Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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Recent blog posts

Limited Tax Deductions May Make Keeping Home CostlierThe elimination of the alimony tax deduction has rightfully received the most attention amongst the recent changes to the federal tax laws. Not being able to deduct your spousal maintenance payments from your federal taxes is changing how divorcees negotiate their maintenance. However, changes to tax deductions related to real estate could affect whether you want to keep a home or other real property after a divorce. People in high-asset divorces may have fewer tax deductions available to them.

Tax Deductions

One of the goals of the federal tax reform law passed in 2017 was to simplify the tax code. The standard deduction for a single filer increased from $6,000 to $12,000, but many other deductions were reduced or eliminated, including:

  • Capping deductions for state and local income and property taxes at $10,000 when filing as a single person or a married couple filing jointly, or at $5,000 for a married person filing separately;
  • Eliminating deductions for home equity loan interest unless the loan was used to pay for improvements towards a primary or secondary home;
  • Reducing the mortgage interest tax deduction from $1 million to $750,000 if the mortgage was obtained after Dec. 15, 2017; and
  • Eliminating deductions for foreign real estate taxes.

Some of the people who stand to lose the most from the tax deduction changes are those who own multiple real properties and those who live in areas with high local income and property taxes. Even though the standard deduction has doubled, people in a high-asset divorce may have been able to save more money on taxes with the previous deductions intact.

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Using Your Separation to Prepare for DivorceAttorneys often advise clients that legally separating from your spouse is an unnecessary step if you are certain that you will be getting a divorce. You must negotiate the same financial and parenting issues as during a divorce without being free of your marriage. However, some spouses find themselves going through an informal separation period before they formally file for divorce. Living apart may help them feel certain that getting a divorce is the correct decision, even though it means dragging their feet on starting the divorce process. There are several ways that you can prepare for your divorce while separated from your spouse:

  1. Find a Lawyer: You should start by consulting with a divorce attorney to learn more about the process. An attorney can explain what you are allowed to do during your separation and what will happen if you start your divorce.
  2. Protecting Nonmarital Properties: During your divorce, you will categorize your personal properties as either marital or nonmarital. Nonmarital properties are ones that you purchased before your marriage and have remained independent of your marital finances. You can claim properties that rightfully belong to you and would not be part of the division of property.
  3. Identifying Marital Properties: It is important to know what your marital properties are and how much they are worth. Your separation is a time when you can start researching this by collecting receipts and contracts related to the properties. When your divorce starts, you should have a list of marital properties and understand which ones are most valuable to you.
  4. Closing Joint Credit: Spouses share their marital debts after a divorce, and you do not want to be responsible for your spouse compiling greater debt while you are separated. Try to pay off and close your joint credit accounts. You should avoid making major purchases in general when you may be getting a divorce.
  5. Create a Parenting Schedule: You can build the framework of your divorce parenting agreement during your separation. You should be sharing responsibility for your children, even if they are living with only one of you. You have more flexibility now to figure out what parenting schedule works best before it becomes a formal court agreement.

Contact a Warrenville Divorce Attorney

It is natural to be uncertain about whether you want to divorce your spouse. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can explain the process and help you come to a decision. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Your Rights When a Child Refuses Parenting TimeParents normally understand the importance of each of them having parenting time after a divorce. It is a legal right that each parent is presumed to have, and the children benefit from the regular contact and relationships they form. However, what should parents do if a child refuses to visit one of them? Teenagers can insist on their right to decide which parent they spend time with, not thinking that it would violate a legal agreement. Both parents are responsible for solving any conflicts related to parenting time.

Right to Parenting Time

You can force your child to attend your parenting time, but he or she is likely to be miserable if he or she does not want to be there. You should ask your child why he or she does not want to visit you. You may need to ask specific questions if your child does not give you a clear answer, such as:

  • Are you comfortable spending time with me and living in my home?;
  • Is there anything I can do to make our time together more enjoyable?; and
  • Is there something else you would rather be doing when you visit me?

