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DuPage County property division attorney forensic accountingDuring divorce, a full and accurate assessment of the divorcing couple’s assets, income, debts, and expenses must be conducted. Whether the couple is resolving divorce issues through lawyer-assisted negotiations, mediation, collaborative law, or litigation, financial transparency is essential. Only when each spouse’s financial circumstances are fully understood can a fair division of marital property take place. Detailed financial information is also necessary for spousal maintenance and child support determinations. When a divorcing couple owns high-value or complex assets, getting a complete picture of the spouses’ financial circumstances is often much more difficult than if their financial situation was more straightforward. In many complex divorce cases, a forensic accountant can be an immensely beneficial resource.

Uncovering Financial Information Through Forensic Accounting

Forensic accountants are especially adept at auditing and analyzing individuals’ finances. During divorce, a forensic accountant may use a number of methods and techniques to evaluate financial documents and other information. Forensic accountants are especially helpful when a divorcing spouse is concerned that the other spouse is hiding assets, undervaluing assets, lying about revenue or income streams, overstating expenses, or otherwise being untruthful about finances. In some cases, spouses will go to great lengths to avoid sharing their wealth with their spouses – even going so far as to purposefully waste assets through dissipation. Spouses may also be deceptive in an attempt to pay less in child support or spousal maintenance.

Not only is lying about finances during divorce unethical, but it is also against the law. When a divorcing spouse signs a Financial Affidavit, he or she swears under penalty of perjury that the financial information he or she has shared is complete and truthful. If a spouse is caught attempting to manipulate the terms of his or her divorce through financial deception, the judge could award a greater share of the marital assets to the other spouse or outright dismiss the lying spouse’s claims. If the deception is egregious, the lying spouse may even face criminal penalties.

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Wheaton, IL order of protection defense lawyerThe National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that one in every four U.S. women and one in every seven U.S. men have experienced domestic violence. Physical abuse, psychological manipulation, financial exploitation, and other forms of abuse exist within many families. Sadly, some people choose to use false accusations of domestic violence or abuse in an attempt to influence family law cases. Whether it is a divorce, child custody dispute, or another family law matter, allegations of abuse will likely have a major impact on the outcome of the case. If you have been accused of abusing a family member, there are several actions you should take immediately.

Gather Evidence and Witnesses That Support Your Side of the Story

One of the first things you should do if you are accused of abuse is to obtain any evidence that can help prove that the accusations are untrue. This may include things like text messages, voicemails, emails, letters, and other correspondence. Also, start thinking of witnesses who can corroborate your side of the story during any legal proceedings. Witnesses who are willing to testify about your character can be extremely beneficial to your case.

Consider Requesting a Guardian Ad Litem

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a lawyer who may be assigned to a family law case involving children. He or she does not represent either party in the dispute, but instead advocates for the children’s best interests. The GAL may visit each parent’s home and conduct interviews with parents, teachers, doctors, family members, and the children themselves in order to form an educated opinion about what is best for the children. The GAL then makes a recommendation to the court about what case outcome he or she thinks will protect the children’s best interests.

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Wheaton, IL parenting plan lawyerDisagreements about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are often some of the most contentious issues in a divorce case. When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, they have several options: they can try to find a resolution through mediation, collaborative law, or negotiations facilitated by their attorneys, or they may take the case to trial. If you are a parent who is involved in a child custody disagreement, you may be unsure of how to handle the situation. Although there is no perfect way to manage a child-related legal dispute, there are certain mistakes that parents should always try to avoid, including:

Putting Children in the Middle of the Conflict

Multiple studies have shown that parental discord can be harmful to children’s emotional and psychological well-being. Parents should make every attempt to keep their children out of legal and personal conflicts. While it can be tempting to criticize your child’s other parent, doing so in front of your child can make him or her feel like he or she has to choose sides. Experts encourage parents to keep adult conversations out of earshot of children and to never ask children to act as a messenger between parents.

Oversharing on Social Media

The majority of U.S. adults use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or some other type of social media. It is important that parents involved in a custody dispute use extreme caution when sharing information or pictures on social media. Even if your account is set to “private,” anything you post on social media could potentially be used against you during court proceedings. For example, if a parent posts a picture of himself or herself drinking alcohol at a party, it could be argued that the photograph is evidence of the parent’s inability to be a responsible caretaker for the couple’s children.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer petition discovery trialThere are two types of divorce cases: contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses are able to come to an agreement about property division, parental responsibilities, parenting time, spousal support, and any other issues that must be resolved before their marriage can be dissolved. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement about one or more of these issues, they enter into a contested divorce. Read on to learn about the typical steps involved in an Illinois contested divorce and how you can get the legal support you need during this process.

Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

The first step in the Illinois divorce process is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with your county circuit court. The person who files the divorce Petition is called the petitioner, and the other spouse is referred to as the respondent. When you file for divorce, you have a legal obligation to notify the respondent. You may do this in person, via certified mail, or through a deputy sheriff. The respondent must respond to the petition within 30 days, and he or she may file a response to the petition or a counter-petition.

Discovery

The term “discovery” is used to refer to the divorce phase in which spouses and their lawyers gather information about income, assets, child-related issues, and other matters relevant to the divorce case. This process may include financial disclosures, requests for production, interrogatories, admissions of facts, and depositions. The exchange of such information will ensure that both parties have the facts necessary to support their claims and arguments during a contested divorce.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer spousal supportAlthough the overall divorce rate in the United States has been declining, there is one demographic that is getting divorced more now than ever before. People over age 50 are divorcing at a rate which is double what it was 30 years ago. Some of these divorces involve couples who were married for 10, 20, or even 30+ years. Deciding to get a divorce after a long marriage can be one of the hardest choices a person ever makes. Leaving the comfort of a familiar relationship to find a happier life as a single person can be understandably intimidating. In addition, spouses who divorce after a long marriage must consider issues that other couples may not need to worry about.

Adjusting to the Change May Be Emotionally Strenuous

While any divorce is going to involve a degree of emotional and psychological stress, ending a long marriage can be especially difficult. If you and your spouse have been together for many years, adjusting to life without that person can be painful – even if you are the one who initiated the separation. Experts encourage individuals going through divorce after a long marriage to consider finding additional sources of support. This may include speaking with a counselor, joining a support group, or simply reaching out to friends and family that you trust.   

You or Your Spouse May Be Entitled to Spousal Maintenance

In Illinois, alimony or spousal support is referred to as spousal maintenance. While this type of support is not awarded in every divorce, the chances of spousal maintenance being a concern in your divorce increases if the marriage lasted a long time. Maintenance is most often awarded when a spouse sacrificed their educational or career opportunities for the benefit of the marriage or family. For example, if a mother stayed home to raise the couple’s children for the last 15 years, reentering the workforce is going to be extremely difficult. The court may award the mother rehabilitative maintenance until she can gain the skills or education needed to obtain employment. In some divorce cases, especially those involving a marriage of 20 years or more, permanent spousal maintenance may be awarded.

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