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DuPage County divorce attorneysMarried couples dream of retiring and enjoying their golden years together, but with the high rate of divorce these days, this dream is not always realized. In fact, divorce in retirement has become extremely common - so much so that it has even developed a name. Dubbed the gray divorce, retirement in your senior years can significantly impact your future. Learn how to prepare and mitigate the effects with help from the following sections. 

How Divorce Can Negatively Impact Your Retirement 

Divorce can be a costly endeavor, in and of itself, but its effect is often amplified when it occurs during or shortly before retirement. Much of this can be attributed to the division of assets and the lack of earning years left for the divorcing parties. Younger couples have time to rebuild their retirement; this may not be true for those approaching retirement or currently retired. Yet, like all other divorcing couples, their assets must be equitably distributed between the divorcing parties. 

Mitigating the Consequences of Divorce During Retirement 

Parties divorcing during or shortly before their retirement can mitigate the potential financial consequences with effective planning and preparation. The first step is to take an inventory of one’s income and expenses. Account for things like housing, utilities, food, and personal items. Then consider if any expenses can be cut, such as subscription services or luxury items. Next, determine if there may be any untapped resources. An example might be your spouse’s social security, which you may be eligible to collect, even after your divorce. 

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Illinois family law attorneysIn a divorce, the safety and well-being of children are prioritized by the courts. As such, accusations of abuse and parental alienation are treated as serious matters. Learn how abuse and alienation claims are handled by the family courts, how it may impact your parental rights, and what you can do to improve your chances of a positive outcome in your Illinois divorce

Immediate Effects of Abuse and Alienation Claims 

Once a claim of abuse or alienation is made, your rights may be immediately impacted. You could be subject to supervised visitation, meaning you cannot see or spend time with your children unless another adult or court-appointed supervisor is present. Depending on the situation, you may even be restricted from speaking with your child over the phone. 

Though claims may be unfounded, the courts require that an investigation take place before your rights can be fully returned to you. Typically, this means you will need to speak with a social worker or your child’s Guardian Ad Litem. They may also speak to your child’s friends, neighbors, teachers, and other persons of interest in your child’s life. 

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Illinois child support attorneysRaising a child takes financial resources, so when you are ordered to pay child support, is important that you fulfill your financial obligation. Unfortunately, life can get in the way. People get injured or laid off from their jobs. Health complications can make it difficult to maintain gainful employment. If any of these (or any other scenarios) apply to your situation, there may be options available to you. Learn more with help from the following information. 

Defaulting is Never an Option

Parents who fall behind on their child support payments sometimes avoid asking for help because they fear it will only increase their overall costs. Yet, if changes to their order for support are not made, the obligated parent may fall far enough behind on their payments to warrant disciplinary action from the state. Such consequences may include:

  • Jail time,
  • Cancellation of one’s driver’s license,
  • Cancellation of a professional license,
  • Wage garnishments,
  • Seizure of tax refunds,
  • Damage to one’s credit,
  • Property liens, and
  • Felony charges. 

All of these consequences can be avoided, so long as immediate action is taken when the parent can no longer meet their court-ordered obligation.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce has seen a lot of changes since its peak in the United States. Whereas courts used to almost always award custody to the mother, with fathers being afforded very few rights, the system now recognizes that children need and deserve the love and support of both parents. Developmental and behavioral studies on children have been integral to these changes, but parents themselves have helped to pave the way as well. 

Divorcing Parents Have Created a New Trend 

While some divorce cases involving children remain acrimonious, the majority of parents recognize that their child is extremely vulnerable to behavioral and emotional trauma during parental separation. Moreover, parents are becoming more knowledgable about the negative effects that a bitter divorce can have on the future and overall development of their child. As a result, many are intentional about the way they conduct themselves during the divorce process. 

Those who struggle to get along often seek out legal support. Parents have also worked to come up with ways to minimize strife and conflict in their divorce cases (i.e. communicating through text or email and minimizing conversations over the phone and in-person). They avoid saying negative things about the other parent in the presence of their child, and they foster a healthy and continued relationship between their child and their former spouse. As a result, divorcing parents are paving the way for a better future for their kids. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyersFrom an attorney’s perspective, divorce is primarily a financial transaction. Yet, for the parties separating, divorce is far more than just a division of assets; it is an emotional endeavor. Grief, an emergence of buried emotions, and even feelings of doubt and regret can surface. 

Some fall into depression at this time. Others experience intense anger. Parties leaving an abusive situation can also suffer from PTSD. In short, it is important to protect one’s mental health during a divorce. The following tips offer a few ideas on how to go about doing this. 

