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Illinois divorce lawyersDivorce is a complex legal process with many potential financial pitfalls. This may be especially true if there is a retirement account, such as a 401K to divide. Laws and rules of the plan must be adhered to carefully or the parties stand to lose far more than just their future financial security. There is also the risk of severe penalties and extreme financial loss as early as the finalization of one’s divorce. Thankfully, it is possible to mitigate (and potentially even avoid) such issues. Learn more in the following sections, including how the assistance of a seasoned, competent divorce attorney can help improve the outcome in your Illinois divorce case. 

The Risks of Dividing a 401K in Divorce 

Like all retirement plans, 401K pension plans have certain rules regarding early withdrawals (before age 591/2). Fail to follow them and you could face early withdrawal penalties from the plan administrator as well as taxation from the Internal Revenue System (IRS). Sadly, you can still lose money when you follow the rules of the plan. For example, you could lose money from losses or gains in the 401K if the divorce decree uses a percentage to divide the account, rather than an exact dollar amount.

Tips for Dividing a 401K in Your Illinois Divorce

While there are many pitfalls that one may experience while dividing a 401K during a divorce, there are a few strategies that can help you mitigate the risks. These include:

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DuPage County divorce lawyer, social media and divorceIt is common for people to remain plugged into their electronic devices for much of their day. Whether it is sharing pictures of their children, their dinner, or pets, posting images online has become a part of our daily lives. Moreover, those posts can also become part of a divorce proceeding.

What Kind of Communications are Admissible in a Divorce?

The communications you have can become admissible at trial. For example, an email or a text message can be admissible in court, and certain circumstances can even be subpoenaed. Social media posts can be used in a divorce proceeding as well. If one party fails to disclose a promotion at work, or boasts about being able to hide assets and then gloats about it on social media, those posts can become part of the trial.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer, purchase in anticipation of marriageIt is common for engaged couples to make purchases before their wedding day, with the intent that the two will use these items when they are united in marriage. Often, soon-to-be spouses will invest in real estate or other high-ticket items. However, when the unfortunate happens and the once-happy couple decides to divorce, there are often questions regarding this property and how it will be equitably divided during the divorce process. The Illinois divorce statute speaks to exactly this situation, defining these items as purchases “in anticipation of marriage.” You should discuss the specifics of any items you bought as a couple before your wedding day, especially since there have been recent changes to Illinois divorce law that became effective in 2016.

Marital Versus Non-Marital Property

Purchases made in anticipation of marriage come into play in the context of marital and non-marital property. Before a court will make an equitable distribution of property to spouses, it is first necessary to establish the classification of all assets. Then, a judge can divide marital assets and make a ruling that respective spouses can keep non-marital property. Under Illinois law, the spouses may also agree on the classification of marital versus non-marital property.

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 DuPage County divorce lawyer, low cost divorceSigns on CTA vehicles and other heavily trafficked areas around town are common. They may state, “Low Cost Divorce, Just $99 Flat Fee,” or other similar text. At first glance, a “low cost divorce” might seem like a good idea, especially if you and your spouse can agree on most factors involving your divorce. However, there is a lot of information these ads leave out, including hidden fees that make your total cost much higher than the $99 as advertised. As a warning about low cost divorce in Illinois, consider a few additional factors these firms will not tell you upfront.

Court Filing Fees Not Included

The fee you pay to a firm that handles low cost divorce is typically applied to the services provided. There are additional fees for filing the proper paperwork with the court clerk to initiate the dissolution of marriage proceedings. Depending on your circumstances, there may be other court costs which are not disclosed until after you have already started the process.

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Division of Retirement Benefits during a Divorce

Of all the tricky issues to sort out during a divorce, the equitable division of retirement benefits is among the most complicated. Because you have spent years working to earn your pension, fill your retirement fund, and otherwise prepare for your future, splitting these funds requires great care, and a considerable amount of technical know-how.

One good starting point, however, is knowing that only funds that were added to these accounts during the course of your marriage will be eligible for division between you and your spouse. Any money that you contributed to 401(k)s, pension plans, annuities, IRAs, or other types of retirement funds before your marriage will be yours, and yours alone after your divorce.

The Process of Dividing Your Benefits Fairly

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discovery processIf you are currently involved in a divorce or know anyone going through the same process, you have likely heard of the term “discovery.” If it is your own divorce, you may be growing to hate the discovery process. This post seeks to break down the basics of discovery, outlining what you need to know and how it can greatly benefit your case.

