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chicago divorce lawyerFor various reasons, the rate of divorce among couples over the age of 50 continues to grow. While many divorces have specific characteristics in common, some issues become more pronounced for older couples. Child support and child custody arrangements may not be as common, but couples can face more significant challenges related to spousal support, division of marital property, retirement savings and Social Security, and complex financial situations.

Common Issues When Couples Divorce Near Retirement

With the complexities that older couples face, it is essential that you work with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with gray divorces and the issues they may face. Here are some of the more common issues to consider during your divorce.

Retirement savings and Social Security – For couples approaching retirement, assets such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions take on greater importance. The portion of the retirement funds acquired during the marriage are divided equitably during a divorce, not solely to the spouse who earned or contributed to the accounts. Divorced parties may also be entitled to Social Security benefits based on their ex’s work history. However, your marriage must have lasted for at least ten years, and the benefits are not eligible to be divided until two years after your divorce is finalized.

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Chicago postnuptial agreement lawyerYou may be familiar with prenuptial agreements and their role in keeping assets separate as a couple enters marriage. Less well-known is the postnuptial agreement. Like a prenup, it can be an excellent way to protect individual assets, including property, life insurance considerations, and financial responsibilities. For a postnuptial agreement to be enforceable, it should be something that both spouses agree on. Working with a family law attorney before entering into any postnuptial agreement is also recommended.

What Are the Benefits of a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement can:

  • Protect significant individual wealth - For partners who brought considerable wealth into a marriage, such as a business, real estate property, or retirement savings, those assets can be kept separate from the marital estate in the postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement may also be a smart move for you and your spouse if one of you has recently experienced a significant financial change, including a large inheritance or gift, or has recently acquired valuable property.
  • Protect a spouse from the risks of the other spouse’s business venture - If one spouse starts a new business during the marriage, they may want to insulate their marriage assets from any debt the new business occurs. If the company were to fail, the agreement could protect the marital assets of the couple from being put at risk.
  • Safeguard assets if you are considering divorce - For couples who are having marital difficulties but who have not yet begun the divorce process, a postnuptial agreement can be used to safeguard certain assets that were brought into the marriage by each individual. However, you cannot make arrangements for child custody or child support in the agreement. Those decisions can only be made during the legal divorce proceedings.

How Is a Postnuptial Agreement Used in an Illinois Divorce?

If your marriage does end in a divorce, the judge will use a postnuptial agreement as the basis for property division as long as it is fair and both parties entered into the agreement in good faith. Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, marital assets and property will be divided fairly, not evenly, between the spouses. Therefore, any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement will set a framework for the judge’s decision, but the final division of property is up to their discretion.

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Chicago alimony attorneyWhen a marriage is ended, some of the most far-reaching decisions revolve around finances and assets. Without a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the two parties or the judge must agree on whether alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, will be paid by one spouse to the other. There are different factors to determine whether alimony will be paid, how much the payments will be, and how long the support will continue.

Spousal support is not a required part of the divorce agreement. There are three main avenues for one spouse to receive alimony in Illinois:

  • Through a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This agreement can cover the amount of the payments, the length of payments, or simply if payments will occur.
  •  A settlement or agreement by the two parties during the divorce proceedings. This can be negotiated directly by the two parties in an uncontested divorce or by their attorneys during divorce negotiations.
  • A petition of the court by one of the parties.

Determining Whether Alimony Will be Paid

If there is no spousal support agreement in place, the following factors are taken into consideration when determining if spousal support is to be paid:

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Chicago divorce attorneyDivorce statistics can vary from source to source, but most sources estimate the divorce rate for first marriages to be between 40 and 50 percent. For second marriages, the divorce rate is closer to 70 percent. If you are getting divorced for the second time, you are not alone. While you may assume that you know what to expect in this divorce since you have been through it before, each case is different and there are often additional issues to consider in a second or third divorce. To ensure that you make the best decisions possible and avoid mistakes during your divorce case, work with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Property Division and Other Financial Concerns

Just as you did in your first divorce, you and your spouse will need to divide your shared assets and debts. You may have bought a home, made investments, taken out a loan, or made other financial decisions during your second marriage that you will need to address in your divorce case. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement or other marital agreement in place dictating property division, you and your spouse will need to either reach an out-of-court settlement or take the case to trial to divide your assets and debts.  An experienced divorce lawyer can help you explore your property division options and choose the option that makes the most sense given your particular situation.

