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IL divorce lawyerCouples - especially those who have been married for many years - rarely have a relationship that is all good or bad. Because of the inherent complexity of marriage, it can be very difficult to weigh the pros against the cons and make the decision to cut ties with your spouse. While the decision to get divorced is ultimately up to the spouse or spouses in question, and while many relationships are full of nuance and uncertainty, there are certain behaviors that experts say nearly always indicate divorce is in the future. If you read this list and believe any of these signs apply to you, consider meeting privately with an Illinois divorce attorney.

Physical Abuse

This can be one of the easiest behaviors to walk away from, yet also one of the hardest. People who physically abuse their spouse often feel extreme guilt and sorrow for their behavior, and try to make up for the abuse by being exceptionally loving, caring, and charming after abusive incidents. Nevertheless, abusers rarely change their behavior in the long run, and staying with a physically abusive partner could seriously endanger you and your children.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can be much harder to identify, especially if your spouse is highly intelligent and manipulative. You may feel for many years as though any abuse you suffer is your fault and that you even deserve it. Yet emotional abuse can make for a miserable marriage devoid of intimacy and caring; if your partner is emotionally abusive, it may be time for divorce.

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IL divorce lawyerPeople are rarely on their best behavior during divorce, but for some spouses, the misbehavior escalates in extreme ways. This can involve trying to hide assets, making false accusations of spousal abuse, or even making false accusations of child abuse. If you are getting divorced and anticipate that your spouse will engage in hostile, high-conflict behaviors, start preparing now by working with an Illinois divorce attorney who has experience with difficult divorces.

Can My Spouse Make False Accusations of Abuse?

Technically, anyone can make accusations of abuse - but your spouse will have to back up their claims in court if they want a judge to use those claims to affect the outcome of your case. For example, if your spouse claims that you physically abuse your child, he or she will have to present evidence such as photographs, witness testimony, or a psychologist's assessment of your child.

Unfortunately, false accusations of abuse are common in divorce as spouses seek to influence the outcome of custody proceedings. However, if you can demonstrate that your spouse is making false accusations, this will reflect very poorly on them. Judges generally want to see children spend as much time with both parents as possible, and undue efforts to take parenting time away from you could backfire and result in your spouse being seen as manipulative and disinterested in the best interests of the children.

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How Much Does Divorce Cost?

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is notoriously expensive and the financial repercussions of divorce often extend long into the future. Understandably, then, one of the most common questions people have for divorce attorneys is “How much will my divorce cost?” While statistics can provide averages ($15,000 - $20,000) and medians ($7,000), the exact cost of divorce is impossible to predict ahead of time, even if a divorcing spouse could know in advance every obstacle they will encounter. Instead, what can be more helpful is to have a basic understanding of what you will likely need to pay for during divorce. Read on for an overview of common divorce expenses and then contact an Illinois divorce attorney who is committed to helping you get divorced in the most effective way.

Divorce Fees

As with all governmental functions, merely filing for divorce has fees associated with it. Divorce in Illinois generally costs about $350 to file and to respond to, although each subsequent court transaction may have additional fees associated with it (such as paying to have divorce papers served). You may also be required to pay for court-ordered parenting classes, court-ordered mediation, and court-ordered interim alimony.

Managing Two Households

If you are the spouse or parent paying interim alimony and child support, you face the additional financial burden of supporting your own residence in addition to the home your spouse and children still live in. If you move out during divorce, this could mean paying a mortgage plus rent, food bills for two households, and everyone’s utilities.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets engaged, an expensive ring is often the gift that seals the deal. For some couples, an engagement ring may be their most valuable asset for many years and questions about ownership in a divorce could become heated, especially if the marriage did not last long. For others, questions about ownership of a potential engagement ring come up before a ring is even purchased; after all, if the partner buying the ring plans to spend a significant amount of money, he or she may want some assurance that the value of the ring will be protected if the relationship fails. If you are married, engaged, or need more information about engagement ring ownership, read on and then contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney.

