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IL divorce lawyerThe division of marital assets in an Illinois divorce is a stressful process under any circumstances, and it can be made worse by a spouse who recklessly or intentionally wastes assets, or uses them for self-serving purposes before the divorce is finalized. The legal term for this behavior is “dissipation,” and there are remedies available to a spouse who has been wronged by it. However, it is important to understand what actually qualifies as dissipation to make sure you have grounds to file a claim against your spouse.

Uncovering Signs of Asset Dissipation

Before you can go about claiming dissipation, you need to be aware that it is happening. In some cases, a spouse’s wasting of marital assets may be open and obvious, especially if they are doing it out of spite or a desire to hurt the other spouse. However, it is more common for a spouse to try to hide their dissipation. You may be able to find signs of dissipation on your own by carefully reviewing your joint bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial documents. You can also enlist the services of a forensic accountant to find signs that you may have missed.

What Qualifies as Dissipation in Illinois?

You may have questions and concerns about your spouse’s spending behavior in a variety of circumstances, but only certain kinds of behaviors qualify as dissipation from a legal standpoint. You can better determine whether your spouse is dissipating assets by asking yourself the following questions about their behavior:

  • Did you approve of your spouse’s use of the assets? If you knew of your spouse’s spending behavior and agreed to it at the time, it will be difficult to make a case for dissipation even if you later decide that the behavior was inappropriate. On the other hand, use of assets without your knowledge or consent may qualify as dissipation.
  • Did you benefit from your spouse’s use of the assets? Even if you did not know in advance of your spouse’s intention to use assets, it will be difficult to claim dissipation if you benefited from their behavior in some way, like using a car that they bought or going on a trip that they paid for. However, if your spouse used the assets for entirely selfish purposes, like gambling, paying for a solo trip, or buying gifts for an extramarital affair, a claim of dissipation may be more successful.
  • Did the behavior occur after your marriage had failed? Only behavior that took place after the start of an “irretrievable breakdown” in your marriage qualifies as dissipation. You may be able to demonstrate such a breakdown if you were already living apart if you were aware of your spouse’s affair, or one of you had already filed for divorce, for example.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If you believe your spouse has dissipated marital assets, the St. Charles divorce lawyers at Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help you file a claim for reimbursement. With our help, you can better protect your interests throughout the division of marital property. Call us today for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL Divorce lawyerWhen a couple is preparing for divorce and considering their options, many will find that mediation is a much better alternative to a protracted, hostile divorce court battle. Mediation allows couples to have greater control over the entire process, and to settle their differences with a more satisfactory compromise than they might if a judge makes the decisions for them.

However, mediation is still a complex and emotionally exhausting legal process, and it takes some preparation. Important decisions must be made that will have long-term effects on the couples’ lives, as well as those of any children.

Here are a few tips that will help spouses prepare for the process of mediation.

Know Your Priorities

It is not easy to advocate for yourself when you do not really know what you want. Understand that compromise is going to be a crucial part of mediation, and contemplate which things are most important to you and why. If your family has a unique Christmas tradition, then maybe spending Christmas day with your child will be much more important for you than visitation time over Easter.

It may also be helpful to anticipate the things your spouse is likely to request so you can enter mediation prepared to negotiate a solution that is beneficial to you both.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets married, their finances become intertwined. This includes not just the property they own, but also their obligations to repay certain debts. Just as a couple’s home is often their most valuable asset, the mortgage they took out to finance it is often their largest source of debt. In the event of a divorce, the home’s equity and the outstanding mortgage balance will both significantly impact the division of marital property.

As you decide how to handle all of your assets and debts in your divorce, you should give special consideration to your home mortgage. If you and your spouse are willing to work out an agreement, you may have several options to either reduce the debt or allocate it fairly.

Eliminating Mortgage Debt by Selling Your Home

Often, the simplest option for handling your home and the associated mortgage in your divorce is to sell the property. If the housing market is strong, you may be able to completely eliminate your mortgage debt by selling your house, perhaps with revenue left over to distribute fairly between you and your spouse. Of course, this means that neither of you will be able to continue living in the home, but this may be a good option if you are both looking for a fresh start.

Refinancing the Mortgage

If you or your spouse wants to continue living in your home after the divorce, the person who keeps the property will likely need to assume full responsibility for the mortgage and reimburse the other spouse for their share of the equity. Usually, refinancing the mortgage in one spouse’s name is the most effective way to do this, as long as that spouse has the credit, income, and assets to qualify for the loan on their own. Refinancing ensures that the other spouse is not still liable to creditors, and it may even result in a more favorable interest rate for the spouse who keeps the home.

