Divorce can be an emotional process, and it also involves a wide variety of legal issues that can be difficult to understand. Both of these factors can cause people to make mistakes that may not only result in unfavorable decisions, but they can also make the divorce process more expensive. If you are going through a divorce, avoiding the following mistakes is crucial in order to protect your financial interests and future.
The stress of separating from your partner, when combined with the anger, sadness, or resentment you may be feeling, can result in fights that will not help your case. For example, you may argue about certain marital property based on a desire to win arguments with your spouse rather than out of a real need to keep these assets. Doing this can draw out the divorce process unnecessarily, resulting in higher costs that may leave you in a more difficult financial position following your divorce. While you may have to fight for what is rightfully yours, you should be sure to understand when these types of disputes will be necessary, and when they will be financially beneficial....
Recently, Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce from her husband, Brandon Blackstock, after nearly seven years of marriage. Clarkson is worth an estimated $45 million and is stating that she wants her prenuptial agreement enforced. Reportedly, the prenup outlines an arrangement for legal and physical joint custody of their children, and Clarkson is asking the court to terminate Blackstock’s right to ask for spousal support. The case was filed in a Los Angeles court, but would the court approve her requests if she filed in Illinois? How can you ensure that your premarital agreement is enforced in the Prairie State?
What Makes a Prenup Invalid in Illinois?
Generally speaking, premarital agreements in Illinois are enforceable as long as the agreement is in writing and both parties have willingly signed it. However, there are instances in which a premarital agreement may not be enforced. These include:...
During your divorce, you will want to be sure you are working with an attorney who is the right person for your case. In some situations, you may have personality conflicts with your divorce lawyer, or the trust or confidence in your attorney may have broken down. If you are not receiving the legal help you need, you may ask yourself if you should change divorce lawyers. However, before ending your relationship with your lawyer and hiring someone else to represent you, you should be aware of some important considerations.
Reasons to Look for a New Lawyer
There are many reasons you may want to change the divorce lawyer who is working on your case. These include:...
Property division is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce, particularly when it comes to the family home. You and your spouse will need to determine who will own your marital home, and many factors may come into play when making that decision. To help you decide what to do with the family home in your divorce, you can ask yourself the following questions:
Is the Home Separate or Marital Property?
In many situations, a husband and wife will purchase a home together after they have gotten married. If this is the case, the home is marital property, and it must therefore be included in the property division process during divorce. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means the home’s equity is subject to being divided between spouses. In some cases, one spouse will keep the home, while the other will receive other property of similar value. In other cases, the home may be sold, and the proceeds will be divided between the spouses.
If one spouse owned a home before getting married, it will likely be considered separate property and may not be subject to Illinois’ property division rules. However, if one spouse made contributions to a house owned by the other spouse, such as by sharing in mortgage payments or assisting with improvements that increased the value of the property, that spouse may be reimbursed for their contributions to non-marital property....
After English singer-songwriter Adele divorced her husband in 2019 without a prenuptial agreement in place, many wondered what would happen to her amassed wealth. Ultimately, the divorce settlement was worth 140 million English pounds, which is more than 175 million dollars in the United States. Some people have stated that the fact that Adele did not have a prenup in place was a mistake. However, there are other mistakes many people make when going through a high net worth divorce. If you are about to go through a divorce, and you or your spouse have a high net worth, you will want to understand how you can protect yourself financially. Here are some common mistakes that you will want to avoid:
1. Hurrying the Divorce Process
No one wants to go through a lengthy divorce, but high net worth divorces are rarely over quickly. Multiple professionals often have to get involved, including attorneys, financial advisors, forensic accountants and others. These professionals can provide valuable insight into how to resolve the legal and financial issues involved, and they can help divorcing spouses reach a fair settlement. If you try to rush the divorce process, you may end up making hasty decisions that will cost you in the long run, and you may regret these mistakes for years to come.
2. Letting Emotions Take Over
Feelings of guilt, anger, regret and resentment are common in any divorce. These emotions are all completely normal, but you will want to do your best to put them aside and to ensure that they do not influence the decisions you make. Failure to do so can lead to mistakes that you may regret in the future....
