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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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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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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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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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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 lawyersMoney can be one of the greatest sources of contention in a divorce - and for good reason! There are some parties who are just dead set on getting more than their fair share. They will even go so far as to hide money and other assets from their unsuspecting spouses. Is your spouse participating in this underhanded (and illegal) activity? Look for these signs.

Your Spouse is Secretive or Defensive About Money 

If your spouse gets defensive whenever you talk about money or finances, it could be a key sign that they are trying to hide something. Alternatively, they may be secretive about their earnings, perhaps even going so far as to revoke your access to certain financial accounts. Some will even hide secret purchases (a commonly used tactic in asset hiding). 

Your Spouse Intercepts Bills and Financial Statements 

An asset hiding spouse does not want you to know where the family’s finances stand, so they will go to extreme lengths to ensure you never see a bill or statement. They may even have a secret post office box for receiving these pieces of financial information. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysThough divorce may be the right choice for a marriage, it is far from the easy one. It can be mentally and emotionally draining. As a complex and nuanced legal process, it can also be financially draining if not approached in the right manner. Reduce the risk of significant financial issues during your Illinois divorce by taking these five steps during the preparation phase.

1. Track Your Income and Expenses

Start tracking your income and expenses, as soon as you realize that divorce is inevitable. The more financial information you have, the better. Check bank accounts, stocks and bonds, savings accounts, any investment interests, retirement accounts, and any educational savings accounts that you and your spouse may have set aside for your children. Also, ensure you know exactly how much income you and your spouse bring in each month. 

You’ll also want to take stock of any assets that you and your spouse may own. This can include: 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysMoney can be one of the most contentious aspects of an Illinois divorce case. Yet, when divorcing parties know how to effectively manage their own money during the process (instead of simply waiting on their settlement to get their financial life in order), the proceedings tend to be less stressful for everyone involved. Learn more about how you can start to improve your financial life, today, before you even begin your divorce, and discover how our seasoned attorneys can assist you with the process in the following sections. 

Create a Budget and Spending Plan

The first step to starting your new life is knowing what you own, what you make, and what you must spend. This information can all be obtained and understood with a budget and spending plan. These financial tools can also cue you into any potential problems that may be looming on the horizon. 

Know Where You Stand, Credit-Wise

Financial security requires you to look at more than just your income and expenditures; to create true hope for your future, it is important to also know where you stand with your credit. Not only is it the key to forging your new life, but it is also a tool that your ex can use to sabotage your future. Pull it before you file, monitor it during the process, and if you need help to get things back on track, contact a financial advisor for guidance and assistance. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersLife’s catastrophes do not care what your circumstances are; they just are. Such is the case with job loss and divorce. So what do you do when you or your spouse loses a job whilst knee-deep in divorce negotiations? The following information can help to provide some answers. 

Notify Your Attorney of the Situation

Notifying your attorney of the situation is your first (and perhaps most important) step in managing a job loss during divorce negotiations. If you are the one now unemployed, your attorney can help you devise a strategy for moving forward, which may be critical to your financial well-being if you were positioned to pay child support or alimony. If your spouse was the one let off from their job, attempt to understand the cause of the job loss to the best of your abilities and relay that information to your attorney. Depending on the situation, your total settlement may not change (i.e. your spouse voluntarily quit their job or was terminated for attendance issues, which they can control). It is important to note that their obligation to pay spousal support or child support may be temporarily placed on hold, but that does not necessarily mean it will disappear entirely. 

Create a Plan for Moving Forward

Regardless of whether it was you or your spouse who experienced the job loss, it is important that you devise a plan for moving forward. If you are the one currently unemployed, take an inventory of any savings you may have on hand to tide you over until new employment can be found. If your spouse is the one now unemployed, determine how you will forge forward if your settlement suffers. Some ideas might include:

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce has become so commonplace that there are now “trending” issues. One of the most recent examples is the destination divorce, in which couples travel to a remote location to celebrate the end of their marriage. Is this an option you should consider once your divorce is complete, or is the hype more appealing than the actuality of such a celebration? 

What is a Destination Divorce?

