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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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IL divorce lawyerOne of the biggest concerns people have when considering divorce is how the split might affect their finances. Not only will getting a divorce result in the loss of your spouse’s income and/or nonfinancial contributions to your household, you may also be expected to pay child support or spousal support. Illinois spousal support payments are calculated using a number of factors, but the obligor’s income is typically the most influential factor. Before support payments can be calculated, the obligor’s income must be defined.

Determining Illinois Spousal Support Payment Amounts

There are a few different ways that a divorcing spouse may be obligated to pay spousal maintenance. If the spouses had previously signed a valid prenuptial agreement that dictates a spouse’s maintenance obligations, the court will typically uphold the directions contained in the agreement. Spouses may also be required to pay spousal support if there is a large discrepancy in the spouses’ income and assets. The standard of living established during the marriage, each spouse’s health and age, any impairment to the recipient spouse’s future earning capacity, and several other factors are also assessed during spousal maintenance determinations.

According to Illinois statutory guidelines, spousal maintenance is calculated by subtracting 25 percent of the recipient’s net income from 33.3 percent of the obligor’s net income. However, spousal support payments cannot exceed 40 percent of the spouses’ combined net income. It should be noted that in some cases, the court will deviate from these statutory guidelines.

What Is Considered “Net Income?”

If your financial situation is not straightforward, you have multiple sources of income, own your own business, or have other special circumstances, you may wonder exactly how income will be calculated for spousal maintenance payments. The Income Withholding for Support Act and The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act define income for the purpose of spousal support calculations. Typically, net income is calculated by taking gross income and subtracting:

  • Federal and state income tax
  • Self-employment tax
  • Social Security
  • Certain medical expenses
  • Retirement contributions required by law or as a requirement of employment‍
  • Costs associated with repayment of business debt
  • Child support payments from a previous relationship
  • Prior spousal support obligations

Other expenses may also be subtracted from gross income in order to determine net income depending on the circumstances.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerEnding a marriage is considered by many experts to be one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. Even if you were the spouse who suggested the split, the divorce process can be extremely emotionally burdensome. You may have worries about how divorce will affect your finances, your children, your career, and your lifestyle. Fortunately, there are a number of tips that mental health experts say can help you reduce the strain associated with formally ending your marriage.

Make Your Health a Priority

Many busy adults end up putting their own wellbeing quite low on their priority lists. Experts suggest that one of the best things you can do during divorce is to make a conscious effort to keep yourself healthy both mentally and physically. Exercise has shown to have remarkable benefits to both overall health as well as mood. Eating a balanced diet and avoiding the temptation to binge on junk food will also strengthen your body and help you get through this difficult time.

Do Not Fall into the Habit Of Using Drugs and Alcohol to Cope

The flood of emotions surrounding divorce can be hard for anyone to deal with. If you have decided to end your marriage, you may feel ashamed, angry, and heartbroken. Alcohol or drugs may offer a temporary, superficial numbing of these painful emotions, but the long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse will only worsen divorce stress. Furthermore, drug and alcohol use can have a significant impact on your divorce settlement - especially child custody decisions.

Get Support From Family, Friends, and Professionals

Many people feel the need to turn inward and isolate during divorce. However, experts say that this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. Spending time with family and friends can help you get the support and distraction you need. Speaking with a counselor or therapist is also a great way to vent your divorce frustrations to a professional in the safety of a confidential setting. Divorce support groups also offer the opportunity to talk about divorce issues with people who are going through the same things you are.

Consider Mediation

If you and your spouse have disagreements about property division, parental responsibilities and parenting time, or spousal maintenance, you may want to consider family law mediation. During the mediation process, you and your spouse meet with a mediator who is specially trained to help you negotiate your divorce issues. Mediation is an informal, collaborative process that takes place outside of the courtroom. Not only is mediation much less expensive than litigation, it is also significantly less stressful and combative.

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IL divorce lawyerTypically, the greater number of high-value and complex assets a married couple has, the more complicated property division is during divorce. Property division may be an especially difficult process if the spouses do not agree on how property should be divided or are not willing to be honest and forthcoming about property and debt. A spouse who is planning to divorce may attempt to conceal income or hide assets in order to prevent these assets from being factored into the divorce settlement. If you are considering divorce and you have reason to suspect that your spouse may be hiding assets or lying about finances, an experienced divorce attorney can help you uncover the truth so that you can obtain a fair divorce settlement.