Child-Related Matters in a Second Divorce

If you and your second spouse had children together, you will need to address the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Sometimes, spouses who were previously married have children from their previous marriages. You may have stepchildren that you have grown close to over the years. Unfortunately, stepparents do not have a right to parenting time with their stepchildren unless they have formally adopted the children.

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Chicago divorce lawyerFinancial issues are just one part of the marital relationship. However, financial concerns often eclipse other matters in a divorce case. A spouse’s income, debts, assets, and expenses influence almost every aspect of the divorce case. Child support, spousal support, and property division are all influenced by finances. This is why it is so crucial for divorcing spouses to ensure that financial disclosure is accurate and complete.

Some spouses try to manipulate the outcome of the divorce by lying about how much money they make or other financial information. If you are divorcing and believe that your spouse has fabricated financial information or soon will, take action now. You deserve a divorce outcome that is based on accurate financial information. A divorce lawyer experienced in complex financial concerns during divorce can protect your rights and help you take the next step.

Methods for Hiding Assets in Divorce

One of the most common ways that spouses try to gain an advantages by lying about finances is by hiding assets. A spouse may simply fail to list all the accounts and assets he or she has. Cryptocurrency, offshore accounts, or businesses may be vehicles for hiding assets. Divorcing spouses may also hide assets by transferring the property to a friend or colleague. For example, a husband may transfer $10,000 to a friend under the guise of paying back a personal loan. This shields the money from division during divorce. After the divorce, the husband simply gets the money back from the friend. Spouses may also underreport the value of certain items. Antiques, fine art, jewelry, or collectables may be worth much more than the spouse claims the assets are worth. Businesses and professional practices may also be vulnerable to undervaluation during divorce.  Some spouses go so far as to physically hide property or cash to prevent the property from being divided during divorce.

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Park Ridge paternity lawyerBeing a parent comes with its own array of practical, financial, and sometimes, legal difficulties. If you are a mother or father in Cook County, you may have questions and concerns about paternity. Paternity is the legal relationship between a father and his child. In some cases, paternity is presumed by law and no further action is required to establish the legal father-child relationship. Other times, the parents will need to take certain actions to establish the rights and responsibilities that come with being a father.

You May Need to Take Action to Establish Paternity

If the mother and father were married when the child was conceived and/or born, paternity is presumed. This means that Illinois automatically assumes that the mother’s husband is the father of her baby. However, if the parents are unmarried, paternity may need to be established through a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). Paternity can also be established through a court order or administrative order through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). Sometimes, DNA paternity testing is needed to confirm the father’s biological relationship to the child.

You May Not Be Able to Get Child Support Until You Establish Paternity

Raising a child is expensive. Illinois expects both parents to contribute to a child’s financial needs even if the parents are unmarried or divorced. If you are a parent who is not currently receiving child support but you want to get an official child support order, you will need to make sure paternity is established. Once paternity is established through one of the means listed above, you can petition the court for child support. Child support is calculated based on both parents’ net incomes.

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Park Ridge custody attorneyWhen parents divorce or unmarried parents break up, they will need to determine how to raise their children. In Illinois, the two main components of child custody are the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. Understandably, many parents have strong opinions about how to handle parenting duties, childcare, and other child-related matters. When parents have different opinions, the situation can quickly escalate. What starts as a minor disagreement can turn into a full-blown custody battle.

If you are in a situation like this, know that you are not alone and that you have options. An experienced family law attorney knowledgeable in child custody matters can help you understand these options and take the next steps.  As you navigate the process, keep the following tips in mind: 

Educate Yourself About Illinois Child Custody Law

Each state handles child custody differently. In Illinois, divorcing parents are asked to create a “parenting plan.” This document describes how the parents will share parenting time (formerly called visitation) and parental responsibilities (decision-making authority over the child). There are over a dozen specific elements you must address in the parenting plan. Reading through this information can help you prepare a well-thought-out plan.

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Chicago divorce attorneyA divorce ends one chapter in life but offers the opportunity for a new chapter as well. If you are getting divorced, you may feel a mix of emotions. On one hand, you may be grieving the end of your marriage, but on the other hand, you may be excited about the prospect of dating again.

