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For most families, the home is more than a piece of property or an asset,but a symbol of a life once shared. Deciding what happens to it in a divorce,therefore, is almost always a major point of contention and a concernfor both spouses. If you still have minor children, you might be worriedabout uprooting them and how it will impact their ability to cope withan already overwhelming situation. Thankfully, you have many options toaddress this situation.

One Party Keeps the Family Home

You do not necessarily have to sell the home and split the equity in adivorce. It is possible for the court to award one spouse exclusive useof the family home, but certain factors must apply, such as:

  • A history of fear or abuse exists
  • A spouse is abusive
  • A spouse already left the family home and is living elsewhere

It is also possible for orders allowing exclusive use of the family homeduring a divorce to be temporarily issued and modified once the divorceis finalized. The court might also award one party the family home duringtrial while considering several of the following factors:

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In a divorce, what can complicate the proceedings is children. Both parentsmust either agree onchild custody and visitation arrangements or allow the state to decide. Even if parentscan agree on a parenting plan, the state must still approve it accordingto certain guidelines. Most states follow similar guidelines regardinghow they make this decision, however. Judges have a duty to decide whatis in thechild’s best interest.

This term refers to what the state considers the ideal or “best”circumstance possible for a child when deciding physical and legal custody.In the state of Illinois, the court presumes the child’s best interestsinclude both parents being involved in the child’s upbringing. Thereis also the presumption the parents will cooperate to meet the child’sphysical, emotional, and mental well-being.

The court will also consider some factors when making the determinationregarding child custody, including some of the following:

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For those unfamiliar with the divorce process in Illinois, the state willusually divide both assets and debts between the spouses. Typically, anyincome made and debt accrued during the marriage will be shared in thedivorce. If you and your spouse didn’t sign a prenuptial agreementthat separated your property and income before the marriage, you wouldbe obligated to pay off the debt together.

The best way for divorcing couples to handle debt is to pay off the debtbefore filing for divorce. However, if this debt is extremely high, itcan be hard for both sides to come to an arrangement on what exactly isfair. If the court has to decide how to divide the debt, it will use stateguidelines for equitable distribution to determine how much debt eachspouse will be responsible for following the divorce.

Debts shared by both spouses during the marriage are calledmarital debts, and they will usually be split equitably, if not equally. For example,if both spouses share the debt equally, but one spouse can afford higherpayments, the latter may be found responsible for paying for the majorityof the debt. If neither party can afford to pay the debt or refinancethe debt to make affordable payments, the court can order the partiesto liquidate some of their assets to cut financial ties.

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If you’re thinking about divorce, you might also have wondered howmuch of your time it will ultimately take. Will it last weeks? Months?Perhaps a year or more? The answer to that question varies, dependingon a number of different factors related to your circumstances.

The first thing that will affect the length of time of the divorce is howmuch you and your spouse can agree on the issues related to the process.For example, can you both agree onchild custody,spousal support, andproperty division? If so, you are among the incredibly lucky who can file for an uncontesteddivorce. An uncontested divorce means neither spouse contests the otherduring the process. These types of divorces can take as little as twoweeks to two months.

If you and your spouse can’t agree on any of the important issues,your contested divorce will take a lot longer. Contested divorces takeas long as 18 to 30 months, as each trial will lengthen the period. Ifyou and your spouse can’t agree on child custody, property division,or spousal support, these will need to be decided by a judge, which willtake time.

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While many divorces can be complicated, some can be worsened by the nonparticipationor reluctance of one party. In some cases, only one-half of a couple wantsto get divorced; the other wants things to remain as they are. If a spousedislikes the proceedings or has a tendency to disobey authority in general,it can often be hard to force them to comply with any orders a court maydecide on.

For example, when couples divorce they can sometimes be incapable of agreeingon anything, including how to split child custody. A court can issue atemporary restraining order (TRO) that designates which parent can stayin the home with the children and which must move out. This TRO is usuallytransitory until the final ruling is made.

However, if your spouse is disobeying this type of order, or decisionsa judge made in the final divorce proceedings, there are actions you cantake. If your ex is violating a court order by not paying child support,the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Divisionof Child Support Services (DCSS) can help by tracking down your ex andtaking legal measures. For example, this organization can seize his orher tax return to pay past due support. Likewise, they can seize his orher driver’s license, professional license, and passport until hisor her payments are updated.