Unlike a destination wedding, the actual proceedings do not occur at your locale of choice. Most of this is due to the laws, which tend to require that you reside in the state and county where you file for divorce. Instead, a destination divorce is simply a celebration or relaxation retreat - a place you go to visit and celebrate your newfound freedom. 

Where Do People Go? 

While destination divorce locations are about as varied as the people involved in the proceedings, some places are more common than others. At the top of the list is Las Vegas, which has morphed from your typical bachelor and bachelorette party locale to a place where almost anyone can find fun. International locales are also highly popular, particularly for those that felt limited in their marriage. Relaxing retreat locations (i.e. Hawaii, the Bahamas, etc.) are also exceptionally commonly seen in the destination divorce trend. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersFamily structure has changed drastically over the last couple of decades, with many wives now serving as the sole or primary breadwinner. Unfortunately, studies have found that divorce is more likely to occur if the wife is the only one working, and now a new research project suggests that divorce risks are still greater when the husband works but earns less than the wife. So, what happens when a couple goes through a divorce and their familial structure is different from the typical but outdated societal norms? Learn more in the following sections. 

Division of Assets with Women as the Primary or Sole Breadwinner 

In many ways, the process of divorce does not change, simply because the wife is the sole or primary breadwinner. Debts and assets are calculated to determine the value of the marital estate, and the estate is then divided equitably between the divorcing parties. Yet, because of social issues - particularly those involving lower wages for women - the financial stability of a woman may be even more threatened than a man’s after the division of assets in a divorce. Additionally, you may be ordered to pay alimony to your spouse, which only increases your risk of financial issues after the divorce. For this reason, it is critical that wage-earning women have a seasoned divorce lawyer on their side, protecting their financial interests during the entire divorce process. 

Child-Related Matters with Women as the Primary or Sole Breadwinner

Matters pertaining to children, like parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities are not determined by money. Yet, because work may limit the amount of time that you have to spend with your child, you may receive a lower allocation of your child’s time in a divorce decree. Combat such issues by first finding ways to free up your time. Can you cut back on working hours or rearrange them so that you are free to spend time with your child more often? Is there a way that you can telecommute, at least for some your working hours? Also, remember that you may be required to pay child support if there is a large enough disparity in income. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce changes many aspects of your life - everything from where you call home to the amount of time you spend with your children. Then there are the emotional aspects to muddle through. So, all things considered, insurance coverage may seem like the least of your worries while going through a divorce. Yet, without it, you and your family could be at risk for significant financial loss. Learn what you need to know about insurance and divorce, and discover what our seasoned divorce lawyers can do to help you manage the many aspects of your case. 

Health Insurance Coverage and Divorce

Many Americans seek health coverage through their employer. If your spouse is the one employed and you are covered under their policy, the divorce will generally end their obligation (and maybe even their ability) to provide you with coverage. However, you may still be eligible for COBRA benefits, temporarily. You will probably have to pay out-of-pocket for this coverage, but the fee is likely to be less than paying for any health-related expenses. 

You can also purchase insurance on your own from a health insurance company or your state’s health insurance marketplace. Alternatively, you may be able to purchase health insurance through your own employer, or you may be eligible for either Medicare or Medicaid benefits, depending on your circumstances. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce can be a tumultuous process, full of pain, grief, and anger. When paired with the sensitive topic matters often seen in a divorce (i.e. the division of assets and parenting plans), proceedings can become explosive. Yet, in many cases, communication with your spouse is necessary (particularly when there are children involved). The following tips, along with assistance from a seasoned divorce attorney, can help to improve the situation. 

Use Technology to Communicate with Your Spouse

Communication may be necessary during a divorce, but you do not have to speak with your spouse face-to-face. You can opt to use technology instead. Email, text, and even phone applications allow you to discuss pertinent matters, such as child pick-up and drop-off schedules with little to no contact. These measures can do more than just reduce stress; they can give you the chance to carefully examine your statements before sending them. Read over everything, or ask someone that you trust to examine your text or email to reduce the chance of a miscommunication, and always stick to the matter at hand. 

