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How Do You Divide Jewelry in a Divorce?Including jewelry in your division of marital property during your divorce is more complicated than it may seem. Normally, valuable assets obtained during a marriage are considered marital property, and that would be the case if you purchased jewelry for yourself. However, jewelry is often given as a gift, and gifts are excluded from marital property. Deciding whether jewelry is marital property could be a difference of thousands of dollars in your divorce. Thus, it is important to remember how you obtained each piece of jewelry that you own.

Was It a Personal Gift?

Whether a gift is a marital property depends on whether the gift was meant for one person or the couple together. The following questions may help you determine the intent of the gift:

  • What was the occasion for receiving the gift?
  • Who was the gift addressed to?
  • Who would have reasonably been expected to use the gift?

Wearable jewelry is often personalized and given as a gift on a special occasion, such as a birthday, anniversary or holiday. It is unlikely that a necklace or earrings were intended as a couple’s gift. If your spouse purchased the jewelry for you at a time that did not coincide with a special occasion, you can argue that they presented it to you as if it was a gift. It may help if you have saved a note that went along with the gift.

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Work Stoppage May Require Child Support ModificationsThough much of the U.S. economy has come to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, many expenses continue on as normal. For parents who have divorced or separated, child support payments are still necessary. Unfortunately, parents may have increased difficulty paying for child-related expenses if they have lost their jobs or are not receiving pay. You need to immediately talk with a divorce lawyer if your income has been reduced, whether you are the payer of child support or the recipient.

Consequences for Payers

The only way to lawfully reduce the amount of child support you pay to your co-parent is by modifying your child support order in court. Losing your job makes you immediately eligible to modify your child support payments, but the courts may be slow to act on it because they are partially shut down due to the virus outbreak. Once your case is heard, the court will likely calculate a new child support amount based on your current income. Unemployment benefits will count towards that income.

If you are already behind on making child support payments, you now have an added incentive to catch up with the payments if you can. The federal stimulus bill includes a one-time payout of $1,200 for adults who meet the income requirements. However, one of the senators who authored the bill has publicly stated that the payment may be offset in part or in full if the recipient is reported to have missed child support payments.

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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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How to Determine a Fair Spousal Maintenance AgreementSpousal maintenance is not a requirement for every divorce agreement but is often included because it is considered fair compensation for the recipient. If there is a large income discrepancy between spouses, then the recipient may be entitled to financial support from the payor. What is a fair amount of maintenance to award and how long should the payments continue? Illinois courts consider factors such as the duration of the marriage, the income potential of the recipient, and how long the recipient may need to become self-supporting. There are other factors that can be relevant to a spousal maintenance ruling:

  1. Standard of Living: The spousal maintenance recipient is not limited to receiving only enough support to live off of. If the spouses had an expensive lifestyle during their marriage, then it is reasonable for both spouses to be able to continue a similar lifestyle after the divorce. It would be unfair to expect a lower-income spouse to live a much poorer lifestyle while the other spouse keeps the same standard of living, especially if both spouses and their children had become accustomed to that lifestyle after several years.
  2. Career Sacrifice: When one spouse becomes highly successful in their career, it is often possible because of sacrifices that the other spouse made. The other spouse may have foregone earning a college education or quit their job in order to raise the children or help their spouse start a new business. Now that they are separated, the other spouse may have difficulty finding a job to support themselves. They may need time to complete their college education or update their job skills. It is fair to expect the higher-income spouse to support the lower-income spouse if they owe their success in part to their spouse’s sacrifice.
  3. Parental Responsibilities: Divorcing parents already have child support to cover their child-related expenses. However, the division of parenting time can have an indirect effect on the parents’ incomes. If one parent is responsible for significantly more parenting time, then they may be limited in the number of hours they can work or projects they can take on. With these limits to their ability to increase their income, they may be more reliant on spousal maintenance payments.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

Negotiating spousal maintenance can be tricky because there is greater flexibility in determining the amount and duration of the payments than with child support. A DuPage County divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will help you determine what a fair maintenance agreement would be. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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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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Solutions for Three Parenting Time ConflictsDivorcing parents would love to come up with a perfect parenting time arrangement – for their children’s sake if not their own. Unfortunately, plans are rarely perfect, and you may soon realize that your arrangement is not working out as you had hoped. You are allowed to modify your parenting plan, but only if one of the following is true:

  • It has been two years since the plan was last approved or modified.
  • There has been a significant change in circumstances for one of the parents or children.
  • Both parents agree to the modification.

