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Category Archives: Family Law

IL divorce lawyerPeople going through a divorce have to think about the many different terms they will have to sort through, whether it is during mediation meetings or through litigation. One of the most common terms that comes up during a divorce case is spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is shrouded in many myths and misconceptions, so if you are going through a divorce, it is important to understand the truth behind this common term. To help with this, below are some of the most common questions about spousal maintenance, and the answers to them.

Are Spousal Maintenance and Alimony the Same Thing?

Yes. Although the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act uses the term ‘spousal maintenance’ when talking about payments one spouse will make to the other after divorce, it has the same purpose as alimony.

Does the Lower-Earning Spouse Always Receive Spousal Maintenance?

No. Getting a divorce does not automatically give the lower-earning spouse the right to spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is awarded when a judge deems that it is appropriate for a specific situation and orders one spouse to make payments to the other following the divorce. A judge will consider 13 specific factors when determining whether to award spousal maintenance. These include the age, health, needs, vocational skills, and income, as well as the length of the marriage, and the parent that has custody of the children.

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IL divorce lawyerThe word divorce is often associated with short marriages that were the result of a spontaneous weekend but truthfully, a marriage of any length can end in divorce. When a couple gets divorced after a long marriage, they will likely face issues that may not be present when a couple divorces after only being married for a short time. Below are the three most common issues that come up in divorce cases when a couple has been married for a long time.

Complex Property Division Issues

Property division is a complex issue in any divorce, but the matter becomes particularly complicated when the couple has been married for a long time. Property division relies on dividing marital property between separate property, and this is difficult after a long marriage. Over time, a couple’s separate property is likely to become commingled in joint bank accounts, meaning it may be subject to property division rules, even though it is separate property.

Other property division matters also become more complicated when a couple has been married for a long time. For example, both spouses may have accumulated savings in retirement accounts, and these must also be divided. If the spouses have an estate plan, it is also important to change these, as it is likely that the spouses named each other as beneficiaries.

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IL divorce lawyerOn March 20, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide shelter-in-place order. The order was intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe in their own homes. Although the order may have saved lives and helped Illinois flatten the curve, for others, the news was not good. These are the individuals that are victims of domestic violence. For many of these victims, the only relief they had from the threat of abuse prior to the pandemic was when they went to work, or when their abuser did. It was not long before Chicago, and many other areas, saw an increase in domestic violence. Below are a few of the factors that place victims at greater risk during the pandemic.

The Feeling of Isolation

Abusers typically want to isolate their victim from their workplace, friends, and family members. Through this isolation, the abuser can use gaslighting techniques on their victims and are more easily able to control them. With social isolation mandated by the government, it became easier to isolate victims of domestic violence, which can trigger future incidents.

Stress

The novel coronavirus brought an unknown threat to Illinois and the rest of the United States. The unknown is extremely stressful, particularly when people are unsure of how the virus spreads, how to contain it, and how to protect loved ones. When abusers become stressed, they commonly take it out on their victims, particularly when each person is forced to remain in the same household.

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IL divorce lawyerParenting plans are documents that outline the role each parent will have in their child’s life after divorce, and the responsibilities they carry. When parents cannot come to an agreement, a judge will issue a parenting plan. In either case, an agreement is legally binding once it is issued or approved by a judge. It is common to have questions about parenting plans, as they are not something many people have dealt with prior to divorce. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions people have about these plans.

What Should You Include in a Parenting Plan?

Even when you can agree with your spouse about a parenting plan, there are still certain factors you should include within it. Many people think parenting plans only outline child custody situations, but there is much more to them than that. A parenting plan should always include:

  • The amount of time the child will spend at each parent’s home
  • The manner in which you will communicate with a matter relating to your child
  • How holidays, vacations, and special occasions will be spent
  • Cultural and religious practices important to the parent and/or child
  • The child’s medical needs, and the responsibilities each parent holds for meeting them
  • Where the child will attend schooling
  • The type of lifestyle the child will enjoy
  • Discipline expectations
  • Any special needs of the child
  • The process of modifying the parenting plan, if necessary

When addressing each of these factors, parenting plans must always work in the child’s best interests.

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IL divorce lawyerMore and more people write prenuptial agreements every year, realizing that these documents will protect them in the event that the marriage ends. However, there is a lot that goes into a premarital agreement and if you make a mistake, it may not offer the protection you were counting on. Below are the most common mistakes people make when drafting a prenup, and how to avoid them.

Failing to Broach the Subject

You may feel as though talking about a prenuptial agreement is not romantic, but the truth is that a conversation can make both you and your partner feel more secure in the marriage. People fail to talk about their financial situation prior to their wedding far too often. When creating a prenuptial agreement, you must be fully open and honest with each other, which can eliminate arguments about finances that lead to divorce in the future.

Bringing up the subject of a prenuptial agreement does not have to be uncomfortable. Have the discussion as early as possible and emphasize that the agreement will protect both of you in the future, and prevent a lot of headaches, if necessary.

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