IL divorce lawyerUnderstandably, divorce can be a very emotional process. Many people getting divorced struggle to make good financial decisions and not let their emotions dictate their behavior. Some of the most common divorce mistakes stem from short-sightedness and haste regarding finances. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid adding superfluous expense to your divorce. Read on to learn about some of the ways that divorcing individuals inadvertently increase the cost of their divorce and how you can avoid these financial pitfalls.

Mediation is an Affordable Alternative to Court Intervention

Cooperating and negotiating with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse can be one of the hardest parts of the divorce process. However, working with your spouse to come to an agreement on divorce issues is much less expensive than courtroom litigation. If you find it difficult to talk to your spouse about property and debt division, child custody, spousal support, or other divorce-related concerns, mediation may be a useful option. During mediation, a specially-qualified mediator acts as a neutral third-party during negotiations. The mediator helps the divorcing couple reach agreements about divorce issues so that the couple does not need to take the matters to court.

Unhealthy and Expensive Coping Mechanisms Can Cost

Ending a marriage can be an incredibly stressful undertaking. Because of this, many people getting divorced find themselves indulging in comforts like food, alcohol, or fun activities. Experts say that some self-pampering can be beneficial during divorce but overindulging can create serious problems. One recent study found that the risk of developing alcoholism increased for both men and women following a divorce. Using drugs, alcohol, gambling, or excessive retail therapy to avoid negative emotions during divorce can quickly escalate and lead to financial disaster in the future.

Carefully Consider What to Do with Your House

If you are like most people, you have a sentimental attachment to the place you call home. During divorce, the last thing you may want is to be uprooted and forced to move into a new house or apartment. However, it is not always in your best interest to keep the house when you get divorced. Making a monthly mortgage payment and maintaining a home alone is usually much harder than it is with a spouse. For other divorcing spouses, it makes more financial sense for them to keep the home than to sell it. Make sure to consider all of the possible options when it comes to the marital home and consider the long-term consequences of selling or keeping the house.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are getting divorced, contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. to get the help you need. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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IL custody lawyerA child’s well-being should be the top priority for parents going through a divorce. They should want their child to have everything they need throughout the stages of their life. However, often one parent can be substandard in their compliance with the parenting plan agreed upon with their former partner.

After a while of trying to get a co-parent to show up for visitations, send support payments, or just call to talk to a child, they may give up and choose to have a new partner - the child’s stepparent - adopt the little one.

Stepparents adopting their stepchild is not uncommon especially when a biological parent:

  • Is abusive
  • Is an alcoholic or a drug addict
  • Does not show up to scheduled visitations
  • Does not financially support a child
  • Is convicted of a crime that will see them in prison for a long period of time
  • Abandons their child

Being married to the primary decision-maker of the child can give a step-parent some rights, but they are still limited in their own decision-making because there is no biological relationship to the child. If an adoption occurs, the stepparent can then be included in major life choices for the minor including school plans, financial responsibility, and medical procedures.

Each state has a different process when a step-parent wants to adopt a stepchild. Also, each case is sensitive to each particular family since everyone has a different situation they are living through. The state of Illinois requires a step-parent to be a resident of the state for six months before filing for adoption. This is because the adoption will go through a family court locally so no one needs to travel for any reason. After that, the process should take three months to complete.

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IL custody lawyerMost of the courts in Illinois require a couple to go through mediation in cases involving allocation of parental responsibilities, visitation, and relocation before going through the court system. Child support will still be determined by the family court judge, however, all other issues can be settled in mediation.

This right is also given to unmarried parents, but there is an extra step that the couple must go through before heading to mediation.

When a couple has a child without being married, paternity cannot be assumed. It must be proven either through a court-ordered paternity test or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that can be filled out and filed at the time of a child’s birth.

If a father claims the child and all the proper paperwork is filed, the couple can go through a mediator to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities including:

  • Where the child will live and with which parent
  • How much time a child can visit with their non-custodial parent
  • Where the child will attend school
  • Who will be the child’s primary decision-maker on issues of health and religion

Child Support Determination

While some states allow parents to come to an agreed-upon amount for child support payments, Illinois requires that parental partners must have their payments determined by the court system.

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IL divorce lawyerIllinois law went through a change in 2016 in regards to parents relocating with their child after going through a divorce. Prior to the law change, the parent with physical custody of the child was allowed to move within the state whenever they wished.