No couple gets married thinking that they are going to divorce. Traditionally, the top reasons marriages fail have been considered to be mishandling money, marrying too young and suffering a loss of identity; however, a recent study found that those are no longer the most common reasons for divorce. Below are the three most common reasons why modern couples choose to end their marriage, according to the study:
Lack of Love and Intimacy
No matter how passionate a relationship is at the beginning of a marriage, this passion tends to diminish over time. This is normal and happens to many couples. However, intimacy is still an important part of marriage and includes much more than just what happens in the bedroom. When couples reach the point where they experience fewer acts of affection, including holding hands, kissing or even calling or texting just to express one’s love, this may be a sign that divorce is on the horizon.
Communication is extremely important in a marriage. A couple must be able to not only talk to each other about everyday life, but also the big and small problems that may crop up during their marriage. Although different styles of communication are not necessarily a sign that a couple is going to divorce, each spouse will want to understand the other’s style of communication so he or she can adequately respond to it. In addition, both spouses should understand that talking and listening are equally important....
Summer is quickly approaching, and some divorced parents may have vacation plans that include their child. Whether these plans include taking lengthy trips or having children stay with a parent for a whole week instead of a weekend, summer schedules are often quite different than they are during the school year. Parents who share child custody may struggle to address these changing schedules and ensure that they can spend time with their children as planned. To make it easier, here are some tips on what you should and should not do when addressing issues related to summer vacations.
How to Co-Parent in the Summer
There are a variety of ways to make co-parenting easier during the summer months when parents and children may be able to spend more time with each other. During this time, it is important to:
- Plan in advance: If you have any plans with your child that deviate from your parenting plan, you will want to discuss them with your former spouse ahead of time. Ideally, you will be able to work together to come to an agreement about any changes to your parenting time schedules during the summer months while ensuring that the decisions you make will protect your children’s best interests.
- Get your child involved: Divorce can be hard on kids. They may already be adjusting to dividing their time between parents’ homes, and during this time, maintain a consistent routine. No matter how fun a vacation is, it can still be a disruption that could make it harder for your child to cope with the changes that have come with your divorce. To minimize these types of difficulties, involve children in vacation planning by asking them what they would like to do, and be sure they know what to expect. When children are older, you may also need to determine whether they will have any of their own plans, and be sure to consider this when preparing for summer.
- Keep communication open: As you carry out your summer vacation plans, be sure to remain in contact with the other parent, and make sure your child communicates with them regularly. Encourage phone calls and texts so they can stay in touch.
How Not to Co-Parent in the Summer
As you prepare for summer, you may inadvertently take some steps that are not appropriate for the situation. You should do your best to avoid the following mistakes:...
Even when certain issues, such as child custody, have been finalized in a divorce settlement, parents and children may experience changes that affect these matters. That may never be more true than during these uncertain times in which we deal with the threat of the coronavirus. First and foremost, parents should know that the Governor of Illinois has stated specifically that parents are allowed to transport children to carry out court-ordered parenting time schedules. After all, families need each other more than ever right now, and children will need to maintain close relationships with both parents. However, there are some uncertainties and safety issues that parents may need to be aware of when addressing child custody.
Steps to take When a Child Is Endangered
While many of the courthouses in Illinois have closed and will not reopen until the coronavirus crisis dies down, courts will be available to deal with emergency situations. If a parent feels that allowing their child to spend time with the other parent would put the child in danger, they may pursue an order of protection that will ensure that they and their child will be safe from harm. As soon as courts are back in session, a parent may file a petition to modify the child custody order.
Responding When Someone Is Experiencing Symptoms
Some parents may come across the situation in which they, their child, or the other parent is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. In the event that anyone is experiencing symptoms, the parenting time schedule may need to be adjusted to minimize the possibility of infection. In these cases, parents will want to work together to reach an agreement that will protect their children’s best interests. This may mean temporarily foregoing parenting time, and the loss of time with the child may be made up at a later date once the infected party has made a full recovery....
Divorce can be extremely hard on the children involved. That is certainly not a myth. However, there are other myths surrounding divorce and children that are not true, and parents going through the divorce process should be prepared to address concerns about how their children will be affected. Four of these myths, and the truth behind them, are outlined below:
Divorce Is Easier for Younger Children
Divorce is not easy for any child, but some people believe that the younger a child is, the easier the divorce process will be for him or her. This myth seems to stem from the belief that when a child is a toddler, he or she is unable to form sufficient memories, and if a child cannot properly remember a divorce, it cannot cause as much trauma. Unfortunately, this is not true. Fighting and tension between parents can be extremely difficult things for a toddler to deal with, and these conflicts can impact a child’s development. As such, it is important for parents to try to address divorce disputes as amicably as possible when children are involved, regardless of how old those children are.
