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Posted on in Pet Custody

Lombard divorce and pets attorneyTo animal lovers across the country, pets are an important part of their family. Many go so far as seeing their pet as another child to take care of. This is especially common in marriages without children. Strong feelings toward pets can make some divorce cases even more difficult than they already are, and changing attitudes toward animals and updates to divorce laws have added new factors for couples and courts to consider during divorce.

A Shift in Priorities

Over time, pets have become a staple in American homes, with many homes having two or three dogs or cats running around. The family pet has now become more than just another mouth to feed, but a full-fledged member of the family. This is evident in the sharp rise of money spent on animals each year. The pet industry has seen exponential growth over the last 30 years, increasing from a total of $17 billion in 1994 to an estimated $72 billion in 2018 alone. This increase in spending is more than just a result of higher prices. It is a reflection of the shift in attitude regarding household priorities in America.

More Than Property

In past divorce cases, pets used to be considered marital property. However, it is much more difficult to divide up a living animal in than it is to divide something like a living room set, especially for those who consider themselves “pet parents.” As part of a reflection of changing attitudes, the laws in Illinois have recently changed, and certain factors must be considered when divorcing spouses cannot come to an agreement over the pet’s permanent residence. 

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Posted on in Premarital Agreement

IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements are no longer reserved solely for the rich and famous, though it may appear that way through media coverage. A prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a prenup, is a legal document that determines how assets, debts, finances, and property will be managed during a marriage or after a marriage if it comes to an end. In the past, prenups have been seen as taboo or damaging to a relationship; however, millennials often request prenuptial agreements, causing an increase in this form of legal documentation.

What Exactly Is a Prenup?

Prenuptial agreements are most commonly known for financial division; however, they cover more than just “who gets the money.” Although prenups are important in regards to officiating financial matters, they can also assist couples in managing prior commitments or obligations like children and ex-spouses. The document can help those with substantial assets or debts avoid conflict later in the marriage. Prenups are important because they take precedence over state laws regarding divorce and marital property, putting control into the hands of the couple requesting the legal documentation.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen getting a divorce, one serious concern that will appear for those who own a family business, or a small business in general, is how to divide it, or even if division is necessary. Illinois law on the subject can get confusing, so it may be a good idea to consult an experienced attorney on the subject before moving forward with asset division.

Obtaining a Business Valuation

One of the first steps that can help a couple decide what to do with a family business is to obtain a business valuation, usually through an accountant or licensed appraiser. Without an accurate estimate of how much a business costs, one cannot accurately tell how the rest of the marital estate must be divided in order to keep a business in one piece, or how much must be offset if the business is to be sold and its profits and equity divided. There are, however, multiple different ways to accurately value a business, depending on the type of method used - the two most common in divorce-related cases are the comparable model and the asset valuation model.

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Illinois divorce lawyerWhen two people decide to divorce, one of the most common questions that comes up is the issue of the payment of maintenance , a form of spousal support in Illinois. While not every divorce will result in someone paying spousal support, many will. Whether you will be the one receiving the support or making the support payment, it is a smart idea to be familiar with how maintenance works in Illinois before you finalize your divorce.

Step One: Maintenance Award

An Illinois court will consider many different factors when assessing whether spousal support is warranted. These factors may be found in Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Some of these factors include:

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Illinois divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements, also called premarital agreement, are becoming more and more common in this day and age. However, many remain unaware that they are not cure-alls; there are certain things that are not permitted to be disposed of or decided within an agreement of this nature. If you are getting married in Illinois and you and your future spouse decide to execute a prenuptial agreement, you must be aware of what can and cannot be included, or you run the risk of the agreement being held to be invalid.

The ILUPAA

Illinois has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA or ILUPAA), which establishes specific guidelines and requirements for prenups that must be upheld. A prenup is essentially a contract, and like any other contract, certain things may not be included, and certain things can only be included if done so properly. The contract does not become effective until the marriage actually takes place, but once it is effective, it will be upheld unless it was unconscionable.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyerDivorce affects every aspect of one’s life, from the physical to the emotional to the financial. It is the latter, however, that can sometimes surprise people, and the tax consequences can be the most shocking of all if someone is unprepared for them. While divorce may be the best option for you and your spouse, it is nonetheless important to be prepared for the potential financial changes that may occur.

Tax Brackets and Details

Most married couples choose to file a joint return, and if you are still married on December 31 of a year, you may file jointly for that year - even if your proceedings are in motion on that date, unless a divorce decree has officially been issued, you are considered married. Once your divorce is final, however, you must file as a single person, and this can sometimes mean a change in tax brackets, though property division is usually tailored to try an avoid that.

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Posted on in Division of Property

Illinois divorce lawyerAsset distribution in divorce is almost never easy. However, in some cases, it can be made more complex if there is suspicion that your spouse is hiding something. Whether information or assets, if your spouse is not being honest, it is a problem. Fortunately, there are remedies available under Illinois law.

How to Spot Irregularities

As a general rule, couples in the U.S. can be less than honest with each other regarding financial affairs. A 2016 poll from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) showed that as many as 40 percent of married people hid a major purchase from their spouse or took money out of joint accounts without discussion. During a marriage, this may be able to be solved with discussion or counseling - but during a divorce, or if the purchase is not disclosed during the divorce, it can be a significant issue.

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Illinios custody attorneyDuring a divorce or custody proceeding, a phrase that comes up with regularity is the “best interests of the child.” This is the standard used by the court to arrive at final decisions on issues like parenting time, but it can sometimes be defined in confusing ways, especially because the same standard can be used for multiple different issues. If you are going to court to discuss custody issues, having an idea of what this standard actually means can be a big help to you.