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A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a signed and notarized contract thatoutlines how a couple will handle the financial aspect of their marriage.People used to think that prenuptial agreements were a guarantee thata marriage is going to fail. After all, why make a contract outliningwhat to do in the eventuality of a divorce? However, more and more couplesare signing them, not as a guarantee for what to do if the marriage ends,but as a contract outlining the duties of each spouse in a marriage.

For example, couples who want to put all their financial assets on thetable will do so with the help of a prenuptial agreement. This can helpa couple discuss their finances early, which can help them avoid argumentsover money later.

The benefits to prenuptial agreements include several financial factors.A couple’s financial matters that need to be faced are done beforethe marriage even occurs, they preserve family ties and inheritance, andpersonal and business assets are protected. Prenups can also help providefor the well-being of any future children from a previous marriage, canspell out wh ich assets a spouse may want to give to children or otherfamily members in the event of their death, and can eliminate battlesover assets and finances in the event adivorce does happen. Likewise, if your spouse won’t sign a prenup, it’sgood to find out why in advance before the wedding.

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Divorce can be difficult for most couples, but those who are also parentshave more to worry about. If a couple can’t agree on child custodyarrangements, the court will typically decide how to divide the child’sphysical and legal custody based on a number of factors. Most courts inthe United States have an obligation to make a decision that is in thechild’s best interests, and the courts of Illinois are no different.

Specific factors each judge must consider include the following:

  • Child’s wishes
  • Child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • Mental and physical health of all involved
  • Ability of parents to cooperate to make decisions
  • Level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-makingrespecting the child
  • Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents related todecision-making respecting the child
  • Wishes of the parents
  • Child’s needs
  • Distance between the parents’ residences
  • Cost and difficulty of transporting the child
  • Each parent’s daily schedules
  • Child’s daily schedules
  • Ability of parents to cooperate in everyday schedule arrangements
  • Willingness and ability of each parent to encourage and facilitate a closeand continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
  • Any physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’sparent toward the child
  • Occurrence of abuse against the child or member of the child’s household
  • Sex offender status of anyone involved

The above is not an exhaustive list of potential factors. Each case isslightly different. If you have particular circumstances you think mayaffect your child custody case, you should discuss them with an experiencedIllinois child custody attorney as soon as possible.Wakenight & Associates, P.C. has years of experience assisting families in the state in variousfamily law matters. We understand this may be a difficult and stressful time foryou, which is why we strive to make the legal process as stress-free aspossible. Let us see what we can do for you and your family in a freecase consultation.

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Life for servicemembers of the United States military can be complicated,particularly when going through a divorce. What complicates the process ischild custody and child support. Active servicemembers are often deployed far away fromtheir children, and they do not make as much money as you might expectthey deserve.

For example, if a military servicemember has a child, his or her childsupport payments might be based on a good civilian job that he or shehas when not on active duty. However, if he or she is deployed, militarysalary kicks in, which is typically a lot lower. During active duty, theservicemember falls further and further behind on payments, which becomesproblematic when he or she finally returns home. The servicemember mighteven be punished for non-payment.

To avoid this kind of situation, you can modify your child custody orderbefore you are deployed. The moment you get your orders, you should contactan experienced Illinois child custody attorney to help you submit a requestfor modification to the court. Petitions to modify child support are fairlystraightforward, and an attorney can help you file the correct paperwork.

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Divorce is largely the same across all states; however, there are smalldifferences to note. In Illinois, for example, a divorce could look incrediblydifferent from one in Florida or California. In order to get a divorcein Illinois, here are a few important steps to take.

Step 1: Hire an Attorney

First and foremost, determine whether or not you can afford to hire representation.A skilled Illinois divorce attorney can go a long way to helping you achievedesirable results. For example, if you want physical custody of your children,you are more likely to win a court case if you are represented by an experiencedlawyer rather than representing yourself.