Setting Up a Payment Agreement

A less conventional arrangement is one in which you and your spouse remain as joint owners of your home for some time after the divorce. This may be a good choice if, for example, you want to continue raising your children in the home they are accustomed to. However, you should be certain that you and your spouse can trust each other to maintain this arrangement, and it is a good idea to include provisions in your divorce agreement regarding how you will share mortgage payments and other expenses related to the home.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen getting a divorce, most married couples will need to sort out various financial concerns. Some of these concerns are obvious. For example, you probably already know that you will need to decide who will keep the house, how you will divide the checking account, or who will get the furniture. However, other financial issues often get overlooked or pushed to the side until the last minute. Part of planning for a smooth divorce process is learning about the various financial issues you will need to address before you finalize the split. The better-informed you are of these issues, the better position you will be in to make sound financial decisions during the divorce.

Allocation of Debt in an Illinois Divorce

Property division does not only involve the division of assets, it also consists of the division of liabilities and debts. According to Illinois law, debts are handled similarly to property during divorce. The debts that either spouse accumulated during the marriage are the responsibility of both parties. This true even if the other spouse did not purchase the item or the title is only in one spouse’s name. If a spouse agrees to pay a debt for which both parties are liable and fails to fulfill this responsibility, the creditor may pursue the other spouse – even after the divorce is final. This is why many divorcing spouses choose to sell assets to pay off jointly held debt during divorce.

Tax Consequences of Your Divorce

It is important to remember that ending a marriage may result in significant tax consequences. When negotiating a fair division of the marital estate, make sure to understand the tax implications of your arrangement. Even child custody can affect taxes. Only one of the parents can take the child exemption on their income taxes. Typically, the parent who has the majority of the parenting time is considered the “custodial parent” and therefore entitled to claim the dependency exemption.

Division of Retirement Accounts

Depending on the age of the divorcing spouses, retirement funds may constitute a significant part of the marital estate. Retirement plans are unique in that the asset may be partially marital (and therefore belonging to both spouses) and partially non-marital or separate. Typically, the portion of the retirement funds accumulated before marriage is considered separate property and not subject to division. The share accumulated during the marriage is part of the marital estate.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

If you are getting divorced, an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer from Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation today.

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IL family lawyerDisagreements about financial issues is consistently ranked as one of the top reasons for divorce. Financial deception is also a common issue in marriages across the United States. Spouses may spend large quantities of money, hide assets, and rack up debt without the other spouse’s knowledge. The popularity of online banking has made it easier than ever to hide financial transactions from your spouse. If you are getting divorced and financial deception has been an issue for you in the past, it is important to take steps to ensure that you receive a fair divorce settlement.

Speak to a Lawyer As Soon As Possible

If your spouse has been dishonest or controlling about finances in the past, it is very likely that he or she will continue to do so during your divorce. Per Illinois divorce law, you deserve an “equitable” or fair share of the marital estate. However, you can only receive your fair share if you know what your fair share is. You also deserve child support and spousal support arrangements that are based on your actual financial circumstances. An attorney who is experienced in handling divorce cases involving complicated financial issues can help you uncover the truth. Your attorney may use a variety of techniques to get accurate and complete information about income, property, debt, and expenses during the divorce, including:

  • Requests for production
  • Depositions
  • Interrogatories
  • Admissions of fact

Gather Financial Documents and Information

In many marriages, one spouse handles the finances and the other spouse simply trusts him or her to do so ethically. Unfortunately, spouses do not always act with integrity when it comes to finances. If your spouse has lied about money-related concerns in the past, he or she may continue or even escalate this behavior during divorce. Your spouse may “forget” to report revenue from his or her small business, overstate his or her debts, or hide sources of income. One of the best ways that you can help your attorney is to start gathering financial documents as soon as possible. If possible, obtain copies of:

  • Tax returns
  • Mortgage statements
  • Bank statements
  • Pay stubs
  • Retirement account statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Credit card statements
  • Bills
  • Investment accounts

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If there have been issues with financial deception in your marriage and you want to get divorced, it is important to stand up for your right to a fair divorce settlement. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we know the strategies that spouses use to hide assets and lie about finances during divorce. A St. Charles divorce attorney from our firm can find hidden assets and unveil other financial dishonesty so that you can get a divorce settlement that is based on the truth. Call us at

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IL divorce lawyerWhen most couples get married, they are thinking about the personal and romantic significance of their commitment. They are much less concerned with the financial implications of marriage. However, when spouses enter into a marriage, they merge many of their assets and debts. Undoing this financial entanglement during divorce becomes especially complicated if spouses have a high income or own high-value assets. If you or your spouse have greater than average wealth, you should know about the ways that your wealth may influence your divorce case.

Complex Assets and Hard-To-Value Property

The division of marital property is often one of the most challenging aspects of divorce. Complex assets, hard-to-value assets, and assets with fluctuating value are often especially difficult to account for during divorce. Special attention must be paid to assets such as:

  • Businesses and business investments
  • Stocks and stock options
  • Securities and investment accounts
  • Deferred compensation and bonuses
  • Overseas investments and tax shelters
  • Real estate and investment properties
  • Retirement accounts, 401(k) accounts, and pensions
  • Bitcoin and other digital currency

Child Support Deviations

Typically, child support payments are determined by statutory formulas established by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The parents’ net incomes are added together to find their combined net income and then this information is compared to an “income shares schedule” to find their basic support obligation. The basic support obligation is the amount of money that both parents are expected to contribute to their child’s upbringing. The basic support obligation is divided between the parents based on their respective net incomes. The parent with less parenting time makes his or her contribution in the form of child support.