One Spouse Handles The Majority of the Financial Transactions

In many marriages, one spouse handles the finances while the other spouse manages other responsibilities. Although this division of labor works well for many married couples, it can also leave one spouse completely out of the loop when it comes to money issues. If you have traditionally allowed your spouse to pay the bills, file tax returns, and make major financial decisions without your input, this can leave you at a major disadvantage during divorce. It may be a good idea to investigate financial documents like tax returns and look for clues that reveal potential financial deception. For example, you may find that your spouse owns property that you are not aware of through an itemized deduction involving property taxes.

Unusual Behavior and Other Red Flags

A spouse may lie about finances in order to gain an unfair property division arrangement or pay less than his or her fair share of child support or spousal maintenance. He or she may overstate debts and expenses, hide or undervalue property, and report lower than actual income. However, falsifying financial data during divorce can be hard to do without leaving at least some clues behind. Red flags that may hint at financial deception include:

  • Unusual bank activity such as frequent withdrawals or transfers
  • Missing account statements and other financial documents
  • Cash or property being gifted to friends and relatives
  • Defensive and secretive behavior regarding finances
  • Increased international travel
  • Changes to computer and smartphone passwords
  • Mail being rerouted to a different address

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Uncovering financial fraud during divorce can be especially difficult if a spouse has not been kept up-to-date about finances during the marriage or if a couple owns complex or high-value assets. If you have reason to believe that your spouse may attempt to gain an unfair advantage during divorce proceedings through financial deception, contact Shaw Family Law. Our knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorneys collaborate with experienced forensic accountants and other financial experts in order to help spouses obtain a divorce settlement that is based on the truth. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce settlements often contain orders regarding property division, debt payment, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and other matters. One concern many people getting a divorce have is whether their soon-to-be ex-spouse will actually comply with the terms contained in the divorce settlement or judgment. It is important to remember that court orders are not optional. If an individual deliberately refuses to follow a court order, including orders related to divorce, he or she can be charged with contempt of court.

Contempt Charges for Failing to Comply with a Property Division Order

When you get divorced, you will be expected to fulfill the obligations specified in your property division order. For example, you may be required to make mortgage payments, pay off a shared credit card, or submit certain property to your former spouse. If you purposely do not follow the directions in your property division order, you may be held in contempt of court. The possible penalties for contempt of court include steep fines and even jail time.

Nonpayment of Spousal Support or Child Support

If a divorce settlement includes an order for spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, the paying party is expected to make these payments in full and on time. This same is true for child support payments. If a paying party intentionally fails to make these payments, he or she can potentially be charged with contempt of court. However, if the paying party cannot make these payments because of a major change in circumstances, such as a job loss, he or she will most likely not face contempt charges. If you are a parent who is struggling to make child support or spousal maintenance payments, never simply stop payments. You may be able to obtain a modified order if the circumstances warrant it. Furthermore, it is very important that you follow directions regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time contained in your parenting plan. Deliberate failure to do so can also result in contempt charges.

Contact a Kane County Post-Divorce Enforcement Lawyer

The directions contained in a court order are mandatory. Failure to comply with these directions can result in serious consequences. If your former spouse is refusing to follow the orders contained in your divorce settlement or you want to request a post-divorce modification, we can help. Contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable St. Charles family law attorney.

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IL divorce lawyerGetting a divorce in any circumstance can be heartbreaking and overwhelming. However, getting divorced when you have children with your spouse can be especially challenging. Many parents worry that ending their marriage will be traumatic for their children. While breaking the news of divorce to children is never a pleasant conversation, there are certain steps parents can take that may minimize the trauma as much as possible.

Have a Family Meeting About the Impending Divorce

Child development experts and mental health professionals generally agree that it is best to break the news of divorce with both parents present. Use the word “we” when explaining the split to the children – even if the divorce was not a mutual decision. When only one parent tells the children about the divorce, it can make the children feel like they have to choose sides. While some families choose to tell the older siblings before the younger siblings, many mental health professionals suggest telling the children all together regardless of their ages. When some children know about the divorce before the others, it leaves them with the unfair burden of keeping a secret.

