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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is the legal process of dismantling a marriage, and as such, the divorce process involves many financial decisions like dividing a couple’s marital property and determining whether spousal maintenance is necessary and appropriate. For the individuals getting divorced, the divorce process can be expensive. It also involves individual planning on each partner’s part to ensure that he or she does not face financial hardship after the divorce. Your discussions with your lawyer should cover every financial topic related to divorce, such as the tax obligations that come with certain marital assets and how to divide your retirement accounts through a QDRO. On your end, take the following initiatives to make the divorce process as financially straightforward for yourself as possible.

Completely Sever Yourself from Your Spouse Financially

Before the divorce is finalized, work with your spouse to close all your joint accounts. If he or she is an authorized user on your credit cards, remove him or her from them. You might choose to divide your outstanding credit card debt yourselves by transferring it to two new, separate credit cards. This is also the time to determine how to divide your shared investments.

Determine Your Post-Divorce Obligations and Create a Budget

After your divorce, you will probably be living off just your own income. This significant change in household income warrants a new budget.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyerOnce you determine that your marriage is over, you have a lot to do before and after you file for divorce. One important step is to start working with an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure that your rights and interests are protected and promoted through the divorce process.

The other steps you take before you file for divorce can make a big impact on your divorce’s progress and its ultimate outcome. During your initial consultation with a lawyer, talk about what you can do to streamline the divorce process. Every divorce is unique, but most benefit from taking the following actions:

Separate your Finances and Create Preliminary Property Division Plans

Your marital assets and debts will need to be divided between you and your spouse in your divorce. You can let the court handle the division process on its own or you can be proactive and make your own property division choices. This latter route generally enables the couple to retain greater control over how their property is divided.

One of the simplest steps to take before your divorce is to divide your bank accounts and credit card debt on your own. Transfer the balances on your joint credit cards to separate cards and close the original accounts. You can also do this with checking and savings accounts.

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Illinois divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce, the couple’s assets must be divided equitably. This is only possible when both partners are transparent about the assets they own and the assets’ values.

Sometimes, dishonest individuals use their partners’ lack of knowledge about their marital assets to try to keep the assets out of the property division process and leave the marriage with more than their fair share of these assets. If you are thinking about doing this, stop that train of thought. You should not try to hide assets from your former partner in your divorce, and this is why:

Your Former Spouse Can Find the Assets You Hide

If your spouse has a feeling you are hiding assets, he or she can uncover them through some detective work with his or her lawyer and/or a forensic accountant. There is no “safe” way to steal assets from your marital pool – whether you think you can hide assets by transferring them into a custodial account for your child, having a friend “hold” your assets in their account for you, or making cash purchases to liquidate the money in your joint accounts, your spouse can always trace your steps and find the money if he or she is willing to do so.

Your Unwillingness to Cooperate with the Court Can Haunt You Later

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family attorneyRegardless of where you stand with money matters throughout the course of your marriage, the moment your relationship comes to an end, your financial security can change drastically, in a short period of time. Whether you have been accustomed to a very comfortable life or have always struggled to make ends meet, the moment you undergo divorce, your financial well-being is exposed to a number of risks, and many of those risks have the potential to affect your bank account and the overall quality of your life for many years to come.

Thinking Ahead

Many individuals are able to prepare for the financial implications of divorce well ahead of time, months before they even begin divorce proceedings. Others are left scrambling at the last minute or after the split to figure out how to put the pieces together and provide for themselves. Whatever your divorce circumstances, planning is key. Here are some ways you can take steps toward successfully standing on your own feet once your marriage is over:

1.Explore potential maintenance options - Once referred to as alimony, maintenance is a form of spousal support that requires the spouse who earns the larger income to provide payments to the other spouse. In the state of Illinois, not all lesser-earning spouses are guaranteed maintenance, and granted maintenance is usually temporary, but it is important to at least speak with an attorney to inquire about your potential options for receiving payments to ensure you aren’t missing out on funds that could help you provide for yourself. The court will look at a number of different factors when deciding whether or not to award maintenance payments, so do not rule out pursuing a maintenance order until you get all the facts.