Who Owns an Engagement Ring?

Although an engagement ring may seem like the private business of the two people involved in the relationship, Illinois law does apply to engagement rings. If one partner gives the other an engagement ring, it is considered a gift conditional upon a marriage taking place. If the ring’s recipient ends the relationship before the wedding, he or she must give it back. Likewise, if both parties agree to end the relationship, the ring needs to be returned to the giver. If the ring’s giver ends the relationship, the recipient may be able to keep it. If you are in this situation, and your ex plans to keep the ring, talk to an attorney right away.

Once a marriage begins, the ring is considered a gift and is not part of a couple’s marital estate. Many couples decide to upgrade their rings after several years of marriage, and even these upgrades are likely not part of the marital estate, because they are likely to be seen as gifts from one spouse to the other. When a couple divorces, each partner keeps their own ring.

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IL divorce lawyerFew things are as difficult in divorce as deciding your living arrangements once the divorce is finalized, and maybe even before then. Some spouses are eager to get out of the home they shared with each other, while others have built many years of sentimental memories and want to keep the family home if possible. While there is no right answer to the question of whether you should keep your family home in your divorce, there are some things you should consider carefully before coming to a decision. With the help of an experienced Illinois divorce attorney, you can examine different scenarios and determine what is right for you.

Asset Division in Illinois

Illinois law requires couples to divide their assets fairly, but not necessarily equally. To that end, judges allow couples leeway to create their own asset division agreement and, as long as it is fair, it will likely be approved. While some spouses elect to simply sell their home and divide the proceeds, others prefer to look for strategies that could allow one spouse to keep the home.

As you consider what you ultimately want to do, here are some things to consider:

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IL divorce lawyerBy the time a couple files for divorce in Illinois, for all intents and purposes, their relationship has usually been over for a long time. Understandably, in the midst of all the difficulties of divorce, one thing that people often find hope in is the possibility of seeking a meaningful connection with a new partner. However, dating after divorce is not without its own challenges. Here are five things dating and relationship experts want you to know about pursuing love after divorce.

Wait Until the Divorce is Finalized

You may be ready to leave your marriage behind and seek the pleasure and freedom of dating again, but experts say it is wiser to wait until after your divorce is finalized for several reasons. Even with an outstanding divorce attorney, the outcome of a divorce is never 100 percent certain until it is over. You may not be financially, emotionally, or physically available to a new partner in a meaningful way until you have your divorce decree in hand and know what is expected of you in terms of financial and time commitments.

Take it Slow

The excitement of a new connection can make you feel as though you are ready to jump in with both feet. But remember - you married your soon-to-be-ex-spouse for a reason, too, and that relationship is now at its end. You do not have anything to lose by slowing down, enjoying the process of getting to know someone, and making sure this new person is really who they appear to be.

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IL family lawyerOne of the things that potential divorcees worry about most is their financial future. Learning to live on one income, especially after many years of being married, can be very difficult. For parents of young children who gave up career opportunities to nurture a family, the prospect of managing personal finances after divorce can be all the more challenging.

Along those lines, one of the most common questions that Illinois family law attorneys answer is whether child support and alimony are taxed. After all, the impact of state and federal taxes on income can have a major impact on how much money a person actually receives. In this blog, we will review how child support and alimony are treated under federal tax law. We welcome you to call our experienced firm of divorce attorneys for a complete consultation focusing on your individual circumstances.

How Is Spousal Support Taxed?

Also known as “alimony” or “spousal maintenance,” spousal support is less common in Illinois divorces than it used to be. Generally, only couples who have been married for a long time, who have a significant difference in income, or who share minor children with one parent as a caregiver make or receive spousal support.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen legitimate instances of domestic abuse or child abuse occur, they are serious matters that need to be investigated and handled appropriately. Unfortunately, however, allegations of violence and abuse are easy to make, especially during high-conflict situations such as divorce. Spouses often make false allegations in an effort to get revenge or to seek full custody of children, and while these false allegations may ultimately be disproven, the target of the allegations often suffers anyway. If you are getting divorced and you are worried false allegations may become part of the process, get help from an assertive Illinois divorce attorney who has experience dealing with high-conflict divorce.

