Author Archives: John Martoccio

IL divorce lawyerMan couples and individuals get confused about the differences between domestic partnership and marriage; the two are definitely not one and the same. While domestic partnership certainly offers legal benefits to a couple, it does not provide the same financial and legal benefits that marriage provides. If you are thinking about entering a domestic partnership or marriage and have questions, or you are planning to divorce or terminate your domestic partnership, call a Hinsdale divorce attorney for help.

Domestic Partnership Benefits

Domestic partnerships were originally created by states to allow some legal benefits to same-sex couples before same-sex marriage was legalized. Now, same-sex couples and different-sex couples get married as well as enter domestic partnerships. Some of the benefits of a domestic partnership include the following:

  • Receiving healthcare benefits under a spouse’s employer-sponsored group plan. Many employers across the country are actually doing away with this benefit, but in Illinois, it is required of employers to offer the same health benefits to domestic partnerships that they offer marriages, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance
  • Being able to receive medical updates and information of a sick or injured partner in the hospital
  • The state of Illinois gives domestic partnerships the same legal benefits that a married couple has

Marriage Benefits

  • Roth IRA can roll over to the other spouse when one dies
  • Unlimited tax-free gifting between spouses
  • Federal healthcare benefits
  • Marriage is recognized in all states and countries, unlike domestic partnerships
  • Married couples automatically inherit the deceased spouse’s assets if there is no will
  • Ability to file joint federal income tax returns

Terminating a Domestic Relationship in Illinois

Just like marriages, domestic relationships do not always last. If a couple decides to terminate the relationship, they must file an affidavit of termination with the court. The domestic partnership is not over once the paperwork is turned in; there is a 30 day waiting period before the relationship is actually terminated legally. This process becomes much more complicated if the couple has children or shared property, as there will be custody and property division issues that must be resolved with a lawyer.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce makes virtually everything more complicated, especially when children are involved. More time and added communication are required of parents who are divorced or separated; everything from creating a time-sharing plan during summer vacation and agreeing on what expenses each parent is responsible for paying when it comes to college costs, to figuring out who takes the children to their bi-annual dental cleaning appointment involves complexities that single household families do not have to deal with. One more added complexity is that of taxes. Only one parent can claim their child as a dependent on their taxes, and this continues to be a point of conflict months or years after divorce.

What Are Child Tax Credits?

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 eliminated the dependency tax exemption that parents could claim, a parent who claims dependents still has options for other tax benefits. These include a tax credit for the child and earned income credit. A parent can receive up to $2,000 in tax credit per child under the age of 17 and up to $500 for each child aged 17 to 19 or each child aged 19-24 who is enrolled in full-time college.

A tax credit offsets tax liability. For example, if a parent made $40,000 over the course of a year, their $2,000 tax credit would bump their taxable income down to $38,000. With two children under 17, they would double their tax savings. As such, parents with joint custody often disagree about who gets to claim their child or children as dependents, because only one parent can do so.

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IL divorce lawyerAlimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, is often a point of contention amongst spouses who are going through a divorce. The paying spouse may feel like they are being asked to give more than they can afford or more than what their husband or wife deserves or needs, and the receiving spouse probably feels the opposite. As the lower-earning spouse, they might have given up their own goals to support the career of their spouse or to be a homemaker or primary caregiver for their children. Now that divorce is imminent, they have financial needs that they cannot meet on their own. Contrary to popular belief, permanent alimony is rarely awarded. Alimony is usually temporary and comes in the form as bridge the gap alimony, which helps keep the lower-earning spouse afloat during divorce, or rehabilitative alimony.

What Rehabilitative Alimony Is Used For

Rehabilitative alimony is awarded at a set amount for a period of time long enough for the lower-earning spouse to complete a bachelor’s or advanced degree or finish up specific job training. It can be used for tuition, books, non-college educational or training classes, vocational training, and other expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, and other expenses that the spouse would normally have during this period of ”rehabilitation.”

Alimony Is Awarded to Provide a Lower Earning Spouse The Means to Self Sufficiency

One of the general goals of alimony is to provide the lower-earning spouse the ability to support the lifestyle they grew accustomed to during the course of the marriage. There are a variety of reasons that the lower-earning spouse might struggle to support themselves in the months or years after the marriage is dissolved. These include the following:

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IL divorce lawyerIt is no secret that financial troubles are a leading contributor to matrimonial anxiety and divorce. One recent study found that student loan debt is the cause of one out of eight divorces. Another survey found that money is the leading cause of stress in relationships. Whether debt, disagreements about how money should be spent, general incompatibility, or something else was the cause of your divorce, bankruptcy can quickly put your plans to a screeching halt.

Property Division Actions Are Stopped During Bankruptcy

Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows homeowners immediate relief from foreclosure due to the automatic stay, which also stops lenders and debt collectors from continuing their debt collection practices. However, bankruptcy, due to the automatic stay, also stops all property division actions. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court appoints a bankruptcy appointee who has the power to sell off your property to pay back your debt. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy will delay the division of marital property, this form of bankruptcy is over with relatively quickly.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes between three and five years, a time during which you must adhere to a strict payment plan to repay your debt. None of your property is sold off to pay back your creditors during Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but if you are going through divorce and desire to divide marital property, you must get permission from the court to do so. As such, going through a divorce during bankruptcy is a complicated task, though in some cases it cannot be avoided.

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IL custody lawyerCustody decisions can be challenged whenever there is a substantial change in circumstances, or you believe that your child is being harmed by the other parent’s decisions. If your child’s other parent was given full or shared custody rights and you have evidence of parental neglect, you must petition the court for a custody hearing. A Hinsdale child custody attorney can help you get started today.

Child Neglect Can be Just as Harmful as Child Abuse

Neglect is the failure to provide proper clothing, food, shelter, and medical care. It can also involve lack of supervision, failure to provide a clean living space for the child, emotional neglect such as rejecting or ignoring the child, and educational neglect such as not requiring the child to attend school. Child neglect is more prevalent than we think. Over half a million children are maltreated due to neglect each year—and these are only the cases for which an investigation or alternative response is carried out. While child abuse may grab the headlines, it is far less prevalent than neglect. And, neglect can result in some of the same detrimental outcomes as child abuse; it should never be ignored. Long term effects of neglect include the following physical ailments:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Brain damage
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Malnutrition
  • Functional limitations
  • Heart attack
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Lung disease
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • High blood pressure

Nonphysical harms include post-traumatic stress disorder, limited cognitive ability, mental and emotional health disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, social limitations, criminal activities, unhealthy sex practices, and poverty.

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