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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneysBetween the pandemic, record job losses, riots, and economic downturn, the future of America might seem grim. Thankfully, the economy will eventually recover. What may not survive is your marriage. 

Some couples drew closer under the imposed stay-at-home orders, banding together to withstand and prevail in these uncertain times, but others came to realize that their marriage is unsalvageable. Too much time together agitated unresolved marital issues, bringing them to the surface. Financial problems, job losses, and illnesses only added further stress. 

If your marriage crumbled under the stress of recent events, rest assured that you can still move forward with the divorce process. More than that, you can (and are encouraged to) cope with the end of your relationship in a healthy and productive way, as doing so can improve the long-term outcome for yourself and any children. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhile every divorce is unique and specific to the parties and their situation, there are some common threads. Likewise, there are some commonly made mistakes in divorce. Fall victim to any one of them and you could jeopardize your settlement, your time or rights to your children, and even your financial well-being. Educate yourself on what these mistakes are, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton divorce lawyers can help you avoid them.

1. Failure to Gain Access to or Provide All Financial Information

Like it or not, divorce is mostly a financial transaction. It requires you to provide any and all financial information to your attorney or the courts so that the marital estate can be accurately valued and divided. Unfortunately, if you miss something, it can have a negative impact on your case. You could short-sell yourself in the settlement, or you could be accused of trying to hide assets from your spouse. In either case, this mistake should be carefully avoided.

2. Putting Too Much Focus on the Past

Couples do not typically seek a divorce because they are happy and fulfilled. Instead, there are usually moments and issues that have brought the couple to their decision. However, it is important to remember that these matters are now in the past. Lashing out at your spouse, trying to get even, or simply squabbling over issues that no longer hold relevance do not help your situation. Instead, they can jeopardize your ability to think rationally about the things that do matter, like the well-being of your children or your financial health.

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Illinois divorce lawyersAll across the country, people are staying indoors and away from others to minimize their exposure to coronavirus. Stay orders and full-on quarantines literally force couples into all-day one-on-one time. This constant, forced interaction can further inflame underlying issues for those who were already on the edge and barely holding onto the shreds of their marriage. 

Data suggests this issue is already causing a spike in divorce inquiries. Now the question becomes whether couples should move forward with their cases or wait it out to see if they can resolve matters once the quarantine is over.

Working Marital Issues Out While Under Quarantine

Marital issues can feel more pronounced when you are forced to interact with one another all day long. While couples under quarantine are unable to change their circumstances, there are some strategies that can be used to help your marriage - even in its current state. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysIt can be difficult to know when to call it quits on your marriage, especially when you have put a great deal of time and energy into saving it. Shared children can further complicate matters. Often, parties look for a tell-tale sign, an unmistakable moment that forces them to accept the truth that divorce is inevitable. Unfortunately, such scenarios are rare. 

Instead, parties may spend weeks, months, and even years pondering their next steps - often denying themselves happiness during this confusing phase of their lives. Thankfully, you do not have to walk this path. Look at your current situation and discern whether these seven signs are present to determine if your marriage may already be on the path to divorce. 

You No Longer Argue 

While not all arguments are productive, couples need to resolve their disagreements and find common ground. Unfortunately, when parties cannot work things out, they may stop caring about the outcome. Arguments and disagreements may no longer be an issue, but there is distance and detachment. If your marriage has reached this point and you feel like you are all out of fight, you may only have two choices left: stay in a loveless marriage or call it quits. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce can feel like the end, but in truth, it can be a new beginning. Maintain an optimistic outlook, focus on yourself, and you can thrive (not just survive) the grueling process. The following six tips, and the help of a competent divorce lawyer, can give you a running start. 

Let Go of the Guilt, Anger, and What-Ifs 

Guilt, regret, anger, and doubt can creep in shortly after you start the divorce process. You might wonder if things could have gone differently if only you or your spouse had made different choices. Unfortunately, actions cannot be undone and words cannot be unsaid. No one can go back, so rather than torment yourself over the past, work to let it all go and focus on your future.  