According to the new law, a parent must get permission from the court if their relocation is over 25 miles from the current address. In some cases, the 25 miles could take the parent and child over Illinois state limits.

What Is the Process to Petition for Relocation?

The Illinois court system likes to make sure that a child is able to see both parents after a divorce takes place. If one parent moves out of state, the other may not get as much of a chance to bond with their child and a parenting plan can become difficult to maintain.

A lot of relocation cases can be handled civilly with both parents agreeing to the relocation and signing the necessary paperwork to avoid court. However, if the non-custodial parent feels like their time with their children are in jeopardy, they can refuse to sign the paperwork. This would lead the primary parent to file a petition for relocation to family court.

The parent looking to relocate would need to bring their written petition to the court a minimum of 60 days before the planned relocation. The petition must include:

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IL custody lawyerWhen the process of a divorce is civil, there is no need for the court to order a partner or parent to stay away from the household. However, when there is domestic violence present in the relationship(s), the victim and/or parent of the victim can petition family court for an order of protection until the divorce process is concluded - or sometimes even further.

Understanding Orders of Protection

Domestic violence is a serious reason why some partners choose to split. However, if the abuser is unhappy about their partner choosing to leave, the abuse can sometimes escalate. If this happens, the victim is encouraged to file for an order of protection which will eliminate contact between victim and abuser during their divorce. This includes:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Physical proximity to each other
  • Physical proximity to the victim’s residence
  • Physical proximity to the minor victim’s school or daycare

When there are children involved, the parent may file for an order of protection that includes them so that the abuser does not have contact with the minors during the process if it is believed the children may also be at risk. In Illinois, there are three types of orders which range in duration of non-contact:

  • Emergency orders, which cover a duration of 14 to 21 days.
  • Interim orders, which cover a duration of 30 days.
  • Plenary orders, which cover a maximum of two years.

All orders are able to be extended when the coverage time comes to conclusion. This must be done through the court as well.

Penalties for Violating an Order of Protection

An abuser needs to be knowingly violating the order of protection for a punishment to be given. In this case, the offender will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If there are children involved during the violation, the charges are elevated to a Class 4 felony.

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IL custody lawyerWith summer over, the holidays are just around the corner and families are starting to make their holiday plans. Parents who have recently divorced often worry that they will not get to share in the bonding moments with their children because of custody reasons.

The state of Illinois does not restrict parental visitations unless they are not in the child’s best interest. The topic of holiday celebrations is left up to the parents’ decision which can be talked about through mediation or on their own.

There are several strategies to come to an agreement that everyone can be happy with:

  • Alternate who the child(ren) spend the holidays with from year to year - make sure to specify which holidays are in question.
  • Split the day; for example, Mom spends Christmas morning with the children and Dad spends Christmas evening with the children.
  • Celebrate each holiday twice on separate days; for example, the children spend Christmas Eve with Mom and Christmas Day with Dad.

These strategies can also be used for personal holidays such as a child’s birthday.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Illinois law does divide parenting time that is suitable for the child’s best interest. The court will assume that both parents are fit to spend time with their children unless one parent brings evidence to the family court judge to prove that the other is not fit to satisfy the child’s mental or physical needs.

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IL custody lawyerIt has been slow going, but the LGBTQ community is steadily gaining more and more equal rights as everybody else. It has been three years now since marriage between same-sex partners has been legal nationwide, but some legal issues are still more difficult for an LGBTQ couple than a heterosexual couple. In the case of divorce, the process of child custody determination is more difficult for a same-sex couple especially if the child is being shared by two fathers.

Illinois Parentage Act of 2015

When same-sex marriage became legal in 2015, the state of Illinois also passed the Parentage Act which provides a guideline when it comes to child custody. The act includes changes in language to suit same-sex marriages; now, there is a gender-neutral presumption of parentage in that a child can have a relationship with another parent other than its mother, but that adult does not have to be male.

Adoption makes the presumption of parentage a little more tricky, but for same-sex marriages that consist of two males, it is one of the only options if the pair want children. If an adoption occurs, both parents should legally adopt the child so that both can be considered parental figures in the minor’s life.

