Archive for the ‘Chicago divorce lawyer’ tag

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.

Steps to Take Before Your Property Division Hearing

February 18th, 2015 at 8:58 pm

property division hearings, Illinois divorce law attorneyWhen a couple divorces, they dismantle the marriage they built together. One of the biggest components of this is the division of their marital property during the divorce process. Although it can be difficult to face your spouse in court or with a mediator to decide how you will split your home and possessions, it is a necessary part of any divorce. Consider the following tips to make this process easier for you.

Never Attempt to Hide Your Assets

Your spouse and his or her attorney have ways of discovering your assets, even if you attempt to hide them. No matter how you feel about your spouse or the asset itself, it is crucial that you maintain an open, honest communication with the court during the divorce process. Concealing assets will typically result in having to spend more money, time, and energy on your divorce and can result in significant penalties against you.

Know the Different Types of Property

Not all of your property is subject to division. Anything you obtained independently of your marriage, either through a gift, inheritance or due to owning the property prior to marrying your spouse, is considered to be nonmarital property. In the divorce, you should receive all of your nonmarital property.

Marital property includes anything you and your spouse acquired during the marriage or obtained or developed together. This can include your home, any vacation homes, bank or retirement accounts (regardless of whose name the account is in), stocks, and businesses. This is the property that the court will equitably divide during your divorce.

A third category of property, commingled property, includes assets that were originally marital or nonmarital property, but due to actions or events that happened during the marriage may have changed categories. This can be a complicated analysis and you should talk to your attorney about any property you have that may be considered to be commingled property.

Understand How the Property Division Process Works

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that property is not necessarily divided 50/50 among divorcing couples. Instead, the court considers the divorcing couple’s unique circumstances in light of a list of factors to develop a fair division for them. Some examples of these factors are as follows:

  • Either partner’s financial obligation to a former spouse or child from a previous marriage;
  • Which partner is the custodial parent of a child;
  • Each partner’s current age and health;
  • Each partner’s current income;
  • Each partner’s potential for future income;
  • Whether either partner is receiving spousal maintenance;
  • Each partner’s contribution to the appreciation or depreciation of the marital property;
  • The duration of the couple’s marriage; and
  • The couple’s prenuptial agreement, if applicable.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act includes the laws for dividing property among divorcing couples in Illinois. For some couples, all of the above factors are applicable. For others, only a few can be applied to their case. Talk to an attorney about the weight that each factor may carry in your property division hearing.

Contact a Divorce and Family Law Attorney 

If you are currently going through a divorce or considering filing for divorce in the near future, contact our Chicago, IL divorce lawyers to discuss your case with one of our experienced divorce attorneys. Anderson & Associates, P.C. understands the difficulties that all divorcing couples face and can help you through this process by providing you with compassionate, helpful legal advice and representation for your case. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and Chicago.

What are the Differences Between a Legal Separation and a Divorce?

January 27th, 2015 at 8:14 pm

legal separation and divorce difference, Chicago divorce and family law attorneyNot everyone understands the distinction between a legal separation and dissolution of marriage. However, it is important for couples experiencing marital problems to understand the options that are available to them, especially after deciding that they can no longer live together.

Legal Separation

Pursuing a legal separation is similar to filing for divorce. The main difference between a separation and dissolution is that a legally separated couple is still married. Keep in mind that opting for a separation does not prohibit a divorce in the future–that option remains open. A couple might want to consider a legal separation if they:

  • Do not want a divorce;
  • Live in separate residences; and
  • Want a court to legally define their rights and obligations regarding child support, and maintenance payments.

Note that a court will also address the issues listed in the third bullet point during a divorce proceeding. The court generally will not address issues regarding the division of property in a legal separation. However, the entry of a judgment for legal separation will stop the accumulation of marital property. In other words, any property that either spouse acquires after the legal separation would be presumed to be nonmarital property if either spouse files for divorce in the future.

Divorce

A petition for legal separation generally does not have to include a party’s specific reasons for pursuing that option. The same cannot be said for a divorce petition. A party petitioning for divorce must establish one of the following grounds:

  • The petitioner’s spouse was at the time of the marriage and continues to be naturally impotent;
  • The petitioner’s spouse was already married when he or she married the petitioner;
  • The petitioner’s spouse was adulterous;
  • The petitioner’s spouse deserted the petitioner for at least one year;
  • The petitioner’s spouse has been habitually drunk or abused addictive drugs for at least two years;
  • The petitioner’s spouse has threatened or attempted to kill the petitioner;
  • The petitioner’s spouse is guilty of physical or mental cruelty;
  • The petitioner’s spouse is a convicted felon; or
  • The petitioner’s spouse infected the petitioner with an STD.

In addition to the above grounds for dissolution, a petitioner can prove that there are irreconcilable differences between the spouses that have caused the marriage to break down.

However, Illinois only permits divorce based on irreconcilable differences if the parties have been separated for at least two years. If the parties have lived apart for at least six months then that requirement may be waived, but only if both consent in writing. It is important to note that this separation requirement does not require a “legal separation.”

The respondent may contest the grounds of the divorce petition. While the chances of staving off divorce are slim, he or she can request that the court order a conciliation conference. If the parties are unable to reconcile then the court will proceed with the divorce.

