Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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Getting Divorced Does Not Make You a FailureReconciling your divorce with your own emotions may mean overcoming the idea that you are a failure. Your vow upon marriage was to spend the rest of your lives together. Ending your marriage before then means you failed in that mission. Once you have convinced yourself of that idea, it is easy to extend that failure to your marriage as a whole and yourself. However, success in a marriage is defined by more than its duration, and people who chose to divorce are not themselves failures. Keep these points in mind:

  1. Forever Is a Long Time: Staying married for life is a worthy goal, but how realistic is it? There are many conflicts and unforeseen circumstances that can occur during a marriage. To create a relationship that can withstand every test is remarkable. Making it 10 or 20 years is also a feat. Rather than disparage the marriages that do not last forever, we should be impressed by the ones that do.
  2. Quality of Marriage Matters: Success in a marriage means more than whether it still exists. Which would you consider a more successful marriage: A miserable couple who never divorces or a couple who had several happy years together but eventually decided to divorce? Most couples would not consider a marriage rife with conflict and misery to be successful. The happy times during your marriage means that there was some success.
  3. You Are Better Because of Your Marriage: A marriage that ends in divorce should be a learning experience for both sides. You understand the mistakes you made during your marriage and can apply what you learned to your future relationships. Also, consider what you gained from your marriage, especially if you had children. Being a parent can always be the positive that comes out of a marriage, meaning that the marriage had value.
  4. Your Divorce Does Not Define You: Even if you believe that your marriage ended in failure, that does not make you a failure. Your relationship broke apart, but you are not broken as a person. You have already proven that you are capable of finding someone who wants to have a meaningful relationship with you. You may eventually find another relationship that is stronger than your past marriage. However, you should not let your relationships define your success as a person. Your identity is more than that of a spouse.

Deciding to Divorce

You should not fear divorce, thinking that you are admitting failure in your marriage. Ending an unhealthy marriage gives you a chance at future successes. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you through the divorce process. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Repairing Your Relationship With Your Children After DivorceObtaining a fair share of parenting time is one part of being a good post-divorce parent. You also must use your parenting time to develop a positive relationship with your children. In your children’s eyes, you are not the same parent as you were before your divorce. Your children may also seem like different people if their moods and behavior have changed because of the divorce. They are likely still feeling pain and betrayal but are also looking to you for comfort and guidance. The onus is on you to create a new and healthy relationship with your children as a single parent.

Communication

Understanding your children’s feelings and needs starts with talking to them. Their time with you should include opportunities to discuss what is going on in their lives and how they are feeling. Ask them to share both the good and the bad so you are a more complete part of their lives. When they are with their other parent, encourage them to remain in contact with you, via:

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Keys to Having an Amicable Divorce ProcessAn amicable divorce process has more to do with your state of mind than with the circumstances of your divorce. You can always find something to argue over if you are bitter towards your spouse. Conversely, you can settle contentious issues when you look at them from a logical standpoint instead of an emotional one. A high-conflict divorce may feel immediately satisfying because you are letting out your resentment towards your spouse. However, an amicable divorce has better outcomes and often results in less emotional damage.

Setting the Tone

Amicable divorce starts with how you handle your initial conversation with your spouse. If you are the one asking for a divorce, you have greater control over the tone of the discussion. You can start on the path towards amicable divorce by:

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Dispelling Myths About Divorce MediationDivorce mediation can be more productive and cost-effective than litigation for some couples. In mediation, the spouses directly negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement, with a mediator serving as a neutral guide. The process can be less expensive than litigation because the spouses minimize their time in court and share the expense of the mediator. Spouses are also more likely to be mutually satisfied with the resulting agreement. Mediation does not work for every divorce, and a failed attempt may be costly if the couple has to use divorce litigation. However, you should not reject mediation because you have misconceptions about the process. Here are four facts that dispel common myths about divorce mediation:

  1. Mediation Does Not Require an Amicable Divorce: Mediation relies on the divorcing couple being able to communicate in a constructive manner in order to reach an agreement. It is the mediator’s role to facilitate the discussions and intervene when communications breakdown. The mediator can steer the conversation away from counterproductive subjects, pause negotiations when tensions escalate and bring in a therapist to help teach constructive communication skills.
  2. Mediation Is Not Like Marriage Counseling: Though a mediator will encourage improved communications between the parties, reconciling a marriage is not his or her goal. The purpose of divorce negotiations is to settle the division of property and parental responsibilities. A divorce mediator is someone who has experience with the legal process of divorce, not a relationship counselor.
  3. The Mediator Will Not Control the Negotiations: Spouses lead the negotiation during the divorce mediation and will decide the terms of the agreement. The mediator is a neutral resource who understands the legal requirements for creating a divorce agreement. The mediator can inform both sides of the state’s divorce laws and how they may apply to the issue being discussed.
  4. Both Parties Can Have Attorneys During Mediation: Divorce attorneys will not accompany spouses into the mediation negotiations. That is a different form of alternative dispute resolution called collaborative law. However, both parties in a mediation are encouraged to have their own attorneys on standby. The mediator cannot give advice that would favor one side, but each side can contact his or her own attorney for guidance as needed. It is also advisable that both sides allow their own attorneys to review the divorce agreement that comes out of mediation.

Making a Decision

You can settle any divorce issue through mediation, but the process may not work for some people. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can advise you on the benefits of mediation or litigation for your case. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Four Keys to Successful Parenting After DivorceCaring for children of divorce requires different parenting skills than when you were married. Your children are in a new living situation that confuses and scares them, while you are adjusting to expanded parental responsibilities. Though not a guaranteed outcome, your children are at risk of developing long-term emotional problems that may manifest as a mental disorder or unhealthy behavior. Your children are less likely to suffer these consequences if you can continue to provide stable and supportive parenting. Here are four keys to creating a healthy environment for your children after your divorce:

  1. Remember That You Are a Co-Parent: Though you are divorced, you and your former spouse share the role of being parents. You should develop a business-like relationship with each other so you can communicate about your parenting concerns. You will not agree on every issue, but you should try to find some consistency in discipline and expectations for your children’s behavior. Showing that you both can still cooperate is an important lesson for your children.
  2. Shield Your Children from Conflict: You should never make your children feel that they are in the middle of your argument with their co-parent. Do not complain about your former spouse in front of them. Do not ask them for information about their other parent. Do not use them as messengers or delivery people with their other parent. Your parenting time should focus on them and not your former marriage.
  3. Create Good Memories: Your children will likely remember your divorce as a sad time in their lives, but you can try to create some positive memories to go with it. You need to be proactive in making the most out of the time you have with your children. Find time in your regular schedule for fun activities with them. Create a supportive atmosphere to make sure they know they are loved.
  4. Listen to Your Children: In your effort to remain positive around your children, you should not ignore signs that they are depressed or upset. Ask them what is bothering them and take time to listen to what they say. Encourage them to come to you when they have questions they need to have answered or are feeling down.

Healthy Divorced Parenting

You need time with your children in order to help them adjust to their new lives after divorce. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can negotiate a fair division of parenting time. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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When Can Spousal Maintenance Be Modified?Absent any language stating otherwise, the terms of a spousal maintenance agreement are modifiable when either party has a significant change of circumstances. Examples include a change in:

  • Employment status;
  • Income;
  • Marital status;
  • Tax implications of the agreement; or
  • The value of properties awarded after divorce.

An Illinois court will award modifiable spousal maintenance if the spouses cannot agree to terms during the divorce negotiations. However, divorcing couples can present other forms of maintenance agreements that have different conditions for when the agreement may be modified.

