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The 4 Main Issues to Settle in a Divorce

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Divorce opens up a range of personal and financial issues. Despite the seemingly endless nuances considered in a divorce case, four issues are considered as most important. The main issues to be settled in a divorce are property division, parental responsibilities, child support and spousal maintenance.

  1. Property DivisionProperty-Division-Divorce

A divorce alters the legal status of properties. Illinois follows an equitable distribution approach, meaning that property is divided fairly—but not necessarily equally—between the divorcing spouses. Instead of a 50/50 split, Illinois courts evaluate several factors in order to come to a decision.

The Illinois judge will take into account the arrangements as detailed in a prenuptial agreement. Each spouse’s health, age, vocational skills, occupation, and employability are also considered. Relevant factors include each spouse’s debts and financial needs. The length of the marriage is examined.

The Illinois courts consider whether or not one spouse is receiving spousal support, any spousal responsibilities from prior marriages (such as child support) and the contributions either spouse made to the acquisition or preservation of the marital property (homemaker contributions are factored in).

If divorcing spouses cannot afford to keep the marital home, the Illinois judge will order the house to be sold as quickly as possible; proceeds from the sale will be divided equitably. A judge might award the home to the custodial parent to provide a stable environment for the children.

  1. Parental ResponsibilitiesMother-Daughter-Smiling-Laughing

Parental responsibility and parenting time are what the Illinois courts now assign (as opposed to sole and joint custody in the years prior to 2016). A judge will step in when divorcing parents are unable to agree on major issues surrounding the children’s upbringing.

When parental responsibilities are allocated, one or both parents make decisions about the children’s healthcare, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Effective since 2016, Illinois’ Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines the extent of decision making between divorcing parents.

For example, in an Illinois divorce, an allocation judgement could allow the children’s father to make all decisions about their education; the mother would make all decisions about the children’s religious upbringing. Decisions about the children’s healthcare could be made jointly by both parents.

Another way Illinois courts could divide parental responsibilities is to give the mother the decision-making power in all even-numbered years and the father in all odd-numbered years. Illinois laws encourage maximum cooperation and involvement from both parents in the upbringing of children.

  1. Child Support

The right to receive child support is a right of the child—not the parents. Consequently, any agreements into which divorcing parents enter must follow guidelines as established by Illinois laws and be approved of by the courts. Both parents are responsible for contributing financially to raising their children.

Prior to 2017, Illinois courts utilized a percentage formula to calculate child support. Since then, an income shares model has been in force. Illinois’ income shares model factors in the incomes of both parents plus how much the parents would have spent on their children if they shared finances.

Illinois judges must follow the state’s approved formula when calculating child support. Deviations from the formula may be made if the calculated amounts do not fully address the children’s needs. Expenses for daycare, private school tuition and healthcare may be added, for instance.

Further examples of reasonable deviations include adding extra child support for children who have special needs or if the parent has extraordinary medical expenses. A high-income parent may pay more than what is outlined in the guidelines, while a low-income parent might pay less.

  1. Spousal MaintenanceDivorce-Attorney-Gavel

Alimony is another term for spousal maintenance, whereby one spouse makes payments to the other during or after divorce. Spousal support is appropriate when one spouse is a high earner and the other is not. The goal of alimony is to maintain the financial situation of both parties after divorce.

Temporary alimony is usually awarded when Illinois divorce cases are pending. The courts evaluate each spouse’s income, whether or not the spouse will pay child support and whether or not either spouse needs financial assistance prior to arriving at a decision regarding spousal maintenance.

Once the divorce is finalized and the judge creates a new order, the temporary support ceases. A spouse may be ordered to permanently support the other spouse, and such scenarios are typically when the spouse is unable to self-support after divorce (due to age, illness, or other conditions).

When deciding alimony, Illinois judges will evaluate several factors. Each spouse’s need for support is key, as is the earning potential of each spouse. The courts will examine how much time the requesting party needs to gain training to become employable. The length of marriage is also considered.

Work with a Divorce AttorneyBerry-K.-Tucker-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

When divorce is imminent, the abovementioned issues will have to be settled. In order to reach your goals in court, you need an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. on your side. We will help you navigate the complexities of Illinois divorce laws.

The reputable firm of divorce attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. brings over fifty years of combined experience in family law. We have successfully handled cases involving the allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, division of property and spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance).

Our divorce lawyers will skillfully represent you when post-decree issues arise, including changes to marital status, your child’s needs, and income. Notify us when an ex-spouse does not meet spousal obligations per the divorce decree, and we will work to ensure your needs continue to be met.

Get a Free Consultation

When you seek a strong legal partnership in the Oak Lawn, IL area, consult Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. at (708) 425-9530.

Our divorce lawyers dedicate time and attention to the details of your case so that you receive maximum benefit in court. If you reside in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and are anticipating a divorce, choose us for competitive representation.

How Are Assets Divided in an Illinois Divorce?

