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DuPage County divorce attorneyWhen you get a divorce, there are dozens of things that you will have to do before the dissolution of your marriage is finalized. Many important issues must be settled, such as determining how you will divide your marital property and working out a parenting plan, and it is easy for some details to be forgotten or left on the back burner. Though your tax situation may not be at the forefront of your mind during the divorce, addressing it is important nonetheless. Here are three tax considerations that you should be sure to keep in mind.

Update Your Tax Filing Status

When you file your taxes each year, you will need to note your filing status, which influences the deductions you can claim and the income tax you may owe. Many married couples file their taxes as “married filing jointly,” but once you are divorced, you must revert to filing as “single” or “head of household” depending on your circumstances. However, your filing status will depend on when your divorce is actually finalized. The IRS considers you to be married for the entire year if your divorce was not finalized by December 31 of that tax year. On the other hand, you are considered to be divorced and unmarried for the entire year if your divorce is granted by December 31.

Determine Who Will Claim Dependents

If you and your spouse filed a joint tax return in the past, you may have both benefited from being able to claim your children as dependents. However, when you are divorced and file separate tax returns, only one parent can claim each child. You and your spouse will have to determine who claims each child and how the tax benefits may affect your allocation of property.

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Naperville IL family law attorneyIn today’s world, most divorces are settled in some sort of amicable fashion. As the understanding of family, child, and adolescent psychology has evolved in the past couple of decades, family courts have increasingly advocated for couples to settle their issues in agreement with one another, which can lessen the burden on everyone. Unfortunately, however, not everyone is able to do this. Some couples end up in contentious situations that breed resentment that follows them into their post-divorce life.

Child-related issues such as parenting time and parental responsibilities are very emotionally driven topics that are often the cause of disputes after the divorce is final. Sometimes, a parent can take a dispute to the extreme and begin to interfere with the court-ordered parenting plan, which causes even more stress for the family.

Creating a Parenting Plan With Court Intervention

When you get a divorce as a parent in Illinois, one of the things you are required to do prior to finalizing the split is submit a parenting plan to the court. A typical parenting plan contains detailed information about how you and your spouse will parent your child from this point forward. This information will include things such as how parental responsibilities will be allocated to each of you and how parenting time will be distributed. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your parenting agreement, the court will intervene and make the final determination, though this can leave some parents unhappy with the court’s decision.

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Naperville IL divorce lawyerDivorce can be a particularly expensive legal endeavor, especially for couples who already have complicated finances. When a couple or one of the spouses is struggling with debt, the costs of divorce can be incredibly difficult to bear. Many people benefit from pursuing debt relief through bankruptcy around the time of their divorce, but if this is something you are considering, you should understand how the timing of your filings can affect your finances and the divorce process.

Timing Your Divorce and Bankruptcy Filings

Some couples choose to file for bankruptcy together before beginning the divorce process. One benefit of doing so is the ability to share bankruptcy fees and costs with your spouse. Filing for bankruptcy before divorce can also help to simplify the division of marital assets and debts, especially in the case of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, through which certain assets are liquidated in exchange for the discharge of debt. Having a more clear understanding of where your finances will stand after bankruptcy can lead to a more equitable distribution.

However, there are situations in which waiting to file for bankruptcy individually after the divorce is a better option. For example, if a spouse has mostly non-marital debt, it is likely in the other spouse’s best interest to stay out of the bankruptcy process. Filing for bankruptcy separately may also be necessary to ensure that each spouse qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy according to the terms of the means test. Alternatively, if you are interested in pursuing Chapter 13 bankruptcy so that you can retain more of your assets, it may be best to wait until after the divorce, as this process can last for between three and five years.