Warning Signs that Your Spouse May Make False Allegations of Abuse

Certain types of people are more likely to make false allegations of abuse during divorce, and it is important that you understand if your spouse is one of these people. Psychologists define high-conflict people with “Cluster B” personality disorders as having some or all the following:

  • Unmanaged emotions, such as uncontrolled angry outbursts
  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Extreme behaviors, such as extreme jealousy or controlling behavior
  • Narcissist, borderline, or antisocial personality disorders

You likely already know whether your spouse exhibits these types of behaviors - you may even be getting divorced because of them. It is important to know that high-conflict people often escalate their behaviors when faced with loss or abandonment. They may engage in hostile acts that are intended to save the relationship, while actually having the opposite effect. They may do things that seem utterly irrational and that are likely to backfire, but it is important to anticipate these behaviors and to prepare yourself for their possibility.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerAffluent spouses often harbor a belief that due to the complexity of their divorce, litigation is inevitable. It is not, however, necessary to litigate a divorce involving significant, diverse, or complex assets. Rather, effectively engaging in collaborative divorce strategies in a high-asset divorce may be a powerful option for prioritizing asset preservation and privacy. 

While courtroom hearings are made a matter of public record, conversations and deals behind the closed doors of a mediation room can be kept confidential. Litigation may also result in a financially damaging division of assets and debts due to the limited judicial solutions available without an agreement between the spouses. A risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis may be performed to determine the potential financial effects of divorce litigation vs. mediation so that you can reach a well-informed decision. Our attorneys can offer you a case assessment to provide you with more particular advice pertaining to your unique situation.

The Asset Preservation Benefits of Mediation

A court’s treatment of any given asset classified as marital property cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. It may be prudent to reach an agreement with your spouse rather than turning the matter over to a judge. Litigation can deplete assets in a number of ways, in addition to potentially leading to the division of an asset in a manner that is not grounded in good financial sense. 

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How to Prepare for Divorce Litigation

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DuPage County divorce attorneyDivorce litigation is a strategy of last resort for many. For others, courtroom litigation is a patently necessary affair from the outset. Spouses in high net-worth marriages may have a significant share of assets at stake in complex divorce proceedings, with potential winnings far outweighing the expense associated with divorce litigation. Further, certain complex assets may be difficult to divide in an equitable fashion, rendering compromise at mediation or attorney-facilitated negotiation unlikely. In such cases, judicial decision-making may be preferable for both spouses. 

However, even when it is beneficial, divorce litigation brings a separate set of challenges. Detailed evidence must now be introduced, particularly if there are disagreements as to the facts, making preparation for divorce litigation consume a large amount of time. If you have cause to suspect that your divorce will be litigated rather than settled, it is crucial to work with a skilled attorney with substantial courtroom experience. 

Tasks Involved in Preparing for Court

It is ideal if you and your spouse have been skilled record-keepers, maintaining a detailed financial portfolio with clear descriptions of your assets and any marital debts. Record-keeping of this sort makes for an excellent time-saving tool, both before and during courtroom proceedings. If you have not been in the habit of keeping detailed records about your financial transactions, now is the time to start. 

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Hinsdale divorce lawyerMany spouses elect to enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Such agreements may define which assets are one spouse’s separate property, how marital property is to be divided in the event of divorce, whether spousal maintenance payments are to be ordered, and other clauses impacting a divorce action. Illinois state law places limitations on the nature of clauses that may be permissibly included in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. In addition to legal limitations regarding the contents of a prenuptial agreement, there are limits as to the enforceability of such contracts. Impermissible clauses may include agreements regarding parenting time or child support, as these issues are to be decided strictly in the best interest of the child. In the context of enforceability, drastic unconscionability may be cause for dismissal of the agreement in whole or in part. If you harbor concerns about the impact of your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement on your divorce, it may be prudent to speak with a qualified attorney. 