Allow Time for the Grieving Process

As previously mentioned, grief is exceptionally common during divorce. Rather than deny or bury it, allow grief to take its natural course. By avoiding it, you can end up doing yourself for harm than good. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysCouples nearing retirement often assume that they will stay together for the rest of their natural lives. Yet, with people living longer and healthier lives, many stop and evaluate their current situation as they move into their golden years. What some find is that they and their spouse have changed so much over the years that staying married no longer makes sense. 

How do you navigate such a massive financial and lifestyle change like a divorce without compromising your future? The following tips on navigating divorce during your retirement can help. 

Know How Divorce Will Affect Your Finances 

Divorce may be an emotional process, but it is the financial implications that tend to have the longest-lasting effect on one’s life. This statement is especially true for those heading into their retirement years. The following are just a few ways that divorce can affect your finances: 

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Illinois paternity attorneysWhen a child is born to unwed parents, the mother typically receives automatic rights at birth. The same cannot be said for unwed fathers. Instead, they must establish paternity in order to gain legal rights to the child. Learn more about this process in the following sections, including what it entails and what parental benefits you may receive. 

Establishing Paternity in Illinois 

Even when unwed parents reside together and plan to marry, fathers must acknowledge their paternal bond with the child to gain legal rights. While this added step may seem unfair and a hassle, the goal is to ensure that the obligation for financial support is assigned to the right person. 

Biological fathers who pursue this legal action can provide their child with certain financial benefits that can improve the child’s overall quality of life, including the right to receive:

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Illinois adoption lawyersAdoption can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for all involved, but it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. By going through this legal process, you are taking on all of the financial, medical, emotional, and developmental needs of the child. The following are five things you need to know and consider before embarking on your adoption journey.

1. You Need Stability, Not Perfection

Families considering adoption often allow themselves to become overwhelmed with all the tasks and changes involved. They may also become nervous about their shortcomings during the interview or home study process. Rest assured that you do not need to be perfect to complete an adoption. You are not required to have a “traditional” household. All you really need is to prove that you can provide a stable, loving environment for a child and that you will do everything possible to ensure the child’s needs are met.

2. Adoption is a Life-Long Journey

While the legal adoption process only lasts for a short time, adoption itself is a life-long journey. For the rest of your life, you will be a parent. You and your child may also face serious challenges, such as questions about a birth parent or feelings of sadness when you tell them about the adoption. It is often beneficial when adoptive parents consider the journey and how they may face the challenges, prior to completing the process.

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DuPage County parenting time lawyersAs more families work toward amicable splits, the rate of full joint custody has increased. In addition, there are studies that highlight the potential benefits of a near equal time split between parents. Unfortunately, communication between divorcing parties can be stressful, even when both are focused on the well-being and best interests of their children. Gain some helpful tips for minimizing issues (and unnecessary stress) in your joint custody plan in the following sections.

1. Find a Way to Communicate Effectively

Managing a kid’s schedule is difficult enough when working out of one home. Split the bills and responsibilities and things can get downright confusing. Effective communication is the key to reducing stressors while managing schedules during a divorce. You can also incorporate online applications, such as shared family calendars.

2. Be Mindful of Your Ex’s Schedule

Even when things are tense between you and your spouse, you will want to try and be as mindful of their schedule as possible. Show up on time for pick-ups and drop-offs. If an occasional change of plans occurs, be as flexible as possible. In short, focus on being as mindful of your spouse’s schedule as you want them to be of yours.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerDivorce can impact every facet of your life—including your business and financial stability. Thankfully, there are a few key strategies that you can employ to minimize the risks to your business operations while also reducing the chances of it affecting your employees. Learn more about them in the following sections.

1. Keep Business and Your Personal Life Separate

It is not uncommon for married couples to co-own their family business. Even when one party is not directly involved in the day-to-day operations, they may hold shares in the company. In either case, both parties need to mindfully separate business from their personal life.

Conduct yourself professionally whenever you are at the company or conducting business, and stay away from marital matters whenever talking about business operations. Remember: the well-being of your employees and the future stability of your company could be on the line.

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Posted on in Adoption

Wheaton stepparent adoptionAs a stepparent, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child you love. You are yet another source of support, love, and guidance. Still, the role of a stepparent can be difficult to navigate because you do not have the same authority as a biological parent. Thankfully, there are ways to bond and connect with your stepchild, without undermining either of the child’s biological parents. Learn more in the following sections. 

Offer Patience and Mindfulness During the Transition

Entering a family with two active and involved biological parents can be difficult—for both you and the child. As such, it is best if you approach the process slowly, with patience and mindfulness. Avoid high expectations, expensive gifts, and drawn-out family meals or activities. Focus instead on making each interaction short but positive. 

Recognize the Child May Need Time to Grieve 

Divorce and separation can have a massive impact on the development of a child. Many experience a grieving period. Be mindful of this, and allow them the room to process the changes within their family before expecting much of a bond with them. 