2. Create a financial snapshot - In order to know where you stand before and after your divorce, it is essential to create a general snapshot of your finances. This means gathering as many details as possible and assembling lists of any and all debts, assets, and newly opened accounts. You will need a clear picture of what you owe versus the income you will bring in on your own, without your spouse, in order to sit down with a financial planner and create a new budget for your post-divorce lifestyle.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-filing.jpgMany couples must ponder the idea of whether or not there is truly a “right” time to divorce when faced with the decision to call it quits. Is there really such thing as a good time to break the sad news to friends and family? No one is ever truly prepared for the emotional toll that divorce entails, so it is completely understandable when a couple chooses to delay the decision. Some couples hold off with hopes for possible reconciliation, while others feel it may be best to stay together for the children.

Identifying Priorities

Whatever the personal circumstances surrounding your imminent separation, weighing various factors that may ultimately shape your divorce experience for better or worse before officially ending the marriage can be beneficial. Evaluating these factors can help you identify your priorities in the divorce process, which can help you decide the best time to make the jump.

Explore some of these key areas when looking at the timeline of your divorce:

1. Financial Standing

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyAs a parent undergoing divorce, you have your work cut out for you. Not only do you need to address the legal technicalities of the split in the midst of experiencing the grieving process, you also need to tackle all the issues that accompany the end of a marriage, including everything from the division of assets and parenting time (visitation), to parenting plans and inventory of your personal finances. For the stay-at-home parent, divorce requires a complete lifestyle overhaul, which can trigger a number of concerns for the spouse who has been the primary caregiver at home.

Safeguarding Your Rights as a Stay-at-Home Parent

The idea that the stay-at-home parent will be able to continue to live the lifestyle they were originally accustomed to prior to the divorce is sadly not always a realistic one. While there are laws that vary from state to state that allow certain protections for the stay-at-home spouse, the parent’s lifestyle will inevitably change as their financial circumstances evolve due to the divorce. Parents used to staying home to raise their children can still make the effort to safeguard their rights during the transition in the following ways:

Explore the possibility of maintenance - Here in the state of Illinois, the law may entitle you to maintenance (alimony), which is sometimes awarded to account for a significant difference in income and earnings between spouses. The amount you may be eligible for and the length of time you may receive the award is determined by a mathematical formula and factors summarized in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/504). The court will look at everything from the current and future earning capacity of each spouse, joint property and assets, and the needs of each spouse, to the standard of living that was established during the marriage and how long the union lasted. Exploring your eligibility for maintenance can help you plan, prepare, and protect your financial well-being

Assess your assets - In order to protect your livelihood after your divorce, you need to first get a clear snapshot of what your finances currently look like. This will help you gauge what you are walking into after the divorce, and help you know what needs to be addressed when consulting with your attorney. Take stock of everything from your mortgage and car title to basic monthly expenses and debts, and also jot down any potential employment options as well as educational pursuits you may explore, which may incur additional expenses on your behalf.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyWhile countless studies have shown that life following a divorce often leads to higher depression rates, more stress, and overall dissatisfaction, those who spend a prolonged period of time in an unhappy marriage to begin with tend to thrive once the marriage is over. Experts have a number of theories for this, most notably the idea that the benefits of leaving behind an emotionally exhausting (and in many cases, emotionally or physically abusive) marriage usually end up outweighing the disadvantages.

Increasing Your Chances of Success

Examining the overall quality of a marriage before calling it quits is important in the overall outcome for each party. Once you’ve decided it is in your best interest to end the marriage, there are certain steps you can take to increase your chances of enjoying a fulfilling, balanced post-divorce life. Channel your energy into the following three areas after the split to ensure a healthier, happier lifestyle:

Finances - Although the divorce process is undeniably an emotional struggle, it can also be incredibly challenging where your finances are concerned. Spending adequate time doing an evaluation of your money matters prior to the divorce and directly afterward can make a world of difference in the quality of your life once the separation is official. This is an important step in creating a secure financial foundation for your future. Do your best to assess debts, a savings goal if your existing savings plan is minimal or nonexistent, and work with a professional attorney to understand the value of your assets.

Family Plans - Divorce can be especially traumatizing for children in the family, which is why it is so important to talk about, create, and follow through with a proper parenting plan once the divorce is final. You can reduce your stress and your child’s stress by establishing routines, making time for fun quality time, and ensuring everyone understands visitation arrangements.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerNo matter which way you slice it, there is nothing fun about the divorce process. Even under the most civil, loving circumstances, the actual split and all it entails can be emotionally - and financially- draining. One area most people do not like to think about but are confronted with very early on in the process is money. Regardless of how peaceful the separation, the subject of money can test anyone’s patience and place them on the defensive, especially when it involves their lifestyle and livelihood following the divorce.

