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What Is a Social Distancing Contract for Divorced Parents?The COVID-19 pandemic has forced divorced parents in the U.S. to adjust their parenting plans. Social distancing guidelines have changed what is necessary to protect children from harm, which may include limiting their travel between homes and making sure that they are not exposed to the virus. Some parents have gone as far as to create “social distancing contracts” that stipulate what they should be doing to protect their children from the coronavirus. Creating such a contract may seem prudent given the state of the world, but divorce professionals warn that some parents are trying to use the contracts to control their co-parents.

Potential for Manipulation

Co-parenting can be difficult if your co-parent has a history of manipulative behavior, and the public health crisis gives them a new way to try to control you. Your co-parent may try to pressure you into signing a social distancing contract that they wrote, claiming that it is in your children’s best interest. Provisions you see in the contract may include prohibiting you from:

  • Allowing any guests into your home, including family members
  • Meeting new people outside of your home
  • Attending non-essential gatherings

Limiting these activities may be necessary to protect your children during a pandemic, but a contract lets your co-parent decide who you can see and what you can do with no room for your own judgment.

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Are You Required to Separate Before Divorcing in Illinois?Once you and your spouse have decided that you want to divorce, you likely want to start the process as soon as you are ready. Creating a divorce agreement can take months while you gather information, negotiate the terms, and wait for your court date. You may also wonder whether Illinois requires you to live separately before you can file for divorce. If you ask this question to someone who got divorced five or more years ago, they may tell you that they had to live separately for months or years before they could divorce. However, Illinois divorce law no longer requires spouses to live separately, though proving that you have already been separated can help in some cases.

How Separation Helps

Illinois practices no-fault divorce, meaning that spouses do not cite grounds such as infidelity for divorcing. Spouses will often, but not always, agree on filing for divorce. When a spouse disputes a divorce, the divorce filer only must prove that there are irreconcilable differences. Prior to 2016, Illinois required spouses who both agreed to divorce to live separately for six months before they could file. If they disagreed on getting a divorce, the separation requirement to prove irreconcilable differences was two years. However, Illinois changed its divorce law in 2016:

  • Spouses who both agree to divorce can file immediately.
  • If the spouses disagree, showing that they have lived separately for at least six months will create a presumption of irreconcilable differences.

Even without living separately, citing irreconcilable differences is fairly easy to prove to the court. Even if spouses disagree on whether their marriage can be salvaged, the court may rule that the disagreement is proof of irreconcilable differences.

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How Divorced Parents Can Create a Happy Father’s DayFather’s Day is a special celebration for all dads and their children, but the holiday may take on added significance if you are a divorced dad. Many divorced fathers must work hard to maintain a close relationship with their children. Mothers are still more likely to receive a majority of the parenting time with the children, leaving fathers with only a few days with their kids each week. Father’s Day is an excellent opportunity for children to spend quality time with their divorced dad, and mothers should encourage their children to celebrate the holiday. Both divorced parents have a role in ensuring a happy Father’s Day for their children.

Flexibility

Your normal parenting schedule may conflict with a planned Father’s Day celebration. For instance, the children may normally spend part or all of Sunday with their mother. As long as you both agree, you can be flexible with your parenting schedule to allow the father to have more time with the children. You could agree to adjust your schedule so that the mother receives more parenting time on another day in exchange for time on Father’s Day.

Creative Solutions

There are situations where it is not feasible or practical for the children to be with their dad on Father’s Day. Long-distance travel is difficult right now because of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. When faced with obstacles to a traditional Father’s Day celebration, you can come up with creative solutions, such as:

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Does Your Spouse Share Your Business Debt in Divorce?The division of properties and debts is one of the main tasks when making a divorce agreement. You may know that a business that one of you owns can be marital property if it was started during your marriage, increased in value during your marriage, or mingled with your personal assets. When a business is a marital property, does that mean that the business’s debts are also marital debts? There are situations in which a business debt could be divided between spouses in a divorce:

  1. Your Spouse Cosigned on a Loan: Your spouse clearly shares liability for a business loan if they agreed to do so by cosigning the loan agreement. Your spouse may cosign if they are a partner in your business or if you need to back the loan with your personal finances in order to qualify. As long as your spouse’s name is on the loan contract, the lender will consider them liable for the debt, regardless of whether you decide to divorce.
  2. Your Business Does Not Have Limited Liability: The sole proprietor or general partner of a business is personally liable for their business’s debts unless they form the business into a corporation or limited liability company (LLC). Business debts that you are personally liable for will qualify as marital debts in a divorce. You may be expected to take responsibility for paying your business’s debt, but it will be included when calculating how to fairly divide all of your marital debts.
  3. You Used Your Business to Receive a Loan for Personal Expenses: A business owner may use their marital assets as collateral to get a business loan. The reverse can also work if you use business assets as collateral for a loan that is meant for personal expenses. For instance, you could use real estate that your business owns as collateral in order to receive a loan to pay for a home renovation project. Though the loan may appear to be a business debt, you can argue that your spouse should share responsibility for paying it because the loan was invested into a marital property.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Whenever you mix business and personal finances, it is important to keep track of where assets came from and how they are used. Otherwise, your spouse can claim ownership rights to business assets or avoid liability for shared debts. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will work with you to protect your business interests. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Getting Divorced After a Short MarriageAfter their actual honeymoon, newly married couples typically go through an extended honeymoon period, when the excitement and happiness of marriage outweighs any negatives. Researchers estimate that the honeymoon period typically wears off after three to five years, when stresses test the strength of a marriage. Some marriages do not survive the test, as studies in the U.S. show that approximately 20 percent of first marriages and 31 percent of second marriages end within five years. In rare cases, a couple may not need even a year to realize they made a mistake. Settling a divorce after a short marriage involves many of the same issues as longer marriages, but the duration of the marriage may affect how the issues are decided.

