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DuPage County divorce attorneysIf you are at the beginning of the divorce process, you may have a lot of conflicting emotions. Some people cannot wait for a final divorce decree. Others are hoping for reconciliation and do not want a divorce at all. Whatever position you are in, you may be wondering exactly how long it might take to finalize your divorce in Illinois. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. Some spouses can reach a divorce settlement very quickly and be done with the process in a matter of weeks. Others share complex assets that must be painstakingly untangled by a court, which can drag a divorce out for years.

There are several other factors that can affect how long a divorce takes. Our attorneys can assess your situation and give you a better idea of roughly how long you should expect to be in the divorce process.

Factors Affecting the Divorce Timeline

How long your divorce may take depends entirely on your own personal and family situation. Some factors that can make the process faster or slower can include:  

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What is Separate Property in a Divorce?

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DuPage County divorce lawyerDuring a divorce, the spouses’ marital property will need to be divided in a fair manner. Most of what a married couple owns belongs to both of them equally. If it was acquired during the marriage, it is probably marital property, regardless of whose income was used to purchase it. However, there are some types of property that belong to one spouse rather than the marriage.

The things that each spouse owns individually is their separate property, and it is not subject to equitable division during the divorce. One of the first steps in division of property is determining what is separate property, and what is marital property. Your attorney can help you start to identify what separate property you will be entitled to keep in your divorce. 

Categories of Property Considered Separate

Understanding the categories of property that are considered to belong only to one spouse can help you get a better idea of what you should definitely be able to keep in a divorce action. Your separate property includes: 

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DuPage County divorce lawyerYou and your spouse are not getting divorced because you are getting along great and can easily compromise. When you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, it can be hard to come to an agreement and file an uncontested divorce. One or both of you may have some desire to litigate your divorce to have your day in court. However, divorce litigation can be very expensive and it can drag your case out by months or even more than a year. This is why more and more couples are using alternative dispute resolution in order to reach a compromise on the terms of their divorces.

It can be challenging to make an agreement with the person you are divorcing, but trying anyway could prove rewarding and beneficial. An attorney can help guide you through mediation or facilitated negotiation. 

Tips for Using Alternative Dispute Resolution

In some types of alternative dispute resolution, you and your spouse will never see each other or have direct contact. In others, you and your spouse will come face to face. Regardless of the particular system of mediation you use, reaching a fair agreement can be tricky. Some tips for making it work include: 

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Oak Brook child custody attorneyNo two child custody cases are the same. Just as every parent is unique, every child has unique needs. There is really no such thing as a “normal” child custody case, but some cases are more complicated than others. Illinois courts strive to put the child’s interests first by finding the type of custody arrangement that works best for the child. In most cases, this means some type of joint custody is the favored outcome.

In general, state courts prefer to allow a child some time with both parents. However, there are situations where a more standard custody arrangement is impossible or inappropriate. Child-rearing for divorced parents is not a one-size-fits-all situation. If your child custody case is going to be more complicated than usual, you will need to work with an experienced attorney in order to achieve the best possible outcome. 

Reasons a Child Custody Case Might be More Complex Than Usual

Relatively uncomplicated child custody cases are still not always easy. Even when both parents are fit and interested, finding the right custody arrangement can take some effort. Your child custody case might be more complicated if there are factors like: 

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What Is Dissipation of Marital Assets?

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Oak Brook divorce lawyersIt can be very frustrating when your spouse is financially irresponsible while you prefer to be smart with your finances. Being married to someone who spends money like it is going out of style can have a lasting effect on your financial health. This type of marriage can harm your credit score and make it more difficult to secure loans or mortgages in the future. However, dissipation of marital assets refers to a very specific type of financial irresponsibility on the part of a married individual.

If your spouse has unilaterally taken a large amount of money that belonged to the marriage and effectively wasted it frivolously, then you may be looking at dissipation. In Illinois, if your spouse has dissipated marital assets then you may be able to recover some of these funds during division of property. You will need to work closely with an experienced divorce lawyer if you believe that you have a valid dissipation claim. 

The Irretrievable Breakdown Rule

To claim dissipation during a divorce, the spending that gave rise to the claim must have occurred when the marriage was going through an “irretrievable breakdown.” If you and your spouse were still happily married with no intention of splitting when the wasting of funds occurred, courts will assume that the wasteful spending occurred with both spouses’ blessing. 

