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iPhones are incredible technological devices that allow you to maintainsocial relationships and navigate the inconveniences of daily life. Yourphone even has the ability to sync up to any other Apple product in yourhome, allowing you to consolidate information and easily keep your day-to-dayappointments. So what role does your iPhone play in your divorce?

Here are some phone-related divorce rules you may already know:

  1. Don’t send cruel text messages to your ex (texts can be used against you!)
  2. Don’t record your spouse without their knowledge (this is illegal!)
  3. Be patient when separating your shared cell phone plan (this can be a long-drawn-outchallenge!)

Many people don’t consider how much access their spouse has to theirprivate information and personal data. A former spouse may be able tospy on their ex by accessing their phone or laptop. If you share an iCloudaccount or Apple ID with your spouse, they may have full access to allyour appointments, photos, and emails without you knowing—this includesemails to and from your legal team!

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As of 2018, Illinois is the 12th state to adopt a collaborative practice law under the Illinois CollaborativeProcess Act. In a collaborative divorce, spouses hire attorneys to facilitatetheir equitable distribution negotiations outside of court. Since implementingthe law in January, it has become increasingly common for divorcing couplesto utilize the collaborative process as an alternative to traditional divorce.

How Does the Process Work?

In a traditional Illinois divorce, spouses file for dissolution of marriageand hire lawyers to represent their individual interests in court. Divorcecan be a stressful and highly emotional process, and court negotiationsmay become adversarial if spouses start fighting over asset division.

A collaborative divorce is a unique alternative because it requires allparties—spouses and attorneys—to sign an agreement statingthat all negotiations will take place outside the courtroom. Under this pledge,divorce lawyers are responsible for facilitating communication between both parties untila settlement is mutually agreed upon. Lawyers also have the duty of ensuringthat all participants are fully and honestly disclosing any requestedand required information.

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In many ways, a military divorce shares many similarities with a civiliandivorce and, depending on the circumstances, might not be that much morecomplicated to navigate with legal help. That said, they do share somedifferences, including the service of process, residency and filing requirements,and specific rules regarding the division of military pensions.

To help shed some clarity on the basics of a military divorce, we havecompiled a list of military laws and rules you should familiarize yourselfwith as you begin this process:

  • Military divorce laws: Military divorces are governed by state and federal laws. When dividingassets like military pensions, federal laws will come into play, whereasstate laws will dictate how alimony is issued. If a military spouse ison active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) prevents divorceproceedings from continuing for 60 days or more, if allowed by the court.This protection allows military spouses to devote their time and attentionto their duties rather than worry about missing important court dates.
  • Jurisdiction: In order to grant a divorce to military members or spouses, a court mustfirst have jurisdiction to hear the case. This is generally straightforwardfor civilians since jurisdiction is typically the place where one or bothspouses live. For members of the military, jurisdiction might be the placewhere he or she has legal residence, despite being stationed elsewhere.
  • Service of process: Military members and their spouses typically have three options when itcomes to choosing a state to file for divorce in. The filing spouse canchoose to do so in the state where he or she resides, where the militaryspouse is stationed, or where the military spouse has legal residency.The divorce laws of the chosen state will govern how property distribution,child custody, alimony, and other key issues are determined.
  • Residency filing requirements: In many cases, states reduce or eliminate residency requirements for militarydivorces, allowing members of the military or their spouses to file whereverthe member is stationed. This is not always the case, however, so askyour divorce attorney or advice on your own specific situation.
  • Military pensions and other benefits: Military pensions are subject to division during a divorce. The paymentof a military spouse’s retirement is done so directly through theDefense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) as long as there were atleast 10 years of marriage, which overlapped with 10 years of militaryservice. Additionally, a former spouse of military personnel is eligiblefor full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges if they were marriedfor 20 years or more, if the service member served at least 20 years ofcreditable service toward retirement pay, and if there was at least a20 year overlap of marriage and military service.
  • Spousal and child support: The court can enforce child support obligations in various ways, suchas a court order, wage garnishment, and voluntary or involuntary allotment.