According to the Parentage Act, a person can be presumed parents of the minor if:

  • The child was born during a civil union or marriage
  • The child was born within 300 days of the end of the civil union or marriage
  • The child was born during a civil union or marriage even if the union is later considered invalid
  • After the child is born, the other person enters into marriage - even if invalid - with the minor’s mother

Any of these conditions can be rebutted as long as the attorney has sufficient evidence to fight the presumed parenthood.

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IL family lawyerIn 2017, Illinois lawmakers changed the way family courts determine child support payments. These changes followed some other significant modifications to the state's laws which redefined child custody and visitation as the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time. Divorcing parents should be sure to understand their child support obligations and the methods used to determine the amount of child support payments.

Parents’ Combined Income

Before the change in the law, child support payments were determined using a fairly simple calculation that was based on a fixed percentage of the income earned by the non-custodial parent. Under the new laws, child support payments are calculated based on the combined income of both parents. The courts will determine a child support obligation based on what a married couple who earns that combined income would typically spend to care for their child or children. Each parent will be responsible for a certain portion of that obligation based on their percentage of the combined income.

Parenting Time

In many cases, the majority of parenting time will be awarded to one parent and the other will need to make child support payments. If parenting time is split equally, or nearly so, then child support payments are not only based on the income of each parent but also the expenses of each parent in supporting the child. For example, only one parent may pay health insurance premiums. When the income and expenses of each parent are compared when they are both awarded equal parenting time, one parent may be obligated to make child support payments to the other.

Parental Responsibility

There can be many expenses when raising a child which is why it has been reported that it can cost upwards of $230,000 to provide for a child and nurture them to the age of 18. Just some of these expenses that are a large part of parental responsibility include:

  • Health insurance
  • Childcare
  • Extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs
  • School expenses such as uniforms, shoes, fees for trips, etc.

Some parents, depending on their income, are also required to pay some or all of their child’s college costs. These are calculated based on the income of the parents so long as the child is still considered dependent, which is usually until the age of 24. If a student can prove they support themselves independently of their parents, a waiver may be approved. The cost of school or schools the student is applying to is also considered.

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IL custody lawyerInstead of classifying types of child custody as “joint” - between two parents - or “sole - between one parent - the state of Illinois practices allocation of parental responsibilities. This means that during a divorce, the family court judge and the parents involved will set the terms of a parenting plan that decides who will be the main decision-maker for the children, what amount of time each parent will get with their children, and the rules for when a plan can be modified.

Generally, a parent cannot petition to modify a parenting plan for two years from the date the document was finalized. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act says that parenting plans can only be modified sooner if the child’s physical, emotional, and/or mental well-being is in danger. This can be determined through the enforcement of parental responsibilities.

How Is a Parenting Plan Enforced?

One parent can ask for a petition to check-up on the other parent if they believe the parental responsibilities are not meeting the expectations of the agreement. The parent who is accusing the other of negligence can fill out paperwork describing the evidence they have seen as to how a parenting plan is being violated.

Types of relevant violations include:

  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Missing appointments and tardiness in school drop-offs
  • Substance abuse
  • Deterioration of the child’s physical health and/or hygiene

If the court finds sufficient evidence to suggest that a parent is not meeting the standards of the parenting plan, they can order family counseling and physical education programs to better educate the parents. They can also decide to modify the parenting plan before the two years are complete.

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IL divorce lawyerMany people have heard of prenuptial agreements; however, few know what a postnuptial agreement is. The two are similar but have different time frames when creating them. A “prenup” is a legal document that lays out every part of your marriage and has legal guidelines in the case of divorce. In the past, prenups were reserved for those with extremely high assets, but overtime prenups have become more common. “Postnups” have also begun to rise in popularity. These legal documents are constructed after marriage rather than beforehand. To some, this may seem like a bad omen, but for many, this is reassurance for an unpredictable future.

Common Reasons People Sign a Postnup

The idea of signing an agreement after the wedding is not for everyone; however, there are many situations that warrant it. One of the primary reasons individuals sign postnups is because they did not sign a prenup in time. Prenuptial agreements must be signed three months before the wedding day to verify that both parties signed it willingly. This time sensitivity exists to avoid having wedding jitters as the motivation for the document. Waiting to sign the documents until after the wedding celebration can be a good way to ensure that a postnup is in the best interest of both parties.