Plan What You Will Say in Advance

Just as you probably plan for important work meetings, you should plan how you will tell your children about your divorce. Think about the main messages you want your children to take away from the conversation. You may want to reassure your children that they will still be loved and cared for and that the divorce is not their fault. Remind them that even though you and your spouse are no longer going to be married, this does not change the fact that you are still their parents.

Accept Your Children’s Reactions

Children are all different and may have a variety of reactions to the news of divorce. Some children may throw a tantrum or become extremely angry. Others may cry and want to be held and comforted. Some children may initially act nonchalant or even have no noticeable response at all to the news. These are all normal reactions. Try to give your children space to work through their emotions and remind them that you are available to talk and answer questions whenever they feel ready.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we know the toll that divorce can take on a family. Our highly-skilled, compassionate St. Charles family law attorneys are fully prepared to help you with issues related to property division, child custody, child support, and more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a member of our team today.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerMultiple studies show that disagreements about finances are the top predictor of divorce. Finding a way to manage money in a way that meets the needs of each spouse in a marriage can be extremely difficult. This is especially true if one spouse is more of a spendthrift and the other spouse considers saving money a greater priority. If you are getting a divorce, you may be concerned about how you and your spouse’s debts will be divided. The division of property and debt is often one of the most complicated and contentious aspects of a divorce. Finding a fair way to allocate property and debt often requires help from an experienced divorce lawyer.

Marital Debt Versus Nonmarital Debt

In Illinois, only the marital estate is divided during divorce. The marital estate includes all of the marital debt and property acquired during the course of the marriage. Property and debt which was acquired before the couple was married is typically not divided and is instead assigned to the original owner. If your spouse had incurred a great deal of credit card debt before you were married, you are not responsible for repaying the debt. However, if your spouse took out a car loan during the marriage, you may still be on the hook for this debt even if you did not drive the car. If you and your spouse had previously signed a valid prenuptial agreement that allocates debt and property in the event of divorce, the terms of this agreement are followed.

Student Loan Debt

Differentiating between marital and separate debt is not always straightforward. In the case of student loans, educational debt incurred before the marriage took place is typically considered nonmarital property. However, this is not always the case. Illinois courts consider several factors when determining whether or not educational debts are considered part of the marital estate. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • How the money was used
  • Who benefited from the money
  • At what point in the marriage the debt was acquired
  • Tax implications
  • Each spouse’s earning power

If the student loans are considered part of the marital estate, they are subject to division according to the rules of equitable distribution. This means that the debt is divided equitably, or fairly, based on each spouse’s income and assets, the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and many other factors.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Illinois courts use a property division method called equitable distribution to divide debt and property fairly. However, the courts have discretion to deviate from this method in certain circumstances. A Kane County divorce attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C will protect your rights and advocate on your behalf during property and debt division. Call our office at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you achieve a fair divorce settlement.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerLegal separation is one way that a married couple can live apart, manage parenting issues, and isolate their finances from the other spouse without getting divorced. There are a great number of reasons that a couple may choose to get a legal separation. Separation offers many of the same benefits as divorce, but unlike divorce, separation is reversible. Only you can decide whether or not legal separation is right for you. If you do decide to separate, make sure to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding separation under Illinois law.

Why Do Married Couples Become Legally Separated?

In some cases, a couple knows that there are major problems in their marriage, so they separate for a period of time in order to work on these problems independently. Other times, a couple separates because they are not ready for the finality of divorce but they want to live apart and divide their parental responsibilities and finances until they decide if divorce is the next step. Some religions prohibit divorce, so members of those religions who do not want to live with their spouse get a separation in order to gain some of the benefits of divorce without actually ending the marriage. There also may be tax, social security, and health insurance-related advantages to remaining legally married. Legal separation can also be a great way to protect your finances from a spouse you are currently in the process of divorcing.

Requirements for Legal Separation in Illinois

If you want to file for a legal separation in Illinois, there are a few prerequisites you should be aware of. In order to qualify for separation, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state of Illinois for at least 90 days. For the court to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, your children must have lived in Illinois for at least six months. You must also be living physically apart from your spouse in order to qualify for legal separation. It is very important to note that physical separation is different from legal separation. You may be living apart from your spouse, but you are only legally separated if you request a petition for legal separation and are granted a separation through the court. If you later decide that you want to get divorced, you can file a request with the court to convert your separation into a divorce.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Legal separation offers many of the same advantages as divorce. Legal separation allows you to divide your finances, parental responsibilities, and manage spousal maintenance issues. However, separation does not formally end a marriage the way divorce does. If you have further questions about separation or divorce, want to formulate a legal separation agreement, or have other family law needs, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a consultation with an experienced Kane County legal separation lawyer by calling us at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL family lawyerSpousal maintenance, also referred to as spousal support or alimony, can help a lesser-earning spouse avoid being at a serious financial disadvantage after getting divorced. When a married couple divorces in Illinois, it is not guaranteed that a spouse will be required to pay spousal maintenance to the other. Whether or not a spouse receives spousal support and the amount and duration of payments are based on a variety of circumstances.