What Is It?

The term discovery is used across nearly every area of law, but in divorce proceedings it refers to the process by which both sides of the divorce gather information about the other side. Discovery is a key component in any litigation, but is absolutely essential in any case where assets, property division, child support or maintenance is at issue.

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alcohol abuseNo-fault divorces have become increasingly common in Illinois. Still, the traditional grounds for divorce are still available for use. One of the grounds still used in Illinois is one party having a drug addiction or drinking addiction for at least two years. Whether that particular ground is used to file for the dissolution or not, alcohol often plays a major role in divorces in the United States.

The Statistics

Studies show that marriages are more likely to end when one spouse has a serious problem with alcohol. One particular study conducted by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions noted that where one spouse in a marriage (and only one spouse) drank heavily (until intoxicated or having six or more drinks), the marriage was likely to end in divorce 50 percent of the time.

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alimony oudated conceptDivorce cases certainly involve a change of circumstance for both parties, whether the dissolution of the marriage was expected or not. As such, certain laws are in place to ease the transition for one party, or both parties in some cases. Specifically, the concept of alimony is generally intended to allow an ex-spouse who may have sacrificed a career or education in favor of the family gain some financial stability for a period of time upon divorce.

The law in most states, including Illinois, sets guidelines for alimony and factors for the court to consider in determining an amount of alimony award, if any. However, there are a number of other states with arguably antiquated laws which allow for lifetime receipt of alimony with little consideration given to factors such as length of marriage or a change in circumstance of either party. Lawmakers and advocates across the country are debating the concept of alimony and whether the idea of post-divorce spousal maintenance is outdated.

Positions on Alimony

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divorce mythsSome divorce cases, such as those of the very wealthy or those of the celebrity variety, are much more common to be made into news stories and discussed in the media than divorces between regular folks. Interestingly enough, it is often the case that no matter who the parties to the divorce case are, some of the same issues are present in divorce cases across the board, albeit on a different scale. A recent article discussed the high profile divorce case of a super wealthy Chicago couple, busting some divorce case myths along the way. Although the article is written in the context of this specific couple’s divorce case, these myths are present in many divorces, regardless of the splitting couple’s financial status.

Myths Busted

Whether speaking about billionaires or the average middle class couple, divorce cases are often an emotional, stressful time for both parties and their families. Issues arise that may make one party think he or she has an advantage over the other, but in reality, one can never be sure how a divorce case will play out in court. In that same vein, many have preconceived notions of divorce cases and their likely outcome. Consider the following myths and the corresponding realities:

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marriage documentary HBOThe topic of marriage and divorce in everyday life may be more popular than one might think. Filmmaker Doug Block has completed a documentary titled “112 Weddings” set to air on Monday, June 30th on HBO. The film is dedicated to revisiting couples for whom Block shot wedding videos to inquire about the current status of their unions. The subject matter seems relevant to many people, as it is already getting the attention of some who were not even yet aware of the particular film.

The State of Marriage

The article recounts a woman who overheard Block talking about the concept of the film feeling compelled to begin a discussion with him about the state of her own marriage. It may be unsurprising and even expected that the subject of the film would capture many people’s attention, as many couples in marriages struggle to navigate them successfully. The concept of the film of looking backward and reflecting as opposed to hoping for the best in the future is particularly interesting.

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pets in divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, division of property, pet custody, Illinois divorce attorneyAccording to a recently published article, many divorcing couples, including those of the celebrity variety, are shifting the focus of their custody battles from child custody to  pet custody.

More Common Occurrence

While people generally may expect some type of custody battle to ensue between a divorcing couple regarding their children, they are probably less likely to anticipate the same type of disputes over family pets. However, in the legal world, disputes over the custody of pets are becoming more common in connection with divorce proceedings. Perhaps this is not so surprising when one considers that people in America are spending more money than ever before on their pets, many couples who would otherwise be having children are delaying parenthood, and more and more people are forming a bond with their pets that causes them to treat the pets more like members of the family. The law is just now trying to catch up to this cultural status change for families’ furry friends.

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children of divorce, life after divorce, children, divorce, DuPage County divorce lawyerMany parents who decide to divorce are primarily concerned with how the breakdown of the family will affect their children. The time after a divorce is finalized will certainly be a period of adjustment, but adjusting is not always as traumatic for children as some divorced parents may fear. In fact, some kids adjust surprisingly well to their parents’ divorce, particularly those whose parents provide them with love and attention and focus on their well being throughout the divorce while keeping them shielded from conflict and anxiety.

