Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
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Belleville Family Law Blog

Property division addressed in a prenup can give peace of mind

Many people in Illinois wait until they have established a career before they enter into marriage. By that time, both parties might have acquired assets such as a home, a vehicle and possibly a business. It would only be natural to want to protect those assets, and the best way to ensure fair property division in the unfortunate event of a divorce is to sign a prenuptial agreement. The same applies to those entering into second or subsequent marriages.

Having an open discussion about shared finances and protecting property can prepare both spouses for the need to communicate and compromise throughout the marriage. A business owner without a prenup could lose the business if there is a divorce. Also, if one spouse owns more assets, which might include an inheritance, a marital agreement can protect it. Such a contract is also the most appropriate way to deal with debt that each party brings into the marriage.

Divorce after a short marriage -- what about spousal support?

Impulsion has come back to bite many people in Illinois and elsewhere. Those who marry impulsively may find that the decision could have far-reaching consequences if a divorce soon results. Even though a particular marriage may be short-lived, the legal impact could be long-lasting. Many Illinois spouses who file for divorce after marriages that lasted for only weeks or months may have questions about alimony.

Spousal support laws vary from state to state, but factors that might be considered include each spouse's earning capacity and the standard of living during their marriage. If one spouse needs time to train for re-entry into the job market, the other spouse might have to pay spousal support during that time. The court will also consider the ability of the paying spouse to support him or herself along with the other spouse.

Child custody and visitation before finalization of divorce

When couples in Belleville, Illinois, file for a divorce, many months or even years might go by before it is finalized. What happens to child custody and visitation during that time? The fact that the parents are in the throes of divorce indicates conflict, so it might not be a situation where parents can continue their child-related routines without encountering problems.

For that reason, parents may establish a custody agreement by which to arrange their parenting for that period. Although the judge will determine the final custody order, a temporary arrangement could form the basis of the final court order. Another advantage of a temporary arrangement is the fact that modifications can be made before it becomes a permanent agreement as long as the changes are in the best interest of the child.

Would you consider this unorthodox custody arrangement?

Most people are becoming more comfortable with remaining amicable with an ex-spouse in order to continue parenting their children together. Joint custody agreements that keep both parents as involved in the children's lives as possible are becoming the norm.

Co-parenting arrangements these days often include spending holidays, birthdays and other important events in the children's lives as a family despite the divorce. However, one arrangement may still seem quite unorthodox to many people, and you may be one of them.

What could lead to contempt of court in a divorce case?

Most people in Illinois who are in the throes of ending a marriage will likely admit that it is an unpleasant situation in which to be. It is unlikely that anybody who is going through a divorce would intentionally do something to worsen the situation. However, without experienced legal guidance, inadvertent mistakes can lead to contempt of court charges.

Charging someone with contempt of court is the judge's way of telling a person that he or she failed to obey a court order and then giving him or her the opportunity to comply. Although such charges can be criminal or civil, the latter is the more common charge in divorces. The most common areas of contempt in divorces are typically child custody, financial and restraint related.

Property division: Issues of concern when keeping the family home

There are many challenging decisions to make for anyone in Illinois who is in the throes of divorce. It is probably debatable whether child-related issues or property division matters are the hardest. The spouse who wants to keep the family home has additional things to consider, the first of which is getting a separation agreement that the mortgage provider would need along with an application for a new loan. Matters such as paying or receiving support will feature in the institution's decision to grant a new mortgage.

If the intention is to keep the existing mortgage, the spouse giving up the home would need to make sure his or her name is taken off the mortgage if it was in both names. As long as both names remain on the loan agreement, both parties will be held liable if one defaults. It is also advisable to check whether penalties will be applied if the existing mortgage is given up before the end of the term.

Are there time limits to create, modify or collect child support?

Anyone in Illinois who is going through a divorce will know that there is a host of matters to address and also many questions about what to do first and which issues can be left for later. Child support is one such matter. Although there is nothing that says it must be addressed first, it might be smart not to leave it for last. Dealing with it early in the process when the financial situations of both parties are considered for property division, alimony and more might be the appropriate time. Parents can negotiate child support and present their agreements to the court for approval, or they can leave it for the court to decide.

There is also no time limit when it comes to seeking a modification of a child support order. Circumstances typically change as time passes, and a child's needs do not remain the same as he or she grows older. Although some divorced couples include a schedule for child support modifications at specific times in their agreements, unanticipated circumstances might create the need for seeking unscheduled changes. Such request could be filed at any time during the time of eligibility for child support.

How does joint child custody work?

More and more divorcing parents in Illinois choose to avoid litigation and negotiate their own settlement agreements. This includes decisions about child custody, even if they need the services of a divorce mediator to provide a platform for negotiation. However, those who cannot reach acceptable agreements must leave the decision up to the court, based on the best interests of the child.

Parents who choose to have joint custody have two options. The first is the option of parents sharing physical and legal custody. In this scenario, parents will share responsibilities and day-to-day childcare equally. They will also have to be able to work together as they deal with legal custody and agreeing on matters involving the upbringing of the child and issues like religion, choice of school and more.

Is your spouse keeping joint assets from your divorce?

Throughout your marriage, you may have given little thought to where the money went. As long as your spouse paid the bills, you did not worry about how he or she managed the money. You lived a comfortable lifestyle with no cause for alarm, so you may not even know exactly how much your spouse earned. This may have seemed a normal way of life, and you are among many who surrender control of the finances to their spouses.

However, now that you are heading toward divorce, that willful ignorance of your financial situation is alarming. Without knowing the basics of your marital accounts, you can't fully take part in the division of assets. You may also feel that the balance in your bank account does not tell the whole story.

Child custody: Be prepared for the challenges of co-parenting

Most separated or divorced people in Illinois might agree that ending a marriage is never easy. Although ex-spouses might think they can finally live their lives on their own terms, if there are children, expectations and future plans will have to include them. The art of co-parenting and navigating child custody orders is complicated and requires a unified approach.

It is only natural for everything to change after the end of a relationship as new separate lives are established. However, being a co-parent will require continued communication about crucial aspects related to the raising of the children. Sometimes it might be necessary to change schedules and even expectations and goals. Co-parents will have to decide who will take the children to extracurricular activities, and who will be responsible for paying for those activities. Who will check on their homework and which parent will drive them to the other's house for visitation?

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
104 South Charles Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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