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

Understanding Orders of Protection

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties for Violating an Order of Protection

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

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

Common Hiding Places

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

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

Seek Professional Help in St. Charles, IL

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

 

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

Who can receive money through a QDRO?

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

What should be included in a QDRO?

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

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

Can I get a QDRO after my divorce?

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

Obtaining a QDRO with the Help of a Kane County Attorney

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

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

Types of Separation

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

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

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

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

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

What Is Divorce Mediation?

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

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

Why Would I Choose Mediation Over Litigation?

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

Contact a Kane County Divorce Mediation Attorney for Help

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

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

How Should I Behave During the Divorce Process?

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

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

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

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

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Posted on in Divorce

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

Areas of Adjustment

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

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

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

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

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Posted on in Divorce

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

Dividing Debt when Going Through Divorce

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

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

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

Contact a Kane County Debt Allocation Attorney for Help

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

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IL divorce lawyerFamily vacations are a common occurrence in the summertime. Your children have time away from their academics and the beautiful weather typically motivates families to spend time away from their home state. Whether or not you and your family regularly took vacations, your summer will probably look different post-divorce. It is important to reflect on summer plans in light of your divorce with summer vacation beginning in a few weeks. Continue reading to help plan your summer and spend quality time with your children.

What You Need to Consider

  1. Financial Planning: For most families, money is set aside to pay for family vacations. The planning is done well in advance to avoid budget issues and travel restrictions. Family vacations after divorce will problem happen less frequently due to the supply of funding coming from a single income rather than two. If you would like to take a vacation, it would be advantageous to plan it out well in advance.

  2. Look at your Parenting Plan: You will now have to verify your plans with your former spouse if you share custody. Most parenting plans will have specified rules about which holidays are spent with which parent. The plans also have legal requirements on how much time must be spent with each parent. If you plan on taking your child for more than your usual time allotted, you will have to run this by your former spouse. This can typically be done without the intervention of an attorney depending on your relationship.

  3. Traditions May Be in the Past: Many families have the family tradition to go on one vacation every summer. This can be difficult to let go of but is not always feasible for divorcees. A good outlook on things is to end old traditions and start new ones. You may have to trade in your tradition vacation spot for a newer, more economical option. Not only will this be helpful for your wallet, but it can also feel like a fresh start for many parents.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney for Help

Family vacations may not be on your mind while you are involved in the divorce proceedings; however, this can be very important for some families. Discussing this with your spouse during the divorce process can help alleviate the stress once the paperwork is finalized. It can be helpful to divide holidays and vacations in the contract to avoid discussing this afterwards. If you are considering divorce and need assistance, contact our experienced St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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IL family lawyerUnhealthy and abusive relationships can be easy to spot from the outside but can become difficult to recognize when you find yourself in that situation. They say that love is blinding and this is often the case in relationships like these. A man or woman in a relationship gets used to their partner’s behavior and often gives them excuses in regards to their abusive tendencies. Statistically speaking, one in four women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Physical abuse is not the only form of abuse that takes place in relationships. Emotional and sexual abuse are often more common. Continue reading to learn about what is considered abuse and why victims of abuse stay in unhealthy relationships.

What Is Abuse?

Abuse can come in many forms and does not always have to be an act of violence. Consistently putting down your partner or making them feel less about themselves is a common form of emotional abuse that often gets brushed off. Many incorrectly believe that violence or assault is the only true form of abuse because there is physical evidence to look at. Manipulation is another common abuse tactic. This can be explained as your partner wanting to spend time with you; however, an unhealthy amount of time spent with your significant other is never a good idea for either person. This manipulation can be as simple as dictating who their partner’s friends can be or as complicated as threating suicide if their partner leaves them. Financial control is also an example. This is more common in marriages since your bank accounts are typically merged; however, it is not impossible in a dating relationship as well. A partner who makes all financial decisions without consulting their spouse can use this to their advantage. Having financial gain over another is an easy control tactic that can be used without the partner even recognizing it.

Common Reasons People Stay in Abusive Relationships

It can be difficult to understand why someone would stay in an abusive relationship when they have never been in one themselves. There are a variety of different reasons why partners stay.

  • Love: This is one of the most simple and common reasons why abusive relationships continue - love. It can be difficult to leave someone you love no matter how much they hurt you. Remembering the “good times” from the past can be strong enough to motivate individuals to keep trying to get them back.
  • Lack of Finances: Financial abuse is so successful because not having the money to be independent can force people to remain in their current situation. Many people do not see another option since they do not have the means to do so.
  • Normalizing Abuse: This is similar to the lack of recognition of abuse. Many partners do not realize how serious the abuse has become. They think abuse simply comes with all relationships.
  • Low Self-Esteem: The way a person sees themselves determines many of the decisions they make in life. Emotional abuse typically deteriorates an individual’s self-esteem over time. Their partner will plant the idea that they will never find anyone else causing them to stay out of fear of loneliness and low self-esteem.

