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Barrington family law attorney for unmarried couplesWhen relationship issues occur between celebrities or high-profile couples, many people may wonder how the issues these people experience, such as divorce, would play out in their own lives. This was illustrated recently when Brody Jenner and his girlfriend, Kaitlynn Carter, broke up one year after their unofficial wedding ceremony in Indonesia. Many people thought the two were legally married, and the unofficial status of their marriage was not revealed until they split. 

The fact that Jenner and Carter lived together for at least a year would make their union common law in several states. However, since Illinois does not recognize common law marriage, couples who live together in the state may not be recognized as a married couple. Prior to 1905, couples in Illinois could decide to get married without any formal documentation. Today, those in Illinois wishing to marry must meet two requirements: solemnization and registration.

Solemnization

Under Illinois law, marriages are valid if they involved solemnization, in which a ceremony or exchange of vows took place. A solemnization is valid even if the person performing it was not legally qualified to do so. That is, the person marrying the two people does not have to be ordained in any way, and as long as a reasonable person believed the solemnization was legal, it is considered valid in Illinois. 

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Palatine divorce lawyer, dissipation of marital assetsIllinois law requires Courts in divorce proceedings to divide any marital property between the parties in an appropriate and fair manner. Moreover, all relevant factors in the case must be considered. One of those factors for the Judge to consider is the dissipation of marital assets by one or both spouses.

Dissipation is the legal term for when a spouse wastes or misuses assets for his or her own benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, as the marriage is experiencing an irreconcilable breakdown.

Common Types of Dissipation of Marital Assets

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Posted on in Divorce

Palatine divorce lawyer, gray divorcesWhile experts and researchers tend to disagree on the exact rate of divorce in the United States today, they are in agreement on one issue: the rate of divorce for couples over the age of 50 is on the rise. According to a recent Forbes article, the rate of “gray divorces” has actually doubled over the 20-year period from 1990 to 2010. These divorces tend to involve couples who have been married for many years, which can create huge financial changes for both parties. However, women, in these divorces, tend to suffer most.

How Your Age Impacts Your Divorce

The reality is that when divorce occurs later in life, the impact on your finances is larger. Once you reach retirement age, you are likely to be living on a fixed income, perhaps from Social Security benefits and pension or other retirement benefits. When you abruptly go from two sources of income to one, your budget and expenses will necessarily change. This is usually not a positive change, especially for the woman, who statistically is likely to have had less income over her lifetime than the man. This can cause the woman’s retirement benefits to be substantially less than her husband’s benefits. Women may be able to draw Social Security benefits from their spouses’ earning records, even following divorce, in some situations. However, that source of income is not a guarantee and is not available to all women at the time that they may need it the most.

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce tax consequences, Palatine divorce lawyersMany couples who are facing divorce often question what to do with the marital residence, which often is the parties' most valuable asset and an asset that neither spouse may be able to maintain on his or her own. As a result, many individuals in this situation opt to sell the marital home, either during or just after their divorce. A recent online article highlights the potential benefits of the federal gains tax exclusion that divorcing couples can receive if they decide to sell the marital residence. These benefits may allow you and your spouse to receive proceeds from the sale of the home free of federal income taxes, which can give you the money to downsize into a more affordable home.

How the Gains Tax Exclusion Works

If a couple decides to sell their home, they potentially may be able to receive gains from the sale of up to $500,000 without any federal income tax being assessed on those gains. Even if the couple is separated, they may still be eligible for the joint exclusion if they were still legally married at the end of the year in which the home is sold. If the couple is already divorced, however, and the spouse who receives the home through the divorce proceedings wishes to sell it, he or she can still receive tax-free gains of up to $250,000. If the parties still co-own the home and they are newly divorced, they potentially can each have gains of up to $250,000 free of federal income taxes, assuming that they meet the additional eligibility requirements described below.

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Posted on in Child Support

enforcing child support in Illinois, Palatine family law attorneyChild support is important for parents’ and children’s financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options. The parent may garnish the nonpaying parent’s wages, seek contempt charges in court or seek driver’s license suspension. Parents also have other options for enforcement through the courts or by reporting the nonpayment to Child Support Services.

Liens

Since a child support order is a Court Order, unpaid child support judgments may be enforced by the same methods as any other judgment. The Court may place a lien on the delinquent parent’s bank accounts; real estate; cars; lawsuit settlements, including workers’ compensation claims or other assets. If the parent does not pay the child support amount, the sheriff may seize the parent’s property, sell it and pay the custodial parent out of the proceeds.

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scholarship winnersFour area students receive the 3rd Annual Scholarships for College-Bound Chicagoland Powered by the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C.

