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Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.
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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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Wheaton asset division lawyer 
Division of property is often one of the most consequential aspects of a divorce. Spouses have worked hard to acquire the property they own, and they understandably do not want this property to be divided unfairly. Typically, high-value assets and complex assets like family businesses, real estate, investments, and stocks are more difficult to value and accurately address during divorce than simpler assets. Property division is made even more complicated when marital assets and nonmarital assets are commingled, or mixed. If you have concerns about how your property will be divided during divorce, speak with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible to receive guidance customized for your particular situation.   

Property Is Divided According to Equitable Distribution in Illinois

During divorce, spouses have the option of determining their own property division arrangements. This is often accomplished through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law. However, in some situations, spouses cannot reach an agreement about property without help from the courts. In Illinois, courts divide property according to a method called “equitable distribution.” Property is divided fairly based on the duration of the marriage, provisions made for the spouses’ children, each spouse’s contributions to the marital estate, the spouses’ income and employability, and other factors.

Differentiating Between Marital and Nonmarital Property

Only marital property is divided by Illinois courts in a divorce. Separate property, also called nonmarital property, is assigned to the spouse who originally owned the property. Generally, marital property includes any assets that were purchased or acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Assets that a spouse owned before getting married and property obtained through gift or inheritance are typically classified as nonmarital property and are therefore not divided. 

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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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Wheaton, IL dissipation of assets lawyerIllinois no longer allows divorcing spouses to claim fault-based grounds for divorce. However, this does not mean that a spouse’s behavior cannot influence a divorce settlement. Spouses who waste or destroy property during the breakdown of their marriage or during divorce proceedings may be guilty of dissipating assets. If you are planning to get divorced or have already started the divorce process, and you believe your spouse has grossly misused marital funds or property, you may have a valid dissipation claim.

Defining Dissipation of Assets

Illinois law defines dissipation as the use of marital property for a purpose not related to the marriage when the marriage is undergoing an irreparable breakdown. Examples of dissipation of assets include situations such as:

  • After a wife files for divorce, a husband decides to “get even” with her. He intentionally destroys thousands of dollars of their furniture and other household property so that the wife cannot be assigned these items during property division.

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