August 27th, 2014 at 6:25 pm
So, you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce. What you may not have considered though, is that there are a plethora of other issues that you must discuss now that you have decided to separate. You must worry about things like a separation period, grounds for divorce, financial consequences of a divorce, and numerous other issues. To begin though, the first step toward filing for divorce is labeling the grounds.
Ground for Divorce
Illinois is not considered a no fault state. Therefore, you must have a ground for filing for divorce.
In Illinois the grounds for divorce include:
- Being impotent;
- One spouse committing adultery;
- One spouse deserting another;
- Continued drunkenness (for a period of more than two years);
- Drug abuse (for a period of more than two years);
- Abuse — either physical or mental;
- Being convicted of a felony;
- Being infected with a sexually transmitted disease from your spouse; and/or
- Irreconcilable differences.
If spouses are filing for a divorce under irreconcilable differences, they have to wait until a two-year separation period has passed. However, if both parties agree to divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, the two-year separation date can be reduced to six months. During the separation period, the parties cannot live as a married couple. Though the parties may live in the same house (sometimes necessary for financial reasons), they must live as roommates rather than a couple. The spouses should not eat together, join in any activities together, and should present themselves to the public as separated, i.e. the spouses should not go out to eat together, attend religious ceremonies together or attend family gatherings together. They should also let family and friends know that they are separated.
In addition to the separation period, if spouses are filing for divorce using irreconcilable differences, they must show the court that there is an irreversible breakdown of the marriage and that all efforts have been made to attempt to continue the marriage, but they mentally or physically can no longer do so. This can be done, for example, by showing that the spouses have tried marriage counseling, but that it has failed to work.
Lastly, when deciding what grounds to file divorce under, please note that under Illinois law, the court is not allowed to consider the reason for divorce when determining how to distribute the property. This means that a judge will decide how to distribute the property, but his or her decision will not change if you have divorced for the reason of adultery. The judge will not give you a larger portion of the marital property just because the divorce was caused by your spouse.
For assistance with all your divorce concerns, please contact our experienced Naperville family law attorneys. We have five offices throughout Illinois and can help you understand the law and form a plan for your divorce that will benefit you.
August 21st, 2014 at 10:17 pm
One of the most important issues of any divorce case is child custody. When contemplating a divorce, you must also contemplate the consequences of a divorce on children and what the court will be looking at in regards to child custody.
Types of Child Custody
Under Illinois law, a court can order either joint custody to both parents or sole custody to one parent. These terms refer not only to how much visitation a parent will receive, but rather to the power the parent has over decisions in regards to the children.
Joint custody is where both parties have equal say in decisions that involve their children. These decisions include things regarding religion, education, healthcare, and other important issues. In most joint custody arrangements, if the parties cannot come to an agreement regarding these important issues, the parties will be sent to a mediator to resolve the dispute. If the mediator cannot solve the issues, then either party has the right to petition the court for a resolution of the issues.
When the court orders joint custody or the parties agree to joint custody, the written agreement must include how the decisions are to be made between the parties, a means of resolving disputes between the parents, and a periodic review of the terms of the agreement. Additionally, under joint custody, both parents will enjoy joint physical custody of the children. Though this might not be a complete 50/50 split of time, it should be a fair split of time between the parties.
Sole custody is where one parent is granted the power to make all major decisions regarding the children. In a sole custody situation, the children reside with the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent is subject to visitation rights.
When leaving the decision of joint custody vs. sole custody to the court, the court will look at the best interest of the child factors in making its decision, including:
- The parent’s wishes as to custody;
- The child’s wishes as to custody;
- The relationship between the child and his/her parents and or siblings, as well as any other significant person;
- How well the child is adjusted to his/her home, school and community;
- The health, both mentally and physically, of all everyone involved;
- Any threat of violence, either mental or physical by the potential custodian, no matter whether that violence is directed toward the child or another person;
- Any abuse directed at the child or any other person in the household;
- The parent’s willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
- Whether one of the parents has been convicted as a sex offender; and
- Whether one parent is in the military and that parent’s family-care plan for deployment.
Once a decision by the court is made regarding custody, a parent can petition the court for a modification of custody after two years has passed, if there is clear and convincing evidence that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, or before the two years has passed if there is evidence that the child’s mental and/or physical health is in serious danger.
Our experienced Naperville family law attorneys understand that deciding child custody issues can be a stressful and confusing time in your life. The goal of our family law attorneys is to ensure that you understand both the legal and practical implications of your decisions. If you or your spouse is considering a child custody issues, please contact us today. We can help you understand the law and develop a plan of action that is in the best interest of you.