The last question may be crucial when talking to a teenager, who may feel that your scheduled visits disrupt his or her social life. Your teenager may be mature enough to have a say in your parenting schedule. Be willing to adjust your schedule to fit his or her needs, but tell your teenager why you still want to see him or her regularly.

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Moving Out of Your Post-Divorce Comfort ZoneGetting a divorce is taking a big step out of the familiar and into the unknown. While you may have felt some comfort in your marriage, you realized that ending your marriage was a healthier choice for yourself. However, you may not find the better life you were hoping for if you stay inside your comfort zone following your divorce. Repeating the same patterns and routines will keep your life mostly the same as during your marriage. Here are four tips for leaving your comfort zone after your divorce:

  1. Seeing a Therapist: You must identify the personal tendencies that hold you back in order to break free of them. A therapist is not required in order to do this but can help with the process. By talking about yourself to someone else, you can better understand the insecurities and fears that hinder your willingness to change. A support group could be another place for you to talk, as well as receive advice from other divorcees.
  2. Joining Clubs: Speaking of groups, a club can be a fun way to try new experiences and meet new friends. It is less frightening to explore outside of your comfort zone when you are in a group setting. There are clubs for people with shared hobbies or similar backgrounds, including clubs for single or divorced adults interested in social outings. Keep trying until you find a club that fits your interests and needs.
  3. Saying “Yes”: Opportunities occur during your life to try new experiences and make major changes. It could be as simple as a friend inviting you to an event or as profound as a new job. Take more time to seriously consider an opportunity before following your instinct to say “no.” Accepting the opportunity may turn out to be fun or even change your life for the better.
  4. Understanding Your Limits: It is okay to be cautious in leaving your comfort zone because some opportunities may not be right for you. For instance, it is wise to wait until you are ready before you begin dating and seeking new relationships. Taking on too many changes at once could be overwhelming while making gradual changes can build your confidence towards bigger changes.

Contact a Warrenville Divorce Attorney

Taking that first step of filing for divorce is the key to leaving an unhappy marriage and changing your life for the better. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you reach a divorce agreement that allows you to enter your new life with confidence and security. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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How Your Divorce May Affect Your BusinessGoing through a divorce can be perilous for your business, particularly if it is a smaller, family-run business. Some owners have seen the value of their business drop or lost control of it because of the consequences of the divorce process. It is important to work with your divorce attorney on protecting your business during the divorce and allowing it to thrive afterward.

Marital Property

You may need to fight for ownership of your business during your divorce negotiations. Your business is marital property if you created it during your marriage or used marital assets to invest in it. A business that predates your marriage can be nonmarital property, though the amount that the business increased in value during your marriage can be a marital asset. You have several options when your business is part of the equitable division of property. You can:

  • Have complete ownership of the business in exchange for other marital assets of equitable value;
  • Co-own the business with your former spouse after the divorce;
  • Split your business into two companies that you own separately; or
  • Sell your business and divide the proceeds.

The option you choose may depend on the size of your business and how involved your spouse is in it. Your spouse may be content to let you keep the business if he or she is not part of it. A spouse who helped create and run the business may be unwilling to give up his or her business ownership without ample compensation. However, co-owning or dividing a small business may be impractical, and selling your business means losing your source of income.

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Answering Your Children's Questions About DivorceYour children will have many questions about your divorce, some of which may be difficult for you to answer. Some questions have obvious answers, such as “Do you still love me?” and “Is the divorce my fault?” There are other questions that you may not have immediate answers to, such as “Who will I be living with?” You can assure your children whatever parenting time decision you make will be in their best interest. The trickiest question is the big one: “Why did you get divorced?”

Preparing for the Question

You know that your children will ask about the reason you got divorced. Unfortunately, you do not know when or where they will ask the question. Your initial reaction could have a major effect on how future conversations on the subject will go. You should decide how honest you want to be with each child. No child wants to hear salacious details about your marriage, but children who are at or near adulthood may be able to handle more of the truth. The main points of your answer should be that:

  • They were in no way responsible for your decision to divorce;
  • It was a difficult decision to make, especially because of how it would affect them;
  • Parents may stop getting along for reasons that are no one’s fault;
  • Parents are best off getting a divorce when their marriage becomes unhealthy for them; and
  • Nothing about the divorce will ever change the fact that you love your children.