The tables and formulas used to calculate a parent’s child support obligation are based on statistics and averages. If your financial situation is not typical of the average Illinois family, calculating child support using the statutory formulas may be inappropriate. Instead, the court may deviate from the typical method of determining child support and instead make a determination based on your unique circumstances.

Hidden Assets and Financial Fraud

Financial transparency is a crucial element in any divorce case but it is especially vital in high-income divorce cases. Some spouses may attempt to manipulate their divorce settlement by hiding assets, undervaluing assets, transferring funds, or falsifying financial information. They may use businesses to conceal assets or even intentionally overpay the IRS to create the illusion of a lower net worth. If you suspect that your spouse will lie about finances during divorce, speak to a divorce lawyer right away. A skilled attorney with experience handling complex divorce cases can help you uncover hidden assets and get the divorce settlement you deserve.

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IL family lawyerWhen two people get married they merge their financial lives in such a way that dividing assets and debts prove quite difficult during divorce. Property division during divorce is further complicated when the couple owns complex assets, has a particularly high income, or when a spouse refuses to be honest about his or her finances. The spouses’ financial situations will also have a dramatic impact on child support, spousal support, and other elements of the divorce. Forensic accounting may help divorcing spouses trace marital assets and debts, reveal hidden assets and income, determine how much money is available for support payments, and much more.

How a Forensic Accountant May Help During Divorce

Divorce lawyers often utilize the expertise of a forensic accountant when complicated financial circumstances or financial deception confound the divorce process. Forensic accounting is often used when a married couple owns a business or professional practice or other complex assets like stocks and stock options, retirement funds, cryptocurrency, or real estate.

Forensic accounting may also be used as an investigative tool. Divorcing spouses are expected to fully disclose accurate information about their income, business revenue, assets, expenses, and debts. In order to sway the outcome of the divorce in their favor, some divorcing spouses conceal assets or lie about finances. A forensic accountant may help your lawyer uncover hidden accounts, secret property transfers, and other sources of deception. Accurate information about finances is needed to make a determination about many different issues during divorce including asset and debt division, alimony, and child-related issues The only way to ensure you receive a fair divorce settlement or award is to base that settlement off of verifiably accurate financial data. Forensic accountants may assist in your divorce case by:

  • Investigating a spouse’s finances and looking for inconsistencies
  • Finding hidden assets, income, and revenue streams
  • Assigning a value to items with fluctuating or hard-to-determine values
  • Inventorying valuable personal property such as art, jewelry, and collectibles
  • Evaluating the long-term financial consequences of potential divorce settlements

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Financial issues during divorce are often complicated and contentious. If you are considering divorce and you or your spouse own a business or other complex assets, forensic accounting may be an advantageous tool. Forensic accounting may also be used to find hidden assets and reveal other forms of financial fraud during divorce. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., our accomplished Kane County family law attorneys know how to work with experts such as forensic accountants to ensure our clients receive the settlement they deserve. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerTypically, the more complicated a divorce, the longer it will take to resolve. If you and your spouse disagree on the division of marital property and debt, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, spousal maintenance, or other divorce terms, it is likely that this will increase the amount of time it takes to finalize the divorce. Complex assets such a family business or certain investments may also increase the duration of the divorce. Fortunately, you may be able to receive temporary relief orders from the court that address immediate concerns during the divorce process.

Temporary Court Orders for Financial Issues and Child Custody Concerns

At the conclusion of a divorce, the divorce decree will describe the terms of the divorce. The decree may contain directions for child support, the division of debt and property, spousal maintenance, and/or child custody which the spouses are expected to follow. However, you may not have to wait until the divorce is finished to receive court orders about these issues. A temporary relief order may address which spouse lives in the marital home during the divorce process, spousal maintenance, marital property, child custody, child support, and health insurance.

When deciding temporary orders for spousal support and child support, courts consider the spouses’ assets, income, and needs and then issue an order that is reasonable based on these circumstances. Temporary orders may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances such as a major change in income. Temporary orders expire once the divorce is finalized. The orders contained in the final divorce decree may differ considerably from temporary orders.

Temporary Child Custody Orders Can Influence Final Child Custody Determinations

When married parents decide to get divorced, most decide to live apart during the divorce process. This means that the parents will need to decide how to divide parenting time while the divorce is still ongoing. A temporary order for child custody can do just this. However, it is important to note that a temporary child custody order can have a significant impact on final child custody determinations. Illinois courts are likely to keep a child’s living arrangements similar to what he or she has already become accustomed to.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be a complicated legal process that may take months or even years to resolve. If you are ready to end your marriage, let an experienced Kane County divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. help. Call 630-584-5550 today and schedule your free initial consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerWe cannot control when we meet the man or woman of our dreams. Sometimes, a married individual meets someone else and decides to leave his or her spouse for their new partner. If you are planning to divorce your spouse and begin a new relationship with someone else, you may wonder how this situation will influence your divorce proceedings. There are several ways that a new romantic partner can affect your divorce – legally and personally – so obtaining legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney is highly recommended in this situation.