August 15th, 2014 at 9:12 am
Though a divorce may be the right choice for you and your spouse, one party is always going to lose when it comes to your children. Unfortunately, a complete 50/50 split of custody between both parents may not work out due to the children’s age, geography, schools, jobs, and a variety of other reasons. Obviously, one parent will then get less time with the children. However, when the court rules you are the non-custodial parent or when you agree to a custody agreement that makes you the non-custodial parent, you still have rights to parenting time with your children. Visitation Rights Being a non-custodial parent means that you still have “reasonable” visitation rights. The term reasonable is not specifically defined and is up to a judge to decide. Reasonable can vary depending on each family’s situation. The variables can include the children’s age, activities, preference for visitation, the family’s geographic closeness, and any other issue either parent raises to the judge during the custody hearing. Restricted Visitation The judge also looks to the child’s well being when determining custody. If there is proven abuse, the court could deny visitation or order restricted visitation for the non-custodial parent. Restricted visitation means that the non-custodial parent might not be allowed overnight visitation or may be required to have visitation take place at the custodial parent’s home, prohibit visitation when the non-custodial parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, require the visitation to take place in a public setting, require the visitation to take place at a home other than the non-custodial parent’s home, or require visitation to be supervised by a third party. Relative Visitation Other than the two parents of the child, other relatives do not have a legal right to visitation. Most grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings have to wait to visit with children during times when the non-custodial parent has visitation. Under limited circumstances however, grandparents or siblings can request a visitation order from the court. These circumstances include if the child’s parents are not currently living together on a permanent basis, or if one of the parents has died or has been missing for more than three months.
Modification of Visitation
Once a court has put a visitation order in place, modification of that order can be difficult. After two years have passed, a parent can petition the court for a modification of custody if there is clear and convincing evidence that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. If one of the parents believes that there is a serious danger to the child’s mental or physical health, a parent can petition for a visitation change prior to the two-year mark. Withholding Visitation/Non-Payment of Support Unfortunately, withholding visitation by the custodial parent is not necessarily a reason for the court to change custody. This is because the court looks at the best interests of the child and how disruptive a change in custody would be to the child. A court is more likely to order the custodial parent to follow the visitation order. However, if a custodial parent continually withholds visitation or disrupts visitation, an argument can be made that the custodial parent is intentionally interfering with the relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child and a change in custody needs to be made. Additionally, non-payment of child support is not a reason for a denial of visitation. The court views visitation and child support as two separate issues and will not take child support into consideration for modifying visitation. Child custody and visitation issues can be a confusing and stressful time. Our Naperville family law attorneys are committed to helping you legally understand your decisions. If you are currently deciding child custody and visitation issues, please contact us today. We can help you understand the law and make a decision that is in the best interest of you and your children.
August 11th, 2014 at 7:59 am
In the past decade, prenuptial agreements have been on the rise among the soon-to-be-wed. Historically, premarital agreements, which dictate the terms and conditions of the dissolution of marriage, were seen to be an insult to the institution of marriage, and only for the rich and famous.
However, they have since become more popular with the general population. When deciding whether to create a prenuptial agreement with your beloved, it is important to understand what terms you may include, and which terms may invalidate the agreement from the start.
Prenuptial Agreements in Illinois
In Illinois, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act outlines the scope of the prenuptial agreement. The scope of the agreement may include the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to:
- Their separate and marital property;
- The disposition of property at the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a condition and/or at the couple’s separation, divorce, or death of one of the parties;
- The extent of alimony and spousal maintenance payments; and
- Any other matter that is not prohibited by public policy or a criminal statute.
Drafting a prohibition against paying child support is not permitted in a premarital agreement. Once the prenuptial agreement is drafted (the agreement is required to be in writing, and not an oral agreement), both parties must sign. The agreement becomes effective at the time of marriage.
Reasons a Prenuptial Agreement May Be Invalidated
There are, however, reasons in which the prenuptial agreement may not be enforced. An agreement may be invalidated for a number of reasons:
- It is a requirement that each spouse make a complete and full disclosure of the assets and financial obligations that they have coming into the marriage. It is common for spouses to estimate their assets at a lower value or not disclose the assets or financial obligations at all so as to keep the property outside the scope of the agreement. Not providing the correct information could invalidate a prenuptial agreement.