Each Parent Should Have the Same Rules After Divorce
It is natural for parents to have different approaches to raising their children, both when they are married and after getting divorced. Following divorce, parents often believe that they will need to impose the same rules in each household, but that is not true. Different rules in different households will not harm the mental or emotional health of a child, and in fact, those differences can help the child become more adaptable and learn how to be flexible in different situations....
There have been reports that divorce rates are increasing in China now that the spread of coronavirus has settled down. Typically, disasters tend to bring people together, so this current trend has many wondering why the virus seems to be tearing some couples apart. After an in-depth look, it is not difficult to understand why the coronavirus has caused the breakdown of some marriages.
While “social distancing” may be helping to slow the spread of the disease, it can cause a great deal of difficulty in a household. When spouses and family members are forced to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together, they may begin to argue over a variety of issues. These fights may escalate into more serious disagreements, especially if a couple has unresolved issues or resentments that have been building for years. If remaining constantly together in close quarters has caused the cracks in a couple’s relationship to deepen, and resolution of these issues seems unlikely or impossible, divorce may be the best option.
The coronavirus has not only been a threat to the public’s health, but it has also caused a great deal of financial trouble for many families. Businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters have had to close, leaving the owners of those businesses struggling to make ends meet when they no longer have the income coming in that they once did. Many workers are also being told to stay home in order to limit the spread of the virus, leading to a loss of income that has affected their ability to make ends meet. Concerns about money are some of the primary issues that can lead to the breakdown of a marriage, and these financial difficulties may strain relationships past the breaking point, leading to more divorces....
Child custody always has the potential to become an extremely complex issue. However, when parents are not married, it can become even more complicated. While married couples will make decisions about child custody as part of their divorce, unwed couples may need to take legal action to address issues related to their children. In some cases, paternity will need to be established before decisions can be made about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.
Establishing Paternity in Illinois
In Illinois, married spouses are presumed to be the parents of any children born during the marriage, unless there is documentation that says otherwise. However, when the parents of a child are not married, the same assumption is not made. In the case of unwed parents, the paternity of the father must be established. There are three ways to do this:
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity: If both parents agree on the paternity of the child, they can both complete and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.
- Administrative Paternity Order: If the parents cannot agree, the State of Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services can issue an Administrative Paternity Order to establish paternity.
- Order of Paternity: The last method of establishing paternity is to appear in court and have a judge issue an order of paternity.
An Administrative Paternity Order and an Order of Paternity are typically only required if the father disputes that he is the biological father of the child. In these cases, DNA testing will usually be used to confirm that a presumed father is in fact the child’s biological father....
In many cases, people going through a divorce find themselves in a difficult situation simply because they did not fully prepare for their situation and take steps to protect themselves. If you know that divorce is in your future, there are a few steps you can take to help the process proceed more smoothly and ensure that you are able to achieve a fair settlement that will meet your ongoing needs.
Copy Important Documents
Before filing for divorce, you will want to make copies of all of the important documents pertaining to your finances. These may include tax returns, wills, mortgage documents, life insurance policies and statements for bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts or investments, as well as any other documentation related to your marital property. This will allow you to have a full understanding of the financial issues you will need to address during your divorce.
Understand Household Finances
You should keep track of your utility bills, mortgage or rent payments and other household expenses. You will also need to be sure you understand your spouse’s income as well as your own and any debts or financial obligations either of you may have. If either you or your spouse are self-employed or own a business, you should keep track of all of the income that comes in for a few months prior to the divorce. By understanding your ongoing income and expenses, you will be able to address these issues during divorce and ensure that you can meet your needs after your marriage has been dissolved....
Divorce can be very difficult for everyone who is affected by a couple’s breakup, including their children. One of the biggest concerns children of divorcing parents may have is how their living situation might change and when they will spend time with each parent following the divorce. In many cases, parents and children alike may expect that children will play a role in making decisions about their living arrangements. Although children’s opinions and desires may be a factor in some cases, this will not necessarily be true in every situation. When addressing child custody matters, a family law attorney can help ensure that children’s best interests are protected.