Many people going through a divorce wonder if it is okay to date other people while they are still technically married. While adults have the right to date whoever they want, dating during divorce can have unintended consequences.

What If I Meet Someone While I Am Still Technically Married?

In many cases, spouses lead separate lives long before they are officially separated or divorced. If you are like many people seeking divorce, you may have felt like your marriage ended months or even years ago. Consequently, you may be ready to start looking for a new romantic partner.

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Chicago divorce attorneyThere is no getting around the fact that a divorce will likely have a significant impact on the spouses’ finances. For some divorcing spouses, divorce represents the loss of their only source of income or financial support. Fortunately, divorcing spouses in Illinois may qualify for alimony, or as it is called in Illinois law, spousal maintenance. Read on to learn about Illinois spousal maintenance laws and what you should do if you want to request spousal maintenance during your divorce.

Avenues for Collecting Spousal Support

Spousal maintenance or spousal support can provide much-needed financial aid to divorced spouses. However, spousal maintenance is not a guarantee. There are three main avenues through which spouses can get spousal maintenance in an Illinois divorce:

  1. Prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement – If the spouses had made spousal maintenance arrangements in a prenup or other marital contract, those arrangements will most likely be upheld during the divorce. The main exception to this is if the prenuptial agreement or other agreement is invalid. For example, a prenuptial agreement may be invalid and unenforceable if a spouse entered into the agreement through fraud, coercion, or force.
  2. A settlement or agreement during the divorce proceedings – Spouses have the right to determine their own arrangement regarding spousal maintenance. They may be able to reach an agreement through mediation or negotiations led by their respective attorneys.
  3. A petition for spousal maintenance – You can petition or request spousal maintenance during your divorce. However, you will need to demonstrate solid reasons for your request. Illinois courts consider the spouses’ financial circumstances, health, and employability, the length of the marriage and standard of living during the marriage, and other factors when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance.

How Much Are Spousal Maintenance Payments and How Long Do They Last?

Often, spousal maintenance is intended to be rehabilitative. The financial support gives the recipient time to get back on his or her feet after a divorce. Permanent spousal maintenance is rare, but it may be available if the marriage lasted 20 years or longer. The duration of maintenance payments is usually based on the duration of the marriage. The dollar amount of spousal maintenance payments is usually determined by a formula that uses both spouses’ net incomes.

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Chicago business valuation lawyerOne of the most difficult issues to resolve in divorce is small business ownership. For many people, growing their small business has involved an enormous amount of time and personal sacrifice, and the thought of losing the business and shuttering its doors can be devastating. Yet, because the value of many businesses increases during a marriage, the fact is that the increase in value is likely part of your marital property - meaning it is subject to division in divorce. 

Business owners who hope to retain total ownership of their business after divorce will want to learn as much as they can about business valuation methods and how they impact the way a business is treated during divorce. If you are in this situation, read on. 

The Most Common Valuation Methods

There are several ways a business’s value can be determined, and a trained business evaluator can help you choose one based on the type of business you have. The three primary methods of small business valuations are: 

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Chicago divorce lawyerThe division of property and liabilities is often a complicated and contentious aspect of the divorce process. When spouses own a small business, the issue of property distribution is even more complex. If you or your spouse own a business or you jointly own a family business, you may be unsure of how to handle the business during the divorce. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to business owner concerns during divorce. The way you handle ownership of the business will depend on your specific needs, financial resources, and long-term goals. When deciding how to proceed, consider the following questions.

Who Has Ownership Rights to the Business?

Per Illinois law, marital property is property accumulated during the marriage. However, determining the identity of your business as marital or non-marital is not as straightforward as you may think. If a spouse owns the business before getting married, it is usually considered non-marital property. However, if the other spouse contributed time or resources to the betterment of the business, the business may be considered partially or fully marital.

How Much is the Business Worth?

Whether you decide to do with the business, you will need to know the business’s value. There are several ways to value a small business, but many people use the business’s fair market value to inform the property division process. This is the price a buyer would pay for the business. It is recommended that business owners have their business professionally valued in a divorce. You and your spouse may choose to use the same business appraiser or separate appraisers depending on your particular situation.