Focus on Your Strength and Magnificence 

In a relationship, people often tie their identity up in the other person. When the marriage fails, they may struggle to find their own selves again. Now is the time to focus on yourself. Find your strengths and marvel in them. See and celebrate your own magnificence - the things that make you unique. Learn to love who you are as an individual. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysFor some divorcing couples, the process is swift. Each moves into their own place and on with their own lives. For others, it is a slow, almost imperceptible change that gradually leads to a new and single life for each party. Such is the case with in-house separation. If this is the solution you are considering for your marriage, these tips can help you make it work. 

Step One: Announce Your Grievances and Establish a Truce

Whereas other separating parties may be able to work out their grievances over time, in separate houses, those who choose to have an in-house separation need to lay their issues out on the table so they can start to move forward. Otherwise, you and your spouse will simply continue to argue and repeat the same cycles. 

Once you have announced your grievances, it is time to establish a truce. Commit to not working on your marital issues and finding a new path forward for your own life instead. Approaching matters in this way can also work for those who hope to repair their marriage since most issues that lead to separation require you to find new and stable ground.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce can financially wipe you out if you are not careful. Worse yet, the effect can be long-lasting. Thankfully, by knowing the most common pitfalls (and having a plan for avoiding them), you can reduce your risk of financial devastation. Learn more in the following sections, including how an attorney can assist you with the process. 

Not Adequately Preparing for the Divorce Process

From saving money prior to the divorce to ensuring you have all the documentation you need for the process, divorce requires you to go through a great deal of preparation. Failure to follow through on any one aspect of your case can have dire consequences. Start smart by hiring a lawyer before you actually file. They can help you adequately plan for the future and prepare for every aspect of your case, increasing your chance of a favorable outcome. 

Letting Your Emotions Run the Show 

Divorce can unearth a lot of feelings - anger, guilt, resentment, sadness, and feelings of failure. While all of these emotions are completely normal, allowing them to run the show will only make things more difficult - for you and your spouse. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyersBeing served with divorce papers can come as a shock, even when things are bad and you are expecting it. You may also find yourself at a loss on how to handle the situation at hand. Learn how to answer your divorce petition in the following sections, and discover what our seasoned divorce lawyers can do to help you with the next steps of the divorce process. 

Your Response Must Be Submitted Within the Allotted Timeframe 

Divorce petitions must be answered within the allotted timeframe to avoid default; since a default means that your spouse gets what they are asking for in the divorce, you will want to avoid this at all costs. As soon as you receive your petition, seek seasoned legal help. 

You Need to Dispute Any Points That You Do Not Agree With

Few divorcing spouses agree on every point; the same will likely be true for you and your spouse. Matters of dispute must be addressed in your response to the petition. Otherwise, your spouse gets what they are asking for in the divorce. Disputing points that you do not agree with allow you to protect your rights and your interests in the divorce, but since divorce papers are often filled with legal jargon, it is possible for you to miss critical issues. Seek legal help and reduce the risk of this happening in your Illinois divorce. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersThe marital home is often one of the more valuable assets that couples must divide during a divorce. In addition, there may be other types of real estate involved (rental properties, vacation homes, commercial buildings, etc.). Learn how most types of real estate are handled and divided in divorce by reading the following sections. You will also discover how a seasoned lawyer can help to protect your interests along the way. 

Valuation of the Property 

Properties must be valued before they can be divided. There are three basic methods that parties may use: tax assessed value, market analysis, and appraisal. Know and understand the potential drawbacks and benefits of using each method and choose the one that best fits your situation. Also, since arguments and disagreements are common, consider hiring your own appraiser if you and your spouse settle on the third and final option. It is also important to remember that any real estate tied to a business may have a more complex valuation process. Discuss the matter with your attorney to learn more. 

Determine the Amount of Equity 

The equity of a property is the portion that you and your spouse “own.” It is configured by subtracting any liens or mortgages held against the property. If taking out an equity loan, this would be the amount that a lender would use. If selling the home, it is the amount that you and your spouse can expect to see once the sale is final (provided the home sells at value). This aspect of dividing real estate can make or break your settlement - especially if one party intends to retain the property once the divorce has been finalized. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersCouples spend months or years dating before they decide to marry. Yet, when it comes to divorce, parties sometimes make rash decisions, opting to end their marriage before fully thinking it through. It is only when they are buried by the grief and cost that regret starts to surface. By then, it may be too late to undo the damage. Do not let this happen to you. Stop and answer these five questions before you file the paperwork for your Illinois divorce. 