Parenting Time in Illinois
In divorce cases, the time children spend with each parent is commonly referred to as “physical custody” or “visitation.” However, in 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was modified, and those terms are no longer used. Today, the time children spend with each parent is referred to as “parenting time.” The law recognizes that it is in children’s best interests to have regular, ongoing time with each parent, and during divorce, parents will need to create a parenting plan that includes a schedule for when children will live with each parent. The parenting plan will also address how parents will divide the responsibility for making important decisions for their children, such as where they will go to school and what religion they will be raised in.
Do Children Have a Choice Where They Will Live?
One prevailing myth that people may have heard states that once a child turns 14, the court will consider him or her to be mature enough to make a decision about where he or she wants to live. However, this is not a provision that is included in Illinois law. When making decisions about parenting time, a judge will take many factors into consideration to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The child’s desires are one of these factors, and a judge may listen to what a child has to say and take any preferences he or she has into consideration. Rather than identifying an age at which a child’s preferences will be considered, the law states that a judge may consider the child’s wishes if he or she is mature enough to be able to express his or her “reasoned and independent” preferences....
When you are going through a divorce, you will want to work with an attorney who can help you secure a fair settlement and make the process as easy as possible. However, you do not need just any attorney; you need the lawyer who is right for your case. Although there are many good divorce lawyers in Illinois, you will want to find someone you are comfortable with who can address your unique concerns and help you complete the divorce process successfully. You will want to ask your divorce lawyer following questions:
Have You Handled Many Cases Like Mine?
No two divorce cases are alike. You may need to address a variety of complex issues, such as a high net worth, child custody disputes, or potential dissipation of assets by your spouse. You might expect your divorce to be contested, or you may plan to reach an amicable settlement with your spouse using methods such as mediation. You will want to be sure the attorney you ultimately hire should is experienced in handling the issues you will need to address.
How Will We Communicate During the Divorce?
Attorneys tend to have preferred methods of communication, and you will want to be sure you are comfortable discussing your case in this manner. Whether you prefer to communicate via email, phone, or text messages, you will want to establish a plan for how you will send information, ask questions, and receive updates....
For many parents going through divorce, the biggest fear they have is that they will not be able to spend as much time with their children. This fear is an understandable one. Although the divorce laws in Illinois state that a parent’s gender should not be considered when making decisions about child custody, many judges still have a bias, even if they do not realize it. In many cases, parents worry that they will be treated unfairly when courts allocate parenting time, and they may be unsure of how they can protect their parental rights and ensure that the decisions made during divorce will provide for their children’s best interests. However, Illinois lawmakers are currently considering legislation that could change how parenting time is addressed in divorce and family law cases.
Are There Minimum Parenting Time Standards in Illinois?
Studies have found that it is in a child’s best interests to spend at least 35 percent of his or her time with each parent. However, under Illinois law, there is no minimum requirement for the amount of parenting time that should be allocated to a parent. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that parents are presumed to be fit to care for their children unless there is evidence to the contrary. However, parents are only entitled to “reasonable” amounts of parenting time, and the IMDMA does not specify a minimum amount or percentage of parenting time that is considered reasonable. Because of this, Illinois has received a ranking of C- from the National Parents Organization in its Shared Parenting Report Card. Clearly, there is work to be done in the state regarding shared parenting, and some lawmakers are attempting to address this issue.
House Bill 0185
A bill has been introduced to the Illinois House of Representatives that would change the way judges decide on parenting time in the state. House Bill 0185 would require judges to begin a child custody case with the presumption that it would be in children’s best interests for parents to share equal amounts of parenting time, as long as each parent is fit and able to care for his or her child. If, after reviewing the facts of the case, a judge determines that one parent should have less parenting time than the other, he or she would be required to provide a written explanation for the deviation from this presumption. The goal is to reduce the amount of conflict in divorce and child custody cases and make them easier and fairer for everyone involved, while protecting children’s best interests at all times....
Under Illinois law, gender is not a factor that should be considered when deciding a divorce case; however, some may fear that the decisions made during divorce will favor their ex-spouse, and they will want to understand their rights and the best ways to achieve success during the divorce process. Below are some of the biggest myths that still surround men and divorce and the truth behind them:
When Men Do Not Pay Child Support, They Cannot See Their Child
Fathers may worry that if they fall behind on child support payments, the mother may be able to refuse to allow them to spend time with their child. Fortunately, this is not the case. There are serious consequences for not paying child support, including being held in contempt of court. However, the courts view child custody and child support as two separate issues, and a mother cannot punish a father for non-payment of child support by restricting parenting time. If a parent withholds visitation because their ex-spouse did not pay child support, she/he can face serious consequences themselves.
