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Wheaton divorce lawyerFor many Americans, March was the last month that had any sort of normalcy to it. As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, it hit the United States especially hard, with the number of confirmed cases topping five million in recent days. The pandemic is responsible for closing thousands of non-essential businesses and forcing many others to conduct business remotely or work from home. This was true even for government operations, such as business conducted at the DuPage County courthouse. For those who are in the middle of the divorce process or are thinking about beginning the process of getting a divorce, the biggest question running through your mind is likely, “Is a divorce even possible at this time?”

Changes to Court Procedures

Thankfully, the answer to that question is yes, it is still possible to get a divorce during the pandemic, though it may be a little different from what you thought your divorce would be like. Beginning on June 8, the DuPage County courthouse reopened for normal business hours, but with changed procedures to help implement social distancing guidelines and other policies to protect court staff, judges, attorneys, and visitors. These guidelines include:

  • Reducing the number of in-person court calls conducted on a given day and requiring some court calls to be conducted through remote means to reduce the number of people present inside of the courthouse;

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Wheaton divorce lawyerEvery divorce case will have its areas that cause disputes. For some couples, child-related issues will be the epicenter of most of the divorce conflict. For others, typically spouses who do not have children, the asset division process can be this source of contention. The asset division process can be long and confusing, especially since much of the process involves delving into your finances.

Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in some people, prompting them to do things that they normally would not do or things that they know they should not do. In a high-asset divorce, it is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to hide assets or otherwise keep his or her spouse from receiving a portion of the marital estate. This is where help from a forensic accountant can be beneficial.

Illinois Asset Division and Discovery

When it comes to the rules governing asset division, each state is different. The state of Illinois uses what is called an equitable distribution model. This, however, is not to be confused with equal distribution. Equitable distribution means that each spouse will receive a portion of the marital estate, that is deemed fair when all relevant circumstances are considered. Illinois courts urge couples to agree upon asset division themselves, but a court will divide assets if need be. If the court divides a couple’s marital assets, there is a chance that one spouse will receive a larger portion of the marital estate than the other spouse.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer“I want a divorce.” Those four words, small as they are, have the power to break a person’s heart or set him or her free—depending on who is saying them. When you have finally made the decision that you no longer want to be married to your spouse, it can feel like a sigh of relief. Telling your spouse about your decision, however, will likely be one of the most important, yet difficult conversations of both of your lives. The approach that you take when having this conversation could set the tone for the entire divorce and even though nobody wants to have this conversation, it is one that needs to take place. If you are thinking of separating from or divorcing your spouse, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure you mean what you say. You should not tell your spouse that you want a divorce unless you are certain that is actually what you want. If you are unsure of whether or not you are ready for a divorce, but you know that you are unhappy, you should talk to your spouse about why you are unhappy and how it can be fixed. Once you are fairly certain you would like to proceed with a separation or divorce, then it would be appropriate to bring it up.

  • Set the scene for the conversation. Talking to your spouse about your divorce will likely be one of the most complicated conversations of your life. You should do your best not to ambush your spouse with this conversation. If you can, plan a time and a place for you and your spouse to talk. Many times, talking in the privacy of your home is the most comfortable, but if you are scared for your safety, you may want to have the conversation in a public place, such as a coffee shop, or with a friend or family member nearby.

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Wheaton high asset divorce attorneyThe financial aspects of divorce can be an additional stressor for those in the process of ending their marriage. For some, this stress comes from worrying about the cost of divorce. But for couples who have money to spare, their extensive assets can actually be the root of the divorce anxiety. During divorce, couples who have a high net worth have a few different issues that many other couples typically do not have to worry about. If you are going through a high net worth divorce, here are a few mistakes you should try your best to avoid:

Concealing Assets From Your Spouse

Trying to hide assets from your spouse is not uncommon in high net worth divorces. This is possibly one of the worst mistakes you can make, because not only is it unfair, but it is illegal. During divorce negotiations, you are required to be completely truthful with your spouse and their attorney. If you do not fully disclose all aspects of your finances during the discovery process, including the income you earn, the assets you own, and the debts you owe, you could end up paying a lot more than what you would have originally, causing you to lose the assets you were trying to protect.

Forgetting About Tax Issues

Getting a divorce involves a lot of financial decisions that can affect you for the rest of your life. One thing you must keep in mind when making these decisions is how it will affect your taxes after the divorce papers are signed. With the many financial aspects of divorce, there are tax implications that can come up in the future. Issues such as spousal support can affect the amount of taxes that you pay, along with 401(k) distributions or selling certain assets.

