Category Archives: Family Law

IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements have been around for a long time. They are used to separate each party’s finances so that not everything gets lumped into marital assets during the duration of the marriage. For example, a prenuptial agreement could have a clause that all of the high earning spouse’s salary during the marriage be considered non-marital assets. Prenuptial agreements are also used to protect one spouse from the other’s horrible debt, as well as many other financial reasons. Lifestyle clauses within pre- and postnuptial agreements are entirely different.

What Is a Lifestyle Clause?

A lifestyle clause is a pre or postnuptial agreement between spouses about the behavior of one or both during the marriage, typically relating to in-laws, religion, and other joint decisions such as child raising. Some spouses are putting in lifestyle clauses within their pre- and postnuptials that limits the other spouse’s weight, limits time spent with in-laws, or limits the number of days that in-laws can stay in the couple’s home. Other lifestyle clauses are used to deter infidelity, set up rules regarding a child’s religious upbringing or education, or who gets the family pet if it comes to divorce. None of these lifestyle clauses discuss money, aside from the financial penalties that breaking the rules may incur.

Financial Penalties Are Commonly Used to Hold Both Spouses Accountable

The predominant way that lifestyle clauses are used to hold each spouse accountable, at least for wealthy married couples, is with the use of financial penalties. For example, if a husband gained 10 pounds, the prenuptial agreement may require him to pay his wife $1,000 for each pound gained, coming to $10,000. Infidelity could be fined at $500,000, as some reported clauses mandate.

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IL family lawyerSurveys have shown that 10 to 15 percent of married women admit to cheating on their spouses, while men double that statistic, with 20 to 25 percent of married men admitting to cheating on their partners. How does infidelity affect divorce? After all, cheating is something that most married couples never get over and is one of the leading causes of divorce.

What Adultery Does Not Affect During Divorce

It is easier to first list the aspects of divorce that are not affected by adultery because adultery has no effect on most of the things that people typically assume that it does. For instance, adultery does not sway a court one way or the other when it comes to child custody unless it can be proven that the cheating spouse’s affair somehow put the child at physical or emotional harm, which is extremely rare. Similarly, adultery has no effect on child support or the parenting plan. Asset distribution almost always remains the same whether marriage end because of infidelity or some other unrelated reason. It may seem like a cheating spouse put less effort into the marriage or is setting a horrible example for his or her children, and therefore is less equipped to be a parent, but the courts generally treat a cheating spouse better than a spouse with a gambling addiction, for example. Only when the infidelity is proven to have directly affected the child in a negative way, such as exposing the child to a prostitute, will a court use infidelity to make a custody decision. The same goes for asset division. However, there is one exception to the later.

Dissipation

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property is divided “fairly.” Under 750 ILCS 5/503, the court “shall divide the marital property without regard to marital misconduct in just proportions considering all relevant factors.” As such, adultery does not affect property distribution. However, the court does recognize the misuse of marital assets, called the “dissipation” of marital assets. One type of misuse is spending marital assets on another sexual partner. For example, the court may choose to reduce the property distributed to the husband if it can be proven that he spent money on hotel rooms, jewelry, and dinners for his mistress.

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IL family lawyerDivorce is usually a time of drastic changes. Everything from your normal breakfast routine to where you sleep at night goes out the window during divorce. For many couples, selling the home becomes a necessity to manage finances. As the two spouses split up and live in different locations, paying the mortgage on top of rent becomes unmanageable, particularly when the two parties have to pay separate utilities and a plethora of other expenses that used to be shared. In fact, 61 percent of divorced couples end up selling the home. However, not all soon-to-be divorced couples sell the home, and in some cases, this is the best decision if at all possible.

If You Have to Sell the Home

Finances or moving out of town are two of the most common reasons that divorced couples sell their home. Selling the home can provide the best way to split the value of the property during division of assets, can allow both parties financial footing to start off anew, and can minimize stressful costs by getting rid of an expensive mortgage. After all, if one party ends up owning the house, they may not even be able to cover the mortgage by themselves. If you are selling your home during divorce, make sure to follow the tips below:

  • Discuss the full plan with your spouse before taking any other actions, as well as the pros and cons of selling or staying;
  • Divide the costs of cleaning, maintenance, renovations, and any other repair work evenly or at least keep close track of the costs;
  • Choose a realtor together;
  • Keep dialogue open with your spouse during the sale;
  • Hire an attorney before the sale goes through; and
  • Divide the assets. Marital property in Illinois is divided equitably.