Divorce Attorneys in Illinois

If you believe your marriage is headed for adivorce, you need to take the right steps to understand your options and how tobest protect your interests. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., ourIllinois divorce attorneys can navigate you through your divorce, evenif you or your spouse is a member of the military. We will use our experienceand knowledge to your advantage.

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Getting a divorce is not just an emotional process, but a financially difficultone as well. Divorcing spouses risk taking a major hit to their financialhealth during a divorce, especially without proper legal guidance on theirside. While you might be tempted to fixate on what went wrong in yourmarriage or on how to cope with this major change in your life, it iscrucial to also try to limit the other effects your divorce will haveon your life, so you can work toward minimizing the damage.

Below are some of the most common missteps spouses make during a divorceand some advice on how to avoid them:

  • Missing money: It is crucial to take the time to examine your assets in order to makea thorough accounting of current accounts, non-cash assets, and futureassets, such as pensions, business interests, or start-up stock options.You should also remember to include the income you earned prior to filingfor divorce but received after. The cut-off date for asset valuation isthe date of your divorce filing, so pay close attention to these details.If you are actively involved in managing the household’s finances,this might not be too daunting a task, but if not, your attorney can effectivelyhelp you fill in any gaps and reveal potentially hidden assets.
  • Ignoring tax basis: If you want a fair settlement, do not forget your taxes. For example,the spouse who is awarded the marital home that is worth $500,000 willface a different set of tax circumstances when he or she sells the housefor profit than the spouse who receives distributions later on from anindividual retirement account that is worth the same amount.
  • Staying connected: Remaining financially linked through joint accounts and beneficiary designationsis a major liability once you begin the process of a divorce, especiallyif there is a lot of hostility with you and your soon-to-be former spouse.Open a new individual bank account to keep your future income separateand begin financially untangling yourself from your spouse. This couldinclude calling your credit card issuers to remove authorized users, closingjoint accounts, updating deeds and titles to reflect who was awarded what,and changing beneficiaries.
  • Raiding retirement: Unless you are taking distributions from retirement for retirement purposes,tapping into these accounts to fund your divorce or to pay off joint debtsis a big mistake. Barely half of all households have adequate savingsfor retirement, so dipping into them for your divorce is not going toimprove your chances of a comfortable retirement for the future.
  • Getting emotional: Some of your assets will likely have a lot of sentiment attached to them,but if you are not careful, the emotional value you place on them willinflate your idea of what they are truly worth, making a settlement unfairand dangerous to your future. For example, getting the house will notmatter if you lack the liquid assets to keep up with the mortgage. Trynot to let your feelings for certain assets get in the way of making theright decisions.

Divorce Attorneys in Illinois

If you and your spouse are moving forward with adivorce, you need to seek skilled legal assistance to ensure your financial futureis not compromised by any mistakes. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C.,our divorce attorneys in Illinois have the experience and knowledge thatnecessary to navigate you through this process while protecting your bestinterests and future.

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Divorcing spouses often cannot wait for the whole ordeal to be over andto put the past behind them. If you share children with your former spouse,however, you cannot simply move on and cut ties with your ex-spouse. Theromantic portion of your relationship is over, but you will still haveto co-parent your children together. Unfortunately, if there is lingeringanimosity, this situation can become stressful for everyone involved,including the children. The divorce was already hard enough on them, soyou and your ex-spouse must work together to become effective co-parentsto lessen the burden on your kids. After all, their wellbeing is stillthe one common interest you two share.

If you are not sure where to begin on this path, we have compiled a listof tips below that will help you become more successful at co-parentingwith your former spouse:

  • Keep it professional: Just because you will continue to co-parent your children together doesnot mean you have to like your ex. In your professional life, you havelikely worked with and frequently interacted with someone whom you didnot like and the two of you still managed to perform your job. If youdislike your former spouse, simply approach it from a professional angleand keep your interactions succinct, to the point, and as civil as possible.Removing the emotional aspect of it will help keep you sane and preventyou from getting riled up.
  • Open communication is key: Open communication regarding your children is crucial to make this work,so always do what you can to ensure the two of you are on the same page.If you find face-to-face conversations uncomfortable, consider phone calls,text messages, or emails to avoid any unpleasantness while still effectivelycommunicating the necessary information.
  • Keep each other up to speed: Even when joint custody is awarded, one of you will be the primary custodialparent. That said, both of you are entitled to the same information, soalways keep your co-parent up to speed on important details, such as medicalproblems or educational issues. Remember, you are in this together becauseof the children, so hiding something from your ex will do you all a greatdisservice.
  • Be flexible: You and your ex-spouse will have a parenting plan and visitation schedulethat was either court ordered or formally agreed upon and, while it shouldbe followed, there will be occasions when your schedules will conflictand call for some flexibility. You should both work to reasonably accommodatethese conflicts rather than try to make the situation harder than it alreadyis. Try to be understanding of each other’s needs to avoid animosityfrom building up in ways that will eventually impact your children.

Child Custody Attorneys in Illinois

Issues regardingcustody are among some of the most difficult family law matters parents will face.Instead of going through it alone, turn to the skilled and compassionateIllinois child custody attorneys at Wakenight & Associates, P.C. toguide you through this complicated and emotional process while protectingyour family’s best interests. We will work hard to help you, inor out of court.

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No two divorces are alike. For some, the process can be incredibly complexand time-consuming, while for others it could potentially be much morestraightforward and relatively quick. That said, for those who are aboutto embark on moving forward with this decision and will soon work towarddissolving their marriage, having a general idea of the process and itstimeline can be helpful in minimizing the uncertainty of what to expect.

Below is a timeline that should give you an idea of the chronology in anaverage divorce, though you should consult with a divorce attorney fora more accurate understanding of what to expect for your own circumstances:

  • In a divorce, one spouse will obtain the services of an attorney who willassist him or her in writing a petition for divorce that explains thewhy a divorce is being sought and how he or she would like to settle certainkey issues, including those related to finances and custody.
  • The spouse’s attorney will file this petition with the court.
  • Once the court receives this petition for divorce, the other spouse mustbe served these papers along with a summons that will require his or herresponse within a specified time frame.
  • The served spouse is typically expected to respond within about three weeks.The answer he or she provides will say whether or not he or she agreeswith the petition and, if the spouse does not respond, the court willassume he or she agrees to the terms set forth.
  • Both spouses will then exchange documents and information on issues regardingproperty and income. After the exchanged information is examined, thecouple or the court can decide on how to divide assets and how to approachalimony and child support.
  • Divorcing spouses can opt to voluntarily resolve these issues through alternativemethods for divorce, such as mediation or collaborative divorce.
  • In the event that both parties able to reach a settlement, the agreementwill be shown to a judge during an informal hearing, where he or she willask a few questions and ensure each party understands the agreement.
  • If the judge approves of it, the spouses will be given a divorce decreethat will legally bind them to their agreement. However, if the judgedoes not approve of the agreement, or an agreement is impossible to reachthrough negotiations, the divorce will go to trial.
  • During the divorce trial, the attorney for each spouse will present evidenceand arguments on behalf of their client. Based on the evidence and argumentspresented, the judge will decide on any unresolved issues, such as childcustody, alimony, and property division.

Keep in mind that the length of time necessary to complete this processwill entirely depend on your own specific situation and how willing youand your spouse are able to work with each other on a settlement to avoidgoing through divorce litigation, which can substantially lengthen theduration of your case.

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Every state handles divorce in a slightly different way, whether it involveshow assets and property are divided, or if fault is required to file fora divorce. In Illinois, a spouse can file for divorce under traditionalfault grounds, but it is also possible to file under irreconcilable differences,which is essentially a no-fault option.

Below are some of the fault grounds under which you can file for a divorcein the state of Illinois:

  • Impotence
  • Bigamy
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment of a spouse for at least a year
  • Alcohol abuse or drug addiction that lasted for at least two years
  • An attempt to take the other spouse’s life
  • Extreme or continuous physical and/or mental cruelty
  • A spouse is a convicted felon
  • A spouse infected the other with a sexually transmitted disease

It is important to note that none of these fault grounds will have muchor any impact on the outcome of the divorce in regards to determiningalimony or how property and assets are to be divided. However, some ofthese factors can play a role in determining child custody and visitation.