Detailed Questions

Your children may eventually ask you specific questions about the reason for your divorce that they were afraid to ask when they were younger. A question may be uncomfortable for you if it is about something you or your spouse did wrong, such as having an affair. Rather than deny what happened, you should be honest about your faults that may have contributed to your divorce and use it as a teaching moment:

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Adjusting a College Financing Plan During DivorceGetting divorced can disrupt years of careful planning to pay for your children’s college educations. Both you and your co-parent may not have the financial resources to continue regular payments into a college fund. You may need to adjust your plan, which you can establish in your divorce agreement. Financial aid will also become more important, and your divorced status may increase the amount of aid that your child will be eligible to receive.

College Payment Plan

Illinois law allows you to petition to continue child support payments in order to pay for college after your child has turned 18. However, it may be more efficient to include a college financing plan as part of your divorce agreement than to try to extend your child support payments in the future. You can specify how you will divide the college expenses and other details, such as:

  • Limits on annual payments;
  • How many semesters the payments will continue;
  • What constitutes college expenses, such as textbooks and off-campus housing;
  • Whether there is an age limit for the student;
  • Whether there are restrictions on which college the student may attend, such as a public vs. a private school;
  • Whether the student must maintain a certain grade-point average; and
  • Whether the payments should go to the other parent, the student, or the school.

Financial Aid

College financial aid is available to students who fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or a CSS Profile at participating colleges. Application reviewers will use the income of the student’s parents to determine how much aid the student is eligible for. With FAFSA, a student of divorced parents can report only the income of the parent he or she lives with for a majority of the time. FAFSA will use the parent who pays a greater amount of child support if parenting time is divided equally. Both child support and spousal maintenance payments are part of your income, but a single parent likely has less income than a two-parent household, which should qualify your child for greater financial aid. With CSS financial aid, some colleges require the students to submit incomes from both of their divorced parents.

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Six Financial Clues That Your Spouse Plans to DivorceMany people who were surprised by their spouse’s divorce request will say that their spouse’s financial behavior should have warned them of the divorce. A spouse will start preparing once he or she has made an independent decision to divorce in order to gain an advantage in the division of property. Some behavior is an unintentional reaction when your spouse is considering divorce. Though not guaranteed signs of divorce, these changes in financial behavior often accompany a divorce:

  1. Your Spouse Is Not Depositing into Your Marital Account: Most spouses have a joint bank account that they use to pay for marital expenses. A spouse who is preparing for divorce may secretly open an individual account for use during and after the divorce. If your spouse suddenly stops depositing his or her income into your joint account, the money may be going to the individual account.
  2. Your Spouse Has Made Unexplained Withdrawals from Your Account: Sneaking money out of your marital account could mean several things. Your spouse may be putting that money into a private account, paying for a divorce attorney, or spending it on an extramarital affair. Your spouse may face legal consequences for essentially stealing your marital assets for personal gain.
  3. Your Spouse Wants to Track Your Spending: A spouse who is considering divorce may ask that you adhere to a tighter budget and give him or her a record of your recent expenditures. Your spouse’s hidden goal may be to gather financial data to prepare for your divorce.
  4. Your Spouse Encourages You to Take on Marital Debts: Some divorces occur shortly after a couple has entered a major loan agreement. Your spouse may have taken on the marital debt knowing that you would continue to share liability for it after your divorce.
  5. Your Spouse Complains About His or Her Income: Parties in a divorce downplay their individual assets and incomes in order to receive more marital property and avoid higher support payments. Your spouse may be trying to convince you that his or her earning potential has diminished or looks bleak in order to gain this advantage in your divorce. You must investigate whether these claims are true.
  6. Your Spouse Suddenly Showers You With Gifts: Giving you expensive gifts or taking you on a luxurious vacation seems to contradict the financial interests of someone who plans to divorce. However, your spouse may be feeling guilty about the pending divorce or trying to figure out whether these gifts can help save your marriage.