Reviewable Maintenance

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When the Bad Outweighs the Good in MarriageDivorce is such a consequential decision that couples often hesitate to assure themselves that they are making the right choice. There is a financial cost to a divorce, though a couple’s biggest concern is often how the divorce will affect their children. They may also feel social pressure to not give up on their marriage prematurely. However, a bad marriage is unhealthy for the spouses and their children. So, how will you know when it is the right time to divorce? That is a conclusion you must reach by weighing the positives and negatives of your marriage. Every marriage has its good and bad aspects. There are several signs that the bad in your marriage may be outweighing the good:

  1. Unsafe Environment: One of the primary benefits of staying married is having a stable home for your family. However, frequently fighting with your spouse instead creates an unhealthy environment for everyone. If the fighting becomes physical and verbal abuse, you need to remove your children from that toxic environment.
  2. Loneliness: Living with someone you no longer love can make you feel as isolated as being single. Your marriage lacks the intimacy you need to feel fulfilled. You may be afraid of being alone after your divorce, but you should consider whether you already feel lonely in your marriage. By being single, you at least have a chance of finding love again.
  3. Lack of Happiness: Marriage vows traditionally include the term “for better or worse.” You promise not to give up just because your marriage is going through a rough patch. However, you need to have the good moments to balance out the bad. Suffering in a marriage with no payoff is more masochism than dedication. Your own sadness also has a way of spreading to your children, affecting their moods.
  4. Fear of Change: There are valid reasons to work on a marriage instead of getting a divorce. You may still love your spouse and believe there is a path to a better marriage. You may want to try your hardest to salvage your marriage for the sake of your kids. However, some spouses avoid divorce because they are afraid of the change that comes with it. If complacency is the only thing preventing your divorce, you are better off making the decision now.

Good Divorce

A divorce done right will make you happier and healthier than you were in a bad marriage. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can guide you through an amicable divorce with your spouse. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Figuring Out Health Insurance After DivorceOne of your first considerations after filing for divorce should be how it will affect your health insurance coverage because most spouses share an insurance plan. If your insurance plan is through your employer, you have little to worry about. You may be able to switch to a cheaper plan if you do not have children to cover. If you were on your former spouse’s health insurance plan, you will lose your insurance coverage. There are several ways to continue your health insurance after divorce, though some plans are expensive.

Joining an Employee Plan

Your own employer should be the first source you consider when looking for health insurance coverage. If your employer provides health insurance, you have likely been notified each year of your option to sign up for the employee plan during the open enrollment period. Your divorce is a qualifying event that allows you to enroll for employee health insurance at any time of the year, as long as you make the request within 30 days after filing for divorce. Employee health insurance is likely the most affordable and stable option you can have.

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Settling Parental Disputes Across State LinesDisputes involving the allocation of parental responsibilities become more complicated when one of the parents moves to a different state. Relocating with a child from Illinois to another state requires court permission, decided by what is in the best interest of the child. If the relocation is approved, there are new questions about:

Most states in the U.S., including Illinois, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to set guidelines for co-parenting across state lines.

Jurisdiction

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Fault Most Important During Divorce SettlementIllinois has largely removed the consideration of fault by either party from the divorce process. Because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, a spouse may only cite irreconcilable differences when filing for divorce. Though infidelity or abuse can cause divorce, divorce courts are not concerned with them when determining whether to grant a dissolution of marriage. It is a spouse’s desire to divorce that is important, not the reason for it. However, some accusations of fault remain relevant when a court creates the terms of a divorce agreement. The court may consider illegal or immoral behavior by one spouse when deciding to compensate or protect the other spouse.

Property Division

Illinois divorce law instructs courts to equitably divide marital properties between two spouses. Equitable is different than equal because it means the courts are not required to be exactly even when dividing properties. Courts can start from equal and use their judgment to determine what would be a fair share of properties. Acts of fault that include financial impropriety are part of the court’s reasoning process. For instance, a spouse having an affair often buys gifts for his or her affair partner. A court may financially compensate the victim spouse during the division of property if the cheating spouse used marital properties to purchase the gifts.