Look for Signs

A recent article suggests the following signs show that children are coping well with their parents’ divorce:

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divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, divorce trends, divorce rate, reasons for divorceIt is no secret that the divorce rate in the U.S. is high; almost half of all marriages will eventually end in divorce. Many couples make the mutual decision to divorce, while others try to save their marriage no matter the cost. However, if at least one person in the couple is thinking about divorce, it may indicate something is wrong with the relationship.

Six Signals Indicating Imminent Divorce

According to a recently published article, there are signals that are usually present to indicate a divorce may be imminent. Although there are likely many more, here are six of the the most common signs that a divorce may be in a couple’s future:

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children of divorce, childhood obesity, life after divorce, parenting, Illinois divorce attorneyParents who divorce often worry about their children’s well being throughout the process and after the family is split up. It is undoubtedly a challenging time for children and their parents. A new article suggests that one of the things parents should add to their list of concerns when they divorce is whether their child will struggle with excessive weight gain.

Children’s Weight Gain after Divorce

New research is suggesting that children of divorced parents often struggle with weight gain when their parents part ways. A study was done of 3,000 kids in Norway in the third grade, which found that boys were especially prone to weight gain in connection with their parents’ divorce. the study found that boys of divorced parents had a 63 percent higher chance of being classified as either obese or overweight than boys whose parents were married. The same group was found to have a 104 percent higher chance of being abdominally obese.

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divorce, life after divorce, stress, DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois divorce lawyerThe breakdown of a couple’s marriage is usually a difficult experience to endure. Divorce can involve a total lifestyle change for those involved, not to mention the many feelings and emotions that it can bring up. A recent article suggests ways to cope with the unsettling and painful feelings that often accompany divorce.

Moving on After Divorce

One thing that most people probably agree on is that divorce is often hurtful, no matter the reasons or circumstances surrounding it. Divorce not only causes feelings of loss and disappointment, but also brings with it a disruption of routine and other relationships, as well as uncertainty about the future.

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divorce, divorce basics, uncontested divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, DuPage County divorce attorneyMany people are probably familiar with divorce terms like “no-fault” and “uncontested,” but may not be sure how these legal phrases interrelate and what they mean for practical purposes. Read on for an overview of Illinois divorce law, and a breakdown of these and other familiar terms.

Grounds or No Grounds?

Initially, when making the decision to divorce and end a marriage, the reason for the divorce must be included in the legal pleadings. Spouses either have grounds for the divorce, or they may wish to divorce based irreconcilable differences (no grounds). Grounds are considered reasons for the divorce, while irreconcilable differences indicate the couple cannot point to any accepted grounds, or reasons, for divorce.

Grounds for divorce include:

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cohabitation, divorce, marriage, Illinois divorce attorney, family law in DuPage CountyIn the past, conservative views about what constituted appropriate action on behalf of a couple prior to getting married dominated public opinion. Everything from living together to premarital sex was frowned upon. While some people may still hold these views to some extent, there has definitely been a shift in what couples are doing before getting married these days, and a new study says it’s not nearly as bad as many previously thought.

Cohabitation Before Marriage

A recently published article discussed not only the prevalence of cohabitation before marriage, but whether it has any real effect on the success of the marriage once it occurs. Over the last five decades, it is estimated that the rate of couples who live together before getting married has increased by about 900 percent. Two-thirds of marriages that occur today are between couples who have already lived together for 31 months, on average. Previous studies indicated that couples who lived together before marriage were 33 percent more likely to divorce than their counterparts who waited to live together until after the marriage ceremony took place.

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children of divorce, child of divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyIn Part 1 of this article, we discussed research that showed children, on average, are likely to bounce back in the long term after their parents’ divorce, as well as some factors that may inhibit this adjustment. This seems to suggest that perhaps parents may not need to worry as much about the effects their divorce may have on their children, as long as they are able to maintain some stability and appropriate parenting levels throughout the process. Read on for the rest of the research related to this topic, regarding concerns relating to adulthood and improving the chances that children will bounce back.

