Archive for the ‘Divorce Tips’ Category

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements: How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Assets

January 31st, 2015 at 2:58 pm

postnuptial agreement in Chicago, Illinois divorce attorneysWhen a couple marries, they do not assume that their marriage will end in divorce. The reality of modern American marriage, however, is that approximately 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce, with higher rates for second and subsequent marriages and certain age groups.

With a divorce usually comes the division of the couple’s property. For many individuals, this can pose a number of problems. An individual might have entered his or her marriage with significant assets such as a home or a successful business. One might also have children from a previous marriage who must be supported financially. In cases like these, opting to sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a way for a couple to make a plan for their assets and finances in the event of a divorce or a death.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can contain virtually identical language. The difference between the two agreements is when the agreement is signed: prenuptial agreements are signed before a couple marries and postnuptial agreements are signed after the wedding.

What is in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?

Generally, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements address  each partner’s finances and property. The following are examples of topics that may be covered:

  • Each partner’s debts and other financial obligations and if the other is responsible for these in the event of his or her death;
  • Issues related to spousal maintenance, such as the length of time one may receive it and the amount that he or she may receive;
  • The couple’s jointly-owned property and is distribution in a divorce;
  • Each partner’s individual property; and
  • Each partner’s estate planning.

It is important to remember that prenuptial and postnuptial agreements aren’t just for the wealthy.  This type of agreement is also attractive to individuals entering their second or later marriages. This is because older parties may have children from prior relationships and an individual who has been divorced previously may have obligations to his or her former spouse that must be considered. However, any couple who is getting married should consider signing such an agreement.

A Valid Agreement

The terms in a prenuptial agreement are only valid under certain conditions. These are contained in the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Your attorney can work with you to draft an agreement that will protect you and your assets in court or, if you have already signed an agreement, help you determine if it is susceptible to being found invalid in by a court. Any premarital agreement made under the following circumstances is not valid and cannot be enforced:

  • Either spouse did not voluntarily enter into the agreement, including if the spouse was threatened or coerced; or
  • A spouse did not fully disclose all of his or her assets or debts and the other spouse could not have had knowledge of the other spouse’s assets or debts (unless if the spouse voluntarily waived the disclosure).

Postnuptial agreements, on the other hand, are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.  The standards that apply to a postnuptial agreement depend on when the agreement is being signed and the agreement’s purpose.  If you are considering entering into a postnuptial agreement, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of drafting valid postnuptial agreements.

Experienced Divorce Lawyers in Illinois

Anderson & Associates, P.C. proudly serves clients in Chicago and will give your case the care and dedication it deserves. If you are considering signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, contact our office to discuss your options with one of our firm’s experienced Chicago, IL divorce attorneys. We have five offices in Northbrook, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.

Basic Divorce Terminology

January 22nd, 2015 at 9:12 am

divorce terminology, Illinois divorce attorneyThose who are considering divorce, or have already filed for divorce, are faced with numerous legal terms that can be confusing or overwhelming. For example, in Illinois a divorce is not actually called a divorce; it is technically considered a “dissolution of marriage.” Speaking with an experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand all the terms and definitions you will need to know throughout your divorce proceedings.

If you are considering filing for a divorce, below are some basic legal terms you may want to know:

Dissolution of Marriage: A divorce. Illinois refers to divorce as a dissolution of marriage. It is the process a couple must go through to end their marriage. The process can be completed through traditional litigation in court or through mediation, but ultimately will conclude with the entry of a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: The document you will file with the court requesting  a divorce from your spouse. It will include basic information about your marriage and the grounds for the divorce.

Grounds: A specific reason for the divorce. In your petition for dissolution of marriage, you must state a legal reason for why you are seeking divorce. The grounds for divorce in Illinois are listed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which include adultery, desertion, physical or mental cruelty, and irreconcilable differences.

Irreconcilable Differences: A general, “no-fault” divorce. When you allege these grounds in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you are saying that you have tried (but failed) to work out your differences with your spouse and you cannot stay married any longer because it will not benefit either party.

Equitable Distribution: method of dividing assets in Illinois. This does not necessarily mean assets will be divided equally, but rather they will be divided fairly. A judge will consider different factors and divide the property among the two spouses as they see is the fairest in light of both parties’ circumstances.

Spousal Maintenance: Formerly known as alimony. Spousal maintenance is a court-ordered amount of financial support awarded to one spouse that the other spouse must pay. A judge can determine whether maintenance is appropriate in your case based on a variety of factors, such as income, assets, potential earning income, and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

Legal terminology can be confusing when it is used in place of “everyday” language. If you need experienced legal counsel to help you file for divorce, contact our Chicago divorce lawyers. Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you understand the terminology and legal process you will go through in divorce proceedings. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park. Call 312-345-9999 today.

Four Reasons to Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Divorce

January 9th, 2015 at 12:12 pm

hire a divorce attorney, Chicago divorce and family lawyer

Divorce can be a messy process. Mountains of paperwork, legal deadlines, and a seemingly endless list of details to consider can be, at best, stressful and, at worst, extremely overwhelming. It may be tempting to try to save some money and handle a divorce on your own, and the law says you have a right to do so, but there are a number of compelling reasons you should consider hiring an experienced family law attorney.

#1 Legal Experience

While every divorce has circumstances all its own, a lawyer with family law experience is familiar with state laws as they apply to your case. Most states, including Illinois, already have provisions in their laws regarding issues such as division of property, child support, and maintenance (formerly known as alimony). A qualified attorney can provide advice, based on statutes and case law, to help you understand your rights and options. This will allow you to focus your efforts and avoid wasting time and money fighting over matters the law has already anticipated.

#2 Objective Point of View

Contentious divorce proceedings can often become heated and you may be tempted to make decisions based on emotion or stress. Being detached, to an extent, from the marital tensions allows an attorney to provide you with a more balanced, long-term outlook. Together, you and your lawyer can step back, consider the facts of your situation, and analyze the potential outcome in order to make the best choices available.

#3 Accessibility

Communication is essential to any negotiation, including a divorce being handled by the courts. However, divorcing partners may have trouble connecting in a meaningful way during the various phases of the proceedings. One partner may refuse to pick up or return phone calls from the other, for example. Attorneys, on the other hand, are usually able to work with other attorneys quite easily and your partner may be much more willing to take a call from an attorney than from you. It may seem like a complicated process, but it may prove to be the best method for exchanging information. Additionally, an attorney will typically have more access to expert consultants, such as financial professionals or family counselors, than you may have on your own.

#4 Paperwork and Efficiency

Most divorce cases require a great deal of documentation and paperwork. Improperly completed forms can cause delays in the proceedings which prolongs the process. Likewise, confusing or unclear language in documents presented to the court can result in a judge issuing a decree which does not reflect the correct information or intentions of the parties.  A qualified attorney is able to facilitate most of the required paperwork and ensure that submissions to the court are clear and concise, eliminating unnecessary delays and missed deadlines. This can help reduce the stress placed on you and your family and allow you to focus on working toward your post-divorce situation.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney

If you live in the Chicago area and are considering a divorce, experienced lawyers are available to help. Contact a skilled Chicago family law attorney today for a review of your case. At Anderson & Associates, P.C., we have decades of experience helping clients from our five regional offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago. Call 312-345-9999 to schedule a free consultation today.