In April of 2019, daytime talk show host Wendy Williams filed for divorce from her husband, Kevin Hunter. During the divorce proceedings, Hunter requested a substantial amount in spousal support, as well as child support for the couple’s 18-year-old son, Kevin Junior. Hunter relied on his job as executive producer on Williams’ show for an income, and he was also her personal manager. Now, after being fired from both jobs, he has no source of income.
This case is interesting, raising several questions. One significant issue involves Williams’ claim that she should not have to pay spousal support because Hunter cheated on her. Those who are divorcing in Illinois may wonder how the state’s laws would address these issues. Does adultery affect the terms of a divorce?
Adultery as Grounds for Divorce
In Illinois, the only grounds for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” This simply means that there has been a breakdown in the marriage and that there is no hope that the couple will reconcile. This is different than how divorce worked in Illinois historically, as previously, there was once a long list of grounds for divorce, including adultery....
A study conducted in 2012 showed that many couples choose not to get divorced because they believe it will be too expensive. Even though that study was done several years ago, the same holds true today, and those who are considering ending their marriage may be concerned about the cost of doing so. If you are thinking of getting a divorce in Illinois, you are likely wondering how much will it really cost?
The answer to that question can vary depending on the circumstances of each individual case. However, Illinois is one of the costliest states to get a divorce. In fact, in the Prairie State, the average cost of a divorce is $13,800. When factors such as child support and alimony are involved, the total costs can climb to approximately $35,300. Some factors that can affect these costs include:
The Filing Fee
One cost no couple can get around when filing for divorce is the filing fee. This fee is required in all cases, whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. In Illinois, this fee averages around $289, depending on which county you reside. This is higher than the national average but is still not the highest in the country. In certain situations, such as when a low-income couple is getting a divorce, these fees are sometimes waived....
The property settlement is often one of the most hotly contested aspects of a divorce case due to the financial stakes at play. Giving up a substantial portion of one’s wealth is not easy for some divorcing spouses to accept. Most spouses find a way to make peace with this part of ending their marriage, but others go to great lengths to avoid complying with the court’s orders or executing the negotiated agreement. Unfortunately, this choice can leave the other spouse in precarious financial straits, so it is important to understand the legal options for enforcing a divorce settlement.
An extreme example of tactics to avoid paying a property settlement is playing out in the divorce case of a former Board of Trade head who spent the holidays in jail for his refusal to pay his ex-wife the $18 million settlement she is owed. While most spouses do not have the means to transfer assets out of the U.S. and live abroad to avoid paying a divorce settlement, the mechanisms to force compliance are the same in all cases, and a spouse who violates the terms of a divorce settlement can face serious repercussions.
Petition to Show Cause
When a divorce settlement is entered into court records upon the finalization of the divorce process, it becomes a court order that both spouses are required to follow. A spouse who violates a court order can face serious civil and/or criminal consequences....
Once a married couple decides to split and file for divorce, the inevitable question, sooner or later, is when to move on and start dating again. Dating, in and of itself, presents complications, but when children are added to the equation, their opinions, as well as that of the other parent, may begin to matter.
A parent’s choice to begin a new relationship may play a part in decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and other divorce-related matters. Even if a parent begins dating after the divorce has been finalized, the other parent may potentially bring this matter before a judge and ask for a modification of the parenting plan. Thus, while there is no legal prohibition against dating, new relationships may have a practical effect on how a court may view certain behavior, and they may influence child custody decisions.
Dating During a Divorce
From the outside, dating while a divorce is still pending may appear premature, but couples may have extended periods of separation before taking the final step to formally end their marriage. That being said, appearances do make a difference in the outcome of divorce. Thus, starting an active dating life before the divorce has been finalized is likely to produce conflict and increase the odds that the other spouse will be less willing to compromise and more willing to litigate disputed issues. This can leave the other spouse with the choice of accepting a settlement that is less advantageous than they really want in order to avoid the time and expense of litigation, or they may choose to let a judge make the final decisions, which can be unpredictable and unlikely to produce a satisfactory outcome....
Divorce rocks the finances of every couple, including those with higher incomes and assets. Weathering the fallout of the loss of a combined income and the division of marital assets is one of the hardest adjustments any divorced person must make. Knowing which assets to take and which are better off relinquished or sold is not easy, especially when factoring in the emotional attachment spouses form over certain items. However, finding the right balance is the only way most divorced individuals have a realistic chance of recovering from this financial shift. The marital home is the largest physical asset most couples own, and it often looms large in the property settlement process.
Equitable division is the rule that governs property division in Illinois, which means the court will look for a fair division of assets, but not necessarily an equal one. Under this system, a spouse may be required to argue why he or she should receive a certain asset. When addressing the marital home, specific questions should be asked before making a strong stance in favor of keeping this property.
Questions to Ask About Keeping the Family Home
In many cases, at least one spouse will form a strong attachment to the family home, and either spouse may find it difficult to think of selling the home or giving up ownership to the other spouse. Good reasons do exist for keeping the home, including providing continuity for children, maintaining some form of financial security, and the possibility of appreciation in value....
Recently, Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced via Twitter that they were going to divorce. Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon and is thought to be worth approximately $136 billion, making him one of the wealthiest men in the world. The public was soon shocked to learn that they did not have a prenuptial agreement. What does this mean for the Bezos’ divorce? Is it possible that MacKenzie could be left with nothing?
That scenario is not likely. Due to the fact that the Bezos’ live in Washington, a community property state, both spouses are probably going to receive 50 percent of all assets accumulated during the marriage. The news has also left many wondering how this division of property would work if the couple lived in Illinois. The question is a good one, as Illinois operates under very different rules.
