Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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Child Support Needs Adjustments Over TimeThe amount of money needed to raise a child is neither static nor uniform. Different children have different needs, and any of those needs can change as they get older. Yet, child support payments created during a divorce only reflect the financial needs at that time. They cannot predict what the future child support needs will be or any emergency expenses in the present. Divorced parents must be willing to re-examine their child support payments to determine whether the payments are still meeting their children’s needs. They should also have an understanding of how they will pay for unusual expenses that occur.

Child Support Model

Determining the required amount that one parent must pay for child support starts with calculating the parents’ combined financial obligation to the children. The initial amount is based on the parents’ combined incomes and the number of children. Illinois has a table that uses both factors to suggest a combined monthly child support amount from both parents. Parents can add other regular child-related expenses to that monthly total, such as:

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Calculating Goodwill as Part of Business ValuationA business’ value extends beyond the earnings that can be attributed to its tangible assets. Factors such as reputation amongst customers can increase its value in ways that are harder to calculate. These intangible assets are known as goodwill and are commonly included in business valuations. When a divorcing couple is assessing a business during the division of property, goodwill should be part of the valuation. However, it can be tricky to put a monetary value on goodwill, and not all forms of goodwill are treated equally in a divorce. An experienced business assessor is needed to understand the true value of goodwill.

What Creates Goodwill?

When competing businesses offer similar products or services, it is a business’ goodwill that may make a difference in a customer’s choice. Goodwill can create greater economic returns by attracting new customers and bringing old customers back. Several factors can add to a business’ goodwill, including:

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Consistent Parenting Time Healthier for Divorced DadsStatistical studies have calculated that people who are divorced are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than their married counterparts. While that number is concerning, the statistics become more alarming when comparing suicide rates between divorced men and divorced women. According to one study, divorced men are nearly 10 times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women. Researchers have searched for a reason for the disparity between men and women. One logical conclusion is that divorced fathers feel more anger and depression because they often have less parenting time than mothers.

Health Risks

Suicide is the most extreme consequence of post-divorce depression. Divorced men and fathers tend to lead more unhealthy lifestyles and make poorer choices. This may include:

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Anticipate Friends Reacting Poorly to Your DivorceDivorce is an emotionally trying time during which you will turn to friends and family for support. However, some friends may surprise you with their reaction to your divorce. If you are looking for an affirmation of your decisions, you risk being disappointed and hurt when a friend makes a critical or insensitive comment. To harden yourself against this, you should understand that:

  • People have varying beliefs about divorce;
  • Some people choose poor words when trying to express support; and
  • Other people’s opinions should not weaken your resolve in regards to your divorce.

There are various reasons why your friends or family may react negatively to your divorce. Each reason requires a different response:

  1. Personal Beliefs: The concept of divorce is unacceptable to some people, regardless of your reasons. Religion often dictates this belief, though for others it is a personal conviction. You are not going to change this person’s mind, so you should agree to disagree and drop the subject. If this person continues to criticize your decision, you should distance yourself from him or her.
  2. Loyalty: It is difficult for mutual friends of spouses to support both sides during a divorce. Whether you intend to or not, you are asking your friend to accept your opinions on the divorce. Many friends choose a side during the divorce, and some of them will opt for your spouse. You may feel abandoned or hurt, but you should respect their decisions. Understand that they may still like you and consider you a friend. However, their loyalty to your spouse is more important to them.
  3. Awkwardness: Some friends want to be supportive but do a poor job of expressing it. Their choice of words may seem insensitive or hurtful. Their questions about your divorce may sound like criticism. You should step back and try to determine your friend’s intentions. If your friend has just learned about your divorce, he or she has not had time to think of a response. If the news is a surprise, your friend’s questions may be out of curiosity. You should give these friends a pass on their initial reactions. If their insensitive behavior continues, you can calmly tell them that you are not comfortable with their questions and comments.

Personal Decision

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Four Differences Between Guardianship of a Child and a Disabled AdultIn broad terms, guardianship can be differentiated by cases involving minors and cases involving disabled adults. Both are similar in that they require a court ruling to determine whether a responsible adult should have decision power over the ward’s:

  • Personal care and health; and/or
  • Financial estate.