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Naperville IL parenting time attorneyAfter the divorce process has been initiated, one of the most difficult things for parents to adjust to is the change in their parenting schedules. Instead of seeing and spending time with your child every day, you might only be spending a few days with your child each week. For many parents, this can feel as if they never get to spend enough time with their children. One option that can help a divorced parent spend more time with their children is including a clause known as the right of first refusal in the parenting agreement. An Illinois family law attorney can help you draft a parenting plan that includes this provision.

What is the Right of First Refusal in a Parenting Plan?

The right of first refusal means that when one parent is unable to take care of the child during their scheduled parenting time, they are to first check with the other parent to see if they would like to care for the child before making alternative child care arrangements. The idea behind this is to allow both parents to spend as much time with their children as possible rather than resorting to another option, and in some cases, it may even help parents save on child care costs.

Awarding the Right of First Refusal

As with the parenting time schedule, it is preferred if the parents can agree to a plan for the right of first refusal between themselves. However, if the parents are unable to do so, the judge will determine whether or not awarding the right of first refusal to one or both parents would be in the child’s best interest. To make this determination, the judge would use the same criteria that are used when making decisions on parenting time.

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Naperville IL family law attorneyIn many divorces, the most contentious issues tend to be those involving the children. Both parents are usually concerned with protecting their rights, and it is not uncommon for parents to disagree on issues such as the allocation of parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Even after the dust has settled, these disagreements can be dragged up again and get even more heated when one of the parents requests a modification to the parenting plan because of their intention to relocate with the children. If you are opposed to your former spouse’s relocation, you may have options to prevent it from happening.

Prior Notice of Relocation Must Be Provided

If your ex-spouse wants to move from their current residence to a new residence and take your children with them, they are not always able to do so without your permission. In some cases, a parent’s move is considered a relocation, which requires certain prior documentation and notice to the other parent before the relocation can take place. A notice must be provided to you prior to the relocation if the other parent’s new residence will be:

  • More than 25 miles away from the child’s current residence in Lake, Will, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, or Cook Counties.

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Naperville IL marital property division attorneyGetting a divorce often makes people feel like they are diving into the great unknown. From the moment you and your spouse make the decision to split up, there are many changes that should be anticipated. Some of the biggest changes that take place during a divorce have to do with your finances and how your assets are distributed. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that each spouse is supposed to get an equitable share of the marital estate, which may not always work out to be an equal share. However, when it comes to certain assets, such as those obtained through an inheritance or family wealth, property division can become tricky because each situation is different from the next.

Determining Your Marital and Non-Marital Property

Prior to actually dividing any of your property, your attorney will want to determine which of your properties are marital assets and which are non-marital assets.  According to the IMDMA, in general, any asset acquired by either spouse prior to the marriage is considered to be non-marital property that is not subject to division during a divorce. Any asset that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered to be marital property, which is subject to division during a divorce. There are a few exceptions to the marital property rule, however. Assets that are obtained during a marriage can be considered non-marital property if the asset:

  • Was given as a gift, acquired by legacy or descent, or acquired in exchange for such property

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DuPage County divorce attorneyDivorce is no doubt one of the most stressful things a person can experience in their lifetime. Even for adults, coping with the stress of a divorce can be difficult, but for a child, it can be nightmarish. Children are not nearly as developed as adults are in any sense, whether that be emotionally, physically, or mentally. As such, children tend to have a much more difficult time coping and dealing with the impact of the divorce than their parents, especially if the divorce is particularly contentious. For many parents, the well-being of their children is the most important thing and at the top of their list of concerns, and if they are struggling to cope with your divorce, it may be beneficial for them to talk to a family therapist.

Signs That Your Children Are Struggling to Cope

Here are a few signs that may indicate that your children need help:

  • Frequent Outbursts or Displays of Aggression: Children are still learning important skills, like emotional control and regulation. Some children may express their strong emotions by lashing out in anger, throwing tantrums, being disobedient, or otherwise acting completely out of character.