Postnups can also help relieve financial stressors that may be causing issues in a marriage. High assets or a large amount of debt incurred by one spouse can quickly replace the loving emotions with those of anger and stress. Creating a postnuptial agreement can help each spouse see their assets and debts in front of them, dividing them where they see fit. Giving a spouse full responsibility for their financial habits can also be a good motivation to improve.

Questions Addressed in a Postnup

The following are common issues that are addressed within a postnuptial agreement:

  • What will you do with debts? Many couples’ biggest fear is getting bogged down by their spouse’s debt that they were never apart of. The document will label both joint and individual debt. Postnups will “assign” debt payment responsibility in the case that any is incurred.
  • How is money divided in a blended family? Most second marriages will prompt the signing of a nuptial agreement to specify “who gets what”. It can be confusing and difficult to determine how things will be divvied up with blended families. These include financial support for children from previous marriages or special needs kids.
  • What about business relations? If spouses are involved in business together, it is crucial that they have legal documentation in the case of a divorce. The postnup will address what the roles of both spouses are in the business and how the business should be divided in a divorce.

Contact a St. Charles Attorney

Being prepared for a possible future is the best way to reduce stress and truly be in the present. Formulating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is one way to put your mind at ease. At Shaw Family Law, our attorneys are experienced in drafting both types of agreements to ensure all possible scenarios are addressed. If you or your spouse are looking to protect yourselves against a possible difficult divorce in the future, contact our experienced Kane County postnuptial agreement attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerThe two areas that cause the most deliberation in divorce cases is child custody arrangements and the division of assets. Going through your finances and properties can cause ugly sides to come out of divorcing couples. Some will claim that certain assets are theirs alone while others will complain that they are not receiving enough in the division process. In Illinois, all marital assets are eligible for equal distribution between both spouses. This can seem unfair to the spouse that is the primary breadwinner of the house or can cause panic for the spouse that relies on these assets to get by after the divorce. These mix of emotions can cause spouses to make illegal attempts to conceal assets.

Common Hiding Places

Hiding assets is not typically done by putting wads of cash in the cookie jar. There are various common tactics used that can attempt to avoid a paper trail of evidence:

  • Watch Your Bank Accounts: The first place to start your search is your personal and shared bank accounts. Monitoring purchases and monetary movement may give initial proof to your suspicion.
  • Unreported Income: If your former spouse is involved in any form of cash enterprise, they may be pocketing funds without notifying the government for tax purposes. While this can be difficult to prove without professional help, comparing your spending habits to your spouse’s and looking back on your financial situation throughout your marriage can be a start.
  • Debt Payments: Some people will spontaneously owe their friends “debts” then have the friend return the money after the divorce is finalized. This will allow them to set money aside and avoid dividing it with you.
  • Shady Business: If your spouse has their own business, they could be using this to their advantage. Sometimes they will wait to charge clients for services until after the divorce. In other cases, they will pay an “employee” who does not actually exist and file the money into an account that they can access after the divorce.

Seek Professional Help in St. Charles, IL

Locating hidden assets can be extremely difficult for someone who does not have experience doing so. While these may be common places to hide money, there are many others that should be looked at to ensure that you receive your equal share of finances. At Shaw Family Law, we work with an experienced forensic accountant and other financial experts to analyze all possible areas of hidden assets. If you suspect that your spouse could be hiding assets from you, contact our Kane County divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

 

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IL divorce lawyerGetting divorced is stressful on many levels. It is emotional and can be financially burdensome at the time of the divorce and in the future. Young couples filing for divorce are not often thinking about retirement; however, properly preparing for the future should be on the mind of divorcees throughout the proceedings. One of the best ways to secure your future financially is to obtain a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). This is an order that ensures the recognition of a second party in receiving a portion of the retirement benefits from their former spouse’s plan. While you may believe that you are entitled to your ex’s retirement benefits, the only legal way to secure this money is through a QDRO.

Who can receive money through a QDRO?

This legal document has limitations regarding who is considered eligible to receive financial assistance. The recipient is known as the “alternate payee” while the plan holder is known as the “participant”. Alternate payees can include spouses, former spouses, children, or other dependents of the participant.

What should be included in a QDRO?

