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Wheaton, IL divorce lawyer for discoveryIf you are like the vast majority of adults in Illinois, you probably have a cell phone, computer, tablet, or all three. Most of these devices can record audio and video at the press of a button. It can be very tempting to make use of this ability during divorce – especially if your spouse’s behavior is much different behind closed doors than it is in public. You may wonder, “Can I record my spouse and use this recording as evidence during my divorce?”

Illinois Law Regarding Recording a Conversation

Most states are one-party consent states. This means that it is lawful to record a conversation between two people if at least one of them knows that the conversation is being recorded. For example, you could record yourself speaking on the phone to someone else because you know that you are recording. Illinois, however, is an all-party consent state. This means that both you and the other party need to provide consent for a recording to be legal. Recording someone without their permission may be considered a Class 4 felony offense in Illinois.  However, there are several exceptions to Illinois laws regarding eavesdropping and recording.  

Defining “Surreptitious” in the Context of Eavesdropping

In 2014, the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled that the eavesdropping statute was unconstitutional. The law has since been amended. You may not record conversations if the conversation takes place in public, and the participants have no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, you may record conversations that are open and obvious. Eavesdropping is now defined as overhearing or recording private conversations without consent in a “surreptitious manner.” This means obtaining a recording via “stealth or deception” or recording through “secrecy or concealment.”

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DuPage County grey divorce lawyerThe make-up of the American family has changed dramatically over the last 100 years. One of the trends taking place throughout the United States is an increase in the average ages of marrying couples. Both men and women are getting married later in life. In 1960, the average age of first-time brides and grooms was 20 and 22, respectively. Presently, the average ages of first-time brides and grooms are closer to 30. This change has affected family law concerns, including prenuptial agreements and divorce.

Individuals Getting Married Are More Like to Have Significant Assets and Debts

Couples used to get married soon after high school. Modern spouses are much more likely to be in their mid to late twenties. This means that many brides and grooms have a college education, and consequently, student loan debt. Modern spouses are also more likely to own substantial assets, including a home or small business. This is one reason that many family law attorneys are seeing an increase in prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement is a legally enforceable contract that is used to describe spouses’ property rights. The contract may identify certain assets and debts as non-marital and therefore not subject to division during divorce. A prenup or postnup may also describe a spouse’s entitlement to alimony or spousal maintenance.

Divorce May Be Especially Complicated

Because Americans are waiting until they are older to get married, divorce cases often involve intricate financial and personal issues. Divorce involving children and stepchildren can lead to disputes regarding parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support. Divorce involving complicated financial circumstances such as commingled assets, hard-to-value assets like cryptocurrency, and complex investments may also lead to contentious disputes.

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for child issuesThe silver lining of a separation or divorce is the possibility of meeting someone new. If you have found love after a failed marriage, you are probably eager to start your new life with this person. If you are a parent, this may include introducing your new partner to your children. The introduction of a new romantic interest after a separation can sometimes be difficult for children to handle, so it is important to be intentional about this event.

Wait Until You Are Divorced

For many people, a marriage is over long before the couple actually finalizes their divorce. If you are separated or soon will be, you and your spouse may have been sleeping in separate bedrooms and living separate lives for months or even years. You may understandably be eager to start dating someone new. However, dating before your divorce is complete can exacerbate the stress, confusion, and uncertainty that your children experience during the divorce process. It can also have potential consequences on the outcome of your divorce. For example, if you spend money on gifts or vacations with your new partner, your spouse may accuse you of dissipating assets, which can affect property division during divorce.

Go Slowly and Do Not Force a Relationship

You are probably excited for your children to develop a relationship with your new partner. However, trying to rush a relationship can backfire. Sometimes, children may resent a new romantic interest in their parent’s life. They may feel threatened or assume that the new partner is trying to replace the other parent. Give your kids time to adjust to the new partner slowly. You may want to introduce the partner at a group gathering so there is less pressure on the children.

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DuPage County amicable divorce attorneyIf you are thinking about divorce, it is important to carefully consider the information and advice that you are getting from others. Even though they have good intentions, many people unknowingly spread rumors and false information about issues like property division, child custody, or spousal support. Television and movies have also perpetuated many of the popular falsehoods regarding divorce. The best place to get legal advice and dependable support is an experienced divorce lawyer.

Myth #1: Infidelity or Marital Misconduct Will Be a Crucial Factor

Cheating and infidelity have ended countless marriages. If you are divorcing because one of you cheated, you may assume that this “marital misconduct” will play a major role in your divorce. On the contrary, the reason that a marriage ends rarely affects the outcome of a divorce in Illinois. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, which means that there are no fault-based grounds for divorce. You will simply state that “irreconcilable differences” have led to the end of your marriage. In addition, marital misconduct will usually not be considered when addressing the division of marital property, spousal maintenance, or parenting issues. The main way that infidelity can affect a divorce is if the unfaithful spouse spent considerable money or property to finance the affair. In this case, the wronged spouse may have a valid “dissipation of assets” claim, and they may be awarded a greater share of the marital estate.

Myth #2: Everything Will Be Split Equally

Division of assets and debts in a divorce is handled differently depending on the state. In Illinois, property is divided according to “equitable distribution.” This means that property is divided fairly based on the spouses’ financial circumstances and other factors. Spouses may also settle property division issues on their own, outside of court. Mediation is an alternative resolution method that many spouses use to discuss their divorce issues and reach an agreement about how ownership of their property will be handled.

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Wheaton, IL property division attorneyMost marriages involve division of labor. One spouse may be in charge of grocery shopping and cooking while the other spouse handles homework, soccer practice, or other child-related matters. One spouse may handle lawn maintenance and home repair as the other focuses on laundry and indoor chores. While dividing responsibilities is common in a marriage, there is one way in which this division of labor can put a spouse in a very vulnerable position during a divorce. If you have not been involved in household financial decisions, it is important to start learning about your finances as soon as possible.

Being Ignorant of Your Financial Situation Can Lead to an Unfair Divorce Settlement

In an interview recently published in the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Kris Jenner admitted that she was embarrassingly uninformed about her own finances during her marriage to Robert Kardashian, Sr. She explains that she did not know how much she and her husband spent on household expenses and never once paid a bill. Jenner’s story is not uncommon. Many spouses leave the financial management to the other spouse. Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to finances and divorce, and if you do not fully understand your financial situation, this can put you at a disadvantage when negotiating a divorce settlement.

Start Gathering Financial Documents Now

If you are planning to get a divorce, it is important to know where you and your spouse stand financially. Property that is acquired by either spouse during a marriage is typically considered marital property. Both spouses have a right to an equitable share of marital property. Debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage are also jointly held by the spouses. 

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