Not every parenting time problem requires a modification to your plan. Here are three potential conflicts and ways that you can solve them:

  1. Your Children Are Struggling to Adjust: Splitting time between two homes is a major change for children that can cause them stress and make them uncomfortable. If you notice your child struggling with the change, talk to them about what is bothering them. There may be something missing from the new home that would make them more comfortable. A tweak in your parenting schedule could make the situation easier for them. Talk to your co-parent about your child’s problems and come up with a solution that works best for your child.
  2. Your Co-Parent Is Not Following the Schedule: Your parenting plan is a legal contract that you both must adhere to. Your co-parent is breaking that contract if they interfere with your parenting time by not dropping off your children when they are scheduled to. When you notice this problem, you should ask your co-parent why they are not sticking to the schedule. There may be a logistical issue that is delaying them, which you can work together on solving. If they do not have a reasonable explanation and the problem continues, you need to file a complaint in court in order to enforce your agreement.
  3. You Have Frequent Schedule Conflicts: When choosing your parenting time, it is important that your children are with you when you are available to spend time with them. Sometimes, unforeseen commitments will interfere with your parenting time. If your parenting time is consistently clashing with your work schedule, you may need to adjust one of them. Starting a new job is a significant change in circumstances that should allow you to immediately modify your parenting plan. If your children’s activities are conflicting with your parenting time, you need to work with your co-parent on a solution. Ask whether it is possible to become involved in your children's activities or if your co-parent is willing to adjust the schedule so that you are not losing as much parenting time.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

A parenting plan should be designed to serve the needs of your children and yourself. You need to change the plan if it is no longer doing that. A DuPage County divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you create and modify a parenting plan. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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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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How to Shield Your Business From a Potential DivorceThere can be a fine line between financial success and failure when running a business. A young business may not be able to survive an unexpected loss of revenue, and even an established business may suffer a setback. Most owners do not consider divorce when guarding their business against risks, but your business will get caught up in your divorce if the business is marital property. You may be forced to choose between giving up part of your business to your spouse or paying them off with other assets. By planning ahead, you may be able to protect your business from the division of property.

Prenuptial Agreement

If you started your business before you got married, you can use a prenuptial agreement to say that your business would not be marital property in the event of a divorce. The agreement could further specify:

  • Which parts of the business are marital and nonmarital
  • Whether your spouse would receive a portion of the amount that your business increased in value during your marriage
  • That you would have complete ownership of the business in case your spouse becomes a co-owner

You can create a postnuptial agreement instead of a prenuptial agreement if you have already married or you started the business after you married. In order for your agreement to be valid, you cannot coerce your spouse into signing it or withhold vital information.

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Ways Women Can Be Financially Unprepared During DivorceA financial literacy gap between spouses can cause problems when you are trying to support yourself after a divorce. If you are unsure of how to use your divorce to secure your financial future, you need to address the issue with your divorce attorney and a financial adviser before you start the negotiations. Traditionally, women were at a disadvantage when it came to financial literacy in a marriage. That has changed in recent decades as more women are in charge of or share responsibility for their marital money. However, a recent survey conducted by Worthy and the Association of Divorce Financial Planners found that some divorcing women are still uncertain about their personal finances:

  1. Few Women Used Financial Planners: Only six percent of the women who answered the survey said that they used a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst during their divorce. Sixty percent were unaware of CDFAs, and 30 percent could not afford one. This does not mean that they were without any financial advice because attorneys can help their divorce clients with financial planning. However, 61 percent of the women said it would have been valuable to work with a financial planner in addition to their attorney. 
  2. Women Were Less Confident About Finances Outside the Household: More than half of the women said that they had enough knowledge to make informed decisions about household expenses, health insurance, debts, and dividing assets. If they had children, they also considered themselves knowledgeable about child-related expenses. They were more likely to say that they were unfamiliar with spousal maintenance and taxes. To be fair, most people do not have a reason to be familiar with spousal maintenance while they are married.
  3. Many Women Did Not Have a Plan to Replace Maintenance Payments: Thirty-five percent of the women said that they receive monthly support payments, and 42 percent of those women said that they have not planned for how they would replace the income from support payments if they end. Even if you are receiving permanent spousal maintenance, you may need a backup plan if your former spouse dies or loses a significant portion of their money. Plans could include increasing your work income, cutting down on your living expenses and selling luxury items.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