Each retirement plan has individual requirements; however, there is certain information that must be included on every QDRO request. These include:

  1. The name and address of the participant and alternate payee
  2. The name of each plan to which the order applies
  3. The dollar amount or percentage of the benefit to be given to the alternate payee
  4. The number of payments or time period of the order

Can I get a QDRO after my divorce?

QDROs can be filed at any time. Whether you are in the middle of the divorce process or have been divorced for a decade, QDROs do not have a time limit. This is done in part because financial situations can change over time. While some may have a retirement plan with their job at the time of their divorce, they may change jobs later on and find themselves in need of financial support. QDROs can also be filed for after the former spouse’s death; however, it must be consistent with the terms of the retirement plan. QDROs can be filed for long after the divorce is finalized but it is best to obtain one and file the QDRO with the retirement plan as quickly as possible.

Obtaining a QDRO with the Help of a Kane County Attorney

All legal processes go much smoother with an experienced attorney by your side. If you are in the middle of your divorce, you should notify your attorney that you may need the financial assistance later in life. You may also need to contact the plan for information about your spouse’s plan if your spouse is not willing to provide you with that information. At Shaw Family Law, we draft QDROs during or after divorce to ensure that you receive the proper allotment of finances later in life. If you are considering divorce or need assistance drafting a QDRO from a divorce that happened years ago, contact our experienced St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerSeparation is typically seen as the step taken before divorce; however, this is not always the case. Some use separation as a trial period to see a life without their spouse in it while others see separation as a substitute for divorce. Many that are considering separation have already experienced a mental or emotional gap without physical distance coming between them and their spouse. There are three types of separation, each of which gets progressively more serious.

Types of Separation

The following are the three types of separation available to married couples:

  1. Trial Separation: A trial separation can be the “trial period” that couples are looking for when they are having difficulties in their marriage. This form of separation does not require any legal paperwork and is not considered a legal process. Trial separation has the two spouses living apart with the potential to get back together. This form of separation often helps couples decide if their marriage is still meant to be or if divorce is on the horizon.

  2. Permanent Separation: This type of separation occurs when couples decide that they no longer want to be together but do not wish to have legal processes involved. Some choose permanent separation to continue to have financial benefits of a legal marriage. The division of property can become difficult in this form of separation without third-party assistance. Property purchased or debts incurred after the separation but without a divorce present is typically considered separate unless the debts are formed to care for children or the marital home.

  3. Legal Separation: This form is closest to a divorce. Legal processes are involved to officially divide assets, make child custody decisions, and to request financial support. Much like permanent separation, legal separation can be an alternative to divorce; however, legal separation is often the first step towards divorce for unhappy couples. Without a legal divorce, it is impossible to remarry since you legally never ended things.

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IL divorce lawyerThere are various situations in which grandparents take on the parental role for their grandchildren. Sometimes the child’s parents pass away, some are unfit to raise children, while others are simply absent in their children’s lives. While many grandparents will take their grandchildren in as a result of their own child’s neglect or absence, this can be a difficult task for older people to take on. Dreams of travel, spending time with their spouse, or a relaxing retirement can get put on a temporary or permanent hold. Many grandparents willingly adopt their grandchildren but the transition is not always so easy.

Tips for Easing the Transition

  1. Feelings First: Both you and your grandchildren will feel a mix of emotions about the huge life change. You may be feeling a combination of happy and sad feelings: pleased to be able to provide your grandchild with a loving home but upset that your life plan took an unexpected turn. Your grandchild will most likely be experienced similar sentiments. For children, these feelings can often be displayed through aggressive or inappropriate behavior. Talking to your grandchildren about their feelings is the first step towards creating a sense of normalcy. Looking for grandparent support groups is a good way to get a hold on your feelings without taking them out on your grandchild accidentally.

  2. Make Your House Their Home: Children thrive off of stability which can seem impossible to create in the midst of a parental change. However, there are steps that can be taken to help build this new home. Creating a schedule or routine helps form a new sense of normalcy as does setting house rules for the child to abide by. The best way to make your home feel like their home is to give them their own space. Having their own bedroom can make your house feel less temporary, allowing the child to see your home as their home.

  3. Encourage Parental Contact: Many situations make this impossible and sometimes contact with the parents is not in the child’s best interest, but this is not always the case. If the child’s parent is still able to be contacted, it can be advantageous to the child to maintain that relationship, even if the relationship is different than it was before. It is important to avoid showing your grandchild any disappointment or anger that you may have towards their parents. Keeping the child from communicating with their parents can create a sense of resentment towards you, even if you are the one taking care of them day to day.

