December 16th, 2014 at 8:43 am
Many people going through divorce end up spending a lot of time thinking about the major issues like property division and child custody. While this makes a lot of sense, people should also spend some time thinking about some smaller considerations that can creep up on them. One of these considerations that affects women in particular is what to do about their last name. While the number of women taking their husband’s last name has declined somewhat in the past 30 years, statistics still place the number of women changing their last name at over 80 percent, so the decision of name change after divorce is still one many women will have to face.
Considerations About Name Changes
One of the biggest things a person should think about when considering a name change after divorce is how their name is tied to their identity. For some women, the name will be a constant reminder of their ex-husband and the marriage they left behind. For others, the name has become a part of their own identity, and they do not associate it with their ex-husband, just themselves.
Beyond that, there are practical issues involved in a name change. Driver’s licenses, bank accounts, professional licenses, and utility hookups all have a name attached to them. Changing that name involves no small amount of bureaucracy, and it can be a little while before all the straggler accounts get updated.
Finally, children from the marriage can also complicate the issue. Many children will continue to keep their father’s name. An ex-wife reverting back to her maiden name may end up with a different name than her children. While this is largely a symbolic issue, some children can find it upsetting, especially in the middle of the other issues associated with divorce.
How to Change Your Name
Name change after a divorce is not a difficult process, but it does involve some paperwork and phone calls. A woman’s final judgment dissolving the marriage gives her permission to change her name. This needs to be done before the divorce is finalized, and it almost always makes sense to do so. Putting it in the final judgment gives a woman the option of changing her name at a later date; it does not require it.
The next thing to do is to work with the Social Security Administration to get a new Social Security card with the changed name. To do this, the Social Security Administration usually requires documents proving identity, citizenship, and the authority to change the name. With a new Social Security card in hand, the next step is a new driver’s license. Again, this is going to require documentation linking the old name to the new name, such as a copy of the final judgment dissolving the marriage. Once the woman has both of these new official pieces of identification, the rest of the process is simply contacting private entities to make them aware of the change.
Divorce comes with many practical considerations, and it is important to have a full picture before making any decisions. If you have questions about the divorce process, contact an experienced Naperville divorce attorney today.
December 9th, 2014 at 12:27 pm
The holiday season in America is a time that people make a point of spending with their families. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports a 54 percent spike in travel around the holidays as people traverse the country to visit their families. All this emphasis on togetherness can make the holidays after a divorce a difficult time especially for people with children who will likely need to see both sides of the family over the course of the season. Fortunately, people have ways of making the holidays easier on everyone after the divorce, so that the kids can still enjoy this special time of year.
The biggest thing that divorced parents can do to make the holidays simpler is to avoid conflict. The season only lasts for about a month, but kids can remember holiday fights for a lifetime. Everyone is under a lot of familial pressure during this time of year, and that can make people more prone to fighting, but putting off conflicts that do not need to be settled urgently and keeping old arguments buried for a month will make the whole season easier. Divorced parents do not need to be the best of friends, but cultivating a civil, business-like relationship based on compromise can make the holidays after a divorce go smoother. In fact, it can make parenting after a divorce smoother all year round.
Plan Things out
Another way of avoiding family drama during the holiday season is through an abundance of planning. Ex-spouses know their former in-laws’ routines. They know who celebrates which holidays and when. They probably even used to have a plan for how to see both sides of the family during the holiday season. The divorce is no reason to throw all of this information out.
Both parents know that everyone is going to want to see the grandchildren, and this time of year is not the place to be petty or obstinate. Working out compromises in advance of the holidays can make it easier to cope. Figure out who gets to see the kids on which days. Work out if they are going to be moving between different parties on the same day. Talk about when and where the children have to be. Even work out the practical details like which parent is responsible for making sure the children get somewhere on time. These plans do not have to be perfect, but it is important for parents to figure out an arrangement they can live with since this will not be the last time the holidays come around.
The realities of divorce may appear daunting, but spouses do not have to go through it alone. Contact an experienced Naperville divorce attorney today to learn more about how they can guide you through the process.