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5 Tips for Divorcing a Narcissist

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DuPage County divorce attorneyBeing married to a narcissist can be horrible. Divorcing a narcissist can also be difficult. Narcissists believe that the world should revolve around them and that they should have the power to call all the shots. You may hear a form of narcissism colloquially referred to as “main character syndrome,” which likely rings true for you. Getting a narcissist to compromise on anything can be a huge challenge.

Narcissists are incredibly reluctant to make any type of concession when it comes to getting what they want. They may be willing to lie to get their way. They may lob false or grossly exaggerated accusations at you. You should be prepared for the likelihood that you may have to go to divorce litigation if collaborative divorce tactics fail. Either way, it is essential that you are represented by an aggressive lawyer. Botti Marinaccio, LTD. will always put you first. 

Helpful Tips for Divorce When Your Spouse Is a Narcissist

As if divorce were not already emotionally difficult, narcissists make it even harder. Tips include: 

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DuPage County divorce attorneyIt is natural for any person coming out of a divorce to feel sad or depressed. Experts and individuals who have been through the process agree, while the short-term outlook may feel gloomy, it is a time to take care of yourself and chart a new, positive course for your life. By avoiding negative behavior and not feeling sorry for yourself, you will feel physically healthier and mentally ready to take on new challenges in your life.

Planning for Your Best Post-Divorce Life

Whether your divorce was a contentious battle or an amicable parting, you can seize the moment to reflect and move on in a positive manner. You owe it to yourself and your children to work toward the best possible future.

With this in mind, here are some steps you can take post-divorce to build a better road ahead:

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Illinois divorce lawyerDuring a divorce, the division of marital assets represents one of the most overwhelming aspects. Often, the fate of the marital home will be of utmost importance to both spouses. For couples with two or more properties, the divorce process can become more complex. To ensure that your interests are protected in a divorce, it is important that you work with a trusted and experienced attorney.

Property Division in an Illinois Divorce

In Illinois, joint marital property is divided between the spouses in an equitable manner. This means that the property and assets that the couple acquired while they were married will be split in a fair manner, but not necessarily equally. When determining an equitable distribution, the court will look at many factors, including the income and debt contributions of each spouse, the length of the marriage, the earning potential of both spouses, their age and health, the overall value of the assets being divided, the lifestyle of the spouses, and childcare costs. They will also take into account any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that designated non-marital assets or made decisions about spousal support.

For a second home or other properties, if it was purchased by the couple during their marriage and before separation occurred, it would be part of the joint marital assets and subject to equitable distribution. If it was acquired before the marriage by one spouse or if one spouse received it as a gift or inheritance, the house would be considered non-marital property and not subject to division. However, if the other spouse contributed in any way to increase the value of the property, they may be reimbursed for their contribution.

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DuPage County gray divorce lawyersIn recent years, the rate of couples over the age of 50 getting divorced has continued to grow. With a divorce later in life, couples are faced with different or more pronounced challenges than younger couples. They may not have to worry about decisions on child support payments or child custody arrangements, but older couples have generally accumulated more assets and are closer to retirement, placing greater importance on those factors.

Four Issues of Importance for Divorcing Older Couples

For divorcing couples who are closer to retirement and have more significant financial assets, it is important to work with a law firm with experience in gray divorces and the complex challenges they present.

Here are four common issues that couples face when they get divorced near retirement:

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DuPage County spousal support lawyerAfter a divorce, the financial circumstances of both former spouses can change dramatically from their married life. During the divorce process, various factors go into determining whether one spouse will receive financial support from the other after the divorce is finalized. Factors considered by the court to determine whether spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony, will be awarded, include each spouse’s income, financial needs, present and future earning capacity, age, health, job skills, and the accustomed standard of living during the marriage. The length and amount of maintenance are based on both spouses’ income and how long they were married. The final payment terms are set forth in the final divorce decree. However, there are certain qualifying events that will bring an end to any spousal maintenance payments.

Changes That Will End Spousal Support in Illinois

Among the notable events that will end spousal support payments is when the ex-spouse who is receiving the payments gets remarried or begins cohabitating with another partner, unless the spouses agreed otherwise in their final divorce agreement. The support terminates on the date of the remarriage or cohabitation, and the paying spouse does not need to go to court to get the payments stopped. The receiving spouse must provide at least 30 days’ notification before the marriage. However, the paying spouse is still responsible for any payments due.

If the paying spouse gets remarried, it does not have an effect on the support obligation. However, if the payor now has another family to support, that may be taken into account by the court if he or she seeks a modification to the payments.