Community Property States
Currently, only nine states in the country are community property states: Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and of course, Washington. In these states, any income, property, or other assets acquired during a marriage are considered community property. Upon divorce, each spouse will then receive 50 percent of those assets, in most cases. This means that even without a prenuptial agreement, MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos will likely each receive half of the income earned from Amazon during their marriage, in addition to half of the many real estate properties they own and any other financial assets....
Getting divorced may be the right move for the health and happiness of both spouses, but financially, this decision can be devastating. The divorce process itself is expensive for many couples, and rearranging finances after years of sharing responsibility is no easy task. Making this transition is extremely difficult for all spouses, but those facing financial disadvantages are at risk of suffering irreparable fiscal damage by leaving the marriage. Spouses in this situation may have the option of asking for spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) from the other spouse if his or her financial means are more lucrative and stable.
Spouses who are returning to work after years or decades of absence will likely struggle to maintain an acceptable standard of living post-divorce, and decisions about spousal maintenance are frequently settled via negotiation or mediation. However, resolving this matter is about to get much more complicated and volatile, as a new tax law goes into effect on January 1, 2019, that will completely upend the treatment of spousal support. This change will greatly disincentivize a paying spouse from agreeing to this support, and it will greatly increase the likelihood of litigation to determine whether alimony will be required.
Paying spousal maintenance is a significant financial burden for most people. Under the current tax laws, a person may deduct alimony payments from their federal income taxes, thereby reducing the payor’s overall tax liability. The former spouse receiving spousal support is currently required to report this money as income....
Responding to the changes brought on by divorce is no easy matter, as they encompass nearly every aspect of a person’s life. One’s finances are heavily impacted by this process, since the resources available to each spouse will be reduced after one household is split into two. The payment of child support and alimony are further expenses that can strain a person’s budget.
Taxes is one area that is less discussed but is still vitally important to achieving a fair property settlement and understanding how one’s financial picture will look for at least the next few years. Spouses should understand the tax consequences of divorce, including how taxes apply to the division of assets and debts, as well as their post-divorce income tax liability. This issue is of particular importance, as the window to take advantage of the current tax law that allows the payor to deduct alimony payments is closing at the end of 2018.
Because some tax repercussions do not appear immediately, the real economic implications of divorce agreements and associated court orders may not be felt until the divorce has been completed. Understanding these issues can help divorcing spouses avoid being blindsided by potential tax liabilities in the future....
The common perception is that couples who are older and have weathered decades of ups and downs in their relationship will stay together forever. Of course, this is not always the case, and older couples do get divorced, even after 30 or more years of marriage. In fact, divorce among spouses over the age of 50 (known as “gray divorce”) has doubled since the 1990s, meaning more people approaching or in retirement must make major life changes.
Divorce between older couples may be more amicable, but different financial considerations come into play that need to be addressed. Regardless of the length of a marriage, spouses are required to divide marital assets and debts. However, older couples have less time to recover from the financial consequences of dividing everything by half, and they often have more complicated asset portfolios to distribute. Importantly, property division is rarely, if ever, revised by the courts after a divorce has been finalized, so getting it right the first time is crucial.
General Property Division Concerns
Illinois follows the equitable distribution model for property division in divorce that means marital property is divided according to what is fair, rather than strictly down the middle. Marital property includes anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage, as well as certain commingled marital and non-marital assets....
Anyone who is currently paying alimony (legally referred to as spousal maintenance in Illinois) or considering this issue in the midst of divorce is likely aware that as of 2019, the tax rules for this obligation will change dramatically. Currently, the payor receives a deduction for this expense, and the recipient is required to report the payments they receive as taxable income. This arrangement relieves some of the financial burden this support can cause, which can serve to facilitate divorce settlement negotiations. However, under the recent federal tax reform laws, both the ability to deduct alimony and the need to report it as income will be eliminated for any divorce finalized on or after January 1, 2019.
Legal and financial analysts worry that this change will drastically increase the amount of conflict between spouses and greatly deter the payor spouse from agreeing to any type of ongoing spousal support. Recognizing the significant issues this change will introduce into the divorce process, Illinois lawmakers passed a new law this year that allows for adjustments to modification awards in hopes of making the transition under the new tax law easier. A discussion of the changes in Illinois alimony law will follow below.
New Baseline Spousal Maintenance Formula
Alimony is always a contentious issue in divorce, as the spouse asked to pay rarely has any desire to support an ex-partner once the relationship is severed. Further, unlike child support, which is the legal right a child holds until adulthood, alimony is essentially discretionary, and courts must determine if such support is appropriate before moving forward. To make this assessment, a long list of factors must be evaluated, and if the request is granted, the amount and duration of spousal support must be calculated....
One of the largest challenges of divorce is dividing marital property. Each party typically has a legitimate claim to assets acquired during the marriage, and the need to relinquish rights over some of this property can be difficult to negotiate and settle. Dividing marital assets becomes significantly more complex if there is a family business involved.
Family businesses constitute a considerable portion of this country's employment and economic growth, but a good number are vulnerable to internal and external changes that threaten their survival, including divorce. The potential risk to a family business's stability following divorce requires obtaining a divorce attorney with experience dividing complex assets to ensure the division is handled properly.
Settlements and divorce orders pertaining to property division should be treated as the final word on this issue, as the Courts will only revisit the division of marital assets in rare and very limited circumstances. Thus, addressing this matter correctly on the first attempt is crucial....