Mothers Are Always Awarded Primary Child Custody
This is perhaps the biggest myth surrounding men and divorce. Although it is true that at one time, the courts were more likely to award child custody to mothers, this is no longer the case. Today, decisions about child custody are based on what is in the child’s best interests. The gender of the two spouses has nothing to do with child custody hearings. Instead, courts will consider factors such as the health of the parents, the children’s wishes, and how parents acted in the past when providing care for their children....
Many states have adopted a no-fault system for divorce. This means that when one spouse wants to get divorced, he/she does not have to prove that the other spouse did anything wrong. One spouse simply states that there was a breakdown in the marital relationship and attempts to reconcile would not be in the best interests of the family.
Those in Illinois wanting to divorce may wonder whether the process of filing for divorce is this simple. Fortunately, Illinois law allows for no-fault divorces. If you are considering divorce, there are some issues you should consider before filing your divorce petition.
Grounds for Divorce in Illinois
In the past, Illinois law allowed a person to state that his/her spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. The law recognized a number of grounds for divorce, including:...
As of January 1, 2020, marijuana is legal in Illinois for both medical and recreational use. However, even though the possession and use of this drug is no longer a criminal offense, people who have gotten a divorce and have at least partial custody of their children should think carefully before using marijuana. Irresponsible use of drugs or alcohol could negatively affect the amount of time you are able to spend with your child.
How Marijuana Use May Affect Parenting Time and Parental Responsibility
In Illinois, child custody is referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities, and visitation is referred to as parenting time. When determining how much time each parent will spend with their child, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests. If one parent is concerned that the other parent is using marijuana when the child is in his or her care, this issue can be brought to the attention of the courts, and the parent may ask for a modification of the parenting plan. For example, a parent may ask that the other parent’s parenting time be reduced or that the parent be prohibited from using marijuana during his or her parenting time.
Understanding this issue is important for anyone who currently has parenting time with a child. Sometimes, a bitter ex will tell the court that a parent is using marijuana excessively around the child as a means of obtaining a greater allocation of parenting time. A parent may claim that the other parent’s use of marijuana is endangering the child, and the other parent may be required to prove that he or she has not acted in a way that has harmed the child....
There are many assets the courts will divide between a couple during divorce proceedings. Some of the most common include the marital home, a business acquired during the marriage, bank accounts, and vehicles. Retirement accounts are one type of asset that many people do not consider when entering into property division negotiations. However, accounts such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and pensions are subject to division between spouses, just like other marital assets. How they are divided and when the funds are distributed will depend on several different factors.
Retirement Accounts as Marital Property
In Illinois, as in all other states, property is considered to be either marital property or separate property. Separate property is any property either spouse owned prior to the wedding that was brought into the marriage. Marital property, on the other hand, is any property that was acquired during the marriage by one or both spouses.
These same rules apply to retirement accounts. If one spouse had acquired funds in a retirement account prior to the marriage, those funds are considered separate property. However, any funds that went into the account after the marriage are considered marital property, even if only one spouse contributed to the account....
All parents in Illinois are responsible for providing financial support for their children. This is a fairly straightforward matter during a marriage, but after divorce, it can become more complicated. In many cases, the non-custodial parent is responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent, and these payments are meant to help with daily expenses and costs associated with raising the child. Sometimes, a non-custodial parent may find him or herself in financial trouble, or he or she may want to punish the other parent by refusing to pay support. However, a non-custodial parent can face severe consequences for not paying court-ordered child support. Custodial parents should be sure to understand their options for enforcing payment of child support that is owed.
In some cases, a parent may work with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to enforce payment of child support. A parent may also work with a family law attorney to take legal action through the court. The consequences a non-paying parent may face include:
If a parent does not pay child support, his or her wages may be garnished to ensure that payments are made on time and in full. An Income Withholding for Support request will be sent to the parent’s employer. This notice will include instructions regarding the amount the employer should withhold from the parent’s paychecks and where to send that money. A wage garnishment order can ensure that ongoing child support obligations are met, or it may remain in effect until the entire balance of past-due child support is paid, along with interest....