- A prenuptial agreement may be invalidated if the spouse can show that coercion and duress were present and/or the spouse lacked mental capacity (i.e., the spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or ill).
- One of the spouses signed without an independent legal representative. It is important that each of the spouses, after completion of the initial draft of the agreement, review it with separate legal counsel. These types of agreements, especially when there is a disparity in wealth between the couple, may be lopsided and one party may feel that he or she has decreased bargaining power. Separate counsel will help equalize the bargaining power between the couple.
Other Included Provisions that May Be Unconscionable
Certain provisions might be considered unconscionable, but it is up to the court to decide. These provisions generally correspond with personal rights and obligations, such as weight gain, childrearing decisions, and the number of times per year family and in-laws may visit the couple. A new trend seen is to include social media clauses, restricting the right of couples to post to social media sites any embarrassing or nude photos or posts that may harm the reputation of one of the spouses. This would ensure that private affairs stay solely between the couple.
Naperville Family Law Attorneys
If you and a loved one are considering whether to draft up a prenuptial agreement before the big day, it is important that you both speak with an experienced Naperville family law attorney who will be able to provide guidance as to whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you and the common advantages and disadvantages of this type of agreement. It is important to not wait until the last minute as these types of agreement should be thought out, discussed, and both parties should feel that their needs are being met.
July 30th, 2014 at 11:32 am
Divorce can be an extremely intense stressor on the lives of those going through the process. It can be difficult to sever a marriage, especially when the couple’s affairs are greatly commingled and entangled, and hurt feelings and acrimony add fuel to the already blazing fire. The divorce can have serious health repercussions on both the divorcing couple and those close to them, and relate largely to the level of hostility that is projected throughout the process. Recent studies have shown the varied, negative health effects that divorce has had on men, women, and children.
Divorce Health Effects on Men
According to an article published in the Journal of Men’s Health, higher rates of mortality, substance abuse, and depression are associated with men who were divorced or unmarried. In the study, married men had a mortality rate that was 250 percent lower than divorced or unmarried men, who were also more prone to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and heart attacks.
The likely reason for the disparity between the populations was due to the fact that the divorced men were involved in more hazardous activities such drug and alcohol abuse and also were more likely to become depressed, with a suicide rate at 39 percent higher than their married counterparts.
Divorce Health Effects on Women
Women are well-known to be greatly affected by divorce. In a study published by Iowa State University, it was shown that women who were affected by mental distress (as a result of the divorce) in the short-term, experienced significant long-term physical illness and health effects associated with the initial mental distress from a decade earlier. These negative health effects were duly largely to the financial status of the woman post-divorce.
The women evaluated who suffered significant financial hardship as a result of the divorce were more likely to have worse health problems a decade later than those who managed to be financially stable post-divorce. There was also a correlation between the health issues and where the woman ended up living; the more rural of a location where the woman was living, the more likely she was to suffer from serious and significant health problems.
Divorce Health Effects on Children
Children of divorce are also greatly affected by the experience, especially when the divorce happened at the beginning of their lives. In the study, a child of a divorce was found to have a harder time connecting with parents later on in life, as well as connecting with romantic partners.
Another study commented on the lingering effects that divorce has on children throughout the rest of their childhood and into their adult life. The U.S Bureau of Consensus found, in its most recent census, that an adult was 14 percent more likely to attempt suicide if their parents had gone through a divorce; the percentage shot up to 85 percent if the participant’s parents abused alcohol within the home. Children of divorced parents were also found to have higher levels of C-reactive protein than their counterparts, which is associated with a great risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Though it is not necessarily the divorce itself that directly causes the higher risks of health issues among children of divorce, the separation may cause indirect effects due to emotional issues, poor performance in school, and inability to create close relationships with others.
With these most recent statistics, it is important that if you are contemplating a divorce or separation, you go about it in the most civil way as possible, if not for you own health benefits, then for the health benefits of your children. The most important factor in contributing to a fair and equitable divorce is to be open and honest about what your marital property is, what you want, what you do not want, and what you are willing to compromise on. It’s also important to make sure that you both use your legal representatives to advocate for your rights, rather than allowing the divorce to become more personal than is necessary. Your health and your kids’ health will thank you.
Naperville Family Law Attorneys
If you are contemplating a divorce, and have any questions or concerns about the process, your rights in the equitable distribution, and how this procedure will affect your children, please contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney today. One of our experienced legal professionals will provide insight and advice in starting divorce proceedings in the most civil and non-hostile way to protect your family and your children from adverse health effects associated with the separation.
