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Belleville Family Law Blog

The financial changes typically brought about by divorce

When a person in Illinois is thinking of ending a marriage, it might be wise to consider the financial consequences of such a step. A divorce is not only an emotionally draining process, but it could also tap one's funds. The first matter of concern for many is the family home for which a mortgage was likely obtained on the strength of both incomes, and utilities and maintenance costs are generally also shared. Even if the court awards the house to one spouse, affordability must be considered.

The costs of maintaining a car might also be questioned. If the couple shared one vehicle, it might not be possible for one spouse to buy another car and pay for a loan, gas, maintenance and insurance on only one income. When it comes to benefits, a divorce might mean the loss of coverage previously enjoyed through a spouse's workplace benefits such as health insurance. Careful calculations may be necessary to determine whether a plan through a employer or a private insurer will be affordable.

What to do with the family home in property division negotiations

A divorcing couple in Illinois that decides to negotiate their divorce settlement out of court can save time and money. Even so, certain aspects of the property division process can be challenging. One of those may be deciding who will keep the family residence -- and whether maintaining it will be a wise choice.

If the existing mortgage on the home was obtained by using the income of both spouses to qualify, it might be difficult for one spouse to afford it. Careful consideration of all the expenses to maintain the home must include mortgage payments, property tax, insurance premiums, utilities, maintenance and yard work. Then the affordability of renting can be compared. This will likely include a one-time cost of moving, including utility hookups and security deposits.

Divorce may be the only option in any of these circumstances

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say more than 20 percent of marriages in Illinois and elsewhere experience some sort of disruption within the initial five years after the wedding date. Relationship advisers say it is not the causes of the disruptions that lead to divorce but the manner in which couples deal with the problems. The also say that some reasons for divorces are cited more frequently than others.

Although the reasons for most divorces are cited as irreconcilable differences, the inability to reconcile may result from other factors. These could include infidelity, which has come to include not only physical affairs but also emotional relationships that involve social media. Money problems sometimes develop into stressors that can cause arguments and unhappiness to arise, and if this cannot be overcome, finances can be blamed for the divorce.

Financial planning in divorce planning is unique to each person

People search for all types of advice on the internet. Any Illinois resident who is in the throes of a divorce has likely resorted to Google for advice and found that most sources are generic and typically focus on women and the financial planning they need to do. However, financial planning in a divorce is for all, not only women, and the circumstances of each are unique. For most people, the first area to look at is a post-divorce budget.

After the divorce is finalized, each spouse will have expenses related to keeping a house or apartment, and there might be debts, car payments and more to pay. Future needs such as retirement, college funds and vacations might have to be included in their respective budgets. One may have to pay child support and alimony, and that will have to be worked into the budget -- keeping the tax implications in mind.

Who pays child support when parents have joint child custody?

With many divorced parents in Illinois opting for joint child custody, there may be several questions needing answers. One of those will likely involve child support. The reality is that child custody can be shared in various ways, affecting the child support responsibilities of both parents. Joint custody typically works best for parents who can maintain an amicable post-divorce relationship.

Sharing child custody allows parents to be flexible when scheduling parenting time, which does not necessarily mean a 50/50 division of time. For that reason, determining child support will be based on several aspects of the arrangement reached by the parents. Matters that the court will consider if it has to issue a child support order will include the amount of time the child spends with each parent along with the incomes of both parents.

Maximize child custody time with a right to first refusal clause

The primary concern for many Illinois parents who divorce might be the threat of losing a loving relationship with his or her child. Not all people realize that there are ways to maximize the time spent with their children. However, the necessary steps must be taken at the time of negotiating child custody.

Adding a clause that gives the parent the right of first refusal can prevent the child being left in the care of others while the noncustodial parent is available. The clause is a provision that can be added to the child custody order to force the custodial parent to give the other parent the option of taking the child rather than a sitter or a family member. However, it can work both ways, and if the noncustodial parent has an unavoidable obligation when it is his or her time with the child, the other parent must have the first option.

Child custody and visitation and the threat of fatherlessness

Fatherlessness has been linked to many behavioral problems in children nationwide, including in Illinois. When fathers play no role in child custody and visitation, the consequences have proved to include alcohol and drug abuse, violent crime, unwed pregnancies, truancy, psychological disorders and, in some cases, even suicide -- not by the absent fathers necessarily, but by their children. Records indicate that one in every three children nationwide -- or 24 million -- live in homes where their fathers are absent.

The U.S. Department of Education published "A Call to Commitment: Fathers' Involvement in Children's Learning," showing that children's performance in school is better -- they learn more and exhibit healthy behavior when they have relationships with their fathers. This proved to be true even when fathers don't live in the same homes as their children. Relevant studies show the positive, lasting impact on the children by the active involvement of fathers.

Understanding the need for a final divorce decree

When can an Illinois couple say their marriage has finally been ended? They have to wait until the court has issued a final divorce decree. This also applies even if the divorce was amicable and the couple reached a settlement agreement out of court. The decree will be the court's confirmation that the judge has granted the termination of the marital relationship.

Newly divorced spouses might have trouble understanding the divorce decree. There are five typical issues covered by a divorce decree, including maintenance, sometimes referred to as spousal support or alimony. The decree will also contain details of the property division and any child-related issues. This will pertain to custody and visitation orders if the couple has minor children, along with child support orders issued by the court. These details will even be included in a divorce decree that is issued regarding an uncontested divorce.

Child custody and visitation can be made easier

Most Illinois parents who divorce recognize the anxiety the changes can cause for children. For that reason, careful consideration is typically given when making decisions about child custody and visitation. Although shared parenting might be regarded as the best option, it might not be possible if one of the parents relocate to a different area.

However, measures can be taken to make it easier for children to adjust. Keeping the child's routine unchanged will help to maintain the sense of order such as the time they rise and go to bed, their routine to get ready for school and playtime with friends. While a child may need extra love and care, it is important not to become lenient with relation to rules and punishment.

Finances in Stephenson multimillion dollar divorce finalized

Multimillionaire Richard Stephenson married Alicia 26 years ago, and 16 years later they decided to separate. Two more years elapsed before Alicia Stephenson filed for divorce. For the past eight years, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America founder and his former wife battled to reach an out-of-court settlement, but all their efforts failed. In the end, it was up to the court and an Illinois judge to decide how to divide the millions.

Reportedly, Alicia sought $400,000 per month, but the judge decided that $27,500 after taxes is sufficient. This will go along with jewelry, a Porsche, two motorcycles, a 401(k) and more. Alicia's share of other financial assets will bring her a lump-sum payment of $6.5 million, and $450,000 as a one-time payment to secure housing -- as per a prenuptial agreement.

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Courtney, Clark & Mejias, P.C.
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