December 2nd, 2014 at 10:10 am
Divorce cases require the court to get involved in the personal details of a marriage to determine the best way to unwind it. Consequently, divorce cases are often highly emotional and can result in couples debating personal topics in court. These sorts of issues can become complicated if there are state laws that affect personal privacy layered on top of them.
For instance, Illinois law provides confidentiality for visits related to a person’s mental health, but a person’s mental health can also be an important issue in a divorce case. Consider a situation where a partner’s mental state may affect their legal obligations. Prenuptial agreements, as with all contracts, must be signed by individuals who are legally capable of doing so and agreed to under their own will – free of duress. Lacking that capacity may result in the contract being unenforceable. Amidst divorce, a partner to one of these agreements may argue along these lines to have the agreement tossed out. But what evidence can be presented to prove incapacity or duress, particularly when confidentiality and privacy rights are involved?
This unique issue recently arose in a much publicized divorce case relating to “the richest man in Illinois.” The case centers around a hedge fund manager and his wife, who was also a successful financial professional. Before getting married, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement that laid out, among other things, certain stipulations about how the property was to be divided in the event that the couple filed for divorce.
The wife in the case is now fighting to have that prenuptial agreement invalidated. While there are a variety of ways that prenuptial agreements can be invalidated under Illinois law, one of them is duress. A duress argument can be made on the basis that one of the spouses signed the contract based on the improper influences of another person. The wife argues that prior to signing the agreement she met with the husband’s psychologist who also had a professional relationship with the husband, and that she signed the prenuptial agreement on the improper advice of the psychologist. Conversely, the husband, who was also present at the meeting, argues that her disclosure of the meeting violated his right to keep communications with his psychologist confidential under Illinois law.
The Illinois Law In Question
Courts dealing with and similar issues are forced to make tough decisions that way competing rights and interests. The issue of disclosure centers around the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act. This Act places restrictions on when information about mental health visits may be disclosed.
Cases may eventually hinge on nuanced details. For example, if both parties were jointly present at a meeting with a mental health professional, then either one may potentially claim privacy rights related to the meeting. Alternatively some argue that the court should interpret the Act as applying only to people seeking mental health treatment rather than simply counseling on marital issues.
Divorce law can implicate a wide variety of other areas of law. If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Naperville divorce lawyer who can help guide you through these complex interactions.
November 25th, 2014 at 6:11 pm
Divorce can be a stressful process, and many people prepare for the mental and emotional toll that the decision can take. However, fewer people understand that the stress from divorce can also impact a person’s physical health if he or she does not take steps to avoid it. In fact, research from the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University show a 20 percent increased risk of developing chronic health conditions for people who go through a divorce. Consequently, it is important for people to understand the risk of these problems and the steps they can take to help ensure that they stay healthy through their divorce and after it.
Divorce is a difficult experience, and many studies show that people who go through a divorce are at risk for a variety of health problems. Many of the mental health issues such as depression or anxiety are expected in the wake of a separation, but the physical impact can be a more long-term problem. For instance, people who have been divorced are at risk for sleep disorders, which can persist well after the divorce ends. Seeking treatment for these disorders is important because they also correlate with high blood pressure, another health risk.
The stress from divorce can also cause other health issues. For instance, people who have gone through a divorce show an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Beyond that, many people suffer from mobility limitations later in life, which can include things like problems climbing stairs, or walking. The added strain can also decrease the effectiveness of a person’s immune system, which can result in someone become more prone to infections in the time following a divorce.
The causes of these health effects are likely a combination of stress and depression. Mental stress can actually place a physical strain on the body by causing it to release hormones. These hormones alter the body’s normal functioning, which can eventually lead to adverse health effects. Consequently, it is important for someone going through a divorce to take time out of his or her day to relax and de-stress as a way of preventing these problems.
Depression can also take a physical toll because it often leads to people not taking care of themselves. As it sets in, people can feel tired and unmotivated. This can result in more meals out, snacking on unhealthy food, and fewer trips to the gym. It can be difficult to stick to a normal, healthy routine during a divorce, but doing so can help keep these adverse health effects at bay, letting the newly-divorced enjoy the freedom that comes from a separation.
If you are considering ending your marriage and would like to learn more about the different options for reducing the difficulty or stress divorce, contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney today. Our firm is here to help you make the best decisions for your situation.