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Naperville family law attorneyStarting a new life after divorce can be tough for everyone, but for children, the adjustment can be especially challenging. Kids are accustomed to having both parents constantly in their lives and any change can be difficult. They thrive off of stability and permanency, which is why co-parenting arrangements can sometimes be disruptive to children. One alternative solution to the traditional co-parenting structure is called a “nesting” plan. This type of plan does not work for every family situation, but it is an option worth considering.

What is a Nesting Plan?

A nesting plan is a type of alternative co-parenting arrangement in which the children remain in the family home and the parents take turns living in the home with them. This type of arrangement allows children to have minimal disruptions in their everyday lives and continue to live under the same roof at all times. Rather than requiring the children to pack up and move between two households, the parents take on that burden for the benefit of their children. 

Considerations for Nesting Plans

As with anything, there are pros and cons to a nesting plan. Many families believe this alternative arrangement is beneficial because it takes a more child-centered approach to co-parenting. The children remain in the family home longer and continue to see both parents within that home, just not at the same time. Nesting plans are typically temporary, but they provide a secure way for children to transition into life with two unmarried parents.

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DuPage County divorce attorneyDivorce is considered to be one of the most stressful life events you can experience, and almost 50% of married couples go through it. One of the factors that contributes to the stress of a divorce is the financial aspect. It has been estimated that divorces can cost anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to almost $100,000, depending on the couple’s situation. While getting a divorce is never free, there are certain things that you can do to help keep your divorce costs reasonable.

Come Prepared to Meetings With Your Attorney

While your attorney will play a crucial role in your divorce case, you want to make the best use of their time and avoid paying for unnecessary attorney's fees. In order to cut back on the amount of time spent in legal meetings, come to your appointments organized. If you know that you will be meeting to discuss property division, make sure you come prepared with a list of your marital assets and debts and any other relevant financial documents that may be useful to your attorney.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

Nobody ever gets everything that they want in a divorce. It is important for you to have a realistic idea of what is and is not possible when it comes to a divorce settlement. The most expensive divorces are those that go to trial because the spouses cannot reach a settlement outside of court. It is important to know when to compromise to save you time and money.

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DuPage County parental relocation lawyerFor some, relocation can be a necessary step after divorce. There are many reasons why divorcees would want to move after the divorce is finalized. Some wish to be closer to family members, while others move for a new job. Regardless of the reason, a parent must have primary or equal custody of the child in order to submit a relocation request. In Illinois, relocation includes any move that is at least 25 miles from the child’s current home for those that live in Will, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or McHenry County or moves outside of Illinois state borders. If the child lives in a different county than those listed above, relocation boundaries increase to 50 miles from the current residence to any other part of Illinois. Moving with your child can be stressful, especially if your ex-spouse does not approve of the relocation.

Notice of Relocation

Before you are able to do anything, you must provide your former spouse with notice that you intend to relocate with your child. In the notice, you must include the date of your intended relocation, your new address, and whether or not the relocation is permanent. If the other parent signs the notice, it can be filed with the clerk of the circuit court, and if the judge agrees that the proposed move is in the child's best interests, the parenting plan will be modified. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the parent seeking to move must file a petition with the court requesting to relocate.

Deciding Factors

If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, they must take the issue to court. A judge will review the petition for relocation and the other parent's objections to the planned relocation to determine whether the move is in the child's best interests. When the judge is making the decision about the relocation, he or she will consider a variety of factors. These include:

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Naperville divorce attorneyDivorce is full of difficult situations. Even making the decision to get a divorce can seem impossible. Perhaps one of the hardest situations that you will have to deal with during your divorce is breaking the news to your children. Depending on your circumstances, your children may already suspect that something is awry. If there has been constant fighting in the house, your children are likely aware of the fact that you and your spouse are unhappy. There is no way to predict how your children will react to the news of a divorce; each child processes and copes with the news differently. Though this can be a difficult time for everyone, here are a few tips to help you tell your children that you and your spouse are getting divorced:

Act as a Team

This may be difficult for some couples, but telling the children about your decision as a team can make a world of difference. Even if the decision to divorce was not mutual, it is important that the children see that you and your spouse can still work together. After all, you will always have a common connection -- your children. 

Plan What You Will Say

This is one conversation that you do not want to make up as you go along. You and your spouse should sit down and plan out some talking points that you want to get across when you tell the kids that you are getting divorced. You both should be sure that your child understands that the divorce is not their fault, but rather a matter between you and your spouse. You should also remind your kids that you both love them very much, regardless of your marital state.

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Wheaton property division attorneyOne of the most difficult issues that all couples have to face when they get a divorce is determining how they will divide the marital property. Most people think that property division only pertains to assets such as the family home, vehicles, cash and other household items, but all of a couple’s property needs to be divided during a divorce -- including assets and debts that are not necessarily tangible. Property division tends to become more difficult the longer a couple has been married because couples that have been together for many years have typically accumulated more together.

