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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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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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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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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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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 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 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 lawyersBills and other financial obligations do not end just because you are filing for a divorce. In fact, money management is usually more difficult while trying to navigate the divorce process because there are more bills and less money to go around.

Thankfully, there are measures that one can take to improve their financial situation, even while pursuing a divorce. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our seasoned divorce lawyers can assist. 

Track Your Finances and Develop a New Budget

The first step to improving your financial situation is to understand your finances. Start by tracking how and where you spend your money, then determine if any of your expenses can be eliminated or temporarily suspended. Doing this can give you more in the way of liquid assets. It also allows you to develop a new budget so that you can start saving for your new future. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersDuring the Great Recession, many savvy investors jumped into the housing market - and a decent percentage of them hit it big. Their success, paired with popular house-flipping television shows, caused many “average” people, who had no real investment experience, to jump into the market as well. What happens to these investors when a divorce occurs? Learn more about how real estate is divided in an Illinois divorce, and discover what our seasoned Wheaton divorce lawyers can do to assist you with the process. 

Dividing Real Estate with a Prenuptial Agreement 

Ideally, investors would have a prenuptial agreement in place before a divorce, as this is the easiest way to ensure a straightforward division of the marital assets. Granted, there are situations in which a prenuptial agreement may not be honored (i.e. a prenuptial agreement signed under duress), but these are fairly rare. Just note that investors are highly encouraged to seek legal assistance when drafting their prenuptial agreements, as this decreases the risk of legal issues in the division of the marital estate. 

Dividing Real Estate Without a Prenuptial Agreement 

If the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement in place, the entire marital estate must be valued and equitably divided. Unfortunately, in high asset situations (which most divorces involving real estate are), the asset division process can be extremely complex. As such, it is highly critical that both parties have a seasoned attorney on their side, protecting their interests.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersMoney can cause numerous issues in a relationship. In fact, it is one of the biggest reasons that couples argue and divorce. It can also be an especially contentious matter in divorce. Thankfully, there are some steps that you can take to protect your financial future in an Illinois divorce case - and it starts with knowing which financial issues may impact your case. Learn more in the following sections, including how a seasoned divorce lawyer can assist with the process. 

Know the Value of Your Marital Estate

Every couple handles their money differently. Some couples share financial knowledge and information. Others have just one party managing marital finances. In either scenario, complications can arise. The biggest risk is hidden money or debts, which is far more common than most people think. In fact, one in five parties admits that they have undisclosed money or debts in their relationship. As such, it is critical that parties obtain the assistance of a seasoned lawyer to ensure they have a clear understanding of their marital finances. 

Examine Your Marital Debts

Divorcing couples are usually aware of just how important it is to take stock of their marital assets, but they often overlook the importance of taking stock of their marital debt. Unfortunately, such an oversight can dramatically impact the outcome of one’s divorce case. In contrast, parties that take stock of their marital debt and create a plan for dealing with it often experience better financial outcomes after their divorce. An attorney does not have to be your only resource for resolving marital debt either; you can also find assistance through an accountant, financial advisor, or credit counselor. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysGoing through a divorce will likely have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of your life. This is especially true when it comes to your finances. For most people, a divorce is not only going to take two combined incomes and split them up, but it will also change what financial responsibilities you have.

You may, for example, have to start paying child support or spousal support, which will obviously have to be added into your monthly budget. Even if you are receiving child support or spousal support payments, however, you will need to use that money to cover many new expenses caused by the divorce. The following four tips can help you to put yourself in as strong of a position as possible after your divorce is finalized. 

1. Start a Strict Budget Now

Living on a budget is always important, but during and just after a divorce, it is more critical than ever. Do everything you can to minimize your expenses now, and live well under your means. Once the divorce is finalized and you are able to accurately see all your new income and expenses, you can start transitioning into your ‘new normal’ for money. It is much easier to have a little extra money in your budget after a divorce than it would be to be short each month. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysStatistics indicate that the divorce rate has been on the decline for nearly every age group - but for those nearing retirement age, the rate has nearly doubled in the past decade. This phenomenon, dubbed the “grey divorce” wave, is not specific to the United States either; the United Kingdom, Australia, and other developed nations are seeing rising rates of late-life divorces as well. 