Later Problems

The concern with children of divorced parents is not limited to immediate problems, but also with problems that the child may experience later in life as an adult. Some previous research suggests that children of divorce experience significant problems with depression and relationship issues as adults. However, other researchers argue against this finding, saying scientific research supports the idea that most children of divorce grow into well-adjusted adults.

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sickness, health, divorce trend, divorce rate, Illinois divorce, lawyer, DuPage County divorce attorneyDivorce does not discriminate: it can touch any couple, at any age, whose marriage has lasted any number of years. It seems that divorce is becoming more and more common, and the circumstances surrounding any particular divorce are never really shocking. Now, it seems the very vows that are present in so many marriage ceremonies are quite literally being broken. According to an article recently published by TIME, a new study suggests that sickness may trigger divorce.

The Study Researchers at the University of Michigan studied 20 years of data on 2,717 couples, of which at least one of the partners was over the age of 50. Their findings included that 31 percent of marriages involving one sick partner end in divorce. Further, they found that the risk of separation for couples who were older was higher when the wife was ill as opposed to the husband. A portion of the numbers showed that as many as 75 percent of couples who are addressing chronic illness will divorce. Specifically, researchers looked at diseases like cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke and their impact on marriages. In total, 31 percent of the marriages ended in divorce. While men were the more likely partner to be sick, the rate of divorce was higher among couples where the wife was sick. Reasons for the Findings The above referenced study is not the first to publish such findings. Though it is not completely clear why the divorce rate among couples dealing with illness is so high, there are a number of theories about the statistics. One such theory is that social expectations about caretaking make men feel as though they are not qualified for the task. In couples that do divorce, it is typically the woman who initiates it, leading some to believe that it is perhaps women who feel that their husbands are not providing enough support, and choose to depend on friends and family instead. In these cases, wives may originally ask for a divorce as a direct result of their health status, which often requires them to need additional care and services to avoid worsening health and increased costs. Some say that integrating couple’s therapy into hospitals’ programs may be beneficial to married couples facing serious disease or illness. Divorce Attorney Couples of all ages make the decision to divorce for any number of reasons. No matter what situation you find yourself in, if you are considering divorce, it is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can advise you of your options and rights in light of your particular circumstances. Please feel free to contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC today for a consultation regarding your matter. We serve clients in our Chicago, Wheaton, and Warrenville offices.

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sick, flu, contagious, divorce, is divorce contagious, family law, DuPage County family lawyerThe decision to end a marriage is usually not an easy one to make. Often, couples must face a number of difficult decisions when deciding to divorce, especially when children are involved. Outsiders may wonder what happened within a marriage to cause divorce. While any number of factors can and usually do play a part in a couple’s decision to call it quits, a new study is suggesting a surprising factor that may play a larger role in an impending divorce than one may realize. According to a news article recently published by CBS 2, the divorce of a friend or loved one may increase a couple’s chances of getting divorced as well.

Divorce is Contagious... Just like the flu, a new study from Brown University is suggesting that divorce may also be contagious, and could put anyone’s marriage in danger. According to the study, which was comprised of data from thousands of people over three decades, the divorce of a friend or loved one may increase that person’s odds of also getting divorced. The findings included that one was 75 percent more likely to get divorced if one of their friends were divorced. Further, an individual was 33 percent more likely to divorce if a friend of a friend obtained a divorce. The trend seemed to end when considering the divorce of a couple three degrees removed. Researchers involved in the study called the findings a social contagion, which indicated the spread of information, attitudes, and behaviors through friends, family, and other social circles. …Or is It? Some are saying that it is not divorce itself that is contagious in such situations, but rather it is the emotions that are tied to the divorce that can be contagious. In other words, those who are constantly around other people who are in unhappy relationships may tend to look at their own relationship more critically. Others were not so sure of the theory, saying the tendency to let other’s emotions have such a significant impact on one’s own shows a lack of maturity and that a friend or acquaintance’s unhappiness should not influence another individual’s marriage. There are ways to avoid letting the divorce bug infect another couple. It is advisable not to compare the situation and circumstances of a friend to one’s own, since usually, the connections are not found in reality but are rather imagined or created. Often, such comparisons and associations are simply not realistic. Divorce Attorney If you find yourself in a situation in which divorce seems like a likely option, it is best to discuss your case with an experienced divorce attorney. The attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC can advise you after listening to the facts of your particular case. Please contact us today for a consultation. We have successful experience representing clients in Cook and DuPage Counties, as well as surrounding areas.

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