Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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

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

Good Divorce

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

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

Joining an Employee Plan

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

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

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

Jurisdiction

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

Property Division

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

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

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

Keeping You Organized

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

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Posted on in Divorce

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

Traumatic Experience

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

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

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

Stress of Divorce

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

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

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

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

Lawsuits and Debts

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

Spousal Maintenance

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

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Posted on in Divorce

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

Avoidance

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

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

Too Much Information

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

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

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

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

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

Inevitable Divorce

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Posted on in Paternity

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

Establishing Parentage

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

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

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

Settling a High Asset Divorce

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

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Posted on in Divorce

Four Ways to Be a Good Client During DivorceWhen you begin the divorce process, you are entering a prolonged working relationship with your divorce attorney. Your attorney is your go-to person for discussing all of the technical aspects of divorce, including property division and allocation of parental responsibilities. You select an attorney based on his or her ability to help you obtain a favorable outcome from divorce. However, a good attorney is at his or her best when the client is helpful. Here are four tips for being a good client during your divorce:

  1. Showing Interest: Your attorney has extensive knowledge about divorce, but you are the expert on all matters concerning your life and your marriage. You must be willing to be an active part of the divorce by being available to answer questions and provide information. Anticipate that your attorney will need to know detailed information about your finances and property. Try to promptly answer any questions he or she asks.
  2. Trust Your Attorney: Curious and concerned clients may do their own research on legal aspects of divorce. With the open access to information on the internet, it is tempting to try to answer your own questions. Having access to information is different from knowing how to find the answer. Your attorney should be your resource for any questions you have about your divorce. By doing your own research, you are drawing your own conclusions about the law that may conflict with your attorney’s work.
  3. Efficient Communication: It is good to have an open line of communication with your attorney, but excessive phone calls or emails can be detrimental. Productive conversations become interruptions while your attorney is trying to work. You can most efficiently address your concerns by writing them down and discussing them all at once during planned, regular communications.
  4. Remaining Calm: Some divorce topics may stir up your emotions because of their personal nature. An uncooperative or difficult spouse may also make you angry. When you allow your emotions to control your judgment, you make irrational decisions that undermine your attorney’s efforts to help you. When you fall prey to negative emotions, listen to your attorney’s advice with an open mind. Your attorney has an impersonal perspective on your divorce that helps him or her identify decisions that will be most beneficial to you.

Client Relationships

Divorce attorneys and their clients are most successful when they work with each other on the case. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can discuss ways you can help during the divorce process. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Including a New Significant Other During the HolidaysIt is understandable and in many cases expected that you will date new people after your divorce. The tricky part is when and how to introduce your new romantic interest to your family – most significantly your children. You want to include your significant other in all aspects of your life, but you also must consider how others will react. This conflict becomes heightened during the holiday season. You can spend time with your new partner, but including him or her in family events may create uncomfortable situations. There are circumstances in which it is a bad idea to invite a new significant other to a family holiday gathering.

During the Divorce

Openly dating someone while your divorce is ongoing can be damaging to your case. Besides making you look selfish, your divorcing spouse may bring up legal questions of whether:

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Child Support Needs Adjustments Over TimeThe amount of money needed to raise a child is neither static nor uniform. Different children have different needs, and any of those needs can change as they get older. Yet, child support payments created during a divorce only reflect the financial needs at that time. They cannot predict what the future child support needs will be or any emergency expenses in the present. Divorced parents must be willing to re-examine their child support payments to determine whether the payments are still meeting their children’s needs. They should also have an understanding of how they will pay for unusual expenses that occur.

Child Support Model

Determining the required amount that one parent must pay for child support starts with calculating the parents’ combined financial obligation to the children. The initial amount is based on the parents’ combined incomes and the number of children. Illinois has a table that uses both factors to suggest a combined monthly child support amount from both parents. Parents can add other regular child-related expenses to that monthly total, such as:

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Calculating Goodwill as Part of Business ValuationA business’ value extends beyond the earnings that can be attributed to its tangible assets. Factors such as reputation amongst customers can increase its value in ways that are harder to calculate. These intangible assets are known as goodwill and are commonly included in business valuations. When a divorcing couple is assessing a business during the division of property, goodwill should be part of the valuation. However, it can be tricky to put a monetary value on goodwill, and not all forms of goodwill are treated equally in a divorce. An experienced business assessor is needed to understand the true value of goodwill.

What Creates Goodwill?

When competing businesses offer similar products or services, it is a business’ goodwill that may make a difference in a customer’s choice. Goodwill can create greater economic returns by attracting new customers and bringing old customers back. Several factors can add to a business’ goodwill, including:

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Consistent Parenting Time Healthier for Divorced DadsStatistical studies have calculated that people who are divorced are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than their married counterparts. While that number is concerning, the statistics become more alarming when comparing suicide rates between divorced men and divorced women. According to one study, divorced men are nearly 10 times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women. Researchers have searched for a reason for the disparity between men and women. One logical conclusion is that divorced fathers feel more anger and depression because they often have less parenting time than mothers.

Health Risks

Suicide is the most extreme consequence of post-divorce depression. Divorced men and fathers tend to lead more unhealthy lifestyles and make poorer choices. This may include:

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Anticipate Friends Reacting Poorly to Your DivorceDivorce is an emotionally trying time during which you will turn to friends and family for support. However, some friends may surprise you with their reaction to your divorce. If you are looking for an affirmation of your decisions, you risk being disappointed and hurt when a friend makes a critical or insensitive comment. To harden yourself against this, you should understand that:

  • People have varying beliefs about divorce;
  • Some people choose poor words when trying to express support; and
  • Other people’s opinions should not weaken your resolve in regards to your divorce.

There are various reasons why your friends or family may react negatively to your divorce. Each reason requires a different response:

  1. Personal Beliefs: The concept of divorce is unacceptable to some people, regardless of your reasons. Religion often dictates this belief, though for others it is a personal conviction. You are not going to change this person’s mind, so you should agree to disagree and drop the subject. If this person continues to criticize your decision, you should distance yourself from him or her.
  2. Loyalty: It is difficult for mutual friends of spouses to support both sides during a divorce. Whether you intend to or not, you are asking your friend to accept your opinions on the divorce. Many friends choose a side during the divorce, and some of them will opt for your spouse. You may feel abandoned or hurt, but you should respect their decisions. Understand that they may still like you and consider you a friend. However, their loyalty to your spouse is more important to them.
  3. Awkwardness: Some friends want to be supportive but do a poor job of expressing it. Their choice of words may seem insensitive or hurtful. Their questions about your divorce may sound like criticism. You should step back and try to determine your friend’s intentions. If your friend has just learned about your divorce, he or she has not had time to think of a response. If the news is a surprise, your friend’s questions may be out of curiosity. You should give these friends a pass on their initial reactions. If their insensitive behavior continues, you can calmly tell them that you are not comfortable with their questions and comments.

Personal Decision

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