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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

People get divorced for every kind of reason under the sun, from basic incompatibility to simply wanting different things in life. Many times, these reasons for a divorce stem from a basic inability of the couple to effectively communicate and cooperate with one another. Just as this spelled trouble during the marriage, this can also spell trouble during the divorce. Divorcing with children can be especially complicated as child-related issues tend to be very emotionally fueled, but they must be settled before the divorce can be finalized. Illinois courts urge parents to come to an agreement about parenting time and decision-making responsibilities on their own or with the help of a mediator. However, if that is unsuccessful or would be detrimental to the well-being of the family, the case must be brought before a judge.

Understanding Child Custody Evaluations

If you and your spouse appear before a judge without a consensus as to what your parenting plan agreement is, the judge will most likely order a custody evaluation to take place before any further decisions are made. If the court orders a custody evaluation to take place, the evaluator is then hired, which is typically a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. The evaluator’s job is to study and record the interactions between the child and each of his or her parents, siblings, and any other relevant family or household members.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

Ending a relationship with a spouse who has a tendency for conflict can feel like you are finally able to relax for the first time in a long time. If you have children, however, your time with your ex-spouse is far from over. Some couples are able to remain calm and civil after the divorce and successfully co-parent their children, while other couples struggle to keep discussions from escalating to full-blown arguments. Studies have shown that the single factor that affects children the most by causing distress is the conflict between parents. If you and your ex do not seem to see eye-to-eye on issues, a parallel parenting plan may be a more suitable solution for your family.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

In cases involving co-parents who exhibit high-conflict qualities, a traditional co-parenting agreement may not be in everyone’s best interest. Parallel parenting is an alternative form of parenting and allows high-conflict spouses to disengage from one another and have little direct contact. Often, this means the contact is only through written means, such as text or email, with no face-to-face or phone conversations. This allows there to be as little conflict as possible while still allowing both parents to be active in their child’s life.

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Naperville divorce attorneyIf you have not previously been divorced, then you understandably do not know what the divorce process actually entails. Everything that you know about the divorce process probably comes from what you have heard from your friends, family members, coworkers, and other people who have talked about their experience with divorce. While it can be helpful to have support from loved ones, you should speak to an Illinois divorce lawyer for the truth about any topics that may be of concern to you. Here are a few common myths that still exist about divore and the truths behind those myths:

You Must State a Reason For Your Divorce

Just a couple of years ago, the state of Illinois changed its divorce laws immensely. One of those changes was removing the option of choosing fault or naming a reason for the divorce. Now, the only legal reason stated for getting a divorce is irreconcilable differences which caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. 

Property is Always Divided 50/50

This is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about divorce. The most logical thing would be for each spouse to receive half of the couple’s assets and debts, but that is not how it always works out. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that property is always divided in an equitable manner in Illinois. This means that a variety of factors are looked at when dividing property and one spouse may end up walking away with more assets or debts than the other.

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Naperville divorce lawyerSocial media has changed the way humans communicate and interact with one another. Although it has been around for decades, every day we learn more and more about the effect that social media can have on our lives, especially as it pertains to relationships. Many studies have pointed toward social media as a possible factor for unhappiness in marriages and other relationships and even a possible trigger for some divorces. What some people may not know is that just as social media may play a role in your marriage, it can also have an effect on your divorce. However, whether the digital platforms are helpful or destructive is up to you.

Social Media and Your Divorce

In many divorce cases, social media can impact the proceedings. The most common way social media is used in divorce cases is to provide evidence toward an assertion that you or your attorney may have regarding your spouse. A social media post, photo, video, or other content could be the proof that you need to show that your spouse is not being entirely truthful with the court.