Contact a Warrenville Divorce Attorney

Once you know that your spouse wants a divorce, the responsible reaction is to consult your own lawyer. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you financially prepare for a divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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How Winning the Lottery Would Affect Your DivorceWinning the lottery is not something that you can plan for, but how you respond to winning is important if you are going through a divorce. You must first determine whether your spouse is entitled to a share of the winnings as part of the division of property in Illinois’ divorce laws. If your winnings are completely your property, your sudden influx of money will still affect how you settle your divorce. What you cannot do is hide the fact that you have won.

Property Status

Whether your lottery winnings are marital property in a divorce depends on when and how you purchased the ticket:

  • Your lottery winnings would most likely be marital property if you purchased the winning ticket before you started the divorce process. Your individual income is marital income during your marriage, and purchases made with marital income are marital property; and
  • Your winnings could be individual property if you purchased the ticket while separated from your spouse but before your divorce is completed. You would need to prove that you paid for the ticket with your individual income.

Illinois law states that spouses must equitably divide their marital properties during a divorce. Your spouse would not necessarily receive exactly half of your prize money. Instead, he or she would receive what the court believes is a fair share of the money, depending on the duration of your marriage and his or her financial situation.

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Creating a Parenting Schedule for the HolidaysYour first holiday season after your divorce can be stressful for you and your children because it is the first time you are not celebrating the holidays together as a family. Your parenting schedule should not add more stress to the season. Divorced parents often have unique schedules for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may have already included one in your divorce parenting agreement. However, you will not know how well the schedule works until you put it into action. You may need to adjust your holiday parenting schedule to something that works better for your children.

Qualities of a Good Schedule

You should build your holiday parenting schedule around what will create the most enjoyable experience for your children. This requires sacrificing some of your own time with the children so that both you and your co-parent can celebrate with them. How you divide your time depends on your individual circumstances. You should ask yourselves:

  • Which home will the children be most comfortable spending a holiday at?;
  • Which parent is most capable of hosting a holiday celebration such as a dinner?;
  • What other family members will the children be able to see when staying with each parent?;
  • Are the children old enough to handle traveling between parents on the holiday?; and
  • Is one parent more closely associated with certain holiday traditions than the other?

Types of Schedules

There are four ways that you can structure your holiday parenting schedule:

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Helping Your Children Adjust to a Second HomeHaving two homes is one of the most difficult changes that children experience after a divorce. It will take time for them to adjust to their new living environment and the parenting time schedule that has them switching between homes. Your job as a parent is to make the transition as comfortable as you can while understanding that your children may be initially anxious and upset. Here are five keys to helping your children through the adjustment period:

  1. Familiar Space: At least one of your children’s homes will be new to them. Encourage your children to decorate their rooms so that they feel comfortable and more at home there. Allow them to bring some familiar items from their other home. Have duplicates of items that would be impractical for them to take back and forth for each visit.
  2. Shared Schedule: You have already created a parenting time schedule as part of your divorce. Have a calendar with your parenting schedule prominently displayed in your home. Your children can see when they are visiting each parent and become familiar with the schedule.
  3. Dropping Off: Divorced parents are advised to drop their children off at their new home instead of the other parent picking them up from their familiar home. This can make a psychological difference to the children during their first couple of times staying in the new home. When you pick your children up, they may feel like you are taking them away from their home to an unfamiliar place. Delivering them to the new home may be less traumatic.
  4. New and Old Routines: Preserving old routines can create familiarity in a new home. You may have regularly watched a television show with your children, cooked a special meal on certain days, or helped them with their homework after dinner. You can also start new routines that fit your schedule with the children.
  5. Staying Calm: How you react to your new parenting schedule can determine your children’s reaction. The first time you drop your children off at your co-parent’s home may feel traumatic to you, but you must try to keep your emotions in check. Showing that you are upset will make your children upset. They are already worried about the change and need you to comfort them.