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DuPage County parenting time lawyersBack-to-school can be a fun and exciting time for families, but for couples in the midst of a divorce, communication is critical to avoiding arguments. Learn how you and your spouse can foster a positive co-parenting experience during this hectic period with help from the following. 

Get on the Same Page (or as Close as Possible)

When it comes to educational goals, parents need to be on the same page—or at least as close as possible. Common areas of contention involve debates over private versus public school, the district in which the child should attend school, and whether extracurricular activities will be covered by child support, or if each parent will contribute to the cost of their own volition. 

Remember, at the end of the day, what you and your spouse really want is to provide the best possible education for your child, at a cost that each of you can reasonably afford. Also, keep in mind that you may spend a great deal of time, negotiating an arrangement that works for all involved parties. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce can make a massive impact on your life, especially when it comes to financial matters. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate the risks. Learn more about managing your finances while pursuing an Illinois divorce in the following sections. 

Create a Pre- and Post-Divorce Budget 

Divorcing parties are often aware that a new budget is necessary. One budget may not be adequate, however. You may need both a pre- and post-divorce budget. The first (your pre-divorce budget) addresses how you and your spouse will handle any joint accounts in the months leading up to the divorce, along with your own personal financial responsibilities. The latter (the post-divorce budget) focuses on how you will manage your financial obligations once the divorce has been finalized. 

Consider Paying Down Debt Before the Divorce 

While it may be tempting to wait to pay down your debt until after receiving your divorce settlement, such a plan can create unnecessary financial risks for you once the divorce has been finalized. Interest rates may increase the amount owed. Accounts may be sent to collection agencies, which can hurt your credit. Lastly, your settlement amount may not be enough to cover any overdue balances. Alternatively, by using the settlement to cover the debt, rather than forge a new future, you could increase your risk of long-term financial issues. To avoid such an issue, consider paying down your debt before filing for divorce. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysPeople often see kids as resilient, but the truth is, they are no different from other people. They may struggle to cope with difficult situations. Such is often the case in a divorce. Determine if your child may need therapy to cope with your separation by looking for the following signs. 

Difficulty in School and Social Life 

Children who are depressed and out of sorts may find it difficult to concentrate in school, or they may begin to lose interest in their social life. Watch for slipping grades, poor behavior, and an overall disinterest in social activities. They may also avoid their friends. Alternatively, your child’s social circle may begin to change; they may start to hang out with delinquents or kids who drink and do drugs. A chance to talk about their feelings may help to improve the situation, but if you are concerned about your child’s safety or future, it may be time to seek professional help. 

Regression and Behavioral Issues at Home

When children go through a difficult or traumatic event, they may display regressive behaviors, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting. Alternatively, your child may start acting out at home. Some become aggressive and lash out at their parents or siblings. Others may steal, lie, or attempt to manipulate. Most of the time, these behaviors will subside with time, but if they are severe or persist, you may need to seek counseling for your child. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce requires you to make multiple life-changing decisions. One of the first determinations is deciding when to tell your spouse that you wish to end the marriage. Time it poorly and you could compromise the outcome of your case. Wait too long and your spouse may become resentful, which can make negotiations more difficult. Time it just right using these guidelines. 

When You Anticipate a Simple Divorce 

In a simple divorce, there are very few issues to argue about during proceedings. Marital assets are either clearly defined or minimal. There are no involved children. Issues that cause distrust, such as asset hiding are non-existent. Timing in these divorce cases are less critical than in other situations, but you should still wait to tell your spouse about the divorce until speaking with an attorney. Even the simplest of divorces can become contentious under the right circumstances. Your attorney can help you avoid some of those potential pitfalls before they ever occur, increasing the chances that your case will remain simple. 

When You Feel Distrust Toward Your Spouse 

Asset hiding, lying, and infidelity can erode trust in a marriage. In a divorce, they can become catalysts for highly toxic situations. As such, it is highly recommended that you do not tell your spouse about the divorce until instructed to do so by your lawyer. That may even mean waiting until you have moved out and the paperwork has been filed. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersDivorce consultations are designed to help you take the next step in your case. They are also meant to ensure you pick the “right” lawyer for the job. Avoid the possibility of an ill-fitting divorce attorney by asking these five questions during your initial divorce consultation. 

#1 - Who Will Work on My Case? 

The person you meet during your consultation may not be the one assigned to your case. Some attorneys work in teams. Others hand off a portion of their cases to a paralegal. Seeing that communication during your case is critical and you will spend months working with this person or team, it is important that you meet everyone involved before proceeding. Determine what role each person plays, know who will be with you during each phase of the divorce process, and ask about each person’s experience and commitments. 

#2 - Do You Have Time for My Case?