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Approximately 2.2 out of every 1,000 Illinois residents are divorced. When Illinoisans divorce, their marital property is unlikely to be divided equally. With equitable distribution laws, Illinois divorce courts may divide marital assets between spouses 30/70 or 40/60, for instance, but infrequently 50/50.

Illinois is not a community property state. States that uphold community property distribution laws split marital assets 50/50 between spouses, no matter what the circumstances. But in Illinois, court officials decide what is equitable distribution and individual circumstances can sway their decision.

Why Unequal Asset DistributionProperty-Division-Divorce

While seemingly unfair to the spouse who is awarded less, Illinois courts are intent on dividing marital property fairly and justly. Usually, this results in an unequal distribution of assets. The courts’ judgement is affected in large part by the unique situations surrounding the dissolution of the union.

In Illinois, it matters little how malicious one spouse is toward the other. Being a state that recognizes “no-fault” divorce, Illinois courts do not fault one spouse for causing the divorce, such in instances of affairs. This means the judge will not award more marital assets to the victimized spouse.

However, financial misconduct is recognized by Illinois courts and awarded justly. When a spouse wastes a family’s financial reserves on gifts to his mistress, the courts will order the cheating spouse to reimburse the funds to the divorcing spouse, as the money was not used for family benefit.

What is considered marital property?

A married couple may buy a pricey armoire, for instance. During a divorce, this armoire will be awarded to one spouse. It is up to the courts to decide who receives this valuable piece of furniture, because it is considered marital property—an item that was acquired during the marriage.

Clean-Home-Deck-Doors-Open

In Illinois, possessions acquired outside of the marriage, such as before or after, are considered non-marital property. A sapphire necklace inherited by one spouse before the legal union was formed is an example of non-marital property. Illinois divorce courts cannot divide non-marital assets.

Marital property can be combined, making equitable distribution challenging. For instance, one spouse’s wages from the period prior to the marriage may be placed in a joint account with the other spouse. Courts deem the funds as marital property, unless the original funding source can be traced and proven.

Additional instances of commingling include when funds earned prior to the marriage are used to pay for family goods. Illinois courts call this transmutation—a gift toward the union. The judge will not return the funds during a divorce, since the money has been converted to marital property.

Factors influencing Division of Property

In order to arrive at the most just and fair split of marital assets, Illinois courts consider several factors. Judges will look at the length of the marriage, the income earned by either or both spouses during the union and each spouse’s age, education level and health.

Each spouse’s pre-marital property also receives attention. The courts examine the spouses’ contributions to the union and marital estate as well as any dissipations that affect the marital estate. Dissipation is when money is spent for non-marital purposes (lavish spending with intents that the other spouse will pay for it).

1. Length of Marriage

The shorter the length of the marriage, the more likely it is that an Illinois divorce court will award a 50/50 split of marital assets. In longer marriages where there is an income discrepancy, judges typically favor granting the spouse with less earnings a larger portion of the marital property.

Couple-Talking-with-Gavel

Short-term marriages are scrutinized in courts, and for good reason. Illinois divorce and asset distribution laws work to prevent gold-diggers from unscrupulously marrying wealthy individuals in efforts to derive a hefty payout upon a divorce just a day or two after the union.

2. Earning Power

Illinois judges view equal-earning partners as deserving of a 50/50 division. But in a long-term marriage, a homemaker is likely to receive a larger split. The working spouse can continue to earn income after the dissolution of the marriage, while the homemaker has a lesser earning capacity.

Income discrepancies influence a court’s decision to award more or less to the working and non-working spouse. As mentioned above, the ability to earn future income is considered by judges. Just how much a spouse can reasonably earn after the divorce affects the outcome of the property split.

3. Children

Illinois courts consider the well-being of children when dividing marital assets during a divorce. Judges try to keep the kids at the family home or in the same school district. This effort will result in one spouse being awarded the family home as part of the division of marital property.

Work with a Divorce Lawyer for Proper Asset Division

Navigating marital division laws during a divorce is hardly straightforward. Numerous factors are to be presented to the courts to receive the fairest split. An experienced divorce lawyer from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to discuss your concerns and present your case in the most favorable light.Berry-K.-Tucker-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

The divorce lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are knowledgeable in all aspects of the continually changing divorce laws in Illinois. In addition to thorough knowledge of current statutes as well as legal expertise, our clients receive over 50 years of combined experience in family law.

We are ready to represent you with issues involving child support, pre-nuptial agreements, spousal support, visitation, post-decree matters and property division.

Our lawyers will help you understand what falls under the category of marital property, which can include stocks, houses, vehicles and pets.

With a legal team of experienced family law attorneys in Oak Lawn, Illinois, the reputable firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to help individuals who are in the midst of a divorce or anticipating one. Our divorce attorneys are ready to guide you every step of the way, answer all questions, present you with your best legal options and support you during the trying process of a divorce.

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