When it comes time to protect your quality of life and all you are accustomed to at the end of your marriage, how you handle your assets is critical. Even the smallest mistake can cost you a lot when it is time to negotiate settlements, and if you’re not careful, some errors can continue to cost you long after the divorce is over.

Here are three ways you could end up hurting your assets and their value when you divorce:

1. Keeping joint accounts

One way you can do serious damage to your funds when you decide to separate is to keep all of your accounts connected. For example, if you and your spouse share checking and savings accounts, credit cards, auto loans, or a mortgage loan, having your name on any of those accounts makes you liable in the event something goes wrong. If your spouse misses a payment on your mortgage, you are held responsible. If you have money tucked away into a savings account and both your names are on the account, all it takes is one heated disagreement for your spouse to potentially drain the account of those funds. Close joint accounts and separate your finances now. Do not wait for the divorce to be finalized or until an argument surfaces, placing your money at risk.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerProtecting your finances as you prepare for the divorce process is perhaps one of the most important tasks you can take on before your marriage officially ends. Planning is everything, as divorce can easily wreak havoc on your financial standing if you are not careful. Protecting your assets and monetary funds is critical if you want to maintain the lifestyle you are currently accustomed to and ensure your financial future is secure.

Constructing a Game Plan

As a divorcing spouse, you are already facing an emotional toll; the last thing you want is to tack on additional stress due to financial trouble, especially when some of that trouble can be avoided if addressed early on. Here are some important steps you can take to safeguard your finances amidst your impending divorce:

Take inventory - As overwhelming as it might be, taking financial inventory is a must. Sit down and create a list of every account and asset you share with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. You will need to take stock of joint accounts and pay special attention to lines of credit, as well as wills, retirement accounts, and any pending purchases or joint business investments. Also take note of any life insurance policies you opened up while with your spouse. You may wish to modify the policy if you had them listed as a beneficiary. Once you have a clear, thorough list of all your debts, accounts, and belongings, it is time to sit down with your spouse and speak civilly about what you would both like to see happen with each respective item on the list.

Establish your own credit - Whether you are at the beginning of the initial separation process, have a hunch that your marriage is on the rocks, or are diving straight into divorce, it is never too soon to try and establish your own line of credit. If you are on the verge of separating, you are at an advantage; the sooner you establish your own credit, the better off you will be post-divorce. This goes for standard bank accounts, as well. The moment you see your marriage coming to an end, start shuffling away some cash of your own. The divorce process itself costs money, and you will need funds to get by on your own afterward. This is imperative, especially if you have never lived alone or will be on your own for the first time in years.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyThe divorce process can trudge up a myriad of emotions and bring a lot of unresolved conflict to the surface, especially when you are getting down to the wire. The closer you get to the finish line, the more stressful the situation tends to be, as it is a taxing experience for everyone involved. Despite these common bumps in the road, many divorces run smoothly and end on a mutual, peaceful note. The entire process can prove to be a positive path for the whole family, as it often removes everyone from an unhealthy environment.

Even when you are fortunate enough to skim through a divorce without much tension, one area that can be significantly affected in the aftermath is your finances. This doesn’t mean your financial well-being needs to suffer, however. Here are three ways your divorce can affect your money and how to combat those changes so they don’t take a turn for the worst:

1. Tax Changes

When you divorce, the change must be reflected in your filing status. For example, if you are still married on December 31st, the IRS considers your status “married” even if you have been separated and the divorce is in progress. You can avoid needless trouble with the IRS by simply ensuring you choose the correct status. In short, couples cannot file a joint return for the year that their divorce decree became official.

If you have children, another area you will need to address is the Dependent Exemption. The spouse who is eligible to claim their child on the return is entitled to certain tax credit benefits, but you must meet specific requirements to claim this advantage. If your child resided with you longer than they resided with your ex-spouse during the tax year you are filing for, you might be eligible to claim the exemption. These details can be tricky, so it is important to work with a qualified accountant and attorney to properly address any questions and concerns when you file.

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