November 18th, 2014 at 10:05 am
In most circumstances, child support stops once the child has reached the age of majority. However, that is not always in the child’s best interest. Many children have mental or physical disabilities that require more care from parents. Additionally, many parents these days have a hand in covering their children’s expenses during college. The law does not require child support to cover these sorts of issues, but Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage act does give judges the option of awarding non-minor children support in certain circumstances.
When Non-Minor Support Is Available
The law makes non-minor child support available to children in two cases. The first case relates to children with disabilities. The law is fairly sparse on guidelines in this area. It only states that courts may award non-minor support in cases where there is a child with a mental or physical disability.
The law provides considerably more guidance in the second case, which relates to educational expenses for non-minor children. Courts can award support related to education expenses for non-minor children with regard to college, professional school, vocational school, and even expenses incurred in high school after the child reaches age 19. The law also provides examples of things the expenses can cover, like tuition, room and board, transportation, books, and other fees. The statute also provides for the actual procedures that can be used to pay the expenses such as paying the other parent, paying the school directly, or setting up a trust for the purposes of educational expenses. Importantly, if courts do award educational support, the law requires parents and children to consent to the supporting parent’s ability to access academic transcripts.
How Judges Decide
As with most issues of child support, the law gives judges a wide latitude to consider the entire family situation in making their decision about whether to award non-minor child support. In fact, the law directs judges to “consider all relevant factors that appear reasonable and necessary.” In order to illustrate some of those factors, the law lists four as examples:
- What the financial resources of each parent are;
- What standard of living the child would have had if the parents had not divorced;
- What financial resources the child has access to; and
- How the child is performing in school.
However, these are just some of the many different considerations that may ultimately end up impacting the decision to award non-minor child support for college expenses or additional care.
Protecting your child’s future is an important consideration for any parent. If you are thinking about filing for divorce and would like to learn more about these issues, contact an experienced Naperville divorce lawyer today. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to help you understand the process and make the best decisions for yourself.
November 11th, 2014 at 7:40 am
When people consider ending their marriages, they most commonly consider pursuing a divorce. However, Illinois law does provide another option, a declaration of the invalidity of marriage. These declarations are more commonly referred to as annulments. Annulments differ from divorces in that they are a legal acknowledgment that a marriage never occurred because of some defect in the marriage, whereas a divorce is a legal unwinding of a marriage that did happen. That difference makes annulments considerably more difficult to qualify for, but they can have different practical impacts in certain circumstances, which may make an annulment a better option.
Reasons to Get an Annulment
There are a variety of reasons to prefer an annulment over a divorce when one is available. Annulments are a legal declaration of a marriage’s nonexistence, which some people may prefer on an emotional level. Beyond that, annulments can prevent a person from needing to pay alimony. However, this comes with a caveat that if the other spouse believed at the time that they were entering into a valid marriage then they have the right to collect support like the spouse of a legitimate marriage would have in many circumstances. Additionally, the annulment would not make a difference for purposes of child support because the child’s right to collect support from their parents is independent of their parents’ marital status. Annulments can also be useful to the parents of a minor who has gotten married without their consent. Such a lack of consent would invalidate the marriage, and the parents are allowed to file for an annulment on the minor’s behalf.
Annulments are considerably more difficult than divorces to qualify for because there needs to be some sort of legal defect with the marriage. However, a variety of legal defects qualify. One of the most common is one party’s inability to consent to the marriage. If one spouse was forced into the marriage or was drunk or somehow defrauded, then the marriage may be eligible for annulment. Other potential qualifying issues with the marriage include an inability to consummate it, a minor spouse marrying without parental consent, and an “illegal” marriage. Illegal marriages are those forbidden by law, such as the marriage of close relatives or a bigamous marriage.
Some of these annulment qualifications also come with time limits, but the time limits vary depending on the reason for the annulment. A marriage without consent must be annulled within 90 days, but a marriage that cannot be consummated can be annulled any time within the first year. Marriages of minors without parental consent can be annulled any time until the minor reaches the age of 18, and illegal marriages have no time limit for annulment.