Grounds for Setting Aside a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

While prohibited clauses such as those relating to childcare are patently impermissible and unenforceable, other areas of the agreement may be judicially declared unenforceable due to a latently impermissible impact on the results of a divorce. Potential grounds for dismissing a prenuptial agreement may include: 

  • Unconscionability - Unconscionability generally looks at the impact of a given clause. Your agreement may potentially be dismissed if it is determined that the impact would be so drastically unjust as to rise to the level of unconscionability. This rule of law is commonly used to address situations in which one spouse would be rendered unable to support themselves in such a manner as to meet the basic needs of life. Anticipated eligibility for public assistance post-divorce is a near-automatic ground for dismissal. 

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Tips for Managing Your High-Profile Divorce

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Western Springs high-profile divorce lawyerMost people are able to get divorced fairly quietly, with little fanfare save for concern from close friends and family members. But when you are a high-profile resident of DuPage County, you likely have a few extra concerns. There may be press attention on the breakdown of your marriage. There may be people you do not even know who are interested in the details of your high-profile divorce. Having a large amount of attention from the community can add an entirely new layer of stress and difficulty to an already unpleasant situation. In some cases, your attorney may even advise working with an image consultant or media specialist to handle the public side of your divorce. It may give you some comfort to know that media attention often fades when they do not get what they want - drama. 

Helpful Solutions for High-Profile Spouses Seeking Divorce

No one truly thrives while they are going through a divorce. It is hard, even if you and your spouse are divorcing amicably. Some tips for getting through a high-profile divorce include: 

  • United front - It may be best to put on a united front before the press. Two spouses appearing together to announce that they have mutually decided to end their marriage is not very good entertainment. If you and your spouse are able to stay on the same page publicly, you can jointly manage the attention your divorce is getting. 

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Hinsdale divorce lawyerDivorce can be tough on children. They are used to having both parents around and accessible all the time. Transitioning to a new parenting time schedule can be jarring, as it disrupts their routine. It is important for parents to work together during divorce in order to help the children adjust and feel safe.

Children tend to do much better with their parents’ divorce when it is clear to them that both parents are putting them first throughout the process. If your divorce is amicable, this may be easier to do. If there is a high level of conflict, it may be more difficult. Either way, it is important that parents be able to put their differences aside at least briefly during interactions with the children. Note that it is a different situation entirely if your children need protection from an abusive or dangerous parent. An attorney can help you strategize. 

Functioning as Co-Parents During Your Divorce

Divorce is a big adjustment not only for your children, but for you. While prioritizing your children, you should also care for yourself. Some tips for making sure your children’s best interests are prioritized include: 

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DuPage County divorce attorneyWhile it used to be the case that a far higher number of divorce cases were resolved in court, times have changed. Now, most divorces are resolved out of court, through alternative dispute resolution methods like negotiation or mediation.

Divorce is far more common today than it was fifty years ago, and if every divorce went to trial, it would likely take years to resolve them all due to the immense backlog of cases. Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, require both you and your spouse to cooperate, compromise, and behave like reasonable adults. You do not need to be friendly with one another, but if there is a very high level of conflict between you, it may be much more difficult to reach agreement. Your attorney can assess your situation and help you make a more informed decision about whether these alternative dispute resolution methods are likely to work for you. 

Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Try Alternative Dispute Resolution

Often, divorcing spouses are advised to try mediation or attorney-facilitated negotiation before resorting to contested divorce. However, in some cases, it is fairly clear that resolving the divorce out of court is simply not going to work. Some things to consider include: 

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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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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.

630-575-8585

2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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