July 18th, 2014 at 2:10 pm
In 1980, Illinois state legislature passed the Emancipation of Minors Act which provides a legal mechanism by which mature minors may be able to become wholly independent from their parents or guardians and enter into their own affairs. Generally, it is up to the court that the minor has petitioned to decide if emancipation is in the best interest of the minor.
A mature minor is outlined in the statute as a person who is between the ages of 16 and 18 who can prove to the court that he is capable and willing to handle his own legal and economic affairs. Furthermore, it must be in the best interest of the mature minor to live separately and independently from his parents or guardian in order for emancipation to be granted. The act also attempts to address the plight of homeless minors who would benefit from emancipation because they would be able, with the permission of their guardians, to receive assistance, housing, shelter, and other services.
Termination of Parental Rights in Emancipation of Mature Minors
The emancipation of a minor will ultimately lead to the termination of parental rights of the parents or guardian of the minor child. The termination of parental rights is considered to be an extremely serious matter in Illinois, and the court will generally only entertain the emancipation of the minor in limited and narrow circumstances. Minors, in addition, have a significant number of obstacles when petitioning for emancipation and should not enter into it lightly. It is important to know that complete or partial emancipation of a minor will be barred in the event that a parent or guardian objects to the emancipation. A homeless minor, who has limited connection with his family, will only receive partial emancipation if consistent attempts to unify the family have been made.
Petition Process for Emancipation
The petition for emancipation of a minor may not be filed on his own behalf. Because of the incapacity of the minor to petition the court, the petition will need to be filed on behalf of the minor, either by a “next friend” or by the parent or guardian in charge of the minor.
The petition requires that the minor outline within the petition the following information:
- The minor’s age,
- The minor’s affirmed Illinois residency,
- The reason the minor is seeking emancipation,
- Information with regards to the minor’s parents, and
- Any information establishing that he is willing, able, and capable to function and live partially or wholly independent from his parents or guardian and can manage his own affairs.
It is up to the court to ultimately decide if it is in the best interest of the minor to become emancipated or be reunited with his family and the court may decide to partially or wholly emancipate the minor. Partial emancipation will require that the court dictate the specific rights and responsibilities of the minor and the limitations of his emancipation until he is 18 years old.
Rights and Responsibilities of Emancipation
Emancipation gives the minor the legal right to enter into contracts, consent to medical decisions, and be financially and physically independent from his family. The emancipation ruling is subject, however, to the limitations created by the court until the age of 17 and the court will periodically check up on the minor to insure that emancipation is still in his best interests.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Naperville
If you are a minor or you are a parent of a minor who is interested in petitioning for emancipation, it is important to understand the implications and consequences of emancipation. Termination of parental rights is a serious issue and one that should be evaluated and discussed with an attorney experienced in family law issues. An experienced Naperville family attorney will be able to answer any questions or concerns you have with regards to the rights and consequences of emancipation of a minor.
July 14th, 2014 at 12:25 pm
Recently, a number of states have passed new amendments to their adoption laws, which permit adoptees to finally access their original birth certificate with the names of their biological parents. In the past nationwide, adoptees had no legal right to their original birth certificates on the public policy that biological parents who choose adoption should have the right to remain anonymous for any number of reasons (many due to lack of desire to be parents, lack of financial support to be a parent, or the child was begot due to traumatic circumstances such as rape or incest). Connecticut will be the next state in July 2015 to permit adoptees access to their original birth certificates. Currently, 42 states have statutes that seal birth records from as early as the 1930s.
Adoptee Rights in Illinois
Illinois was one of the first states to amend their Adoption Act and force the surrender of the original birth records to any adoptee interested. House Bill 5428 was put into effect on May 2010, and permitted adoptees who were born in Illinois before January 1, 1946 to access their original birth records. Surviving children of the adoptee were also able to obtain a copy of the original records. As of November 2011, adoptees who are older than 21 years of age and born in Illinois after 1945 are permitted to claim their original birth certificates.
Rights of Biological Parents to Remain Anonymous in Illinois
Birth parents who want to remain anonymous must preemptively apply to veto disclosure of their identity on the birth certificate. By vetoing the disclosure, all relevant, identifying information about the biological parent will be deleted from the original birth record. However, the veto disclosure only eradicates information about one biological parent; the other biological parent must request a similar veto to delete his or her own personal information. The death of a biological parent does not veto disclosure. As of May 2014, less than 500 biological parents have requested a disclosure veto to remain anonymous.
