Archive for the ‘Illinois divorce lawyer’ Category

Older Couples Must Contend with Special Challenges in Divorce

April 22nd, 2015 at 5:48 pm

older divorce, older couple, Illinois divorce lawyerFor married couples with partners under the age of 50, the good news is that the U.S. divorce rate has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s. For couples who have passed the age 50 milestone, the bad news is that the divorce rate for their demographic is at its highest level ever. Recently, a recent study found that among divorcing couples over the age of 50, two-thirds of the divorce proceedings are initiated by the wife.

Societal Shifts and Longer Lifespans

Members of the Baby Boomer generation are divorcing at higher rates for a variety of social, cultural, and health related reasons. Compared to previous generations, divorce has simply become more common and more socially acceptable. Another reason is connected to longer lifespans. At age 50 or 60, many people are planning for a lengthy retirement and want to prioritize enjoying the last twenty to forty years of their life. This can result in them evaluating relationships with a more critical eye than people in generations past.

Increased Risk for Complicated and Litigious Divorces for Older Couples

When older couples initiate divorce proceedings, the size of their estate and issues surrounding retirement planning, accounts, and healthcare all may cause the process to be complicated and potentially very expensive. If the couple is not in agreement or able to work together with their attorneys to negotiate successfully, they are at risk for a litigious divorce proceeding. For older couples, this can be a dangerous scenario for people who are over 50 because, typically, their prime earning years are behind them. They simply will not have the ability or the opportunity to replace a great deal of the money spent on a protracted divorce.

Complex Estate and Retirement Issues

The issues of estate division involving retirement and pension plans, home equity, health insurance, and social security benefits all become critical and nuanced for couples over age 50. In many cases, the couples’ retirement planning was done under the assumption that they would be living as a married couple. In such cases it is not uncommon for the couple to discover that if they were to divide the estate, they simply don’t have enough assets for each spouse to afford retirement on their own.

Retirement accounts such as pension plans, 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are generally regarded as marital property in a divorce. In addition to state divorce laws, there are federal guidelines that mandate how certain retirement plans are redistributed in divorce. Often times this will require specific types of orders to be entered to divide the accounts and it is important to have an experienced attorney  negotiate and draft these orders to ensure that your interests are protected.

If you are a member of the Baby Boomer generation who is considering a divorce, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Chicago family law attorney at Anderson & Associates, P.C. to review your options. We are easily accessible at five convenient locations including offices in Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago. Please call 312-345-9999 to schedule your complimentary consultation today. We look forward to speaking with you.

Deciding Which Spouse Keeps the Family Home in a Divorce

April 10th, 2015 at 5:35 pm

family home, division of property, Illinois divorce attorneyDivorces are often fraught with uncertainty. Will I have to pay alimony? Who will get custody of the kids? Who gets to keep the house? During this difficult process, it is crucial that you keep yourself grounded and educated about how divorces work. Multiple factors play into which spouse keeps the family house after a divorce, if either spouse keeps it at all. In some cases, the couple is required to sell the house and split the proceeds.

If you want to keep your family home following your divorce, talk to your spouse about your desire and why it is important to you. If you choose to divorce through mediation or collaborative law, you will need to work with your spouse to develop a settlement that achieves both of your goals. After discussing your intention to keep the house with your spouse, the next step is to speak with an attorney about your rights, legal options, and how your case’s unique circumstances may affect your opportunity to keep your house.

The Family Home as Marital Property

The most important factor used to determine a house’s position and rightful ownership during a couple’s property division process is whether or not the house is considered to be marital property. Generally, marital property is any property that was purchased or significantly developed during the marriage. If you and your spouse purchased the home together after marrying, your home is marital property. Likewise, if either partner owned it prior to the marriage but the spouse made mortgage payments or significantly contributed to the home’s value through improvement projects after marrying, it may be considered to be marital property.

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is not necessarily split 50/50 during a divorce. Rather, it is divided between the spouses according to each partner’s contribution to the property during the marriage and their needs following the divorce.

Factors Considered When Determining Which Spouse Keeps the House

One of the most prominent factors considered when the court must determine which spouse keeps the family home is which spouse has primary custody of the couple’s children. If the court determines that it is in the children’s best interest to remain in the home and, by extension, their community and school district, the court may award the family home to the parent with whom the children will live most or all of the time. Sometimes, this award is temporary and the couple is required to sell the house once the youngest child turns 18.