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Illinois divorce attorneyA spouse cheating can irrevocably impact a marriage and can lead many couples to divorce. For victims of an unfaithful husband or wife, emotions can run high, and focusing on the legal process of divorce can be understandably difficult. To provide the guidance that you need during a divorce from a cheating spouse, it is helpful to have a trusted lawyer by your side who can help you understand the process and focus on building a better future for you.

When Cheating Does and Does Not Affect a Divorce

When a divorce is caused by or involves infidelity, most divorcing spouses take one of two routes. They can either resolve to work together to cooperatively end the marriage or allow the infidelity to cause more drama and conflict. Our lawyers can handle either scenario and try to keep the focus on the practical matters of the divorce while being to your emotional needs.

While infidelity can potentially create a contentious atmosphere, the cheating spouse cannot be punished by the court or receive less of the couple’s marital assets than they would have otherwise been awarded simply due to being unfaithful. The court must follow the normal procedures for determining and approving marital property division and spousal support, if needed. 

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DuPage County child custody lawyerIn the wake of a divorce, the final divorce judgment or decree will spell out both parents’ parental responsibilities and schedules for parenting time. While the plan considers the best interests of the children and the situation of the parents at the time of the divorce, the law recognizes that circumstances can change. The plans may be modified when significant changes occur in the lives of the parents or the children, including the relocation of one of the parents.

Relocation Requirements and Considerations in Illinois

Any move has the potential to impact the relationship between a child and their parents. If you are the parent who has the majority of parenting time or if you and your ex-spouse share parenting time equally, you must ask the court and the other parent for permission to relocate.

The statutory definition of a relocation is:

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DuPage County business owner divorce attorneyFor anyone going through a divorce, it can be an uncertain and unsettling time. This feeling can be even more intense for small business owners, who are not only concerned with the end of their marriage, but also the uncertain future of their business. If you are a business owner approaching a divorce, here are some basic items that will help you start to plan.

Businesses as Marital Property

There are a few different scenarios that can determine if a business qualifies as marital property and therefore would be subject to division during a divorce. If the business was started during the marriage, at least part of it will likely qualify as marital property. For businesses that were started before marriage, any growth in value or assets that occurred during the marriage could also be considered marital property. In both cases, it does not matter if the business is only in one spouse’s name or if only one spouse was involved in the operations of the business. However, if the spouses signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement including the business and its assets, it may be protected.

Determining the Value of a Business

For both parties in the divorce, an important aspect to determine is the value of the business. There are financial professionals who can work to determine the correct value of the business, the potential for growth, and if applicable, each spouse’s percentage of business equity. Both spouses may have their own experts who reach different values and may be called to testify during the divorce proceedings about their methods.

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DuPage County hidden assets attorneyMany marital disagreements and eventually divorces are caused by financial issues. This can be amplified during a divorce when matters of property and asset division, spousal support, and child support payments all hinge on correct and complete accounting of the couple’s marital estate. This should include all assets and debts as well as information about both spouses’ income and business value. This can be an even larger issue during a high-asset divorce, including those with substantial investment and retirement accounts.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets to prevent them from being divided in your divorce, you need to take action and let your divorce attorney know as soon as possible.  

Common Ways of Hiding Assets in a Divorce

Here are some of the most commonly used methods that spouses use to hide assets before or during a divorce:

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oak-brook-prenup-attorney.jpgSigning a prenuptial agreement before you walk down the aisle and say your “I do’s” may not seem like the most romantic idea. A lot of couples have the idea that a prenuptial agreement amounts to preparing for a divorce before you have even managed to get married. However, this is not the case. A prenuptial agreement in Illinois can do more than decide who gets what in a divorce. It can protect you during the marriage, and it can also serve you well in the event that your marriage lasts until one of you has passed away. Aside from that, it is a very practical idea. If you and your spouse-to-be are considering using a prenuptial agreement, you should both be represented by your own attorneys. 

Why Should Every Couple Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

It is true that prenuptial agreements can make divorce easier. However, it can also serve other purposes. There are quite a few reasons that prenuptial agreements are a good idea for most couples, including: 

  • Easier divorce - Protecting yourself and your spouse in the event that you do divorce one day is certainly one of the top reasons that some couples elect to sign a prenuptial agreement. While everyone wants their marriage to last forever, most marriages do not. Having a strong prenuptial agreement in place can take the sting and stress out of divorce by eliminating uncertainty and saving you time and money. 