Dissipation of Assets

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. This means that there are not fault-based grounds for divorce. Marital infidelity does not automatically influence an individual’s divorce settlement. However, there are ways that your extramarital relationship can significantly impact your divorce. Dissipation of assets occurs when a married person uses funds or property on a purpose not related to the marriage while the marriage is undergoing a “breakdown.” If you spent a substantial amount of money on your new boyfriend or girlfriend at the end of your marriage, your spouse may file a dissipation claim against you and you may be required to reimburse him or her for the funds you spent on your new partner.

Spousal Support and Child Support

If you choose to get remarried to your new partner after your divorce, you should know that this can affect child support or spousal maintenance. Illinois spousal support automatically ends when the recipient gets remarried. Spousal support or “alimony” is eligible for termination if the recipient is cohabitating with a romantic partner. Your new partner’s financial support may also influence your child support order. If you receive child support, your partner’s income could result in you having more disposable income. This means that your ex-spouse could request a child support modification and may be eligible for a reduced child support obligation.

Personal Implications

Divorce is never easy, but it is often especially dramatic when someone leaves their spouse for a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Your spouse may be heartbroken or angry about the split. He or she may take this out on you by refusing to agree to a divorce settlement or unnecessarily dragging out the divorce proceedings. The best way to handle this complicated situation is to speak with a divorce attorney early in the process. Your attorney can help you prepare for divorce and help the split go as smoothly as possible.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are ready to end your marriage, contact a skilled St. Charles, IL divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Our team understands that your situation is complicated and we are ready to help. Call 630-584-5550 and schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer.jpgThere are two main categories of divorce in Illinois, contested and uncontested. A contested divorce is one in which a couple cannot reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce. Because they cannot reach a settlement about property division, child custody, spousal support, or other issues, the court must make a determination on their behalf. An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses are able to reach an agreement about the relevant divorce issues without court intervention. Unlike spouses in a contested divorce, spouses in an uncontested divorce do not need legal representation during a divorce trial. However, a lawyer is still a valuable source of legal guidance, support, and assistance during an uncontested divorce.

Helping You Resolve Disputes That Arise During the Divorce

Many divorcing spouses still care about each other. They no longer wish to be married, but they still want the best for their soon-to-be ex-spouse and do not want to cause unnecessary stress or hostility for either party. Unfortunately, things rarely go as planned when it comes to divorce. You may think that you and your spouse have agreed on the terms of the divorce until you run into a disagreement. A divorce lawyer can identify all of the divorce issues that need to be settled upon and help you and your spouse reach an agreement about these issues. If a disagreement about child support, parenting time, the division of marital property and debt, or another issue does arise during the divorce process, your lawyer can help you negotiate possible solutions.

Avoiding Legal Issues After the Divorce

Your lawyer can also help you take steps to avoid legal disputes in the future. This is an especially important step in marriages involving children, significant marital property or debt, or spousal maintenance. For example, have you considered what will happen if one of the spouses moves away and wants to take the children with him or her? What happens if the spouse who promised to pay off the marital credit card debt falls behind on payments and the credit card company goes after the other spouse? Your lawyer can help you take steps to avoid future conflicts. He or she can help you determine in advance how any post-divorce modifications or concerns should be handled and formalize your decisions in the divorce decree.

Correctly Documenting Your Settlement

Most courts provide fill-in-the-blank forms that divorcing spouses can use to document their agreements about divorce issues. However, these forms typically only include the “bare bones” issues and do not go into detail about divorce concerns. Your lawyer can ensure that your settlement is documented fully and accurately. Your lawyer can also help ensure that the divorce settlement is not flawed or unreasonably one-sided.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If you are thinking about divorce and are unsure of where to start, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for a free consultation. We can identify the legal issues you will likely encounter during your divorce and advise you as to the best course of action moving forward. Call us at 630-584-5550 today and set up your free consultation with one of our experienced Kane County divorce attorneys.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce can sometimes make individuals much more stubborn and argumentative than they would normally be. If you are considering divorce, you may have concerns about how you and your spouse will reach an agreement about how to divide your property, share custody of your children, or how to handle other divorce issues. Family law mediation is a process during which a divorcing couple meets with a mediator to discuss unresolved divorce issues. If you are thinking about mediation, you may have many questions about what the process entails or how the mediator will actually help.