Practice Self-Care and Seek Professional Help When Necessary

Self-care may not seem like an aspect of communication, but when you are stressed or hurt, your emotions can bubble to the surface, even when you do not intend for them to do so. Self-care and skilled assistance from a therapist, support group, or psychologist can help you keep your feelings under wraps so that they do not further complicate your divorce. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersIn the past, pets were treated as property in a divorce. Of course, a pet cannot be divided, so instead, the courts examined financial factors to determine who received the family’s furry friend at the end of the proceedings. Thankfully, the laws have now changed, ensuring that the owners’ emotional attachment and time invested are considered when determining who should get the family pet in a divorce. 

That has not been the only change to the law regarding pets. Families can also set up a “custody plan,” so long as both owners are fully and completely invested in the animal’s happiness, care, and well-being. Learn more about how “pet custody” works in today’s Illinois divorce in the following sections, and discover what our seasoned divorce lawyers can do to help protect the interests of you and your pet in contentious or potentially dangerous situations. 

How Illinois Determines “Pet Custody” in Divorce

While pets and children are very different, Illinois family law courts now recognize that animals do have feelings and needs - and that their well-being is worth protecting. So, when determining who takes the family pet in divorce, various factors are considered, including:

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Wheaton family law lawyersFamily law is a broad area of the law with many subsections. However, some issues are more common and complex than others. Learn more about the most common and currently emerging family law courts, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton attorneys can help you manage them and mitigate against any complications that you may be facing in your Illinois family law case. 

Divorce and Legal Separation 

Statistics indicate that the divorce rate has been dropping over the last several years, but it continues to be one of the more common family law matters, both in Illinois and nationwide. Legal separations, though less common than divorce and perhaps even some other family law issues, are also frequently seen issues in family courts.

Child-Related Matters

Child matters are also extremely common in family courts. They include:

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Illinois parenting time attorneysChildren, although seen as resilient, can suffer greatly during a divorce. Thankfully, attentive and loving parents can ease the transition to improve their child’s outcome. Learn more about how to help your child cope during your impending Illinois divorce, and discover how a seasoned attorney can ease the process so that you have more time to focus on your child’s needs.

Place Your Child’s Interests at the Forefront 

Loving parents are generally pretty attentive to the needs and well-being of their children, but during a divorce, life can feel pretty out of sorts. Add in a dose of guilt, depression, or even just the stress that a divorce may cause, and it is easy to see why parents sometimes lose sight of what might be best for their kids. Parents may also become preoccupied with “winning” the divorce - and not necessarily because they want to get even with their spouse. Some simply struggle with the idea of splitting the time they have with their children. 

To avoid such issues in your divorce, start by first examining your situation, rather than your feelings. Consider what your child needs most. Is it stability? Perhaps they would adjust best if allowed to stay in their current neighborhood, rather than having to move and change schools. Now consider which parent may be able to best meet your child’s daily needs. Now consider how you ensure your child has their other needs met - specifically time and a connection with the parent that cannot meet their daily needs. Use all of this as a foundation for your parenting plan. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersDivorce can be a costly endeavor, which is why parties are usually encouraged to plan and save for the process. Of course, if you are not the one who files, you may not have such a privilege. Instead, your spouse may catch you completely off-guard, with little to no resources at your disposal. What can you do to ensure you still have access to seasoned legal representation in such a situation? The following information explains. 

Avoid Discount and DIY Divorce Options

The internet is full of information on discount and do-it-yourself divorce options, but these methods can have a lasting and negative impact on the outcome of your case. It is also important to realize that everything from your financial well-being to the amount of time you receive with your children can be affected.

Begin Your Search for a Divorce Attorney

Since discount and DIY divorce methods are not viable options, there is only one option left to consider: hire an attorney. Just be sure to avoid the trap that many disadvantaged spouses fall into when they hire a lawyer; never hire based on cost alone. Instead, ask for referrals from friends and search for reviews online. Then, when you have narrowed your choices down, start scheduling consultations. Share the details of your case with them and listen carefully to their responses. Are they in-tune with your needs and concerns? Do they seem pre-occupied with winning the case, or are they supportive of your desires to negotiate or settle fairly? 

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