Public Policy Considerations for Giving Access to Birth Records
For many adoptees, the desire to access their birth certificates may have nothing to do with locating their actual biological parents. Many just want the information for their own knowledge. Others, however, may find the information extremely important, especially in the circumstances where access to relevant medical history would make a substantial impact on the individual’s life and decisions when it came to their own medical history. Having knowledge that the adoptee might have assumed a debilitating, genetic disorder from a biological parent could aid in not only the initial discovery of a possible genetic disease, but could ultimately save the life of an adoptee who might have waited for the symptoms to occur before seeking help.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Naperville
If you are an adoptee interested in obtaining your original birth records, a biological parent who wants to remain anonymous, or a parent to an adoptee who wants to encourage or prevent your child from accessing the original birth records, there are many considerations and factors that must be evaluated. The legal issues surrounding adoption and the right of adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates are complex and difficult and an experienced Naperville family law attorney will be able to go through many of the possible legal issues that might influence your decision. Please contact one of our family attorneys today for more information about adoption laws in Illinois.
July 7th, 2014 at 2:47 pm
In 2001, the Illinois legislature passed the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act, also known as the Safe Haven Act, with the hope of protecting the number of newborn infants abandoned due to a mother’s severe emotional distress. The Safe Haven Act was proposed and passed in 2001 in response to a number of abandoned newborns who were injured or killed as a result of the abandonment. The law provides women who have just given birth the option, within 30 days of birth, to bring a newborn infant anonymously to hospitals, police, and fire departments without having to face civil or criminal liabilities. The policy was to provide a safe environment for newborn babies in the event that a new mother decides she does not want or cannot take care of the newborn.
How the Safe Haven Law Works
Upon the relinquishment of the newborn infant, it is presumed that the mother has given consent to the termination of her parental rights to the child. It is also presumed that a mother who is relinquishing the infant is also the infant’s biological parent and either expressly or impliedly relinquished the child without the intent of returning for him/her. A parent of the child who has been given up must show evidence to rebut the presumption that she consented to the termination of her parental rights and that she did not, expressly or impliedly, intend on returning for the infant.
The Hospital’s Role in the Safe Haven Law
Under the statute, hospitals are required to accept all newborns and provide any necessary emergency care for him or her. The act of giving the child up to the hospital provides consent to the hospital to perform all necessary and reasonable examinations of the infant. The hospital will be found to have temporary custody of the child until the child is taken into custody by an adoption agency.
The Role of Police Stations and Fire Departments in the Safe Haven Act
If the parent relinquishes the child to a police station or a fire department, it is up to the police station or the fire department to transport the child for medical evaluations to the nearest hospital. The relinquishing parent has up to 72 hours to return to the fire department or police station, and the authorities must provide the hospital information to the relinquishing parent.
Under the Safe Haven Act, immunity is given to relinquishing parents only in the case where the infant has not exhibited signs of abuse or trauma. The Act does not provide immunity for civil or criminal liability where the child shows sign of abuse.
The Safe Haven Act in Effect
In Chicago, the Safe Haven Law has seen success, as in the 13 years that it has been active, there have been 89 children that have been relinquished. Of the 89, almost half (47 percent) of the infants were white, with 29 percent and 16 percent being black and Latino, respectively. Almost 34 percent of the women who relinquished their children were between the ages of 13 and 17 years old (16.82 percent) and 31 and 41 years old (16.82 percent).
The Safe Haven Law was put into place because of the new drive to protect newborn children abandoned in unsafe environments. There are a variety of legal issues and concerns when deciding to give up your child, whether through the extreme decision of the Safe Haven Law or through the more usual route of an adoption plan. Adoption is a difficult decision, whether you are deciding to put your child up for adoption or you would like to adopt a child. It is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney when determining whether adoption is right for you.
If you have questions or concerns about whether adoption is right for you and your family, and need help understanding the legal ramifications of your decision, please contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney. A family law attorney will be able to guide you through the adoption process.
June 26th, 2014 at 12:33 pm
New federal tax rules have been amended and rewritten to help support victims of domestic violence, who have separated from their abusive spouses, in claiming healthcare subsidies. The federal tax rules were recently revamped as a result of public outcry to the 2010 Affordable Care Act rules that granted healthcare tax credits for buying insurance only in the cases where the married couple filed their taxes jointly. Originally, married people who filed their taxes separately were not permitted to file for these tax credits. Many groups, as a result, were being financially disadvantaged as a result; victims of abuse, people whose spouses were imprisoned or had disappeared, or couples in the middle of divorce were a few of the identified groups that were unable to claim the premium tax credits due to the original wording of the Act.