Division of Property

Illinois requires divorcing spouses to equitably divide their marital property, but a court is allowed to consider the duration of the marriage when determining the division. Courts will generally put greater importance on fairly dividing property in cases involving longer marriages, though there is no official number of years that are required for a longer marriage. For short marriages, it is also important to distinguish between marital and non-marital property. Spouses who have not been married for long are less likely to have accumulated shared assets, including:

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Identifying Silent Killers in a MarriageDramatic conflicts can kill marriages. When a spouse is cheating or abusive, it is easy to predict that a couple will seek a divorce. However, many marriages die slowly and for reasons that others may not understand. There are silent marriage killers that do not manifest as direct conflict but will gradually create a divide in a relationship. While it can be difficult to detect these killers, spouses who are aware of them may be able to work through their problems and maintain their marriages.

Lack of Communication

Not talking with your spouse is literally a silent killer in a marriage. You both need to communicate to express how you feel and show that you care about each other. You may have stopped having meaningful conversations in order to avoid conflict. You may be distracted by work or personal interests. Checking social media, in particular, has become an addicting hobby that draws people’s attention away from live interaction and towards their phones. Improving your communication may take a conscious effort:

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Handling Your Life Insurance During a DivorceGetting divorced in Illinois does not automatically kill your former spouse’s right to benefits from your life insurance policy. You can agree to give your former spouse some benefits in case of your death or choose someone else as your primary beneficiary. If you are responsible for spousal maintenance or child support payments, your former spouse can receive life insurance benefits as compensation for the payments he or she will no longer receive from you. Whatever your decision is, you must take specific action in order to change the division of your life insurance benefits after divorce.

Changing Your Policy

Under Illinois law, a divorce will automatically revoke some beneficiary designations, such as provisions in wills, trusts and power of attorney orders. If you do nothing to your life insurance policy, your former spouse may be entitled to the same benefits as when you were married. In order to change the beneficiary arrangement, you can:

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Benefits of Attending Divorce Support GroupsGoing through your divorce can be an intensely emotional and personal experience, but divorce, in general, affects a broad number of people. By discussing your divorce with others, you may discover that what you thought were your unique problems are actually common experiences. Divorcees are often advised to see a therapist for individual attention to their emotional needs. Attending a divorce support group can be a good supplement to individual therapy.

What Is a Support Group?

Divorce support groups are meetings for people who are going through or have completed a divorce. One of the members will lead the others in introducing themselves if they are new to the group and discussing their personal experiences with divorce. The atmosphere tends to be relaxed, and members try to be supportive in allowing others to express their feelings without judging them.

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Spouse may hide their assets during a divorceAs part of the divorce process in Illinois, the marital property of the two spouses is split in a way that is deemed to be equitable. Each side must identify and value its assets to determine the marital property that must be split. Diverse and high value assets can make this process complicated, and some spouses may try to take advantage of that by hiding some of their assets or the value of those assets. Besides being illegal, hiding assets during a divorce can result in an inequitable division of property, as one of the spouses has more financial resources than is legally disclosed. It can be hard to tell if your spouse is hiding assets, but there are common methods he or she may use.

  • Physical Assets: If you know your spouse has a collection of valuable items, such as cars or antiques, make sure those items do not get overlooked. If they suddenly disappear, your spouse may have hidden them with a friend or family member.
  • Bank Accounts: Your spouse may try to hide how much money he or she has in a bank account. Money may be withdrawn to be put in a safety deposit box or another account under someone else’s name.
  • Real Estate: Keep track of any properties your spouse owns. He or she may try to transfer that property to someone else for the duration of the divorce proceedings.
  • Work Compensation: Your spouse may underreport his or her work wages by deferring paychecks or falsely claiming a demotion. There is a greater possibility of deception if your spouse is self-employed or runs his or her own business.
  • Taxes: Your spouse may try to misreport his or her income when filing a tax return or overpay the IRS, knowing that he or she can receive a tax refund after the divorce.
  • Debt: Your spouse may collude with someone else to create a fake debt that he or she owes.

Consequences

If it is determined your spouse was hiding assets, the court may award you with a greater share of assets in the division of property or make your spouse financially compensate you. Depending on the severity of your spouse’s deception, your spouse may be found in contempt of court or face criminal charges.

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divorce and children, naperville divorce lawyerThe adjustment period for those going through a divorce can vary in emotional intensity and overall impact from person to person and from family to family. Children, in particular, are susceptible to high levels of stress and emotional turmoil, especially when the situation is not properly explained to them or communicated in a way that helps them understand the reason for the family separation.

Tips on Helping Your Children

If you are recently divorced and wish to provide your children with the ample support they need to grow up happy and healthy, making the following efforts can pay off in the long run:

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