Your Parenting Plan

You and your co-parent should craft a parenting schedule that best accommodates your children and tries to keep disruptions to a minimum. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you negotiate the allocation of parental responsibilities. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Which Jobs Correlate with Higher Divorce Rates?A 2017 study attempted to connect a person's job with his or her likelihood of divorce by looking at which careers have the highest and lowest divorce rates in the U.S. The top 10 jobs in which employees most often divorced were:

  1. Gaming managers;
  2. Bartenders;
  3. Flight attendants;
  4. Gaming service workers;
  5. Rolling machine workers;
  6. Switchboard operators;
  7. Extruding and drawing machine workers;
  8. Telemarketers;
  9. Textile knitting and weaving machine workers; and
  10. Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine workers.

While a list is fun to look at, it is more useful to understand the shared traits of these careers that may increase the risk of divorce. 

Long or Odd Hours

Many of the careers with the highest divorce rates can require working nights and weekends. This schedule may limit how often spouses see and interact with each other if they do not work the same hours. People who work odd hours may also be more tempted to have an affair with a co-worker. They are around their co-workers more often than their spouses and find it easier to spend time outside of work with someone who has the same schedule.

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Illinois Adjusts Spousal Maintenance Law Ahead of Tax ChangesIllinois recently passed a law that changes the formula and court instructions for calculating spousal maintenance as part of a divorce. The law goes into effect at the start of 2019, which is the same time that a federal tax law eliminating the alimony deduction goes into effect. Illinois is adjusting its spousal maintenance law because the tax law will put a greater burden on people paying maintenance. Since the new tax law was announced, lawyers have warned divorcees that it may become more difficult to reach a spousal maintenance agreement if the payor cannot use the alimony deduction. Illinois’ new law will try to make court decisions on spousal maintenance more equitable for both spouses.

Alimony Deduction

Any spousal maintenance agreements approved before the end of 2018 are still eligible for the alimony tax deduction, and payors under existing maintenance agreements can continue claiming the deduction until a change of circumstances requires them to modify the agreement. With the alimony deduction, payors can deduct the full value of their annual maintenance payments from their federal income taxes. Payees must report the maintenance that they receive as taxable income. When the deduction is eliminated, the payor will save less on his or her taxes, and the payee will not pay taxes on his or her maintenance.

Illinois’ Response

Divorcees may be less likely to reach a spousal maintenance agreement on their own because the alimony deduction was an incentive for the payor to agree to larger maintenance payments. Illinois’ new maintenance law tells the courts to consider the tax consequences for each party when deciding on spousal maintenance. It also changes the spousal maintenance formula so that the courts:

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Legal Recourse When a Parent Flees with a ChildA divorced parent living in the Chicago area may not relocate with his or her children more than 25 miles from their current home unless:

  • The other parent agrees to the move; or 
  • A court approves the move.

The relocating parent must file a petition to relocate and prove to the court that it is in the children’s best interest to move with him or her. The court can block the children’s move and modify the division of parenting time if the parent decides to relocate anyways. Fearing that a court will reject their relocation requests, some parents flee with their children to another state or country. State, federal, and international laws can help you rescue your children if your co-parent has abducted them.

Parental Kidnapping

Illinois defines parental kidnapping as when one parent defies a court-approved parenting order by hiding or removing the children from the other parent. You can request an emergency custody order for your children if you believe your co-parent has fled with them or is a risk to do so. Federal law allows your state’s courts to maintain jurisdiction over your parenting case, even when your co-parent flees to another state.

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How a Postnuptial Agreement May Strengthen Your MarriageCreating a postnuptial agreement seems like a sign of weakness in a marriage. Why would you need an agreement that prepares you for a potential divorce if your marriage is strong? A postnuptial agreement is a practical document that you should create when you and your spouse are cooperating. Having a postnuptial agreement means you recognize that you could divorce and that you may disagree on what to do with your assets at that time. Instead of a weakness, negotiating a postnuptial agreement can be healthy for your relationship:

  1. You Are Discussing Your Finances: Financial struggles and disagreements cause marital conflict that can lead to divorce. You may have financial concerns but are avoiding a conversation with your spouse because it is stressful. Ignoring the topic will not make the problem go away. Negotiating a postnuptial agreement forces you to talk to your spouse about your finances.
  2. You Discover What You Disagree About: You may have a different philosophy about spending and saving than your spouse. Your negotiations are your chance to say that you are concerned about your spouse’s spending choices and how they may hurt your marital assets. Your spouse may have his or her own concerns about your spending habits. You can plan so that you both would have enough assets to support yourselves in case of a divorce.
  3. The Negotiations Encourage Honesty: Even when together for several years, you may not know all of the assets your spouse owns or how much money he or she earns. It is appropriate for you to ask your spouse for details about his or her finances during the negotiations. Your postnuptial agreement would be invalid if your spouse hid significant assets from you. Believing that your spouse is not hiding anything from you will improve your trust in your marriage.
  4. You Are Working Together Towards Solutions: Creating a good postnuptial agreement requires finding compromises for complicated financial issues. You want an agreement that is fair to yourself and your spouse. By the end of the process, you will have gained experience in cooperating with your spouse to solve difficult situations.

Worthwhile Process

You may never need to use your postnuptial agreement but will be happy that you created one if you ever divorce. The agreement saves you time by settling some of your divorce’s most contentious issues in advance. A DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you make a postnuptial agreement or review an existing agreement. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Your Options When Your Spouse Refuses to DivorceYou can file for divorce without your spouse’s consent, but your spouse can prolong the process by contesting you. There is little chance that your spouse’s arguments will cause the court to stop your divorce. Illinois courts do not accept a reason for divorce other than irreconcilable differences, which either spouse can independently cite. Unfortunately, your spouse may be reacting emotionally, either not understanding the futility of his or her actions or delaying the divorce to spite you. How you respond to your spouse’s actions depends on how your spouse is being uncooperative.

Not Responding

You must send your spouse a notice of your petition to divorce and the scheduled court hearing as part of the filing process. Once your spouse has received notice, he or she has 30 days to respond by declaring whether he or she will appear in court and contest the divorce. If your spouse does not respond or attend your hearing, you can request a default judgment in favor of your petition to divorce. The court may set another date for the default judgment hearing to give your spouse a chance to respond. If the court issues you a default judgment, your spouse will no longer have a voice in determining your divorce settlement.

Cannot Be Found

A court will not grant a default divorce judgment unless it is satisfied that your spouse is aware of the divorce and the hearings. Your spouse may hide from you in order to avoid receiving notice of your divorce petition. You can still complete your divorce if your spouse is missing, but you must:

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How to Tell If You Are in a High Asset DivorceA high asset divorce means high stakes for both sides during the division of property. The properties in a high asset divorce are both valuable and numerous, making the property assessment process more difficult. How do you identify whether you will be going through a high asset divorce? Besides the incomes of yourself and your spouse, there are several types of properties that are typical in a high asset divorce:

  1. Multiple Real Estate Properties: Your home is often the most valuable property in your marriage. In a high asset divorce, you may own several real estate properties, such as a seasonal home, undeveloped land, or a building which you allow other people to rent.
  2. Multiple Vehicles: Each spouse has his or her own vehicle in a typical divorce. In a high asset divorce, you may have additional vehicles that you use for recreational purposes or keep as collector’s items. Common examples include vintage cars, motorcycles, and boats.
  3. Business Ownership: Owning a business can be more lucrative than being an employee. If your spouse is a business owner, he or she has likely invested substantial money into it and has many valuable assets tied to it. A business valuation can determine the current and potential value of the business, which may be a marital property.
  4. Investments: Money in the stock market or business interests may be paying dividends now or promising payouts in the future. You need to carefully evaluate these assets during your divorce. Some investments have a low current value but have the potential to increase in value. However, it is risky to overvalue the potential of investments in case they do not increase in value as expected.
  5. Benefits and Insurance: People in high asset divorces have often been saving towards their retirement for years. You are entitled to a fair share of the retirement benefits that your spouse has accumulated during your marriage. Your spouse may also have a life insurance policy with cash value that you can divide.
  6. Collectibles and Luxury Items: People use their disposable income to purchase items that interest them. In a high asset divorce, those items may be valuable, such as art, jewelry, and memorabilia. The value of these items is part of the division of property because marital income was used to buy them.