A Mediator Helps Facilitate Productive Conversation

Mediators receive special training in conflict resolution and family law. They know how to help couples discuss issues without getting caught up in arguments, irrelevant details, or off-topic conversations. The purpose of a mediator is not to tell you how to handle your divorce or to favor one spouse over the other. The mediator will simply guide the conversation, help ensure that both spouses are given the opportunity to speak and facilitate productive negotiations. He or she may point out common ground and help the spouses find solutions that they can both agree to. If the conversation begins to get heated, the mediator may suggest a quick break or change of subject until the spouses cool down and are able to discuss the issues with a clear head. Many couples find that mediation allows them to reach a resolution about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, division of assets and debts, and other divorce concerns without needing to go to trial.

Mediators are Bound to Confidentiality

Many people are hesitant to reach out to a mediator for help resolving their divorce issues because they are worried about confidentiality. After all, it is likely that you will be discussing private financial information and matters that are very personal in nature. You may worry that the mediator will share this private information with others or that what you say will be used against you if the case does end up going to litigation. Fortunately, mediation is a confidential process. The mediator does not share what is said during mediation – even if you are unable to reach a resolution about divorce issues and the case goes to trial. The only exceptions to the confidentiality requirement occur when a parent makes a serious allegation of child abuse or threatens to commit a crime.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Mediation may help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, property division, and more. However, mediation is not appropriate in every divorce case. If you would like to learn more about mediation, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Illinois divorce lawyer Matt Shaw is also qualified to serve as a mediator and has helped many couples successfully negotiate divorce issues. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL divorce lawyerMost people assume that once a divorce has been finalized, the spouses’ actions can no longer influence the terms of the divorce. However, this is not the case when it comes to issues such as child support and spousal support. If you plan to remarry, you should know that your remarriage could influence the terms of your divorce decree. However, the ways in which remarriage impact divorce issues can vary case by case.

Spousal Support Terminates Upon Remarriage

If you are receiving spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, you will most likely no longer receive payments once you have remarried. As per Illinois law, a spousal maintenance recipient’s remarriage results in an immediate termination of the other spouse’s maintenance obligation. You should also know that a paying spouse may file a motion to terminate spousal support if the recipient spouse is living with a romantic partner on a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” This means that you may lose your spousal support if you are living with a boyfriend or girlfriend – even if you decide not to formalize the relationship through marriage. The only exception to these rules is if you and your ex-spouse had agreed to a different spousal maintenance arrangement in a valid marital agreement such as a prenuptial agreement.

Child Support Payments May Be Impacted by Remarriage

The way remarriage affects child support is not as straightforward as the way remarriage typically affects spousal maintenance. The Illinois Appellate Court has stated that courts may “equitably consider the income of a parent's current spouse” when deciding an appropriate child support order. If you are currently receiving child support from your ex-spouse it is very possible that your new spouse’s income will influence the amount you receive in child support. Child support obligations in Illinois are calculated using each parent’s net income. Although your new spouse’s income is not directly included during child support calculations, it is likely that your spouse’s financial support will impact your overall financial situation. For example, you and your new spouse may decide to share responsibility for monthly bills like rent, utilities, and groceries. This means that your expenses will likely be lower once you remarry than they were before you had this support. Consequently, you may be entitled to less in child support.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

Family law concerns like child support and spousal maintenance can often be complex. For help, contact a skilled Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation.

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-finances_20201014-015550_1.jpgWhen “yours” and “mine” becomes “ours” in a marriage, undoing this financial entanglement through divorce can be quite complex. If you are planning to divorce and you or your spouse have significant credit card debt, you may be wondering who will be responsible for paying this debt. Depending on the circumstances under which credit card debt was accumulated and used, it is very possible that both spouses will be responsible for repayment.

Who Pays the Credit Card Balance?

Illinois courts divide marital property equitably but not necessarily evenly. Marital property refers to the assets and debt acquired during the marriage by either spouse. Save for certain inheritances and gifts, any property or debt obtained while the spouses are married is included in the marital estate. Property accumulated before the marriage is typically classified as nonmarital property and is assigned to the original owner. This means that typically, spouses are not jointly responsible for credit cards that were opened before the marriage and are in only one spouse’s name. However, spouses may be liable for credit card debts that were accumulated during the marriage – even if only one of the spouses made the credit card purchases. A spouse may not even become aware of credit card debt until he or she begins to examine financial documents in preparation for divorce. This is one reason that taking a full inventory of your property and debts during divorce is so crucial.

How Should Joint Debt Be Dealt With?

Credit card companies do not take marital status into consideration when collecting debt repayment. This means that if your spouse is responsible for making payments and fails to do so, you could be pursued by creditors. Many experts suggest paying off debt prior to filing for divorce, however, this is not always feasible. Another option is to use marital funds to pay off marital debt during the divorce. These funds may be from a savings account, the proceeds from the sale of your home, or another source. You may also want to consider negotiating a settlement in which you take responsibility for the joint debt and are awarded other marital assets in exchange. This helps you avoid having to trust your soon-to-be ex-spouse to continue making payments on the debt after the divorce is complete.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

The division of marital property and debt can be a complicated and contentious issue during divorce. For dependable legal guidance regarding these and other divorce issues, contact Shaw Family Law. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a confidential case consultation with one of our Kane County divorce attorneys today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements are often misunderstood. Some people mistakenly assume that a prenuptial agreement is only for the extremely wealthy or for individuals who plan to get divorced. In actuality, prenuptial agreements, or “prenups” for short, are valuable legal tools that benefit both parties in a marriage. Read on to learn about the many ways that a prenuptial agreement can benefit you and your soon-to-be spouse.