For example, let us say you request spousal support because you were a stay-at-home parent for most of the marriage. You know that you cannot live on spousal support forever, but you can only find part-time employment while you go back to school and finish your degree. Your spouse claims that he or she does not make enough money to pay for his or her own living expenses, along with spousal support and child support and that doing so would place a financial burden on him or her. However, you were scrolling through Instagram one day and saw your spouse had multiple posts about his or her recent beach trip to Mexico—a trip you knew nothing about.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerFor many people, having a child and starting a family is a life goal. Having children can be extremely fulfilling, but they do not need to be taken care of forever. Eventually, children grow up and head off to college or move out of the home. During this time, many parents develop feelings of loss and emptiness. These feelings have been named “empty nest syndrome,” and they can lead to a great deal of stress for many parents that can affect their marriages. It is not uncommon for couples to have marital issues after their children have left the home. In some cases, the issues in the marriage could lead to a divorce.

What Is Empty Nest Syndrome?

If you have children, you have spent years, even decades, dedicating yourself to them. You took care of them while they were babies, helped them through the tough adolescent years, and guided them through heartbreak and other difficulties as teenagers. Now, they are ready to leave the home and explore the world. You are left behind, with the same home, same life, and same spouse, and you may struggle to adjust to your children being gone. The feeling of loss and emptiness that you may experience is known as empty nest syndrome.

Dealing With Empty Nest Syndrome

When your last child has left the home, you may begin to focus more on your spouse, for better or for worse. In some cases, there may have been issues present throughout the marriage that you never had time to address. Now that you have the time, the issues can seem even more intense and problematic. You and your spouse may have grown apart during the years of your marriage, focusing all of your time on your children and not enough time on each other. In this type of situation, you may feel as if you do not even know who your spouse is anymore. Feeling the effects of empty nest syndrome does not have to result in divorce, but it can often highlight issues that are already present in your marriage. If you are unable to resolve these issues, divorce may ultimately be your best option.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerWhen a couple decides they are getting a divorce, it is not uncommon for one spouse to willingly move out of the home. While this makes the most sense for many couples, it can also raise concerns for some. How can you make sure your spouse is still contributing to household expenses? How do you make sure your children still see their other parent? When this happens, you have two options: come to an agreement about how expenses and child custody will be handled for the time being or go to court to ask for a temporary order to protect yourself and your family.

If you are able to, coming to an agreement with your spouse about how these things will be handled during the divorce process is usually favorable. In some situations, however, this is not feasible. In these cases, your best bet may be to get temporary court orders that you and your spouse must abide by. Temporary orders can help you address some of your immediate concerns while your divorce is going on, and they will last until your divorce is finalized. Here are a few issues you can petition the court to decide using temporary orders:

  • Possession of the Marital Home: If one spouse petitions to have exclusive possession of the marital home during the divorce process, you must attend a hearing in which the judge will determine whether or not this is in the best interests of the family. Usually, exclusive possession is awarded if the well-being of a person or their children may be compromised if both spouses continue to live in the home.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerAccording to statistics from the National Survey of Family Growth, around 22% of all marriages end within the first five years, and an estimated 53% of marriages dissolve by the 20-year mark. With these statistics in mind, it is not surprising that divorce is common for Americans. Getting a divorce has been said to be one of the most stressful life events, second only to the death of a loved one. One of the ways you can help alleviate some of this stress is by effectively preparing for the end of your marriage. Here are a few tips to help you get your affairs in order before you begin your divorce:

Get a Clear Picture of Your Finances

First, you should have full knowledge of your financial situation. It is not uncommon for one spouse to be more in tune with the family's finances than the other. However, it is important to be in the loop when it comes to your income, assets, expenses, and other financial matters, since everything will be divided in the end. Make a list of all of your marital assets and debts so you can figure out what you actually own and owe. Next, make a preliminary budget for what you need to live off of after the divorce is said and done. This will help you figure out what you should fight for during the asset division process and whether you might be eligible to receive spousal maintenance.