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Organization Needed to Combat Mounds of Divorce PaperworkYour paperwork can literally pile up when going through a divorce. You will need to keep track of various personal documents, court forms, bills, and official correspondences. Your documents will likely be a mix of paper and digital files, which may add to your confusion. Disorganization can cost you additional time and money as you try to find important documents or correct mistakes. Being organized comes naturally to some people. If you are not one of those people, here are five tips for improving your organizational skills:

  1. Use Folders: Whether physical or digital, you should sort all of your divorce related documents for future reference. For physical documents, folders and binders should work well, along with a filing container. On your computer, you can create folders and subfolders for text documents, spreadsheets, PDFs and other files. You can also use folders in your email to sort messages. Folders will both protect your documents and make it easier to find them later.
  2. Coming Up with a System: There are many ways you can categorize your documents. The system you choose should be one that makes the most sense to you, as long as someone else can reasonably understand it. However, keep in mind that you may often need to look up documents based on subject matter, such as personal income, properties, or benefits plans.
  3. Getting Rid of Clutter: There are files and paperwork that you do not need keep after their initial use is over. In some instances, keeping old drafts of documents can cause confusion. You do not want to accidentally use a document that is out of date. Consult with your attorney about whether there are documents that are safe to erase or destroy.
  4. Back Up Your Files: In the event that your documents are lost or destroyed, it is important to have copies of the files. This is easier to do with digital files because you can back up your files on a cloud server or external hard drive. You can also take pictures of your paper documents and store them digitally. Just make sure you regularly update your backup files.
  5. Do Not Put Things Off: Your biggest obstacle to your organization may be psychological. Divorce is stressful, and it is tempting to ignore documents and files that will add to your stress. Allowing papers or emails to pile up will make it more difficult to organize them later. You should get in the habit of immediately reading documents and sorting them into the appropriate files.

Keeping You Organized

You should talk to your lawyer if you feel overwhelmed by all of the documents and paperwork you are receiving during your divorce. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, will advise you on how to handle the pressures and workload associated with divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Posted on in Divorce

"TellingWhile parents often consider the needs of their children during divorce, adult children of divorce are more likely to be overlooked. Parents will not include adult offspring in their divorce settlement unless the adult is still a legal dependent. Parents may also consider adult children more emotionally resilient and in less need of comforting. However, adult children can still feel devastated by their parents’ divorce and emotionally vulnerable. Their parents should reassure them and protect them from the ugly parts of the divorce.

Traumatic Experience

Parents may mistakenly believe that their divorce will not upset their adult children because the children are living on their own and starting their own lives. The divorce can be a shock to the adult children because they may:

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Six Tips to Combat Insomnia During Your DivorceGoing through a stressful divorce can cause you to develop insomnia. Your thoughts are dominated by worries of how you will settle your divorce and what your life will be like afterward. It can be difficult to turn those thoughts off once it is time for sleep. Even when you manage to fall asleep, your overactive mind may create nightmares that wake you up. Dealing with your divorce on top of your normal responsibilities is tiring. You need meaningful sleep each night in order to refresh yourself for the next day. You can take steps to combat insomnia, both leading up to your bedtime and when you are trying to fall asleep:

  1. Regular Exercise: Find a time in your schedule when you can routinely exercise. The activity relieves tension and may expend enough energy to make you tired when it comes time to sleep. A tired body can override an active mind.
  2. Decompression Time: Your mind needs a chance to settle down before you go to sleep. Create a cutoff point during the evening after which you will try not to think about or do any work related to your divorce. Find a relaxing activity that will distract your mind.
  3. No Late Night Snacks: Food or drinks that have caffeine, nicotine or sugar can stimulate your body at a time when you are trying to sleep. Do not eat snacks containing these for at least three hours before you go to bed. Also, do not use alcohol as a means to go to sleep. Drinking may make you drowsy, but it can also interfere with you getting the restful sleep you need to recover.
  4. Sleep Schedule: It is easier to fall asleep if your body is familiar with a regular sleep schedule. Try to stick to a normal routine of when you go to bed and when you get up.
  5. Tiring Yourself Out: If you are trying to sleep but are not tired, you may be better off getting up and doing something instead of lying in bed awake. A stress-free activity may help you relax and eventually grow more tired.
  6. Calming Thoughts: When feeling overwhelmed by stressful thoughts, some people use mechanisms to calm themselves. It could involve repeating a mantra or concentrating on a noise or physical sensation. The idea is to focus on something that puts you in the present.