Establishing Each Spouse’s Property Rights and Responsibilities

The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to decide in advance how the couple wishes to divide debts and assets should they later decide to divorce. While this may not be a very romantic possibility to consider, it is an important step to take. Keep in mind that creating a prenuptial agreement does not mean that you and your spouse intend to get divorced. However, current research shows that just over 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. Preparing for this possibility simply means that you and your partner understand that there is a chance that the marriage will not work out. Signing a prenuptial agreement is crucial if:

  • You have children from a previous marriage
  • You own complex assets such as a business, stocks, stock options, and long-term investments
  • There is a significant discrepancy between you and your partner’s income and assets
  • You or your partner have accumulated significant debt

A prenuptial agreement allows you to decide what property belongs to each spouse, which spouse should be accountable for certain debts, and whether spousal maintenance or alimony will be paid should you get divorced. A prenup can also address inheritance issues, the ownership of death benefits from life insurance policies, and several other concerns.

Opening up an Important Dialogue Regarding Finances

If you are interested in creating a prenuptial agreement but are unsure about bringing up this idea to your partner, there are a few things you should keep in mind. While a prenuptial agreement does determine how certain issues will be handled in the event of a divorce, this is not the only benefit of creating a prenup. Prenuptial agreements are also valuable in the event of a spouse’s death. Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that arguments about money is frequently cited as the top trigger for divorce. By having a frank, honest conversation about finances before getting married, you and your partner ensure that you are on the same page regarding money-related issues.

Contact a St. Charles Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer

Prenuptial agreements can address property, debt, inheritance issues, spousal maintenance, and more. However, these documents must meet certain criteria to be legally enforceable. If you are interested in creating a prenuptial agreement, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. Schedule a free initial consultation with a talented Kane County family lawyer by calling us today at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering divorce, you may have concerns about how financial issues and child custody concerns will be handled between the initial split and the conclusion of the divorce. Divorce cases, especially high asset divorces and those involving a high degree of conflict, can take several months or several years to resolve. You may be asking yourself, “How will I make ends meet without my spouse’s income during the divorce process?” or “How will parenting time and parental responsibilities be divided before the divorce is finalized?” One way to answer these questions is to petition the court for temporary relief orders.

Temporary Arrangements for Child Custody, Child Support, and Spousal Maintenance

A petition for temporary relief asks the court to issue temporary court orders regarding certain financial and child-related issues. You can ask for a temporary relief order at any time throughout the divorce process. The temporary relief may address issues related to:

  • Possession of the marital residence
  • Spousal maintenance (alimony)
  • The sale of marital property
  • Health insurance
  • Child custody
  • Child support

The directions contained in temporary orders only last until the divorce is finalized. These orders may be modified if a spouse experiences a “significant change in circumstances” that necessitates the modification. Temporary orders for child support and spousal maintenance have no impact on the final orders. It is very possible that the amount of child support or spousal maintenance awarded in the final judgment will differ from what was awarded in the temporary order. On the other hand, temporary child custody orders can influence the final decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. This is because the court makes child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. It is generally assumed that dramatically changing a child’s living situation only adds to his or her stress during divorce. Consequently, courts are inclined to consider the child’s living arrangements during the divorce when deciding post-divorce custody issues.

Determining the Amount of Temporary Support to Be Awarded

Temporary orders for spousal maintenance and child support can provide a spouse with financial relief before any final decisions about maintenance and support are settled. When determining the amount of temporary relief that a spouse receives, the court will consider the incomes, assets, and needs of each party as well as the needs of the children. The court will review the spouses’ financial affidavits and parenting time arrangement and evaluate financial documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements to determine fair and reasonable temporary support arrangements.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you would like to learn more about temporary relief during your divorce or you have other divorce-related concerns, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys today.

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IL divorce lawyerFor many divorcing individuals, their divorce case is the first time they are involved in an extensive legal proceeding. If you are getting divorced, you may have numerous questions about what you should expect. During the “discovery” step of the divorce process, the spouses’ attorneys gather information and documentation from the spouses. This information is used when negotiating divorce issues such as property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody. If your divorce case goes to trial, the information gathered during discovery becomes valuable evidence that will be used to argue your case during litigation. Depositions are one way that information is gathered during discovery.

What Happens During a Deposition?

A deposition is a formal question and answers session that takes place outside of the courtroom. The individuals present at a deposition typically include the spouses, their respective attorneys, and other professionals relevant to the case such as a Guardian Ad Litem. If you attend a divorce deposition, you will be placed under oath and then asked a series of questions aimed at gathering information about the facts of your divorce case. A court reporter will record all of the questions and answers. It is important to answer the questions carefully and truthfully. Anything you say during a deposition may be later used against you.