Property in a High Asset Divorce

You should not assume that you know the actual value of your marital assets during your divorce. You need a professional assessor to identify valuable properties from your marriage and determine their worth. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., has experience working with clients in high asset divorces. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Posted on in Divorce

Avoid Dating Until After Your DivorceAre you legally allowed to date someone before you have officially divorced? The answer in Illinois is “yes.” Some states recognize marital misconduct such as adultery as a reason for divorce and will penalize the spouse at fault in the divorce settlement. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that spouses do not cite a reason such as adultery when filing for divorce. However, dating during your divorce is still a poor decision because it can needlessly complicate the process and put you at a disadvantage.

Harming Negotiations

Your spouse will be upset if he or she learns that you have started dating while you are still settling your divorce. Your spouse is likely still emotional about the end of your marriage, and knowing that you are seeing someone else will cause him or her to feel hurt, angry, jealous, and/or depressed. He or she may use your divorce negotiations as a way to get back at you by:

Your decision to start dating has injected fresh emotions into the negotiations, which makes the process more contentious and time-consuming.

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Improving as a Father Through DivorceSome men become more active and involved fathers despite the obstacles that their divorces create. Courts often grant less allocation of parental responsibilities to fathers, which means that fathers have less time with their children and less say in parenting decisions. As a father, you are always a full-time parent, even if you see your children only part-time. You need to change what you require of yourself as a full-time father.

Parenting Time

You should treat your time with your children as a precious resource. When you were living with your co-parent, you could be less active with your children because you were sharing parental responsibilities. Single parents cannot avoid interacting with their children and taking direct responsibility. This should include:

  • Talking with your children individually;
  • Helping them with their homework or life problems; and
  • Having fun with them.

You need to adjust the rest of your life's schedule to make the best use of your parenting time. You may need to shift your work hours so that you can be with your children during your parenting time. Social activities with friends or romantic interests should always be secondary to your time with your children.

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Do You Qualify for a Joint Simplified Divorce?Illinois offers a quicker and easier divorce process for some spouses, called a joint simplified dissolution of marriage. The process has less required paperwork and can often be resolved in one court hearing. However, there are several strict requirements that spouses must meet to qualify for a joint simplified divorce. The state created the process for spouses who have not been married long, have limited assets and will not remain connected to each other after the divorce. Check this list of requirements to determine if you qualify for joint simplified divorce:

  1. Marriage Duration and Separation: Your marriage must be less than eight years old, and you must be living separate and apart from each other.
  2. Agreement on Divorce: You and your spouse must both agree that irreconcilable differences are the reason for your divorce.
  3. Children: You cannot have any children from your marriage or be expecting any children through pregnancy or adoption. The existence of children would require child support and the allocation of parental responsibilities, which a simple court hearing cannot determine.
  4. Spousal Maintenance: The spouses must waive their right to receive support payments from each other after the divorce.
  5. Personal Incomes: Your individual annual gross incomes cannot exceed $30,000, and your joint annual gross income must be less than $60,000.
  6. Marital Properties: You cannot own any interest in real estate or have retirement benefits of a combined value of $10,000 or greater. The value of your marital properties subtracted by your marital debts must be less than $50,000.
  7. Property Division: You must create a written agreement that divides all marital properties that are valued at more than $100, as well as any marital debt. You and your spouse must disclose your tax returns from the years you were married and all of the assets and debts you accumulated.
  8. Pet Ownership: You must have a written agreement that determines the ownership of a companion animal and allocates responsibility for that animal. Service animals are considered separate from companion animals.

Using Simplified Divorce

People who qualify for joint simplified divorce can save time and money on the divorce process. However, the process is designed for divorces that are already relatively simple. Your divorce deserves more attention than a simplified process if you have several valuable assets from your marriage or must determine the well-being of your children. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will help you create an advantageous divorce agreement while also respecting your time and expense. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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