Even if a spouse is awarded the home, that spouse may be required to buy out his or her former partner’s interest in the home. In some cases, the higher-earning spouse may be required to continue to pay for the home’s insurance or mortgage as part of a support arrangement. Either of these scenarios may be a possibility for you, depending on your current economic circumstances and your divorce’s details.

Chicago Divorce Attorneys

Call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with the skilled Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. to learn more about how the court may determine who keeps the family home in your divorce. We proudly serve our clients in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

How Spousal Support Can Help You After a Divorce

April 8th, 2015 at 2:49 pm

spousal support, spousal maintenance, Chicago family law attorneySpousal support, known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, is when one spouse pays the other spouse a set amount of money after a divorce for his or support. The length of time a spouse is required to make payments varies from case to case and may change based on the parties’ future circumstances, such as the spouse remarrying. One thing that does not change is that spousal support payments can help a spouse who has earned less or stayed at home during the marriage to improve his or her quality of life after divorce.

Become Self Supportive

If you have skills, but have not worked due to staying at home or the nature of your ex-spouse’s job, you may receive short-term or long-term spousal payments. You can use the payments to support yourself while you start your own business, find a job, or find another way to support yourself. Having the maintenance payments can enable you to follow your dream of owning your own store or doing something you love. It can also allow you time to find a job you want, or go back to school.

Finish or Obtain an Education

Rehabilitative support can allow the spouse receiving maintenance payments to receive them long enough to complete a degree so they are able to support themselves. Often times, the payments will cover living expenses while they attend college or a vocational program to better their skills and obtain a job.

Maintain Your Standard of Living

If a certain standard of living was maintained during the marriage, spousal support payments can help you maintain a lifestyle as close as possible to that standard. When couples divorce, sometimes one spouse has stayed at home or worked less than the other spouse. Suddenly eliminating the standard that has been set during the marriage can be shocking for some people and spousal support can help you maintain the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed.

Spousal support is not considered necessary in every divorce. Multiple factors will be taken into account, such as standard of living during the marriage, income of both spouses, financial needs of each spouse, earning capability, age, and length of the marriage. You deserve a qualified divorce attorney on your side to help ensure you get the best results for your spousal support.

Filing for divorce is not an easy decision and litigating spousal support issues can be complex. Speaking with an experienced Chicago family law attorney can help alleviate any confusion or stress about the divorce process or spousal support payments. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Child Support: Modifying an Order to Meet Evolving Needs

March 19th, 2015 at 3:00 pm

support order modification, child support, Chicago family lawyersFor many couples, and especially those with children, a divorce is more than a legal process used to finalize the dissolution of their marriage. Instead, it represents the starting point for a new family dynamic extending many years into the future. While many of the negotiations and arrangements inherent to divorce proceeding are permanent, such as the division of marital property, others must be drafted with the current situation in mind, and may be adjusted as the family’s circumstances change. A child support order represents a prime example of such an arrangement. 

Establishment of a Child Support Order

At the time of a divorce, or other appropriate point prescribed by law, if a support order is appropriate, the court is expected to follow established guidelines to determine the amount of support must be paid. The non-custodial parent is typically required to pay support based on his or her net income, the number of supported children, and relevant circumstantial factors. Once the order has been entered, the supporting party must continue to meet his or her obligations or risk enforcement action and prosecution.

Changes in Needs or Resources

An order for child support is expected to address the current and reasonably anticipated needs of the child, while taking into account the income and resources of the supporting parent. However, it is very likely that either or both will change over time, potentially resulting in a situation that it is not appropriately being matched by the existing support order. For this reason, the state of Illinois not only permits support orders to be modified, but encourages that they be kept as current as reasonably possible.

The court may consider the modification of a child support order in the following situations:

  • The needs of the child have significantly changed. In addition to normal growth and development, other considerations may impact the amount of financial support required by the child. Examples may include the diagnosis of a serious medical condition, the legal marriage of the child, and acceptance into an elite educational program. The impact to the support order could range from a substantial increase to the complete termination of support.
  • The supporting party experienced a significant change in income. Situations may arise in which the paying parent loses employment or suffers a debilitating injury which negatively affects his or her earning capacity. Conversely, a new position or increased business opportunities may drastically increase his or her income. Depending on the case, ordered support may be increased or decreased.

Recalculation of Support

Once the court determines that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, the modification of a child support order is handled by the court in the same manner as establishing the original order. The same considerations must be made, and with more current income and circumstantial information available, the modified order will be better suited to meet the family’s needs.

If you are subject to a child support order in Illinois and believe the order should be modified for any reason, contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney today. The qualified lawyers at Anderson & Associates, P.C., can help you understand your options and provide you the best in professional legal services. We have offices conveniently located in Wheaton, Schaumburg, Orland Park, Northbrook, and downtown Chicago.