Spouses Can Decide on Alimony Arrangements in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

One way that a spouse can receive spousal maintenance is if the spouses have previously signed a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement that dictates what spousal maintenance arrangements will be if the couple divorces. For example, if a spouse plans to sacrifice educational and career opportunities to be a homemaker or stay-at-home-parent, the spouse may want to ensure his or her right to adequate spousal maintenance if the marriage ends. A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” allows spouses to make decisions about the amount and duration of maintenance payments in advance. However, it is essential that prenuptial agreements meet the criteria required by Illinois law. If a prenup is signed under duress, contains extremely unfair provisions, or otherwise does not meet the guidelines set forth in the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), it may not be legally enforceable. It is always a good idea to have an experienced family law attorney review any marital agreements to ensure that they are valid.

Spousal Maintenance May be Ordered by the Court

If a spouse requests spousal maintenance during divorce proceedings, the court will consider a wide range of factors to make spousal maintenance determinations. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • How long the marriage lasted and the standard of living established in the marriage
  • The spouses’ age and health
  • The spouses’ property, income, and employability
  • Any impairment to the present or future earning capacity of the spouse pursuing maintenance caused by time spent as a homemaker or parent
  • The amount of time needed for the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire the training, education, and employment to become self-supporting

Spousal maintenance is most often temporary and designed to give a spouse time to become financially independent. However, in some situations, such as when a marriage lasted twenty years or more, maintenance payments may be permanent. Maintenance payments terminate when the recipient spouse remarries.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

There are many factors that influence whether or not a spouse will receive alimony. If you are planning to end your marriage and have spousal maintenance-related concerns, a qualified St. Charles family law attorney can help you understand your legal options. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen two people marry, many of their possessions change from “yours” and “mine” into “ours.” Couples may share a home, vehicles, property, bank accounts, and more. When a married couple gets divorced, deciding which spouse should retain which assets can be quite difficult. There are many factors that can complicate the already complex process of property division. If you are planning to divorce and need help with asset division, contact an experienced family law attorney.

Complex Assets

Illinois couples have the option to make their own decisions regarding the division of the marital estate. However, couples who disagree about asset division may require court intervention. If a couple owns complex or high-value assets, it is likely that the process of property division will be much more involved. Assets which can complicate the property division process include but are not limited to:

  • Family businesses
  • Trusts
  • Stocks, bonds, and other investments
  • inheritances or gifts
  • Real estate
  • Pensions and 401ks
  • Deferred compensation
  • Royalties
  • Executive bonuses
  • Offshore accounts

Duration of Marriage and Age of Spouses

You may be surprised to learn that the divorce rate for people over 50 years of age has doubled since 1990. More and more older Americans are getting divorced. Many individuals over the age of 50 have accumulated a significant amount of money in a term life insurance, 401k plan, or retirement account. They may also be receiving Social Security benefits. The duration of a marriage can influence several aspects of divorce as well including asset division, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and more. When a marriage of 20 years or more ends, the process of untangling the spouses’ intertwined financial lives can be especially difficult.

Dissipated Assets

Property or funds which are wasted near the end of a marriage are referred to as “dissipated assets.” Examples of dissipated assets can include funds lost to gambling or drug addiction, money spent on a secret affair, and property which was destroyed by another spouse in an act of retaliation. In order to be considered dissipation, the frivolous spending must be “for the sole benefit of one spouse and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.” Furthermore, the spending must take place “when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Generally, an “irreconcilable breakdown” refers to the time when a couple stops making attempts at reconciliation. If you and your legal team can prove that your spouse dissipated significant assets, you may be given a larger share of the marital estate to compensate for the lost property or funds.

Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer

If you are getting divorced and have questions about property division, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. to get the answers you need. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorney by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

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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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