Examining the Gray Divorce Trend 

Researchers and analysts say the rate of late-in-life divorce has started to climb over the last decade because many couples in the Baby Boomer generation had either put off or not previously considered divorce. Divorce was more than just socially discouraged back then; it was thought to be inherently bad for children. Of course, we now know that the impact of divorce may vary, based on a variety of factors (i.e. the amount of parental conflict and the level of involvement that each parent has in the life of the child after the divorce, etc.), but parents from the Baby Boomer generation did not have this same information. 

Now, with their children raised, many are realizing that they still have a life to live - and they no longer want to spend it with their spouse. Sadly, the decision to divorce so late in life is creating some unique challenges for this American demographic group. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysAlthough the 2017 American Community Survey estimates the number of divorces is on the decline in Illinois, women still need to be aware of how to protect themselves financially, should divorce become inevitable.  There are two common financial mistakes shared by a number of divorcing women - not only in Illinois but throughout the United States.  By taking a proactive role and getting ahead of these common financial mistakes, women can save themselves a lot of frustration and be better prepared for their future.  

1. Not Knowing Your Marital Assets and Debts

In Illinois, there is a presumption that property acquired during the marriage is marital property, therefore it should be divided equitably. However, many women are unaware of the extent of their marital property, which may cause them to leave money on the table. Consider that marital property can include a variety of assets - from retirement accounts and offshore bank accounts to car collections and earnings on investments. It is important to immediately identify and determine the values of these items since knowing these values will allow for a more equitable share in the assets of the marriage.  

While it is crucial to know the marital assets, it is just as important to be fully informed of the marital debts. Where there is often a lack of knowledge of assets, the same is often true of marital debts. Debts can include car loans, home mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit, or any other debt. These will be factored into a property settlement along with any assets. If unaware and unprepared for them, you could be financially crippled in your new life, long before you even begin. Thankfully, with guidance and skilled legal counsel, you may be able to overcome such financial hurdles in your Illinois divorce. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce can be a painful, heart-wrenching experience - particularly for those that miss the signs and have no prior knowledge of their spouse’s desire to end the marriage. That was what happened to one Iowa woman. Rather than allow herself to fall into self-pity, she threw herself into a creative and healing project that eventually turned into a thriving business.

Woman Bakes Her Way to Happiness and Financial Stability After Divorce 

In a feature from the Des Moines Storytellers Project, an Iowan woman revealed how she had turned the devastating news of her divorce into a healing adventure and lucrative business. “Kindred spirits” from the start, the couple had married in a whirlwind, just one year after they met. Over the course of 13 years, they went on many adventures and raised three children together. Then, one day, the husband said he wanted to end the marriage. 

At the time, the middle-aged woman had no idea what to do with her life. Then she met another divorcing woman in her neighborhood who had been selling baked goods out of her house to make extra money. The two joined forces, and before they knew it, they were creating delicious pastries for some of the state’s most prestigious customers. Three years after starting their business, they took over a landmark building in Fort Madison and expanded the bake shop. A second location was opened in 2002, and the offers for cookbooks and book deals came pouring in. Eventually, the two women decided to sell off the original location, but they both continue to run the second one together. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhile few couples blame money for their divorce, studies show money troubles can significantly increase a couple’s risk of divorce. In fact, arguments about money were found to be the top predictor of divorce in one from Utah State University. Researchers also determined that frequent fighting increased a couple’s overall odds of divorce by 30 percent. 

Of course, not all debt is acquired during the marriage. 

In a Fidelity, Couples & Money study, almost half of all the couples surveyed indicated they had entered into their marriage with debt. Around 40 percent of them said that it had a negative effect on their marriage, and 49 percent said they disagreed about who was responsible for those debts. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysOf all the issues that one may deal with during the divorce, those related to money tend to be the most sensitive and volatile. That is because, in this arena, mistakes can be costly, and they often have a lasting, negative impact. Thankfully, by avoiding these four commonly made money mistakes, parties can decrease their risk of experiencing significant financial loss in a divorce while also increasing their chances of receiving the divorce settlement to which they are entitled. 