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If you have never gone through adivorce, you might not know what to expect during this inherently emotional process.While no two divorces are alike, there are some things you can expectto happen, especially if your case ends up going through litigation. Witha little more clarity and insight, you can navigate this situation withmore realistic expectations and ease.

Below are some things you can expect to experience during the process ofyour divorce case:

  • Court is nothing like what you see on television: When you watch a courtroom drama, you have to keep in mind that divorceis nothing like what you see portrayed on the screen. The reality is thatdivorce litigation is a slow process and many of its complexities arenot captured in TV shows or movies.
  • You might feel like you are at a disadvantage: Generally, both spouses will end up feeling like they are at a disadvantage.The petitioning spouse might feel like the process is not moving fastenough while the other spouse might feel like he or she is being draggedalong. If the divorce took you by surprise, you might feel even more overwhelmedand unprepared.
  • Your dislike for your former spouse might be hard to hide sometimes: If you have children, you are going to have to try to set aside your dislikefor your ex-spouse. The last thing you want to do is affect their relationshipwith their parent, regardless of how you might feel about him or her.At times, this might seem near impossible to do, but instead of voicingyour anger and frustration around your children, consider therapy or ventingto a close friend.
  • You might feel like a failure: You can expect your divorce to make you feel like a failure. You mightalso feel like you wasted a lot of time on something that ultimately didnot work. Do not let these emotions take you for a ride and remember that,though it is painful, these are not unusual feelings to have. Find a healthyoutlet for them instead of wallowing in it.
  • Your children will be affected: No matter how well you handle it, a divorce will always impact your children.Instead of trying to pretend that you can stop this from happening, focuson trying to help them cope with the inevitable changes and encouragea continued relationship with their other parent.
  • You are going to make some mistakes: With a divorce attorney, you can avoid making legal mistakes, but youcan still expect to make some parenting or dating mistakes. The importantthing is to be able to learn from them and to become a stronger, moreself-aware person.

Divorce Attorneys in Illinois

If you have decided to move forward with a divorce, you will need an attorneyon your side who can effectively guide you through it and protect yourinterests. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., our divorce attorneysin Illinois are dedicated to providing the advice and skilled legal guidanceyou need to navigate the law, the courts, and any unforeseen obstaclesyou might encounter.

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Divorce can be complicated and, for business owners, it can be even moredifficult to navigate as you begin to untangle and divide certain assetsand liabilities. In Illinois, once property is classified as separateor marital and assigned a value, it will be distributed among both parties.This can be fairly straightforward when it comes to bank accounts, buta little hairy when it comes to a business.

How Divorce Can Impact a Business

Divorce can put you in a tough position if you own a business. Your formerspouse might end up becoming your business partner, or you might haveto give up a large chunk of your business, neither of which sound likegreat options. However, if you have other valuable assets, such as cars,another home, stocks, retirement accounts, you might be able to pay yourformer spouse his or her share of the business with these items ratherthan giving up part of your business, allowing you to keep the businessyou worked so hard to grow.

If you are not interested in keeping your business, you might also considerliquidating it and splitting the proceeds with your ex-spouse.

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If your marriage is troubled and you are considering your options movingforward, you have likely considered the idea of getting adivorce or legal separation. You might also be wondering what the differencesbetween the two are and which is more suitable for your goals. These areimportant and valid questions, so before you settle on either one of theseoptions, take a moment to learn more about them and what they could meanfor your future.

Legal Separation

When you choose to legally separate from your spouse, the process is actuallynot that dissimilar compared to the process of filing for a divorce. Thekey difference in a legal separation is that you will remain married toyour spouse. For those who wish to continue to work on their marriage,but no longer want to share a residence, this is could be an ideal courseof action.

Much like a divorce, your rights and obligations regarding issues likechild support and alimony will still be legally defined. Issues like propertydivision, however, are generally not addressed in a legal separation.If the two of you ultimately decide that the marriage is not worth saving,you can always opt for divorce later on. Given that you will have alreadyaddressed some of the more heavily contested issues, such as child custody,child support, and alimony, your divorce will go a little more smoothly.