If you believe you may qualify for an annulment and would like to discuss it, reach out to an experienced Naperville divorce lawyer today to learn more about the different options available to you.
November 4th, 2014 at 6:23 pm
A change to Illinois’ divorce laws went into effect at the start of this year, and it has important implications for parents who rely on childcare. Parents used to be able to arrange for childcare in any way they saw fit, so long as they had custody of the child. However, the legislature recently altered the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, and now that may not be the case for all parents. The legislature recently instituted a right of first refusal for parents in childcare situations. This means that parents looking to arrange childcare must first offer the other parent the option of watching the kids before letting someone else take over. The idea is based on the fact that Illinois child custody law is designed to look after the child’s best interests, and that it is often in the child’s best interests to have as much time with both parents as possible.
When the Right Applies
Importantly, the right does not apply to all parents. Instead, courts can choose to award the right of first refusal for childcare during the divorce process. However, the judge may not award the right unless it is either a joint custody situation or a situation where one parent has custody and the other has visitation rights. While the specifics of the right vary based on judicial discretion, it can apply very broadly. The idea is not simply to replace babysitters or nannies with the other parent. The right can also give the other parent the option of watching the child instead of grandparents or family friends. However, the law does allow parents some flexibility. If an emergency occurs and the custodial parent requires childcare with little warning, then they are not required to abide by the right of first refusal.
How the Right Works
The practical portions of the right of first refusal are set up when the judge decides to award the right as part of the divorce decree. The parents are allowed to negotiate the best practical way of implementing the right, but the judge can also step in and make decisions if necessary. The practical questions include things like the length of time that the childcare would last for, how the custodial parent should notify the other parent of the opportunity, the way the other parent should respond, who is responsible for dropping off or picking up the child in the event that the right is exercised, and any other practical issues that may affect the interests of the child.
The right of first refusal is just one of many changes that the legislature has implemented to Illinois family law over the past year. If you are considering filing for divorce, reach out to a dedicated Naperville divorce attorney to make sure that you know your rights.
October 28th, 2014 at 10:50 am
Many people spend over a year planning the details of their wedding and even longer dreaming about it. Lavish weddings of the rich and famous are televised and scrutinized events, and engagement rings have become a social symbol worthy of being professionally photographed so that they can be posted on Facebook. However, new research may show that these sorts of wedding expenses can actually shorten people’s marriages. The study, which was performed by researchers at the Emory University Department of Economics, found that expensive wedding rings and ceremonies were correlated with an increased divorce risk.
What the Study Found
The authors of the study surveyed over 3,000 people from the U.S. who either were currently married or had been married at one point. The researchers found people with similar relationships and demographic details like age and geography, and compared the length of the marriages as they related to ring expense and wedding ceremony expense. The study’s authors reported a variety of interesting findings. For instance, people who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on the engagement ring saw a 30 percent increase in their risk of divorce. Conversely, people who only spent between $500 and $2,000 on the ring had a lower risk of divorce as compared to the general population. The findings were even more striking for the wedding expenses as a whole. People whose weddings cost over $20,000 were 350 percent more likely to get divorced than people who only spent between $5,000 and $10,000.
Additionally, these findings are not as clear at lower levels of expenditure. People who spent less than $1,000 on their wedding did still experience a lowered divorce risk. Yet, people who spent less than $500 on a wedding ring were more likely to divorce than the middle expenditure group of $500 to $2,000.
The authors of the study looked at the data and tried to determine the reason for this correlation. The current explanation is that these sorts of large expenses around the wedding are usually financed, at least in part, by debt. This forces the marriage to start off down in a financial hole on top of any other debt that the new spouses may have been carrying. This can lead to stress on the marriage that ends up causing more of the couples with lavish weddings or rings to end up getting divorced. This may be especially likely to be true because of the fact that financial troubles and stress are one of the leading reported causes of divorce.
Divorce can be an emotionally difficult process with many different causes. If you are considering filing for a divorce, you do not have to go through it alone. Contact an experienced Naperville divorce attorney today to learn more about the process.