Step 2: Determine Whether You Qualify to File

In order to file for a divorce in Illinois, you must have lived in thestate for at least 6 months. If you lived in a state prior to this, youmight have to file across state lines, which can be complicated. However,if you hired an attorney, he or she may be likely to have worked withinterstate divorce cases before. Likewise, Illinois is a fault state,meaning you can file for divorce immediately for cruelty (physical ormental), drug addiction, or drunkenness. To file on the ground of irreconcilabledifferences, you must meet the following requirements:

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Unfortunately for some couples, moving out after deciding to file for divorceisn’t an option. Living on your own can be extremely expensive,particularly in cities with a high cost of living. For those who are forcedto continue living with their ex, the situation can be extremely stressfuland uncomfortable. Here are a few tips to keep sane until the divorceis finalized and one of you can move out.

Tip #1: Stay Civil

While you may be saddened or angered by the divorce, if you’re continuingto live with your spouse, civility can make both of your lives better.Be polite and keep spiteful comments to yourself; otherwise, your wifeor husband could use this against you later in court. This tip is particularlyimportant if you have children together. Divorce is particularly hardfor kids, so do your best to make this as painless for them as possibleby continuing to treat each other with civility.

Tip #2: Plan

Neither of you wants to remain in this situation. To have the best chanceof moving forward, you both need to plan your steps in the divorce andcreate a budget for yourselves. Whoever is moving out will need to ensurethey have enough income to support themselves on their own. Whoever isremaining in the home needs to ensure they have enough money to coverthe rent or mortgage. Make sure you create a plan for what your situationshould look like in the next 3 to 12 months of the divorce process.

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Divorce can be complicated, but nothing can make the process as confusing andhard to deal with as child custody. Both parents want to spend as muchtime with their child as possible; however, more often than not, the courtwill award one parent physical custody of a child while the other shareslegal custody. If you’re about to go through a divorce as a parent,here are some of the most frequently asked questions people have concerningchild custody.

Question 1: What Do Physical Custody and Legal Custody Mean?

Custody comes in many shapes and sizes. The court will usually decide wherethe child lives and who makes the decisions for him or her based on whatthey consider the child’s best interests. The court will award physicalcustody and legal custody to both or one parent. Physical custody refersto where the child will be living. Usually, one parent will have physicalcustody of the child, meaning the kid will live with that parent primarily.However, if both parents split physical custody, their kid’s timewill be split living with both. Legal custody, on the other hand, refersto who makes the important decisions that will affect the child. For example,parents who share legal custody will have to decide together where tosend their kid to school, whether or not the child will be educated ina religious faith, and where the child will receive the majority of theirhealth care.

Question 2: Do Unmarried Mothers Need to File for Custody?

Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to file for custodyas an unmarried mother. In Illinois, parentage depends on thelegal relationship between a parent and a child. A birth mother’s parentageis typically established by her giving birth to the child. A birth father’sparentage needs to be legally established. If you are the legal motherof the child and the child’s father doesn’t have legal parentage,you do not need to file for custody; however, that father does not needto pay child support either. If both parents of the child have legal parentage,you will both need to file for custody.

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One of the things that can make divorce extremely difficult is deciding onchild custody. You and your spouse both love your kids and want to spend as much timewith them as possible, but courts will likely try and distribute the timebetween you as evenly as possible. If you and your spouse can’tagree on a child custody arrangement, you might have to let the courtdecide. This often involves hiring an attorney who can represent you andyour interests in the proceedings. Before deciding on a lawyer, however,there are a few questions you should consider beforehand.

How Are Your Financial Resources?

Hiring an attorney can be relatively expensive, particularly if you arerelying on him or her through most of the divorce proceeding. Child custodylawyers, in particular, can be costly, depending on how long the proceedingstake and which state you live in. Before hiring a lawyer, make sure youconsider how much you are likely to pay and how much you can afford. Thosewho can’t afford to hire an attorney can sometimes be entitled tofree legal aid or low-cost representation through the family court. Inother jurisdictions, the court may base your entitlement to free representationon how much money you make currently.

How Complex Is Your Case?

Simple cases are rarely worth the effort of hiring two attorneys to dukeit out in court, which is why couples can often rely on one negotiatorto help them work out the details of their child custody. For other matters,however, a child custody lawyer is exactly who you need. Complex casessuch as interstate custody often involve a complicated intersection ofdifferent state custody laws. If you don’t feel you can representyourself and your case for custody adequately, it’s best to hirean experienced lawyer who can handle your case for you.