Determining Pet Custody in a Divorce

March 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

pet custody, divorce, Chicago divorce attorneysWhen a couple opts to end their marriage through divorce, the next step is to work with the court to divide their property and determine custody and support arrangements for their children if they have any. Today, however, as beloved pets are often considered to be a part of the family, many couples express concerns about custody of their companion animals following their divorces. 

Legally, pets are personal property in Illinois. Emotional attachment does not preclude domestic pets such as cats and dogs from being included in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act as items to divide during a divorce proceeding.

However, some couples choose to negotiate their own pet custody agreements. These are not necessarily enforceable in court, but can give the couple an outline to work with regarding their pet’s care after their divorce. When the spouses do not have such an amicable relationship but both want to retain custody of their pet, each partner may need to argue their fitness to keep the pet to the court.

Proving Your Fitness to Keep Your Pet

You might have to prove your fitness as a pet owner to have your pet’s custody awarded to you during your divorce. Some of the ways you can do this are:

  • Showing your financial investment in the pet through receipts for its veterinary bills, food costs, and any other pet bills like grooming services or obedience classes.
  • Demonstrating to the court that your home is better suited for a pet than your former partner’s. This may be because you have a large yard for the pet to roam or your former partner’s apartment does not allow pets.
  • Proving your bond with the pet through activities such as hunting or agility competitions.

Your attorney can help you develop a strong case for having your pet after a divorce. If you are your children’s custodial parent, this may also help your case for keeping your pet.

Sharing Pet Custody

With no law that outlines pet custody in Illinois, some couples choose to develop shared pet custody arrangements. In many cases, these arrangements are modeled on the couple’s child custody arrangement – wherever the children go, the pet goes. Talk to your spouse about this option and determine if setting up a visitation schedule could be a viable choice for your situation.

Although they can not speak or express themselves the way humans can, animals feel tension and stress during a divorce. No matter what you and your spouse decide, it is important for your pet’s health that you do all you can to minimize the stress that he or she is put through during the divorce process.

Divorce Attorneys in Chicago

If you are considering ending your marriage or you are currently working through the divorce process, contact the skilled Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. at 312-345-9999 or online for your initial legal consultation with our firm. We have five convenient offices in the Chicago area: Northbrook, Wheaton, Orland Park, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

Business Valuation in a Divorce

March 11th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

property division, assets, Illinois Divorce AttorneyMany Illinois couples choose to work together to open and operate businesses. In other marriages, one partner operates his or her own business with little to no input from his or her spouse. When a business is a part of a couple’s household income, it must be accounted for during their divorce.

The amount of personal investment each partner has in a business can determine how it is divided during the couple’s divorce. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that divorcing couples’ assets are divided after considering several factors, including each partner’s needs and contribution to the marriage, rather than simply splitting their entire asset network in half.

Valuing a Business during a Divorce

A business, like other marital assets, must be assigned a monetary value to be divided as part of a couple’s divorce judgment. There are a few different methods used to determine a business’ monetary value. The method that is best for an individual business depends on the type of business and the couple’s plans for the business after their divorce.

The market approach values a business by comparing it to similar businesses to determine its viability and future prospects. Issues like the business’ relationship with its clients and its role in the community are considered when making this determination. This option is usually the best choice for couples who choose to sell their businesses.

The income approach looks at a business’ current and projected earnings to determine its value. Potential for growth, as well as any depreciation that can occur, are factored into the income approach. Results from this type of analysis are likely to factored into child support of spousal maintenance considerations.

The asset approach values a business by subtracting its depreciation from the total of its assets. This is a straightforward approach that can sometimes be too narrow for larger or more complicated businesses. If one owned the business prior to the marriage and liquidation was likely, this approach could be used to calculate the amount of marital property, if any, was invested during the marriage.

The correct valuation approach for many businesses may actually be a combination of all three, allowing for a larger number of factors. Financial experts commonly incorporate a number of methods when establishing the value of business, particularly in more complex situations.

Options for Divorcing Business Owners

There are some situations in which neither partner wants to leave the business. A couple with a fairly amicable relationship may choose to continue operating the business together after their divorce. In such cases, each partner’s interest in the company must be evaluated and written into a new contract reflecting their stakes as individual assets rather than a marital asset. Other options include selling the business or one partner choosing to continue to operate the business alone after the divorce.