If you are considering a legal separation or a divorce, or if your spouse has served you with a separation or divorce petition, contact one of our family law attorneys in Chicago, IL at Anderson & Associates, P.C. We assist clients from our offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.

New Illinois Laws in 2015: Part 1

January 22nd, 2015 at 6:01 pm

new Illinois family law, Chicago family law attorneysThe New Year heralds more than fresh beginnings and ambitious resolutions. In many cases, January 1 also marks the statutory beginning for laws recently enacted by the Illinois General Assembly.  One example this year is an amendment to the Children and Family Services Act that allows state officials to place children who have been temporarily removed from their homes with “fictive kin”–an individual who is not related to a particular child by blood or marriage but who maintains a close personal relationship with that child or his family.

Illinois law authorizes the Department of Children and Family Services to temporarily remove abused or neglected children from their homes while DCFS officials investigate the situation. DCFS prefers to place these children with able and willing relatives, but when that is not possible, the department may opt to make placements with fictive kin rather than with complete strangers. The fictive kin must then apply for foster care licensure within six months of the placement.

Other family laws that took effect on January 1, 2015, include:

  • The Child Care Act, which regulates child care licensing requirements and licensing exemptions, was amended. Generally, if you provide care to more than three unrelated children (this includes your own children under the age of 12), state law requires you to obtain a child care license from DCFS. Recent amendments expanded the definition of “related” to include great-grandparents, step-grandparents and first cousins.
  • A second amendment to the Child Care Act, which requires DCFS to submit a comprehensive annual progress report to the General Assembly. The report must include such information as:
    • Details regarding how child day care licensing is funded (e.g., the names of revenue sources that support child day care licensing and how funds are appropriated);
    • Staffing qualifications for day care licensing representatives and supervisors;
    • Data history for day care licensing representative caseloads and staff levels; and
    • Efforts to coordinate professional development with the Department of Human Services and the State Board of Education.
  • Amendments to the Children and Family Services Act, which require DCFS to use its case tracking system to monitor families subject to safety plans. A safety plan is often implemented when DCFS officials are investigating reports of child abuse or neglect. If officials determine that a child needs to be removed from his home during the investigation–or that one of the parents needs to reside somewhere else–they might ask the family to agree to a safety plan outlining temporary placement arrangements. If the parents do not agree then DCFS can take protective custody of the child for 48 hours.

If you have questions regarding your rights and responsibilities under the Children and Family Services Act or the Child Care Act, contact one of our experienced Chicago family law attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. today. 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.

Read Part 2: New Illinois Laws in 2015

The New Year Brings Changes to Illinois Spousal Support (Alimony) Laws

January 16th, 2015 at 3:10 pm

new Illinois alimony law, divorce lawyer in ChicagoAs the calendar turned over to 2015, new legislation went into effect which amended the existing law in regard to maintenance (formerly known as alimony) calculations and awards in Illinois. Legally referred to as spousal maintenance under Illinois law, alimony represents the financial support payable by one spouse to the other following the couple’s divorce.

Prior to the new law’s adoption, the court had significant discretion in calculating the amount and duration of a maintenance award. To determine an appropriate maintenance award, a presiding judge was expected to consider all relevant factors of the case, including but not limited to:

  • Income and financial needs of both spouses;
  • Educational/training needs of one or both spouses to become self-sufficient after divorce;
  • Lifestyle established during the marriage;
  • Length and impact of the marriage on both spouses.

After consideration of the facts, however, the law offered no guidance for determining a fair award; instead, the judge was to award what he or she found to be appropriate. Obviously what one judge finds to be appropriate, another may not. Two judges may see a similar set of circumstances and find vastly different awards to be fair. Growing concern over unpredictable maintenance awards ultimately led to the creation of a quantifiable standard for awards in the new legislation.

Under the amended law, the court is still responsible for determining whether a maintenance award is appropriate by considering the same relevant factors as previously required. Once maintenance is deemed appropriate, two formulas are used to establish the recommended amount and length of the award. However, these formulas are only used if the spouses’ combined gross incomes are less than $250,000.

Amount of Spousal Maintenance Award

Using the gross income of both partners, the recommended award is equal to 30 percent of the payor’s income minus 20 percent of the payee’s income. When the award is added to the payee’s income, the result may not exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.

Duration of Spousal Maintenance Award

The amended law provides a calculation table used to determine the duration of the award. The length of the marriage, in years, is to be multiplied by a specified value found in the table. The values were established to be directly proportional to marriage length, so that longer marriages result in longer (or permanent) maintenance awards than shorter marriages.

Exceptions to the Standard

Even while providing a formula with which to calculate maintenance awards, the amended law provides the court discretionary leeway when necessary. A judge may determine, based on careful consideration, that the recommended award is not appropriate or sustainable. In such cases, the court must make the calculations prescribed by law and enter as a finding the specific reasons he or she has chosen to deviate from the law’s recommendations.

If you are considering a divorce or would like more information regarding the new spousal maintenance law in Illinois, we can help. Contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney at Anderson & Associates, P.C. for a free initial consultation today. With offices downtown and in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Orland Park, and Northbrook, we conveniently serve clients throughout the Chicago suburban area.

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.