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Posted on in Uncategorized

The end of a marriage is not only devastating, but it also leaves a numberof financial and logistical issues in its wake. One of the main problemsthat many separating couples may need educate themselves about is howdivorce will change their tax burden. Below are the following topics that mightmake the first year of tax-paying after divorce more complex—andhow to deal with these changes.

Marital Status

The most apparent change on your tax return when you get divorced is thechange in filing status. The IRS looks at whether you were married onDecember 31 to determine whether you need to file as a married or singlepayer. So, those who divorce late in the year are treated as unmarriedfor the entire year, while if you were divorced in the following Januaryor later, you’ll still need to file your tax return as a married couple.

Claiming Children as Dependents

If you have children who qualify as tax dependents, then one importantquestion will be which parent gets to claim the exemption for those kids.Not only do exemptions get you a reduction in taxable income, but theyalso help determine which parent can claim lucrative tax credits.

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If you and your soon-to-be-ex had a difficult time communicating whileyou were together, how are you supposed to communicate now that you aregoing through adivorce?

It is important to understand that channeling your anger and frustrationwill have consequences. A lack of constructive communication can resultin a lack of productive legal action, leading to additional costs (e.g.attorney fees, court fees, etc.) and a greater emotional toll on you andeveryone else involved, including your children.

Furthermore, if you say the wrong thing to your spouse or one of his/herfriends, or give a status update on social media, it could end up causingyou a lot of serious damage in your divorce case. Always assume that ifyou say something that can be misquoted or misinterpreted to your disadvantage,then it will be.

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If you discover that your spouse is having an extramarital affair withanother person, you may wish to file fordivorce on grounds of adultery.

However, doing so might not lead to the results you are looking for. AlthoughIllinois recognizes adultery as divorce grounds, you could most likelyend your marriage in a quicker and more economical manner if you filedon the state’s no-fault grounds instead.

No-Fault Divorce vs. Fault-Based Divorce

No-fault divorce is a type of divorce you get when the marriage is over,but you do not want to explain why in court. In general, you can get ano-fault divorce by explaining in your divorce paperwork that the marriageis “irretrievably broken” (i.e. so damaged that it is beyondrepair) or that you have “irreconcilable differences” (i.e.you and your spouse cannot resolve your arguments)—and that’s it.

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Posted on in Uncategorized

Regardless of whether you decided to end your marriage or your spouse did,getting divorced is painful. Nobody gets married and expects for the marriage to end.Divorce can be expensive, stressful, difficult for your children, and erratic.

While it may not quite seem possible now, you can have a happier life afterdivorce than you can imagine. Keep in mind, the happiness won’tjust become apparent automatically. You need to help it along by changingyour mindset from one that expects more damage and pain, to one that startsto expect that you will have a fresh new start in life with boundlesspossibilities for the future.

The following are several ways to have a happy (or at least a happier) divorce:

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Posted on in Uncategorized

As soon as the final hearing has commenced and you’ve signed yourdivorce agreement, you may feel a huge sense of relief. You are now free to starta new chapter of your life without the burden of court dates, attorneyfees, or invasion of your privacy. Everything can return to normal.

However, beginning a new life comes with its own set of obstacles. Additionally,some aspects of your divorce may come back to haunt you.

The following are several, common mistakes individuals make after divorcethat can cost them extra, land them back in court, or extend the timeit takes to move on:

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A house is typically a couple’s most valuable financial asset, andmost people are emotionally tied to their home as well, especially whenchildren are involved. For those reasons, the questions of whether onespouse should move out when the other decides todivorce can be a contentious issue.

Although it may seem like moving out would probably be best for all partiesinvolved, kids included, to avoid conflict, this decision can often domore harm than good in your divorce case. Staying in the house with yourchildren creates several important precedents for the court to considerwhen making final, binding decisions in regard to your life after marriage.

Before packing your bags, consider the following when deciding whetheror not to move out of the family home:

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When both spouses agree to adivorce, filing for an uncontested divorce is a fast and cost-effective option.The streamlined procedure includes fewer proceedings, less legal wrangling,lowered courts costs, and lowered attorney bills, allowing many couplesto get their divorce granted more quickly compared to contested divorce.