October 21st, 2014 at 6:48 pm
Dividing up the assets of the marriage is one of the most important tasks that the parties have in a divorce. It also happens to be one of the most complicated. The basic rule in Illinois is one of equitable distribution. This means that judges examine a variety of factors and determine asset value and what is the fairest way to divide up the property. These factors include, among other things, the parties’ income, how much they contributed to the marriage, their standard of living, and their potential income in the future.
In order for the judge to make these decisions about property division accurately, they must know what all the different property is worth. In many cases, this is a simple enough process. Valuing a bank account is as simple as looking at the balance sheet. Even something like a car is easy enough to value. Cars are bought and sold often enough that determining the fair market value of the car is mostly about research. There are other asset values that are tougher to determine. These include unique assets, and assets that have rapidly shifting values.
Unique assets can take a variety of forms, such as expensive jewelry, rare artwork, and antique furniture. By far, the most common unique asset is the marital home. No two homes are quite alike. They have different locations, different layouts, and different levels of upkeep and different renovations. This can make coming up with the fair value of the home difficult.
The most common way for the court to get a home’s value is through the testimony of expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are people that both parties hire based on their skill in a certain area. The expert can then help the court understand complex issues. For houses, people can hire appraisers to get an estimate of the house’s value based on the appraiser’s knowledge of the market. These appraisers can look at the history of home sales in the neighborhood, searching for homes of comparable size and quality, and then use those to estimate the worth of the marital home.
Rapidly Shifting Assets
The other type of assets that can create a challenge during the valuation are those with values that change quickly. Stock portfolios are a good example of this type of asset. The value of a stock portfolio at any instant is easy to determine, but it changes day by day. For these sorts of assets, the court picks a valuation date, usually near the date of the trial, and uses that as the point from which the assets can be valued.
Divorce is a complex legal process, and an experienced guide can make the whole event much easier. Reach out to an experienced Naperville divorce attorney today to learn about your options.
October 14th, 2014 at 8:35 pm
When pursuing a divorce, property division is often an important concern, and can be a difficult process. First you must assess what is considered marital and non-marital property. Although this may initially seem straightforward, both parties may not automatically agree upon which property belongs to whom.
Marital Property vs. Premarital property
In Illinois, property that is acquired and owned during the marriage is considered marital property. However, property that you acquired and owned prior to marriage is considered your premarital property. This property is not considered part of the divorce and should be immediately transferred to the person who originally owned the property. There is one caveat, however: an increase in value of premarital property during the marriage may then be considered a marital possession.
Take, for example, a situation in which you owned a condo before marriage, and after the marriage you decided to rent out the condo and move into a house. The rental income from this condo during marriage is considered marital property, and can be divided among the spouses. In this situation, the condo would revert to you, as the owner, upon divorce.
Consider the same scenario, however, although when you rented out the condo, you decided to use marital income to add upgrades. The value of the improvements to the property is considered marital property. If your spouse can prove to the court that the added value to the property during marriage has not decreased to nothing, then the added value of the property is considered marital property. The non-owning spouse may then demand a larger portion of other marital property in order to be compensated for these improvements.
Marital Property vs. Gifts
In Illinois, the court also makes exceptions for gifts during marriage. Any gift that was given specifically to you during your marriage is considered your separate property. These items may include:
- Property received as an inheritance or gift;
- Property received as an exchange for property owned prior to marriage;
- Property given to you by the court in a legal separation;
- Property excluded by a premarital or post marital agreement; and
- Property previously awarded to you in a court order.
This non-marital property should be immediately transferred to the owning party at the time of separation and should not be considered part of the marital property to be divided during a divorce.
Once marital property has been separated from non-marital property and other gifts, the court may then distribute the property equitably among both parties. In doing so, the court will consider specific factors.
The factors the court considers include:
- The contributions of each party during the marriage;
- The valuation of the property given to each party;
- The length of the marriage;
- The consequences to both parties due to the division of property;
- Obligations the parties may have due to a prior divorce;
- Premarital and postmarital agreements;
- The needs of the parties, including medical, emotional, and occupational;
- The custody arrangement for children;
- Alimony awards;
- Future opportunities regarding income for the parties; and
- The tax consequences of the property division.
Understanding the consequences of property division is important when entering into a divorce. Our experienced Naperville family law attorneys can help you better understand your rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.