Like most people, attorneys can over-commit themselves. If that happens, your simple divorce or low-level case may be pushed to the back. Avoid this situation by asking your attorney if they have any high-profile cases on their docket. That way you know, upfront, whether he or she can provide you with the time and commitment that your case deserves. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersEven in the simplest, most straightforward of divorces, the division of assets can lead to contention. In those with complex assets, the stakes are inevitably raised. Ensure you get your fair share during your Illinois divorce by understanding how complex assets are divided. 

What Are Complex Assets? 

For most assets, the value is straightforward. As an example, consider the balance of your bank account. Its value does not change, based on circumstance or the market. Instead, it is a real asset; its value is the displayed amount. Complex assets work differently. Their value may be difficult to determine because the value is constantly changing, based on market trends or future value (stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, real estate, etc.). Other assets are based on obscure factors, such as buyer interest or individual appraisers (artwork, jewelry, collectibles, etc.). Needless to say, dividing assets like these can be difficult and complex. 

Determining Your “Fair Share” in an Illinois Divorce 

Illinois is considered an equitable distribution state, meaning each party gets a “fair share” of the marital assets. In mediation and other alternative dispute resolution situations, the parties negotiate and agree upon their shares. In court, a judge makes the decision. There is no “right” or “wrong.” Instead, there are parameters used to determine what a spouse may be owed in divorce. Some of these factors include the: 

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DuPage County family law attorneysFor most divorcing parents, the primary concern is the safety and well-being of their child. The weight of that concern increases even further when there is a family history of domestic violence. Thankfully, there are preventative measures that parents can take to protect their child from abuse during and after a divorce. Learn how to utilize them through your Illinois parenting plan, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton divorce attorneys can assist with the process. 

Domestic Violence and the Propensity for Child Abuse 

Spousal abuse is not a definitive predictor for child abuse, as some abusers will harm their intimate partners but do not their children. Domestic violence within the home is considered a risk factor for child abuse, however, because it indicates that the abuser has a propensity for violence. Victims are encouraged to watch for potential signs of abuse in their child and to take preventative measures to protect their child from the possibility of violence or abuse. 

Recognizing the Signs of Child Abuse 

Victims of domestic violence tend to be astutely aware of the signs of physical abuse, such as unexplained (or poor explanations for the causes of) bruising, scrapes, and broken bones, they may be less likely to notice the subtler psychological signs. Often, this is because the victim is still healing and does not recognize the ways that abuse has changed their own personality. As a reference, consider these non-physical signs of abuse to determine if your child is being victimized by your spouse: 

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Wheaton alimony attorneysAt the start of 2019, the federal government eliminated the 70-year-old tax deduction associated with alimony payments. For receiving spouses, it may seem beneficial to no longer have to claim alimony payments as income, but the change actually leaves less money for the entire family. That is because paying spouses, who remain at the same tax bracket, may need to decrease their support amount to balance out their financial obligations. Thankfully, there are some alternative strategies that families can use to preserve their wealth after a divorce. 

Trading Alimony Payments for a Transference of Retirement Funds 

Depending on the ages of the divorcing parties, a transference of retirement funds may be preferable to alimony payments. In this option, the paying spouse makes a tax-free exchange of money by directing some of their retirement funds to the lower-earning spouse. The receiving spouse may also withdraw from the amount without tax penalty, so long as they are age 59.5 or older. If the receiving party has not yet surpassed the age threshold, divorcing parties may want to consider another alternative, as the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty may outweigh any potential benefits for the family unit. 

Using a Trust Account in Lieu of Alimony Payments 

Another potentially viable alternative to alimony payments is the use of a trust account. The most commonly used versions are the CRT (charitable remainder trust), QTIP (Qualified Terminable Interest Trust), ILIT (Life Insurance Trust), and Alimony Trusts. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersOut of all the assets that a couple owns, the house tends to be the most valuable. It only makes sense for parties to struggle when deciding what to do with it while going through a divorce. Its ability to cause contention between the parties is also understandable, yet arguments can cloud judgment. Stop fighting and start considering the pros and cons of selling your home in a divorce, which are outlined in this post. 

Reasons to Sell Your Home in a Divorce (and the Potential Benefits)

A house is more than just a building. It is full of family memories. It is, perhaps, where you raised your children. It is your home, and possibly the only connection you have to a happier time. As such, discussions about selling it may be triggering for either you or your spouse, yet there are many situations in which this might be the most beneficial route. 

It may be the only asset of value in your marriage, which means it may be the only way to ensure you have the money to start over. The cost of maintaining it (mortgage, maintenance, HOA fees, etc.) may be too much of a burden for either you or your spouse to bear. Selling it could allow you to pay off the mortgage and still have a little bit of money left over. 

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