This month, the 3rd Annual Scholarships for College-Bound Chicagoland Powered by the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., were awarded to four area high school students. Applicants highlighted one issue facing today’s society and outlined a possible solution.

Congrats to the winners listed below, along with the issue highlighted:

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Posted on in Divorce

adultery and divorce, Palatine Family Law AttorneyAshley Madison, a dating website designed for people who want to cheat on their spouses, was hacked in late August. Various account information, including the names and personal information of more than 30 million users, was revealed. The leak of such sensitive information is expected to result in many couples divorcing.

Adultery occurs when a married person carries on a sexual relationship with a person who is not his or her legal spouse. However, under Illinois law, there is little effect on the process or result of a divorce when one spouse commits adultery.

Grounds for Divorce

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Posted on in Divorce

dating during divorce in illinoisbill winding its way through the Massachusetts legislature wants to ban couples going through a divorce with children from having sex or even dating until the divorce is finalized, unless the Court grants permission. Illinois has no law prohibiting dating during the divorce proceedings but that does not mean that dating during divorce is a good idea.

Why Dating During Divorce is a Bad Idea

There are a number of emotional and practical reasons why dating before the divorce is finalized may not be a good idea.

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collaborative law, child custody, Palatine divorce attorney, Palatine family lawyerAs discussed previously, collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows parties going through a divorce or child custody issue to attempt to come to a mutually agreeable solution. It sounds similar to mediation, but the two are not exactly the same.

In mediation, the parties meet outside of Court in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the contested issues, just as in the collaborative law process. The difference is that in mediation, pleadings, motions and other filings have been submitted to the Court, the parties have been (or are scheduled to be) deposed, and there have been Court hearings. Mediation, then, is an attempt to resolve the issues before the proceedings get any more contentious and adversarial.

In collaborative law, coming to an agreement before entering the Courthouse is the goal. When the parties use the collaborative law process, they bypass Court's initial involvement; there are no pleadings, no Court hearings; and hopefully, if the process works as planned, there is only a single hearing once an agreement has been reached for the Judge to approve the agreement and finalize the divorce. At the outset, the parties agree that they do not want the process to be contentious or adversarial.

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child custody, Palatine divorce lawyer, Illinois divorce attorney, children of divorceChildren are one of the most important and fought over parts of a divorce. Severing the marital relationship also means decreasing the amount of time parents can spend with their child, which means discussions can quickly become contentious. Before proceedings begin, understanding the different types of child custody and available visitation arrangements is helpful to work on an arrangement that takes into consideration the most important factor in all child custody cases: the best interests of the child.

Sole vs. Joint Child Custody in Illinois

When making an award of child custody (or when the parents agree to custody), the Court makes two separate awards: one for legal custody and another for physical custody. For both types, parents are awarded either sole or joint custody.

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joint simplified dissolution of marriage, Palatine divorce attorney, Palatine divorce lawyerThe wedding is a faded memory now, and you and your spouse agree that divorce is the best option. You have accumulated very few assets, and you both agree on the division of assets. Since you are both on the same page, is there a faster, easier way to end the marriage? In Illinois there is, and it is called joint simplified dissolution.

Requirements for Joint Simplified Dissolution

Joint simplified dissolution is available to Illinois residents who have been married for less than eight years and can agree how to divide both the marital property and marital debts. It is a streamlined process that greatly minimizes the stress of a contested divorce and can keep costs down. You and your spouse can complete the paperwork together, and can appear in Court for the hearing and entry of judgment the same day the petition is filed. Only one Court appearance is required.

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legal separation, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois divorce attorney, Palatine divorce lawyerDivorce is an unfortunate fact of life. Couples realize they are no longer compatible and agree to go their separate ways. For some couples, however, whether due to religious, health or financial reasons, divorce is not an option. Yet they are still incompatible and can no longer live together. For these couples, Illinois provides legal separation.

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is more than what is commonly referred to as a “trial” separation. In a trial or physical separation, couples live apart while trying to decide if they should get divorced. There is no payment of alimony, no child support or custody agreement, no property division, and the Court is not involved.

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marital success, marriage trends, Illinois marriage laws, Illinois divorce lawyerMore than a quarter century ago, George Strait, an American country recording artist, released one of his most popular songs, All My Ex's Live in Texas. What may have been lyrical for Mr. Strait does not necessarily hit the high notes for the rest of U.S. divorcees.

