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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyer for finances and employmentConcerns over the coronavirus have caused some businesses to close their doors. Unfortunately, this means that many people are now out of work. Some of these individuals are only temporarily laid off, while others may need to find new employment. Whether it is due to a layoff or termination, losing your job has the potential to dramatically influence divorce proceedings. Although divorce is typically thought of as the end of a romantic relationship, it is also the end of a financial relationship. Losing your main source of income will likely impact issues such as property division, child support, child custody, spousal maintenance, and other aspects of your divorce.

The Reason for the Job Loss Matters

When deciding on financial matters in a divorce case, a judge will consider both spouses’ financial circumstances. This includes the spouses’ income, assets, employability, and other factors. If either spouse has recently lost his or her job, the judge will want to know about the circumstances that led to the job loss. A judge is much more likely to be sympathetic when the job loss was the result of widespread layoffs or a person was otherwise not at fault for losing his or her job. However, if a spouse has lost his or her job because he or she quit or was fired for misconduct, the judge will be much less sympathetic.

Financial Consequences During Divorce Proceedings

In Illinois, a higher-earning spouse may be required to pay child support and/or spousal maintenance. If you have lost your job, but the loss was not your fault, it is possible that you will qualify for a reduced child support or spousal maintenance obligation. Most likely, if you show that you are sincerely working at becoming employed, you will be granted reduced payments until you can regain employment. However, if the job loss was your fault, you may be held to the same level of financial responsibility as you would be if you still had your job. Divorcing spouses who are negotiating a special financial agreement due to an unexpected job loss may find that mediation or collaborative law allows them to work out an arrangement without the need for court litigation.

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Wheaton high conflict divorce attorneyMarried couples choose to divorce for countless reasons. Sometimes, spouses simply grow apart or realize that it was a mistake to get married in the first place. In these cases, spouses may not want to be married any longer, but they still have a high level of respect and concern for each other. On the other hand, some divorcing spouses are vengeful and combative. Divorces involving infidelity, deceit, domestic violence, or vindictiveness may require a very different approach than more amicable divorces. If you have reason to believe that your divorce might be hostile, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to start preparing yourself now.  

Consider a Guardian Ad Litem

Continuous divorces between parents may involve strong disagreements about child custody and visitation, which are called “the allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois. Illinois courts make decisions in these areas based on what is in the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, some parents may attempt to sway the court’s decision in their favor by misrepresenting themselves or lying about the other parent. In some child custody disputes, a Guardian Ad Litem is assigned to the case to represent the children’s best interests and uncover the true facts of the case. The Guardian Ad Litem may do this by conducting interviews, evaluating parents’ homes and interactions with children, and analyzing financial information. You may want to request a Guardian Ad Litem if you have concerns about your spouse’s parenting abilities or if you want your child to have a specially-trained advocate.

Mediation May Not Be Your Best Option

Some divorcing couples who disagree about property division, child custody, spousal support, or other divorce terms are able to work out a solution to their disagreements through mediation. During divorce mediation, parties agree to work with a qualified mediator, negotiate in good faith, and collaborate with experts in order to reach a resolution. However, if there is a major power imbalance between the spouses, or if a spouse refuses to have reasonable discussions about divorce-related disagreements, mediation may not be a viable choice. It may be better for spouses to consult with their respective attorneys and formulate a divorce strategy personalized to their unique set of challenges.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for sole child custodyIn 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent major revisions. One of the biggest changes was an update to the language used to describe child custody. Instead of “child custody” and “visitation,” the terms “parental responsibility” and “parenting time” are used to describe parenting duties. Parental responsibilities refers to a parent’s authority to make major decisions about a child’s education, medical care, and other issues involved in their upbringing, whereas parenting time is the actual time that a parent spends caring for the child. Many divorced and unmarried parents split parental responsibilities and parenting time in a shared parenting arrangement, but some situations may require one parent to take on all of the parental responsibilities and/or parenting time.

Illinois Courts Typically Encourage Shared Parenting

Illinois courts usually prefer parenting arrangements that allow both of a child’s parents to be involved in his or her life. However, there are some situations in which a parent may be awarded “sole custody” or sole decision-making authority for a child. Non-custodial parents have a right to reasonable amounts of parenting time, unless there is some reason that the parent cannot adequately provide for the child’s safety and well-being. If a parent is found to be “unfit,” it is possible that the court will award the other parent 100 percent of the parental responsibilities and/or parenting time. If you wish to have all of the decision-making authority and parenting time, you will need to provide evidence to the court which proves that it is in your child’s best interests not to spend time with his or her other parent.

A parent may be considered unfit to have decision-making authority and/or parenting time if he or she cannot adequately complete caretaking tasks and keep the child safe. More specifically, a parent may not be awarded parental responsibilities or parenting time if he or she:

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DuPage County divorce attorney social media evidenceSocial media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other, so it may not surprise you that social media is increasingly influential in divorce cases. A large percentage of divorcing couples name Facebook or another social media website as a contributing factor in the breakdown of their marriage. Social media activity can also have a tremendous impact during divorce and child custody proceedings. If you are considering divorce, you should know that the pictures, videos, and text you post on social media has the potential to significantly impact your divorce.

Social Media Posts Can Reveal Financial Information

Many people do not realize it, but text messages, email messages, and social media posts are admissible evidence in divorce proceedings that may even be subpoenaed. One way that social media often influences divorce is when a spouse shares something that reveals information about his or her finances. Decisions about child support, spousal maintenance, and property division are all largely based on the spouses’ financial circumstances. If a spouse is underreporting his or her income or assets in an attempt to gain financial advantage during divorce, social media posts may expose this deception. For example, if a husband claims that he cannot afford spousal maintenance payments but then posts a picture of a luxury car he just purchased, this could be used as evidence that he is lying about his true financial situation.

Social Media Can Affect Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Divorcing parents often have disagreements about child custody and visitation which is officially called the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois. There are several ways that social media posts can influence child custody matters. For example, imagine a scenario in which a husband and wife each want to have the majority of parenting time with the children. If the wife posts pictures of herself going out to bars several nights of the week when she is allegedly caring for the children, this could call into question her desire and ability to take on a large amount of parental responsibility. It is important to remember that even if you have your social media account set to “private,” there are still many ways that your social media activity could be used against you during divorce proceedings. The best way to avoid negative consequences from social media during divorce may be to simply take a break from social media websites until the divorce is finalized.

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DuPageAlthough the overall U.S. divorce rate has been gradually falling over the past few decades, there is one group of people who are getting divorced at a much higher rate. The number of married individuals divorcing after age 50 has increased twofold since 1990. Divorce involving older spouses, nicknamed “gray divorce,” comes with a variety of special challenges – both personal and financial. If you are considering divorce, and you are over the age of 50, you should speak to an experienced divorce lawyer to find the specific course of action that is right for you.

Financial Considerations During Gray Divorce

In Illinois, marital property, meaning property accumulated by either spouse during the marriage, is subject to equitable division during divorce. Typically, the older a person is, the more property and wealth they have accumulated. If you are planning to divorce after the age of 50, you may have investments, pensions and retirement accounts, valuable art or antiques, or other assets that must be divided between you and your spouse. 

In the majority of gray divorces, pension benefits are considered part of the marital estate. This means that one spouse may be entitled to a portion of the other spouse’s pension upon retirement. IRAs, 401(k)s, or other types of retirement accounts are also typically divided during divorce. This is usually accomplished through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

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