However, guardianship of a disabled adult has many fundamental differences from guardianship of a minor. Obtaining guardianship of a child is already a difficult process because the court must determine what is in the best interest of the child. Obtaining guardianship of a disabled adult can be more complicated because the court must also consider the rights of the adult. Here are four key differences between guardianship of a minor and guardianship of a disabled adult:

  1. Assumed Need for Guardian: Children must have an adult who is responsible for their safety and personal decisions. If the parents are incapable of doing that, a guardian will be appointed, whether it is another adult or the state. For disabled adults, courts prefer to give them as much independence as they can handle. The person requesting guardianship must explain why he or she should have power over the adult.
  2. Parents As Guardians: Parents do not need to apply for guardianship of minors because they are assumed to be responsible for their own children. When a disabled person becomes a legal adult, the parents will need guardianship if they want to retain the decision-making power they had when the disabled adult was a child. As with anyone else, the parents must prove why they should have guardianship of an adult.
  3. Legal Preparations: To prove the need for guardianship, the petitioner must show why the disabled adult is incapable of being responsible for him or herself. A doctor’s evaluation is required to explain the adult's physical and mental limitations and what type of guardianship is recommended. The petitioner also must be knowledgeable of the adult’s wages, personal assets and financial obligations.
  4. Court Hearing: When requesting guardianship, the petitioner is taking the disabled adult to court in order to restrict his or her decision-making powers. The adult has a right to an attorney in order to contest and prevent the guardianship. Depending on the adult’s level of awareness, he or she may feel embittered because of the prospect of losing his or her rights as an adult.

Deciding on Guardianship

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Coping With Your Children's Absence After DivorceSeparation anxiety applies to parents and children after a divorce. As a parent, you have developed a bond with your children and are not used to extended time apart. With a post-divorce parenting plan, you will likely not see your children for days at a time. The change can be jarring. While your children will always be with one of their parents, you are suddenly alone when your children are staying with their other parent. This can be depressing if your life has centered around taking care of your children. However, you can also think of your free time as a chance to find a purpose and structure that is not reliant on being a parent. There are several actions you can take to help you towards this:

  1. Rediscovering Personal Passions: When you became a parent, you may have put aside some of your favorite hobbies and activities. Taking care of your child came before your personal interests. You now have the free time to continue those interests. Participating in fun activities gives you something enjoyable to do while keeping your mind off your children's absence.
  2. Reconnecting with Friends: Parenthood also changes your social interactions. Your leisure time is often spent doing activities with your family or other parents. With your children away and being cared for, you are free to meet with friends for more adult social outings. The important aspect is being with other people at a time when you are feeling alone.
  3. Adjusting Your Work Hours: If your job gives you flexibility in your hours, you may be able to change your work schedule to fit with your parenting schedule. On days when you know you will not have the children, agree to work longer hours. In exchange, you may be able to work shorter hours on the days when you do have the children.
  4. Being Productive: Some people feel satisfaction when accomplishing something in their free time. Your time without your children is a good chance to work on personal projects, such as fixing up your home or continuing your education. You can also volunteer your time towards charitable efforts. These activities can give you a sense of purpose in your life.

Dividing Your Parenting Time

The days you spend apart from your children make the days you are together more important. Your parenting schedule should give both parents days with your children that do not involve work or school commitments. If your children are always gone on your days off work, you are missing your chance to bond with them. A DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, will help you create a fair parenting agreement. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Divorce Requires Adjusting Your Retirement PlanDivorce can upend your carefully made plans for your future, including your retirement. If you are approaching retirement age, you may have already figured out:

  • How much money you will need to support yourself and your spouse during retirement;
  • What lifestyle you will be able to live; and
  • How much you need to contribute to your retirement accounts in order to reach your goal.

However, your retirement plan assumed that you would be married. Having a spouse allows you to pool your retirement money together and share in your expenses. As a single retiree, you may have less financial resources to work with. There are a couple of ways that divorce can drain your retirement accounts.