Choosing to Keep the Home

For parents who can afford to keep the home, the stability that brings to your children may outweigh any other positives that selling the home has to offer. Additionally, older divorces may benefit by holding onto a home that they own outright. After all, late-life divorces are much more common now than in the past. In 2014, Americans over the age of 50 were twice as likely to get divorced than 50-plus-year-old Americans in 1990. For divorcing couples that choose not to sell the home, they, along with their attorneys, need to figure out an equitable way to divide assets, since the home (usually) cannot continue to belong to both parties. And, if there is a mortgage left to pay, the spouses must reach a decision on who is responsible for paying what. In some cases, the spouse who no longer lives in the home may be responsible for paying part of the mortgage.

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Il family lawyerDivorce is hard on adults. Just think how difficult it is for children, who rarely understand why their parents are separating, do not have any say in where they live or what their new lives will entail, and whose entire life schedules and normal routines are disrupted every few days or weeks when they go to stay with their other parent. As a mother or father, you can make this difficult process easier on them. The months that divorce takes will be a challenge, but you have the ability to minimize the stress and anxiety that your children experience during this time.

Refrain from Bad Mouthing the Other Parent in Front of Your Children

Children are more likely to identify with the parent that is the same gender as they are. Sons will identify with fathers, and daughters will identify with mothers. As such, if a father says to his daughter, “I hope you don’t end up being like your mother,” or makes some other crude or disrespectful comment in front of his daughter, his daughter may internalize that and her emotional development will be delayed or impaired. Even saying something negative about a son’s mother, who is a different gender than him, has a negative effect on the child. It may be tempting to bad mouth or grumble about the other parent, but this can have serious consequences on your child’s emotional and psychological state of mind.

Keeping Conflict Away from Your Children, Communication, and Maintaining a Relationship with Both Parents

Even discluding court appearances and mediation, divorce is filled with conflict between the two spouses. Children pick up on the most subtle derogatory comments just as easily as a shouting argument. Exposure to any type of conflict increases the child’s risk of developing psychological and social problems, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Parents should consider doing the following:

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IL family lawyerThere were 26,132 divorces in 2016 in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Many of these cases are the dissolution of religious marriages. In fact, 50 percent of residents in Illinois say that religion plays an important role in their lives, according to the Pew Research Center. Depending on their religion, spouses who are planning on getting divorced may need to carry out specific actions before their divorce is recognized by their church or religious leaders. While Illinois courts do not take religion into account at all, a religious divorce validated by a spouses’ church or center of worship may be just as important as the state-recognized divorce, which sorts out custody, visitation, child support, division of property, and more. A DuPage County attorney with experience carrying out religious divorces will be best suited to meeting both your religious and civil divorce needs.

Christian Divorces and Catholic Annulment

For most Christians, their divorce does not need to follow any particular set of rules in order to be seen as valid by the church. However, for some sects of Christianity, such as Catholicism, spouses may need to tread carefully. For example, Catholicism does not allow for a divorced person to remarry within the church. As such, some spouses may wish to have their marriage annulled if at all possible, rather than go through divorce. Other particularities may exist depending on the type of Christianity that you follow. In Illinois, 71 percent of the population follows Christianity, with Catholicism making up the largest sect at 28 percent.

Orthodox Jewish Divorces

For Orthodox Jews hoping to divorce, the husband must submit Get, a written document of proof, to the wife for the divorce to be validated by the synagogue. If the husband refuses to submit Get, the wife cannot divorce the husband. As such, under Orthodox Judaism, the wife cannot remarry and cannot have any more children who are religiously legitimate until Get is submitted by her husband—even though her “husband” may no longer be her actual legal husband under Illinois law at this point. There is no legal recourse for an Orthodox Jewish wife to take in order to force her husband into submitting Get, which is really just his permission. As such, Orthodox Jewish wives have no power in their religious divorce.

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