Financial planning is an important consideration for everyone because of the ways that divorce can affect your savings, disposable income, and retirement benefits. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can work with a financial planner to help you with your post-divorce finances. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Posted on in Relocation

Keys to Winning a Child Relocation CaseDeciding whether to allow a divorced parent to relocate with their child can be a complicated issue for a family court. Courts in Illinois are supposed to use the child’s best interest as the primary consideration, but there are often positives on both sides of the argument. Is providing the child a better living situation more important than being able to see both parents regularly? There is no perfect answer to this question because both are important to a child’s wellness and development. If you are trying to relocate with your child, the key is to understand how the court will make its decision.

Statutory Factors

As of 2016, Illinois has 11 factors that courts must consider when ruling on a contested child relocation case. One of the factors is broadly described as anything that affects the child’s best interest, meaning that almost anything related to your children could be a factor. However, the court will not weigh all of the factors equally. For instance, the court will not consider the child’s preference as strongly if the child is not mature enough to decide where they should live. The primary factors that courts consider include:

  • Why the one parent wants to relocate
  • Why the other parent contests the relocation
  • How the relocation would affect the child
  • Whether the other parent could still have reasonable parenting time with the child

Making Your Case

When requesting to relocate with your child, you must show how the positives for your child would outweigh any negatives. You should frame each argument around why the relocation would be better than your current situation and how you would minimize the negative impactive it may have on your child’s relationship with their other parent:

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Reasons to Contest a Child Support Modification RequestEither parent in a child support agreement is allowed to request a modification to increase or decrease the monthly payments. Co-parents often disagree on whether a modification should be allowed, and the parent who is requesting the modification bears the burden of proving their case. The court will consider the request if three years have passed since the agreement was created or last modified or if there has been a significant change in circumstances for either parent. A parent who claims a reduction in their income can request that their child support payments be reduced or that their co-parent’s payments be increased. However, the court may still reject the modification depending on the circumstances:

  1. Voluntary Unemployment: A parent cannot claim a change of circumstances if they voluntarily quit their job or took a significant pay cut. Even if they involuntarily lost their job, they must make a good faith effort to find new employment within a reasonable amount of time. A parent who is capable of working cannot forgo employment and expect their co-parent to cover the child-related expenses for an indefinite period.
  2. Not a Significant Change: A minor reduction in income does not mean that a parent is no longer capable of making the same child support payments. The court will expect the parent to try to continue paying their share of child support by dipping into their disposable income before it orders the other parent to contribute more child support.
  3. Optional Expenditures: When a parent makes questionable or unnecessary purchases, they may be using money that should have gone towards child support. Using their budget on luxury expenses is not a good reason for a parent to try to modify child support.
  4. Bankruptcy: Filing for bankruptcy is a significant change in financial circumstances but does not necessarily mean that child support payments should be modified. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the parent’s monthly income should not change, meaning they can still afford child support. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, part of the parent’s income is going towards a long-term repayment plan. Child support payments are a priority in the repayment plan, and the court will decide whether the support amount should be modified to accommodate the repayment plan.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

When considering a modification to child support, the most important factor is whether the children’s needs are being met. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will work on your behalf to modify child support payments or contest an unnecessary modification. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Four Factors That Help Determine How to Divide Retirement Plans During DivorceFiguring out how to divide retirement benefits can complicate the division of property during your divorce. As with any marital properties, you must determine their value and how they fit into the equitable distribution of property. Will you divide the benefits between each other, or will you keep your own benefits? How much of your retirement benefits should your spouse receive? There are several factors that can help you answer these questions about your retirement plan:

  1. Type of Plan: There are generally two types of retirement plans that people receive through their work. Defined benefit plans, such as pensions, give employees a certain amount of benefits upon retirement, based on factors such as salary and years of service. Defined contribution plans, such as a 401(k), are based on employee contributions to the plan, which may also be supplemented by employer contributions. It can be more difficult to determine the current value of a pension than of a 401(k).
  2. Marriage Duration: Valuing a retirement plan as marital property is not as simple as figuring out its total current value. Only the amount that your retirement benefits increased in value during your marriage is marital property. Thus, the duration of your marriage will determine how much of your retirement plan is included in your marital property. Courts may also consider the duration of the marriage when deciding how equitable the division should be. The longer the marriage, the more equitable the division is likely to be.
  3. Individual Plans: When debating how to divide your retirement benefits, you should consider whether your spouse has their own benefits to support themselves in retirement and whether those benefits would allow them to maintain a reasonable standard of living. If your spouse has a retirement plan of similar value to yours, it may be simpler for each of you to keep your own retirement plans. If your retirement plan is more lucrative, you will likely be expected to share a portion of it.
  4. Planned Use: Spouses must determine when and how they will receive each other’s retirement benefits. You could plan to receive your share of the retirement benefits upon your retirement, delaying the payments until the time you need them. You could immediately receive your share of the retirement benefits without an early withdrawal fee. However, you would pay taxes on the money you withdrew unless you roll it over into your own retirement plan.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

Dividing a retirement plan during your divorce is important for supporting yourself during the later years of your life. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can assess the value of your retirement plan and negotiate an equitable distribution. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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How to Request More Parental Responsibilities for the New YearAs another year nears its end, many people will take stock of their current lives and what they want to change. A divorced parent may resolve that they want a greater role in their children’s lives, whether it is through parenting time or decision-making. Illinois allows modifications to the allocation of parental responsibilities under certain circumstances. If your situation qualifies, you will have a chance to change your parenting order or agreement, as long as that change is in the best interest of your children.

Decision-Making

A parent’s decision-making power is their authority to make choices about their children, such as how to raise the children and whether to allow medical treatment. WIth divorced parents, one parent may have sole authority to make decisions or both parents may need to approve major decisions. Illinois allows a parent to petition to modify their decision-making power after two years have passed since the court approved the order or agreement. The petitioning parent must prove why changing their decision-making responsibility is in the best interest of the children. The court may modify the order or agreement without waiting two years if it believes that the current arrangement is threatening the children’s well-being or impairing their development.

Parenting Time

Parenting time is the amount of time that the children spend with each parent, usually outlined in a schedule. A parent may immediately petition to modify their division of parenting time or their parenting time schedule if they can prove a significant change of circumstances, which may include:

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Is It Appropriate to Announce Your Divorce on Social Media?You have made the difficult decision to divorce your spouse. Now comes the uncomfortable step of telling others about your divorce. Some couples choose to save time by making a public announcement using social media. While the idea seems awkward, there are advantages to announcing your divorce on social media:

  • You can present a unified message with your spouse, explaining your decision.
  • You will have fewer individual conversations with others, breaking the news about your divorce.
  • You can set your expectations for privacy and whether you do not want others to talk to you about your divorce.

Before announcing your divorce on social media, you should consider whether doing so is appropriate in your situation.

Reasons It May Be Inappropriate

First, you should tell your family about your divorce before you make a social media announcement. Your children and other close family members deserve to hear the news from you personally and before other acquaintances because your divorce affects them on a more personal level. When considering whether a social media announcement is appropriate, you should ask yourself:

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How to Be Amicable in a High Asset DivorceEvery divorce in Illinois follows the same laws, regardless of the couple’s net worth and how many assets they own. Still, a high asset divorce is usually more complicated than other divorces and can take longer to negotiate if you did not have the foresight to create a prenuptial agreement. However, the complexity of the division of properties does not mean you must have a contentious divorce. For instance, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had what publicly appeared to be an amicable divorce earlier this year, despite the fact that he is one of the richest people in the world. There are several keys to keeping your high asset divorce amicable:

  1. Be Thorough in Your Preparations: It is difficult to trust each other during a divorce if you believe that your spouse is hiding or misrepresenting the value of assets. It is your divorce attorney’s job to identify all of your marital properties and assess their value. This process is more difficult with a high asset divorce because of the sheer volume of properties, some of which are complicated to evaluate. Properties in high asset divorces often include luxury items, multiple homes, business interests, and lucrative retirement benefits.
  2. Be Fair: If you amassed your wealth through business dealings, you may be familiar with using aggressive tactics during negotiations. You should understand that divorce agreements follow different rules than business agreements. The goal is for both spouses to leave with an equitable share of assets that help them maintain a familiar standard of living. This often means that the higher-earning spouse must support the financially dependent spouse through spousal maintenance and high-value assets. Even if you believe that your spouse should become financially independent, they will need time to reach that independence.
  3. Be Creative: An advantage of a high asset divorce is that there are plenty of ways for you to reach an agreement that puts you both in a strong financial position. You have options for dividing properties that other divorcees do not, such as giving yourself or your spouse assets that have more growth potential than present value. You can also mix and match your properties so that each of you is receiving something that is personally valuable. Keep an open mind to creative solutions that your divorce attorney may present to you.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