Talk With Your Children

If you have children, you are probably worried about how your divorce will affect them. Many parents are hesitant about getting a divorce, because they do not want to hurt their children. However, ending a marriage that is full of conflict and arguments can often be the best thing for your kids. Studies have shown that children who have divorced parents often have fewer emotional issues than those whose parents stayed together but were unhappy with each other. If you have children, the first step to a healthy transition period is to talk to them about the divorce and explain to them what is happening. You might be surprised at how much they understand, and they may even have a positive opinion about the upcoming changes to their lives.

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Naperville spousal maintenance attorneyThere is no guarantee that either spouse will receive spousal maintenance in an Illinois divorce. Though 40 or 50 years ago, spousal support or alimony was rather common in divorces, today it is more of an exception to the rule, rather than the rule itself. There are a few situations in which you might receive spousal maintenance. Your case might involve spousal maintenance if you and your spouse have a significant difference in income or if one of you sacrificed your career to stay home and raise the kids or take care of family responsibilities. Whatever the case, there is a formula used to determine the amount of maintenance to be paid in Illinois.

How to Calculate Spousal Maintenance

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) specifies the formula that is used to determine how much spousal maintenance is to be paid and how long those payments will last. The formula contained in the act applies to couples whose combined gross annual income is less than $500,000. Anything more than that, and the court can use its discretion to determine an appropriate amount of maintenance.

Currently, spousal maintenance is calculated by taking 33.3 percent of the payor’s net annual income and subtracting 25 percent of the payee’s net annual income. The result of that calculation is the annual amount of spousal maintenance that must be paid. To determine the monthly payment amount, the annual spousal maintenance amount is divided by 12. It is also important to note that the payee's net annual income and the amount of maintenance, when added together, cannot be higher than 40% of the couple's combined net annual income.

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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 asset division attorneyIf you own a business or professional practice, chances are that is one of your most valuable assets. It takes endless work and a lot of dedication to grow a business and have it become successful. The last thing you want is to have half of it taken away when you get a divorce. Everything you and your spouse have together must be divided before you can finalize your divorce -- and that can include businesses and professional practices. Do not worry -- there are things you can do to make sure your business remains in your possession. Here are five ways you can protect your business during your divorce:

1. Get a Fair Valuation

The first step you should take before you begin dividing up your assets is to get a valuation of your business, so you know what it is worth. Instead of estimating what your business is worth, you may opt to use a court-appointed evaluator who will look at multiple facets of your business to arrive at a valuation. Such aspects include your business records, the business’ goodwill, and business competition. Then, you can hire an outside professional to review the numbers just to make sure everything is square.

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyerAny public activity is potential evidence in court proceedings, including your social media activity. Anything you choose to share or post can become a legally admitted court document in any court case, including your divorce. Although your short rant about your soon-to-be ex-spouse was temporarily stress-relieving -- not to mention the complete validation you felt when your friends and family members supported you through likes, loves, and comments -- you are less likely to experience the same satisfaction when it comes back to haunt you in the courtroom.

Try These Tips at Home

It is ill-advised to avoid social media entirely. Not only is social media an excellent way to grow and maintain the ever-important support system, but it is also a free source of unlimited information. Be on the lookout for posts regarding you or your ex’s behavior, and enlist a trusted friend or family member to help. Immediately address anything that could be potentially damaging to your case. Simultaneously, anything that could help should be brought to the attention of your attorney immediately. Here are some ways you should use social media to your advantage:

  • Watch what your friends and family say about you;
  • Make yourself look good by boosting your personality and good deeds;
  • Grow your emotional support team;
  • Post with caution; and
  • Gather information in your favor.

Avoid These Damaging Behaviors

First and foremost, whatever you do decide to post, leave it be. If you are caught deleting photos -- even if you later decide you did not like the way you look --  it can be depicted as removing evidence, an offense which can result in hefty fines for both you and your attorney. Not only that, but judges often assume that you are actively hiding negative details about yourself. Their assumption is legal and is known as adverse inference. Therefore, if there are pictures and messages, leave them there, but be extremely cautious about what you post. It is best to avoid these shares:

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