Stress of Divorce

Divorce can be a long and difficult process, but you will not go through it alone. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can handle many of the stressful aspects of your divorce. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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How Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Your Spouse May Affect Your DivorceIn the past couple of months, the media has increased its attention towards sexual harassment allegations brought against male celebrities. Careers – and presumably marriages – have been ruined. However, most sexual harassment cases involve people who are not famous. If you believe the claims made against your spouse, it may be enough reason for you to want a divorce. You may feel:

  • Shocked that your spouse is capable of such action; and
  • Hurt that your spouse is seeking the admiration of someone else.

Because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, you cannot cite the sexual harassment as a reason for your divorce or expected to be compensated for it. However, your spouse’s involvement in a sexual harassment case can still affect your divorce.

Lawsuits and Debts

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Reasons Your Prenuptial Agreement May Need an UpdateCreating a prenuptial agreement is helpful in settling financial issues that will come up during a divorce. The agreement lays out a plan for how premarital properties will be treated and what level of spousal maintenance will be provided. However, spouses should consider it a living document that may need to be updated. Financial circumstances in the marriage can change in ways that make the agreement obsolete or unfair to one party. It will be easier for both parties to renegotiate the prenuptial agreement while still married than during the divorce.

Spousal Maintenance

Parties in a prenuptial agreement may choose to establish the value and duration of spousal support payments after divorce, especially when one party has a significantly greater income than the other. However, the balance of financial power can change in a marriage: 

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Posted on in Divorce

Approaching Your Divorce With MaturityEvidence of an immature romantic relationship can be seen in how a couple breaks up with each other. To avoid the pain of the breakup, one person may avoid talking to the other or place all of the blame for the breakup on that person. As important as a marriage is, you would like to believe that a married couple would be more mature than that when getting a divorce. However, some spouses follow the same behavior patterns as immature couples that break up. The difference is that behaving poorly during a divorce can have more serious consequences. If you both behave like adults, you will increase the chance of having amicable divorce negotiations.

Avoidance

The most immature example of avoidance in a dating relationship is called “ghosting,” when one person suddenly stops communicating in hopes of ending a relationship without having to confront the other person. You cannot ghost your spouse unless you decide to run away. However, you can avoid having necessary conversations, such as:

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Shielding Your Children from Divorce-Related DramaThere are some details in your marriage and divorce that your children do not need to know. Children already have a hard time adjusting to their broken family after a divorce. Telling them about their other parent’s faults that led to the divorce will hurt them more. Your most important job as a parent after your divorce to protect your children. That means shielding them from the infighting that often accompanies a divorce.

Too Much Information

Dragging your children into your divorce-related drama is unfair to them. Despite what you may think of your former spouse, your children likely look up to him or her as a parent. Children see their parents as infallible role models, even though no parent is perfect. By exposing your children to your grievances from the divorce, you are:

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Postponing Divorce To Save Money Not Worth ItGetting a divorce can hurt you financially as much as it does emotionally. As part of the divorce negotiations, you will need to surrender several marital properties and other monetary assets. Afterwards, you will be left with fewer resources but many of the same financial obligations. Knowing the monetary consequences, some spouses choose to delay their divorce. By doing so, they may hope to:

  • Accumulate greater financial assets to support themselves after divorce;
  • Continue to take advantage of their marital status when filing taxes; or
  • Repair their marriage so as to avoid divorce.