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Divorce can be tough, especially in situations where there is a lot conflictand anger between spouses. There are many issues you might be concernedabout and your financial assets are likely near the top of the list. Notevery spouse plays fair, unfortunately. Some might try to hide assetsbefore or during the divorce to avoid having to divide them appropriately.However, there are ways to investigate the situation through the processof discovery.

Being the Out-Spouse

In many cases, one spouse tends to handle the bookkeeping during a marriage,while the other, often referred to as the “out-spouse”, playslittle to no part in marital finances. Usually, the out-spouse does nothave immediate access to or knowledge of necessary financial information,while the other spouse does, making it easy for him or her to withholdpertinent financial records. If you are the out-spouse, it is crucialto contact an attorney who has experience in asset search and investigation.He or she will know where to look at what questions to ask.

The Discovery Process

If your spouse is intentionally hiding assets to prevent you from securingyour fair share, chances are he or she will not voluntarily disclose allfinancial information in the divorce, so you and your divorce attorneywill have to go a more formal route to obtain information and documents.Through the discovery process, you will be able to:

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Social media has grown increasingly popular over the past decade. Around2.8 billion people were using some kind of social media by the end oflast year, a 21% increase since 2015. According to a survey by Hootsuite,around 83% of Americans have at least 1 social media account. Sharingyour day with someone, whether a close family member or a friend aroundthe world has never been easier. However, with the advent of this newtechnology, people are unsure of how it can affect them in certain situations.

While most day-to-day use of social media is fairly harmless, it can affecthow your divorce proceedings go. As many couples have already found out,a spouse’s divorce lawyer will use a social media post against theiropponent in a court of law. For example, if a wife tries to argue shedoesn’t have enough money to get by post-divorce and requires spousalsupport, the husband’s attorney might visit her Facebook, whereshe has a post about how she just spent $2,000 on a vacation to celebrateher impending divorce. A judge might view this behavior as wasteful spendingand is unlikely to grant her request for spousal support if she has themeans to buy herself an expensive vacation.

Likewise, in cases of child custody, long social media rants regardinghow much you hate your spouse can definitely be used against you. Yourspouse’s lawyer could argue your post is proof you have anger managementissues, which might not be safe for the children.

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For divorcing spouses, one of the greatest assets you might have is thefamily home. Beyond its monetary value, a couple’s home often holdsa great amount of sentimental value, especially if you have children whomight view it as a symbol of familial unity and a source of comfort. Youmight be wondering what will happen to it once the marriage is officially over.

No two divorces are alike, however, so the fate of the marital home forevery divorcing couple will differ as well. Some might consider sellingthe home and splitting the proceeds, while others might not be able toopt for this solution due to a lack of equity. If one of you wishes tokeep the house, you must consider if doing so is financially feasible.Together, keeping it was possible, but you might not be able to maintainit on your own.

Consider Your Financial Situation

Before you decide whether or not you should keep the house, take a closelook at your financial situation. If you are expected to pay spousal supportto your ex, this might affect your ability to continue to pay the mortgageon your home. If this is the case, you might have to downsize to somethingmore affordable for your lifestyle change.

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Divorce can be difficult for many couples, but what makes it even harder is sharingchildren. Both parents want what’s best for their children, butthey also want to spend as much time with their kids as possible. Withsplit custody, this isn’t always possible. Deciding child custodycan often be what lengthens the divorce process. In order to make thiseasier, we have assembled the top 5child custody mistakes we’ve seen many parents make during and after the divorceprocess, so you can avoid making the same errors.

Mistake #1: Making It About You

You may be infuriated with your spouse, butyour relationship with your wife or husband andyour child’s relationship with your wife or husband are two incredibly different animals.While he or she may have failed as a spouse, your ex could still be anexcellent parent. Divorce is not a battle to be won, and many parentsmake the mistake of using their children as ammunition. This can not onlylead to your child’s resentment later, but it could also cost youin court. If the court sees you are more concerned with your own affairsthan with your child’s wellbeing, a judge may decide to award yourspouse physical custody.