These types of divorces are typically available to couples who agree toevery issue (e.g.property division,child custody, child support, alimony, etc.) regarding the divorce agreement. This meansthat there are no remaining disagreements prior to filing for uncontesteddivorce. So if there is at least one issue that you and your spouse donot agree on, then your divorce cannot be uncontested.

Similar to contested divorce, an uncontested divorce starts by one sidefiling for divorce. If the other side agrees to the uncontested divorceor even fails to make an appearance, it can still be granted by the court.By contrast, if the other spouse doesn’t agree and makes the necessarycourt filings, then an uncontested divorce cannot be granted.

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Posted on in Uncategorized

Whether it’s the first or the last, you are being evaluated at everycourt appearance during your Illinoisdivorce. The judge presiding over your case and the lawyers involved are assessingyour character and credibility, analyzing you to figure out if you areemotional and easily frazzled or cool, calm, and collected.

Although many couples experiencing the divorce process become stressedout or emotionally overwhelmed during the trial, this type of behavioris considered inappropriate by the judge and can be undermined by theopposition. Whenever there is a decision to be made in favor of you oragainst your spouse, remember that even minor details can make a substantialdifference in the final outcome.

The following are some important courtroom behavior tips:

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Posted on in Uncategorized

Mediation is a process for resolving conflict and coming to an agreementwhere both spouses control the outcome of thedivorce. A disinterested third party, known as the “mediator,” assiststhe parties in determining a mutually acceptable divorce settlement. Incontrast to hotly-contested court litigation, mediation emphasizes cooperation,problem-solving, and address all needs of those involved.

The following are several benefits of mediation in the event of a divorce:

  • Less costly than court litigation – Lengthy divorce battles and trials have resulted in the financialruin of many families. Since divorcing families already experience enoughfinancial strain, mediation is the best way to go as far as fewer expenses.For instance, the parties are just paying one professional—the mediator—tohelp them, as opposed to their having two separate lawyers.
  • Results in a must faster resolution – Instead of waiting for months for court dates or for opportunitieswhen two lawyers and a judge can coordinate their calendars, parties areable to set their own timeframe for resolving their issues. Additionally,mediators are more able to work around your family’s hectic schedule,as opposed to a court, with its strict operating hours and overflowing dockets.
  • The couples have complete control over all decisions – The mediator helps both parties discuss the divorce issues thatneed to be resolved. The parties make the decisions together in all oftheir significant issues. In regard to litigation, all of the decision-makingis in the hands of the judge.
  • It is a collaborative process – Mediation is often referred to as a “win-win” resolutionsince the parties have more time to look past their issues to find commonality—andthen go from there. When a couple goes through the courts, it is considereda “win-lose” situation, meaning that each party is lookingto win—despite how detrimental it can be for the other party.
  • More confidential – All documents, communications, and work notes made or used duringmediation are considered confidential. On the other hand, you will argueyour case in a public courtroom in front of a judge and others duringlitigation.
  • It protects your kids from conflict – During court litigation, your children will be required to beinterviewed and observed by several experts in the event of a custodydispute. Furthermore, your kids may even be required to appear in court.Animosity between parents can increase substantially during hotly-contesteddivorces, exposing children to increased conflict and tension, which canresult in lost-lasting damage. By contrast, a mediator can work with partiesin a neutral manner and keep the focus on the children’s needs.
  • Opportunity to create a more creative family plan – Since those involved in mediation do not have to work within therestrictions of the court system, there are free to create plans thatfulfill their needs.

If you are interested in filing for divorce in Illinois,request a free consultation withWakenight & Associates, P.C. today.

Aside fromchild custody,alimony, andproperty division, one of the most contentiousdivorce issues is custody over family pets. While, in the past, companion animalswere treated like assets or properties in divorce proceedings, a new Illinoisdivorce law will require the family courts to start treating them like children.

The new state law—which took effect on January 1, 2018—willrequire judges to consider “the well-being of companion animals”in allocating sole or joint ownership. This is somewhat similar to determiningthe best interests of children when allocating parental responsibilities.

Animal rights attorneys say judges will weigh in on who does the day-to-daycaretaking of the pet, such as walk, feeding, and vaccinations. However,the law, similar to the one in Alaska, would not apply to service animals.

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