Marital Property

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Postnuptial AgreementsPostnuptial agreements are often grouped in the same discussions as prenuptial agreements. Both are legal documents that help spouses predetermine the terms of a hypothetical divorce, including:

  • Defining marital and nonmarital properties;
  • Determining how marital properties would be divided;
  • Protecting spouses from nonmarital debt; and
  • Setting the expectations for spousal maintenance.

By definition, the difference between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement is that postnuptial agreements are reached after the spouses have married. Spouses may opt for a postnuptial agreement if it is too late to create a prenuptial agreement or they need to change the prenuptial agreement. However, spouses can have different reasons for creating a postnuptial agreement than they would for a prenuptial agreement.

Changing Relationship

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11 Factors Courts Consider When Ruling on Child RelocationIllinois law prohibits a divorced parent from relocating with a child without notifying the other parent and receiving court approval. There are no exceptions for cases in which the other parent has little parenting time with the child or is deemed unfit. Unless the other parent has lost his or her parental status, a relocation order must be obtained if a parent wishes to move a child:

  • More than 25 miles if living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will County;
  • More than 50 miles if living in any other county in the state; or
  • More than 25 miles if the new location is in another state.

Child relocation disrupts the allocation of parental responsibilities for the other parent. Regular parenting time may be impractical if the child lives too far away. However, the relocating parent and the child may benefit from the move. Illinois law lists 11 factors that a court should consider when deciding on a child relocation request:

  1. The Reason for the Move: The relocation should have some direct benefit for the parent or child. For instance, a parent may relocate because of a new career opportunity that will allow him or her to better support the child.
  2. The Reason for the Objection: If the parent who is not relocating wishes to block the move, he or she can explain how the move would disrupt his or her parental rights.
  3. Parental Fitness: The court will examine whether either parent has a history of not fulfilling his or her parental responsibilities.
  4. Educational Opportunities: The court may favor a move that puts a child in a better school district.
  5. Extended Family: It is often beneficial for a child to live near other relatives. The court will consider whether the move results in the child being closer or farther away from relatives.
  6. Impact of Relocation: A move may improve a child’s standard of living but may also be emotionally traumatic.
  7. New Parenting Agreement: The move would likely require changing the allocation of parental responsibilities. The court wants to see whether the parents can still create a reasonable agreement.
  8. Child’s Wishes: The court will only consider what the child wants if the child is mature enough to give a reasoned explanation.
  9. Appropriate Arrangement: The moving parent must have the necessary resources in order to support the child in the new location. A younger child may struggle with a more disruptive parenting arrangement that results from the move.
  10. Continued Relationship: The court wants to minimize any effect that the move would have on the relationship between the child and the objecting parent.
  11. Other Factors: Either parent can present other reasons that moving or not moving would be in the best interest of the child.

Relocation Orders

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New Law Provides Guidelines for Collaborative NegotiationsIllinois recently approved the Collaborative Process Act, which outlines the collaborative law process of negotiating divorce and family law issues. Collaborative law is a relatively new form of alternative dispute resolution that incentivizes cooperation and open sharing of information. Both sides and their legal counsels sign an agreement in advance, stating that the counsels will withdraw from the case if a resolution is not reached. Advocates for the process believe Illinois’ new law will increase awareness and encourage its use by establishing standards and guidelines. The act, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, describes the requirements and limitations of the collaborative process.

Approved Subjects

The law defines terms relating to the collaborative process, including which issues qualify as collaborative process matters:

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Posted on in Divorce

Dating as a Single Parent After DivorceIt is unwise to quickly jump back into dating after you have completed your divorce. You need time to heal from your marriage, including:

  • Coming to terms with why you divorced;
  • Adjusting to your post-marriage lifestyle; and
  • Feeling emotionally ready to start a new relationship.

Even after you feel ready, there may be others who need time to recover from the divorce. Children can be upset when they see one of their parents dating someone new. You must be conscious of your children’s reaction when starting a new relationship after divorce.

Understanding Children’s Emotions

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Former Husband Loses Appeal in Spousal Maintenance CaseAn Illinois appellate court recently denied a man’s petition to vacate an agreement that obligated him to pay $500,000 in spousal maintenance to his former wife. The man claims he signed the agreement under fraudulent circumstances because his former wife concealed significant financial assets. Previously, an Illinois trial court determined that the man’s claim had no standing and ordered him to pay the remainder of the maintenance agreement, as well as his former wife’s attorney fees.