Marital and Non-marital Property

Before you go to court, you must first determine which property is actually subject to division. In Illinois, all marital property is subject to division and non-marital property is not. Marital property is any property or debt that was acquired by either spouse after the marriage. All other property is considered to be non-marital property.

Factors Used in Making Determinations

If you and your spouse, along with each of your attorneys cannot come to an agreement about marital property, a judge will assign the property to each spouse as he or she sees fit. There are certain factors a judge must take into consideration before he or she assigns the property. These factors include:

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DuPage County Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage lawyerYou have had it up to your ears with your spouse, and your spouse is fed up with you. You both know that you want to end the marriage, but you both also know how stressful, long and drawn out divorces can become. You know you want something that is as quick and easy as possible. 

One option that you may have is to apply for a joint simplified dissolution of marriage. This type of divorce is expedited and can allow you and your spouse to complete a divorce much quicker than a traditional divorce. Importantly, there are certain requirements that couples must meet in order to qualify to use a joint simplified dissolution of marriage.

Requirements for a Simplified Divorce

Only certain couples qualify to file for a joint simplified divorce. According to Illinois law, the following requirements must be met before a couple can file for a simplified divorce:

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DuPage County divorce attorneyOne of the things that holds back many couples from divorcing is the children. Many parents worry and wonder what kind of effects the divorce would have on their children, even if they know that a divorce would be best for their personal wellbeing. In reality, many parents do not know that staying in an unhappy marriage can actually be more detrimental to a child’s wellbeing than divorce. Here are a few ways as to how staying in an unhappy marriage could harm your children:

Chronic Stress and Tension

If you are feeling the stress at home, then your children probably are too. Constant fighting or bickering can mean chronic tension in the home and that is not good for anyone. Your children will feel it and will feel uneasy in their own home.

Low Self-Esteem

Children absorb everything around them. When their surroundings are full of fighting and rejection, children tend to internalize that, which turns into low self-esteem. Constantly being at odds with your spouse can cause your child to feel uncertain and rejected.

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Naperville divorce coachIn divorce, sometimes the grief of the loss of a marriage is so overwhelming that clarity and rational thought are difficult to maintain. This period is frequently referred to as an “emotional roller coaster” because emotions run the gamut from sadness to anger and even moments of joy. Brains are unable to act rationally and irrationally simultaneously; therefore, when emotions run high, logic becomes potentially non-existent. Clients coping with a particularly stressful divorce often find relief after consulting with a divorce coach

What is a Divorce Coach?

A divorce coach is a mental health professional trained to assist you and your spouse find effective ways of communicating to nurture healthy discussions regarding children, finances, and other aspects of divorce. A divorce coach is not a therapist, but rather someone that asks questions that help overcome divorce roadblocks.

Although the term “divorce coach” is relatively new, divorcees around the country are singing the praises of the benefits that come with a divorce coach. These are consistently cited as the top three benefits of incorporating one into your divorce process:

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Wheaton divorce attorneyIt is no secret that money and finances are at the heart of many marital struggles. However, a recent study indicates that student loan debt is responsible for destroying a significant number of marriages. If these debts are to blame for a rift between you and your spouse, you are not alone. Fortunately, in marriage, you have a built-in partner to help you deal with the problem.

This article discusses both the statistics of student loan and divorce, as well as how you can avoid becoming part of this statistic:

An Unaffordable Necessity

In the generations before us, college and post-graduate education was an affordable addition to primary education; although, most high school graduates were able to find a stable career right out of school. Today, even entry-level positions may require some higher learning. Unfortunately, when demand increased for knowledge so did the cost. What once was an affordable option, is now an unaffordable necessity.

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Naperville divorce lawyer alimony taxesWhile no two divorces are identical, they all have one thing in common: they are complicated and stressful. Experts suggest that the only event more stressful than divorce is experiencing the death of a spouse or a child. Even if you and your spouse experience an amicable, mutual separation, and there are only minor disagreements, the process itself is made up of many legal facets that must be resolved before it can be finalized. From child-rearing to finances, the division of a marriage into two separate lives can become troublesome. As if that were not enough, some brand-new divorce laws become effective as of January 1, 2019.

If you are considering divorce now or in the future, these new laws may affect your situation:

Spousal Maintenance Will No Longer Be Tax Deductible

Before 2019, spouses ordered to pay spousal maintenance or alimony were given a substantial deduction during tax season. This deduction often eased the sting of a monthly payment. Experts believe that now, spouses may argue to pay less in alimony as a result.

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