Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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How the Coronavirus Is Impacting Divorce CasesAll Illinois residents are currently experiencing some disruption in their lives because of the coronavirus epidemic. This includes people who are planning to or in the process of getting divorced. The DuPage County Courthouse has postponed hearings that it does not consider to be urgent until at least April 17. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the virus, there is no way of knowing for certain when hearings will be rescheduled and whether the courthouse will have to take other steps to protect the public. For those who have already completed their divorces, there may be urgent questions about what to do if they cannot comply with the support payments and parenting schedule in their divorce agreement.

Support Payments

Many people are currently unable to work because of businesses closing in response to the epidemic. Others may have significantly reduced hours and pay. Unfortunately, people do not know when their jobs may come back if they come back at all. Lost income affects people in many ways, including their ability to pay child support and spousal maintenance. Violating court-ordered support payments can result in fines and penalties. If you are worried that you will not be able to afford your next child support or maintenance payment, you need to contact a divorce lawyer to discuss:

  • How much you can afford pay while having enough money left to pay for your living expenses
  • Whether you need to request a reduction in your support payments because of the change in your income

You will not be able to schedule a hearing to modify your child support or maintenance payments until your local courthouse is operating at a greater capacity. However, you can still prepare and submit your petition and request that the payments be reduced retroactively.

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Posted on in Divorce

Should You Try to ‘Win’ Your Divorce?It is healthy to approach your divorce with clear goals in mind and the motivation to accomplish them. You need a divorce agreement that allows you to financially support yourself and have ample parenting time with your children. However, being overly competitive with your spouse can cause problems. Trying to “win” your divorce may create contentious negotiations that prevent you from achieving an optimal divorce agreement – as well as make the process take longer than it needed to. Instead, an amicable or collaborative divorce process, such as mediation, often results in better agreements that both sides can be satisfied with.

Problems with ‘Winning’

Divorce is not meant to have “winners” and “losers.” Divorce law recognizes that both parties need to benefit from the agreement, and a divorce court will not approve an agreement that flagrantly benefits one side at the expense of the other. There are several problems with believing that you need to win your divorce:

  • You may set unrealistic goals that your spouse will not agree to and a court would reject.
  • You may reject a reasonable offer from your spouse that would benefit you.
  • Your focus may shift towards wanting your spouse to lose, even if you are hurting yourself in the process.
  • You are more likely to be dissatisfied with your final agreement, even if it is objectively a good agreement.

There are unavoidable “losses” for everyone who gets divorced. You will lose a portion of your marital properties. You will lose the ability to pool your income with your spouse’s income to pay for living expenses. You will lose some of the time that you normally get to spend with your children. It is part of the cost of divorce.

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How Do You Determine Who Keeps Your Pet After Divorce?A pet is not a mere object to most people who own them. The emotional bond that you form with your pets makes them more like family members to you. Illinois divorce law used to treat pets like properties that must be divided between spouses, but that practice changed with the enactment of a new pet custody law in 2018. Now, courts consider the well-being of pets when divorcees argue over who should keep a pet, which is similar to how courts settle parenting disputes.

What Counts as a Pet?

For the purpose of divorce, Illinois law makes a distinction between “companion animals” and “service animals.” A service animal is any animal that has been trained for the purpose of helping someone who is disabled. A companion animal is any animal that is not a service animal. You cannot claim ownership of a service animal that your spouse needs to perform their everyday tasks.

How Pet Custody Works

Illinois’ divorce law still defines pets as properties that can be marital or nonmarital. A pet is a marital property if you purchased it during your marriage, with an exception for pets that were gifts or inheritances. You can also stipulate whether a pet is a marital property in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

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Three Costly Mistakes You Can Make During DivorceWhen faced with the potential cost of getting a divorce, many people look for ways that they can save money on the process. Some conclude that they can best cut costs by conducting their divorce without hiring an attorney or completing it as soon as possible. While it is true that either of these measures can save money, divorcing without legal guidance or rushing your divorce can lead to costly mistakes. You may need to revise and refile your divorce paperwork after a judge points out a mistake that makes your agreement invalid. You might not notice other mistakes until after your divorce agreement has been approved and becomes legally binding. Here are three costly mistakes that people make during their divorces:

  1. Not Researching Enough: The groundwork for a successful divorce starts with gathering information on your marital finances. You need to identify all of your marital properties and how much they are worth. Bank statements, receipts, and tax returns are just a few of the documents you need to collect, and you may need to file a court order to force your spouse to turn over some documents. Insufficient research puts you at a disadvantage when negotiating the division of marital property and may allow your spouse to get away with paying less child support and spousal maintenance than they should.
  2. Not Financially Separating Themselves: Once you have started the divorce, you should freeze or close your joint bank and credit accounts and open accounts in your name only. You need to start saving money in your own bank account because the divorce court can freeze your marital accounts to prevent either of you from draining the account before the division of property. You can be liable for debts that your spouse amasses in a marital credit account, even if you are in the process of divorcing.
  3. Not Considering Taxes: Some decisions that you make during a divorce negotiation incur tax consequences. Keeping a property such as a house means that you will be paying taxes on that property. Making an early withdrawal from a retirement account may mean that the withdrawal is taxable income. You and your spouse may be in different income tax brackets following your divorce, which could affect how you negotiate spousal maintenance. There is no longer an alimony tax deduction.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

It is difficult for a person who is getting divorced to keep track of all of the divorce rules and avoid costly mistakes. A DuPage County divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., has the knowledge to help you get the most out of your divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Naperville Family Law AttorneyThe mental fitness of each parent can be an important factor when determining who should receive greater responsibility for the children following a divorce or separation. A family court or one of the parents can request a psychological evaluation of the other parent if they believe that the other parent’s mental condition may affect their ability to care for the children. You may be understandably upset if your co-parent questions your mental wellness. However, undergoing a psychological evaluation does not guarantee that you will lose your parental rights, and behaving calmly and cooperatively is the best way to prove that there is no reason to worry about your mental condition.

Granting an Evaluation

Though your co-parent is allowed to request that you undergo a psychological evaluation, the court will determine whether to grant that request, based on whether it believes that your co-parent’s claim has merit. The court understands that a psychological evaluation is invasive and expensive and will order one only if it is convinced that there are serious concerns about your psychological condition that may affect your parental fitness. If your co-parent is the one who initially requested the evaluation, they will be required to pay for it.

Protection Against Baseless Claims

Your co-parent is not allowed to use requests for psychological evaluation as a way to harass you or prolong the trial. Baseless allegations against you should be rejected and may damage your co-parent’s credibility when they try to make other arguments during your case.

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