Contact a Kane County Domestic Violence Attorney for Help

Finally leaving an abusive relationship often requires more steps than telling your partner “it’s over.” For those who are married, divorce is one of the best ways to ensure that you cut all ties with your former spouse. Orders of protection may also be necessary depending on the dangers of the situation. If you are considering divorce or need help filing for an order of protection, contact our St. Charles, IL domestic violence lawyers for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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Posted on in Divorce

IL family lawyerThere are a variety of different reasons why divorce happens, especially since one couple has a different dynamic than the next. The commonly known statistic for divorce is that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and many believe that this only applies to young couples. However, the baby boomer generation is seeking out divorce more than people realize. This is known as “gray divorce” and the number has doubled over the last 20 years. Regardless of the husband and wife’s ages, there are a few common denominators that often lead to divorce.

Getting married for the wrong reason. Often times those who decide to get divorced realize that they should not have gotten married in the first place. This can be for a variety of reasons such as social pressure to get married, feeling obligated to tie the knot after having a child together, or getting caught up in the romance. The desire to divorce is often mutual by both parties in these sorts of situations.

  • Infidelity. Cheating on a spouse can break even the strongest of relationships. Infidelity breeds distrust and can make people feel inadequate. This is often caused by intimacy issues, which is more important than many people realize. Divorces due to infidelity are highly common even though some couples try to stay together after affairs have occurred.
  • Loss of Identity. It is a well-known fact that when couples have been together for an extended period of time, they become somewhat dependent on each other, They get used to having the other around and it can feel odd if things change. Although relying on another is common, it can also become unhealthy. Those who spend too much time with their partner can feel as if they are no longer an individual. Many will choose divorce as a way to gain back their independence.
  • Constant Conflict. Being unhappy in your relationship is the basis for divorce and arguing is often at the root of this unhappiness. Marriage is a difficult commitment to maintain, especially since you live together and share everything. An excessive amount of conflict can also make it difficult to have the motivation to talk through your differences.
  • Financial Burdens. Monetary stress can make a perfect relationship break into pieces. Financial problems can be difficult to fix because it often takes time to do so. This can become an even larger conflict if one spouse works and the other does not. The working spouse can feel as if the pressure is only on their shoulders and may blame their partner for that stress.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney for Help

Regardless of the reason for wanting a divorce, it is important to seek out an experienced attorney for assistance. At Shaw Family Law, we handle a variety of different situations. If you are considering divorce, contact a Kane County divorce attorney at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

 

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IL family lawyer Getting a divorce affects every aspect of an individual’s life. One has to readjust their living situation, parenting schedule, and finances. Most couples have their finances intertwined, especially in terms of insurance policies. Sometimes this is because only one individual has a job; however, often times couples will use one person’s insurance policy over the other based on the benefits that job provides them with. Although jobs usually provide some sort of insurance policy, this is not always the case. Some couples seek out insurance policies of their own but still remain tied to their spouse. Continue reading to learn how your impending divorce will affect your various insurance plans.

Life Insurance

Filing for divorce can unlink you and your former spouse’s life insurance plan; however, some divorce agreements require ex-spouses to be beneficiaries. This is common if children are involved. By naming your ex-spouse as the beneficiary, you will have a “backup plan” for your children. This is often done by the spouse who is paying alimony. In case of an emergency, the life insurance will become a safety net for your children and continue providing alimony payments if one can no longer pay them.

Health Insurance

Remaining a beneficiary on your ex-spouse’s health insurance plan is not possible after the divorce papers are signed if their health insurance plan is provided by their employer. Most divorcees will utilize their own employer’s health insurance plan if they have not already. For those whose employer does not provide coverage, they will need to seek out health insurance themselves. One can stay with the same health insurance provider as long as they seek out their own plan.

Car Insurance

Many people fail to remember that their car insurance will also be affected by their marriage’s termination. After the cars have been divided between the two of you, each person should contact their insurer to let them know about the divorce. Each party will be removed from the other’s insurance plan. If you decide to find a new insurance provider, looking at various providers is important. Married couples often get breaks in pricing; however, the same is not usually true of divorcees.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer for Legal Help

Divorce is a complicated process, especially in terms of finances and insurance plans. Our attorneys understand that insurance policy changes can be difficult to understand, particularly when major life changes are happening. If you are considering divorce, contact our Kane County divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 to help you through the process.

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