While there are some potential advantages to delaying your divorce, the disadvantages are often greater. There are several reasons why postponing a divorce hurts spouses more than it helps them:

  1. Reconciliation Is Unlikely: Once you have concluded that you want to divorce, you have reached a point of virtually no return. In many cases, divorce is the correct decision, even if it is difficult to admit. You have accepted that your marriage is beyond repair, which can be the biggest obstacle to deciding to divorce.
  2. Resentment Grows: Instead of reconciling, you are more likely to become bitter if you force yourself to stay with your spouse. When you reach the breaking point, you and your spouse may have a high conflict divorce. Such divorces are more costly because they take longer to negotiate.
  3. Marriage Duration Matters: The longer your marriage lasts, the more financial obligation you may have to your spouse. If you are likely to pay spousal maintenance after the divorce, the duration of your marriage will determine how long you must continue to make the payments. In Illinois, the duration of spousal maintenance is calculated using a multiplier. The multiplier increases every five years. If your marriage reaches 20 years, the payments may be permanent.
  4. More to Share: Besides your regular income, you may potentially receive a sudden gift that increases your financial assets. An inheritance from a relative is the most common example. Receiving an inheritance while married is significantly different from receiving it while divorced. The gift may be considered marital property that must be accounted for during the divorce negotiation. Even if it is non-marital property, your individual financial resources are used when calculating support payments.

Inevitable Divorce

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Posted on in Paternity

Parental Rights Without MarriageYou do not need to plan on marriage in order for family law to be useful. Cohabiting couples share their lives in many of the same ways as those who marry. This includes having children, which will tie the two people together even if they separate. A co-parent who never married is responsible for child support payments if the couple lives apart. However, there are benefits to being married parents that unmarried parents do not automatically receive. Unmarried couples must proactively use family law to gain equal rights as parents.

Establishing Parentage

When a married woman has a child, her husband is assumed to be the father. A biological father who is not married to the mother must identify himself as the father in order to have paternal rights. The father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form immediately after the child’s birth. In some situations, only one person is the biological parent. The other partner can apply for adoption to become a legal parent. Establishing parentage grants several rights regarding the child, including:

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Five Mistakes to Avoid in High Asset DivorceDivorcees with high-value assets follow the same laws as everyone else getting a divorce. The difference is that wealthy individuals have more at stake in terms of finances. The process of dividing up their assets is often more complicated because the assets are numerous and diverse. Whether because of miscalculation or emotion, making a mistake can cost thousands or millions of dollars. Individuals in a high asset divorce must take care to avoid these mistakes when dividing up their marital properties:

  1. Hiding Assets: With the prospect of losing several valuable marital properties, a divorcee may try to protect them by purposely hiding them or failing to disclose them. Common tactics include creating hidden accounts or temporarily transferring properties to a friend. A divorce court may penalize a party who has been caught trying to deceive a spouse. The guilty party may be forced to compensate the other spouse by giving up marital assets or money.
  2. Incomplete Investigation: A spouse can be held accountable for hiding assets only if the other spouse catches him or her. Failing to thoroughly search for marital assets puts a spouse at a disadvantage. The identified properties may be divided equitably, but having hidden properties means one spouse is receiving an inequitable share. If a spouse learns about the hidden assets after the divorce is completed, he or she is responsible for providing evidence of the deception.
  3. Undervaluing Assets: Once spouses identify all of their marital assets, they must put an accurate value to each asset. Complex properties, such as businesses or investments, are common in high asset divorces and difficult to assess. One spouse will likely maintain complete control of the business, while the other receives equitable compensation. When assessing a business, assessors must determine both its current and future value.
  4. Forgetting Tax Obligations: Not all marital properties are treated equally in terms of taxes. Some properties, such as real estate, are subject to additional taxes. After taxes are taken out, a once-equitable division of property may seem more uneven.
  5. Giving in to Emotions: Rich or poor, couples are likely to feel some bitterness towards each other during a divorce. This may cause parties to make decisions based on spite, rather than what will benefit themselves. With high asset divorces, there are more opportunities to try to punish a spouse by obstructing his or her efforts to receive an equitable share of properties. Vindictive actions do not help negotiations and needlessly prolong the process.

Settling a High Asset Divorce

A divorce that includes several valuable assets requires an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can properly identify and assess your marital properties. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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