Tips to Keep in Mind During Your Deposition

It is essential that you are well-prepared for your deposition. The fewer surprises you encounter, the better. Your lawyer can help you understand what to expect and help you practice answering the questions you will likely be asked during the deposition. When you are asked a question, take your time and answer it thoughtfully. Do not volunteer additional information or offer answers that are mere speculation. Your own lawyer may also ask you questions during the deposition that are designed to help you share information that is beneficial to your case. It is important to remain calm and professional during a deposition. Your spouse and his or her lawyer may say things that make you upset. However, keeping your cool is the best way to ensure that you do not say something that damages your case.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois Divorce Lawyer

The experienced Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Family Law, P.C. understand that a contentious divorce can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. That is why we are committed to offering dependable legal guidance throughout the divorce process. To learn more about how our attorneys can help you, call our office at 630-584-5550. Schedule a free, confidential initial consultation today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerAs part of your Illinois divorce process, you and your spouse will be asked to submit a financial affidavit that lists your assets and income. This financial data is vital to obtaining a fair divorce settlement. Asset division, child support, and spousal maintenance are all contingent on divorcing spouses’ financial circumstances. If a spouse omits income sources, underreports business revenue, hides assets, or otherwise falsifies data on his or her financial affidavit, decisions about these divorce issues will be based on inaccurate information. Furthermore, lying about finances during divorce is unlawful. A process called forensic accounting is often the best way to uncover the truth about a deceitful spouse’s finances during divorce.

What Do Forensic Accountants Do?

Forensic accounting refers to an investigation into a spouse’s property, income, debts, and expenses. The more complex a spouse’s financial portfolio, the more in-depth this investigation will need to be. A forensic accountant is a financial professional who has specialized auditing, accounting, and investigative skills. He or she will work closely with your divorce attorney to thoroughly examine your spouse’s finances and discover evidence of deceit. Tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, business contracts, invoices, mortgage applications, and other documents can all provide clues about hidden assets.

Methods for Hiding Assets During an Illinois Divorce

There are many different ways that a spouse may lie about finances in order to manipulate the divorce settlement or judgment. Financial deception is often used in an attempt to pay less in child support or spousal support or keep the other spouse from receiving the property division settlement he or she deserves. A deceptive spouse may hide assets by not reporting the assets or transferring assets to an unknown bank account. Spouses may also transfer assets to friends, family members, or coworkers. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also sometimes used as a hiding place for assets. By “accidentally” overpaying the IRS, the spouse essentially loans the IRS money that is then returned to him after the divorce is finalized. Spouses may also undervalue assets, report lower than actual business revenue, or exaggerate debts and expenses in an attempt to sway a divorce settlement in their favor.

Contact a Kane County Hidden Assets Lawyer

Whether your divorce case is resolved through lawyer-assisted negotiations or courtroom litigation, accurate and complete financial information from both parties is crucial. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, underreporting income, or otherwise lying about his or her finances, you need a divorce attorney who can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a consultation with a highly experienced St. Charles divorce attorney to learn how we can help you get the divorce settlement you deserve.

 

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IL divorce lawyerGetting a divorce, or dissolution of marriage as it is called in Illinois, is not reversible. Some married couples who are having relationship problems may know that they want some space apart, but they are unsure of whether or not divorce is the right choice. This is just one situation in which a legal separation may be beneficial. Couples who get a legal separation are still technically married so if they choose to reconcile, they will not be required to get remarried. If they do not decide to continue the marriage, divorce is still an option. Most importantly, legal separation offers married couples a way to address issues such as property division, allocation of parenting time and responsibility, and spousal maintenance without the finality of divorce.

Illinois Separation Process

It is important to note that there is a difference between a physical separation and a legal separation. A married couple is not legally separated until they are granted a separation through the court. In order to be granted a legal separation in Illinois, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days and the spouses must be living apart. If a spouse wishes to file for separation, he or she will need to file a petition for legal separation and a summons with their county’s Circuit Court. The petition and summons is then served to the other spouse and a date for a hearing is set. If the spouses have already resolved issues such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, division of assets, and spousal maintenance through a separation agreement, the judge will likely grant the separation after this initial hearing. If the parties have not reached an agreement about one or more of these issues, they may need to attend an additional hearing. The authority of Illinois courts to divide assets and liabilities during a separation is much more limited than it is during a divorce. The court can only include asset division in the order for legal separation if the spouses have reached an agreement regarding how their assets and debts should be divided.