1. How Would Life Improve if You Divorced? 

Divorce is not the answer to every solution. Sometimes, couples simply need to reconnect, forgive, or make wants and needs clear to one another. Money issues, which can escalate stress levels and cause couples to argue more often, may simply need to be weathered until they pass. 

In contrast, there are things that cannot be fixed with time, empathy, or patience. Abuse, infidelity, contempt, and irreconcilable differences (i.e. varying views on religion or parenting techniques) are just a few examples. Determine where you fall on the spectrum by considering if life would improve if you divorced, and clarify in what ways it would improve. Making your decision in this way reduces the risk of regret as you move forward with the process. 

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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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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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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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Wheaton divorce lawyersThe division of assets can be one of the biggest sources of contention in an Illinois divorce. Part of the reasoning for this can be attributed to the term “equitable distribution,” which essentially means that each party is entitled to their “fair share” of the marital estate. What is your fair share, and how can you ensure you get it during your divorce? The following explains. 

Determining Your “Fair Share” in an Illinois Divorce 

Nothing in life is fair - especially not divorce. Yet, this is the terms that courts use when dividing assets in an Illinois divorce. What might your fair share look like? A few factors are used in reaching this determination, including: 

  • The overall value of your marital estate;
  • Your capacity to earn an income;
  • Your spouse’s capacity to earn an income;
  • Any involved children (and their needs);
  • Non-marital assets that may improve your living standard;
  • Which assets may be held by either party after the divorce; and
  • Any limitations that may hinder a party’s ability to earn a living. 

Essentially, the courts want to do what they can to ensure that you and your spouse are nearly equal in assets and income, once the divorce has ended. Achieving this lofty goal can be quite difficult, however, especially if there are hidden assets or deceptive practices involved. 

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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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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 attorneysCouples usually anticipate a division and distribution of their assets during the divorce process, but many are surprised to learn that their debts are also split during the proceedings. Unfortunately, when parties are not prepared for the allocation of their debts, it can create serious financial issues, both immediately and in the distant future. Learn how you can avoid such an issue during your Illinois divorce, and discover how our seasoned attorneys can help. 

Who Owns the Debt in an Illinois Divorce? 

In marriage, debts and assets can become intrinsically intertwined; untangling them can be difficult, to say the least. Yet, it is critical that divorcing parties have a clear understanding of their debts. Additionally, parties are encouraged to try and distinguish which debts were initiated by them or their spouse, and which were co-marital debts. 

Not sure how to decide? 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce is a highly complex process with several moving parts, and the cost of a mistake can be devastating. Because of this, it is highly recommended that all parties seek the guidance and assistance of a seasoned legal attorney during their divorce case. 

Having legal assistance during divorce does not eliminate the need to understand the steps of divorce, however. In fact, those who are informed about the process tend to fare better in their cases. This is partly due to their ability to make sound decisions throughout the process. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our skilled attorneys can help.

Preparation and Determining if You Qualify 

One of the most critical steps in an Illinois divorce is preparation - and determining if you even qualify. In these moments, you will find an attorney to represent you, gather financial documents, and perhaps even create a post-divorce budget to help you achieve your financial goals. 

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Illinois parenting time attorneysWith more parents speaking out about the benefits of 50-50 shared parenting, and more studies indicating their benefits, the popularity of such plans are increasing. Of course, like most things, there are some challenges to drafting such a parenting plan - especially if you are used to being around your child all of the time or have doubts about the other parent’s ability to handle the child. Discover how to overcome such challenges in your parenting time case, and how our seasoned family law attorneys can assist you with the process. 

Pursue an Amicable Divorce or Separation

Relationships that end in explosion might make for great fiction, but in real life, these endings have real consequences - especially when there are children involved. Studies have shown that it is not necessarily the end of the relationship that negatively influences children. Instead, they say it is the amount of conflict they experience between their parents on a daily basis. That means two very important things:

  • Staying in a toxic relationship is highly unlikely to benefit your child. Instead, it is far more likely to do them harm, and
  • An amicable split to your relationship is far less likely to have a negative impact on your child than a toxic one.

Focus on Your Child’s Needs and Best Interests

Parents are only human, and divorce and break-ups are often painful, which can cause emotions to run high. As a result, the parent may struggle to separate their own feelings about the end of the relationship from what the child truly needs - which is often a healthy, connected relationship with both of their parents. 

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