All entrepreneurs are encouraged to draft prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that include their plans for their businesses in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can make it much easier to protect one’s interests during the divorce process, especially if these interests were obtained before the marriage and remained largely within the individual’s sole control during the marriage.

Chicago Divorce Attorneys

If you are a business owner currently going through a divorce, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with Anderson & Associates, P.C. at one of our five convenient locations in the Chicago area. With offices in Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago, we work with our clients to determine the best course of action for their divorces. Do not wait to start working with an experienced Chicago divorce attorney – give us a call today to learn more about your options and obligations as a business owner.

Divorce, Legal Separation, or Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage

March 10th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

invalidity of marriage, legal separation, divorce, Chicago Divorce LawyerUnhappily married couples that wish to separate have three specific options under the law: divorce, declaration of invalidity of marriage, and legal separation. A declaration of invalidity of marriage, often referred to as an annulment, ultimately voids the marriage and is not appropriate for every situation. It has strict requirements and must be pursued within a certain period of time. A legal separation permits couples to establish child support and maintenance obligations and make custody arrangements while remaining legally married. A divorce also permits couples to establish support obligations, as well as divide marital assets and establish custody. Unlike a legal separation, divorce dissolves the marriage.

Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage

When a marriage is declared invalid, it is treated as if the marriage never took place. This is an extreme remedy and the law provides only four situations in which a court will enter a declaration of invalidity of marriage:

  1. One or both parties were unable to consent to the marriage. For example, a person with a mental illness or under the influence of a controlled substance may be determined to lack the ability to appropriately consent.

  2. A party cannot physically consummate the marriage. However, a marriage may only be annulled for this reason if the other party was unaware of such incapacity prior to the marriage.

  3. One or both parties were under 18 years old and did obtain parental consent or judicial approval to marry.

  4. The marriage is prohibited by law. Polygamy, for example, is illegal in Illinois. Therefore, a second marriage while still legally married to another would be declared invalid under this provision.

Legal Separation

In some cases, a married couple may no longer wish to live together, but personal or financial reasons prevent them from petitioning for divorce. Such a couple may elect to petition for legal separation. The couple will remain legally married, but the court may, among other considerations, establish a child custody arrangement, define visitation rights, and determine obligations for child and/or spousal support. Opting to legally separate does not prohibit a couple from filing for divorce in the future; divorce remains a viable option.

Divorce

A decree of divorce officially ends a marriage, but the process can be long and contentious. The first step is filing a petition, which must include specific grounds for divorce. The other party may contest those grounds, but the court will likely grant the petition. The grounds include:

  • Adultery;
  • Habitual drunkenness;
  • Impotence (this is also grounds for annulment, but there is no delineated time-frame associated with divorce);
  • Physical or emotional abuse; or
  • Substance abuse.

Most often, couples cite irreconcilable differences, which is a much more general grounds for divorce. However, in order to obtain a divorce under irreconcilable differences, the couple must be separate for two years. This requirement, however, can be waived by agreement.

If you are unhappily married and would like to know more about your options regarding a declaration of invalidity of marriage, legal separation or divorce, contact one of our Chicago divorce attorneys today. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Post-Decree Modifications: Maintenance Obligations

March 5th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

post-decree modifications, support obligations, Illinois family law attorneysA divorce decree is not necessarily absolute. When either or both parties experience a substantial change in circumstances then they can seek a post-decree modification of spousal support obligations. (Note that property divisions generally will not be modified. However, the court may make an exception if marital property that was not known at the time of the divorce is later discovered.)

So what constitutes a “substantial change” in circumstances? Examples include winning the lottery, losing your job and being diagnosed with a serious illness and incurring hefty medical expenses. But what constitutes a “substantial change” for one family might not be substantial for another. Thus, there is no pre-determined set of circumstances that automatically trigger modification. Instead, when the court entertains a modification petition it will consider various factors, such as:

  • Changes in employment status and whether the change was made in good faith;
  • Efforts made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and whether those efforts are reasonable;
  • Impairment of either party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • Any tax consequences that the maintenance payments have on either party’s economic circumstances;
  • How long the supporting party has been making maintenance payments and how many payments must still be paid, relative to the duration of the marriage;
  • The property awarded to each party in the original divorce decree and the present status of that property;
  • Whether either party’s income has increased or decreased since the divorce decree was entered;
  • The property acquired and currently owned by each party since the divorce decree was entered; and
  • Each party’s needs, including age and physical and emotional condition.

petition seeking modification must be filed in the same court where the original judgment was entered. If neither party resides there, either they or the court may move to transfer the case to a more appropriate venue (usually to the county or judicial circuit where either or both of the parties reside).