When going through a high asset divorce, it is important to hire an attorney who is experienced in such cases. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., understands the complexities of a high asset divorce. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Illinois Court Questions Law Requiring Divorced Parents to Pay for CollegeThe Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a portion of the state’s divorce law that can order both parents to help pay for a child’s college education, in response to a circuit court judge who ruled that it was unconstitutional. The circuit court judge had decided that forcing a divorced parent to contribute to college expenses is a violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which promises equal protection under state laws. Rather than argue the merit of the claim, the supreme court said that the circuit court judge lacked the authority to strike down the law because the supreme court had previously ruled that the law was constitutional. Only the supreme court has the authority to overturn that ruling, it said.

College Expenses

The law in question is Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which states that courts may order divorced parents to use their assets and incomes to pay for a child’s post-high school education. Expenses may include:

  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Books and supplies
  • Reasonable living expenses
  • Medical expenses

Divorced parents can share these expenses by allocating assets in their divorce agreement towards paying for college or continuing child support payments until the child graduates with a bachelor’s degree or turns 23, whichever happens first. The age deadline can be extended to 25 if good cause is shown. Continued child support payments may be dependent upon the child’s academic performance.

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Should You Worry About the Privacy of Your Divorce Record?Many people do not realize that the court hearings for their divorce are part of the public record, meaning that anyone can access records on your divorce after it is completed. Everything you say during the hearings and the various documents that you submit is part of that public record. With records being digitized, it is more convenient for people to request and receive court records. If you are concerned about your privacy, you should discuss with your attorney whether you can seal your divorce record from the public.

What Is in the Record?

Your public divorce record does not include sensitive information such as your Social Security Number or bank account numbers. However, it may include details that are professionally damaging or personally embarrassing, such as:

  • Your financial history and debt record
  • Your business assets and interests
  • Admissions of substance abuse or mental health problems
  • Accusations of domestic violence or child abuse
  • Personal arguments between you and your spouse

All of this is information that could hurt you if someone such as a potential employer discovered it when conducting a background check on you.

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Can Divorce Improve You as a Parent?Parents who are getting a divorce worry about how it will affect their children. Besides the pain that the breakup causes, there is the challenge of being a single parent to your children. Can you handle the demands of being solely responsible for your children when they are with you? Can you perform the tasks that you normally left to your co-parent? Divorced parents must resolve to be the best parent they can for their children. Fortunately, there are a few ways that your divorce may actually help you become a better parent:

  1. You Have Shed the Negativity of Your Marriage: It is only after divorce that you realize how much the stress of your marriage was affecting you. While there may be some sadness after divorce, you should no longer feel the anger and dread of coming home to your spouse. Your children may notice that you are happier, which may help with their own moods.
  2. You Are More Focused as a Parent: Without your spouse, your children are unquestionably the most important people in your life. Your time at home will focus on interacting with them and meeting their needs, without the distraction of your marriage. Your attention is one of the things that your children most need from you when they are adjusting to the divorce.
  3. You Can Strengthen Your Relationship: Parents often fall into roles during a marriage, such as one parent being the primary caretaker and provider of emotional support. As a single parent, you need to fill all of the roles when you are with your children. This gives you an opportunity to spend more time interacting with your children and talking to them when they have a problem. As a result, you may feel like a more complete parent to them.
  4. You Have Learned Compromise Skills: When co-parenting, you must move beyond your conflicts with your former spouse and find ways to reach agreements that benefit your children. Learning to compromise will help you in all of your relationships, including with your children. The act of compromise is also setting a good example for your children that people who do not like each other can still find ways to work together for a common good.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

How you allocate your parenting time and decision-making responsibilities is an important aspect of adjusting to life as a single parent. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will help you negotiate a fair parenting agreement that benefits your children. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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