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Lake County Family Law Blog

Divorce negotiations set to take a major turn

Couples in Illinois who choose to end their marriages known that negotiating the terms of a divorce is never easy. However, after the change from 2018 to 2019, it could get even harder to come to an agreement on how to split assets and debts and whether or not one person will pay spousal support.

According to Bloomberg, a big change in the tax code that will take effect on January 1, 2019 is likely to have as big of a change on divorce negotiations as it has on income taxes. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the spouse who is ordered to pay alimony to their ex will now not only hand over money to that person but then turn around and pay income tax on the same money. This is in stark contrast to the way things have been for multiple decades where the spouse who paid alimony received an income tax deduction. 

Study shows joint-parenting may be best

Filing for divorce or legal separation is never an easy decision, especially when there are children involved. Child custody may be one of the most challenging issue to negotiate during this difficult time. Many families and courtrooms choose to place the children in the sole-custody of one parent, giving the non-custodial parent visiting time. However, studies show that children may benefit more from a joint-custody situation where the non-custodial parent is around more and engages in everyday activities.

A study published in Family Psychology looked at children who lived in sole-custody, joint-custody and traditional families. Researchers found that the kids who lived in joint-custody situations had a high self-esteem and fewer behavioral and emotional problems. They also did better in school and had stronger family relationships compared to children in the other living situations. Long-term, children who have both active parents achieve higher academic degrees, have better marriages, stronger social support and are overall better adjusted than kids who live primarily with one parent.

Is property divided 50/50 in Illinois?

Illinois is one of those states that has neither equitable distribution laws nor community property laws in place to dictate the property division process. For this reason, it is not uncommon for individuals who are on the brink of divorce to wonder if, like in community property states, divorce judges split marital assets 50/50. The short answer is no.

According to FindLaw, in absence of a statute requiring equal distribution, Illinois courts generally adhere to an equitable distribution standard. What this means is that the judge presiding over your case will attempt to divide your marital assets "equitably" — which means fairly, but not necessarily equal. 

Navigating the child custody landscape

What does the term "child custody" really mean? Perhaps that was the question in the minds of Illinois legislators when they redrafted the statutes to use "allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities" in the definitions of custody. Unfortunately, if the perplexity of many of our clients is any indication, lawmakers have somewhat confused the matter in their quest for specificity.

At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we know that all families want the best for their kids. Whether that means making sure their college trusts stay intact or that the custodial spouse gets enough child support, we are ready to put in the work to make it happen. 

Planning your parenting time for the rest of the fall

With September over, the first month of school for your child after your divorce is done. It was difficult for you and your kid, but hopefully you are beginning to see some signs that they are becoming more used to the new status quo.

Now that you have an idea of what your child’s daily routine is like, October is the perfect time to discuss parenting time with your ex. There are several areas to cover and it can be awkward talking with your former spouse, but you are better off preparing now to avoid any more stressful situations for your family in the near future.

Benefits of alternative dispute resolution with children

Few divorces or family law issues are without conflict. However, at the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we understand that you and other Illinois residents may want to minimize the amount of conflict you experience during a dispute, especially when you have children involved. If your disagreement involves your children, such as seeking custody during your divorce or asking for a modification to your current visitation schedule, how can you shield them from the conflict but still have a chance of resolving the argument to your satisfaction?

An alternative dispute resolution method may help, explains the American Bar Association. For example, you might consider cooperative law when going through your divorce, or mediation for your divorce or post-divorce issues. They are commonly called amicable or uncontested divorce and problem-solving methods because they increase your chances of reducing conflict and reaching agreements that benefit everyone.

What is the best way to handle a CPS visit?

A visit from child protective services is not only inconvenient, it can be worrisome for Illinois residents. When a social worker knocks at your door, it usually means someone had reason to believe your children were not being properly cared for and called CPS. Whether the call came from a concerned neighbor or a bitter ex, you have a legitimate worry while you figure out how to deal with the unexpected visit.

As you may know, the purpose of child protective services is to investigate when a child is suspected of being neglected or abused, and to intervene if CPS workers determine that the claims were valid. FindLaw explains that your children may be placed with relatives or a foster family if the CPS worker believes they are at risk in your home. You will be required to cooperate with the agency to get your children back.

Can I get retirement benefits from my ex-spouse?

If you supported your ex while he or she was going through college, and then stayed home to raise the children during your marriage, it’s understandable that you would feel cheated now that you are divorced and you can’t look forward to a secure retirement. You and other Illinois residents may wonder what to do now that retirement benefits seem to be off the table.

As you may know, Social Security retirement works when a portion of your paycheck has been put in your retirement fund throughout your years of employment. You might have a modest amount saved from a part-time job or while you worked before starting your family, but this isn’t nearly enough to get you through your golden years. However, your ex had a good job throughout your marriage, and you know he or she contributed a great deal toward retirement. As the Social Security Administration explains, you might be eligible to receive half of your ex’s retirement or disability benefits if you meet the following requirements:

  • You were married 10 years or longer.
  • The retirement benefits from your own work would be less than what you would get from your ex’s benefits.
  • You are at least 62 years of age before you seek retirement benefits from your ex’s account.

Why do-it-yourself divorces with children are dangerous

After years of marriage, you and your spouse agree to divorce. You worry about the associated costs with separation including buying new property, child support and even the division of your assets. You think that hiring an attorney to help you dissolve your marriage seems like an unnecessary expense.

Yet when dealing with children and custody, you prove devastatingly wrong. Although you and your ex-spouse agree that you want to share some custody, deciding this without the presence of an attorney may allow for confusion and heartache in determining a fair split. Especially when appearing in court for child custody arrangements, it is essential to have an experienced individual that fights for your custodial rights.

How to establish paternity in Illinois

At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, PC, we know how much fathers as well as mothers look forward to the birth of their children. But did you know that in Illinois, if you do not marry your children’s mother prior to their births, your children have no legal father? As the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services explains, without a marriage or civil union existing between your children’s parents at the time of their births, they have no legal father, even if you and their mother live together and intend to get married or enter into a civil union in the future.

Paternity is the legal relationship between you and your children. Unless you establish this relationship, your children cannot automatically receive your Social Security benefits if you become disabled or when you die, an inheritance from you when you die, your veterans benefits, or your health and life insurance benefits. Nor can you obtain custody of or visitation with them.

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Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C.
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Lake Bluff, IL 60044

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