The obligation to make maintenance payments also terminates in certain situations by statute. The most obvious example is the death of either party. However, death of the party paying support does not terminate the survivor’s right to receive death benefits from a life insurance policy. The obligation also terminates if the receiving party remarries or cohabits with another person on a continuing conjugal basis.

If you are seeking modification of a divorce decree, contact one of our Chicago divorce attorneys today for a free consultation. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Pursuing a Dissipation Claim Against Your Spouse

February 25th, 2015 at 9:42 am

dissipation claim, divorce lawyer in IllinoisThe division of marital property during a divorce proceeding is often contentious, particularly if the parties are disputing who gets which assets. Additional complications arise if one or both parties take steps to deplete those assets after the marriage has broken down.

When a couple is on the brink of divorce, one or both spouses might be tempted to spend marital assets to prevent the other from getting those assets in a divorce. This is called dissipation of marital property. Illinois law defines dissipation as a spouse’s use of marital or nonmarital property for his or her sole benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage after the marriage has begun to undergo an irretrievable breakdown.

Examples of dissipation include:

  • Buying gifts for a boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • Going on vacation with a boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • Excessive spending on gambling or lottery tickets;
  • Excessive spending on alcohol or other controlled substances;
  • Allowing the marital home or other real estate to fall into foreclosure; and
  • Failure to maintain marital property.

Claim Requirements

A spouse who wants to file a dissipation claim must do so 60 days before trial begins or 30 days after discovery closes, whichever date comes later. The spouse’s notice of intent must identify when the marriage underwent the irretrievable breakdown, the dissipated property, and when the dissipation occurred. If the party does not file a notice of intent within this timeframe, then any dissipation claims are waived.

Dissipation claims will not be successful if the spending was consistent with the lifestyle the couple established during the marriage. For example, if the alleged dissipater took a trip with the children during the divorce proceeding, and it is determined that the spouse took similar trips during the marriage then the claim is baseless. Furthermore, dissipation cannot be alleged if it occurred more than five years before the divorce petition was filed or three years after the party alleging dissipation knew or should have known about the dissipation.

Once a proper notice of intent to claim dissipation is file, the dissipating party has the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged dissipation did not occur. If the court determines that a dissipation claim is valid, it may compensate the wronged spouse. Typically this is done by offsetting the dissipated assets against the property awarded to the wasteful spouse in the judgment for dissolution of marriage.

Contact one of our Chicago divorce attorneys today if you suspect that your spouse is guilty of dissipation, or if your spouse files a dissipation claim against you. The timing and specifics of dissipation claims matter, and we will ensure that such claims are effectively pursued or defended. Anderson & Associates, P.C. has offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Dividing Marital Assets During Divorce

February 6th, 2015 at 10:33 am

Illinois dividing assets, Chicago property division lawyerYou or your spouse has filed for divorce, and the question on your mind is: “Who gets what?” Most married couples bring assets into the marriage and accumulate additional property during the course of the marriage. Then, when a married couple separates, everything must be divided. The division of assets can be hard, and sometimes get heated, when divorcing couples do not agree with what the other should get.

It can be confusing to understand how assets are divided during divorce proceedings. Even if both parties agree the marriage is no longer working and to file for divorce, figuring out what is considered marital assets can be complicated. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning the division of property and assets is not necessarily equal, but rather what is fair for both parties.

If the parties cannot agree on how their property will be divided, a judge will decide how to equitably divide the assets by analyzing several different factors. The length of marriage, value of all assets, what each party brought into the marriage, income and earning potential of each spouse, and standard of living during the marriage are just some of the factors that the court will examine. Dividing marital assets can be easy if neither person wants to keep anything and both parties agree to sell everything and split the profits. The situation gets more complicated if the parties can’t agree, or if the divorce involves intangible assets, which can make the proceedings take longer.

All property [houses, 401(k)s or pension plans, bank accounts, stocks, boats, cars, etc.] no matter how they are titled, can be considered marital assets if they were acquired during a marriage. Even if a house is titled in one party’s name, it can be considered marital property if it was bought during the marriage or if money from a joint account is used to pay for the mortgage, repairs, or upgrades. Classifying and dividing marital assets is not a straightforward process and can become overwhelming for many.

If you are considering filing for divorce, or your spouse has already filed for a divorce, contact one of our Chicago property division attorneys. Anderson & Associates, P.C., assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices conveniently located in downtown Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park. We are experienced in family law proceedings that range from simple to complex divorce. We can help you understand your next step.