Oversharing Details About Your Personal Life and Finances 

While the law does require you to provide financial disclosure to your spouse during the discovery process of your divorce, there is such a thing as oversharing. Examples of information that you may want to keep private include: 

  • An inheritance received after separating from your spouse;
  • Vacations or vacation plans that take place after the separation;
  • Information regarding spending habits or recent large purchases (even when done out of necessity);
  • Raises and promotions that are given to you after the separation; and
  • Any other windfall that occurs after you and your spouse have separated. 

Note that this information should not be shared anywhere - not even on social media, as even this information can be used as evidence in a divorce. Remember to still disclose this information to your attorney, as they can help you determine which assets may be excluded from the marital estate. 

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Wheaton alimony lawyersData suggests that more couples are signing prenuptial agreements before getting married, which could be a good thing, as data suggests that couples are less likely to divorce when they have one in place. However, those that have one already may need to review their documents, come 2019. 

How the New Tax Law is Expected to Impact Existing Prenuptial Agreements 

The new tax law, set to go into effect on January 1, 2019, is expected to impact both married and divorcing couples in a significant way. For those going through a divorce, it may affect alimony payments—both in amount and how willing a party is to make them. It is this aspect of the new law that also affects prenuptial agreements. 

For the past 70 years, alimony payments have been tax-deductible for the payor and taxed as income for receivers. The new tax law eliminates this element of divorce law. Sadly, this change is expected to leave less money for the family, as a whole. Without the tax benefit, payers may have less discretionary spending money than their spouses. The courts have to balance this out by reducing the alimony payment amount, so even though the receiving party may not have to report the payments as taxable income, they may ultimately receive less money. Neither party benefits from this, unfortunately, but the change is inevitable. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysDivorce can be a costly endeavor - especially when you are not prepared for the process. Thankfully, it is possible to place yourself ahead of the proceedings. Learn how with the following pre-divorce money management tips, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton divorce lawyers can help you with the process, long before you ever even file. 

1. Track Income, Assets, and Expenses

Before filing for divorce, it is crucial that you have a clear understanding of your financial situation. All debts, income, real estate, retirement accounts, pension plans, and other assets (i.e. jewelry, collections, etc.) that were acquired during the marriage should be considered. Once you have all the information you need, such as account statements and appraisals, make copies and store them in a safe place where your spouse cannot find them, such as in a safety deposit box or at a relative’s house. Also, be sure to regularly update documentation on any assets that may fluctuate in value, such as your bank account or retirement account. 

2. Check and Monitor Your Credit

Spouses who suspect a divorce may be on the horizon can become retaliatory, sometimes in the worst way possible. They may attempt to take out credit in your name, or they may run up your credit card bills. Avoid such issues by monitoring your credit before and after you file. Remove your spouse as an authorized user on any personal accounts, freeze or dissolve joint accounts (only do the latter under the guidance of your attorney), and report any suspicious activity. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersDivorce can be expensive in any state or situation, but the complexity, exact circumstances, and exact location of a divorce are all significant factors in determining the final price. In respect to location, one study recently determined which 10 states were the most expensive when it came to divorce costs.

Illinois, though not found on that list, has seen some high-profile divorce cases over the years. It also regularly processes simple divorce cases, where there are few assets and no children. How might these additional factors impact the cost of your Illinois divorce, and how can you avoid excessive fees and expenses during your case? The following explains. 

In Respect to Divorce Costs, Complexity Usually Trumps Location 

Location can be important in determining the overall cost of a divorce, but a better price indicator is the complexity of the case. Still, it is important to remember that even complex issues can be mitigated against. For example, high net worth divorces can be extremely costly, but parties can often save a significant amount of money if they divorce amicably and settle quickly. Cases involving children can become extremely complex, resulting in costly legal fees, or they can be peacefully negotiated. Interestingly enough, such methods are often child-focused, which can help to ensure the child’s best interest and bond with each parent are preserved. 

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