Parents’ Decisions Usually Honored

First and foremost, it helps to know that the court will only become involved in custody-related questions in some cases, not all. Generally, a court will honor any agreement that you and your spouse come to regarding parenting time, support, and any other issues like healthcare or education unless that agreement can be shown to be manifestly unreasonable. For example, the court will not permit a couple to put all the financial burden of care for a child onto the spouse who makes less money. If you cannot agree or the agreement is unconscionable, the court will step in.

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Illinois divorce lawyerWhen two people with significant assets decide to divorce, they may encounter issues that do not appear in a divorce involving very little marital property, not least of all with asset division. People who marry with high-value assets in their possession will understandably want to take steps to ensure that they retain them, rather than having them be part of the equal distribution that makes up a marriage. There are multiple ways to do this under Illinois law.

Prenups in Illinois

Prenuptial agreements are the most common way to protect assets for most couples. Illinois law is fairly straightforward regarding them, holding that they are enforceable unless made under duress, or if one party’s signature was obtained through fraudulent means. There must be a full accounting of each party’s financial information before it can be deemed that both spouses have enough information to properly execute the agreement. Coercion is also sometimes an issue, and a court will look at the timing of the agreement and of both signatures - for example, if a wife is only given one week before the wedding to examine and sign a prenup despite having extensive assets, coercion on the part of the husband may be indicated.

It is permissible to contract under these agreements regarding almost anything that is not against the law, or against the public policy of the state of Illinois. However, there are issues that spouses will try to contract for that the court will not allow. For example, child support may not be contracted for, because it is a right that belongs to the child, not the parent - thus, any child of the marriage is not technically born at the time of the agreement’s creation, so their rights cannot vest.

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Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

Illinois divorce lawyerIn many Illinois divorces, spousal support, also called maintenance, is granted to one spouse, usually the one in a lower income bracket. However, contrary to perceptions in popular culture, it does not last until death. There are multiple occasions when spousal support can legally end before the ex-spouse’s passing, and if you or your spouse may be in one of these situations, it can save you time and money in the future.

Types of Maintenance

In determining what type of maintenance should be awarded (if any), the court will examine a laundry list of factors, intended to accurately assess the needs of the spouse with less capital against the potential cost to the spouse with more assets. Some of these factors include the present and future earning capacity of both spouses, the length of the marriage and the standard of living established during that time, and any previous agreement made by the spouses, such as a prenuptial agreement, that might affect any part of marital asset division. The cessation of spousal support payments depends mostly on the type granted, as depending on which type is awarded, sometimes support may end on its own.

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Illinois divorce lawyerDuring an Illinois divorce, the division of marital property is very often complex and divisive. One asset that can spark significant debate is each spouse’s retirement account or accounts, simply because the process to divide such an account can be laborious, and each spouse wants to ensure that division is fair and above board. Having an understanding of how a retirement account is divided can go a long way toward quelling arguments before they start.

QDROs

With most private retirement accounts, the proceeds are normally only payable to the listed beneficiary - at times, the employee who earned it; at times, the spouse, at times, someone else. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) covers 401(k)s and mandates that only one’s spouse may be the beneficiary, although Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are not covered by ERISA.

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Illinois divorce lawyerEvery marriage accumulates assets, classified as marital property, that must be divided upon divorce. However, the division process for assets that have significant value can get much more complex, simply because there must be a more thorough balancing of assets and debts in order to make sure that both spouses get a fair share, rather than leaving one spouse with the lion’s share of the property and one with the debts. It is important to have a good grasp of the process, so you can be doubly sure that you are not being given the proverbial short end of the stick.

Each Asset Is Different

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about this process of asset division is that each situation is different, as well as each couple. Some of the most common high-value assets include family businesses, retirement accounts, real property, and stakes in corporations, and all of these must be handled differently. Even more factors enter into the equation when one assesses each spouse’s role in acquiring or maintaining the asset, as well as numerous other factors generally considered by the court in every asset division.

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Posted on in Business Valuation

Illinois divorce attorneyWhen a couple decides to divorce, the assets and debts accumulated during their marriage will be equitably distributed to each party. Sometimes this means that assets are sold off so that they can be converted into liquid funds. On the other hand, Illinois law permits one party to be awarded the asset in lieu of receiving other marital assets. Dividing assets in the latter fashion is a very complex process if a family business exists. Ensuring that a proper valuation is reached so the business asset may be offset by other marital assets is a time-consuming and difficult process that requires the use of experts.

Illinois is a state that follows the equitable distribution theory of marital asset allocation in a divorce. What is a marital asset? Generally speaking, a business is classified as a marital asset if it was acquired during the marriage, and was not acquired by inheritance or gift. (Inheritances or gifts to one spouse are considered non-marital property by definition.) What is considered an equitable distribution? Each case is very different. Rather than simply selling all the assets and splitting the proceeds, some parties may prefer to be awarded a particular asset in lieu of another asset. A business, assuming that it is a marital asset, is no exception to this process. Sometimes one spouse wishes to keep the business, especially if it is a professional practice like a doctor’s office. A party may do so, but he/she will have to give up other marital assets in exchange for it. This means that an expert must place a value on the business before an equitable distribution of marital assets may be reached. .

How Is a Business Evaluated?

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinois divorce attorney

During a divorce, there are some occasions when one spouse is ordered by the court to pay both spousal maintenance and child support. However, the financial burden created by such an arrangement can be painful, especially considering the income tax treatment of child support and spousal maintenance. Illinois law permits the parties, who reach a settlement agreement, to classify both kinds of support payments in such a way as to keep more money in the hands of the family due to tax savings. 

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