Mistake #2: Showing Disrespect for the Court

If the court mandates a temporary child custody order, you should do yourbest to abide by it. By violating any temporary restraining order (TRO),you are showing you view the court with contempt. The court will takethis violation into consideration when making a decision regarding yourcapability of being a responsible adult.

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Divorce is rarely easy for anyone, but what can really drag out the processis a reluctant spouse. Not everyone expects to be served with the divorcepapers, and some react to this unpleasant surprise by attempting to denyit’s happening at all. Some people even think that by refusing toacknowledge the divorce is happening, they can prevent their spouse fromleaving. However frustrating this might be as the spouse who filed fordivorce, you are not without further options.

The easiest type of divorce is anuncontested divorce, meaning both spouses agree to all matters concerning the divorce, includingseparation of property and spousal support. They typically both file thepaperwork with the court, and a judge will check to ensure the parentingagreement andchild support amount is in the best interests of the child and meets state guidelinesbefore approving the process.

If your spouse doesn’t want the divorce to happen, they can makethe process more difficult; however, there is no way for them to stopit. Even if your husband or wife refuses to sign the divorce papers, youcan file the correct paperwork with the court and a judge will usuallyapprove your divorce if you’ve taken all measures to try and getyour spouse to participate.

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Divorce is rarely easy for anyone; however, if you’re over 50 andthinking of getting a divorce, there are certain factors you should considerbeforehand. While divorcing is more common these days, those who divorceprior to 50 and those who divorce closer to retirement age face entirelydifferent issues. For example, those who are over 50 and are divorcingoften have much longer marriages to account for. You and your spouse mayhave been married for decades rather than years. This means you have decadesof your life entangled with another person’s, which presents itsown complications. The biggest change you have to consider is the alterationin your financial future.

If you and your spouse are separating, you need to ensure you have a budgetfor the divorce and for life after the divorce. During the marriage, youand your spouse likely shared the expenses, splitting the cost of homeowner’sinsurance, mortgage, car insurance, and so on. After the marriage, eitheryou or your spouse will need to find a place to live. The spouse thatremains in the family home will also need to be able to pay the mortgage alone.

Likewise, you will also likely need to set up your own individual healthcare plan. If you are still working, this may be less of a problem. However,if you are retired, you might need to purchase an individual health careplan on the market.

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Several important issues must be addressed in a divorce, from spousal andchild support to property division. These issues all have the potentialto be quite contentious due to the inherent complexities that come withfairly dividing a couple’s life, especially when you take into accountthe emotional weight of the situation. When it comes to dividing property,there are two types, one of which ends up on the chopping block, whilethe other is to be left untouched. They are known as marital propertyand separate property.

Marital Property

Courts do not have authority over separate property, which is why the firstorder of business in property division is to determine which assets anddebts are separate or marital. Generally, all property, assets, and debtacquired throughout a marriage are considered marital property. If a pieceof property was acquired prior to the marriage, but the other spouse contributedto an increase in its value, this increase would also be considered maritalproperty. Spouses can also convert separate property into marital property,or vice versa, or specify property as marital or separate in a prenuptialor postnuptial agreement. All marital property is equitably distributedin the state of Illinois in the event of a divorce.

Separate Property

Some states differ in details, but separate property typically only includes:

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One of the things that can complicate a divorce is dividing assets. InIllinois, property is separated into marital and separate property. Everythingunder the umbrella of “marital” is then split as equitablyas possible between the spouses. However, this can be complicated withpeople of high net worth. Those of high net worth are typically consideredindividuals who have at least $1 million in liquid assets, meaning theycan turn it into cash at a moment’s notice. Here are a few reasonshigh-asset divorces can be complex.

Portfolio

People with high net worth often have many investments. It can often bedifficult for people to keep track of every single business venture thatyou supported financially. Often, people of high net worth use valuationspecialists or forensic accountants to take full stock of the breadthand value of their entire portfolio, the value of their businesses, andother assets.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Often any agreements made on assets before the marriage took place or whilethe marriage was still ongoing need to be evaluated by attorneys. Sometimesill-drafted agreements leave loopholes that your spouse’s lawyercan exploit. So, it is advisable to ensure the contracts haven’tleft any of your assets unprotected.

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