Case Background

In 2006, the woman filed a petition of indirect civil contempt against the man for failing to comply with the spousal maintenance payments that they agreed to in their 2001 divorce. The woman claimed that the man was not remitting parts of his income that came from his social security benefits and various trusts. In 2009, the man agreed to pay the woman $500,000, which included paying $350,000 immediately and the remaining $150,000 by December 1, 2013. The man made the initial payment but later disputed the agreement and refused to pay the final $150,000. The man filed a petition to vacate the agreement shortly after the deadline passed for him to make the final payment. He claimed that the agreement is fraudulent because the woman failed to disclose during the negotiations that she had a bank account containing $500,000. The woman responded that the money was a loan from her son and the man was aware of the loan. The trial court sided with the woman in June 2016, leading to the appeal.

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Preparing For Your Initial Divorce ConversationDivorce is a monumental event that will affect your life and the lives of your family and friends. However, your divorce will start as a conversation between you and your spouse, with a stark message: “I do not want to be married to you anymore.” It can be difficult to build up the courage to have that initial conversation because you anticipate the pain and turmoil that it will cause. Your initial reactions can set the tone for whether your divorce will be amicable or combative. You cannot control how your spouse will react to your request for a divorce, but you can prepare for the conversation in an attempt to minimize conflict.

Be Gentle

Leading up to the conversation, you may have accepted that your marriage is beyond repair and divorce is what will make you happy. Do not assume that your spouse has come to the same conclusion. Recognizing conflict in a marriage is different from wanting to end the marriage. If your spouse is surprised by your divorce request, he or she will likely be angry and upset. You should anticipate this response so that you can:

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Posted on in Paternity

Contesting Your Paternity of a ChildEstablishing paternity after a child is born is important for all parties involved. The father gains the allocation of parental responsibilities. If the parents are not together, the mother can collect child support from the father. The child knows who his or her father is and can decide whether to pursue a relationship later in life. The father is most often the mother’s current or most recent romantic partner, but there are exceptions. A presumed father who believes he is not the biological father must make a choice: 

  • If no one else claims paternity, he can accept responsibility as the child’s legal father; or
  • He can deny his paternity, which may require going to court.

Unmarried Men

If your current or former girlfriend has a child out of wedlock, you can legally establish yourself as the father by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. However, you should wait on signing the document if you have a reasonable doubt that you are the father. Once you have signed a VAP, you have 60 days to cancel it. After that, a court will rescind your paternity only if you can prove you signed the document under fraudulent circumstances or duress. If you refuse to sign a VAP, the mother may take you to court to establish paternity. The court will determine whether you are the father and what parental responsibilities and obligations to assign to you.

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Reducing Capital Gains Tax When Selling Marital HomeThe marital home – or more specifically, the value of the marital home – can be a hotly debated subject when dividing properties in a divorce. Only one spouse can keep the home, and the other spouse will need fair compensation in money or assets. Some spouses instead choose to sell their marital home and split the revenue from the sale. Each spouse can receive a substantial payout from the sale to go towards his or her post-divorce life. However, lucrative sales will incur the capital gains tax. The timing in which divorcing spouses sell their marital home can reduce their tax obligation.

Reasons to Sell

A home is often the most valuable property in a marriage, in both monetary and personal terms. Spouses may have an emotional attachment to the home, especially if they have children. However, selling the home is the most practical option in some divorces:

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Do Not Underestimate the Impact of Divorce on Your ChildrenDivorced spouses may feel relieved to have ended their contentious marriage. The hostility between them made their lives miserable. If the former spouses are parents, they may believe that the divorce will benefit the children, as well. After all, children feel stressed and unhappy when living with parent who are often fighting. However, children are unlikely to view the divorce in that way. The positives that come from not witnessing their parents' hostile relationship are outweighed by feelings of loss and betrayal. Parents must understand how their divorce will affect their children.

