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St. Charles Family Law Blog

Will you lose your Illinois business in a divorce?

Building up a business to be profitable takes a whole lot of hard work. Some married couples in Illinois do this together, and in some cases, one spouse does it all alone while the other refuses to recognize the value of the business -- until there is a divorce filing. Once the disinterested spouse learns the value of that business, he or she might want a part of it. Regardless of the involvement of each spouse in a business, it might be best treated in the same way as auto insurance taken out not because there will be a crash, but for protection if there is an accident.

Regardless of how happy a couple is before the wedding, or during the marriage when a business is established, it is best to take steps to prevent contention when it comes to property division in the event of a divorce, and also to give the business owner peace of mind. If it is left to the court to decide how to divide a business that one spouse owned before the marriage, the monetary growth that took place during the marriage might be regarded as marital property that is subject to division. However, if one spouse showed no interest in the business, such division could seem unfair.

Divorce, holidays and supporting your children

With October in full swing, you may be starting to think about the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are typically a time where families gather to celebrate, but this can seem daunting and stressful if you recently got a divorce.

Not only is this complicated for you, but you may have questions about how to best support your child during the first season of holidays where their parents are no longer married. This post will give a few tips at how best to support your kids during the upcoming holiday season.

What does the collaborative divorce process entail?

It is unlikely that a divorcing couple in Illinois will agree on all matters -- after all, the fact that they filed for a divorce indicates at least some level of disagreement. However, litigation is not necessarily the only option. Couples who are committed to resolving contentious issues can opt for a collaborative divorce, which could bring them to a mutually agreed upon divorce settlement without nasty court battles.

A collaborative divorce is a process whereby each spouse retains the services of an attorney with special collaboration qualifications. The spouses and their attorneys will sign agreements to state that they are committed to the process and that the spouses have to retain different legal counsel if they decide to end collaboration and take the divorce proceedings to court. The spouses meet privately with their lawyers to discuss concerning matters, and then all four come together to work on resolving their respective issues collaboratively.

Typical concerns are exacerbated in a gray divorce

The numbers of divorces after the age of 50 are reportedly increasing nationwide, including in Illinois. Although divorce at any age is typically traumatic, the emotional and financial toll can be exacerbated when it is a gray divorce. When couples reach middle-age, most have accumulated considerable economic and personal assets together, and the property division process will indeed be challenging.

While younger divorcing couples typically find dealing with child-related issues difficult, it might be no less traumatic for those with teenage or even adult children. Parents might not expect the impact a gray divorce can have on their children, regardless of their ages. While going through this process, conflicting emotions are not unusual. The fluctuation between invigoration and fear will likely be par for the course.

Can becoming disabled cancel spousal support obligations?

Going through a divorce in Illinois will always be a challenging and emotional process. When it is finalized and a divorce decree received, life goes on, and both parties must adjust to their new situations. As long as the court-ordered child and spousal support payments are made by one and received by the other, new, single lives can be built.

However, unanticipated events can cause new problems. What happens when the ex-spouse who has to pay support suffers an illness or injury that causes a disability? Will the court orders for alimony and child support remain valid? The answer is yes; the recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits must continue making support payments, and SSDI benefits could even be garnished if support is not paid.

Adoption: A birth mother's right to change her mind

Adoption is a sensitive subject, which naturally brings about many conflicting emotions. Giving up a child for adoption must be one of the most difficult decisions any mother might have to make. For a birth parent, giving up a child will remove the right to make crucial decisions on behalf of the child and seek custody or even visitation rights. However, even if a birth parent in Illinois has signed an agreement before the child's birth, it's still possible to change one's mind at any time, as long as it happens before the court finalizes the adoption process.

There are also certain circumstances in which birth parent has legal right to revoke consent after birth but before finalization of the adoption process. These include situations in which the birth parent's consent was given due to fraud, coercion or under duress. There might be reasons for the court to find that it would be in the child's best interest for the consent to be revoked.

Women in divorce frequently encounter financial surprises

Divorce is difficult on both men and women. However, for some married women, particularly those who have been married for many years, the decision to divorce can be more life altering than it is for those in shorter marriages. These women may have dedicated their younger years to supporting a spouse’s education, career and raising their children. Unfortunately, once the decision to divorce is made, they frequently encounter jarring financial realities.

Spousal support: Should you rush or stall a divorce until 2019?

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely have many Illinois couples contemplating divorce wondering whether they should rush to get it done or wait until next year. Under the new law, any spousal support paid in a divorce that is finalized after Dec. 31, 2018, will no longer be taxable for the recipient, and it will no longer offer tax deductions for the payer. Currently, paying spouses may agree to alimony payments easier because of the tax benefits. However, in an acrimonious divorce, the spouse expecting to receive alimony may have a hard time getting the divorce finalized before year-end.

Another complication under the new law involves prenuptial agreements. What will happen if a prenup includes language that states one spouse will get a certain amount of alimony for every year that their marriage lasted, and that the other spouse will have the tax benefits? It is not yet clear whether the tax deduction clause can be honored, and couples might be wise to renegotiate and modify their prenuptial agreements.

Child custody: Can a parent be blocked from contacting a child?

When it comes to keeping contact with a child after a divorce, unanticipated problems could arise. Regardless of which parent is awarded child custody by an Illinois family court, circumstances change, and communication arrangements may become impractical. This could happen if one of the parents relocates and has to maintain contact via phone calls, texting, social media or video calling. However, disputes could arise when parents cannot agree on when and how often to allow communication.

In some cases, the custodial parent wants to limit contact between the child and the other parent, and some want to block it altogether. The courts typically consider the child's best interests, and unless abuse, neglect or another extenuating fact could result, it would not put an order to prevent contact in place. However, a custodial parent who feels the other parent is abusing his or her rights to contact the child may petition the court to create and order a schedule to prevent excessive calls, texts or video calls.

What happens to child support if a parent becomes disabled?

It is never easy to be a single parent and still provide all the child's needs. While the child support paid by the non-custodial parent can help a lot, life is unpredictable, and anything can happen to limit those payments. What happens when an Illinois parent who pays child support suffers a debilitating injury or illness that makes it impossible to maintain the court ordered child support payments? There is not much the other parent can do, although that does not remove the disabled parent's responsibility.

In such circumstances, the court can be asked to modify the child support order. The question will be whether the disability is permanent or temporary. A modification can be entered for the expected period of the disability, and if it lasts beyond the end date, an application for an extended period must be made. If the parent can show medical evidence to indicate that the disability is regarded as permanent, a permanent modification might be entered.

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