Benefits of Legal Separation

There are many different reasons that a couple may choose to get a separation instead of a divorce. Some couples are simply not sure whether or not they are ready to divorce. Other spouses get a legal separation in lieu of a divorce because divorce is prohibited by their religious or cultural beliefs. A spouse may also choose to stay married and obtain a separation so that he or she can still receive benefits such as social security, health insurance, or pension benefits. A legal separation is an effective way for a married couple to separate their finances and resolve issues such as child custody without ending the marriage. If you are interested in learning more about the legal separation process in Illinois, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

Legal separation does not end a marriage. However, it does allow spouses to resolve issues including property division, child custody, spousal maintenance, and more. To discuss whether or not a legal separation is right for your unique situation, contact Shaw Family Law. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free, confidential consultation with a seasoned St. Charles divorce lawyer.

 

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IL family lawyerTypically, the more complex a divorcing couple's assets, the more complex the property division process will be. Dividing bank accounts and personal property like vehicles and household furniture is often much more straightforward than dividing a small business. First, the business must be classified as either marital or nonmarital property. Next, the business must be properly valued. Divorces involving businesses are often complicated, so getting guidance from an experienced divorce lawyer is crucial.

Is The Business Considered Part of the Marital Estate?

You and your spouse have the option to design your own property division arrangement during divorce. You may be able to negotiate property distribution concerns with help from your prospective attorneys or you may be able to reach an arrangement during family law mediation. If you cannot reach an agreement, the court will intervene and make property division decisions on your behalf. In Illinois, courts make property division decisions based on the theory of “equitable distribution.” Marital property, meaning property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, is divided in an equitable, or fair manner. Nonmarital property includes property acquired before the marriage, gifts, and inheritance. Nonmarital property is not divided and is instead assigned to the spouse who owns the property. If you acquired your business during the marriage, it will most likely be treated as a marital asset. If your business was inherited, received as a gift, or was obtained before you got married, it will likely be classified as nonmarital property.

Valuing a Business During Divorce

If a business is considered a marital asset, the court will use the value of the business during property division decisions. There are several ways to determine the fair market value of a business. The “income approach” to valuing a business involves calculating the present value of the estimated future income from the business. In an “asset approach,” the total value of the business’s assets is divided by the business’s liabilities. Another method for determining the value of your business is the “market approach” which estimates the approximate value by comparing the business to similar businesses that have recently sold. The value of the business will be used to determine how marital property is divided. If one spouse retains ownership of the business, the other spouse will likely be assigned marital property of similar value. Divorcing spouses may also decide to sell the business and then split the proceeds. In some cases, a divorcing couple may even decide to retain joint ownership of the business after divorce.

Contact a Kane County Business Valuation Lawyer

Deciding how to handle a business during divorce can be quite challenging. You may be unsure of what the best option is for your unique situation. For dependable legal guidance regarding property division, business valuation, and more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a consultation with a skilled St. Charles divorce attorney.

 

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is not only a romantic separation; it is also a financial separation. Determining how assets and debts should be distributed to divorcing spouses is often one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Division of assets is made even more problematic when a spouse is not willing to be transparent about his or her financial circumstances. Spouses may attempt to conceal assets, understate income, overstate debts, or use other strategies to gain an unfair advantage during property division. If you are planning to divorce and you have reason to believe that your spouse may be hiding assets or otherwise lying about financial resources, an experienced divorce lawyer can help.

Financial Deception During Divorce

In order for a divorcing couple to fairly divide marital assets during divorce, each spouse must be honest and forthcoming about his or her financial resources. However, some spouses purposely lie about their financial circumstances in an attempt to manipulate property division, child support, or spousal maintenance determinations. Typically, the more complicated a spouse’s financial circumstances are, the easier it is for him or her to hide assets during divorce. If a person owns multiple bank and brokerage accounts, trusts, rental properties, vacation homes, stock options, deferred compensation, retirement plans, a business or professional practice, or other complex assets, there are many opportunities for him or her to be deceptive. However, spouses with simple financial portfolios may also lie in order to gain a financial advantage during divorce.

A spouse who is attempting to sway the divorce settlement through hiding assets may fail to report assets or revenue streams, claim that certain assets were lost, or transfer assets to a third party. He or she may:

  • Underreport income on tax returns
  • Purchase expensive items and then undervalue or “forget” about these items
  • Transfer stock to friends or business partners
  • Transfer personal assets to a “dummy” company, or a company that exists only on paper
  • Withdraw cash and hide it somewhere or “loan” cash to friends and family members
  • Intentionally overpay the Internal Revenue Service so that money is hidden during divorce and then refunded after the divorce is finalized
  • Postpone salary increases, new contracts, bonuses, or commissions until after the divorce

These are only some of the ways that a spouse may hide assets during divorce. Hiding assets is not only unethical, but it is also against the law. If a divorcing spouse is caught hiding assets, the court has the authority to assign a greater share of the marital assets to the innocent spouse. The spouse who hid assets may also face steep fines and other serious consequences.

Contact a St. Charles Hidden Assets Lawyer

If you believe that your spouse may lie about financial resources during divorce, you need an attorney who can help you uncover the truth. At Shaw Family Law, our experienced Illinois divorce attorneys collaborate with forensic accountants and other financial experts to expose financial deception and get clients the divorce settlement they deserve. To learn more about how we can help you, call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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