Contact a Kane County Adoption Attorney for Help

Becoming a parent for a second generation can be difficult physically and emotionally. Some grandparents feel as if they have no other choice while others fight to remove their grandchildren from an unhealthy or unsafe home. At Shaw Family Law, we understand that every family’s situation is unique and deserves the utmost attention to do what is best for the child. If you are considering legally adopting your grandchild, contact a St. Charles, IL adoption attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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Selecting your legal team for your divorce is one of the most important steps that you can take. Without adequate legal assistance, you may not receive proper alimony, child support, or custody when you and your former spouse’s belongings get divvied up. Most couples getting divorced will each select their own attorney who will then work solely in the best interests of the spouse that hired them. Because this is a common choice for many divorces, some couples do not realize that alternative options exist. Divorce mediation has become increasingly popular as modern times have removed the age-old negative stigma that used to surround the idea of divorce.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is an alternative to divorce litigation. Divorce mediators are typically a branch of attorneys at a law firm that specializes in both litigation and mediation. A mediator is a neutral third-party that meets with both spouses to make divorce arrangements. Unlike common divorce proceedings, the goal of mediation is to come to an agreement together rather than having two opposing sides pitted against each other.

This divorce process is commonly chosen by couples that are having an amicable divorce. In other words, divorce mediation only works for couples that can do not have grievances against each other and have come to the mutual decision that divorce would be best for them both. This is not always possible which is why mediation only works for some couples. The purpose of the third-party is not to take one side over the other or add their input. They act as a middle ground with legal knowledge and experience in order to conduct the legal process when the agreements have been finalized by both parties.

Why Would I Choose Mediation Over Litigation?

As previously noted, mediation can be a lower conflict way to finalize your divorce; however, this is only the case with some parties. Divorce mediation can be cheaper for each spouse since a single legal team is involved rather than two opposing attorneys. The process can also be quicker depending on the length of time it takes for both spouses to come to an agreement. Divorce mediation often takes an average of 3 to 5 months to complete whereas divorce litigation can take over a year to complete. Those who decide that divorce mediation is best will also reduce the number of court filings required for their divorce to be finalized. Divorce mediation is a good alternative to litigation as it can foster a good co-parenting relationship in the future or a positive parting with an amicable sense of closure.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Mediation Attorney for Help

Divorce mediation is a good alternative that is often overlooked or unknown by couples seeking divorce. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we offer both divorce litigation and mediation in order to serve and accommodate couples with all different types of relationships. If you are looking for alternative options for your divorce, contact St. Charles, IL divorce mediation attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorces in which children are involved require legal assistance in a different sense than other divorce cases. Most parents do not come to a custody decision without some disagreements. It is uncommon for both parents to share equal custody of their children. One parent is named the “custodial parent” since the child lives primarily under their roof. The other parent is known as the “non-custodial parent”. The non-custodial parent does not pay for things such as groceries, clothes, or the gas needed to drive the child around every day, they are often required to provide the custodial parent with a set amount of money on a monthly basis in order to compensate for these expenses. These payment amounts are determined by a variety of factors. These include income, bonuses, properties owned, and other forms of financial value owned by both parents. Continue reading to learn how child support payments are regulated based on each individual’s situation.

Unique Solutions to Difficult Situations

Most parents do not have the “American dream job” that pays six figures and has them working 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. In reality, Americans work a variety of different jobs resulting in numerous “gray areas” for child support payments. Some individuals have the child support payments deducted from their paycheck by their employer to avoid missed payments while others place the responsibility on their own shoulders on a month to month basis. Regardless of the method used, these payments are due monthly and legal action can be taken against anyone who withholds these funds. For those purposely withholding child support payments, their wages can be garnished. This means that the amount will be forcibly removed from their paycheck before the parent receives it, taking away their ability to miss or avoid payments.

Some employers have refused to withhold the child support amount from paychecks despite being ordered to by a court or requested by an employee. While this is not always the case, it is not uncommon. Under every state’s law, an employer must withhold the amount if ordered or requested to do so. If this is the case, the employer will receive a withholding notice notifying them of their obligation. If the employer still refuses to do so, they will be charged the amount personally.