The original wording of the Act determined the eligibility for premium tax credits by requiring that an individual must be: a taxpayer who is not a dependent of another taxpayer, who files a married joint tax return (if applicable), and whose household income was 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty line (about $11,500 to $45,960 for an individual) based on the number of household members within the taxpayer’s family.
Victims of domestic violence, based on the original wording, were required to file their taxes jointly with their abusive spouses, and many were forced into a situation where they would need to contact their abusive spouses so as to file a joint return, even at the risk of harm or further trauma.
Many, as a result, would be forced into reconciliation for the purpose of receiving the tax subsidies. Ultimately, the victims of domestic violence who were still married to their abusers for one reason or another were required to choose between their own safety, trauma, and decision to separate from their spouse or receive the benefit of tax subsidies for health insurance. Victims of domestic violence, ultimately, were in a lose-lose situation.
New Qualifications for 2014
The Internal Revenue Service has added for the 2014 fiscal year, in connection to the new ruling for domestic violence victims, that a married taxpayer qualifies if he or she:
- Files the 2014 tax return as married but filing separately;
- Lives separately from his/her spouse at the time of the tax return filing;
- Claims that the reason for filing separately is due to the circumstances of domestic violence; and
- That he or she can show that b) and c) are present.
The new ruling also permits an extension for those who have yet to register for Obamacare and requires that the individual swear that he or she qualifies (based on the honor system) for the extended, special enrollment period.
The regulation, though a giant stride toward helping victims of domestic violence to acquire health insurance without having to contact their abusive spouse, still does not have a solution for victims of domestic violence who fled from their home less than six months ago.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and have been considering a separation or divorce from your abusive spouse, please contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney who will be able to provide guidance through this difficult time and legal solutions that may apply to your current situation.
June 23rd, 2014 at 12:32 pm
Divorce can be an emotionally, mentally, and physically depleting process; the separation of two individuals, especially based on the duration of their partnership, can lead to an exhaustive amount of entanglements and loose ends. Sometimes, by the middle to end of the divorce settlement, there is an overwhelming feeling that “life will get better if I acquiesce to every desire of my ex-partner so that I can continue to live my life and move on.”
However, these desires will lead to further discontent at the end when you realize that you were left with considerably less than what you believe was your share. Before the beginning of any divorce proceeding and settlement agreement, there are few things that divorcing spouses should do to prepare for the long-haul marathon of divorce.
Create a Financial Plan
The most difficult part of the proceeding is figuring out how the division of financial assets will affect the rest of your life. Start by creating a range of scenarios, depending on the amount of money, property, or assets that you want. If you have included, for example, your primary residence on your “want” list, it is important to understand how much it is worth, the amount of money that is needed to maintain the residence and/or any emergency renovations throughout the years, whether spousal maintenance is needed to maintain the residence, whether you could afford the domicile if the maintenance were to end or your financial situation were to change, and what the tax implications of this asset are.
By listing your largest assets first, your financial range will suddenly come into focus on what you can afford once you are separated and what you can live without. At the end of the day, it is possible that the primary residence is more expensive or more of a hassle than it is worth, and another residence instead might make more sense.
Imagine the Future
Though the present may be gloomy, focusing on the future is extremely important because it reminds you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Imagining your new future will also help you evaluate your financial plan. In your idealized future, does it make sense for you to be the primary caretaker of your child? Is your spouse in a better position to be the primary caretaker? What is the ideal situation for you when it comes to your children? These are questions that can help you prepare for whatever the future may hold.
Get Support and Stay Healthy
Being able to either talk (or not talk) about your divorce to another person may be the best way to handle your situation. Sometimes bouncing ideas or gaining perspective from the people who know you the best may help you to move the settlement along. Another person’s perspective might help you determine that you no longer want a specific asset due to significant tax encumbrances. Also, staying healthy, minimizing alcohol consumption, sleeping well, and staying active will help you to make better choices and keep your mental and emotional balance.
These are a few pieces of advice to help you before the initial stages of a divorce settlement. The final and most important piece of advice is to find a family law attorney who you trust and you believe will be your biggest advocate and supporter throughout the process. An experienced attorney will help empower you through this difficult time, and join your expectations with realistic goals and strategy to meet your needs. If you are considering a divorce and would like more information tailored to your present marital situation, please contact one of our experienced Naperville family law attorneys.