 

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palatine divorce lawyerMillennials in America are old enough, big enough, and diverse enough to have become the most closely studied generation in the world. Larger than the Baby Boomers and more ethnically diverse than any other generation before them, Millennials make a fascinating case study. Closely tracked by almost every measure, we now have excellent statistics on the behaviors of Millennials in every major aspect of life - how they save, how they spend, what they wear, and, of course, how frequently they get married and divorced

People who are reluctant to get married often cite the most famous divorce statistic of all: 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Yet, when it comes to Millennials, this may not be true. Data from reputable research organizations suggests Millennials are forging a path of their own when it comes to marriage and divorce. 

Less Likely to Divorce, Less Likely to Marry

One of the reasons Millennials are less likely to get divorced is that they are simply less likely to get married in the first place. And they are not all cohabitating instead - Millennials, in general, tend to live in structured families less often than previous generations. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_252726718-min.jpg Divorced and unmarried parents of minor children in Illinois often rely on their child’s other parent to make timely child support payments. When the parent responsible for making payments falls behind on his or her payments or stops paying altogether, it can leave the receiving parent in a terrible bind. Parents who are desperate to get child support payments back may understandably want to escalate matters but may be reluctant to get a Court involved because they fear the expense and hassle that could ensue. 

Unfortunately, parents who stop following the parenting time schedule described in their Court-ordered parenting plan because of unpaid child support can face legal consequences, just as a parent who stops paying child support can. Instead, it is better to follow the law and allow a Court, with the help of an experienced attorney, to take action against someone whose child support payments are in arrears. 

Recovering Unpaid Child Support

Child support and parenting time are both contained within the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, but they are two separate statutes that are mostly decided independently of each other. While it is true that child support payments may be increased or decreased depending on the amount of time the paying parent spends with a child in shared parenting time scenarios, stopping one does not justify stopping the other.

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palatine divorce lawyerOver the course of many years of marriage, couples generally accumulate a large sum of money for retirement. Whether through careful saving and investment, working hard and earning a pension, or any combination of other investment strategies, Illinois couples depend upon their retirement plans to carry them throughout their later years. 

The prospect of divorce can feel very threatening to your retirement income, and rightfully so; marital assets must all be divided in divorce and this can leave both you and your spouse with more expenses and less resources. However, with careful planning, rigorous negotiation, and excellent legal representation, there are ways for you to protect your retirement goals during divorce. Here are three great steps to help you begin. 

Understand Your Retirement Plans and Administrative Rules

Couples often divide labor, leaving one spouse to manage certain parts of the household and one spouse to handle the rest. Finances are frequently managed by only one spouse, and if you are the spouse who is not very involved in handling money, now is the time to begin.

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palatine child support lawyerChild support payments help single and divorced parents cover child-related expenses. During these challenging times, financial assistance through child support is more important than ever. However, for various reasons, some parents stop paying child support. In some cases, a parent loses his or her job and can no longer afford support payments. Other parents are simply irresponsible or selfish and intentionally choose to ignore this important responsibility.

Whatever the cause, non-payment of child support is not taken lightly by Illinois Courts.

What to Do When a Parent Cannot or Will Not Pay Child Support

If you are an obligor, or payer, or child support and you cannot afford your current child support obligation, do not simply stop paying. The Court can take adverse actions against you, which will only make your situation worse. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a child support order modification. For example, if you were laid off from your job and are genuinely trying to get a new job, you may be able to reduce your obligation for the time being.

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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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