Child support payments can be increasingly difficult for parents that have recently lost their job. While this situation may not be the fault of the unemployed parent, the finances are still owed each month. The best solution in cases like these is a request for a payment adjustment. Because child support payments are determined based on a parent’s income and financial state, it can be adjusted if the parent cannot afford to pay the original allotted amount. If this request is made, a court may require the individual to seek out an employment program to help truncate the amount of time spent paying a lower amount.

For those that are self-employed, regulating income is still possible. This will be done through the Internal Revenue Service. While it may not be possible to withhold income through their employer, there are other forms of withholding that exist. Liens are holds on property until the amount owed is paid. This can include revoking required licenses, securing liens on client payments or garnishing the parent’s bank account.

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IL divorce lawyerThe way one looks and acts is crucial throughout the entire divorce process. Not all divorces go so far as a court appearance. Amicable divorces are typically done behind closed doors, with the assistance of attorneys. This is common for those who mutually decide that divorce is right for them and are able to settle the different facets of divorce without a judge’s third-party assistance. Conduct is especially important in cases involving children. If a judge notices that one parent is acting in a way that is unfit for a parent, custody decisions will be affected. Whether or not you are in front of a court or in a private space, your conduct is crucial for getting a “fair trial”.

How Should I Behave During the Divorce Process?

  1. Timeliness is everything: Arriving on time to every legal appointment is key. This is the only concrete evidence that a judge can see that shows reliability and responsibility. This also tells the court that you see this as a priority. Each spouse is compared throughout the legal process so it is important to be on time.

  2. Dress professionally: Spouses should dress in business attire. Not only will you be at the same dress level as your legal team, but this also shows your professional side. It does not matter whether or not you work in a “business attire” setting, but showing that you can dress up when necessary is a clear sign of recognizing priorities.

  3. Keep your emotions in check: Getting divorced is emotionally taxing on both spouses as well as their family and friends. Often times those emotions can come flooding out in the courtroom as your relationship is opened up for others to see. That being said, keeping your emotions under control is very important. Some people will display anger or sadness in the midst of an ending relationship, but both can come off as unprofessional and hysterical, especially in the court.

  4. Be organized and prepared: Legal assistance is necessary for every divorce regardless of the level of friendliness that exists between you both. Sometimes the amiability that exists can be a tactic used to catch your spouse unprepared thus keeping them from receiving proper amounts of alimony or child support. Having a lawyer who is experienced in divorce cases is the best way to protect you from receiving less than you should.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerMarriage is known to be one of the few opportunities to reduce your tax payments. Once married, spouses can file a joint tax return. This obviously changes once the divorce papers are signed and complete. Because your incomes are no longer considered tied, they cannot be filed together whether or not you have children together. For some couples, this makes little difference to them. While for others, the money from a tax return can help keep them afloat. Some couples go so far as staying separated to keep this financial benefit. This is typically not an idea that is suggested by an attorney since tax returns can be unpredictable. Couples that are in the divorce process but have not finalized it yet can still file their taxes together until the year that they are officially divorced. Most people do not consider the effect that divorce will have on their taxes until they have to file for their taxes for the first time post-divorce. Continue reading to learn about the different areas of your tax return that will need to be adjusted after your divorce papers get signed.

Areas of Adjustment

  1. Dependents: This is the area that is most familiar to those that do not work in the financial field. Any child is considered a dependent and must be claimed on tax returns. For those who are divorced, the custodial parent is the only one allowed to claim their child as their dependent. In other words, the parent that spends the most time caring for the child can legally claim the child on their taxes.

  2. Medical Expenses: This is similar to claiming a dependent. If you have a child that has extensive medical expenses, you can legally claim that on your taxes. This is only allowed for the parent who paid for the majority of the expenses, even those that are not considered the custodial parent. Just because you do not house the child does not mean you cannot claim some of their expenses.

  3. Alimony Payments: This is another term for spousal maintenance. If the law is requiring you to pay a significant amount of money to your ex-spouse to help support them, you can legally claim that in your taxes. In a way, this is the most similar alternative to filing jointly.