Through a Child’s Eyes

For children, there is no fresh start or optimism after their parents separate. The divorce has abolished the two-parent home that they knew and replaced it with an unfamiliar living arrangement. Normally, parents put their children's needs first. A divorce tells the children that their parents' needs are more important than keeping the family together. Though they may not say it, children can blame their parents for not saving their marriage. If not their parents, they may blame themselves. Adults understand that divorce is a natural and often necessary outcome when spouses have irreconcilable differences. For children, divorce is unnatural because it destroys their family.

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Structured Settlements Defer Compensation for Marital PropertyMarital properties in a divorce must be equitably divided between the two parties, according to Illinois law. However, cleanly dividing the properties can be challenging or, in some cases, seemingly impossible. Properties can differ based on their assessed value and liquidity. Some of the most valued properties in a marriage, such as real estate, are not liquid, unless the parties agree to sell the property and split the proceeds. For instance, only one spouse can receive the marital home, and the other spouse must be compensated for the assessed value of the home. If a non-liquid asset is by far the most valuable property in a marriage, the remaining properties may be insufficient in value to serve as compensation. In such cases, parties in a divorce can agree to a structured settlement that will compensate a spouse over time.

Deferred Payments

The division of property for many divorces is a lump-sum settlement, in which both parties immediately receive the full value of their share of the assets. A structured settlement defers compensation, which one party will repay the other over time. So, a spouse who receives the marital home in the divorce may compensate the other spouse through monthly payments, often including interest. The court considers the owed payments to be part of the marital properties that are divided.

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Change of Circumstances Allows Immediate Modification to Parenting TimeWhen former spouses determine parenting time during a divorce, they are creating a schedule that works best at that moment. The needs of children and parents change as they get older. So, it is natural that a parenting time schedule will need to change at some point. A court must approve any modifications to a written parenting time agreement for them to be legal. The difficulty of the process may depend on: 

  • How significant the changes are;
  • How much time has passed since the agreement was created; and
  • Whether both parents agree to the changes.

New Laws

If your parenting time agreement was approved before 2016, you may hear unfamiliar terms when you return to court to modify it. For instance, your parenting time schedule may have been called a visitation schedule. Illinois enacted new divorce laws in 2016, and the new terms reflect a change in philosophy for creating parenting agreements. Parents are allocated responsibilities instead of being granted custody, and parenting time is one of the primary responsibilities. The language in your visitation agreement may be out-of-date, but the agreement can still conform to the law. As long as the court is satisfied that the agreement is in the child’s best interest, you may be able to preserve the parts that you do not want to change.

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How Social Media Can Hurt Your Divorce CaseMany users of social media have gotten into the habit of oversharing personal information. They have an unfounded belief that only a select group of friends will see what they post online. A savvy user knows not to post embarrassing or incriminating information about themselves to Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other popular social media applications. People going through a divorce must be even more cautious about how they use social media. A divorce attorney will investigate the opposing spouse’s social media accounts for evidence to use against him or her. Seemingly benign posts can damage someone's reputation in the context of a divorce. Divorce courts are given discretion in settling cases, and damaging social media posts may affect the:

There are several instances in which social media can be used against you during a divorce.

Attacking Your Spouse

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High Income Divorce Can Change Child Support CalculationsThe process for determining child support payments is mostly standardized during Illinois divorce cases. An Illinois divorce judge is likely to adhere to the state’s child support formula, which was recently changed to an income shares model. The parents’ net incomes are combined, and each parent will pay a proportionate percentage of child expenses based on comparative income and the division of parenting time. Illinois’ child support law gives divorce courts discretion in determining the payment in certain circumstance. Thus, child support in high income divorces may be calculated differently than when using Illinois’ standard model.

State Guidelines

In response to the new child support law, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services created a new income shares table for determining child support obligations. The table uses the parents’ combined monthly net incomes and the number of children they have to calculate how much of their incomes should go towards supporting their children. Each parent pays a share of the child expenses that is proportionate to his or her share of the combined incomes. However, the table ends at a combined monthly income of $30,024.99. Illinois law states that the court can use its discretion in determining child support when the combined income exceeds the limits of the table. The only stipulation is that the child support obligation shall not be less than what is listed for the highest income in the table.

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