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Retirement accounts can be among the most valuable pieces of marital property spouses possess. It is not uncommon for spouses to have much more money sitting in a 401(k) than they do in their regular bank account. Contributions made to a retirement account by either spouse during the course of a marriage are treated as marital property, just as each spouse's earnings during the marriage are. Therefore, retirement accounts are subject to equitable division during divorce. However, splitting a retirement account is not always simple. If you know that you and your spouse will need to divide the funds in a retirement account as part of your divorce, it is important that you work with an experienced divorce attorney who can help guide you toward the best option for splitting the account. 

What Are My Options for Dividing a Retirement Account?

The first step to dividing a retirement account - or any other property - is determining which portion is marital property. Any contributions one spouse may have made before marriage generally are not considered marital property, so it will need to be determined exactly how much was contributed during the marriage. From there, you may have multiple options for how exactly to split the funds, including: 

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The COVID-19 pandemic aftermath has left many people financially overwhelmed. During the height of the pandemic, both federal and state governments provided financial assistance for many, as well as put many moratoriums in effect that prevented legal actions – such as evictions and utility shutoffs – for those who did not have the funds to pay these bills. While many of those moratoriums have been lifted and federal and state assistance has stopped, people are still left facing financial hardships. Bankruptcy may be the solution, however, it is critical to be aware that certain obligations associated with divorce are specifically exempted from bankruptcy and must still be paid regardless of any financial issues.

Child Support

Child support obligations are one of those financial issues that are almost never dischargeable. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code states explicitly that “domestic support obligations” are not dischargeable, and child support falls under this category. There is sometimes confusion on this score because if you file Chapter 13, any child support arrearages do come under the Chapter 13 plan - but this does not mean these debts are dischargeable; it merely means that under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, the arrearages will be part of that plan.

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dupage-county-child-custody-lawyer.jpgThe number one priority in a child custody case is the child’s best interest. In the vast majority of cases, the court will want a child to spend some time with both parents. Unless one parent presents a demonstrable risk to the child’s wellbeing, a shared custody situation is the most likely outcome. Using collaborative divorce to reach a custody agreement is often the best option. However, when this is not possible, there are a number of factors the court will consider in order to determine what type of arrangement would be best for the child. Your attorney will be able to discuss these factors and how they apply to your case in greater detail. 

Understanding Illinois Custody Terms 

Illinois uses updated language to describe child custody. In fact, the term “custody” is not used in a legal context. It is now called “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Physical custody used to be the term used to describe which parent would physically have the child with them. This is now called “parenting time.” Having decision-making rights about the child’s upbringing was formerly called “legal custody,” but this is now termed “parenting responsibilities.” 

Both can be divided between two parents, or be awarded to one parent alone. 

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shutterstock_1432030388.jpgDividing up the marital estate in an Illinois divorce is often a difficult task, but when marital property includes valuable assets, this can make asset division even more complex. If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage but have amassed many high-value assets, you may want to seek the legal assistance of a skilled Illinois high asset divorce attorney for help in reaching a fair and appropriate divorce settlement.

Equitable Distribution

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that all marital property is divided between the spouses in the way deemed most fair for each spouse’s situation and future earning potential. With most marital assets, the question of who paid or who performed upkeep is somewhat irrelevant. Instead, the court considers who has the potential to earn more and place themselves in a better situation going forward. In many cases, a spouse who has a high-paying job and few obligations will likely end up with fewer marital assets than a spouse who makes very little and is saddled with many obligations to fulfill.

Something many spouses forget, however, is that debts are often divided along with assets during a divorce. If a debt is deemed marital, it will be assigned to the spouse most able to pay and balanced along with that spouse’s share of the assets. In other words, if a spouse is assigned to pay significant amounts of marital debt, they may receive more assets so as to ensure the distribution remains equitable.

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cook county divorce lawyerIt is estimated that there are just under 100,000 attorneys in the state of Illinois. With so many law firms to choose from, it is critical for a potential client to know how to weed out those attorneys who will aggressively advocate for them and those that simply want to settle up cases as quickly as possible and just collect their fees.

When a person is facing serious legal issues, it is important to find the best attorney for their situation. The first step is speaking with those attorneys who specialize in the client’s needed area of law. If you have decided to end your marriage, you want to make sure you have an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law. You also want to have one that can answer the following questions in a way that will assure you that they will be looking out for your best interests.

What Is Your Experience Level?

While many think family law is a ‘safe’ or easy discipline, it is in fact extraordinarily complex. Over the past several years, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act went through a major overhaul that affected how child custody, child support, and other family law issues are addressed. If your attorney does not have significant family law experience, consistently staying on-top of the frequent changes that have taken place, it can have a significant detrimental impact on the outcome of your case.

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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.

630-575-8585

2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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