  4. Asset Shifts: Divorce settlements often result in properties being divided between the two former spouses. This means that these payments also transfer from one hand to the other. On the bright side, the recipient will not be required to pay taxes on the property’s transfer. However, if the recipient decides to sell the property, he/she will have to gains tax on all the appreciation before and after the transaction.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerMost couples have some form of debt that they have incurred over the years, especially if they have been together for a long period of time. You buy expensive things, put it on the credit card, and worry about it when the bill comes in. This usually only becomes an issue if the couple cannot find the means to pay off the debt when it is due or if the couple decides they are filing for divorce. Continue reading to learn what to do if you are filing for divorce and have incurred a significant amount of debt throughout your marriage.

Dividing Debt when Going Through Divorce

Most married couples sign credit cards and make large purchases together. While this is convenient throughout the marriage, it also makes it much easier to incur debt jointly. “Joint debt” does not necessarily mean that all of the purchases were made together, it just means that they were made on a joint account. This is important to note if you are considering getting a divorce. In the eyes of the bank and court, all purchases made on joint accounts are liable by both parties. Banks do not change their policies based on a couple’s marital status, thus they can and will come after you if your spouse is not paying off the debt and vice versa.

There are ways to avoid being on the hook for purchases made by your spouse that were not under your approval. Noting which purchases are yours and which are not is a good start to officiating which debt is yours. Providing your attorney and/or financial planner with this information is one of the first steps in trying to unravel the debt that you and your spouse are tangled in. The best way to avoid financial issues after your divorce is finalized is to pay off your debts before your divorce is official. Whether you and your spouse divide it personally or need legal assistance to do so, paying off this debt is the best way to avoid any problems throughout the divorce process.

There is a loophole that many couples do not realize exists. If the card is under the name of one spouse and the other spouse is just listed as an additional cardholder rather than a co-signer, the debt will be solely on the one spouse. The best way to ensure that your debt is your own is to cancel all joint cards and sign them solely under your own name. This is the only way to be sure that your spouse will not run up your debt and card throughout and after your divorce.

Contact a Kane County Debt Allocation Attorney for Help

Proving that debt on joint cards is not your own is almost impossible without experienced legal help on your side. Attorneys can offer you a variety of different solutions to avoid being on the hook for your ex’s debt. If you are considering filing for divorce and have incurred debt throughout your marriage, contact our St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerFor married couples, "proving paternity" is not much of a process and more of an assumption. For those who are not married, proving paternity can be a difficult legal situation. Some fathers do not want to be tied to their child to avoid parental and financial responsibilities. On the other hand, some mothers do not want their child’s father in their life and will avoid telling the biological father that the child is theirs. Regardless of the situation, proving paternity is important for multiple reasons. Not only should the child know for their own peace of mind, but there are also legal and health benefits. Legally, a child will receive financial support payments as well as social security or veterans’ benefits. A child should also know their father in order to know his medical history. Without this knowledge, it can be easy for a child to contract illnesses that could easily be avoided if they had both parents’ medical history.

How to Prove Paternity Voluntarily

Voluntarily proving paternity is best for both parents. You avoid keeping secrets and/or potential confrontation. The easiest way to do so is for the father to be present at the time of birth. This does require the signing of a declaration of paternity but it does not require any form of DNA testing. If the father is not present at the time of birth, an affidavit is required. This will need to be done before the birth certificate is issued in order for the father’s name to be present on the birth certificate. If his name on the birth certificate is not a concern of both parents, the affidavit deadline extends to anytime before the child’s eighteenth birthday.

How to Prove Paternity Involuntarily

If the father will not voluntarily sign the legal paperwork and you would like your child’s father to be legally recognized, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney who can help. The mother will first sign the affidavit naming the child’s alleged father then try and get in contact with the man. This can be done through investigation if necessary. It is worthwhile to first allow the father to voluntarily establish paternity in the case that he was uninformed about the situation initially. If he still refuses to voluntarily claim paternity, genetic testing is the next step. Both parents and the child will submit to genetic testing to ensure that all parties are linked. Once the results reveal who the father is, the father will be notified within 60 days of testing.

Contact a Kane County Parentage Lawyer for Help

Proving parentage is a stressful time for both parents, especially for cases that are involuntary. The legal process can be tedious and frustrating if you do not have experience in that area. It is important to have a hardworking attorney on your side to ensure that your child’s true parents are known. If you are trying to prove paternity or prove against an accusation that has been made, contact our experienced St. Charles, IL paternity attorneys for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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