Recently reported by The Huffington Post, Texas did not even rank in the top 10 states that may sway your marital success. The American Community Survey (ACS) ranked the following cities and their respected states as possibly hazardous to your wedded bliss:

1 Panama City, Florida
2 Sierra Vista, Arizona
3 Charleston, West Virginia
4 Medford, Oregon
5 Reno, Nevada
6 Deltona, Florida
7 Pueblo, Colorado
8 Palm Bay, Florida
9 Jacksonville, Florida
10 Grand Junction, Colorado

Texas may be off the hook, but for those couples residing in Panama City, Florida, or any of these top 10, perhaps a change in address may be a considerable option. So what about Illinois?

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Posted on in Divorce

file for divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, Palatine divorce attorney, Illinois divorce, marriageWhile filing for a divorce is never easy, there are several things that you can do to make the process easier. According to Forbes magazine, you can give yourself a significant advantage in a divorce proceeding by filing first.

Being first to file for divorce has a few legal advantages in Illinois. Firstly, if you and your spouse have been separated and live in different counties, filing first allows you to have the divorce decided in the jurisdiction where you reside. Additionally, it allows you to be the first person to present your case at trial, if you should choose to do so.

Choosing to be the first to file for a divorce has several other serious advantages as well. First of all, you can assemble a file with copies of all of your important paperwork, including bank and income statements for both you and your spouse. This may prevent your spouse from attempting to hide assets later. It also allows you the time you need to prepare for the financial impact that divorce will have on your life, as well as save the funds you will need to hire your qualified divorce team.

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property division, property distribution, division of assets, division of property, Illinois divorce lawyerYou struggled with the decision, but you finally concluded that divorcing your spouse will be the best course of action. You are a stickler for detail, and before you contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney, you want to secure all personal documentation that may later be requested.

According to About.com's Divorce Support, having documents readily available to your attorney will ultimately alleviate any confusion and make the negotiation stage of the divorce run more smoothly. It is also suggested that presenting your attorney, and later the courts, an organized and complete document file provides you with more support of your case.

It is further recommended that you construct your divorce document checklist in this order:

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stepparent child custody, Illinois child custody laws, Illinois family lawyer, family law attorneyRoughly half of all Illinois marriages end in divorce. The number of women going the nontraditional route of children first, marriage later (and often to partners who are not their child’s parent) is also rising, particularly among women who have children in their 20s. These two facts combined result in a society in which blended families have become commonplace. And contrary to the myth of the cold, selfish and jealous stepparent, many play a pivotal role in raising their partner’s children, and grow to have loving, caring relationships with their stepchildren.

But this relationship may be severed completely if the death or disability of the child’s parent results in custody being given to the non-custodial parent or grandparents, who may hold ill-will toward the stepparent. In these situations, Illinois law grants a stepparent the right to petition the Court for visitation.

Establishing Stepparent Visitation in Illinois

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domestic abuse, violence, domestic violence, family law, Palatine divorce lawyer, Palatine family lawyerWe often hear about domestic violence issues when celebrities and athletes are involved. As many Illinois residents know though, domestic violence is a significant problem in the rest of the population of the United States. According to the American Psychology Association, one out of every three women has experienced abuse by her partner in her lifetime. Domestic abuse affects every age, ethnicity, and class.

The latest newsworthy allegation involves Raymond Felton, a basketball player for the New York Knicks. His wife alleges that Mr. Felton threatened her with a firearm. While the facts are not yet established in the case, according to reports, Ms. Raymond-Felton did not wait for violence before getting help; she sought out support as soon as she was threatened.

This is an important lesson for all those at risk of domestic violence: a person should not necessarily wait until they are physically hurt to report a domestic disturbance.

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marital & nonmarital property IMAGEBefore you were married, you and your future spouse had no doubt accumulated personal assets. And now as a couple, you and your spouse have likely accumulated marital property for which you can both claim ownership. Divorce is difficult for anyone, but it becomes increasingly more difficult when couples have differing ideas on the division of property during divorce proceedings.

Property Division

Paramount to the determination of who gets what during property division concerns how the property is classified. The property is either classified as marital, meaning that there the couple has joint ownership of the property, or it is classified as nonmarital, which means the individual owns the property.

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This June, Illinois same-sex couples will be able to marry pursuant to a bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly in November. While this public act treats all couples the same for the purposes of state law, married same-sex couples still have unique legal issues to consider.

When a same-sex marriage ends, obtaining divorces may prove problematic for Illinois couples who leave the state after their marriages end. Today, at least 16 other states, the District of Columbia and the federal government will recognize same-sex marriage from Illinois. However, if a couple married in Illinois moves to a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, they may be unable to divorce. These couples may have to establish residency in a state that recognizes gay marriage in order to divorce.

 Same-Sex couples in IllinoisSame-Sex Couples Can Help Themselves Pre-Marriage

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