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Des Plaines Child Visitation LawyerIf you are a grandparent, you know just how special the grandchild-grandparent relationship can be. Unfortunately, sometimes, grandparents are not able to have a close relationship with their grandchildren because of conflicts with their own children. If you want your grandchild to be a bigger part of your life, you may have questions about your rights as a grandparent. Can grandparents be prohibited from seeing their grandchildren? Do grandparents have a right to visitation? Read on to learn more.

Illinois Law Regarding Grandparent Visitation

You may be able to get court-ordered visitation with the kids. To do so, you will need to file a petition with the court for grandparent visitation. The court will consider your request if:

  • The parents are divorced and at least one of the parents agrees to grandparent visitation

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Cook County Family Law AttorneyChildren need adults to keep them safe and help them grow up to be happy and healthy. Typically, a child’s parents are the primary caregivers in a child’s life. However, modern families come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a child’s grandparent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, or another responsible adult takes on the primary caregiver role. Legal guardianship allows a person other than a child’s parent to assume responsibility for child-related decisions and caretaking.

What Is A Guardian of a Minor Child?

As a non-parent, you may occasionally babysit a child, help make decisions about the child’s education, or assume roles typically assigned to parents. However, being an informal caretaker and a legal guardian are very different things. When you become a child’s legal guardian, you assume certain legal rights and responsibilities not expected of non-guardians.

There are several different types of guardianship in Illinois. If you are the “guardian of the person,” you assume responsibility for major decisions in the child’s life, including where he or she will go to school or what types of medical care the child will receive. “Guardian of the estate” allows you to manage the child’s financial assets. Sometimes, one person will act as both the guardian of the person and guardian of the estate.

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Cook County Prenup LawyerFor decades, misconceptions about prenuptial agreements have confused and misled engaged couples. News stories about last-minute celebrity weddings and divorces have led many to believe that prenups are only for the ultrarich or for couples who do not take their wedding vows seriously. Fortunately, these misconceptions are slowly being replaced by the truth that prenuptial agreements are a valuable legal tool for any engaged couple.

Estimates place the divorce rate between 40-50 percent. More and more couples recognize that no one can predict the future and that preparing for the possibility of divorce is an important part of being financially responsible. Prenuptial agreements have increased in popularity among younger couples for several reasons.

Young Couples Understand That There is Always a Chance of Divorce

The last thing a couple wants to think about when they are planning their wedding is the possibility that they will eventually divorce. However, statistics do not lie, and many marriages do ultimately end. Many couples understand that preparing for this possibility does not doom the marriage to failure, just as carrying car insurance does not increase the chances of a car accident.

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Cook County Child Support LawyerChild support payments are a welcome form of financial assistance for many parents. However, the laws surrounding child support are sometimes difficult to interpret on your own. If you currently pay or receive child support and your child is getting older, you may ask, “When does child support end?” The term “child support” makes it seem as if a parent only receives child support while the child is a minor. However, there are several situations in which child support continues even after a child turns 18 years old.

Illinois Law Regarding Child Support Payments

Child support orders last until the child turns 18 years old and becomes an adult. However, if the child is still in high school when they turn 18, child support continues until the child graduates high school and turns 19. Many child support orders include an automatic termination date. However, some obligors (paying parents) will need to request a child support modification to terminate child support once the child becomes an adult. If you pay child support, do not assume that your child support obligation automatically ends without confirming the termination date. Failure to pay child support is considered a serious offense in Illinois.

Child Support Past the Child’s 18th Birthday

Child support does not always end once a child turns 18 and graduates from high school. If the child attends college, child support can continue through his or her undergraduate degree. Child support can help cover college tuition, books, fees, housing, and other expenses. The parents may agree on how they will cover their child’s college expenses or the court may order “non-minor child support” to be paid based on both parents’ financial circumstances and other factors.

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Cook County Divorce Lawyer for DiscoveryDivorce cases vary dramatically in complexity. Spouses with few assets who were not married very long may be able to resolve their divorce quickly and with little court intervention. Divorce is much more involved for couples who own high-value or complex assets and spouses who disagree on divorce issues.

One of the most important aspects of the divorce process is financial disclosure. Spouses are expected to list all of their assets and other relevant financial information. When a spouse does not share this information or the information is incomplete or inaccurate, the spouses’ attorneys may use discovery tools to reveal the truth. Discovery often involves financial concerns such as the division of marital property but discovery may also address child-related issues.

Discovery Tools in an Illinois Divorce

Discovery is the “fact-finding” portion of the divorce case. In order to negotiate the unresolved divorce issues, the spouses and their respective attorneys must have a full understanding of the facts of the case. Discovery varies from case to case but, often, discovery involves:

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IL Divorce Lawyer for Hidden AssetsFinances impact a divorce case dramatically. The amount of marital property assigned to each spouse is heavily influenced by the value and types of assets owned by the spouses. Child support payments are calculated using each spouse’s net income. Spousal maintenance is also mainly determined by the spouses’ assets, income, and overall financial circumstances. Consequently, lying about finances can dramatically influence the outcome of a divorce case. Hiding assets, underreporting income, and transferring property to another party are all tactics some divorcing spouses use to manipulate their divorce case.

Ways that Spouses Conceal Assets in a Divorce

There are nearly countless methods for hiding assets in a divorce. Some spouses literally hide cash or property during divorce. They may “sell” assets to friends or family members only to regain the property after the divorce is complete. Other spouses use their business or professional practice to hide income or assets. Unscrupulous spouses may even use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to shield assets from division during divorce by overpaying taxes and reaping a large return in the future.

Perhaps the easiest and more common form of hiding assets in a divorce is simply not reporting the assets. In many marriages, one spouse takes charge of the finances while the other spouse handles non-financial responsibilities. This makes it easy for the knowledgeable spouse to deceive the uninformed spouse.

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IL Family Law Attorney for Paternity and Child SupportAny parent can tell you that having a child dramatically increases your monthly expenses. Housing costs, childcare expenses, tuition, and extracurricular fees are just some of the child-related expenses many parents contend with. It is even harder to cover these costs when you are a single parent. Consequently, financial assistance in the form of child support payments is a crucial necessity for unmarried and divorced parents. However, getting the child support you need can be difficult when the child’s father denies his biological relationship with the child.

What Happens if the Father Says He is Not the Father

Illinois law presumes that, if a woman gives birth, her husband is the baby’s father. However, there is no legal presumption of paternity if the mother is unmarried. Furthermore, relationships are complicated and marital infidelity does sometimes occur. Therefore, there are cases where a woman’s husband is not her child’s biological father. If you are unsure about who your child’s father is or your child’s father is denying his paternity, it is important to understand how this can impact child support.

You Must Establish Paternity to Receive Child Support

Some parents assume that an informal child support agreement will be adequate. Unfortunately, if you do not get an official child support order from the court, there is nothing that the court can do if the parent stops making child support payments.

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IL Family Law Attorney for Parental RightsIllinois law presumes that parents have the ability to adequately care for their children and provide a safe living environment. Consequently, anyone who has established parentage or paternity of a child is entitled to certain parental rights. Among these rights is the right to be awarded “parenting time” or time with the child. However, some parents will need to take steps to gain parental rights. Furthermore, some circumstances may lead to the restriction or termination of a parent’s parental rights.

When Does a Parent Have a Right to Visitation?

Parenting time, which used to be called “visitation,” is the time that a parent watches his or her child and cares for the child’s everyday needs. Divorced parents allocate parenting time in their parenting plan. However, in order to be entitled to parenting time, unmarried fathers may need to establish paternity. Paternity may be established by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) upon the child’s birth or through a judicial or administrative process.

Parents may be subject to a parenting time restriction if there are concerns that normal parenting time may endanger the child’s health or wellbeing. Parenting time restrictions may include a reduction of parenting time, supervised visits, or, in rare cases, the total elimination of the parent’s parenting time.     

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IL Family Law Attorney for Prenup and PostnupAs a business owner, you may assume that your business assets are completely separate from your marital property, but this is often not the case. According to Illinois law, business assets acquired by a spouse during their marriage are typically considered to belong to the marital estate. Even business assets owned before a marriage can be at risk of becoming commingled with marital assets and losing their separate identity. One way to ensure that your business assets remain your own is to address them specifically in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your spouse.

Prenuptial Agreements for Business Owners

If you are planning to get married and you already own a business or professional practice, that business will still be considered your non-marital property once you get married. However, a prenuptial agreement can provide an additional safeguard to ensure that it stays that way throughout your marriage. Beyond designating your ownership rights to the property, your prenuptial agreement can also include other provisions that may be beneficial to you and your partner.

 

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